Austria sits comfortably at the heart of Europe, well situated between some of Europe’s greatest destinations, including Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. However, despite being somewhat overshadowed in the past, Austria is doing its part to prove itself as a worthwhile destination.
Home to over 8.8 million people, this German-speaking country may be a lot smaller than some of its neighbours but Austria has plenty of unique charms to explore. In fact, it’s very well-known for its fantastic ski resorts in the mountains, traditional and classical music and stunning rolling countryside. For this reason alone, Austria is well worth a visit. So renew your EHIC card and get ready to jet off – here is our full country guide to help you get started.
Top Places To Visit
As the nation’s grand capital, Vienna is a true hub for history and culture that offers locals and tourists a truly memorable trip. With so much to see and do, choosing what not to miss is often a matter of preference but here, we have just a few to get your list started:
The Spanish Riding School
Whether you are a horse lover or not, you will be amazed by the famous displays the horses and riders will give you at the Baroque Winter Riding School. With Vienna being one of the only places left in the world where the unique yet classical style of riding is still practised, buying a ticket to view the beautiful Lipizzaner horses perform in the breathtaking hall is a must. Due to the performance being so popular, be sure to book your tickets in advance in order to avoid any disappointment!
Another beauty to Vienna is the Baroque style Schönbrunn Palace, which is located on the outskirts of the city. The tours available take you around the stunning palace through the Great Gallery, the Million Room and even the Hall of Mirrors, all of which have a beautiful interior that you will spend ages gazing over. In addition to the gorgeous interior, behind the Schönbrunn Palace is 500 acres of gardens, which stretch out and provide hours of peaceful exploration through the 18th-century style parks.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
The Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral is situated in the old city centre of Vienna. Over the centuries, this cathedral has undergone numerous reconstructions to fit the style of the period, not least including the complete rebuild after the Second World War, due to the significant damage that it had endured. If you want to experience the breathtaking view over Vienna, then the climb of 343 steps to the Watch Room will definitely be worth it. Don’t worry if you think you may struggle to walk up all of those many stairs, as there is an elevator which can take you to the viewing platform on the North Tower!
The Vienna Hofburg Palace
If an Imperial Palace sounds like your cup of tea, then The Vienna Hofburg Palace is a must-see attraction. The palace was previously the seat of Austria’s monarchy for centuries, but today, the president conducts state business in the building where nearly every Austrian ruler has once resided. The spectacular palace covers 59 acres of land, including 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms, and is a fantastic location if you’re looking to explore and understand the rich history of the royal Austrian monarchy. During a tour of Hofburg Palace, you will get to see the Imperial Silver Collection, the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments, which all offer a taste of life in the beautiful palace.
If you want to escape from the busy city life while you are abroad, then you will want to visit Hallstatt, a village located on Lake Hallstatt’s shore. The views here will take your breath away, as you will be surrounded by the Salzkammergut mountain region and 16th-century Alpine houses. This traditional Austrian village is home to a small population and really captures Austrian culture, especially with its ancient salt mine, unique railway line and relaxing lifestyle.
This area of Austria really is a beautiful location during every season, whether you visit during the summer when the sun is reflecting off of the lake or during the winter when the mountains are caked in snow. If you only want to have a brief visit to the village, then you can enjoy a private tour from Salzburg to Hallstatt, whilst you travel through picturesque villages on the way. Ensure that your camera has plenty of charge, as you will want to capture the absolute beauty that this region has to offer.
The Baroque architectural style of Mirabell Palace really portrays the 15th century when it was built. Packed-full of history within its walls, this palace offers a fascinating experience, with exciting tours being at a very reasonable price. As you wander around the gardens at Mirabell Palace, you can be sure that they will not disappoint. With the unique statues, shapes and array of flowers planted delicately around one another, the beauty of this garden will take you back.
Some Unique Landmarks
Austria has some truly weird, wonderful and unique landmarks that will take you by surprise. If you want to delve into the wacky and unusual, here are a few sights you have to see:
Swarovski Kristallwelten was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Austrian crystal company. This is essentially a museum, containing art installations, rides and of course a beautiful collection of crystals. From the outside, the museum replicates a giant head covered in foliage, which adds the mysterious aura of the museum.
Has bathing in a pool of beer ever crossed your mind? It may have as a fantasy, however, now it can become a reality at Starkenburg brewery. Everything at the brewery is centred around beer, including the history, trivia, drinking and even the relaxing. The pools of beer are apparently very good for your skin, due to the calcium and vitamins found in the beverage!
If you’re looking for something to do with the entire family, why not ride underground on a dragon train-ride. The exciting ride lets you see gnomes and dwarves fishing, giant insects and even colourful lights, making it a magical ride for you and your children.
After days of exploring Austria and discovering the wonders of the country however weird and wonderful they are, a night out may be on the cards. Jazz music in Austria is very popular, and it’s the style of music found in many clubs, allowing for a relaxing, laid-back evening. However, if jazz is not your style, then you can take part in a locally organised pub crawl, which will allow you to meet new people, whether that is the locals or fellow tourists – what better way to break the ice than with a cold beverage?
Skiing In Austria
You may be looking at Austria as a destination to visit to enjoy a holiday of skiing. Whether you are a keen skier or a beginner, Austria has some of the best runs in the world, giving you the chance to feel truly alive as you zoom down with the wind in your hair and the snow under your skis. With plenty of cable cars and chairlifts to get you to the top of the runs at all of the resorts, you can really make the most of the slopes that Austria has to offer. After a long day of skiing, kick off the skis and thermals and enjoy the lively après-ski atmosphere featured heavily around most of the unique resorts.
Tips And Tricks
When travelling abroad it is good to know just a few important facts about the country, so you can make the most out of your trip and settle right in. Here are just five to get you started:
Know The Best Time To Explore
If you want to visit the towns and cities when it is quieter and more peaceful, then it is recommended that you explore them during the night or as the evenings roll in, especially as they look beautiful when they are illuminated against the dark sky. Additionally, you could visit in the offseason for a quieter all-round experience.
By choosing a city or town to stay in at a convenient location, will make travelling to local areas a lot easier, as you will be able to take public transport and not spend a fortune on car hire, or taxis.
Don’t Just Sight See
Although there is plenty for you to see and do in Austria, don’t forget that you are on holiday! Kick up your feet and enjoy one of the plentiful coffee houses, restaurants and bars for a truly relaxing and memorable experience.
Book your tickets for any tours or excursions you wish to go on while you are in Austria in advance, in order to save money and avoid the disappointment of tickets selling out. Booking transport tickets could even work out cheaper if you do so in advance, so it’s worth taking the time to research!
Remember Your EHIC
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is an essential and mustn’t be forgotten when you travel anywhere in Europe, including Austria, as it enables you to be medically treated if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident or fall ill whilst you are abroad. It is very easy to renew your EHIC card and apply for one online today if you haven’t got one. You can find your answers to any questions that you may have regarding an EHIC, here.
This travel guide has hopefully given you a taste as to what the fantastic country has to offer, in addition to it giving you a helping hand in planning your trip to Austria. The country is jam-packed with beautiful sights to see and moreover, it has so much history to discover. Enjoy your holiday to Austria and don’t forget your camera!