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Things to do in Innsbruck

  • Schloss Ambras Ambras Castle Innsbruck, Austria
    Schloss is German for castle; which could also be used for a chateau, manor house or palace and if it were in England, it would be known as a stately home. However, the schlosses built after the middle ages, or to be more specific, after the 16th century, were more homes than they were fortresses or castles as we in America know them. The picture to the right will attest to that since it is the Schloss Ambras, or the castle of Ambras that sits in the hills in Innsbruck, Austria. Its importance is associated with Archduke Ferdinand II both culturally and historically, since it was his home from 1563 to 1595. The bottom of the residence holds two rooms that have the armor and weapons; on the first floor is a costly art collection, with the upper story containing the bathroom of Ferdinand's wife, Phillipine Welser. There is a Spanish hall that sits between the upper and lower floors of the home that contains beautiful examples of German Renaissance architecture in the form of walls full of frescoes.  During the 10th century, a fortress of sorts was built on the site of this castle, where the House of Andechs lived, but in 1133 it was destroyed and no remains could be found, although there are parts of the new castle that were constructed using parts of it. This home was built by Archduke Ferdinand II, second son of Emperor Ferdinand I, who upon being made the province of Tyrol's governor in 1563, hired two Italian architects to transform the existing medieval fort into a Renaissance mansion for his wife Phillipine, a woman without title and he had secretly married. It became Phillipine's home and where Ferdinand stored his collection of portraits, armour, weapons and curiosities. Ferdinand died in 1595, and his second son Karl II of Austria received the castle in his will. Karl cared little for the castle, and in 1606 sold it to Emperor Rudolf II. The house was used infrequently after that sale, and it fell into disrepair. Emperor Leopold I moved some of the items to Vienna; where today may be viewed at the National Library. Archduke Karl Ludwig, governor of Tyrol, in 1855, instructed Ambras to be refurbished, so he could use it as a summer residence; but it eventually fell into disrepair once more. Starting in 1950, the castle was run by the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and was restored overall and finally opened to be viewed by the public in 1970-1981. Ferdinand II had become the best patron of the Hapsburg family, and his collection at Ambras was displayed such that he was considered to be way ahead of his time in regards to assembling a marvelous collection set up like a museum. His three armouries and gallery of art and curiosities had been set up and used as if it were a museum right from the start. The chamber of art and curiosities, as it is called, contains many wonderful relics, scientific items, toys, or precious objects, housed where it was originally put; whereas many others in the region of Europe were vandalized, plundered or changed drastically. The magnificent relics showcase the latter Renaissance encyclopedic collections that are superb examples of that time. What is so unique is that the exhibits still sit where they were put and meant to be viewed by any visitors; with exquisite corals shown in cabinet-boxes, turnery constructed of ivory, wood, glass figurines, porcelain and silkpaintings belonging to the oldest European collection of Asian artifacts. There are rare works of art by European artisans such as the "little death" carved of wood by Hans Leinberger and other objects like bronze animals, handstones, clocks, coconut or rock crystal, goblets created from rhinoceros horns, music and measuring instruments and automats. One of the most prominent aspects of the collection are the portraits of very strange little hairy people, Vlad Dracula and many more. However, the favorites of Ferdinand were his collections of armour and weaponry. His Rustkammer collection contains some of the rarest suits of armor that was made in the 15th century and previously owned by Emperor Maximilian I and Archduke Sigimund. Tournament armor from the German joust or course, plus the armor of the court's giant Bartlma Bon, partaker in the famous tournament of Vienna in 1560 are all displayed. The Heldenrustkammer collection contains the armor of famous commanders that were put into marvelous 16th century display cases; and the Leibrustkammer collection holds the duke's personal armor as well as the armor used by the court of Innsbruck. One of the most magnificent free standing halls of the Renaissance period is the Spanish Hall that was constructed in the years 1569 to 1572 and contains 27 floor to ceiling portraits of the princely rulers of the Tyrol region along its expansive 43 meter length. The top floors of the castle, which is the oldest, holds the Hapsburg Portrait Gallery with over some 300 incredible portraits that date back to the 1400s and go all the way to the last Holy Roman Emperor, Franz II; who also happened to be a contemporary of Napoleon Bonaparte. Since the ruling dynasties were interrelated, there are members of other famous European families and all the paintings were done by the best artists of their eras, like Diego Velazquez, Lucas Cranach, van Dyck, Anton Mor and Titian.

  • Nordpark Cable RailwaysNordpark Cable Railways Innsbruck, Austria
    Let's get ready to ride. Which is exactly what you can do in Innsbruck, that can't be done anywhere else in the world. Ride to the Swiss Alps in a cable car, directly from the center of the city in Innsbruck, Austria. Called the Nordkettenbahnen, this new cable system will take you from the city of Innsbruck up to the high mountains in just 20 short minutes, where along the way you will see more beauteous panoramic views than anywhere else in the world, and get breathtaking views like never before. The first station of Hungerburg you will be able to see the entire city of Innsbruck where the views are clear over 350 days a year. This station or section is only 450 feet up the mountainside, while the next section sits at over 1650 feet above, called the Seegrube. Here the views are of the Zill Valley Alps, the Stubai, the middle Inn Valley and the Wipp Valley near the Italian border. Want to go higher? Then climb aboard and go to 3375 feet into the air to the next section called Hafelekar. Inn Valley is very populated, which is completely the opposite of the pristine wilderness of the Karwendel Alpine Park that sits across from it, creating a contrast so brilliant that you will spend many hours just viewing this most unforgettable vision. If you have come here for skiing, then you had better be excellent, as this Hafelekarrinne is one of the steepest courses in all of Europe with a gradient that is 70%! You must be an expert to ski this course; and if it is a snowy powder on the run, then you will have a lot of local company out here hitting these magnificent slopes for that incredible adrenalin rush. And since you are in the Alps, make sure that you have all the necessary equipment, avalanche information and updates; and dress for the most extreme weather possible. The snowboarding here is as awesome as the skiing and this is world famous for its ski trails and runs. There are many areas for the children to enjoy this winter wonderland for skiers or snowboarders; with child care services available as well as instruction for folks of all ages. Wednesdays are school students days from 11 AM and could be full of wild screaming happy kids, but that is usually how it is up here most of the time anyway. Skiing these slopes will bring out the best wild child in you that you have inside.  If you are on the slopes in the winter and spending the whole day there, then be sure to try the great restaurants on the Seegrube and Hafelekar sections where the sights are as wonderful as the food. The highest point of the mountain at Hafelekar is over 3300 feet and you can sit on the top floor of the restaurant to enjoy the amazing panoramas that exist up here. They offer authentic Tyrolean foods and snacks. The same holds true in the summer when you are on the mountainside for hiking and need a place to stop and catch your breath with some fresh clean air and would like a snack to accompany you.

  • Alpenzoo
    The Alpenzoo is the highest zoo in the world, sitting at over a thousand feet above the sea, and is home to all the animals that call the Alps their home. Housed here are over 2000 species that include the small yellow cockerel, moose, bearded vulture with wingspans over 4.5 feet and the mammoth bison. Otters playfully swim and jump in the cold waters, while varieties of fish whisk in and out of sight. And speaking of sights, don't forget to look out over the mountains where the vistas are beautiful. The rangers that look after the animals here also take care of any endangered species or disabled critters that were brought here to be nursed back to health and into their wild home along the Alps. They also house bears and wolves here, but the special sight to see is the bearded vulture that was almost made extinct in this area by the hunters long ago; not realizing that they were slowly destroying these mighty birds.

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  • Cathedral of St. JamesSt. James Cathderal Innsbruck, Austria
    John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was born July 4th, 1872, in Baroque architect Johann Jakob Herkommer, designed this church's renovations during 1717 and 1724, on a site that was previously the home of another Gothic church, and roofed with great domes and an elaborate interior that was done in stucco by the Asam brothers. One of the most important pieces in the old church is the sculpture of the Madonna and child that sits on the main altar and painted by the German master Lucas Cranach the Elder. The musical carillon creates peaceful chimes, and on the north aisle of the church, a 1620 monument of Archduke Maximillian III, who had died in 1618. The cathedral was last refurbished in 1992 and 1993. The cathedral was renovated after it had been heavily damaged during bombing in World War II, in 1944, but the interior ceilings paintings of the Glorification of St James wasn't hurt. In 1726 to 1732, Baroque marble altars were created and these also were not damaged. An intricately carved pulpit was put in just before that, and in 1964, the church of St. James became a cathedral.

  •  Museum of Tyrolean Folk Art
    The museum is housed in what was originally a monastery built during the mid 16th century, then becoming a school in 1785, and finally a museum in 1929; with objects that were collected from the old Tirol region, including the valleys of Ladin near the Dolomites and Trentino region. All pertaining to the ethnic backgrounds of the people, there are collections of costumes, furniture, masks, nativity scenes and farming tools. This superb museum is considered to be one of the best local heritage museums in Europe and the expansive collection depicts great insights into the culture and lifestyles of the people here. The newest exhibit is the Tirolean folk song archives that include 5 listening stations where you can just push a button and hear the real Tirolean folk music that existed many centuries ago. Many songs are historical in theme and the entire collection contains over 10,000 songs.

Local Restaurants in Innsbruck
  • SalzPfeffer
    From the soup pot is offered; noodle, dumpling, Leberknodelsuppe, Fritattensuppe, Homemade minestrone, garlic cream or pumpkin soup. Salads offered include; green salad with grilled turkey breast and homemade bread; green salad; green salad with chicken wings and salsa sauce; beetle bean salad; green salad with grilled shrimp in garlic; mixed salad; potato salad; green salad with fried turkey breast and homemade bread; sour sausage, baloney, onion rings, oil and homemade bread; caprese with tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, basil and homemade bread; athletes lettuce salad, yogurt, tomatoes, corn and homemade bread; tuna salad with fresh tomatoes, onions, olive oil and homemade bread; crash salad lettuce, cucumbers, corn, Schwarzbrocroutons, garlic dressing and homemade bread; tomato salad with olive oil and homemade bread; berg lettuce salad, fried bacon, yogurt seed oil dressing and homemade bread; Styrian bowl of green salad, scarlet runner beans, onion, oil and homemade bread; Greek salad and homemade bread; salad plate with egg and homemade bread; pasta salad with ham, cheese, onions, tomatoes and peppers; green salad with fried cheese slices and homemade bread; Swiss sausage salad with homemade bread; spring salad green salad, radishes, cheese, ham strips, carrots, eggs, homemade bread and French dressing; green salad with fried chicken livers and homemade bread; Italian house salad large tossed salad with mozzarella, olives, artichokes and homemade bread; Lettuce Maria Trost, hot Kartofferin, Gero, strips of bacon, hard-boiled egg, garlic-oil dressing and homemade bread; corn salad is green salad with radicchio, walnuts, egg, carrots, balsamic vinaigrette and homemade bread. Delicacies include; cordon bleu Santorini with spinach and feta cheese filling and fried; champignonrahmschnitzel, turkey or pork with rice; cordon San Daniele pork with pommes frites; Parisian steak with cranberries; Knofl Vienna pork with pommes frites; grill chops triggered loin with vegetables and pommes frites; cordon bleu with turkey or pork and pommes frites; Wiener Schnitzel pork with pommes frites; half roast chicken; chicken liver fried with tartar sauce; nature scavenger turkey or pork with rice and gravy; grilled vegetables, chips and herb butter; turkey cutlets with baked potato fries; all kinds baked with tartar sauce; bernese sausages with fries; chicken wings with fries; dumpling with egg and lettuce; baked mushrooms with tartar sauce; minced steak with butter broad beans; turkey tenderloin skewer with fries; hash browns and creamed spinach and egg; baked meatloaf with broad beans and fried; Zurich sliced rice; baked Swiss cheese with tartar sauce; Carinthian Kasnudeln with green salad.


Roasted chicken SalzPfeffer Innsbruck, Austria


Chicken livers SalzPferrer Innsbruck, Austria


Weiner Schnitzel SalzPfeffer Innsbruck, Austria


Steak butter broad beans

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  • Glockenmuseum Grassmayr Glockenmuseum Grassmayr Innsbruck, Austria
    In the year 1599, in the region known as Tyrol, in the city of Innsbruck, Bartlme Grassmayr cast his first bell using a unique process known as ribbing, but was secretly kept during those times. This knowledge and experience became the Grassmayr Bell Foundry and was passed down through the generations fourteen times. In over 100 countries throughout the world, the Grassmayr bells can be heard ringing and tolling for God and the millions of people that love to here the musical bells. Since that time, they have become involved in restoring historical bells and have started to manufacture technical accessories and equipment that is used for bell ringing systems. The secret ribbing technique has done more than produce the finest bells on the earth, but they have also found that the bells, especially the bigger ones can produce beautiful musical tones; up to 50 on the big ones. The tonal structure for the Grassmayr octave bell will show itself to have different tones by its acoustically audible striking note and a challenge appears here so that the various tones of one bell become harmonious for that tone and to be able to put it with other bells to make a set of completely harmonious tones for all. With these tones known, the founders then calculate what the new bell should be and then transforms it into a ribbed wooden mold. Then the casting form is made of loam, and when the molten bronze is poured into it, at an 1100 degree C., it becomes a new bell with just the right tones to match and become harmonious with the other bell or bells. Along with this distinguishing tone, the duration of its length is one of the hallmarks of a Grassmayr bell.  In the cathedral, 8 of the famous and joyful Grassmayr bells can be heard.

  • 1964 Winter Olympics
    The IX Olympic Winter Games were held in Innsbruck, Austria with 1091 athletes from 36 countries across the world. It was a multi-sport event and was also noteworthy because of the deaths of two Olympians in training, Australian alpine skier Ross Milne and English luge slider Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski; and the previous deaths of the complete US figure skating team and families three years prior. Milne had got caught in an edge and slide into a tree, which some put down to inexperience, while others claimed that it was overcrowding by contestants. In 1961, the US figure skating team and many family members had died when their plane crashed in Brussels, Belgium on their way to the World Championships in Prague. The results of that crash destroyed the US hopes of winning anything in that category, but the overall drama was so overpowering that the event was cancelled for that championship; and did affect the Winter Olympics. In deciding to bring the Olympics to Innsbruck, the city had two other viable competitors with Calgary, Canada and Lahti, Finland. But the results were 49 votes for Innsbruck, 9 for Calgary and none for Lahti. It was a most memorable year, since the snow failed to show up for the world class event and had to be brought in. The Austrian army hacked 20,000 blocks of ice bricks from a local mountain top for the luge and bobsled runs and over 40,000 cubic meters of snow came to supply the Alpine ski courses with the troops packing it all down by hand and foot. Lidia Skoblikova took every women's speed skating event and that wasn't matched until 1980, when Eric Heiden did it at the Lake Placid games. The Italian bobsled pilot Eugenio Monti loaned the English team a bolt so that they could compete, and the Italians took the bronze and Monti was given the first Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship. Austria's Egon Zimmerman won the gold medal for the men's downhill alpine skiing, and the Canadian team won the gold for the 4 man team. The team that won the most medals and the most gold medals were the members of the USSR; which ironically no longer exists.

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  • Swarovski Crystal WorldsSwarovski Crystal Worlds Innsbruck, Austria
    Coming into the world as the son of a glass cutter, in North Bohemia, which is today a part of the Czech Republic, Daniel Swarovski finished a two year apprenticeship program in his father's small factory. Gaining many valuable lessons about glass and the precise cutting that is involved, Daniel soon invented a crystal cutting machine that revolutionized the industry and helped him start his own factory away from his father's and other so that his invention and other ones would be away from any prying or nosey people. In 1895, he began his company, Swarovski, finding out that he would need a lot of power to run the equipment, and the best power to do that in his region of the world would be to tap into the raw and gigantic power of water. He found such a place in Wattens, Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria and began the most exciting journey of his life. In the 1950s, the company became involved in the beautiful colors of the Aurora Borealis, and the effect to replicate that in a crystal became reality in 1956, with the help of Christian Dior. Just two decades later, during the winter Olympics at Innsbruck, the world famous silver crystal mouse was created from chandelier parts and a new milestone was achieved, marking the beginning of a world fascination with the silver crystal collection. The Home accessories collection has become masterpieces of style, beauty, functionality and luxurious lifestyle. Another fantastic innovation is the crystal paradise objects that were inspired by the natural colors of flora and fauna, intricately designed figures that were amazing in their crystalline details and colors, crossing a boundary of materials that blended together perfectly like crystal and granite. In 1977, the company joined the jewelry jungle creating magnificent examples of color, form and fashion. It has become one of the crown companies in the costume jewelry business; cherished by millions of jewelry fashion lovers and dealers. In 1989, the Daniel Swarovski collection started with only the finest materials in the world being used to adorn these extravagant examples of jewelry, accessories and handbags. In the year of 1987, crystal lovers, enthusiasts and collectors helped to create the Swarovski Collectors Society, a magazine was started, and the first annual edition of the SCS called the Lovebirds, and today the name has been changed to the Swarovski Crystal Society with over 400,000 members in 35 countries of the world. In 1993, the crystal mesh was invented that was a wonderful metallic fabric made of tightly woven crystals. The kristallwelten, the crystal factory world was opened in 1995, celebrating a 100 years of Swarovski, and has become the second most visited attraction in the country with over 7 million people visiting so far.

  • 1976 Winter Olympic Games
    Looking back, it seems as if those days were notorious for violence, although today it hasn't gotten much better, especially after 9/11. But once again, the Olympics were being held in Innsbruck, Austria, with the 1976 games or the XII Olympic Winter Games; with the Munich massacre happening in 1972 during the 72 Summer Olympics; which heightened the security attention for this event and infiltrated the minds of the many sports entrants and those coming to watch the excitement of winning and the agony of defeat. Those cities that were involved in the bids for the winter Olympics were Tampere, Finland, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Sion, Switzerland and Denver, Colorado. The winning bidder was Denver, but after some voter problems and dissension, the games were offered to Whistler; whereupon they also declined saying that a governmental change had affected the games location. Salt Lake City, Utah offered to hold the games there, but the games committee decided to hold them in Innsbruck again. Franz Klammer, Austrian favorite won the men's downhill ski event, with tremendous pressure from the defending champ Bernhard Russi of Switzerland and his countrymen. Dorothy Hamil won the gold in figure skating and the wedge haircut became popular. English skater John Curry changed his routine to impress the judges and won the gold. Rosi Mittermaier from West Germany won two gold and a silver in the women's alpine skiing events and Soviet Tatiana Averina won four gold medals in speed skating. The USSR again won the most medals with 13 gold, 6 silver and 8 bronze.

  • Imperial Palace HofburgImperial Palace Hofburg Innsbruck, Austria
    During the mid 1300s, the remains of a Roman wall was evident in the city of Innsbruck, Austria. Towards the end of the century, Duke Leopold IV started buying land that would later house the imperial palace of hofburg. In 1453 to 1463 Duke Sigmund der Munzreiche had a castle built that would incorporate the Roman wall and continue at a right angle to it. Emperor Maximilian I made the castle bigger, and after it was finished in 1519, it was regarded as the most exquisite Gothic structure of that time and was beginning to acquire the qualities of a monument. The next year, 1520, saw the construction of a large kitchen, small courtyard and larger courtyard added to the main structure. During the mid 1500s, from 1536 until 1570, the entire complex was transformed into a more Renaissance style palace and the courtyards were painted with intricate murals. Ferdinand II took possession of the palace and in 1577 had a chapel built that would house his two wives and himself after their deaths; it was called the Silver Chapel, and it was constructed so that a passage could be built connecting it with the court church. In 1628, when the palace belonged to Leopold V, it was to be destroyed so that a new castle could be built on the site, but the Thirty Years War began and his attention was taken elsewhere. In 1665, the entire province of Tyrol became the possession of the Hapsburgs in Vienna and it became a royal lodge on their travels around their kingdom. In 1754, after the land was ransomed back to Austria, Empress Maria Theresa became very interested in the palace and had it changed into a Baroque castle. During the mid 1700s, the entire palace had a restoration done and the east facade was changed so that the Hofburg was now one of three of the most prominent buildings in the country of Austria. When Napoleon defeated the Austrian army, the province was given to his allies, which in this case was Bavaria and it became a casual residence of their royalty in 1805. In 1815, Emperor Ferdinand I gave honor to the importance and history of the palace and some 700 pieces of furniture was sent to the prestigious castle. When the Congress of Vienna had redrawn the map of Europe, in 1838, Tyrol province was given back to the Austrians, however, not before all of that magnificent furniture was removed and sent back to Bavaria. In the March Revolution, Ferdinand I had to flee Vienna and came to the Hofburg for his safety, while the revolution lasted until August of that year and he could return to the imperial palace in Vienna. In 1858, the imperial apartments in Hofburg were renovated, and remodeled after the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna; and this was the final time that anything was done to the palace. In 1918, after the end of World War I, and the demise of the Hapsburg dynasty, the Hofburg palace ceased to be a royal residence, and some of the apartments were opened for public viewing, and later that same year, the entire palace became a museum.

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