Hey there? Planning a quick trip to Innsbruck, Austria with kids?
My family visited Austria in December 2023. We took a day trip from Salzburg to Innsbruck on the train on the day after Christmas with our two teens, ages 16 and 19. It was a long, high-energy day, but we did a lot of fun things and loved visiting Innsbruck during the holidays!
Innsbruck is a ski town that has hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice – in 1964 and 1976. If skiing is your thing, then that's an easy way to fill a winter day in Innsbruck. We were looking for other activities and found that there were more than enough fun Innsbruck activities to fill our day.
Here's how we spent one day in Innsbruck, Austria with kids. Plus tips for saving more than 50% (!) on a full day of activities.
Get the Innsbruck Card
We built our day around the Innsbruck Card, which you can buy from the Innsbruck Tourism office. Buy the card at:
- the official Innsbruck Tourism website,
- tourist information centers,
- larger museums,
- Innsbruck Airport.
We picked up our cards from the Innsbruck Tourism office (Innsbruck Tourismus on the map). It's on the way from the train station to the Old City – an easy 15-minute walk.
Innsbruck Tourism provided my family with four 24-hour Innsbruck Cards, but we were prepared to buy them. It was obvious that the Innsbruck Card would save us money on the activities that we wanted to do. We would have saved about €65 per adult (55% off!) on the following activities if we had bought the Innsbruck Card like we planned.
Another BIG advantage to the Innsbruck Card is that it's easy. You just show your card at each activity and on public transportation. That's SO MUCH better than navigating multiple websites (translated from German to English) or unfamiliar ticket systems and pulling out your credit card every time. And we didn't have to buy or reserve anything in advance. We chose activities before we arrived, but it was easy to make changes along the way.
The Innsbruck Card is intended for children and adults over age 6. Young children will get in free to most of these activities. The Child Innsbruck Card is for ages 6-15. Adults are age 16+.
Here are the activities we chose for our one day in Innsbruck with the Innsbruck Card, but there are many more included activities to choose from.
Related: My Review of the Go City Vienna Pass
Altstadt is German for “Old Town” and many cities in this region have an Altstadt. We didn't spend much time here first thing in the morning, but Altstadt was our “home base” for our day in Innsbruck. In the heart of Altstadt, the streets are narrow and closed to vehicles. It covers just a few blocks and it feels like walking through a fairy tale city. It's so charming.
There is lots of fun shopping and dining in Altstadt. We stopped at Mamma Mia at dinnertime for pizza and it was delicious! We got in without reservations but were told that our time was limited because every table was reserved later. If you know where you want to eat, make restaurant reservations online whenever you can in Austria.
Confession… We also ate at McDonald's in Altstadt Innsbruck. We weren't the only ones. It was packed. We were in a rush to get to our next activity and picked the easiest and fastest option. If you or your kids want something fast and familiar, you'll find McDonald's in the heart of Altstadt.
Look for the Golden Roof in Altstadt. You'll know it when you see it. It's one of Innsbruck's most famous landmarks.
Top of Innsbruck
This is one of the big ticket activities on the Innsbruck Card and we loved it. The cable car is located in/near Altstadt. It takes you to Nordkette, a ski resort at the top of the mountain. There are about 3 stops in between and a second gondola that will take you from Nordkette's base to another ski chalet higher up. The views of the Alps and Innsbruck are FANTASTIC!
There was no snow on the ground in Innsbruck on the December day we were there, but it was everywhere up at Nordkette. White snow, majestic mountains, blue skies, puffy clouds… the photos practically take themselves.
There were more sightseers than skiers on the cable car. We did this first thing in the morning because it was our top priority and we hoped to beat the crowds, though I'm not sure how crowded it got. Plan 1-2 hours to ride to the top, walk around a little, and ride back down.
Alpenzoo is one of the cable car stops on the way to the Top of Innsbruck. We stopped here on our way down. Because my kids are older and it wasn't a high priority, we didn't walk through the whole zoo. The Innsbruck Card makes it easy to sample activities without worrying about the cost.
Alpenzoo is one of the highest-altitude zoos in the world and it only has animals that are native to this region. It's about a 10-minute walk from the cable car and it's all on a hill.
The best animal we saw was the wolf, which made me think of Little Red Riding Hood. The Grimm Brothers' hometown is just a few hours away, so this species may be the one who inspired the story!
I could have skipped Alpenzoo because I don't think it did us much good to only do it halfway. And it was a longer walk from the cable car than I expected. BUT… my teenage son said it was one of his favorite Innsbruck activities. He will vote for a zoo over an Imperial Palace any day.
Alpenzoo is small, but it's a nice zoo for families and animal lovers.
Swarovski Kristallwelten was the other big-ticket activity on our list. And it took most our our afternoon. It's about 30 minutes from Altstadt by public bus or the Kristallwelten shuttle. Both the bus and shuttle are free with the Innsbruck Card. Plan 1-2 hours for the museum, plus travel time.
Swarovski Kristallwelten is an art museum inspired by Swarovski crystals. It is located at Swarovski headquarters outside Innsbruck. I didn't know what to expect before we visited and I was pleasantly surprised.
Each exhibit at Swarovski Kristallwelten was designed by a different artist. Many exhibits were immersive and interactive. Plus, we found dazzling displays of Swarovski costumes and jewelry worn on stage and in films.
Whether you take the public bus or shuttle from Altstadt or the train station depends on your timing. The shuttle is the most direct, but if you miss one, it could be a long wait until the next one. HERE is a link to the Swarovski Kristallwelten shuttle schedule. The public bus runs more frequently but makes many stops along the way. We took the bus there and the shuttle back.
There is also a shop in Altstadt Innsbruck named Swarovski Kristallwelten, which translates to Swarovski Crystal Worlds. If you use a map app for public transportation, make sure that you are finding the route to Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens, Austria.
We got back to Altstadt just in time to visit the Hofburg, or Imperial Palace before it closed for the day.
This Imperial Palace is one of several in Austria. It's not as grand as Schonbrunn Palace or the Hofburg in Vienna, but it was fascinating to walk through the rooms where Empress Maria Theresa and Sisi spent time and learn more about them.
The Hofburg tour is self-guided and you can take as much or as little time as you want – probably 30-60 minutes for most families.
We missed City Tower, but it's in Altstadt and it's included on the Innsbruck Card. Climb the 133 steps of this medieval tower to get a bird's eye view of Innsbruck.
Lumagica is a nighttime attraction we were lucky to catch during the Christmas holiday season. It is not available all year and it is included with the Innsbruck Card.
Lumagica is a large holiday light display in the Imperial Gardens, adjacent to the Altstadt pedestrian zone and across from the Hofburg. It's a walkthrough experience that is festive and delightful for all ages. I'm glad we took a late train back to Salzburg so we could enjoy this holiday treat after dark!
There are many fun activities to fill one day in Innsbruck, Austria with kids and the Innsbruck Card is the best way to save time and money on all of them.
I hope that our experience will help your family plan a great trip to Austria!
Please share questions or your best Innsbruck tips in the comments.