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Austria – a small country in Europe – has numerous surprises for tourists. From history to sports, from soothing natural spas to historical monuments, from castles to caves, this small country has everything a tourist needs to make his or her time in Austria a memorable one.
There is no scarcity of places to visit in Austria. Today’s Austria has shrugged off her past and created a positive image in the world. If someone is wondering what really to expect from this beautiful and serene Alpine nation, here are a few facts for starters:
- It is the only country in the European Union that did not join NATO.
- Kaffeehaus or Coffee House was deeply integrated into the Viennese tradition after Turks left behind enormous quantities of coffee beans while fleeing the Vienna city.
- Austria is home to the world’s oldest zoo – Schönbrunn Tiergarten. It was founded back in 1752.
- Europe’s largest per capita is Austria’s funeral industry. Austrians elaborately plan their demise. The phrase “ein schöne Leiche” (which translates into “a beautiful corpse”) is pretty commonly heard after a funeral.
- Wine lovers from across the world should memorize the phrase “ein Achtel” (which means “one-eighth of liter”) if they happen to be in Vienna.
- For those who have some love for psychology – here is another interesting fact – Sigmund Freud – Father of psychoanalysis – was born in Vienna.
- Ernst Mach – the Austrian philosopher and physicist, is the person after whom the Mach number system was introduced in 1929.
Finding the best places to go in Austria is not a difficult task. One can start with natural beauty that is utterly breathtaking.
When in the country, a tourist should not miss out the following Austria points of interest else, his or her travel to Austria will naturally be incomplete:
Table of Contents
- 1 Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Austria
- 2 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Austria
The capital of Austria, it is only natural to mention this lovely city on this list. Known for its spectacular architecture, interesting history, and amazing food – you certainly must add this lovely city in your itinerary.
Aside from site-seeing, you are free to explore its streets and stroll around beautiful famous museums, palaces, and churches and be in awe with the architect’s fine works. When you get tired, make sure to taste their famous strudel and schnitzel with their famous beers (Austria have a great selection!).
If you’re interested in doing something else, make sure to check this awesome Vienna itinerary and find out more things to do in this Austrian capital.
Zell am See
Located in Salzburg, Zell am See is a living embodiment of human-nature truce. Zell am See fans out in a beautiful Alpine lake of clear blue water. Standing as sentinel right at its backyard is the snow-capped peak of Hohe Tauern Mountains.
Serving as the corridor for Grossglockner Alpine Road, it gives the tourists a chance to take a casual stroll on his elevated panoramic road. Up there, the scenic beauty of the Alpines may steal a breath or two away without any notice.
That’s not all. The Zell am See is extremely popular among ski enthusiasts. With its majestic ski slopes, this city has been ground zero for various skiing competitions of international stature.
And those who are wondering about past, Castle Rosenberg screams the history of the 16th century. Cycling, skiing, fishing during the day, followed by a soothing silence of the unfolding night, Zell am See is one of the most famous Austria points of interest that no one can afford to miss.
Grossglockner Alpine Road
A panoramic view of Grossglockner – the highest mountain in Austria – is something no tourist should ever miss. Like a gigantic serpent, this toll road lays flat with twists and turns and leads all the way up to the famous Kaiser Franz Josef Höhe Visitor Center.
It is from here that one gets to view the Grossglockner – unobstructed – in all its pristine glory.
Since the Alpine Road is located up in the mountains, it doesn’t stay open for the entire year. It opens for tourists between May and October.
Read also: Top 15 Pretty Castles in Austria to Visit
Sitting in the Salzkammergut Region is the little and unassuming village of Hallstatt. Here is where nature reigns with all her glory. Silent lake waters reflecting the low hills and blue sky create an atmosphere of serenity that entices everyone once in a while.
Hallstatt makes Austria travel a memorable one with its subterranean salt lake of the Hörnerwerk cavern. Here is where a tourist gets to look straight into the eyes of a prehistoric man – albeit dead but preserved in salt. It is this salt that has given the village a rich tradition. The thriving salt industry of Hallstatt is the primary income source apart from tourism.
Travel to Austria can get as incomplete as it can without a trip to the Hohenwerfen Castle. This incredible relic of the not so distant past is a wonder in itself. Nestled on a rough patch of towering rock; the castle offers an excellent view of the famous Salzachtal Valley.
The entire setting creates a dilemma. It becomes hard to decide which one is better – a castle or nature. Pollution-free air up top in an open environment is in starking contrast to the dungeons of the castle itself.
Deep inside the castle’s dungeons sits the gruesome instruments of the medieval era – a sultry remembrance of the proximate past. And yes… falconry – that’s something one should remember.
Landeszeughaus – Styrian Armory
A building full of armors and arms that is enough to arm an army of a whopping 32,000 men!
Yes, that the Landeszeughaus in Graz where armors and arms of the 17th century are neatly preserved. Austria travel guide is just incomplete without Landeszeughaus.
The building itself wears the style of Renaissance architecture while on the inside, a breathtaking stucco ceiling adorns the Knight’s Hall.
Read also: Top 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe
Salzburg – This is Where Mozart Was Born
Salzburg is the capital city of Austria. It makes the list of places to visit in Austria. It is where you find the house No. 9 Getreidegasse. It is this very house in which the maestro was born.
As of today, the rooms in the house are occupied by his descendants who have carefully preserved Mozart’s portraits, instruments, and relics. Full of artifacts from Mozart’s life, this is a place for all music lovers in this world. The Salzburg Festival organized from June to August is one of the several things to do in Salzburg.
Read also: Top 15 Medieval Towns in Europe
Eisriesenwelt Cave is one of the most famous Austria tourist attractions. It is particularly favorite among nature lovers, especially ice enthusiasts. Miles of icy paths through the labyrinths of the cave is just fun.
Inside the cave awaits the ice palace known as Eispalast. With the kiss of light, this icy palace sparkles with all its glory, creating a surreal world that makes children and adults fall in love at first sight. However, reaching the hall requires climbing down into the womb of Earth using a flight of 700 plus steps.
While combing through possible tourist destinations in Austria, one is bound to ask a simple question – ‘What to see in Austria?’
The Hochosterwitz Castle fits in. The creators of Sleeping Beauty designed the castle shown in the movie by taking inspiration from Hochosterwitz Castle.
In more recent times, the acclaimed Game of Thrones gives a view of castles inspired by this one. Massive gatehouse, spiked turrets, irregular wavy defensive walls – this castle is something straight out of fairy tales and movies.
Tourists are allowed to go all the way to the top, but for that, they need to pass through 14 gates that were designed for defense. With its 1,000 plus years of history, the Hochosterwitz Castle overlooks the panoramic views of East Austria and Slovenia on two sides.
Austria travel during the winter is just as fun as it is in summer. There are places that cater to both winter and summer tourists. The Alpbach is one such place.
A thousand meters above sea level, the Alpbach resort sits right in the middle of the Tyrolean Alps. Come winter, and it becomes a heaven for skiers with rocks sleeping beneath a thick blanket of snow, groomed well for skiers’ delight.
When the summer sets in, the meadows bloom to life rock jasmine, poppies, and buttercups. In the lap of the mountains sits the famous St. Oswald Church – the final resting place for Erwin Schrödinger.
Unless someone has acrophobia, Schafberg must be on the itinerary when it comes to sightseeing in Austria. What makes Schafberg one of the most famous tourist attractions in Austria is the incredible view it gives for the Wolfgangsee Lake.
Schafberg is a peak in Salzkammergut Mountains, which in turn is a part of the Limestone Alps. A lone steam railway known by the name Schafbergbahn chauffeurs the tourists all the way up to the peak from St. Wolfgang town.
Another awe-inspiring destination is the Finkenberg. Austria travel cannot be enjoyed to its fullest without visiting Finkenberg’s Tyrolean town that outpours right into the heart of Zillertal Valley.
Taverns and homes with rustic settings, sheets of thick snow during the silent winters, dense clouds, evergreen Alpines during summers – yes, that’s something synonymous to the peaceful abode that most likely Gods prefer.
This town is the home to Finkenberger Almbahnen – the cableways meant for transporting skiers to Mayrhofen. Only a few hops down Zillertal lies the Hintertux Glacier, which is yet another reason to travel to Austria.
While the glacier itself is home to myriads of snow sports, just south of it lies Italy’s Trentino-Alto Alps where the magnificence of nature overshadows everything beautiful a tourist can think of.
There are many more places to visit in Austria – much more to discover and much more to enjoy. What’s listed here is only the tip of the iceberg. The cultural, natural and historical wealth of Austria cannot be summed up in simple words. They are meant to be experienced and discovered in person.
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.