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.
best time to travel
The best time to visit Austria for summer activities is between May and October. Snow activities are best January through March.
places to go
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 cozy 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 livable 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 roof-topped 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 wine-making 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 and first-rate spa facilities.
Trins & Tyrol
Tyrol is quintessential and grandiose Alpine scenery and within it lies Trins, a charming village with authentic Tyrolean buildings and easy access to some wonderful walking. Close by you will find Europe’s highest waterfall, the three-tier Krimml Waterfalls.
Once home to the imperial court, the historic centre of Innsbruck sports 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 fabulous 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 Passau to Vienna through green countryside, densely wooded valleys and vineyards and past historic cities and towns. Perhaps continue past Vienna through woodland, farm fields and avenues of walnut trees and cycle on to Budapest, Hungary's splendid capital.
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 bucket list. 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.
Heurigen , rustic wine taverns, celebrate the arrival of the year's new wine by putting on country buffets and 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 artists, 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 indulge in some tasty confectioneries. Try centuries-old Demel K. & K. Hofzuckerbäckerei or centrally located Gerstner K&K Hofzuckerbäcker.
Soak in a Spa
After a long hike 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.