10 reasons to visit the Austrian Tirol

Date Posted: 18/06/2013

Swarovski Crystal Worlds, credit TVB Innsbruck.

Pictured: Swarovski Crystal Worlds. (Photo credit: TVB Innsbruck).

A year-round destination which boasts a host of cultural and historic attractions in addition to its outdoor offering, here are ten great reasons why you should arrange a group holiday to the Austrian province of Tirol.

1. Swarovski Kristallwelten

Swarovski Crystal Worlds is Tirol’s number one tourist attraction, its name synonymous with jewellery, fashion and ornaments.

Founded in 1995, the Crystal Worlds provide a memorable insight into the fascination of crystal through creative design, art and exhibitions.

The newly designed and renovated Swarovski store in Innsbruck’s Old Town is also well worth a visit, offering an experience in itself, as well as the opportunity to shop.

2. Alpenzoo                                                                        

Affording spectacular views of Innsbruck, the Alpenzoo is reportedly the highest zoo in Europe and can be reached by taking the Hungerburgbahn funicular up to the Alpenzoo Station. 

Home to over 2,000 animals and 150 species, the zoo presents a comprehensive overview of the animal world of the Alps. From Alpine mammals still in abundance to endangered species, the Alpenzoo promises a wonderful insight into the biodiversity of the Alps.

3. Kufstein Fortress                                                                                   

Built in the 13th century under Bavarian rule, Kufstein first became part of Tirol in 1342 and the fortress was the arena of many battles for control over the next 500 years.

Protectively positioned overlooking Kufstein, the landmark has become one of the most popular tourist attractions of the region.

Groups can experience history first-hand and bring it to life with stories and legends from the past.

Be sure to explore the Kaiserturm tower, which served as a state prison; the 60-metre deep ‘Deep Well’, the underground rock-cut passage; and take time to visit the local history museum and exhibition.

4. Bergisel Ski Jump Stadium                                                                  

Towering above the city of Innsbruck, the Olympic Ski Jump on Bergisel was constructed for the 1964 and 1976 Olympics and more recently was redesigned by esteemed London-based architect Zaha Hadid.

Hofburg Imperial Palace, credit TVB Innsbruck

Pictured: Hofburg Imperial Palace. (Photo credit: TVB Innsbruck).

This tourist attraction gives an insight into what runs through the mind of ski jumpers before they take their jump. The view down to Innsbruck from the jumping platform is breath-taking, in more ways than one, as the terrifying view standing before them is of the cemetery below.

5. The Tirol Panorama with Kaiserjägermuseum

Opened in 1880, the original museum of the Tirolean Imperial Infantry (Kaiserjäger) sits on the site of the famous battle in 1809, where local hero Andreas Hofer and Tirolean freedom fighters defeated French and Bavarian troops fighting for Napoleon.

The gigantic 1,000-square-metre Panorama painting, depicting the battle for freedom, was relocated to the new building next door in 2011 and has become the centrepiece of a complex of exhibitions tracing Tirolean social and cultural heritage through the ages. 

Owing to its location the museum offers fantastic views over Innsbruck and the Nordkette mountain chain.

6. Hofkirche (Court Church)                                          

Built in Gothic style in 1555, the Hofkirche (Court Church) serves as a memorial to Emperor Maximilian I, one of Austria's most famous Habsburgs. 

Taking more than 80 years to complete, the ornate white marble cenotaph is surrounded by 28 larger-than-life bronze statues of Maximilian's ancestors, relatives and heroes. The church also contains the tomb of Andreas Hofer, Tirol's national hero.

The Hofkirche is located in Innsbruck’s Old Town and is a few steps away from one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, the Golden Roof, which was commissioned by Emperor Maximilian I to watch spectacles taking place in the city below.

7. Hofburg (Imperial Residence)

The Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in Innsbruck is one of Austria’s three most important historical buildings, after Schönbrunn Palace and the Hofburg in Vienna.

Following recent remodelling and renovation, the Hofburg now comprises five themed museum exhibitions, which illustrate aspects of the political and cultural history of the former imperial residence.

City Tower, Innsbruck, credit TVB Innsbruck.

Pictured: City Tower, Innsbruck. (Photo credit: TVB Innsbruck).

The rooms include the Maria Theresia Rooms in original 18th century style, the Empress Elisabeth Apartment replicated in 19th century style, as well as a small Furniture Museum, Ancestral Gallery and Painting Gallery.

8. Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras)

Perched dramatically above Innsbruck, Ambras Castle was originally a fortress of the Counts of Andechs 1,000 years ago.

It was under the rule of Archduke Ferdinand II from 1564, that the castle was transformed into the palace of today. He commissioned the splendid Spanish Hall, one of the earliest examples of German Renaissance interiors.

Group visitors can explore the Lower Castle, containing arms and armour; the valuable art collection on the first floor; whilst in the Upper Castle paintings and sculptures can be viewed, as well as the bathroom of Philippine Welser, Ferdinand’s wife, one of the few private bathrooms to have survived from the 16th century. 

9. Silberbergwerk (Silver Mine)

In the Middle Ages, the town of Schwaz was the mining centre of Europe, providing more than 85 per cent of the world’s silver production.

With over 10,000 miners searching for silver and copper, Tirol became one of the richest states in Europe.

Discover the mountain from a new angle and delve 800-metres underground on an adventurous journey into the past and gain a fascinating insight into the heyday of silver mining.

10. Stadtturm Innsbruck (City Tower)                                  

Built between 1442 and 1450, Innsbruck’s City Tower is one of the city's most important historical landmarks, after the Golden Roof.

Climb the 148 spiral steps to the viewing platform and admire the magnificent 360-degree view of the historic rooftops, spires and surrounding mountains of the city.

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