Official language: German with English being spoken in the major cities
Welcome to a world of abundant imperial palaces, marvelous mountains and the most exquisite lakes!
Arguably one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations, Austria is an all-season attraction thanks to its spectacular mountain ranges and abundant natural beauty. This Alpine republic is probably best known for its captivating provinces and intriguing cities like Vienna, and the birthplace of Mozart, but as one of Europe’s smallest countries, Austria packs a mighty punch!
The tourism industry of Austria definitely plays up to every single cliché you’ve heard of, but it’s not just about Mozart ensembles and schnitzel here…modern Austria is home to some breathtaking architecture and museums and it’s cities boast some of the most elegant and traditional bars, cafés and clubs. From the fading glories of the capital to the stunning beauty of the Alpine hinterland, the culture of Mitteleuropa to the innovation and vitality of the tracks that lead off the beaten track, Austria has a little something for everybody. You might be riding down a forestry track and stopping for a cold platter and beer in a meadow one day and the next you’ll be sightseeing atmospheric alleys of the cities. Austria’s contrasts are what make it unique. With a landscape that changes quickly and dramatically, the possibilities are virtually endless.
Must see places in Austria
Austria’s capital city is as charming and rich in history mainly due to its splendid location on the banks of the Danube River. Vienna has always been the gateway between East and West Europe and still is Austria’s most important commercial and cultural hub. With breathtaking historic sites, great events and awesome entertainment on offer, Vienna is bound to steal your heart.
As the gateway to Austria from the northwest, Salzburg is probably best known for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but it also happens to be one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Occupying both banks of the River Salzach where it emerger from the Salzburg Alps into the lower land expanse, Salzburg is dominated by the 1,853 meter high Untersberg that allow visitors to soak up the most breathtaking view of the spectacular city.
Located in the Inn Valley at the intersection between Germany and Italy and also between Vienna and Switzerland, Innsbruck is one of Austria’s best year-round destinations. With its preserved medieval Old Town and modern architecture in the modern parts of town, Innsbruck is a fun city that boasts plenty of beautiful vistas and the massive mountains surrounding you.
Arguably one of Austria’s largest and most popular winter sports resorts, Kitzbühel is nestled in the valley at the foot of the Kitzbüheler Horn. Kitz has become a fashionable resort that caters to international clientele that flock here for exquisite skiing opportunity and winter sport events. It’s not just about winter sports though, Kitz has a lot of great hiking and golfing opportunities on offer too.
Located on the River Mur, Graz is Austria’s second largest city and is best known for its historical buildings and the famous Schlossberg. The entire town of Graz is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its significant buildings and important cultural features. By the way…THIS is where the Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger was born and the town even boasts a fun little museum in his honor.
The capital city of Upper Austria, Linz, is the third largest in the country. Occupying both banks of the Danube River; Linz is best known for its churches, museums and great cultural activities that visitors can enjoy. It’s one of Austria’s most beautiful cities and with its prime position; Linz is a great base for exploring the countryside.
Hallstat has to be Austria’s most charming small town, and it makes for the perfect base for exploring the breathtaking region of Dachstein Salzkammergut. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the region is home to the Dachstein Caves, one of the largest cave networks in Europe, measuring up to 1,174 meters deep in some areas. Make sure you see the Giant Ice Cave for its massive caverns and frozen waterfalls and the Mammoth Cave with its pipe-shaped galleries formed by an ancient underground river. Above ground you can enjoy the scenery from the 5 Finger viewing platform, a hanging metal structure poised over a 400 meter sheer drop offering some of the most panoramic views of the Alps.
Known as Austria’s “Green Heart”, Styria is home to several large forests and plenty of inviting vineyards to explore. From hiking to skiing, castle exploring and enjoying the awesome traditional festivities, Styria is a must see city if you’re keen on getting back in touch with nature. Make sure you see Lake Kumberg, Altausseer Lake and Piberstein Leisure Island while you’re in Styria.
Located in the Burgenland province of Austria, Eienstadt is best known for its Schloss Esterhazy. The palace serves as a modern day venue for cultural events, but you might also want to see the white marble tomb of Joseph Haydn in the Bergkirche. Don’t forget to see the Haydn Mausoleum ad the Haydn House while you’re at it. Other top attractions of Eienstadt include Calvary Mountain, St. Martin’s Cathedral and the Gloriette.
Located on the eastern shores of Lake Constance, the 2000 year old city of Bregenz is best known for the baroque Martinsturm, or St. Martin’s Tower, located in the medieval town’s center. The Kunsthaus Bregenz is truly an architectural gem located across the marina where boast leave to the island village of Lindau and the flower island of Mainau. Make sure you catch a ride on the panorama gondola to Pfänder for some of the most amazing views over the Swiss Alps, Lake Constance, the Allgau Alpen Range, the peaks of the Bregenzerwald and even the Widderstein at the border to Tirol.
With the achievement of being awarded the prestigious Europa Nostra Diploma 3 times in a row, Klagenfurt is best known for its beautifully restored Renaissance courtyards that house today’s modern boutiques, trendy bars and rustic beer gardens. Neuer Platz with its Lindwurm winged dragon emblem is well worth seeing and one of the city’s best landmarks. The Klagenfurt Castle is a place where you’ll be transported back to the Middle Ages and an abundance of museums like the Museum of Modern Art, the Provincial Museum and the Diocesan Museum means there’s plenty to see and do in Klagenfurt. Make sure you don’t miss Minimundus, the miniature world located on the banks of the Lake Wörthersee when you’re here!
Located on the western edge of the Tennengebirge lies the World of the Ice Giants, covering roughly 30,000 square meters, the caves were carved by an underground river in the Tertiary period and is the world’s largest ice cave system. Discovered in 1879 and opened to the public in 1912, 45 amazing kilometers of the network has been explored. Some of the major highlights include the Great Ice Wall, the huge Hymir Hall, the Ice Gate (Eistor) and the magnificent Ice Palace.
Pick the time right!
Tourists travel to Austria from April to October
Austria has two distinct tourist seasons, one for winter sport enthusiasts and the other for summertime hikers, so the best time to travel here depends on what you plan on experiencing. Major cities like Vienna draws masses of crowds over Christmas, New Year and Fasching (the ball season), while cities like Salzburg with its festivals sees a lot of crowds during the months of July and August. For the best warm weather, head here during the months between April and October when the climate is reliably warm but not extreme.
For skiing expeditions, the best time to travel here would be between November and April.
Did you know?
- Wiener Schnitzel - An Austrian traditional dish of bread crumbed and fried veal escalope
- Tafelspitz - Boiled beef topside in broth served with horseradish
- Tiroler Speckknödel - Fried bacon and bread dumplings
- Palatschinken - Crêpes stuffed with creamed sheep’s milk cheese
- Apfelstrudel - Delicate layers of crisp pastry stuffed with apple and raisin filling
- SalzburgerNockerln - Baked vanilla soufflé
- Sacher Torte - Chocolate cake layered with apricot preserve served with whipped cream
- Stroh - Spiced rum
- Glühwein - A mix of hot red wine blended with sugar, orange, lemon, cloves and a cinnamon stick
- Obstler - Fruit schanapps
- The cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck have great discount passes that can be bought to help you cut costs of traveling to all the amazing attractions over town
- Daylight-Savings Time is valid from the end of March to the end of October (CET + 1 hour)
- Austrians customarily greet each other using the words ‘grüss gott.’
- It is very helpful to learn a few word of everyday German before you arrive