Best Places to Visit in Austria

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Travel Features >> Best Places to Visit in Austria

Best Places to Visit in Austria

April 29, 2011

No sounds of music, no waltz or piano sonata, no Freudian dream can herald the snowy beauty that is Austria. From the breathtaking ski slopes of the Austrian Alps, to the fabulously ornate castles, the country has a startling magnificence that defies description. Austria is the land of Mozart and Strauss, of classics like ‘The Blue Danube’ and ‘The Sound of Music,’ of Freud and Klimt and of unforgettable cities like Salzburg and Innsbruck.

If you are lucky enough to visit this country, grab every opportunity you have to soak in the artistic culture, the essence of the cities and enjoy the mountains too. Cycle, ski, hike, drink in the crisp alpine air, enjoy many a night at the opera. Take the Sound of Music Tour to relive the Von Trapp family’s saga, or make an expedition to the famed Eagle’s Nest, immortalized in the film 'Where Eagles Dare'. And gorge on hearty Austrian meals, on apple strudel, weiner schnitzel, Leberkasse, wurst and beuschel.

Below are just a few of our recommended best places to visit and things to do, whilst traveling to Austria.

A very good place to start is Vienna, the capital, with its imperial Hapsburg heritage, museums and opera. Take in opulent palaces like the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Schonbrunn, the Karlskirche and the Belevedere, which displays Gustav Klimt’s famous painting, The Kiss. Some of the finest masterpieces in the world are in the Albertina and the Museum of Fine Arts. You might want to visit the Freud Museum, (minus the original couch) and the synagogue of Stadttempel.

During the annual Salzburg Festival from end July to end August, Salzburg resounds with opera, drama and concerts by performers and composers from around the world. This is a wonderful time to be here and it is well worth planning a visit to coincide with the Festival. Salzburg’s most famous son, Mozart, and everything about him has been immortalised at the Mozartplatz. St Sebastian’s and the Salzburg Cathedral are amongst the more striking churches that the city has to offer – and it has many! The Hohensalzburg Fortress is not to be missed, while Steigl’s World of Brewing is where you should wind up your city tour and indulge in a tankard of the famous brew.

And if it’s hiking or skiing that gets you going, get going to Innsbruck, a charming Alpine valley town. Or head for the banks of the Bodensee for a spot of sunbathing. For ogling flora and fauna, visit the Hohe Tauern National Park, the Krimml Waterfalls and the Eisriesenwelt ice caves near Werfen. Go crazy in Graz, a cultural and music mecca with prodigious architecture that rivals Vienna.

Its not easy to pack Austria in a nutshell, this land of lakes and rivers, forests and woodlands, land of the edelweiss, blossom of snow – but do take back sweet memories and sing
Bless this Land Forever.

Making your way here…
Zoom in on one of the superfast autobahns or the efficient trains if you are coming from a neighbouring country. Fly into Vienna’s Schwechat Flughafen airport from international destinations, or land at Salzburg, Graz, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt from European cities.

….And Getting around
Domestic air carriers operate between major Austrian cities. Bundesbus, the Austrian bus service is useful for short distances; look out for discounts on bus and rail travel. Eurail and InterRail passes can be used in Austria. The Austrian Railpass allows you to travel for three days in any 15-day period. The National Network Pass allows unlimited rail travel within Austria as well as discounted ferries down the Danube and the Bodensee. The Kilometer Bank allows you to pre-purchase a ticket for a given number of kilometres of travel. There are ferry services on almost all the lakes as well as down the Danube from Vienna.

A Roof over your Head…
Accommodation, especially if booked in advance, presents no problems for the high-end traveller in Austria. While private rooms are a good option for longer stays, budget hotels are hard to come by in bigger cities like Vienna. You could camp in Austria, or take a mountain cabin, but make sure you book well in advance.

A good meal, a great bargain and more…
Austria has it all: From frankfurter stands, quick-lunch stops, cafes, wine taverns, self-service restaurants, and small establishments featuring local specialties to expensive restaurants. During the cultural season – April to September, there is a frenzy of music festivals, open-air concerts and film/theatre festivals. If you are looking for great buys, check out the food and flea markets in Vienna, or take back some sparkling crystal from Innsbruck.

… and one last bit of advice
Austrian scenery is spectacular and the roads and autobahns are in excellent condition. Though it is an expensive proposition, driving around the country is the best way to see it. Avoid hitch hiking!

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