Nestled in the heart of the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck encapsulates the purest essence that is Austria. While it maintains its traditional mountain roots, Innsbruck moves forward, embracing modern and more sustainable ways of life. With easy to use public transportation, a BYOB (bring your own bag) standard, and high-quality tap water straight from the Alps, Austria’s deep-rooted environmental awareness makes sustainable tourism a breeze.
Innsbruck is home to a mix of locals- young and old, students, expats, nomads and ski bums alike. The medieval city center lies at the base of the stunning Nordkette mountain range, which appears close enough to touch. Strolls down the city’s narrow alleys offer constant glimpses of these natural wonders, reminding you to slow down and take it all in.
As previous two-time host of the Winter Olympic Games (1964 & 1976), it’s no surprise the city continues to draw a winter flux of snow aficionados, ready to experience some of the best slopes in the world. However, whether winter sports are your specialty or not, Innsbruck offers plenty to see and do year round.
From vintage finds, veggies eats, zero-waste shops and tons of outdoor activities, this Innsbruck City Guide is here to help navigate your time in Tyrol’s capital. *Pro Tips: if you are planning a short stay, consider an Innsbruck Card to see the sites. The city’s bus system also makes getting around trouble-free. However, Innsbruck is very walkable!
Cafes & Bars
This “Third Wave” cafe & bistro offers an intimate atmosphere, small bites, and all your caffeine needs. Priding themselves in creating an authentic and mindful space, this cafe purposely has no WiFi, so come with a friend and enjoy conversation or bring a book & snuggle in a cozy corner.
In a quiet pocket off one of the city’s busier streets, this is one of Innsbruck’s oldest cafes. Connected to the Hotel Central these is a constant lively buzz, however the original furnishing and vintage pieces provide a nostalgic calmness to the chaos. While most businesses close on Sundays in Innsbruck, you can come in any day of the week for coffee, breakfast and a newspaper.
If you are taking the trip up the Nordkettenbahnen, this is a must stop in between cable cars. With plenty of outdoor seating, this is the perfect location to enjoy the views at Hungerburg with a coffee, strudel or light lunch. Sit back and watch the skiers/hikers coming down the mountain.
“Delights” indeed. You can smell the scrumptious pastries from around the corner. In this cute cafe you can also find organic granola, porridge and one of the best cups of coffee in town.
Jungle-vibes in the heart of the Austrian Alps, Moustache is a coffee/lunch spot by day, lively bar by night. With plenty of veg and vegan options, you can come in for just about anything from warm falafel to an early afternoon espresso, or pre-dinner aperitif. Cash only.
Another cafe/bar, Kater Noster is Innsbruck’s home for hipsters. With an ambient atmosphere, lounge around with a coffee, drink, or one of their specialty non-alcoholic cocktails. Their spacious basement also hosts events from concerts to art exhibitions, pop-up shops and film screenings.
Where to Eat
This small and homey brunch/lunch spot provides organic eats, vegan options, and homemade delicacies, including Austria’s famous chocolate cake, gluten-free. Saturday and Sunday brunch works buffet style at € 19.20/ person, and is very popular among locals so try to make a reservation in advance.
A go-to breakfast scene for locals and tourists, they offer a vegetarian friendly menu, nut milk lattes, multilingual menus and reasonable prices. Many meals are offered with homemade elderflower juice, a must try drink in Tyrol.
Innsbruck’s major stop of local, fresh, and vegan juices & smoothies. With a few locations throughout Germany and Austria, Rauch focuses on sustainability and environmental protection.
For a quick and inexpensive but healthy meal, this is your go-to while in the city center. With multiple locations around Innsbruck, the kitchen is inspired by different ethnicities with a variety of veggie/vegan salads, hearty soups ,and warm curries.
An absolute must for a dinner out, Olive’s small but impressive menu is strictly vegan and vegetarian. Decor is minimal yet welcoming and staff is friendly, serving your fresh eats with love. They are booked for dinner most nights for good reason, so call ahead.
If you are ready for some diversity from traditional Austrian fare, stop in for fresh and flavorful Nepalese lunch or dinner. Located on the outskirts of Innsbruck’s University, there’s a mix of students, locals, and tourists alike. Seating is a combination of tables and chairs, so if sitting traditionally on the ground isn’t your thing, call ahead for a seated table. Cash only.
This tiny vegetarian restaurant offers a creative menu of Mediterranean plates with a touch of Mexican influence.
This restaurant/bar serves a full vegetarian friendly menu from burgers to pizza to bowls. Be sure to check out their pleasant outdoor seating during the warmer months.
Trendy burger restaurant that uses organic ingredients. On top of high-quality beef, they offer a veggie patty, vegan patty and a variety of veg- friendly sides. With a bustling atmosphere and hip vibe, it’s a great location to keep the entire group happy.
Sustainable Shopping: Clothing & Concept Shops
Higher-end concept store with a variety of curated goods including fabrics, decor, fragrances, cosmetics, accessories and more.
With a selection from flea markets all over the world, this is your go-to vintage shop for secondhand in Innsbruck. You can also head into their non-vintage store right across the street, NOWHERESTORE.
This concept shop offers fashion, records and curated home goods. The best part? You can shop while enjoying a glass of wine, cocktail or espresso from their stylish bar. The space frequently houses exhibitions, events and live music so stay updated on their calendar for fun community events.
Located right next to the distinguished Triumphal Arch, you will find a versatile assortment of clothing, handcrafted accessories, furnishings and gifts- all fair trade, sustainable and organic.
Take a step back in time at this vintage shop with an array of hats, accessories and household trinkets. Their collection ranges throughout the decades.
In the hustle and bustle of Old Town, here you can find a peaceful refuge with a large selection of home accessories, yoga props, natural cosmetics, organic clothing and sleep textiles. Be sure to take the stairs to the upper level’s always changing furniture exhibition.
Head in for specialty fashion made with natural fabrics locally made in Austria and Germany, plus handmade jewelry and yoga-centered + meditation items. All products are organic and fairly produced.
Sustainable Shopping: Foods & Markets
Indoor market along the river with local producers and stands. Stop in for fresh fruits and veggies straight from the farmer, as well as cheeses, baked goods, tea or wine. Grab a seat at one of the many tables (or in the summer outside) for a lovely view of Innsbruck’s infamous row of colorful houses on Mariahilf Street along the river.
Zero waste shop that holds plenty of organic cereals, pastas, nuts, spices, and dried goodies. BYO sacks & bags or purchase a few sustainable bags in shop.
The mecca for a holistic health nut, this health food shop and bistro specializes in nutritional supplements, nontoxic cosmetics and a variety of vegan goods. Their Veggie Bistro offers two dishes each day, one vegan and one vegetarian. Their soup, cookies and cakes are typically vegan as well.
This small shop in the heart of Old Town provides a variety of loose-leaf international tea, local coffee beans/grounds, espresso and specialty cafe goods.
At their multiple locations, you can find specialty health foods, natural supplements and a selection of vegan products.
Things to Do
Outdoor life is Innsbruck’s specialty, so get out there! There are hundreds of hikes, winter walks and dozens of ski resorts, plus ice skating, tobogganing and mountain biking. Always check weather advisory and trail closures during the winter months before making plans. Since the city itself is pretty flat, at the very least walk or rent a bike to see Innsbruck’s medieval Old Town. Look out for the biggest attractions: The Golden Roof, Hofburg Palace, Cathedral of St. James and Maria-Theresien Strasse.
As a two-time winter games host, Innsbruck’s remaining Olympic village has a heavenly park offering some of the best views of the Nordkette mountain range. Check to see if the city’s hockey team, the HC Innsbruck Sharks or soccer team FC Wacker Innsbruck are in town, playing at the original Olympic arenas.
The cable car and funicular rails system at Nordkettenbahn take you from the city center up to 2000m above sea level within minutes. At the different stops, visitors can hike or simply stop to take in the sights. Either way, be sure to take a break at Seegrube railway for a bite or coffee at Seegrube Restaurant to see why this area is known as the “The Jewel of the Alps”.
Sip With a View
If hiking and skiing aren’t exactly your forte, Innsbruck offers tons of places to enjoy stunning mountain views without the…ya know, physical activity part. Grab a bite at the Panorama Restaurant at the famous Bergisel Ski Jump, or enjoy a coffee or spritz at Adlers Hotel, Cafe 360 or Seegrube Restaurant.
If planning a trip to Europe during the holiday months is not on your travel bucket list yet, consider it now. Not as touristy as other Austrian cities, Innsbruck offers multiple Christmas Markets with a more local and authentic experience. Strolling under twinkling lights as the aroma of chestnuts literally roasting on an open fire fills the air, a warm cup of glühwein in hand…Innsbruck’s Christmas Markets cannot be missed.
Take a Day Trip
Although there is enough to keep you busy in Innsbruck for weeks, some of the most beautiful landscapes in Europe are a short train, bus or drive away. Consider a day trip to Seefeld, Salzburg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany or Vipiteno, Italy for some more relaxing mountain life.
The Conscious Guide to Innsbruck was contributed by our Chicago Ambassador, Jack Camardo. Jackie Camardo is a Chicago native, registered nurse, and doctoral student on the journey to becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner. As an active community member, Jac founded the organization Student Nurses for Social Justice at the UIC College of Nursing. She runs the blog Natural Jac which focuses on holistic health, travel for the soul, and steps to more natural and green lifestyle.