Innsbruck is an internationally renowned winter sports centre

Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria. It is located in the Innvalley, at its junction with the Wipp valley, which provides access to the Brenner Pass some 30 km (18.6 mi) to the south.


Innsbruck lies about half way between Munich in Germany and Verona in Italy. Located in the broad valley between high mountains, the so-called North Chain in the Karwendel Alps (Hafelekarspitze, 2,334 metres or 7,657 feet) to the north, and thePatscherkofel (2,246 m or 7,369 ft) and Serles (2,718 m or 8,917 ft) to the south.

Innsbruck, host of the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and 1976, is of course a major winter sports center. Popular activities include skiing, snowboarding, ski mountaineering, snowshoeing, and skating.

In the summer the region also boasts a whole host of outdoor sports such as cycling, mountain biking, paragliding, and, of course, hiking and walking in areas of great natural charm such as the Karwendel Alpine Park or Zirbenweg trail on Patscherkofel.

Town as well as the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. Innsbruck also hosted the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012. The name translates as «Inn bridge».

Tyrol’s capital is a sight to behold. The jagged rock spires of the Nordkette range are so close that within minutes it’s possible to travel from the city’s heart to over 2000 m above sea level and alpine pastures where cowbells chime.

alpine flora

Summer and winter activities abound, and it’s understandable why some visitors only take a peek at Innsbruck proper before heading for the hills.

But to do so is a shame, for Innsbruck is in many ways Austria in microcosm: its late-medieval Altstadt is picture-book stuff, presided over by a grand Habsburg palace and baroque cathedral, while its Olympic ski jump with big mountain views make a spectacular leap between the urban and the outdoors.

History of Innsbruck

The historic city of Innsbruck is nestled in between two Alpine mountain ranges. The Brenner Pass, an easily crossed path through the Alps, made the position of the town a strategic location.

The importance of the valley eventually gave rise to the ultimate evolution of Innsbruck into a cultural and commercial hub.

The history of the town began very early. Archeological evidence shows that town was first populated in the early Stone Age. The area was prized for the geographic location in a valley that offered protection from the cold winters.

Innsbruck is nestled in between two Alpine mountain ranges

The area remained in relative peace until around 15 BC when the Roman’s began a rapid European expansion. Because of the importance of protecting the Alpine pass, the Roman soldiers set up a military town.

Roman control ceded to a Bavarian invasion in the 6th century. The Bavarians continued to rule for several hundred years until 1027 when control of Innsbruck was bestowed on the Counts of Andechs.

Under the rule of the counts the town flourished into the cultural and social center of Tyrol. A thriving market and the inn bridge were constructed in 1187. This gave the town a new economic status and the present day name of Innsbruck, meaning bridge to the inn.

The reign of the Hapsburgs, which began in 1363, ushered in a new age of glory for Innsbruck. Under the rule of the Hapsburgs the city flourished. The era saw an increase in trade and mining.

Emperor Maximilian I named town as the capitol of Tyrol, and took the already flourishing city and increased the prestige and power of the region. As a legacy, he left the golden roof. A shining architectural feature composed of thousands of copper tiles.

He also began construction on an elaborate tomb that would only be completed after his lifetime. The Hapsburg successors continued to add to the glorious reputation of Innsbruck by building architectural marvels such as Hofgarten, Ambras Gardens, the Arts and Wonder Chamber, the Arms Halls, the Jesuit church and Tyrol’s first opera house. Most of these structures remain as a monument to the reign of the Hapsburgs.


The Tyrol region went through a period of strife during the Napoleonic wars when Bavarian occupation placed strict rules on social conduct and religious behavior. Tyrol was restored to Austria in 1814. The citizens of Innsbruck showed great courage during the relentless bombings of World War II.

Several historic treasures and buildings were protected from damage through their efforts. The golden roof built by Maximilian was saved from the shells by encasing it in a bunker and today serves as a museum dedicated to the history of Innsbruck.

Modern town has seen a focus on games and winter sports. The beginning of Austrian chess was born in Innsbruck at the 1929 chess championship. In 1964, the winter Olympic games rejuvenated the economy of Innsbruck.

The games drew international attention to the area as a prime winter sports haven. Several luxury resorts and winter sports arenas were built to accommodate the influx of visitors from around the world. The town hosted the winter Olympics a second time in 1976.

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Boroughs and statistical divisions

Innsbruck is divided into nine boroughs (cadastral settlements) that were formed from previously independent municipalities or villages. These nine boroughs are further divided into twenty wards (cadastral districts).

All wards are within one borough, except for the ward of Hungerburg (Upper Innsbruck), which is divided between two. For statistical purposes, Innsbruck is further divided into forty-two statistical units (Statistischer Bezirk) and 178 numbered blocks (Zählsprengel).

The following are the nine boroughs with the population as of 31 October 2011:

  • Innsbruck (inner city) (18.524), consisting of Oldtown (Altstadt), Dreiheiligen-Schlachthof, and Saggen
  • Wilten (15.772), consisting of Mentlberg, Sieglanger, and Wilten West
  • Pradl (30.890), consisting of Pradler-Saggen, Reichenau, and Tivoli
  • Hötting (31.246), consisting of Höttinger Au, Hötting West, Sadrach, Allerheiligen, Kranebitten, and part of Hungerburg
  • Mühlau (4.750), consisting of part of Hungerburg
  • Amras (5.403), consisting of Roßau
  • Arzl (10.293), consisting of Neuarzl and Olympisches Dorf
  • Vill (535)
  • Igls (2.204)


As with the rest of Central Europe, Innsbruck has an oceanic climate (Köppen classification: Cfb), although with continental influences (especially in winter) since it has larger annual temperature differences due to its location in the centre of the Continent and its position around mountainous terrains.

Winters are cold (colder than those of most major European cities) and snowy. Winter nights can get frigid, occasionally dropping to −12 °C (10 °F).

Spring is brief; days start to get warm, often over 15 °C (59 °F), but nights remain cool or even freezing.

Summer is highly variable and unpredictable. Days can be cool 17 °C (63 °F) and rainy, or sunny and extremely hot, sometimes hitting 34 °C (93 °F).

In summer, as expected for an alpine-influenced climate, the diurnal temperature variation is often very high as nights usually remain cool, being 12 °C (54 °F) on average, but sometimes dipping as low as 6 °C (43 °F). The average annual temperature is 9 °C (48 °F).

innsbruck climate

Source: Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics data of sunshine hours from the nearby university station.

Holidays in Innsbruck

Nowhere is the line between city and mountains so blurred as in Tirol’s capital. From outdoor sports to culture and back in one day: that’s Innsbruck. Innsbruck is the capital of the Alps.

With the Nordkette Mountains in the background and historic buildings in town, Innsbruck is a unique destination for culture vultures and outdoor enthusiasts.

One of the city’s most popular postcard subjects is the Bergisel Ski Jump, venue of the Four Hills Tournament. The ski jump’s restaurant offers magnificent views.

Bergisel Ski Jump

Another popular attraction is the cutting-edge Hungerburg Funicular, designed by Zaha Hadid. With its cobblestone lanes, shops, cafés and the Golden Roof, Innsbruck’s makes for a great place to explore. The Alpenzoo is popular with families.

Shopping with Ski Boots

Innsbruck twice hosted the Olympic Winter Games.

The 800-year-old town is renown as a cultural center, and as a city of numerous art treasures and many historic structures.

Innsbruck’s rich history is interwoven with that of the Habsburgs, whose wealth and sense of beauty left their mark: take the «Golden Roof», the «Black Men» bronze statues at the Court Church, the Imperial Court Palace and Ambras Castle.

Ambras Castle

Battlefield of fights for freedom and Olympic medals. Big town shopping opportunities coupled with a great range of hiking. Tirolean nights, brass band concerts and baroque operas, lederhosen and dinner jackets. University town and convention center.

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Main sights

Buildings and monuments

  • Alte Innbrücke (Old Inn Bridge)
  • Ambras Castle
  • Andreas Hofer’s tomb
  • Annasäule (Anna Pillar)
  • Bergiselschanze (Bergisel Tower)
  • Büchsenhausen Castle
  • Canisianum
  • Casino Innsbruck
  • City Hall (Stadtsaal)
  • Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof)
  • Helblinghaus
  • Hofburg (Imperial Palace)
  • Leopold Brunnen (Leopold's Fountain)
  • Maria-Theresien-Straße
  • Maximilian’s Cenotaph and the Black Men (Schwarzen Männer)
  • Old Federal State Parliament (Altes Landhaus)
  • Old Town (Altstadt)
  • Silberne Kapelle (Silver Chapel)
  • Stadtturm (City Tower)
  • Triumphal Arch (Triumphpforte)
  • Tyrolean State Theatre


  • Tyrolean Folk Art Museum next to the Hofkirche in Innsbruck
  • Alpine Club Museum
  • Ambras Castle
  • Armoury
  • City Archives
  • Grassmayr Bell Foundry and Museum
  • Innsbruck Stubaital station
  • Kaiserjäger Museum
  • Riesenrundgemälde
  • Tyrolean Folk Art Museum (Tiroler Volkunstmuseum)
  • Tyrolean State Museum (Tiroler Landesmuseum or Ferdinandeum)
  • Tyrolean Museum Railways (Tiroler Museumsbahnen)


  • Hofkirche (Court Church)
  • Innsbruck Cathedral (Dom zu St. Jakob)
  • Jesuit Church
  • Liebfrauenkirche
  • Mariahilfkirche
  • Servitenkirche
  • Spitalskirche
  • Ursulinenkirche
  • Wilten Abbey (Stift Wilten)
  • Wilten Basilica (Wiltener Basilika)

Parks and gardens

  • Alpine Zoo (Alpenzoo)
  • Innsbruck University Botanic Garden
  • Hofgarten (Court Garden)
  • Rapoldipark
  • Schlosspark Ambras


Due to its location between high mountains, Innsbruck serves as an ideal place for skiing in winter, and mountaineering in summer. There are several ski resorts around Innsbruck, with the Nordkette served by a cable car and additional chair lifts further up.

cable car innsbruck

Other ski resorts nearby include Axamer Lizum, Muttereralm, Patscherkofel, Igls, Seefeld, Tulfes and Stubai Valley. The glaciated terrain in the latter makes skiing possible even in summer months.

The Winter Olympic Games were held in Innsbruck twice, first in 1964, then again in 1976, when Colorado voters rejected a bond referendum in 1972 to finance the Denver games, originally awarded in 1970.

The 1976 Winter Olympics were the last games held in the German-speaking Alps (Austria, Germany, or Switzerland).

Along with St. Moritz, Switzerland and Lake Placid, New York in the United States, it is one of three places which have twice hosted the Winter Games. It also hosted the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics.

Innsbruck hosted the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.

Other notable events held in Innsbruck include the Air & Style Snowboard Contest from 1994 to 1999 and 2008 and the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2005.

Together with the city of Seefeld, Innsbruck organized the Winter Universiade in 2005. Innsbruck’s Bergiselschanze is one of the hills of the famous Four Hills Tournament.

Innsbruck is home to the football club FC Wacker Innsbruck, which plays in the Austrian Football Bundesliga (first tier) in 2010−11. Former teams include the FC Swarovski Tirol and FC Tirol Innsbruck.

FC Wacker Innsbruck’s stadium, Tivoli Neu, is one of eight stadiums which hosted Euro 2008 which took place in Switzerland and Austria in June 2008.

stadium Tivoli Neu

The city also hosted an American Football final, Eurobowl XXII between the Swarco Raiders Tirol and the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna.

The city hosted opening round games in the 2011 IFAF World Championship, the official international American Football championship.

Economy and education

The town is the cultural and economic centre of western Austria. It is also a substantial tourist centre, with more than a million overnight stays. Innsbruck is a university city, with several locally based colleges and universities.

The most well-known are the University of Innsbruck (Leopold-Franzens-Universität), the Innsbruck Medical University, and the university of applied sciences MCI Management Center Innsbruck.

University of Innsbruck

In town, there are some 78,000 employees and about 8,000 employers. Nearly 35,000 people commute every day into Innsbruck from the surrounding communities in the area. The unemployment rate for the year 2012 was 4.2%.

The national statistics office, Statistik Austria, does not produce economic data for the City of Innsbruck alone, but on aggregate level with the Innsbruck-Land District summarized as NUTS 3-region Innsbruck. In 2013, GDP per capita in the NUTS 3-region Innsbruck was € 41,400 which is around 60% above the EU average.

The headquarters of Tiwag (energy production), Bank für Tirol und Vorarlberg (financial services), Tiroler Versicherung (insurance) and MED-EL (medical devices) are located in Innsbruck. The headquarters of Swarovski (glass) and Swarco (traffic technology) are located within 20 km (12 mi) from the city.

Residential property is very expensive by national standards. The average price per square meter in Innsbruck is € 4,430 (2015), which is the second highest per square meter price among Austrian cities surpassed only by Salzburg (€ 4,823), but followed by Vienna (€ 3,980).

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