When people think of Austria they probably think of something like the opening scene of The Sound of Music – Maria dancing in high green fields with bright skies and rolling countryside that will make you want to sing. As well as the fresh mountain air and idyllic scenery, the European country also is home to culturally sophisticated cities, quirky modern art galleries and breath-taking architecture. Austria is definitely a destination that should be on everyones travel list, here is my choice for ten of the most beautiful places to visit…
As Austria’s capital, Vienna is perhaps the city most associated with Austrian life, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Vienna is buzzing with excitement – street theatre, ballets, operas, musicals, art galleries and shows make it a dynamic and lively city to visit. But this modern flavour doesn’t take anything away from the tradition that still resounds through this splendid city. There are several imperial palaces, some stunning museums that proudly overlook majestic squares and of course, the Hofburg, once the impressive home of the Habsburg rulers. This fusion of fast-paced modern living and serene historical architecture make Vienna a truly spectacular city.
Often mentioned as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Austria – if not Europe – this small scenic town overlooks the serene waters of the Hallstatt lake. As well as offering you the chance to indulge in some rock climbing, hiking and boating, there are some intriguing places to visit that make this area particularly interesting. The Beinhaus (bone house) displays stacks of human remains that were taken there due to the shortage of grave spaces. Although it sounds morbid the experience is very different, there is something very beautiful and humbling about visiting the Beinhaus. The ice caves and salt caves are also worth visiting, and are truly spectacular.
Salzburg is definitely the place for music fans. It also celebrates its accolade as Mozart’s birthplace by allowing visitors into the home where Mozart was born and running exhibitions in the space. Salzburg may be home to Mozart and all things baroque, but for an astounding 70% of overseas visitors The Sound of Music remains the primary reason for travel to the city with tour companies all over the city offering their own version of the Sound of Music tour. Also brimming with exceptional galleries, museums, a rich array of restaurants and a diverse selection of shopping opportunities ranging from farmer’s markets to upmarket stores the city always seems to live up to visitors expectations.
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The snow-topped mountains and tall colourful buildings of Innsbruck make it a postcard-worthy alpine destination. Perfect for those who love to hit the slopes, it has a number of well managed ski resorts and excellent winter sports facilities. Other sites on interest include Ambras Castle, the Folk Art Museum and the Court Church. There are some very trendy hip bars at the centre of a thriving night life. Serenity has its place too, with the gentle carriage rides and the luxurious therma spa.
Alpbach has been voted the most beautiful village in Austria and it’s not difficult to see why. The sweet village is nestled in between a cluster of majestic snow-capped mountains and allows access to the perfect ski slopes while maintaining a strong alpine tradition. Alpbach is full of picturesque wooden farm houses, fields of cattle and locals skilled in traditional crafts. If you fancy a taste of how Austria used to be and enjoying the experience of time standing still then Alpbach is the place for you.
Grossglockner Alpine Road
This winding precarious, beautifully scenic road is definitely worth a visit. It will lead you to the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park as well as up the giddy heights of the Grossglockner (Austria’s tallest mountain), passing through the Pasterze glacier. It’s an ideal way to experience the Austrian landscape at its best, as you’ll pass through mountain forests, alpine meadows, plains of ice and sheer cliff faces. You can hire a vintage car, take a bus, ride a motorcycle, go by bike or venture by foot; either way you can guarantee an experience of a lifetime.
The Mostviertel is Lower Austria’s most captivating region. It combines rolling green meadows in the North with snow-laced rugged peaks in the South. This combination of landscapes contributes directly to the regions endless charm. Its chocolate box scenery makes it a wonder for adults and children alike and offers museums, monuments and family activities as well as the chance to ski.
Many consider it to be the most impressive medieval castle in Austria, and with good reason. It stands proudly on top of a 160 metre high Dolomite rock formation, making it look like something out of a fairytale. Between Easter and the end of October each year visitors are allowed inside certain parts of the castle. Tourists can walk along the 620 metre pathway through 14 intriguing fortified gates before they reach the stunning façade of the castle.
Krems an der Donau
Krems an der Donau is a postcard-pretty riverside town in the Lower Austria’s Danube’s Wachau Valley tourist region. It is renowned for both its wine production and its beautiful historical centre (which has earned it an UNESCO heritage site status). Situated at the gateway to the World Heritage cultural landscape of the Wachau, it displays one of the most stunning stretches of river valley in the whole of Europe.
Faaker See is an alpine lake in the Austrian state of Carinthia. Its the state’s fifth largest lake and one of the most beautiful – famed for its glorious clear azure water. Popular with locals and tourists alike here you can bath, fish, go boating or just kick back and enjoy the beautiful Austrian scenery.