Whether you’re an art connoisseur, a lover of haute couture or an opera enthusiast, you’ll find Austria the perfect destination for your next getaway. With a taste for the finer things, the Austrian way of life allows visitors to revel in the subtle luxury of its fine cities with their cultivated parks, stunning palaces and high streets boasting the world’s most high-end brands.
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Austrian cuisine than schnitzels and strudels. Influences come from Central Europe as well as throughout the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Vienna is considered the gourmet capital but each region has its own specialty. Recent years have seen the food scene come into its own, offering everyone a bite of the apple no matter what they’re dietary needs and culinary preferences.
Be it summer or winter, there is activity on the slopes; summer can see you taking on a range of hikes from gentle rolling hill walks through to serious mountaineering in the high Alps. If walking doesn’t do it for you, consider white-water rafting and canyoning in stunning glacial rivers and lakes or bicycle along the network of 3,800 kilometres of bicycle tracks. If a more leisurely approach is what you are after, consider a rail journey in order to take in the stunning landscape and scenery. Come winter, exchange your hiking boots for skis and head to the slopes where there are runs to suit all abilities.
Schönbrunn Palace is one of Vienna’s major tourist attractions, boasting the world’s oldest zoo and second largest orangery. A fine example of the Hapsburg destiny and opened in the year 1700, it has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and is the former imperial summer residence in Austria. It is quite possible to spend an entire day at this fascinating palace, taking in the maze, magnificent gardens as well as the impressive building, remodeled by Empress Maria Theresa in the Rococo style.
Situated in a commanding position on the Ringstrasse, the Vienna State Opera is one of the top opera addresses in the world. This famous stage offers a different program every day, with over 60 operas and ballet taking place on a season that extends to 300 days.
Situated in the Salzburg region, the Krimml Waterfall, is home to Europe’s largest waterfall. The falls have a drop of 380 meters with an average of 5.6 cubic meters of water plummeting into the valley every second. A path has been constructed to the upper part of the falls, in order to ensure that visitors have a panoramic view. The water will eventually make its way to the Danube and eventually into the Black Sea. With over 400,000 visitors each year, this is one of Austria’s top ten destinations.
Sachertorte, a delicious chocolate cake, was conceived in 1832 by Franz Sacher, who was instructed to create a new dessert for Prince von Metternich and his companions. The recipe is a closely guarded secret to this day but its main ingredients are chocolate sponge cake, apricot jam and dark chocolate icing, and is often accompanied by unsweetened whipped cream. One of the best places to sample this native sweet treat is over a cup of coffee at Café Sacher in the centre of Vienna. Sit and be part of the famous Viennese coffee culture that has existed in the city since the 1600s.
Blooming meadows in spring, soaring blue skies in summer and endless opportunities for snow-filled fun in winter; Austria is a year-round destination. To get the best of the sun with the fewest crowds, head there between the end of March and the beginning of June. If you’d rather get the most out of the slopes, we recommend travelling between December and February.
If you hold a British Citizen passport or an EU National passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Austria and are visa exempt for 90 days. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/austria/entry-requirements
The currency in Austria is the Euro (EUR).
In Austria, German is the most commonly spoken language, although in larger cities many people speak at least a little English.