The capital of Austria’s Tyrol state, Innsbruck’s location amid the stunning Alps has long made it a favourite among winter sports fans, outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of stunning landscapes. And there’s plenty to see and do - from the gravity-defying bravery on show at the Bergisel Ski Jump and the Gothic beauty of the Court Church to the medieval charms of Ambras Castle and the sublime views travellers enjoy from the Nordkette funicular railway as it climbs more than 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) into the mountains. Many boutique hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals in Innsbruck provide great accommodations as well. Innsbruck is also handily placed for a host of day trip options, offering everything from outdoor pursuits to stunning historic fortresses. You may even wish to partake in a little border hopping, crossing into nearby Germany or Liechtenstein. Read on for some of the top day trips from Innsbruck, Austria.
1. St. Gallen, Switzerland
St. Gallen offers a perfect mix of history and modernity. A day spent in St. Gallen can include visiting the impressive Abbey of St. Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its stunning Baroque library. The Old Town is a pedestrian-only zone filled with quaint cafes, shops, and restaurants.
The nearby Lake Constance offers breathtaking views and outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, and boating. St. Gallen is also an excellent place for foodies, with various Swiss and international cuisine available.
2. Mittenwald, Germany
Mittenwald is a postcard-perfect town located in Bavaria, Germany. It is surrounded by stunning alpine scenery and is known for its traditional crafts and musical heritage. Stroll through the charming streets and admire the colorful frescoes on the buildings. The town is also famous for its woodcarving, and you can learn more about this traditional craft by visiting one of the many woodcarving shops or museums.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love it here, for there are plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore. The Karwendel mountain range also offers spectacular views that can be enjoyed by taking a cable car ride to the top.
Mittenwald’s rich musical heritage is celebrated through its famous violins, and you can visit the Geigenbaumuseum to learn more about the town’s history.
Nestled on the border with neighbouring Germany and sitting on the charming Salzach River, Salzburg is a picture-postcard destination boasting some jaw-droppingly beautiful architectural wonders for you to enjoy. Its medieval marvels include the towering Fortress Hohensalzburg, an imposing 11th-century castle that dominates the cityscape.
Visit Salzburg if you’re wondering what to do in and around Innsbruck. Its attractions are a feast for the eyes - and your camera - include the Renaissance-era Schloss Hellbrunn palace, with its landscaped gardens, the stunning 17th-century Mirabell Palace, and the beautiful white marble edifice of the 17th-century Salzburg Cathedral. The city’s myriad cultural attractions also include the birthplace of world-famous composer Mozart, which today operates as a museum of his musical genius.
Duration: 8 hours
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4. Vaduz, Liechtenstein
A wee hop over the border now, into the tiny state of Liechtenstein. Vaduz sits on the banks of one of Europe’s great rivers, the mighty Rhine, and is home to some true historic and architectural wonders. One which you can’t fail to miss is the Vaduz Castle, a 12th-century fortress which stands proud on a hill above the town and still serves as a royal residence.
Other noted landmarks include the state’s biggest museum the striking Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, which is chock full of modern artwork from across the world, as well as the Neo-Gothic stylings of St Florin Cathedral and its grounds. The country’s National Museum and the Postmuseum’s dizzying array of postage stamps - which are sure to appeal to philatelists everywhere - also call the townhome.
Home to Hitler’s infamous mountain holiday retreat, the Kehlsteinhaus - more commonly dubbed the Eagle’s Nest - Berchtesgaden is nestled just over the border in Germany’s Bavarian Alps. Unsurprisingly, given its rugged setting, the area enjoys some fine views and the nearby Berchtesgaden National Park is chock full of hiking trails. Attractions include the towering edifice of Kehlstein mountain, whose vertiginous cliffs offer superb views. It is also home to the aforementioned Eagle’s Nest, which today operates as a restaurant - giving you a stunning backdrop while you tuck into a fine meal.
Other noted landmarks include the waters of Königssee lake, the centuries-old salt mine at Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden - which operates train tours through the belly of the earth and the Dokumentation Obersalzberg museum, which explores Nazi-era Germany. Skiers will also enjoy the nearby slops at Rossfield and Obersalzberg.
A day tour from Innsbruck brings you to the beautiful Kufstein. This corner of the world is home to some stunning mountain and hilltop castles and Kufstein, in Austria, is no different, its eponymous fortress dominating the landscape. It can be reached either by a steep path or a funicular railway - giving you two memorable ways of discovering it, depending on your preferences.
The town itself is also home a number of narrow streets with traditional houses that’ll likely prove an irresistible target for your camera. Mountaineering fans, meanwhile, will likely be enticed by the peaks of Sonneck, Totenkirchl, and Ellmauer Halt - so long as they are up to the challenge - while the lakes of Hintersteiner See and Hechtsee will likely appeal to lovers of nature. Other attractions include the cable car at Kaiserlift Kufstein and the massive open-air organ in Kufstein itself.
7. Lanser See
Visit Lanser Lee if you’re wondering where to go from Innsbruck. Located on the highlands near Innsbruck itself, the Lanser See is a popular bathing spot in the warmer summer months - welcoming numerous bathers and sightseers eager to enjoy the lush green surroundings and take in the charming trails around the lake itself. In winter, if and when it’s frozen to a safe enough depth, it also finds use among local ice skaters.
Those looking to visit it using the public transport network can reach it via tram on Streetcar Line 6 out of Innsbruck. Walkers eager to make more of a day of it may wish to make their way to the lake on foot through the woods - a journey of 90 minutes or so, as opposed to the 20-minute tram journey.
8. Hall in Tirol
Set just 5 kilometres (3 miles) to the east of Innsbruck, Hall in Tirol is another destination which you’ll easily be able to reach for a day trip. Fans of the great outdoors will likely adore the natural setting and hiking routes of the Naturpark Karwendel, as well as Zirbenweg and its lofty views.
Those who crave cultural charms, meanwhile, will likely want to whip out their camera and get snapping at the church of Stadtpfarrkirche, as well as the Burg Hasegg - the latter of which is a medieval-era castle and former mint that today operates as a museum centred around the art of coin-making. Winter sports aficionados will also enjoy the Glungezerbahn ski resort to the south of the town, which boasts a mountain cable car from which to soak in the views.
This 6-mile (9.5-km) long alpine lake lies to the north of the town of Jenbach and is nestled amid the mountains of the Brandenberg Alps and the Karwendel range. Attractions include the charming steam railway of the Achenseebahn. This is a 19th-century line that runs just over 4 miles (nearly 7 km) from Jenbach to the waters of the Achensee. The lake is also home to a number of sightseeing cruises, which ferry passengers along the beautiful waters.
Other notable sights in the local area include the 16th-century fortress of Tratzberg Castle, just a short distance south of the lake, as well as a number of ski resorts and cable car rides in the local mountains - such as Karwendel Bergbahn - which enjoy stunning elevated views of the waters.
Munich, or München to the Germans, is the beating heart of the Bavarian region and the focal point of the legendary Oktoberfest ale festival - although the city’s famed beer halls mean you’ll find plenty of tasty tipples to slake the thirst, whatever time of year you visit. Attractions include the striking architectural charms of the buildings in the central Marienplatz square, the visually stunning 18th-century Nymphenburg Palace and the museum complex of the Munich Residenz.
More modern marvels include the city’s Olympic park facilities, while those who enjoy a little peace and nature will likely want to make a beeline for the famed English Garden - a large city park that, yes, all you ale fans, is also home to a beer garden. Time to quaff a few beverages.
Famed around the world for their multi-faceted, glittering brilliance, Swarovski crystals are almost a byword for glamour - appearing in everything from stunning watches to sweeping cruise ship staircases. Swarovski Crystal World - or Swarovski Kritstallwelten - celebrates everything about the crystal glass manufacturer. Marking its 25th anniversary in 2020, Crystal World has delighted countless visitors to its base in the town of Wattens - offering everything from a 7.5-hectare (18.5-acre) park and art museum, to an eatery and shopping opportunities.
During their one-day trip from Innsbruck to this place, visitors can expect to be wowed by a series of underground “Chambers of Wonder” - exhibition halls chock full of majestic crystal displays created by a host of famous artists and architects. These depict everything from crystal domes to ‘ice’ passages.
Even if you’ve never visited the stunning fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle, there’s still a good chance it’ll be very familiar to you. This beautiful castle - which owes its appearance to 19th-century Romanesque Revival architectural stylings - has appeared in numerous world-famous movies. If you’ve ever watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the Great Escape, you’ll have seen its majestic towers on celluloid. It even inspired the iconic look of Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland. Little wonder then that it is a future candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Status.
Today, it welcomes nearly 1.5 million tourists every year - eager to gaze upon its majestic towers, wander its palatial interior and enjoy the stunning panoramic views that its lofty vantage point affords.
Duration: 8 hours
So much choice on offer
Stunning mountain vistas, beautiful alpine lakes, snowsports excitement, majestic fairytale castles and visually striking crystal displays - the choice is almost limitless. With amazing places to stay, Innsbruck is ideally located for a host of day trip options. Which will tempt you first? Just be sure to check out the best things to do in Innsbruck while you’re here.
Frequently asked questions about day trips from Innsbruck, Austria
1. What day trips from Innsbruck are good for avoiding crowds?
Munich is one of the ideal places to visit if you want to escape the touristy and crowded areas of Innsbruck. It is home to the famed English Garden, which is great for unwinding amidst nature.
2. What are some scenic places to visit near Innsbruck?
Be amazed by the stunning alpine scenery in Mittenwald, the landscaped gardens in Salzburg, the lake views in Lanser See, and the architectural gems in Munich. The Glungezerbahn ski resort in Hall in Tirol also offers cable car rides with breathtaking views over the mountains.
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