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Austria with kids: 5 things to do in Innsbruck

Innsbruck located in the Tyrol region of Austria is known as the ‘Capital of the Alps’. Back in the nineties I visited this spectacular city on a school ski trip. This time around I was one of the responsible adults with two kids in tow.

Family holidays in Austria

birds eye view of innsbruck from flight into the city

A city nestled within an Alpine valley- it’s well worth nabbing the window seat on the flight for the descent into Innsbruck airport through the breathtaking mountain range.

picre of a lady on a push bike closing a bridge surrounded by mountains and red tiled buildings with small square windows in Innsbruck
looking up at the mountains towards the blu sky

It’s a city where nature meets culture and historic and futuristic architecture lie side by side harmoniously.

looking up at the blue sky that turns the mountains also blue with wooden chalet

Take A Stroll around Old Town Innsbruck

The obvious starting point for any trip to Innsbruck is the famous shining landmark the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) in the Old Town.

picture of the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) building in innsbruck with red flowers under the windows

A 16th Century balcony featuring 2657 copper tiles gilded with six kilos of gold, surrounded by colourful facades, elaborately decorated baroque buildings and charming arcades.

building with white and light pink architecture looking up to the sky along side the Goldenes Dachl
more buildings in old town painted pink, white, green and terracotta with rectangular windows with Innsbruck mountain tops above

Once you’ve ticked the Old Town off your list here is my pick of top five ‘things to do’ in Austria with kids:

Explore the Nordkette Mountains

It’s a city hemmed in by the Austrian Alps – unlike other cities you don’t have to drive an hour to be in the mountains. They’re on your doorstep! The highest peak is Hafelekarspitze, at 2,334 metres. To reach these heady heights your first stop is the spaceship-like shelter of the Hungerburg Funicular.

spaceship-like shelter of the Hungerburg Funicular.

The stations were designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the architect behind the Olympic Aquatic Centre in London and Riverside Museum in Glasgow. The funicular will whizz you up to the Nordketten cable car, which you catch from the last stop.

looking down from the mountains towards a cable car and a birds eye view of Innsbruck

The first stop on the cable car is Seegrube, which is also home to a fantastic Austrian restaurant with panoramic views of the city and a small playground.

small playground for children in the mountains of innsbruck
sign pointing towards  innsbruck view, geo train, karwendel view, karspitze and klettersteig with the mountain and innsbruck in the background

Once at the top the options are endless. You can either stay around the mountain station for little strolls or tighten your  boots and head to climb or hike some of the many trails into the mountain.

girl on shoulders of father overlooking the mountains
Sima and two daughters all wearing hats stood on a bench on one leg overlooking the mountains

Whichever you decide you’re in for some amazing all-encompassing views of the area.

sima sat on a rock overlooking Innsbruck and blue skies

Visiting the Zoo In Innsbruck

Alpenzoo sign 'innsbruck - tirol 2012 50 jahre'

Alpenzoo is the highest zoo in Europe (750 metres above sea level) and houses more than 2000 animals and 150 species all indigenous to the Alpine region. It’s nestled up against the Nordkette mountain range and peppered with looping pathways linking the enclosures.

girl walking down a path surrounded by greenery in the Alpenzoo

The paths are mostly paved and suitable for strollers but some are steep. To be expected I suppose when climbing a mountain whilst animal watching.

You can easily access the open-air zoo by the Hungerburgbahn funicular another fun experience for the kids.

picture of a brown bear alongside a waterfall in Alpenzoo surrounded by greenery
picture of an animal with horns and hoofs on dirt path
animal laid on a rock with horns and hoofs

We saw brown bears, eagles, wildcats, vultures, moose and many more. The wolves apparently howl in unison with the church bells when rung in Innsbruck. We didn’t catch it, but it would have made a great Instastory. And when you need a break from the animals the kids can enjoy the playground and you can savour the amazing views.

views from the Alpenzoo overlooking mountains and villages below

Hofburg Palace and Imperial Gardens

view of the white Hofburg palace with green topped turrets

For a relaxing day head to the Imperial Hofburg Palace. Wandering around the halls and apartments you’ll get your fill of rococo design.

inside the Hofburg palace looking up at a gold chandelier and painted ceilings

There is a brilliant English audio guide, which takes you through the ages of the Palace. The girls really enjoyed the extravagant decor and had questions galore about the life of a non Disney princess.

child reading a display in the Hofburg palace under big crystal chandelier surrounded by painted walls and gold chairs

The recently refurbished Giant Hall is stunning with it’s impressive life-size portraits. It’s a unique room which breaks tradition of displaying long-lost ancestors, but instead focuses on Maria Theresa’s living family at the time. She was also the only female ruler of the Habsburg family – Girl power!

inside the giant hall of the Hofburg palace with white walls, gold architecture, gold chandeliers, painted ceiling and tiled floors

Mother to 16 children, she was a busy lady. To occupy her brood she had a garden built for her children to play opposite the Palace. Of course, this was no ordinary garden more of a lavish park.

tree in the garden of Hofburg palace

Built in the early 15th century, today the Imperial Gardens house a pavilion, open-air chess boards, children’s playground and café.

 Imperial Hofburg Palace wooden play area in Innsbruck

Swarovski Crystal World

picture of crystals from swarovski Crystal World

Dazzle your kids with the sparkling crystals at  Swarovski Crystal World (Swarovski Kristallwelten) in Wattens on the outskirts of Innsbruck. Most are aware of the famous brand, but you may not know that Daniel Swarovski founded the company back in 1895 in Tyrol.

giants face in a manmade hill spouting a waterfall

Recently re-opened after a major revamp in 2015, it’s a world of mesmerising fun for both kids and adults. On entry you’re greeted by a giants face in a manmade hill spouting a waterfall, where you walk into a fantasy world designed by Viennese artist Andrew Heller. It’s made up of a number of exhibits you can explore, the first being a large wall with twelve tons of crystals. This is followed by crystal works of art by many including Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be inside a crystal? Well step into the Crystal Dome which uses 596 mirrors to show you.

Swarovski Crystal World Crystal Dome with 596 mirrors surrounding you

Wander underneath the outdoor Crystal Cloud made from 800,000 hand-mounted and enchanted floating crystals. This mystical masterpiece is the largest of its kind worldwide.

Swarovski Crystal World Crystal Cloud made from 800,000 hand-mounted and enchanted floating crystals

Immerse yourself in the white room named Transparent Opacity by Arik Levy.

girl in red stood beside crystal through the use of glass, marble, steel and synthetic 3D prints.

It’s an homage to the diversity of crystal through the use of glass, marble, steel and synthetic 3D prints.

Swarovski Crystal World gardens and hand shaped maze viewed from the tall play tower

If that wasn’t enough you have the beautiful gardens, a maze and a mighty tall playtower where the kids can go crazy.

view of the tall glass play tower at Swarovski Crystal World
inside the tall glass play tower with ropes and nets for children and parents to climb

To end those hunger pangs there is a fantastic onsite café/restaurant called Daniels serving international and regional culinary delights. Plus you can’t forget the gigantic Swarovski store where you can purchase a bauble of two. Making it a recipe for a great day out. I think you’ll agree!

Horse and Cart ride Around Innsbruck

Who can resist being whisked around in a majestic horse and cart? It was one of the best ways to see the city. We took a 50 minute tour which included the city sights and the residential areas on the outskirts.

view of a building with painted mural
view of a home in Innsbruck painted yellow and surrounded by metal railings

The buildings are so grand and ornate Mr S and I relaxed with our feet up in the back whilst the girls sat up front.

feet in sandals on a blue chair in the back of the cart

They were lucky enough to have a go at steering Johnnie (the horse) too once we were off the busy city streets. It was the perfect ending to our three-day break in the wonderful city of Innsbruck

view of family in blue horse and cart going around austria with kids

TOP TIP

Buy the Innsbruck Pass! This card really will save you money. It gives you a free ride on the cable car, free public transport, completely free entry to a number of top attraction including the ones I’ve mentioned above like the Hofburg, Alpenzoo, The Crystal World and many more.

You can buy it for 24 hours (€39), 48 hours (€48) and 72 hours (€55). Children age 6 – 15 get a 50% discount.

https://www.innsbruck.info

Have you ever been to Austria with kids? Would you consider Innsbruck for your next city break? Let me know in the comments box below.

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17 Comments

  • GoodnightTheSkye 11th September 2016 at 6:28 pm

    This seems like a destination good for kids and adults alike! I’m a sucker for heights, so the mountain views in particular would really appeal to me, as well as the mix of styles of architecture.

  • emma iannarilli 11th September 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Austria looks so beautiful, I would totally love to visit, the buildings and scenary is just amazing.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 13th September 2016 at 1:56 pm

      You should Emma. Only a two hour flight from the UK. x

  • Maggie 12th September 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Wow what a stunning city!! Your daughters look like they had a ball and those views are breathtaking!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 13th September 2016 at 1:55 pm

      It’s a great place that many overlook with Vienna and Salzburg. I’d highly recommend it!

  • Rodanthi Dimou 13th September 2016 at 5:15 pm

    This is a great destination!!! So many places to visit and the views are breathtaking! I would love to go there, even though I don’t have children. I guess the child in me will do!!!! 🙂

    • Sima Sthanakiya 13th September 2016 at 5:28 pm

      You don’t need kids to do the trip! You’d have an amazing time and so many more things to see and do without kids. X

  • sveeteskapes 17th September 2016 at 6:54 am

    Those are some great pictures, definitely makes me want to go there now. Looks like you guys had a wonderful time, its such a pretty place.
    xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com

  • Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching 17th September 2016 at 7:37 am

    Oh wow, your photos are beautiful, the colours are amazing and it looks like the most wonderful trip. I cannot imagine how wonderful it must be to wander underneath a crystal cloud!

  • Ivana J 17th September 2016 at 7:44 am

    Such a lovely photos and also great tips for places.i love Austria xoxi

    http://www.theninebyivana.blogspot.com

  • Gemima 17th September 2016 at 10:45 am

    the Swarovski Crystal World looks insanely mesmerizing.deff somewhere I’de want to go check out

  • Isabella 18th September 2016 at 11:26 am

    Great picture! I would love to go to Insbruck sometime maybe next year! 🙂
    http://www.isabellaschoice.com x

  • Ruth 20th September 2016 at 5:24 am

    I went to Innsbruck a long time ago and would like to go back. I went to Austria a few weeks ago and that reminded me of how much I like the country.

  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels) 20th September 2016 at 1:11 pm

    beautiful photos! I’d love to visit it! did you buy any swarovski souvenirs?:) #mondayescapes

    • Sima Sthanakiya 20th September 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks Tanja! Well we bought the girls a little necklace each. I surprisingly refrained (very unlike me!).

  • Claire at Tin Box Traveller 22nd September 2016 at 9:13 pm

    What a brilliant collection of recommendations for families. I’m not sure which I’d want to go to first. The crystal cloud at Swarovski Crystal World is mesmerising. You photos are fantastic – they really bring your trip to life. Thanks so much for linking up with #MondayEscapes. I hope you’ll join us again next time!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 22nd September 2016 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks so much Claire, so glad you enjoyed it! Everything at the Swarovski Crystal World was amazing – too hard to choose. It was great linking up with #MondayEscapes for my first linky. I look forward to joining in again x

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