Known for producing some of the world’s greatest, like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (composer), Johann Strauss, Sr. (composer), Sigmund Freud (father of psychoanalysis), Gustav Klimt (painter), and Ferdinand Porsche (founder of Porsche), Austria leaves a great impression on travellers.
Not a particularly large country, Austria only extends 600 km across – double the size of Switzerland. A trip across the country, travelling from Salzburg to Vienna (295 km) is about 2.5 hours by train or only 3 hours by car!
Places to Visit in Austria
- Zell am See
- Bad Gastein
- St Anton Am Arlberg
Unique Things to See and Do in Austria
- Check out the quirky building called the Hundertwasser House and the Kunsthaus!
- Drink a kaffee in the late Sigmund Freud’s hangout, the Landtmann
- Take a dip in the Starkenberger Beer Pools
- Eat Mozart kugel in Salzburg (pistachio, marzipan, and nougat coated with chocolate)
- Climb steep steps to the Schlossberg clock tower in Graz
- View the 137-pound crystal at Swarovski’s Crystal World
From alpine slopes to lakeside resorts and historic city streets: Austria!
Landlocked, Austria’s most impressive geographical feature is being home to some of the highest mountains in the Alps, which goes hand in hand with having the some of the best skiing in Europe (on par with Switzerland), hence being the host of Olympics twice. Skiing enthusiasts will want to travel to the Tyrol region – its capital, Innsbruck, has skiing options that encircle the city. If, however, you don’t ski you’ll want to take a ride up the funicular to Hungerburg where the views are magnificent and the trip is unique. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
Contrasting to the cold weather skiing, Austria has quite the diverse geography with some really hot summer spots too. In the south, there are turquoise bathing lakes that are superb for swimming and suntanning in +27C weather. The most popular summertime spot is the Worthersee Lake where locals and travellers alike participate in some water sports. Here you will find everything from jet skiing, water skiing, SUP, and boating. Other lakes in the Carinthia region that are worth visiting are Faaker See, Millstatter See, Ossiacher See, and Weissensee.
Austria is fortunate that most of its historical buildings, city streets, churches, and abbey’s have remained intact over the centuries. Vienna’s cultural hub stemmed out of the Habsburg Empires reign. Vienna became the main focal point for the grand palaces – showcasing brilliant architecture.
Did you know…?
The Melk Benedictine Monastry was once a palace, but was presented to Benedictine monks in the 11th Century.
Did you ALSO know…?
Vienna has the best apfelstrudel (apple strudel)!
North of Graz is the city of Salzburg. Postcard perfect, this is the classical beauty of Austria with Baroque style architecture in the foreground and soaring mountains in the background. Thankfully, many of Salzburg’s baroque structures survived WWII intact – even though the city suffered through 15 airstrikes that destroyed over 40% of the city’s buildings during that period.
Getting Around Austria
If you’re not flying into a major city airport then chances are you are arriving from another European city by train. Austria’s railway system is excellent with comfortable seating, frequent service, and similar amenities with other rail systems in Europe. The most economical way is to purchase Eurail passes, in which you pick the number of days you wish to travel, the number of countries or just one country specific, and the class of seat. You can even purchase family packages and youth and senior passes are available too. Travel with your passport on you at all times to validate your pass.
The train service is good, but if you are planning to tour some smaller towns you’ll have to double check if there is a train station close. If not, then bussing is then next best option. There are two national bus service networks: the Austrian Postal Service and the Austrian Federal Railways. Buses typically align their schedules with arriving trains for journeys further out or more remote.
Travelling by rental car is by far the best way to see the countryside and Austria’s scenery is stunning. Summer months are best since the snow can be quite a challenge, especially in the windy roads of the Alps, so we recommend you read up on winter conditions or better yet avoid it. Book car rentals in advance and ask the rates with taxes included. Renting in Austria is expensive and they charge 15% airport tax plus a 21% rental tax too – taxi to hotel and then rent in the city to avoid the airport tax. And you’ll want to check out the conditions and services if you get a flat etc. Austria has it all covered as long as you know where to turn to.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Austria
Austria is magical in the winter time. With plenty of snowfall, little white lights (Christmas lights) lining the historical buildings, musicians playing in the streets, and crisp clean air, the holiday season in Austria is heartwarming. Especially in the city of Vienna or in one of the country’s beautiful ski towns, you can’t help but love Austria in the winter time. Bring proper winter clothing as the temperatures can drop down to -10C in the low lands and in the alpine it is even colder with more moisture added into the mix.
That being said, as with most countries the high season is the spring and summer months starting in April and extending all the way to October. Daytime temperatures range between 25C all the way up to 35C. Prices tend to be higher and crowds are more dense, but the weather is warm and sunny and most of the tourist related activities have longer hours.
Ready to plan your visit to Austria? Check out these popular guides and trips.