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The best places to explore in Austria

We try to go to Europe as often as possible. Kati has her family there and we love exploring different countries and cultures. Austria is one of our favorites and no matter how many times we go, we never get tired of it. There is always something new to discover.

Austria is a tiny country with some of the most charming cities and medieval towns with stunning alpine backdrops. Imagine a backyard with the mountainous landscapes of the Alps stretching across the sky like a rolling blue carpet. Quite a sight to behold. The country offers a dream holiday feeling, whether you visit the cities or the small towns. It’s just too beautiful, too magnificent, wherever you are. This is what awaits you in Austria.

This article takes you through some exciting and magnificent cities and places to visit in Austria. We have listed some of the most popular destinations and a few secret places you must visit during your stay in Austria.

Here we go.

Vienna

Austria is famous for its bustling architecture, creative art and love of tasteful classical music. Locals also enjoy good food, which makes dining and dining out a celebratory affair. You’ll find extravagant hotels serving great cuisines, delicacies from all over the world, especially Indian flavours, which make Vienna the romantic and sophisticated destination of choice in Scandinavia.

No wonder that Vienna is ranked as the best city in the world in terms of “quality of life”. And so, naturally, most technocrats and aristocrats of the extinct experts prefer to visit Vienna for these excesses of life.

So what to do once you land in Vienna?

Well, first of all, mingle.

Pack a few tuxedos and ball gowns to have a great time in the evenings as you prepare for dreamy nights of relaxing classical music or enchanting dances if that’s what you prefer (okay, we didn’t really do this – we don’t normally pack tuxedos or ball gowns in the suitcase. But Vienna’s nightlife is magical and the chance to meet Mozart in the city where he worked, having been born in Salzburg, is incredible).

During the day, visit the magnificent Schoenbrunn Palace. Other great palaces of the city are the Hofburg, the Belvedere and the Rathaus.

In the afternoon, tour the city on a leisurely boat as you cruise along the Danube River. Later, savor the local cuisine at the array of cafes lining Vienna’s clean, organized streets. Everything in the city is so organized you’d think it was Vatican City.

For nature lovers, take long, brisk walks through the serene Donau Auen National Park, or enjoy the scenic atmosphere as you stroll through the Burggarten. If you’re travelling with children, don’t miss the attractions at the Prater amusement park.

Best places to stay in Vienna:

Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof Wien

Hotel Beethoven Vienna

Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront

Graz

This unique town is a UNESCO site, situated on the banks of the Mur River. It is the second largest city in Austria and is famous for its colorful rooftops and the impressive Schlossberg Castle perched on a hill.

Your first stop should be the ultramodern Kunsthaus GrazThe Kunsthaus Graz, known locally as the “friendly alien”, floats among the baroque rooftops like a giant hot air balloon. This exceptional art museum demonstrates how the city impeccably combines technology in a relaxed environment, hence Graz’s nickname, the “City of Design”.

Visit the artificial island Murinsel, which floats in the Mur River. The city is also home to the magnificent UNESCO-listed Eggenberg Palace. The Palace displays the memorabilia of the famous actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to celebrate his life’s achievements as a sports and film star. Schwarzenegger grew up in Graz, Austria, and the local authorities decided to create a “hall of fame” in his honor at Eggenberg Palace.

Other fun activities to do in Graz include hiking, swimming, and going out at night to experience the city’s lively nightlife.

Best places to stay in Graz:

Ibis Graz

Schlossberghotel – Das Kunsthotel

Palais-Hotel Erzherzog Johann

Eggenberg Palace is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must-see in Graz.

Salzburg

In central Austria, Mozart began the illustrious career that earned him the title of foremost classical musician. Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria. It has a lot to offer besides being the birthplace of Mozart. The town has a rich history, much of which inspired the great composer. Enjoy a stroll along the expansive Salzach River against the magnificent backdrop of the alpine mountains. Visit the medieval fortress of Hohensalzburg, artistically built on top of the beautiful Festungsberg hill, overlooking the beautiful. To get to the fortress, you can climb the hill for about twenty minutes or take a local funicular which is super fast, but you miss an adventurous ride and its panoramic view.

Later, explore the local museums and the famous St. Peter’s Monastery. Visit the Mirabell Palace and its manicured gardens. In the evening, enjoy a local beer in one of the relaxing beer gardens.

And by the way, get used to hearing The Sound of Music anywhere in Salzburg.

The best places to stay in Salzburg:

Hotel Bristol Salzburg

Hotel Sacher Salzburg

Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron

Zell am See

This beautiful town is home to some of the most enchanting scenery nestled in the Kitzbühel Alps. The city lake, also called Zell am See is a paradise in Austria. Explore the charming cottages scattered across the hills as you mingle with the locals. The lake is a worldwide attraction and gets crowded with tourists in summer. You can also drive to the Grossglockner Alps and enjoy breathtaking views high up in the hills.

During the winter, skiers get their fill of extreme sports adventures. You can combine your trip with the main attractions of Salzburg, which is only a few minutes’ drive away.

Visit the Belfry of the Church of St. Hippolytusand contemplate the magnificent views of the city from the tower.

Later you can sample the local cuisine at one of the city’s countless restaurants.

Best places to stay :

Hotel Tirolerhof

Hotel Salzburgerhof

Hotel Der Waldhof

Salzkammergut

If you’re a nature type and love outdoor activities like hiking, lazy paddling on crystal clear lakes and picnicking amidst lush landscapes, you must go to. Salzkammergut. The town is just a short drive from Hallstatt in Salzburg, a UNESCO heritage site known for its stunning photogenic scenery. Between magnificent landscapes, crystal clear lakes, rolling mountains and charming villages, Salzkammergut is a must-see destination.

The picturesque town looks like a fairy tale because of the colourful 16th century chalets.

For unparalleled photogenic views of the town and its surrounding landscape, hop on a funicular railway in Hallstatt and wind through the mountain valleys to the Hallstatt footbridge observation point. Afterwards, you can visit the active salt salt mine in Salzwelten, another famous attraction in the area. You can also get on a boat and sail on the salt lake inside the mine.

Best places to stay in Salzkammergut:

Haus Strutzenberger

Hotel Eichingerbauer

Landhaus Koller

Innsbruck

Nicknamed the “Capital of the Alps.” Innsbruck is located on the banks of the Inn River, surrounded by gigantic 2,000-metre-high mountains. Innsbruck is very popular with hikers. Thousands of tourists flock to this charming town to snowball, hike and enjoy the magnificent snow-capped mountains during the winter. It is the perfect place for winter sports. The city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and again in 1976.

To capture the best photos and witness the exquisite scenery, hire a cable car and ride up to the top of Nordkette. Explore the grand palaces, the magnificent Ambras Castle and key ancient churches, including St. Jacob’s Cathedral.

Best places to stay in Innsbruck:

Hotel Seewinkel

Resort Vital Villa Seilern

Hotel Sallerhof

Innsbruck

Having hosted two Olympic Games, Innsbruck is a truly amazing city in the Alps.

Wattens, Tyrol – The world of Swarovski crystals

The magic city of Swarovski crystals is only 25 minutes from Innsbruck. It is a world of crystals with 17 unique “crystal chambers”, each with an exceptional display of crystal art. You will see an “infinity mirror room” with a revolving crystal chandelier and a spectacular crystal dome. Swarovski Crystal Worlds exhibits are unlike any other in the world. Imagine an artificial cloud covered in 800,000 crystals that rivals the real skies and all the beautiful sparkling stars seen in the space of the galaxy. You can witness the artwork of creative geniuses such as Keith Haring, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Andy Warhol. The website Swarovski Crystal Worlds attracts thousands of visitors every year to see and feel the atmosphere created by renowned designers. The collection of must-see crystal worlds includes: The Crystal Dome, the Chambers of Wonders, the Chandelier Jungle and many other amazing crystal themes.

Places to stay in Wattens, Tyrol:

Hotel Goldener Adler Wattens

Alpenhotel Speckbacher Hof

Parkhotel Hall

Bad Gastein

This is a unique little haven for nature lovers. The thermal springs of Bad Gastein attract thousands of visitors each year to experience the thermal baths in this picturesque spa town nestled in Austria’s Upper Tauern Mountains. Surrounded by lush forests and cliffs, Bad Gastein is also popular with hikers who flock to the town in the summer, as well as skiing enthusiasts during the winter.

Where to stay in Bad Gastein: The Grand Hotel de l’Europe – An icon of the city, the hotel has been around for almost a century. Visit the Bad Gastein waterfall, located nearby, and take photos to post on Instagram as a nice souvenir of this beautiful city.

Best places to stay in Bad Gastein:

Sanotel Bad Gastein & Residenz

Grossglockner alpine road

For adventure lovers, this is one adrenaline-filled destination you won’t want to miss. Put on your boots and get ready for a wild road trip. Grossglockner alpine road. is a breathtakingly beautiful landscape with a dramatic backdrop, winding roads and sharp edges. You can look across the spectacular alpine divide, from the Salzach valley in Bruck towards the Grossglockner, The highest mountain in Austria.

Mingle symphonically with the Paradise Route, a 24-mile stretch of pure bliss. Along the way, you can make a quick stop at breathtaking national parks and ice glaciers. While gazing at the splendor of the Grossglockner, take plenty of live photos and videos of this magnificent landscape.

Once at the foot of the great mountain, visit the village of Heiligenblut, and see the striking St. Vincent’s Church. Later, hike up into the Upper Tauern National Park and see the sprawling Krimml waterfall, the highest in Austria. Watch out for sharp-edged roads on your way through the mountainous terrain; it’s easy to slip and break a leg on this road.

Vorarlberg

Vorarlberg is located in the mountainous region of western Austria, bordering Germany. It is a breathtaking region with vast landscapes that make it the perfect place for extreme sports enthusiasts. The vast mountains reach a high altitude of up to 2,000 metres and provide a spectacular backdrop to the densely wooded hiking trails. Adventure lovers can take long boat rides on the serene lakes, paddle to the echo wall and create fun sounds in the air. For the best spectacular views of the Vorarlberg valley, rent a cable car and climb up to the comfortable mountain inns to relax while enjoying the breathtaking atmosphere with a drink in hand.

Visit Verwall on Montafon, one of the region’s beautiful natural sites; the naturally beautiful Lake Constance; and Feldkirch, Dornbirn, Bregenz and Hohenems. The Vorarlberg region has several museums to visit and is a favourite tourist destination for its lively cultural festivals.

Best places to stay in Vorarlberg:

Hotel Walserberg

Hotel Krone

Hotel Gasthof Hirschen Schwarzenberg

Our last word

If you are travelling in search of adventure, and perhaps a romantic atmosphere, Austria is the place to be. Visit this enchanting country in all seasons and feel the energy oozing from every corner. Feel like meditating? There are many serene places to soothe the spirit. Fancy going on an adventure? There are endless mountains and skiing spots just for you.

Spend all day in a cozy restaurant surrounded by gigantic, breathtaking mountains, enjoy dramatic operas, or experience the lifestyle of medieval times. Better yet, go to the mountains and get a breathtaking celestial view of the beautiful world below you.

Look, Austria is too incredible to describe. Tell us about your travel experiences in the land of ice and giant mountains.

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