The hills are alive with the sound of music in this Alpine country, at least if you believe Julie Andrews. This nation of Edelweis, once ruled it over a large part of Central and Eastern Europe under the Habsburg dynasty. That all came to an end after the First World War, when the Austro-Hungarian double monarchy was abolished and split up into several successor states.
These days Vienna still reminds the visitor of its former Imperial glory, with its grand palaces, stately buildings and wide avenues. The enduring popularity of Empress Sisi ensures a continued interest in all things ‘Kaiserlich’ (Imperial). And the world’s first rock-star Mozart, will put some waltz in your steps as you dance around the streets of Salzburg.
With Tirol in the west, the Danube in the east, and Styria in the south there is plenty to do. Ski the Alps, take a boat ride down the Danube, listen to a classical concert in Salzburg, walk through the Schönbrunn Palace parks, taste wine in traditional wine taverns in Styria, eat goulash or Wiener Schnitzel in a homely restaurant, and have a coffee and a ‘sacher-torte’ in a Viennese coffee house.
Austria is a country for culture and hiking, for music and dancing, for skiing and après-skiing, and for drinking and eating. And when it all becomes too much for you, just remember good old Sigmund and look at the flowers!
Highlights from Austria
- Waltz around Vienna (aka Wien), the former Imperial capital has plenty to see and do, visit Schönbrunn, The Belvedere, Hofburg, go to the Opera or take riding lessons at the world famous Spanish Riding School, and don’t forget to put on your dancing shoes for one of the 200 or so balls that are held each year
- Go skiing in Tyrol, in Sankt Anton (aka Sankt Anton am Arlberg) or Lech (aka Lech am Arlberg) or anywhere else, there is plenty to choose from
- Visit Salzburg, home of Mozart, and for good views head up to impressive Hohensalzburg Castle
- Stroll around the old town of Innsbruck, host to the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976, or go skiing or hiking in the nearby mountains
- Take a boat ride down the Danube, or cycle along its shores
- Pretend to be in the Sound of Music in the Salzkammergut Region, a land of lakes, green hills, mountains and romantic towns
- Drive through the Wachau Valley with its vineyards, pretty villages, the Danube and beautiful Melk Abbey in the town of Melk
- Relax in the hotsprings of Bad Gastein after a hard day of hiking in Hohe Tauern National Park
- Canoe over the Wörthersee (aka Lake Wörth) or go spelunking in the nearby caves
- Saunter around Graz with its World Heritage Altstadt
Hints and Tips for Austria
- Austria charges toll for its motorways
- Vienna’s New Year’s Concert is world famous and notoriously hard to get a ticket for, book years ahead if you want to be there!