I climb’d the roofs at break of day; Sun-smitten Alps before me lay.
Urban chic, quaint villages, picturesque lakes and stunning mountains - that is Austria in a nutshell. Hike Tyrol, discover the past in imperial Vienna, or cycle the Danube - you too will find Austria a harmonious tableau of beautiful images.
When to go
The best time to visit Austria for summer activities is between April and October.
Oh Vienna! Imperial capital, where Habsburg glory and grandeur contrast and fuse with contemporary architectural designs. Where the equine ballet of the Lipizzaner stallions plays out alongside the sounds of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Händel. Where cosy coffee houses make you feel like you have entered someone's living room and where bistro pubs serve up a delightful array of traditional food. Give yourself plenty of time to explore this very liveable city.
Austria’s second-largest city is home to a vibrant student population. Renaissance courtyards and provincial baroque palaces sit next to modern architectural wonders, making this Austria's city of design. It is the country's most relaxed town, where green parks sprawl among red rooftopped houses and where a small, fast-flowing river bisects the town.
Linz is both a pleasant Baroque city as well as Austria's city of technology and innovation. In this town straddling the Danube you will find cutting-edge galleries and museums as well as daring public art installations.
Situated on the Danube, the beautiful baroque town of Grein is home to the oldest municipal theatre in Austria, the maritime museum (!) and Greinburg castle.
A lavish monastery church dominates the 500 room-early eighteenth-century Benedictine monastery at Melk on the Danube. Perched on a bluff overlooking the river the cake-like layers of the monastery dominate the town. Explore the exquisite library, see the cherub-infested ceiling and discover some truly baroque excess!
At the start of the Wachau Valley, one of the Danube's most scenic stretches, lies one of its prettiest towns: Krems. An atmospheric historical centre is home to churches and museums as well as pleasant eateries where some top-notch local wine is served freely.
The picturesque Wachau Valley is one of the Danube's most scenic stretches. Quaint villages line the river banks, while vineyards cling to steep slopes rising up to ancient castles. It is the country’s best winemaking region and famous for apricot jams as well as liqueurs.
Once the domain of independent prince-archbishops, their pomp and wealth reflected in the formidable clifftop fortress, the monumental squares and the graceful domes and spires, Salzburg is quintessential Austria. Amidst ornate architecture, linger over coffee and cake, or explore the wonderful food and burgeoning arts scene. Best of all is the "Sound of Music", the musical heritage of homegrown hero, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After you wander the ramparts of Fortress Hohensalzburg, be sure to attend an evening classical concert in the prince’s chamber.
In this region of towering mountains, rolling hills and picturesque valleys, pretty lakes offer opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating or just gazing across the water. With the Hallstätter See arguably the most spectacular of the lakes, the area has some amazing hikes great skiing, and first-rate spa facilities.
Trins & Tyrol
Tyrol is quintessential and grandiose Alpine scenery and close to it you will find Europe’s highest waterfall, the three-tier Krimmler Wasserfälle. Also within Tyrol lies Trins, a charming village with authentic Tyrolean buildings and easy access to some wonderful walking.
Once home to the imperial court, the historic centre of Innsbruck sport a grand Habsburg palace and baroque cathedral. The town is encircled by the jagged rock spires of the Nordkette as well as alpine meadows and numerous ski resorts, giving easy access to both winter and summer activities.
One of Europe's greatest drives, the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse will lead you on a glorious joyride past steep towering mountains and ice-blue glaciers. The hairpin bends and incredible views conspire to make memories to last a lifetime.
Hike the Alps
An extensive network of hiking trails covers the Austrian Alps. High peaks, green valleys dotted with picture perfect chalets and great views, make for great hiking. Walk through quaint villages, lined with houses sporting flower-filled window boxes - this is the Austria as you imagined it.
Cycle the Danube
Brooding castles, crumbling ruins, beautiful abbeys and pretty farms line the banks of the blue Danube. Cycle from Passua to Vienna through green countryside and densely wooded valleys and vineyards and past historic cities and towns. Perhaps continue past Vienna through woodland, farm fields and avenues of walnut trees as you cycle on to Budapest.
Music by Mozart
No better country to attend a concert than Mozart's Austria. Be it in the former imperial capital of Vienna, or in his birthplace Salzburg, listening to Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2 in a historical setting is an experience not to be missed.
Ski the Alps
The Alps are Europe's prime destination for winter vacations. Arlberg, Kitzbühel, Innsbruck & Stubai Glacier offer fantastic skiing as well as a great gastronomic scene.
Don't forget the food
Austrian food goes well beyond the well-known Wiener schnitzel. Enjoy Tafelspitz (boiled beef) at a beisl (the cousin of the French bistro), roast goose or goulash. Finish your meal with a good cup of coffee and perhaps one of the many Viennese cakes and pastries.
Reminiscent of the imperial era, the world-famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna showcases an equine ballet to the tune of classical music, while the audience watches from pillared balconies. Book well in advance for this experience of a lifetime.
Cruising the Danube
A cruise along the Danube, the lifeline that flows through Europe's imperial heart, is on many a traveller's bucketlist. Cruise past ancient castles and palaces, through picturesque towns and villages and along banks lined with vineyards, fields and forests. Whether on a ferry between Vienna or Budapest, or a stately river cruise lasting several weeks, cruising the Danube will be an unforgettable journey.
Rustic wine taverns, Heurigen celebrate the arrival of the year's new wine by putting on country buffets and sometimes even live folk music. Authentic taverns are identified by a bunch of pine branches and the word “Ausg’steckt” written on a board. Some establishments have garden tables providing panoramic views of the Danube, while others provide shaded, centuries-old courtyards. Try red wines from Vöslau, Sylvaner from Grinzing, or Riesling from Nussberg.
Relive The Sound of Music
Come on - isn't that why you came to Austria in the first place? Relive your childhood memories by attending a Sound of Music musical or a tour in the Salzburg area. Visit the Mirabell Gardens, the setting for the "Do-Re-Mi" song, the pretty village of St Gilgen on Wolfgangsee Lake, where the film's opening scene was shot and the church at Mondsee Lake, where the film's wedding scene took place. The hills truly are alive with the Sound of Music!
Relax at a Coffee House
Heavy wooden doors lead into an interior where time stood still for at least a hundred years. Aloof waiters serve a multitude of coffees, people engage in conversation or quietly read their papers. Try traditional Café Bellaria, legendary Café Central or the favourite of astists, Café Hawelka. This is Vienna at its most relaxed.
Eat your cake too
Along with coffee, Vienna is famous for its pastries and sweets. Creatively designed display cases lure visitors in to traditional bakeries to endulge in some sweet confectionaries. Try centuries-old Demel K. & K. Hofzuckerbäckerei or centrally located Gerstner K&K Hofzuckerbäcker.
Soak in a Spa
After a long hike, ski trip or bike ride, is there a better way to treat yourself than with a visit to a spa? Float in an outdoor pool surrounded by snow-capped mountains at Aqua Dome in Tyrol, enjoy the sulfur springs beloved by the Romans at Römertherme or have a therapeutic bath in Bad Gastein, a cliff-hanger of a town in the Hohe Tauern.
Hiking the Alps
Tour code: VHTA
Why we love this trip: quintessential Austrian villages, Alpine meadows, grand scenery and warm hospitality conspire to make Austria's one of Europe's finest walking destinations.
Places visited: guided versions in Tyrol, self-guided versions in the Salzkammergut
Signature Experiences: hike the Alps, don't forget the food, eat your cake too, soak in a spa (depending on the area)
Length: 7-8 days
Included meals: breakfast is always included; depending on the trip lunches and dinners may be included
Transport: on foot
Departures: Set small-group dates and daily self-guided tours fromJune through September
Customizable? We can offer our hiking tours to private groups
Price: Guided small group departures priced from $1275, self-guided trips from $749
Cycle the Danube
Tour code: VCTD
Why we love this trip: Pretty villages, lush valleys, great wines and an intriguing history come together in Central Europe's finest cycling region.
Places visited: guided sall groups from Prague to Budapest and between Passau and Vienna. Self-guided tours offered from Passau to Vienna and Vienna to Budapest
Signature Experiences: cycle the Danube, music by Mozart, don't forget the food, horsing around, cruising the Danube, Heurigen hopping, relax at a Coffee House, eat your cake too, soak in a spa
Length: 8-15 days
Included meals: breakfast is alaways included; some other meals included depending on the trip.
Departures: Set small-group dates and daily self-guided tours from April through October
Customizable? We can offer our cycling tours to private groups
Price: Guided small group departures priced from $1600, self-guided trips from $800
Central European Rhapsody
Tour code: VCER
Why we love this trip: Discover al lthe amazing cities, towns and landscapes that make Central Europe so unique
Places visited: Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Telj, Znojmo, Mikulov, Lednice, Skalica, Plze, Bratislava, Vienna, Sopron, Budapest, Tatras Mountains, Banska Stiavnica, Vlkolinec, Krakow
Signature Experiences: Music by Mozart, don't forget the food, horsing around, Heurigen hopping, relax at a Coffee House, eat your cake too, soak in a spa
Length: 14 days. A shorter 9-day version exists - please contact us for details.
Accommodation: hotels or pensions
Included meals: all breakfasts
Transport: private vehicle
Departures: set small-group dates May through September, daily private departures
Customizable? Yes - price on request
Price: Small group departures priced from $1560