People often think of Austria as a holiday destination only at Christmas, for shopping in its traditional Christmas markets, or for a skiing holiday in one of its magnificent Alpine resorts. These are certainly two wonderful experiences, full of charm, but don’t reduce one of Europe’s most beautiful nations to just that.
Due to its numerous cultural and scenic attractions, Austria is perfect to visit in all seasons of the year: the same winter resorts reinvent themselves in summer as havens for hikers and mountain bikers. If you prefer relaxation to active holidays, choose a romantic lake or spa, while the main Austrian cities are recommended for those who love history, art and culture.
The list of what to see in Austria is a long one, but we have summarised the best in this short guide: here are the must-see attractions in Austria, grouped into four types so that you can immediately find what best suits your type of holiday.
Austria’s glorious imperial past has bequeathed an immense artistic heritage of palaces, castles, abbeys, art galleries, museums, theatres and other prestigious cultural institutions.
In Vienna, you can relive the splendour of the Habsburg courts by visiting the Hofburg, the Imperial Palace and the romantic Schönbrunn Palace, as well as numerous other cultural attractions that are impossible to list in a few lines.
Fairytale atmospheres are also to be found in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart’s musical genius: its houses are the most visited museums in the city, followed by the medieval fortress, the royal residence, the puppet theatre and much more.
If you are looking for a good compromise between an alpine resort suitable for sports and relaxation holidays and a city of art full of museums and historical buildings, head for Innsbruck, the charming capital of Tyrol.
A large part of Austria’s surface area is mountainous and in the collective imagination, Austria is a bit like the land of Heidi, with green mountains, little goats and snow-capped peaks; it is also the home of great sportsmen and women who have made skiing history.
Whether you feel more like Heidi or more like a skiing prodigy, Austria’s ski resorts are ideal destinations for a dream winter holiday, with modern ski lifts and hundreds of kilometres of slopes suitable for all levels, from absolute beginner to world champion.
Austria is one of Europe’s top countries in terms of the quantity and quality of spas and wellness centres. Just think of theAqua Dome in Längenfeld, one of the most famous and renowned spa hotels in Europe.
Austrian spas are almost always set in spectacular natural surroundings with mountain views: come and experience the thrill of a warm outdoor bath during a snowy winter. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your dream spa town, but the best spas in Austria are located in the Salzburg region, Carinthia and Tyrol.
Who said there is no sea in Austria? The Alpine lakes are the Austrian sea! Certainly colder than the Mediterranean, the Austrian lakes are extremely charming: framed by spectacular mountains, they are breathtakingly beautiful and ideal for a romantic holiday or a relaxing weekend break.
Perhaps the most famous is Wörthersee, a blue lake surrounded by greenery, just a few kilometres from the centre of Klagenfurt. Also not to be missed are Zeller See, not far from the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, and Grüner See, a lake with spectacular emerald-green waters.
For a special landscape, head for Neusiedler See, the only steppe lake in Central Europe and the second largest in Europe.