The beautiful Alpine country of Austria is one that conjures up images of running through wild meadows, the sun at your back, singing one’s heart out – very Sound of Music-esque! While stunning scenery and the best of musical talent can be found in Austria, it has much more to offer too. Adventurous travellers, culinary experts and culture vultures: put Austria at the top of your list!
The best city: Vienna
Austria’s capital is a melting pot of classical architecture and music concerts; medieval historical buildings and top class museums; and quirky areas for the young and eccentric. Architectural highlights include the magnificent Rathaus (town hall), the Vienna Opera House, St Stephen’s Cathedral in the city centre, and more alternatively: the Hundertwasserhaus, an artistic masterpiece described as ‘human architecture in harmony with nature.’
See a Mozart and Strauss concert, visit the Natural History museum, wander around Volksgarten Park, shop in the beautiful city-centre streets and in the Jewish Quarter, drink coffee in ancient coffee houses, walk down the canal, visit Schonbrunn Palace, enjoy the world’s oldest Ferris wheel at Prater Park: do a million other things there are to do in Vienna!
The best for culture: Salzburg
Salzburg is famous for being the birth-place of Mozart, so this is the place to come to learn about the genius composer. It is the venue of the Sound of Music, and from here visitors can take tours following the footsteps of Maria and the Van Trapp family.
The quaint streets of the old city are full of nooks and crannies, little art galleries, cafes and boutique shops to be explored. At the top is the glorious Hohensalzburg Castle, well worth the trip up to see views of the city, river and surrounding hills.
The best for adventure: Tyrol region
Tyrol lies on the west side of Austria, and its capital is the wonderful 15th
century city of Innsbruck, famous for its ‘golden roof’ balcony overlooking the main square. The countryside around is breath-taking, with mountains as far as the eye can see, usually with snow on top, and the magnificent Kufstein Castle.
In terms of adventure, this is the place to come in summer for hiking, biking, paragliding, white water rafting, climbing and abseiling, and many other activities. In winter the area is just as popular, as the best ski resorts are located here.
The best road to drive: Glossglockner Alpine Road
This panoramic road takes you all the way to the Kaiser Franz Josefs Hohe Visitor Centre, from which you can see unobstructed views of the Glossglockner: Austria’s highest mountain.
This is a toll road, but the price is worth it from the fantastic alpine scenery. The road is open from the beginning of May until the end of October.
The best village: Hallstatt
This small village in the Salzkammergut region is a great tourist spot, famous for its salt production. The product has allowed the village a history of wealth and prestige, which was used to beautify the village.
The glamourous baroque style with its stunning backdrop of its lake and surrounding mountains is not to be missed. Visit Hornerwerk cavern’s subterranean salt lake, where there is a prehistoric man preserved in salt. Hallstatt is a truly unique place.