Nestled in the base of the Nordkette mountain range is Innsbruck, the capital of the Tyrol region of Austria. It is home to Habsburg palaces, ski jumps, green pastures and a charming late-medieval Old Town. City breaks in Innsbruck are a fantastic way to explore this picturesque Austrian destination.
Originally built in the 15th century by Archduke Sigmund the Rich, and home to the Habsburg dynasty until after the end of the First World War, Hofburg is one of the main attractions in Innsbruck and should certainly be on your itinerary. Remodelled in the 18th century by the Empress Maria Theresa, the palace is now a Baroque and Rococo masterpiece full to bursting with wealth and lavish Renaissance paintings. Another key building in the area is Schloss Ambras castle, overlooking Innsbrook from a position on a nearby hill. It was the residence of Archduke Ferdinand II from 1563 to 1595, and there are centuries’ worth of treasures to discover from valuable art collections to full suits of armour. One more royal location is the Goldenes Dachl and Museum, a glistening roof made in 1500 by Archduke Friedrich IV using 2,657 copper tiles.
Innsbruck has a strong connection to the mountains that surround it, and the Austrian Alpine Club and Museum is a great way to learn about the history of mountaineering in the surrounding area. One a slope above the city you’ll find Innsbruck Alpine Zoo, home to 2,000 animals spanning 150 different species. Considered to be Europe’s highest zoo, there is plenty here to keep both adults and kids occupied for a good few hours. To properly explore the mountains around the city, hop onto the Nordkette Cable Car and you’ll be whisked up to the 1,000-feet Hungerburg station, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Nordkette Mountain range. If you’re planning on hitting the slopes, one of the largest skiing regions in Austria is within easy reach of the city – Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck.
One of Europe’s finest gothic churches, the Hofkirche, can be found in the centre of Innsbruck. Built in the 16th century, there is artwork here by some of the greatest artists of that period, including Albrecht Dürer, Peter Vischer the Elder and Alexander Colin. One of the most notable sights in the church is the 15th-century sarcophagus of Emperor Maximilian I, carved from black marble and elaborately detailed. If you’re looking for shops and cafés, Maria Theresa Street set beside the Old Town is a fantastic place to explore. As well as an array of bustling restaurants and boutique bars, this street is where you’ll see St Anne’s Column, The Chapel of St George and the Triumphal Arch.