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Imperial opulence, medieval charm and Alpine beauty, all in the Tyrolean capital, Innsbruck.

A view of Innsbruck and the Bergisel ski jump in the backgroundOne of the postcard images most associated with Austria is the view of Innsbruck’s many-hued medieval houses set against a snowy mountain backdrop. Set in the broad Inn valley between two mountain ranges of the Alps, the photogenic town is known both for winter sports and for being the seat of Tyrolean culture — think lederhosen and yodelling. But Innsbruck is also a locus of history, music and education — and the place from which the Habsburg dynasty ruled for centuries.

The result is a city with a vibrant and well-preserved old town, along with an Alpine landscape and a modern, laid-back downtown where locals and university students make their homes. You can visit palaces that were seats of imperial power in the morning, ride a funicular up a mountain and soak in the Alpine views after lunch, then take in an evening of traditional music and dance.

Exploring history

The historic core of Innsbruck is over 500 years old, and its tall and narrow pastel-painted houses give it a storybook feel. We can arrange a walking tour of the old city, where you can see the well-preserved Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo buildings of the main square, which are alternately bright or plain, or encrusted with sculpted ornamentation. The Golden Roof, a glittering balcony of fire-gilded copper tiles where the Emperor Maximilian celebrated his ill-fated marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza, is also here, and is one of Innsbruck’s most photographed sights.

Down the street, the Hofburg looms, a Baroque palace largely built by the court of the Empress Maria Theresa in the 18th century. The nearby Hofkirche, an over-the-top church meant to house the remains of the Emperor Maximilian, is an impressive structure, its interior a fantasia of pink marble, gold leaf and intricately carved ceilings.

The world of crystal

Just outside the city, a different kind of shininess pervades an attraction known as Swarovski Crystal Worlds, a park, museum and shopping area celebrating the crystal manufacturer’s headquarters. We can arrange a trip here, which includes seven underground galleries and features the Giant, a whimsical giant head built into a grassy hill, with a fountain emerging from its mouth and numerous concerts and events inside its hidden dome.

The Alps

Surrounding the city are the mountains, snow-capped and popular for winter sports. Innsbruck is one of the only cities to have hosted the Olympics twice, and it’s well known as a ski destination. Even if you have no plans to ski, the glassy modern tower of the Bergisel Ski Jump is an impressive sight, and you can climb its stairs — or take a funicular up — for excellent views of the surrounding countryside.

You can take another funicular, the Hungerburg, directly from the heart of town to the top of the Nordkette range, where you can take in the views and go hiking throughout the year.

A night of tradition on the town

Old TownBack in the city, we can arrange an evening of traditional Tyrolean music, food and dance. For those who wish to see dirndls, lederhosen, yodelling, bell-ringing and thigh-slapping dances, this is a great way to get the fully immersive picture of the Tyrol.

You can shop for traditional clothing in the old town as well — though Innsbruck also offers high-end modern shopping, restaurants and nightlife, particularly along the Maria-Theresien Strasse, Innsbruck’s gracious pedestrian boulevard.

Best time to visit Innsbruck

Innsbruck is great to visit throughout the year, since its sights are open year-round and the mountains have varying attractions depending on the season.

From mid-March to early April, Innsbruck hosts the Osterfestival or Easter Festival, where churches and other venues hold various concerts.

In the high summer from July to September, there is a series of free outdoor concerts called the Frühschoppenkonzert. The Innsbruck Early Music Festival also runs yearly in late July and early August.

From late November through December, Innsbruck has Christmas markets.

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    • Innsbruck tour including Bergisel Ski Jump
      A view of Innsbruck and the Bergisel ski jump in the background

      Innsbruck tour including Bergisel Ski Jump

      Innsbruck tour including Bergisel Ski Jump

      Spend a morning exploring Innsbruck and the nearby Bergisel Ski Jump, where you can take in far-reaching views over the city and its surrounding peaks. Your private guide will tell you about the city’s history as you walk its cobblestone streets.

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