A Useful Guide to Visiting Nordkette & Hafelekar

29. September 2023
Seegrube cable car

One of the most memorable Things to Do in Innsbruck is definitely a trip up on the mountain range, that is guarding Innsbruck from the north: the Nordkette. It can easily be reached by taking the bus or the Hungerburg rack railway to Hungerburg, one of the more exquisite districts of Innsbruck. From here it’s only a short 6-8 minutes ride up to Seegrube with the cable car. To reach the very top you’ll need to take another cable car to Hafelekar. There are lots of things you can do all year round on this mountain and the cable car is open daily all year round (except for 2 weeks in November and about a week in spring).

But, let’s start from the beginning and work our way up, shall we?

Everything You Need To Know About Visiting Nordkette

Is it possible to hike?

While theoretically, you don’t need a penny to explore the Nordkette – it’s way more comfortable with a cable car ticket. However, if you decide to hike up all the way, be prepared for:

  • City center to Hungerburg – 1 hour, easy hike, 300 m of height
  • Hungerburg to Seegrube – 2-3 hours, demanding hike, 1000 m of height
  • Seegrube to Hafelekar – an extra 1-2 hours, steep hike, 400 m of height

By taking the cable car, you’re saving your energy for hikes up to the top, which are strongly recommended.

Buy a Ticket in Advance

Some days (weekends with good weather) it can get very busy, so it’s worth getting your ticket in advance. Or you may get a Innsbruck 24, 36 or 72 hour ticket – which includes the cable car ride and others + numerous museums & sights.

What to do around Seegrube

Seegrube is the place where locals mingle with tourists, paragliders take off, kids learn to ski, and mountain bikers stop for a well-deserved cold beer. It’s a unique place with a unique vibe, and it pays off to spend a bit of time hanging around. There is also a restaurant, unfortunately the food there never fails to disappoint… but the drinks are fine!

Seegrube in Summer

In summer, there is a playground for kids and deck chairs are available out back.

Easy Hike: Perspektiven Weg

A great & easy hike is the Perspektiven Weg which takes around 30–40 minutes. It has some stops along the way planned by Snohetta. There are several opportunities to sit down, enjoy the view and maybe a picknick if you brought one!

Perspektivenweg hike on Seegrube

Seegrube in Winter

In winter time Seegrube is the hub for skiing and snowboarding with views of Innsbruck. There is a small snow park and a tiny slope for beginners, where local kids learn how to ski. However, it’s totally fine if you just go up for the views! No special gear required.

A Local’s Sport: Figln in Spring

Figln in spring is a delightful experience for those who relish the outdoors. Figln, a traditional Tyrolean term for a unique form of skiing that involves gliding on lightweight skis without ski poles, takes on a new charm as the snow begins to melt. In the springtime, you can enjoy Figln on sun-kissed slopes and well-groomed trails while basking in the milder weather. The joy of Figln lies in the sensation of gliding gracefully on the remaining snow, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, and taking in the breathtaking alpine scenery. It’s a fantastic way to extend the ski season and savor the beauty of Tirol in its transitional phase from winter to spring.

What to do around Hafelekar


How to get from Innsbruck to Hungerburg

Getting from Innsbruck to Hungerburg is a straightforward journey, and there are a couple of convenient options:

1. Hungerburgbahn (Hungerburg Funicular):

  • The easiest way to reach Hungerburg from Innsbruck is by taking the Hungerburgbahn, a funicular railway.
  • You can catch the funicular at the Congress station in Innsbruck city center. It’s a 15-20min walk from the Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof (main train station)
  • The Hungerburgbahn will take you on a scenic ride up to Hungerburg in about 8 minutes.
  • Once you arrive at Hungerburg, you’ll find beautiful views of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains. There are also hiking trails and a cable car connection to Seegrube and Hafelekar if you wish to explore further.

2. By Bus (Cheapest Option)

  • Buy a bus ticket and catch a bus at Terminal Marktplatz up to Hungerburg, „Linie J“ runs between Patscherkofel, Innsbruck and Hungerburg.

3. By Foot (for Hikers):

  • For those who enjoy hiking, you can also walk from Innsbruck to Hungerburg. The route is well-marked and offers a picturesque journey.
  • Starting in the city center, you can follow signs for the Alpenzoo or Hungerburg. The hike typically takes around 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your pace and the route you choose.
  • Along the way, you’ll pass through beautiful forests and enjoy scenic views. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area.

Whether you opt for the convenient funicular ride or prefer the scenic hike, a visit to Hungerburg is a rewarding experience, offering stunning views and a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Innsbruck.

Innsbruck Triumphpforte im Sonnenlicht

How to get from Hungerburg to Seegrube

Take the Nordkettenbahnen Cable Car: At Hungerburg, you’ll find the lower station of the Nordkettenbahnen cable car. Purchase your cable car ticket, and board the cable car. The cable car ride is a thrilling experience in itself as you ascend further into the mountains. There are tickets for the whole trip (Hungerburgbahn + Seegrube). If you want to save a few bucks, take the bus or hike up to Hungerburg and then take the cable car.

How to get from Seegrube to Hafelekar

To get from Seegrube to Hafelekar, both of which are stunning alpine destinations near Innsbruck, you can continue your journey using the Nordkettenbahnen cable car system. Here are the two options:

Option 1: Nordkettenbahnen Cable Car | The Direct Route

  1. Arrival at Seegrube: Begin your journey at Seegrube, which you can reach by taking the Nordkettenbahnen cable car from Hungerburg.
  2. Continue to Hafelekar: From Seegrube, you can take the same Nordkettenbahnen cable car further up the mountain to Hafelekar. The cable car ride offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps.
  3. Explore Hafelekar: Upon reaching Hafelekar, you’ll have the opportunity to explore this high-altitude area, which is famous for its panoramic vistas and hiking trails. Take in the incredible scenery, and don’t forget your camera to capture the breathtaking views.
  4. Return to Seegrube: When you’re ready to descend, simply board the cable car back to Seegrube, and from there, you can make your way back to Hungerburg or Innsbruck.

Option 2: Hiking Route

  1. Arrival at Seegrube: Start your journey at Seegrube, where you arrive via the Nordkettenbahnen cable car from Hungerburg.
  2. Hiking to Hafelekar: If you’re an experienced hiker and the weather conditions are suitable, you can hike from Seegrube to Hafelekar. There are well-marked trails that will take you on a scenic journey through the alpine landscape. The hike offers a sense of adventure and a chance to connect with nature.
  3. Explore Hafelekar: Upon reaching Hafelekar, enjoy the breathtaking vistas and take some time to explore the area.
  4. Return to Seegrube: When you’re ready to descend, you can either hike back down to Seegrube or take the cable car back if you prefer a more leisurely return.

Please note that hiking from Seegrube to Hafelekar is only recommended for experienced hikers, and it’s essential to check weather conditions and trail information before embarking on the hike. The cable car option provides a more accessible and time-efficient way to reach Hafelekar.

Other nearby Attractions


Alpenzoo, located in Innsbruck, Austria, is a unique and educational attraction that specializes in showcasing Alpine wildlife and flora. Here’s what you can expect to see and experience at Alpenzoo:

  1. Alpine Animals: Alpenzoo is home to a diverse range of Alpine animals, including species that are native to the region’s mountainous areas. Visitors can observe animals such as ibexes, chamois, lynx, marmots, golden eagles, and owls in enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitats.
  2. Scenic Location: The zoo is set in a picturesque location on the slopes of the Nordkette mountain range, providing stunning panoramic views of the surrounding Alps and the city of Innsbruck. The scenic beauty of the area enhances the overall experience.
  3. Educational Exhibits: Alpenzoo places a strong emphasis on education and conservation. Throughout the zoo, you’ll find informative exhibits and signage that teach visitors about the animals‘ behaviors, habitats, and the importance of preserving Alpine ecosystems.
  4. Native Flora: In addition to showcasing Alpine wildlife, Alpenzoo features a wide variety of native Alpine plants and vegetation. The botanical garden within the zoo highlights the diverse flora of the region.
  5. Conservation Efforts: The zoo is actively involved in conservation efforts and breeding programs for endangered Alpine species. Visitors can learn about these initiatives and the role that zoos play in protecting and preserving wildlife.
  6. Family-Friendly: Alpenzoo is a family-friendly destination, making it an excellent choice for visitors of all ages. Children can enjoy learning about local wildlife and exploring the zoo’s beautiful surroundings.
  7. Accessibility: The zoo is easily accessible from Innsbruck city center. You can take the Hungerburgbahn funicular railway from the city to Hungerburg, and from there, it’s a short walk to Alpenzoo.

Alpenzoo offers a unique opportunity to connect with Alpine nature and wildlife while enjoying breathtaking views of the Austrian Alps. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a family with children, or someone interested in wildlife conservation, a visit to Alpenzoo is both enjoyable and educational.

Important Rules For Visiting Nordkette

  • Dress for the occasion! If you plan on walking around a little (or a lot) make sure you wear proper shoes. Trekking poles help anyone with bad knees. Check the weather forecast and webcams in advance. Remember – you’ll be at around 2000m altitude so the temperature will be cooler and winds might be very unpleasant (think: headband, scarve, gloves). Also don’t forget to bring some water, protection from the sun and maybe a muesli bar.
  • Don’t leave any trash!
  • Don’t disturb any wildlife!

Further readings

Are you planning a trip to Innsbruck or Tirol? Make sure to check out my other posts:

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