Renaissance Schloss Ambras (castle).

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

Schloss Ambras

Top choice in Innsbruck

Picturesquely perched on a hill and set among beautiful gardens, this Renaissance pile was acquired in 1564 by Archduke Ferdinand II, then ruler of Tyrol, who transformed it from a fortress into a palace. Don't miss the centrepiece Spanische Saal (Spanish Hall), the dazzling Armour Collection and the gallery's Velázquez and Van Dyck originals.

The Spanische Saal is a 43m-long banquet hall with a wooden inlaid ceiling and Tyrolean nobles gazing from the walls. Also note the grisaille (grey relief) around the courtyard and the sunken bathtub where Ferdinand's beloved Philippine used to bathe.

Ferdinand instigated the magnificent Ambras Collection, encompassing three elements. Highlights of the Rüstkammer (Armour Collection) include the archduke’s wedding armour – specially shaped to fit his bulging midriff! – and the 2.6m suit created for giant Bartlmä Bon. The Kunst und Wunderkammer (Art and Curiosity Cabinet) is crammed with fantastical objects, including a petrified shark, gravity-defying stilt shoes and the Fangstuhl – a chair designed to trap drunken guests at Ferdinand’s raucous parties.

The Portraitgalerie features room upon room of Habsburg portraits, with paintings by Titian, Velázquez and Van Dyck. Maria Anna of Spain (No 126, Room 22) wins the prize for the most ludicrous hairstyle. When Habsburg portraits begin to pall, you can stroll or picnic in the extensive gardens, home to strutting peacocks.

Schloss Ambras is 4.5km southeast of the centre. The Sightseer bus runs every half-hour between the castle and central stops including the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and Hofburg.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Innsbruck attractions

1. Zeughaus

1.62 MILES

Emperor Maximilian’s former arsenal, the Zeughaus runs chronologically through Tyrol’s cultural history. It kicks off with geological and mineral history,…

2. Grassmayr Glockenmuseum

1.73 MILES

Showcases the Grassmayr family’s 400 years of bell-making tradition. In addition to exhibits including some formidable Romanesque and Gothic bells, you…

3. Bergisel

1.74 MILES

Rising above Innsbruck like a celestial staircase, this glass-and-steel ski jump was designed by much-lauded Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. It's 455 steps or…

4. Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum


This treasure trove of Tyrolean history and art moves from Bronze Age artefacts to the original reliefs used to design the Goldenes Dachl. Alongside…

5. Triumphpforte

1.93 MILES

This triumphal arch was built in 1765 to commemorate the marriage of the then emperor-to-be Leopold II.

6. Annasäule

2.01 MILES

Topped by a statue of the Virgin Mary, this column was erected in 1703 to mark the repulsing of a Bavarian attack.

7. Volkskunst Museum

2.02 MILES

The Volkskunst Museum presents a fascinating romp through Tyrolean folk art from hand-carved sleighs and Christmas cribs to carnival masks and cowbells…

8. Hofkirche

2.03 MILES

Innsbruck’s pride and joy is the Gothic Hofkirche, one of Europe’s finest royal court churches. It was commissioned in 1553 by Ferdinand I, who enlisted…