With only 24 hours in Innsbruck, we didn’t really have any set plan in place for how we’d spend our time there. Instead, we decided to just show up and wing it! When we arrived, it was cloudy and a bit chilly so we spent the morning and early afternoon checking out places where we could spend most of our time indoors, like the Hofkirche and the Goldenes Dachl museum. But then Mother Nature decided to show us a little mercy and after lunch the clouds parted and the sun finally started shining. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with our few remaining hours of daylight – ride the funicular to Hungerburg!
Locally known as the Hungerburgbahn, the funicular is a railway connecting Innsbruck to Hungerburg in the Nordkette Mountains. Combined with the cable cars that carry on further up the mountain, it’s how skiers in Innsbruck reach the slopes. There are a couple different places where you can hitch a ride on the Hungerburgbahn – we got on at the station next to the Congress building and across from the Hofgarten in Old Town since it was closest to us.
Luckily, there was a person manning the desk when we arrived, because we noticed there seemed to be a practically unlimited number of ticket types that we could purchase – all going to different locations at different altitudes. Very confusing. We decided we had enough time to take the funicular and the cable cars, so we told the lady at the desk to take us straight to the top! She smiled and told us that would be €75 for all three of us. €75! After blinking at her open-mouthed for a few seconds, we regrouped and decided we would be perfectly content to end our trip in Hungerburg, where the funicular ends, for a much more reasonable €19 round-trip. We are
cheap frugal travelers, after all.
The funicular leaves every fifteen minutes, so we didn’t have to wait long to get on. We chose the car in the very front so we’d be able to watch as we climbed the mountain. If you plan on taking photos during the ride, that’s where I would recommend sitting. Our ride began underground, but after a few minutes of weaving through tunnels, the funicular burst out into the sunshine. It was a beautiful ride up – we crossed over the Inn River and steadily climbed higher and higher, stopping a few times along the way, before reaching our destination in Hungerburg. At this point, you can go no further on the funicular. If you want to go higher up the mountain, you’ll need to buy separate tickets for the cable cars, available at the Hungerburg station if you didn’t purchase them at your starting location.
A wide viewing platform stretches the length of the station at Hungerburg, overlooking the Nordkette mountain range and the town of Innsbruck below. We had a beautiful, panoramic view of both the city and the Inn River from the viewing platform. Using the free telescopes, we were able to see everything in perfect detail, including the tips of the mountains in the distance.
The sun was just beginning to set when we were there, so any photos I took facing west had a hazy glow about them – not my favorite. I was a bit disappointed, but what can you do? It’s impossible to be everywhere on vacation at the perfect time of day. We still got some lovely shots, and when we were tired of standing and looking at the mountains (because honestly, how long can you stare at the same landscape?), we decided to take a walk through the town of Hungerburg.
We discovered that Hungerburg is way more than just a stop up the mountain for tourists and skiers. People actually live here! Can you imagine having the view from your breakfast table that the people in the house with the glass walls have? Incredible. I like to think the people I saw leaving their homes nestled among the pine trees, decked out in full ski attire, were those that had just come home from work and were trying to get a few hours of skiing in before the lifts shut down for the evening. (It’s probably not too far from the truth! If you live here, you’re literally minutes from the top of the mountain!)
Skiing isn’t the only thing you can do up here, though. We watched two hang-gliders weave over and around the snow-capped mountains and tried not to be sad that it wasn’t us. Hang-gliding is something we’ve both wanted to do for years. In fact, it was supposed to be Cory’s 30th birthday gift, but he’s now 32 and still hasn’t cashed in on that promise. One day!
The Hungerburgbahn runs in both summer and winter. Taking the funicular is also a good way to access the Alpine Zoo and a few hiking trails if you’re looking to get out of town for awhile. A ticket to Hungerburg will allow you to get off at any stop along the way and then continue on to Hungerburg when you’re ready. The last funicular back to Innsbruck leaves around 7pm, so make sure you don’t miss it!
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