Things to do in Austria

Top 10 Things to do in

 

Austria is probably best known as the country of the Sound of Music or the waltzes of Strauss but there is so much more to see and do in the country; from historic Salzburg and Vienna to the stunning Austrian Alps. We’ve come up with a selection of our favourites and hope that they become your favourites too.
1 Salzburg
Salzburg
Salzburg has become a popular weekend break destination due to the preponderance of budget airline flights to the city. Apart from being a cheap getaway, Salzburg has a lot to offer. Hundreds of churches dot the city, each with their own story to tell in the development of Salzburg. The streets are crammed with old buildings showing off medieval architecture and it was the birthplace of Mozart - you can visit the Mozarteum where he wrote The Magic Flute. Nearby is the Mirabell Palace whose gardens feature in the Sound of Music film.  When you tire of all this culture, stop off at any of the city’s coffee shops for a delicious coffee and pastry.

2 The Hohe Tauern National Park
The Hohe Tauern National Park
This is a very special place as it has deliberately been allowed to remain wild to preserve an aspect of the European countryside that has long disappeared from other nations. It covers over 1,000 square kilometres and has a huge variety of flora and fauna. Found at the foot of the Austrian Alps, it combines low altitude environments with alpine ones. Many activities are still undertaken in the park but none are allowed to impact substantially on the balance of nature there. There’s over 450km of ski slopes and many sign-posted nature trails for the energetic.

3 The Museum of the Future, Linz
The Museum of the Future, Linz
This is an interesting concept; we are used to museums showing us our history but not many show us our future. Here, the team behind it have taken cutting edge technology and presented it to show how it may change our lives in the future. There are some very bizarre ideas, some obvious ones and many thought provoking ones too. It all adds up to an unusual day out but one that will keep you talking about it for months to come.

4 Eisriesenwelt Caves
Eisriesenwelt Caves
I had to include these as they were a feature of my honeymoon. You’ve perhaps visited cave systems in the past, marvelled at the stalactites and stalagmites but you probably have never explored ice caves. At Eisrieswelt you are given a lamp to guide yourself through the caverns formed by melting and then refreezing ice. Sometimes you’ll be in narrow passages, other times in vast caverns seeing dramatic ice pillars and the edges of ancient glaciers. Many ‘streams’ and waterfalls flow through the passages and yes, it is very cold!! Why was it a feature of my honeymoon? I slipped over and broke my arm here!

5 The Benedictine Abbey, Admount
The Benedictine Abbey, Admount
Incredibly the Benedictine Abbey is nearly a thousand years old and is considered to be one of the most important in Europe, for here is held the largest library of religious works in the world which, when paired with the incredible artworks also on display here, make it a must see for anyone interested in religion. Amazingly, the abbey was destroyed in 1865 but the library survived with all its contents untouched – a miracle some say. The abbey itself was restored and is now considered one of the world’s top Baroque museums.

6 The Swarovski Visitor Centre
The Swarovski Visitor Centre
Many people, including myself, thought that Swarovski was Swiss but were pleasantly surprised to find that the beautiful crystal makers were in fact Austrian. The company has been making its sparkling pieces and jewellery for over 100 years and this recently opened centre aims to celebrate all that’s good about the idea. The halls of the centre are split into themes entitled; Crystal Planet, Meditation, Calligraphy, Dome, Theatre and the Ice Lane. Each of them is staggering in its beauty and the luminosity of the light thrown off by the crystals. Even if you don’t like the Swarovski product, you mustn’t miss this artistic experience.

7 The Archaeological Museum, Carnuntinum
The Archaeological Museum, Carnuntinum
We don’t usually think of seeing a Roman town in Austria as our view of the empire was that it was based on trade routes and the sea. Here, in deepest Austria, we find a very large and complete Roman town in a great state of preservation, covering over ten square kilometres. The city dates from just after the birth of Christ and is believed to have supported 5,000 inhabitants. Many of the finds are on display in the separate museum building and, for a nearly complete education on the life of a Roman city, there are few better places in Europe.

8 Gurk Cathedral
Gurk Cathedral
By now you’re getting the idea that Austria does things big and well. Gurk Cathedral is another breath-taking example of the beauties of the country. It’s considered the best example of Romanesque architecture in the country and pride of place is the incredible altar decorated with 72 statues and 82 heads of angels. There’s a range of painted frescoes dating from over 800 years ago and a scary, but awesome, crypt below the cathedral supporting the main building on 100 pillars.

9 The Grossglockner Alpine Road
The Grossglockner Alpine Road
This road, built in the 1930s, is one of the most famous roads in Europe for its grandeur, scale and views. It rises nearly 4 km along its route to the Grossglockner Mountain, passing the largest glacier in the country. If you have travelled here as part of a tour or a package, try to hire a car to drive it yourself. Make sure though that the driver keeps their eyes firmly on the road and perhaps swap drivers on the way back down so you both get a chance to marvel at the views.

10 Vienna
Vienna
No trip to Austria could be complete without a visit to Vienna and its amazing sights. Top of the list should be the Schonbrunn Palace which is Vienna’s top attraction – it has 1,440 rooms decorated in red, white and gold – imagine the cleaning! The formal gardens outside are so perfect, they could almost be fake! Next, visit the Spanish Riding School, equally famous, and marvel at the skills of the riders and the intelligence of the horses. There’s a lot more to be seen in the capital, look out for a Vienna top ten soon!

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