Austria is literally the centre of Europe. It is bordered by an extraordinary number of countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The country is known for its incredible beauty, in part provided by the mountain ranges and gorgeous, idyllic lakes.
It’s hard to pick out the best of Austria’s attractions. But as tour highlights go, we certainly picked out a few worth considering.
When it comes to Austria destinations, you’re seriously spoilt for choice. Consider these 11 just the start of a potentially long list of things and places to visit in Austria.
The most famous city in the country is also the premier Austrian destination. Known globally as a city of music and culture, Vienna is strongly associated with historical figures like Mozart, Beethoven and Freud. It is also a city of several notable places, like Schönbrunn Palace (and its zoo within its grounds), the Museum of Fine Arts and much more. When you see it you’ll agree it’s easily among the best cities in Austria, and indeed the world.
This is an area of 76 lakes and several mountains, which proves popular for those seeking pure beauty. There are amazing views of the glaciers near Dachstein, and several hiking opportunities are available throughout the region. A highlight for this area is the Krippenstein mountain, with its viewing platform. You can see over miles of mountains on a clear day.
Few towns can say that another country has entirely replicated it because it’s so beautiful. Hallstadt – also in the Salzkammergut region – claims this unique honour. Its idyllic mountain and lake views make it one of the most exquisite places to go in Austria.
It is also said to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited settlements in Europe. Situated in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region, the town’s history is strongly connected to a salt mine, which may well be the oldest one in the world.
Salzburg’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of Mozart. But it is also one of the prettiest cities in the world, with its baroque architecture and views of the Alps. It is split in two by the Salzach river. Classical music lives on in the city through numerous music performances and street acts throughout the city. For its vibrant music culture alone, it is one of the best cities to visit in Austria.
Krimml falls is an important place to see in Austria. It is the highest waterfall in the country and the fifth-highest in the world. They fall more than 380m and are on the Krimmler Ache river in the state of Salzburg. Visitors can walk to a number of points to view the falls. You can spend in excess of four hours trying to walk to them all, with the easiest being around 15 minutes from the car park.
If you’re a sports fan or a skier, you may have heard about this winter sports heaven. The mountains around Innsbruck rise up to nearly 2200m. They are a major hotspot for skiing, but also attract lots of hikers and mountaineers. Innsbruck is additionally famous because it hosted both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. The facilities that were built there are now largely for public or professional use.
The climate of the Wachau valley makes it ideal for wine production, and today its wines are in high demand. The rolling hills and pleasant countryside terrain make it popular with cyclists too.
Others find the hiking routes that cut across the vineyards and through the forests and mountains irresistible. For culture and history chasers, there is a famous monastery in the town of Melk. It contains an impressive collection of handwritten manuscripts, considered one of the most valuable in the world.
At some point, someone coined the phrase “Village of Skyscrapers”. It describes the town of Bad Gastein quite accurately, if oddly. It has a number of tall buildings rising from its valley floor, and yet maintains its small-town feeling. The healing waters of the hot springs here have made it a popular place for people to relax and indulge since the 1600s.
This is one of the most spectacular roads you might ever have the pleasure of driving. It winds for 48km through the Hohe Tauern National Park. Besides the spectacular mountain and valley views, the road is notable for its twisting, turning design resembling a snake crawling over the mountain.
There are several places along the road to stop or hike from, which makes for a great summertime excursion. The Franz-Josefs-Höhe has been in use for many centuries and is today a visitor’s attraction for viewing the Pasterze glacier.
Near the German and Swiss border, the centrepiece for this beautiful lake is a wooden bathing house and event space set 42m into the lake. It is accessed by a walkway from the lakeshore. Lake Constance also has several other villages along its shores like Lindau and Konstanz, thermal bath spots in the area, and lots of activities whether it’s summer or winter.
Visit the Hohenzollernhaus and the Konstanz Minster, and take the kids to Sea Life Constance for a thrill.
This amazing underground wonderland near the city of Werfen is a wondrous combination of sunlight show, natural magic, and earth mystery. Visitors here can explore this cave, which leads walkers along many miles of subterranean caves and paths.
The highlight without a doubt is the “Ice Palace”, a structure made entirely from ice, which delivers an amazing shimmering light experience when lit.
These suggestions will help you decide where to go in Austria. Whether you’re a fan of natural beauty, mountains and lakes, or culture and music, there is something – and someplace – to visit here.
If you’re keen on other parts of Europe, why not consider taking on a tour of Europe that includes some time to visit Austria? There’s no reason why you can’t simply enjoy all of it, especially since Austria is right in the centre of it all!