Imagine Austria and your head might nicely drift to the lavish palaces and coffeehouses of Vienna, the snow-white peaks of the Tyrolean Alps, the serpentine romance of the Danube and Mozart symphonies ringing out in the baroque concert halls of Salzburg. And if this is your 1st visit, you’ll without doubt want to see all the entire darned lot and additional aside from. But there is significantly a lot more to this pocked-sized, landlocked place than at to start with satisfies the eye.
Regardless of whether you are heading gleefully higher into the glaciated mountains of Hohe Tauern Nationwide Park, tuning into the newest tech wizardry in future-focused Graz, hiding absent in the minimal-frequented wilds of the Bregenzerwald, or tripping alongside the vineyard-draped wine roads of southern Styria, which have far more than a whisper of Tuscany about them, Austria richly benefits those people who dare to deviate from the nicely-trodden keep track of. Here is our take on the 12 finest sites to go to in Austria.
Handful of towns move so very easily in between earlier and existing as Vienna, the place Hapsburg emperors ruled the roost for 600 several years. The pomp and splendor can be nearly overpowering, as you waltz by means of broad, exuberantly gilded palaces like the Hofburg and Schönbrunn, tour Klimt-filled galleries like the Higher Belvedere, stroll grand baroque streets, and saunter previous follies and Greek gods in landscaped gardens that gaze down on the metropolis with a kindly eye.
The songs of Mozart, Beethoven and that outdated passionate devil Strauss reverberates in some of the world’s most feted and opulent live performance halls: the Musikverein and Staatsoper. And even likely for a coffee can be a regal affair at the likes of chandelier-lit Café Central, the place all the 19th-century bigwigs after hung out.
But Vienna isn’t all about show. Enterprise beyond the significant-hitters of the Innere Stadt and the Gothic whack of Stephansdom and you’ll discover a habitable, loveable money that moves to its individual urban, edgy beat: in parks sprawling alongside the banking companies of the Danube, at the MuseumsQuartier, providing a really serious hit of culture in the previous baroque imperial stables, and at foods markets like Naschmarkt, wherever Vienna embraces the globe in road foodstuff and spice.
Get extra travel inspiration, guidelines and special features sent straight to your inbox with our weekly publication.
Zell am See
Perfect for dipping into the ravishingly mountainous Hohe Tauern Countrywide Park, the cheerful Alpine resort of Zell am See sits smugly on the shores of a bluest-blue lake, buttressed by lofty peaks, which include the glacier-capped 10,509ft (3203m) Kitzsteinhorn, in which you can embark on a glacier path, kick again on a snow beach, shell out the night time in an igloo, and ski nicely into summer months.
The vacation resort has a authentic outside buzz in summer months, with folks rocking up to swim, boat, windsurf and stand-up paddleboard on the lake, cycle around or paraglide previously mentioned it. If you are a hiker, you are in for a take care of, too: A cable-car or truck zips up to Schmittenhöhe to hook on to the Pinzgauer Spaziergang, one of Austria’s most unforgettable day hikes, with exhilarating views of the country’s highest peak, 12,461ft (3798m) Grossglockner. The vacation resort also will make a fantastic springboard for the Grossglockner Large Alpine Street, a head-spinning, helter-skelter generate, with on-higher views of waterfalls, lakes, glaciers and a sea of snowy Alps.
Other Austrian cities flick on the fairy-tale charm, but not Linz. This is exactly where Austria leaps headfirst into the 21st century. With its gaze mounted firmly on the potential, this tech-mad trailblazer has an ever-evolving cultural scene, and is producing pioneering waves in avant-garde artwork and architecture, with a flurry of galleries and structures at the cutting edge of design all of which helped it snag Unesco Town of Media Arts standing back again in 2014.
At the prime of any itinerary is Ars Electronica Centre, zooming in on technological know-how, science and digital media. Here you can interact with robots, animate electronic objects, print 3D structures, turn your entire body into musical devices and (almost) journey to outer room. Its above-the-Danube rival is the rectangular glass-and-metal Lentos, a huge repository of present day art, with a stash of Warhol, Schiele, Klimt and Kokoschka originals. Each museums have a deal with-off of illuminations when they strikingly alter colour by night.
Every person raves about the mountains of Tyrol and Salzburgerland, but there’s a lesser-acknowledged region that deserves a search-in. Large swathes of Austria’s far west, Vorarlberg, remain deliciously off-the-radar, with slim, silent valleys carving up mighty peaks and forests. It is in this article that the Alpine heights of the Silvretta-Montafon give way to the wavy hills and lush dairy region of the Bregenzerwald, which in change slide to the Bodensee (Lake Constance), exactly where Austria rolls into Germany and Switzerland.
The Bregenzerwald, in individual, is an unbelievably peaceful and deeply rural corner of the country to slip off the map for a couple of times, irrespective of whether hiking, cycling or cross-state snowboarding. Roadways right here unzip by way of cow-nibbled pastures, passing limestone peaks and one ludicrously pretty timber chalet-lined village following the up coming.
Smuggled away in a wildly intimate valley in the glacier-capped Hohe Tauern mountains, Lousy Gastein is an fast coronary heart-stealer, with belle époque villas that evoke the grace of a bygone age clinging to sheer, forested slopes, and a 1119ft (341m) waterfall plummeting over cliffs. More than the generations the city has beguiled everyone – from attractiveness-conscious Romans to romantic souls this sort of as Schubert and Klimt and royals like Empress Elisabeth – for the miraculous therapeutic powers of its radon-laced thermal incredibly hot springs.
Now you can get these very same waters at the grotto-stuffed Felsentherme and architecturally progressive Alpentherme baths. Or, for bigger affect, go deep into the bowels of the Gasteiner Heilstollen, a medieval gold mine turned wellbeing center, to soak up the radon (taster sessions are available), claimed to overcome all manner of ills from arthritis to fibromyalgia.
1 appear at the mountains that fling up above the valley and you’ll be itching to head larger. A gondola swings up to 7218ft (2200m) Stubnerkogel, wherever you can hike across a 459ft-prolonged (140m) suspension bridge for out-of-this-entire world views deep into the snowy Hohe Tauern peaks, or ski in wintertime.
The jagged Nordkette Alps increase like a theater curtain previously mentioned Innsbruck, Tyrol’s knockout of a funds. Listed here mountains whoosh up previously mentioned the turquoise Inn River and seem to be to sneak into every single photograph. Can not come to a decision among metropolis and slopes? In this article you get the greatest of both equally, with a room-age funicular designed by Zaha Hadid winging you up to the Alpine heights of 7657ft (2334m) Hafelekar in mere minutes.
Innsbruck is perhaps distinctive in the fact you can invest the morning carving powder, climbing or dashing downhill on a mountain bicycle, and the afternoon with a really serious hit of culture. Begin by wafting all-around the swanky imperial state residences of the cupola-topped Hofburg palace. Close by the Goldenes Dachl catches your eye, a late-Gothic oriel shimmering with 2657 fireplace-gilded copper tiles. But all that glitters below is not gold: just a fast bus hop from of city, Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens delivers some severe crystal sparkle.
To ramp up the journey, head to the neighboring village of Igls for a pulse-quickening ride on the Olympiabobbahn, the place you are going to pick up speeds of 68mph (110km/h) as you pinball around 10 curves.
Salzburg appears to be freshly minted for Hollywood. From the minute you arrive, you’re compelled to gaze up in broad-eyed marvel: at the soaring spires of its brilliantly baroque Altstadt, dwelling to the Residenz palace, in which prince-archbishops after held court docket, and the copper-domed cathedral at its substantial-on-a-hill, 900-calendar year-old fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg at the cliffs of 1772ft-large (540m) Mönchsberg flinging up above the metropolis and at the white-wisped peaks of the Alps that pucker up on the horizon. Strolling alongside the financial institutions of the quick-flowing, turquoise Salzach River, it’s tricky to fathom a additional perfect city.
Salzburg has churned out several a legend, most notably Mozart, who was born in a bright-yellow townhouse on Getreidegasse, which now harbors a museum that is an ode to the virtuoso. His significant-note-hitting rival is Maria of The Sound of New music (1965) fame. Boundless excursions and bicycle rides whizz close to the movie areas, or devise your very own self-guided spin of them.
There is no avoiding the reality that Salzburg will get swamped in peak period. Give the selfie stick-wielding crowds the slip by taking a spirit-lifting hike alongside the wooded cliffs of Mönchsberg to Augustiner Bräustübl, a 400-12 months-old, monk-launched brewery, with Oktoberfest flavor, vaulted parlors, and a 1000-seat beer back garden for quaffing foaming beers below the chestnut trees. Or for a breath of refreshing Alpine air and trails weaving deep into the mountains, choose the cable car up to 6079ft-significant (1853m) Untersberg on the border with Bavaria.
There is a selected poetry to the way the Wachau opens up, with orchards and vineyards ribbing terraced slopes staggering down to the meandering River Danube, and trails waltzing by means of discipline and forest to medieval castles romantically poised on hillsides. With an interesting food stuff and wine scene, paths that are a joy to investigate on foot or by bicycle, and landscapes that unravel as harmoniously as a Strauss symphony, this extend of the Danube Valley is so darned scenic that it has been granted Unesco Entire world Heritage standing.
The huge-hitter culturally is Stift Melk, a twin-spired, onion-domed baroque stunner of an abbey, with a sunny yellow facade and flamboyantly frescoed monastery church. Beyond this, you are going to want to see the fairy-tale that is Dürnstein’s ruined castle, where Richard the Lionheart was locked up in the late 12th century for insulting Leopold V, and the reduced-vital village of Spitz, topped off by the 1000-Eimer-Berg, so-named for its ability to fill 1000 buckets of wine each individual period.
Graz and the Styrian Wine Streets
With a castle superior on a bluff, an Altstadt which is a jumble of Renaissance courtyards and baroque palaces hinting at close by Italy, and some strikingly avant-garde galleries, Graz is an endearingly laid-back again, cultured metropolis for dipping further into the oft-ignored location of Styria in southern Austria.
Applying the city as a base, you can effortlessly strike out on to the Weinstrassen (wine roads) that vein the gently rolling hills, flower-stippled meadows, forests and vineyards that carpet the south of the province. With vineyards marching up steep hillsides and even the odd poppy and cypress tree, this is Austria’s answer to Tuscany (minus the crowds) and fantastic street excursion territory. As you make your way via towns like Leutschach, Ehrenhausen, Gamlitz and Berghausen, you’ll obtain wineries opening their doors for tastings and farmhouses offering rustic respite. On the last weekend in September, the area pops many a cork at its Weinlesefest (wine harvest competition).
If you’ve ever swooned over a lake scene in The Audio of New music it was possibly filmed in the Salzkammergut, a fantasy region of jewel-colored Alpine lakes, wildflower-strewn valleys and peaks topping out in close proximity to the 9845ft (3000m) mark. Ought to you only have time to see 1 lake, make it the sublimely attractive a person in mountain-rimmed Hallstatt, whose Unesco Planet Heritage salt mines glance back on 7000 a long time of record and after made the region’s “white gold”.
But you would be intelligent to let extended so you can soak in thermal baths in spa town Negative Ischl, bathe in the heat waters of crescent-shaped Mondsee, follow in pilgrim’s footsteps to Wolfgangsee, and investigate the icy underworld of the Dachstein Caves in Obertraun.
Although July to early September are excellent for lake swimming (the drinking water can get mighty chilly at other instances of the calendar year), you could choose to pay a visit to in the shoulder seasons – spring and autumn are glorious – to escape the throngs and get pleasure from the lakes at their tranquil most effective.
Steyr and Nationalpark Kalkalpen
So you want to go properly off piste? Higher Austria is the place to do just that. Somehow this location has managed to slip under the tourist radar – and what a disgrace that is. This province has its have silent, lingering beauty, with golden wheat fields offering way to patchwork fields and apple orchards that in transform increase to mountains rolling to the Czech border. It’s a pleasure to check out on foot or by bike, with cycle paths hugging river banks, rambling farms advertising homegrown Most (cider) and mellow autumn mists.
The fairest town by significantly is Steyr, which composer Franz Schubert known as “inconceivably attractive” and utilized as the inspiration for his sprightly Trout Quintet. At the confluence of the quickly flowing Enns and Steyr rivers, this fairly city of cobblestones and pastel-hued baroque residences would make a fantastic base for diving into the rest of the area. For mountaineering, mountain-biking and rock climbing motion, the Nationalpark Kalkalpen’s limestone peaks, gorges, and significant moors are in just effortless placing distance.
St Anton am Arlberg
In the beginning there was St Anton am Arlberg… In the area where the country’s 1st ski club was established in 1901 and downhill skiing was born, the Austrian Alps take a enormous leap into wilder heights. Overshadowed by a serious beast of a mountain referred to as Valluga (9216ft/2809m), this resort helps make even veteran skiers quiver in their boots with some of Austria’s steepest on- and off-piste snowboarding. The supreme obstacle is the Run of Fame. A person of the longest circuits in the Alps, this 53-mile (85km) marathon ski wraps up the whole Arlberg arena and addresses 11 vertical miles (18km). With 190 miles (305km) of slopes to pound, the snowboarding here is the things of legend. And the après-ski scene is bonkers – folks in this article like to celebration as difficult as they participate in.
Even though wintertime is the large offer for most, there’s loads of action in summer season also, with climbing trails heading from peak to glorious peak, and adventure execs H2O having you white water rafting on the quickly-flowing Inn River, canyoning in the surrounding gorges, tubing, and mountain biking.