Wattens is a very old settlement, predating most other current cities in the Inn Valley. Its name was first mentioned in a 930 deed when the area was still under rule of the duchy of Bavaria. From the 12th century it was under control of the Counts of Tyrol and transferred to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363. Wattens remained a predominantly agricultural town until the first paper pill in Austria was commissioned in 1559, drawing raw resources from the vast surrounding pine forests. Wattens evolved into the centre of paper industry in Austria for centuries to come.
A second economic boost followed when Daniel Swarovski, a glass cutter from Bohemia, settled in Wattens and started the production of crystal jewellery. Wattens remains one of the most important hubs for crystal glass in Europe, and as its most famous tourist attraction, the Crystal World draws visitors from far beyond Tyrol's borders.
Wattens occupies an area of 11 km² in the Lower Inn Valley in North Tyrol, ca. 13 km east of the region capital city Innsbruck. It stretches from the southern shore of the Inn into the Wattental side valley, which leads all the way up to the Wattentaler Lizum head within the Tux Alps range. The closest city to its east is Hall in Tirol, to its west is Schwaz.
Wattens is the last city in the Inn Valley before the entry of the Brenner Base Tunnel Innsbruck Bypass.
Wattens is connected to regional capital Innsbruck through lines 4125 and 4130. A ticket from Innsbruck to Wattens costs €8.
- 1 Crystal Worlds (Kristallwelten), Kristallweltenstrasse 1 (take bus 4125 or 4130, get off at 1 , alternatively there is a shuttle bus connecting the Crystal Worlds to Innsbruck Hbf and Innsbruck Congress going every 2 hours in either direction), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 8:30 - 19:30. Inaugurated in 1995 for the 100th anniversary of the Swarovski Company, the Crystal Worlds is a museum and park dedicated to glass crystal and crystal making. Multimedia artist Andre Heller designed the museum with 14 chambers, called the Chambers of Wonder, each featuring work from national and international artists, designers, and architects. Each room has a distinct thematic focus. The museum also features a park with numerous pieces of art blending into the landscape. In less than 25 years, the Crystal Worlds have grown into one of the most visited tourist attractions of Austria, have been expanded to over twice their original size since, and attract visitors from all over the world. It is highly recommended to book your tickets online in advance. €19 for adults, €17 with Innsbruck Welcome Card.
- 1 Play Tower (Spielturm) (entry with a Crystal Worlds ticket). A 4-storey glass tower with trampolines, climbing racks and other installations for active entertainment. No age restrictions, so adults can participate as well.
- 2 Roman Excavations (Römische Ausgrabung). Remains of a Roman villa, unearthed during construction works in 2012. Next to the glass covered archaeological remains, there are display cases with pottery and coins from a 732-piece gold and silver treasure belonging to a Roman legionary.
- 1 Daniel's. Restaurant and cafe dedicated to Swarovski Company founder Daniel Swarovski. Prices are quite high, as it's the only restaurant near the Crystal Worlds, and food is nothing special. Visitors do have a view over the Swarovski park with the crystal clouds, which makes it a special experience.
- 3 Laurentius Church (Laurentiuskirche), Kirchplatz 1 (in the centre of the city). Church dating back to the Roman period, first documented in 1318. It has been damaged and destroyed by several fires, and the current church building was inaugurated in 1820.
- 4 Typewriter Museum (Schreibmaschinenmuseum), Andrä-Angerer-Gasse, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Sa 14:00-17:00, Th 14:00-19:00. Museum dedicated to typewriters, with over 450 fully functional models on display from various stages in the development of typewriters. They cover the entire period from the invention of the mechanical typewriter in 1884 to the present and offer interesting insights through cut models that allow visitors to look inside machines.
- 5 Museum for Industry and History (Industrie und Vorgeschichte Museum), Jagerbichl 10, 6111 Volders, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A museum dedicated to the history and industrial development of Wattens and Volders, with a particular emphasis on the Swarovski Company and the Wattens paper mill. It also has a large selection of prehistoric artifacts on display.
- 6 Kingdom of Heaven (Himmelreich) (on the ridge between Wattens and Volders, walking distance ca. 30 min). 24/7. Open air museum of the remains of an ancient Rhaetian Alpine settlement on a prominent ridge in the Inn Valley. It was inhabited from the 4th to the 1st century BC, then remained abandoned. It was heavily damaged by storms in the early 20th century, then overgrown and forgotten under fallen and uprooted trees which destroyed masonry and its rampart wall. Until the thesis of young architect Daniela Egger on the settlement, when the local government not only decided in favour of a renovation, but also turned it into a worthy museum with information signs presenting the living conditions in the settlement. The remains of 5 dwellings have been excavated, and the site is properly signposted both from Wattens and Volders. An ideal stop on a hike through the Inn Valley! Free.
There are several signposted tours tailored to mountain bikes, ranging from novice level comfortable trails to very challenging mountain tracks. The tourist office provides maps for a fee.
The Karwendel Nature Park is immediately to the north of Wattens, and there are numerous routes and tours signposted (although most only accessible from spring to autumn). Of particular interest is the historical walk, which starts and ends in Wattens.
In summer, it is possible to reach Eng from/through nearby Schwaz. The trail leads over the Karwendel mountain pass, covering an altitude difference of 1,700 m over a distance of ca. 20 km. Not for the faint of heart!
The 1 Hall Valley branches off from the Inn Valley into the Karwendel Nature Park. This 10 km long valley offers numerous climbing opportunities, with routes ranging in difficulty level from 4-5 on the easy side of the spectrum to extreme routes with difficulty 8-9.
The one thing to buy in Wattens is of course its world famous crystal.
- 1 Swarovski Crystal Shop, Kristallweltenstrasse 1 (inside the Crystal World), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 8:30 - 19:30. Shop selling jewellery, ornamental items, outfits, and anything else that features the world famous Swarovski Crystals. Most items on display are prohibitively expensive, with some pieces upwards of €20.000, but it's still fun to look around and gaze at the brilliance of the millions of crystals on display.
- 1 Innsbruck — regional capital of Tyrol and largest city in the Inn valley, 5 km east of Hall in Tirol
- 2 Igls — between Innsbruck and the 1 Patscherkofel mountain
- 3 Eng — the largest alm in Europe and one of the most remote settlements in the Alps
- 4 Hall in Tirol — famous salt mining city with the best preserved historic town centre in the west of Austria
- 5 Schwaz — commercial centre in the Inn valley