What to do in Austria
The list of things to do in Austria is lengthy, with everything from destinations that offer some of the world’s best outdoor sports to storied Old Towns, historic palaces, and classical concert halls. It also boasts wine regions that flank rivers, hot springs spa towns, and scenic railway routes. With so much to experience, you might find yourself planning a return trip before it’s time to depart, but these things to do in Austria provide a great start to any unforgettable trip.
Best activities to do in Austria
Austria has a huge range of outdoor pursuits, culture, and food to enjoy. We’ve put together a few must sees and dos to make your planning easier.
Explore the Autro-Hungarian Empire at Hofburg Palace
Magnificent Hofburg Palace has been the seat of Austria’s monarchy since the 13th century. The complex is spread across 59 acres and includes 2,600 rooms, 19 courtyards, many picturesque squares, and lush gardens. With almost every ruler since 1275 ordering alterations or additions, it features many different architectural styles, including Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic, and classicism.
Highlights not to be missed include the Imperial Apartments which hold the Sisi Museum, the State Hall of the National Library, the Imperial Treasury with the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Spanish Riding School.
UNESCO-listed Salzburg Altstadt
Salzburg’s bustling Alstadt, or Old Town, is one of the most well-preserved north of the Alps. A UNESCO-listed site, it’s centered on the narrow pedestrianized street known as Getreidegasse which is lined with shops selling antiques and folk costumes. The area’s cobbled streets merge into famous squares that house historic, centuries-old buildings with architecture from the Middle Ages, Romanesque, Baroque, and Renaissance periods.
The 17th-century Salzburg Cathedral is here and you’ll also find the 7th-century Benedictine Abbey of St. Peter and Mozart’s Birthplace which showcases exhibits on the composer’s early life.
Enjoy a concert at the Schönbrunn Palace
The most visited attraction in Austria, Schönbrunn Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Vienna that served as the summer home of the Habsburgs for centuries. It’s one of the most impressive Baroque palace complexes in Europe and includes rooms with original furnishings and decor that provide a glimpse of the imperial lifestyle. While the palace tour is the centerpiece, a concert in one of its gilded state rooms is a must for any lover of classical music.
See the stunning Melk Benedictine Abbey
One of the most famous monastic sites in the world, UNESCO-listed Melk Abbey sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River just over an hour’s drive west of Vienna. A fortress-like baroque complex with a sunny yellow facade, dome, and twin spires, it’s impossible to miss. The abbey is not only worth visiting for the view, but to see the inside which includes the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau, the remains of the first ruling family in Austria, and the Imperial Corridor with portraits of Austria’s rulers.
Hike in the stunning Tirolian Alps
The Tirolian Alps stretch across the western side of Austria, tucked between Italy and Bavaria. The region is renowned for its skiing, snowboarding, and apres ski scene in the winter while the warmer months offer nearly endless trails for hiking. One of the most famous villages for both skiing and hiking is Lech, at an altitude of 4,738 ft, access to some of the highest and most spectral hiking routes in Europe is easily accessible, no matter your fitness you can easily enjoy everything from massive granite peaks and rugged gorges to meandering rivers, sparkling lakes, and cascading waterfalls.
Visit one of Europe's prettiest lakeside villages
Hallstatt is often found on lists of the prettiest villages in Europe. One of Austria’s oldest settlements, it was originally founded in 5000 BC, with the early settlers hoping to exploit the vast salt reserves in the mountains that surround it. Salt mining is what made the village so prosperous and it’s still done today. The main reason to visit is Hallstatt’s incredible aesthetic appeal, looking as if it came from the pages of a storybook. Its gorgeous setting on the banks of the Hallstätter See, nestled between a lush mountain and pristine lake while dramatically rising from the water’s edge, makes it hard to beat.
Explore Austria's Wine Country from Wachau
The Wachau Valley is the most famous wine region in Austria. A UNESCO-listed site, it sits along the banks of the Danube River, providing a must-visit spot for wine enthusiasts just an hour’s drive from Vienna. Of course, if you want to enjoy tasting as well as touring, you won’t want to drive. It’s possible to take a tour departing from Vienna, or you might catch the train to Krems and then cycle through the valley from there. Bikes can be rented independently or you can join a bike tour that traverses through the area while stopping at wineries along the way.
Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, wine tasting, delving into the past with visits to historical landmarks, marveling at magnificent architecture, exploring numerous cultural attractions, or simply being surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery, Austria offers it all. This is just a short list of the possibilities for creating your own personalized, epic adventure based on the type of experiences you’d like to enjoy the most.
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