I recommend it as a ‘must do activity’ when you visit Innsbruck. We really enjoyed it. The views are amazing at every point but be sure to go right to the top to have the best experience. Purchasing an Innsbruck card is a good idea if you plan to visit the Nordketten bahn as this is free with Innsbruck card and covers major part of card cost. Buses, funicular, cable cars (up to 7 rides), Zoo are all free with the Innsbruck card. Innsbruck cards are available for 24hrs/48hrs and 72 hrs. We took a 24hrs card, however we felt it is extremely difficult to cover Innsbruck in a day. We went to Goldenes Dachi, Hofburg palace , Nordkettenbahnen ,Patscherkofelbahnen , Swarovski Crystal world, Bergisel , however there are many more attractions and cable cars/funicular which we missed due to lack of time.
I recommend getting a 2 day card at least to cover the major attractions.
We went all the way up to the Hafelekar station. We started from Congress station at 560m by taking a funicular ride to Hungerburg at 860m. We then followed by 2 cable cars- first from Hungerburg to Seegrube at 1905m and then to Hafelekar at 2256m . It was definitely worth.
We stayed at Hotel Weisses Kreuz which is very close to Nordketten- 12 mins walking from hotel. It is 500m from Goldenes Dachi of the old city.
We first visited Goldenes Dachi followed by the Hofburg palace which is beside the Goldenes Dachi. After that we walked through the old town to the funicular railway, 400m only (come out through the palace and turn left). We did not need to purchase our ticket as we had the Innsbruck card. We touched the card in the entrance card reader, the gate opened and we entered funicular. Same procedure was followed for the next 2 cable cars. This took 10 mins to reach the first cable car station. We took the Ist cable car where we had some amazing views. The views got even more spectacular as we travelled in the 2nd cable car, which took us to the top of the mountain at 2000m on. At the top there was a small "cafe" and lots of opportunities to walk around and enjoy 360 degree views of the Alps. You could also take a trek up to the summit.
We went on a mid-September2012 morning at 9am and found lots of snow. It was slippery so I recommend good non slippery shoes and a stick for better support if you would like to hike or go further up. We went further up with care and enjoyed the amazing snow peaks all-round us. Also lots of white peaks, most probably Dolomite Mountains were also visible.
We then took the cable cars back down and followed by the funicular railway. But if you have time you may get off at the Alpine Zoo. We could not do it due to lack of time.
One thing must be remembered that you need to have very clear weather in order to see the peaks so look out for the weather forecast and select the best part of the day. You need at least 4 hrs. to complete this trip and if you add Alpine zoo, add another 2 hrs. extra.
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