Bordered by no fewer than eight countries, Austria really is at the heart of Europe. A land of natural beauty, breathtaking alpine scenery, sparkling mountain air and year-round entertainment from its classic musical capital to the ski slopes of the Tyrolean Alps. Explore best of Austria with our Austria travel guide providing information about tourism & travel, tourist attractions, places to visit, things to do, hotels, culture and more.
Melodies of Mozart and Maria singing in an alpine flower meadow, postcard palaces high in the towering Alps, singular glacial lakes of the purest blue, cows wandering green valleys clanging their cowbells, opera and waltzes — Ah the sounds and images of Austria.
What is now Austria was once part of the powerful Habsburg Empire and although the political power of Austria is no longer what it was, its legacy remains fully intact, especially in Vienna, at one time the cultural center of all Europe. Glory days of the past are still to be found in Vienna wherver you turn: classical music, opera, magnificent architecture, museums galore. And let's not forget Austria's most popular attraction: Salzburg, also steeping in cultural heritage. But take note: people may come to Austria for the cities but it's the countryside that entirely enraptures them, whether it's the snow-peaked Alps, the rolling bright-green foothills, the ice caves of Eisriesenwelt, or the meandering Danube River winding its way through the north. Austria makes an easy claim as one of the most beautiful countries on Earth.
Austria can be divided into three geographical areas. The Austrian Alps take up most of the west, which slope down to foothills and lower regions, such as the Danube River Valley. The Bohemian Forest is north of the Danube and contains lower mountains.
Hohe Tauern is the country's biggest national park and contains some of the highest mountains in Austria, such as the Grossvenediger and the Grossglockner. The park contains a large no-go zone to preserve it, and also a 'core zone' which is heavily protected, yet allows for hiking and mountain biking.
The ice caves of Eisriesenwelt, north of Werfen, are spectacular. They are open between May and October and from the parking lot, you can take a cable car to get you up the hill, followed by a 15 minute hike to the caves. But remember, they're ice caves, so even if it feels like a hot summer day when you leave, dress warmly!
If you're a Sound of Music fan, or even if you're not, you must visit Salzburg. Salzburg is one of the most beloved tourist destinations in all of Europe, always alive with the sound of music. Mozart was born here in 1756 and spent his childhood here, a fact that eventually inspired the world-famous Salzburg Festival.
The Sound of Music tours, hugely popular in Salzburg, started after the release of the movie in 1965 when tourists began coming to the city asking where the original sites from the movie are located. Now there are hosts of tours available, most of which visit Leopolkskron and Hellbrun Palaces, Mirabell, Nonnberg Abbey, Lake Wolfgang and St. Gilgen.
Right in the heart of the Alpine region, Tyrol is the most mountainous of Austria's provinces. The 800-year-old Tyrolean capital of Innsbruck is one of Europe's most beautiful cities. A world famous winter resort for skiers, it is the center of an internationally renowned ski complex that has hosted the Winter Olympics not once, nut twice in 1964 and 1976. While the slopes of Tyrolean mountain resorts such as Axams, Scharnitz and the picturesque Matrei may be a very special attraction, the region is also a summer paradise for hikers following well-marked trails among scenic alpine pastures, deep forests and stunning mountains, valleys and lakes.