The cities of Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Innsbruck, and Linz as well as the numerous winter sports centers are for many the main reason for a holiday in Austria. This Alpine country is also full of stunning natural treasures to admire - not far from the towns and mountain villages.
As is quite rightly sung in the national anthem, Austria is a country of mountains. The Alps cover about two thirds of the country's surface area. This makes Austria a jewel for nature lovers, active holiday makers and those looking to relax - regardless of their age.
Extensive hikes and winter sports in the diverse ski areas, crystal-clear lakes in Salzkammergut, Carinthia and other parts - a recipe for an unforgettable holiday in Austria.
Austria is also very centrally located in Europe, and as such it can easily be integrated into a round trip.
About one fifth of the Austrians live in Vienna, and thanks to its diversity, the city has repeatedly won the title of the most livable city in the world. Reasons to travel to Vienna include culture, art, classical music, Empress Sisi, impressive buildings and its traditional coffee house culture. But did you know that Vienna is one of the few capitals where they cultivate wine?
For city travelers looking for a varied mix in every season, Mozart's birthplace Salzburg has a lot to offer. The city also boasts of having one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe.
The lake landscapes in the Salzkammergut Mountains and in Carinthia are among the best travel destinations for a bathing holiday in Austria, with the Attersee, Wolfgangsee and Wörthersee as the most beautiful lakes.
The alpine landscape ranges from western parts to Upper Austria and Carinthia. This area is well suited for hiking holidays. Innsbruck, Hallstatt, Zell am See and Schladming are ideal starting points for summer and winter sports, among other things.
Burgenland is the easternmost and flattest part of Austria, and ideal for cycling tours along the vineyards and Lake Neusiedl, the largest lake in Austria regarding the surface area.
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The largest weather fluctuations take place in mountainous areas. When hiking in the mountains, you should definitely pay attention to the weather forecast.
In spring, from March to May, the weather is mostly unstable, but a city break is still worth your while in Austria. To begin with, there are fewer tourists around at this time. With a bit of luck, you can also go skiing at the beginning of March, or just relax in one of the many thermal baths.
In summer, the Austrian towns and lake districts are packed with tourists and locals. The turquoise blue, emerald green waters guarantee unlimited bathing pleasure in the midst of mountainous landscapes. In the summer months, the temperatures are relatively warm and also well suited for leisurely mountain hikes and lake tours.
In early autumn, the forests shine in a blaze of color, providing ideal conditions for a hiking holiday in Austria. In September and October, the temperatures are usually still very pleasant and great for nature excursions.
Many sports enthusiasts flock to Austria in winter and mostly to the ski resorts. Especially Vorarlberg, Tyrol and the Salzburg area offer many good winter sports centers.
Good destinations for a skiing holiday in Austria:
- St. Anton am Arlberg
The ski areas are great for a holiday with children as well. In the vicinity of the ski centers, there are also wonderful thermal baths, such as Aqua Dome, Alpentherme or Felsentherme in Gastein. Those looking to relax, and families with children, will surely get their money's worth.
Good travel destinations for a holiday with children:
- Neusiedlersee – The largest amusement park in Austria, a diverse natural area, and the largest steppe lake
- Carinthia – lake landscapes, many hiking opportunities, miniature world Minimundus
- Innsbruck and surroundings - Alpenzoo, mountainous landscapes, proximity to ski areas
- Vienna – numerous sights for children, Wiener Prater amusement park, Schönbrunn Zoo
The price level in Austria is higher than the European average, but nowhere near the levels of the most expensive European destinations.
Top 5 facts about Austria
The oldest zoo in the world
Did you know where and when the world's first zoo was opened? It took place in Vienna in 1752, as the Habsburg monarchy founded the Schönbrunn Zoo. The popularity of the zoo still remains today, both among tourists and locals.
There are two Hallstatts
This idyllic village of 800 inhabitants in the Salzkammergut is so popular with Asian tourists, especially Chinese, that they built a copy of it in the Guangdong province. As a result, the interest towards the original town has increased sharply, and since then even more tourists from China and other countries have been traveling to Hallstatt.
The Sound of Music
The Hollywood-produced musical about the Trapp family has been greatly successful in the USA and Asia. As a result, many tourists flock to the filming locations in Salzburg every year. However, very few of the locals in Salzburg have ever seen the musical, and many Austrians have not even heard of it.
The Ötzi Mummy
Mountaineers found a 5,300-year-old glacier mummy in the Ötztal Alps. Of course, this discovery caused quite a stir, and Ötzi, the Iceman, is considered the best-preserved Stone Age man in the world.
Championship in cowpat throwing
Some may have noticed pictures of idyllic Austrian alpine landscapes with cows. There are plenty of these animals, especially in the Alpine region of Tyrol. Probably due to this, the annual championship in cowpat throwing has been held there since 2013, attracting participants even from other countries.
Top 5 Attractions in Austria
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
The Großglockner is situated between Carinthia and the Salzburg state, and it is the highest mountain in Austria at 3798 meters above sea level. The 47-kilometer-long mountain road leads up to 2500 meters in altitude and offers breathtaking views of the glacier and Käfertal. The Glockner is also known for its marmots that can be observed on the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, a part of the alpine road.
Eisriesenwelt in Werfen
The world's largest ice cave is located in the Salzburg state and extends over a length of 42 kilometers. You can explore the natural wonder between May and October.
Unique mountain landscapes, endless crystal-clear lakes, and world heritage sites, such as the picturesque village of Hallstatt and the salt mines - this versatile region offers all this and much more.
The idyllic Wachau is a valley on the Danube in Lower Austria with vineyards, blooming apricot trees and steep cliffs. The best way to explore the area is by bike with stops at wine taverns (Heurigen) and Melk Abbey.
Lake landscape in Carinthia
Wörthersee, Lake Ossiach (Ossiacher See), Lake Klopein (Klopeiner See), Weißensee and Lake Millstatt (Millstätter See) are among the most beautiful and partly the warmest lakes in Austria. The waters in the midst of mountainous landscapes provide great conditions for a versatile active holiday.
Our destinations in Austria
Graz is a busy university city and the second largest city in Austria. The advantages of the city include the sympathetic historic center and the cozy Castle Hill right next to it.
Read more about the destination: Graz
Innsbruck is a diverse holiday destination, which is also referred to as the Alpine capital. Whether for city holidays, ski holidays or summer holidays, Innsbruck is a great option for all purposes.
Read more about the destination: Innsbruck
Klagenfurt in an idyllic town next to an Alpine lake. Common to central Europe, the streets in the center are pedestrian friendly, and most attractions are concentrated within a small area. The Alpine lake, Wörthersee, is situated a short bus ride or even a walk away from the center. On the part closest to Klagenfurt, there’s a built-in bathing area within the lake and other family friendly activities on offer.
Read more about the destination: Klagenfurt
Linz is not burdened with over tourism. Instead, the city impresses with its independent, calm elegance that combines history, culture and wonderful natural sites. The city offers a diverse selection of leisure activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
Read more about the destination: Linz
If you are seeking a cultural experience, there are exciting treasures to be discovered in Salzburg. Magnificent landscapes, crystal clear lakes and picturesque mountains surround the city, which make it an ideal destination to combine escapes in the nature with a city trip.
Read more about the destination: Salzburg
Schladming is a traditional skiing paradise and a regular host to the events of the Alpine Ski World Cup. Thanks to its ideal location in the nature, the Schladming municipality is a true paradise also for the enthusiasts of nature. Whether you’re traveling on your own, as a couple or with your family, you’ll be able to enjoy the numerous excursions in the wonderful Alpine landscape all year round.
Read more about the destination: Schladming
Vienna is a convenient destination. Due to its compact center, the key attractions can be visited in one day. On the other hand, there’s enough to do for weeks if you have a lot of time on your hands.
Read more about the destination: Vienna
Text: Katrin Lindenbauer
Photos: Katrin Lindenbauer, Jussi Ryynänen