Austria invokes divine images of royal heritage, charming architecture, fantasy landscapes and rising mountains that cast shifting shadows onto poised open lakes. Rolling through the country on trains is an experience of both intense excitement but also welcomed tranquility. The same juxtaposition of emotions is evoked in all of Austria’s unique culture. Austria is deceivingly vast, its best bits are never-ending, so we’ve picked a few of our favourites to guide your next adventure.
Indulge on coffee and pastries in Vienna.
Few cities feel quite as grand as Vienna. The streets are beautifully baroque with ornate designs adorning every building and the elegance of classical music defines the atmosphere citywide. A perfect way to dip into the Viennese life is through the coffee culture. The cultivated and elegant design of the city is most prominent in some of the interior decorations of the coffee houses. Described as a place ‘where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill’, these cultural hotspots are wonderful for people watching. Coffee becomes art. The menu is extensive and exciting: order a Maria Theresa, served with orange liqueur and whipped cream or perhaps a Turkische, which arrives in a copper pot with coffee grounds and sugar, and watch the world go by. Remember to sample one, or many, of the pastries and cakes on offer. A traditional Viennese whirl is unbeatable for a sweet addition to your coffee.
Hum famed melodies through Salzburg.
Nestled in fairy-tale hills with a view of the Eastern Alps, Salzburg is an enchanting city of culture. Both the birthplace of the famed composer Mozart and the beloved Sound of Music, the city and the surrounding hills truly are alive with the sounds of music. Excuse the cheesy musical reference but I know all you Von-Trapp lovers will be unable to resist a smile. The city is divided by the glistening Salzach River. Sitting on its left bank is the Alstadt (old city) defined by medieval and baroque buildings and on the right is the 19th-century Neustadt (new city). Following the roaring success of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Broadway show, the cinema version of the Sound of Music followed suit. Winning five Oscars and becoming one of everyone’s best-loved movie with sweetheart Julie Andrews remaining to be gazed upon with admiration for her stunning voice. Join a Sound of Music tour and see iconic places from the movie such as the Von Trapp’s home, which was surprisingly a combination of two different mansions. Follow your ear through the rest of the city and you’ll join the thousands of classical lovers who go to Salzburg to delve into the history of Mozart. The Birthplace of Mozart Museum is an absorbing exploration of his life and is constantly being developed and expanded. From here, a short walking tour explores the everyday life of the 18th Century and transports you back to Mozart’s lifetime.
Realize your fairy-tale in castles and palaces.
The glory of Austria is most prominent in its palaces and castles. Some remain ruins, others refurbished but all of them breathe an air of royalty into the atmosphere across the country. Charming palaces of the Baroque era were built in huge numbers after the middle ages and exploring their splendour never gets tiresome. Hochosterwitz Castle is situated on the Zollfeld plains between the Julian Alps and the Eastern Alps. It soars more than 170 metres above the pine-clad hills with crenulated bulwarks and spike turrets. Visitors are common in the awe-inspiring impression Hochosterwiz leaves upon them and it has been hailed as one of the most magnificent citadels in all of Europe. Vienna is not limited in its culture to coffee, the city is also home to the Belvedere Palace. Translating from Italian as ‘beautiful view’ the palace is separated into two buildings, the Oberes Belvedere at the top of the hill and the Unteres Belvedere further down. Both live up to the name, offering impressive views but they also host an outstanding collection of Austrian art.
Get lost in the surrounding nature of Innsbruck.
Innsbruck, Tyrol’s capital, is shadowed by the dramatic peaks of the Alps making it a prime base for adventure. Long renowned as a hub for winter activity, Innsbruck has attracted visitors in masses for years but has also become increasingly popular as a two-season resort. Summertime opens up trips for hiking or mountain biking or perhaps just picnicking among the scenery. The sight of the sun beams glaring over the tumbling hills that stretch to over 2000m above sea level is unbeatable. The cobbled streets and traditional elegant buildings seen in Austria’s busiest cities can be found in Innsbruck too. Relaxing after a day’s hiking is simple, re-energize with an indulgent Austrian treat and a crisp glass of wine. As winter comes, Innsbruck is a haven for snow worshipers. Skiing and snowboarding characterises the city and the area is even home to an impressive Olympic ski jump.
Skim stones through rippling lakes.
Come down from the mountains and towards the open lakes. Whilst Austria is a landlocked nation, it holds many glittering bodies of water. Salzkammergut, the Lake District, is one of the most beautiful regions of Austria. Situated in the heart of the country, it’s home to a total of 76 lakes, creating an idyll of countryside adventure. Hiking and cycling are popular along the numerous trails and of course dipping your toes into the reflecting waters and gazing at the vibrant portraits of the surrounding country that form on their surface. In the Tyrol region is the majestic Lake Plansee. Plansee is a popular spot for boating as it is joined via canal to the Lake Heiterwang. Outdoor enthusiasts find their heaven at Plansee with an abundance of water and land activities but also views of the Lechtal Alps and luminous waters that can dumb-found even the veteran explorers.
Pay tribute to Austria’s eyewear icon.
Carrera eyewear is a story of success driven by a passion for design and continuous innovation. The brand is based on an Austrian sports eyewear brand by Wilhelm Anger, who in 1956 decided to name his company after the longest, fastest and most dangerous race in the world, the Carrera Panamericana. Sporty, eye-catching flare became to characterise the brand and its success representing Austrian style grew immensely. In 1987 Carrera was the only official sponsor of America’s Cup in Perth, Australia and the brand became increasingly involved in the world of sport. What better way to dip into the culture and adventure of Austria than by styling your holiday look with a pair of Carrera sunglasses?
Which part of Austria are you most spell-bound by? Let us know in the comments below.