I first got to know Innsbruck as a stopover when I worked in the ski town of St. Anton. Today, with a family of my own, I can attest this little city has a lot to offer when it comes to family fun.
If you base yourself in Innsbruck’s medieval Old Town (Altstadt), you’ll find the cobbled streets of fairy-tale Austria along with welcoming, child-friendly locals. Sporty families will be in their element here, thanks to winter skiing or summer biking and hiking at nearby Muttereralm. And the kids are always delighted with frankfurters and Sacher cake.
Here are my tips for enjoying three days in Innsbruck with the family.
Summers can be wet and humid, so pack light layers and raincoats.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a classic Austrian apple strudel—there’s a dedicated strudel café just a few paces from the Golden Roof.
Take a taxi or the tram to the Bergisel Ski Jump for the chance to see ski jumpers in action. Ride the funicular to the viewing terrace, then snap family selfies against the Innsbruck backdrop. If the jumpers aren’t in action, the views and strudel from the Bergisel Sky restaurant make up for it.
In the afternoon, stroll the streets of the Old Town (Altstadt), stopping for a photo by the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dach). The cobbled streets are challenging for strollers, so a back carrier is a better option with young kids. Cozy cafés with tourist-friendly waiters and hot chocolates are ideal for breaking up the afternoon amble.
Dedicate your second day to the mountains. Ride up to Hafelekar Mountain in the Nordkette cable car; the 3-stage ride offers things to do at each station. Step off at Hungerberg to visit the Alpine Zoo Innsbruck, enjoy mountain views over lunch at Seegruber, and snap photos at 7,600 feet (2,300 meters) at the Hafelekar peak.
Outdoor fun also abounds at nearby Muttereralm. Take the tram to the cable car station (30 minutes), then head up to the mountain playground. Attractions seem to change often, but we’ve come across a wooden jungle gym, tree houses, gold panning, mountain carts, and a giant sand pit. Older kids might enjoy a mountain bike ride in the summer or skiing or snowboarding in the winter.
If you’re a family of daredevils, spend the afternoon recreating scenes from Cool Runnings at the Igls Bobsleigh Center near Innsbruck. Older kids might enjoy concluding the trip with a Tyrolean folk show—complete with yodeling, dance, and traditional dress—at the Alpensaal show venue.