Should you rent a car in InnsbruckAustria>Innsbruck

Innsbruck is an important junction on the Austrian rail network. If you are just coming here to ski, then there really is no need to hire car either. Several resorts are situated right on the edge of Innsbruck itself.

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In & around the city

Why should you rent a car in Innsbruck?

  • If your plan is to tour around the Alps and perhaps do some hiking, then a hire car in Innsbruck certainly might be useful. However, it’s by no means essential, as there are still plenty of rail and bus routes for getting to and from popular hiking trails.

Beyond Innsbruck

  • For a sheer driving experience, motorists may want to hire a car in Innsbruck and head towards the legendary Stelvio Pass. From here you can enjoy the many other less celebrated Alpine roads which are nearby.
  • Innsbruck is the closest major airport to Stelvio, but if driving is your aim, we’d also suggest looking at getting there through the Dolomites from Venice.
  • Austria also has a number of famous privately operated mountain roads. The most famous of these is the Grossglockner High Alpine road. This is slightly closer to Salzburg. It’s still within an easy day’s driving loop from Innsbruck. Allow around 3 hours to get to the start of the route.
  • The highest paved Alpine road in Europe is the Ötztal Glacier Road. This runs south from Soelden and across into Italy, heading towards Bolzano.

Driving in into Germany?

  • You can also pick up a hire car from Innsbruck and drive directly to the famous fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle. This is actually a shorter drive from Innsbruck than it is from Munich Airport. Memmingen Airport, served by a handful of low cost services is closer still.
  • Note that the suggestions above might entail driving from Austria into neighbouring Germany, Italy or Switzerland, so it is important to check the terms of your rental contract to include that international driving is included. It usually is, although some agents will charge a daily fee for doing this.

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In & around Innsbruck

Innsbruck also offers some amazing alpine experiences which are very easy to access right from the city itself, using nothing other than local cable cars or funiculars:

  • Swarovski Crystal world – situated a short bus or train ride (with ample parking too) from Innsbruck is the impressive Swarovski crystal garden.
  • The Nordkette Cable Car and funicular stands out as a particularly stunning attraction, not just because of the stunning views it offers right over Innsbruck, but also because of the design of the system itself, one of the last works of the late architect Zaha Hadid.
  • Bike friendly – Innsbruck is a very cycle friendly city, with a range of trails both within the urban area and nearby. In the summer, Innsbruck is an ideal destination for both road and mountain bikers.
  • Restaurant Sky – another design-led experience is the restaurant at the top of the ski jump in the south of the city, also designed by Zaha Hadid.

Beyond Innsbruck without a car

  • The swish resort area of Soelden is surpassed only by Vienna and Salzburg in terms of tourist numbers. Although it isn’t served by rail, it is an easy coach or train + bus connection from either the city of Innsbruck or from the airport. The Ice Q restaurant, and many of the areas around Soelden were featured in the James Bond movie Spectre.
  • Grossglockner by bus – you can arrange a bus tour of the Grossglockner road by taking the train to Zell Am See, although some tours are easier to arrange from Salzburg. These Alpine roads also make for a great cycling experience, but you may still need a support vehicle to get to and from the start of the journey.

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Given that there are a number of great driving roads which can be explored from Innsbruck, it might seem surprising that we are still rating it as a “non car” destination. This is partly because Innsbruck is also still a good place to start an Alpine experience without needing to use a hire car, as local trains and buses still provide plenty of connections to the slopes.

Innsbruck really does offer an amazing range of options whether you hire a car or not – but on balance, it’s well worth looking at non-car options first.

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Author: Carometer

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