How To Visit Nordkette: See Hafelekar the Top of Innsbruck

Innsbruck has a prime location nestled in the heart of the Alps, making it an exceptional travel destination. Visitors to Innsbruck not only delve into the captivating history of the Habsburg but also feast their eyes on the awe-inspiring alpine scenery that sets it apart from most European cities.

Amidst the mountain ranges that grace the picturesque skyline of Innsbruck, Nordkette catches the eyes of the visitors the most. However, it isn’t only an eye-pleasing sight. Nordkette is also a tourist attraction that can be conveniently reached from the city with ease.

If you want to visit Nordkette and are wondering how you can reach Nordkette, I’ll explain how. And by the end of this post, you also shall have an idea of how to spend time in Nordkette. There will be tips and visiting information to help you maximize your trip as well, so let’s get started!

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The mountains, hugely intertwined with Innsbruck history and its people’s daily lives, are also a significant part of the overall experience of a traveler visiting Innsbruck. The mountain peaks you’ll see looming over the city buildings as you explore Old Town Innsbruck; simply explain why.

Rising over 2000 meters in height and situated in close proximity to the city, Nordkette resembles a slumbering snow-capped giant.

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View of Nordkette and the Golden Roof from Staddturm, Innsbruck, Austria
View of Nordkette and the Golden Roof from Staddturm
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This picturesque view is particularly evident when you ascend the Stadtturm or Innsbruck City Tower, which not only offers the most breathtaking views of the old city but also serves as an excellent vantage point to admire the iconic Golden Roof, the symbol of Innsbruck and the elaborate Innsbruck Cathedral.

If you don’t want to climb a tower, you can simply walk to Rennweg Street in front of Hofkirche (Court Church) and Hofburg (Imperial Palace) to see Nordkette while in the Old City.

Nordkette extends not only in height but also in length, stretching from the northeastern to the northwestern parts of Innsbruck. To capture the panoramic views of Nordkette, one can visit the tourist attractions located on the hilly southern outskirts of the city.

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I suggest the Tirol Panorama Museum in Bergisel, where you can find a gigantic historical artwork of Innsbruck. You can also try Ambras Castle, which is the oldest museum in the world. Both places have good views of Nordkette and Innsbruck city center.

How to Go to Nordkette?

Travelers are quick to notice the gigantic appearance of Nordkette as they gaze upon it from the Old Town Innsbruck. Its towering presence makes it clear that this mountain range is situated in close proximity to the city.

As a result, visitors naturally develop the expectation that accessing Nordkette would be swift and effortless. And indeed, their impression holds more than true, as access to the tourist attractions in Nordkette is placed in the heart of the city. 

Once you find yourself in Old Town Innsbruck, reaching Nordkette becomes really convenient.

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View during the first and last parts of the journey to Nordkette from Innsbruck, Austria
View during the first and last parts of the journey to Nordkette from Innsbruck
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In Old Town Innsbruck, you’ll find the Hungerburgbahn Congress Station, a modern funicular railway service that swiftly transports you to the nearest attractions in Nordkette in less than 10 minutes. Situated along Rennweg, this station is a mere five-minute walk from the Golden Roof or just a few steps away from Hofburg

Although Hungerburgbahn gives you quick access to the Nordkette, it can only bring you to Hungerburg — a district of Innsbruck situated on the foothills of Nordkette and 300 meters above Old Town Innsbruck. 

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Railway view of Hungerburgbahn, Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
Railway view of Hungerburgbahn
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Aside from the Hungerburgbahn’s valley and top stations, the funicular railway also has a stop at Alpenzoo. Situated 750 meters above sea level, it is the most elevated zoo that you can find in Europe

After arriving at Hungerburg, your adventure can continue with a cable car ride (Nordkettenbahnen = Seegrubenbahn + Hafelekarbahn) to Seegrube (1905 meters) and to Hafelekar (2256 meters), the two highest points of interest in Innsbruck.

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The vantage point in Hungerburg in Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
The vantage point in Hungerburg in Nordkette
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These remarkable locations not only offer breathtaking views of the Alps and Innsbruck but also boast restaurants where you can indulge in a delightful meal while taking in the picturesque surroundings. 

Hafelekar is the last station of Nordkettenbahnen and Innsbruck’s highest viewpoint. Thus, this is also sometimes called the “Top of Innsbruck.

It takes just a few minutes to reach Hafelekar from Hungerburgbahn. Nordkettenbahnen is conveniently located just a few steps away from Hungerburgbahn, and the cable car ride from Nordkettenbahnen (Hungerburg station) to Hafelekar takes only about 15 minutes.

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Scenery from Hafelekar, Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
Scenery from Hafelekar
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Here’s where you can check the price of a Hungerburg funicular round trip ticket

Also, you can check the price of a Nordkette round-trip cable car ticket here. 

Make your Nordkette visit more worthwhile with the Alpenzoo + Top of Innsbruck combo ticket. (Check the price using the link)

If you’re planning to explore other tourist attractions in Innsbruck, the Innsbruck City Card is a valuable resource that you can take full advantage of. This convenient pass provides you with access to multiple museums, attractions, and transportation services in Innsbruck, including those in Nordkette.

See the price of the Innsbruck City Card here. 

If you’re uncertain about whether Nordkette is worth a visit, allow me to share my perspective in the following section. 

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Is Nordkette Worth Visiting?

Having been profoundly moved by the beauty of the mountains, I am constantly filled with excitement at the prospect of others experiencing the same.

If you plan on visiting Innsbruck, Nordkette offers a unique opportunity to be awe-inspired, which is undoubtedly the most incredible feeling one can have in the mountains

At the same time, Nordkette offers the most impressive viewpoint easily accessible from Innsbruck. From there, particularly in Hafelekar, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Innsbruck and a rewarding 360-degree panorama of Karwendel Nature Park. This is why Nordkette is highly recommended, but only during clear and sunny days.

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Overlooking view of Innsbruck from Hungerburgbahn, Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
Overlooking view of Innsbruck from Hungerburgbahn
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In addition to the breathtaking views of the Alps, visiting Nordkette offers more than just a visual treat.

Nordkette’s viewpoints also feature restaurants that provide both scenic vistas and delicious culinary delights, ensuring that both your eyes and taste buds are satisfied. The restaurants in Nordkette have special offers for a memorable stay in the mountains, such as “Panoramic Breakfast” and “Fondue Night.”

Moreover, Nordkette is also home to Alpine Zoo, the highest elevated zoo in Europe, and Cable Railway Museum, making it an excellent destination for families traveling with kids. 

You can check the links in the resources section of this post to learn more about these culinary offers in Nordkette.

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A signpost showing the directions of different hiking trails in Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
A signpost showing the directions of different hiking trails in Nordkette
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If you are staying in Innsbruck for two days or more, you might also want to try the outdoor leisure activities in Nordkette. They are another reason which makes Nordkette worthwhile, whether it is summer or winter. There are hiking trails, snowboard & ski pistes, and even hang-gliding & paragliding!

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View from Nordkette 

If you are not convinced to explore Nordkette, here are more stunning scenes that you might also witness when you visit the mountains.

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Spectacular peaks you can see on a sunny day in Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
Spectacular peaks you can see on a sunny day in Nordkette
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While the view from Nordkette may not rival the breathtaking splendor of the Swiss Alps in places like Bernese Oberland or Lucerne, it can still be truly remarkable. For instance, if you arrive early in the morning, you might be treated to a mesmerizing sea of clouds that is absolutely awe-inspiring.

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A sea of clouds over Innsbruck as seen from Hafelekar, Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
A sea of clouds over Innsbruck as seen from Hafelekar
Nordkette Geo Trail Map from Hafelekar, Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
Nordkette Geo Trail Map from Hafelekar
Beautiful peaks of Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
Beautiful peaks of Nordkette
The limestone mountains of the Karwendel Nature Park, Nordkette, Innsbruck, Austria
The limestone mountains of the Karwendel Nature Park
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Get an idea of how you can spend day(s) in Innsbruck:

3 Different Ways to Spend 1 Day in Innsbruck Itinerary

Spend 2 Days In Innsbruck, Austria (a Budget Itinerary)

Links open in a new tab.

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Nordkette Visiting Information

When it comes to exploring Innsbruck, Nordkette is a beautiful destination that can be accessed and has incredible experiences all year round. 

Whether you’re visiting during the vibrant spring season, the warm summer months, the colorful autumn foliage, or the serene winter wonderland, Nordkette never fails to captivate visitors with its natural beauty.

However, it’s essential to keep an eye out for the closed inspection dates of Nordkettenbahnen and Hungerburgbahn.

These dates are set for maintenance purposes and typically occur during the last week of each visiting season. To ensure a seamless visit, it’s recommended to plan your trip accordingly, avoiding the maintenance periods that usually fall in the last week of April and the second week of November.

Please see the official website of Nordkette, linked in the resources section of this post, for updated schedules. 

For those looking for the regular operation of the funicular trains and cable cars, the Hungerburgbahn funicular trains are available every 15 minutes.

On weekdays, they run from 07:15 am to 07:15 pm, while on weekends and holidays, the schedule extends from 08:00 am to 07:15 pm. This frequent service allows for convenient transportation to and from Nordkette.

Additionally, the Seegrubenbahn and Hafelekarbahn cable cars also operate at 15-minute intervals

The Seegrubenbahn runs from 08:30 am to 05:30 pm, offering a breathtaking journey to the Seegrube station. From there, you can further ascend to the Hafelekar station via the Hafelekarbahn, which operates from 09:00 am to 05:00 pm

By familiarizing yourself with the operation hours and frequencies of these transportation options, you can optimize your visit to Nordkette and make the most of your time exploring this magnificent alpine destination.

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How Long to Spend in Nordkette

Nordkette is undeniably one of the most breathtaking destinations you can explore while in Innsbruck.

If you are someone who shares a passion for mountain adventures like me, I’m confident that you’ll find yourself dedicating a day to Nordkette during your visit to Innsbruck.

After all, it’s impossible to resist the stunning scenery while hiking along the trails! Actually, Hafelekar and Nordkette can be the start of more mountain adventures in Karwendel Nature Park

However, for all visitors, it is recommended to allocate approximately 3 hours or even half a day to fully experience Nordkette. This includes sightseeing at each station and an hour-long round trip comprising the Hungerburgbahn funicular ride, Seegrubenbahn, and Hafelekarbahn cable car rides, accounting for queuing time.

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More Tips for Visiting Nordkette

To make the most of your visit to Nordkette in Innsbruck, here are some helpful tips and reminders. 

First, check the weather forecast: Before heading up, it’s important to check the weather forecast.

Clear days provide the best visibility, enhancing your overall experience. Plan your visit accordingly to avoid cloudy or unfavorable weather conditions.

Second, (and again) save with the Innsbruck City Card: Consider getting the Innsbruck City Card, which covers the fees for the funicular and gondola rides.

This card offers a cost-effective way to enjoy Nordkette and other attractions in Innsbruck. Take advantage of the savings and make your trip even more enjoyable.

Third, dress appropriately: As you ascend to higher altitudes, the temperature can drop significantly.

It’s essential to dress in layers and bring a jacket or coat to stay warm. Comfortable shoes are also recommended, as you may want to explore the area around the summit.

Fourth, avoid peak times for better views: The cable cars can get crowded, particularly during peak hours.

To maximize your chances of enjoying unobstructed views, plan your visit during less busy times. Waiting for a less crowded car can make your journey more comfortable

Lastly, explore the amenities and activities: Take your time to explore the various amenities and activities available at Nordkette.

Stop by the snow bar, Cloud 9, to savor a hot chocolate or other refreshments while marveling at the scenery. During winter, don’t miss the chance to visit the ice cave and the outdoor snow bar for a unique experience.

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Resources: Nordkette

So, that’s everything that I can share about the basic things you must know before visiting Nordkette. If you want to learn more details about Nordkette, here’s (see below) where you can start. 

Here’s where you can check Alpine Zoo admission tickets.

If you are planning to visit Innsbruck and you don’t have accommodation yet, here’s where you can find the best hotel accommodation in Innsbruck. 

Looking to uncover more exciting things to do in Innsbruck? Check out this comprehensive list of activities and tours available, allowing you to make the most of your time while exploring the city.

In case you missed it, here’s where you can find the prices for various passes and combination tickets to visit Nordkette.

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