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 gorgeous mountain ranges and idyllic lakes. From big cities to quaint towns, there are a number of stunning places to visit in Austria.
With so much to see, it can be hard to narrow down Austria’s top attractions. Expat Explore has picked out a few of our favourites to help you plan your Austrian adventure!
You’re seriously spoilt for choice when it comes to Austrian destinations. Consider these 11 spots just the start of a long list of things to see and places to visit in Austria.
The most famous city in the country is also the most popular Austrian tourist destination, and for good reason. 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 step foot in Vienna, we have no doubt that you’ll agree it’s easily among the best cities to visit in Austria, and indeed the world.
Salzkammergut is an area of 76 lakes and several mountains and is a dreamscape for those seeking pure beauty. From here you can enjoy amazing views of the glaciers near Dachstein, and several hiking routes are accessible throughout the region. A highlight of this area is the Krippenstein mountain, with its spectacular 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 visit in Austria.
Hallstatt is also said to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited settlements in Europe. This 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. On top of that, it is one of the prettiest cities in the world, with its baroque architecture and views of the Alps. The Salzach river splits the city in two. Classical music lives on in Salzburg through numerous live performances and street acts throughout the city. For its vibrant music culture alone, it is one of the best places to visit in Austria.
Krimml falls is a very important Austrian destination. 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 over 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 haven. 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 became more famous after 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.
Hikers find the routes that cut across the vineyards and through the forests and mountains irresistible. For culture and history chasers, there is a fascinating monastery in the town of Melk. It contains an impressive collection of handwritten manuscripts, considered one of the most valuable in the world.
Someone coined the phrase “Village of Skyscrapers” to describe Bad Gastein. It describes the town quite accurately, if oddly. It is home to a number of tall buildings rising from its valley floor, and yet stille maintains its small-town feeling. The healing waters of the hot springs here have made it a peaceful 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 today is a top visitor’s attraction for viewing the Pasterze glacier.
Located 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 as well as thermal bath spots in the area. Plenty of summer and winter activities can be enjoyed around Lake Constance which is the third-largest fresh water lake in Europe.
This amazing underground wonderland near the city of Werfen is a wondrous combination of sunlight, magic and mystery. Visitors are welcome to explore this cave, which leads walkers along many miles of subterranean caves and paths.
The highlight is, without a doubt, the “Ice Palace”. This structure is made entirely from ice, which delivers an amazing shimmering light show when lit.
These suggestions are sure to help you decide which places to visit in Austria. Whether you’re a fan of natural beauty, mountains and lakes, or culture and music, Austria has something – and someplace – for everyone.
Why not consider taking a tour of Europe which includes a visit to Austria? Explore multiple regions with Austria right in the centre of it all!
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