Things to see and do in Austria
Attractions in Austria
Admire Austria's architectural beauty
Soak up Vienna's baroque elegance, notably in the First District (the Innere Stadt), and enjoy Salzburg’s splendid Altstadt (old city), which features the Hohensalzburg fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other sights in Salzburg include the Peterskirche (St Peter's Abbey, with cemetery and catacombs), the Domkirche (intended to rival St Peter's in Rome) and the Alter Markt (old market square).
Bathe in award-winning lakes
Take in the awesome panorama of some of Austria's beautiful lakes: they include Wörthersee, Wolfgangsee, Traunsee, Hallstättersee and Mondsee, one of the warmest lakes in the Salzkammergut region. Known as "Austria's Riveria", Carinthia's lakes reach temperatures of around 28°C (82°F) and are best for bathers having won several awards for their water quality.
Celebrate classical music at Salzburg festival
Listen to classical music in the city that produced Mozart. World renowned, the Salzburg Festival provides a varied programme, from singers, actors, orchestras and opera. Enjoy a concert at the House for Mozart or outside in Cathedral Square with its breath-taking baroque backdrop.
Discover the delights of Tyrol
Explore the Tyrol, Austria's most mountainous province, with forests, pastures, valleys, mountain lakes, alpine villages, churches and castles. Innsbruck, the region’s capital, has numerous historical buildings including a 12th-century castle. For spectacular views, take the funicular to Hungerburg and then the cable car to Hafelekar at 2,334m (5,928ft).
Enjoy the country's coolest sculptures
Witness the magical Eisriesenwelt in Werfen: ice caves, featuring wonderful ice sculptures all year round. These natural caverns are buried deep beneath the mountain wall that flanks the valley south of Salzburg and are accessible by cable car. As well as shimmering walls and impressive icicle displays, the caves offer uninterrupted vistas over the mountains.
Get to grips with Graz on foot
Explore Graz on foot. Must-sees include the Universalmuseum Joanneum encompassing the Alte Galerie's gothic paintings, the Neue Galerie in the Herberstein Palace, the Cathedral, the Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II, the old quarter, the Schlossberg (Castle Hill) with its Uhrturm (clock tower), and the Glockenturm (bell tower).
Hike high and low in the Alps
Once the snow has melted, hike through the Alps' varied landscapes, ranging from forests and green slopes to glaciers and rocks. The Vorarlberg's alpine pastures provide gentle walks, while the Hohe Tauern National Park has more demanding trekking. For a long distance adventure, sweat the length of the Lech River – Holzgau suspension bridge has unforgettable views.
Hold your nerve at Harakiri, Austria’s steepest ski slope
The Alps are one of Europe's major winter sport destinations, and keen snow freaks can go skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, sleigh riding, curling and skating across much of Austria. However, only the bravest should test their mettle at Mayrhofen, where the country's steepest ski slope, Harakiri, leans at a vertigo-including 78%.
Look good in leather at the Lederhosen Festival
Admire traditional Austrian attire at the annual Lederhosen Festival in Windischgarsten. With wood-chopping races, ceremonial dancing and accordion playing, the festival is a celebration of Austrian custom. Although the wearing of the aforementioned costume is optional, drinking good beer and cheering at the election of “Miss (or Mr) Lederhosen” is compulsory.
Paddle the Danube in the Donau-Auen National Park
One of the last major wetlands in Europe, this national park nurtures a diversity of plants and animals. A short drive from Vienna, the vast green space offers the perfect escape to the city with the winding Danube splitting the forest in two. Take a canoe downstream and enjoy the water up close.
Play 18 holes in the Austrian mountains
Play golf at more than 150 courses in what is one of Europe's fastest-growing golf destinations. Settings to test your swings sway from the grounds of historic castles to alpine valleys and terraces. Check your putting in standout settings such as Schloss Schonborn, known for its manor house 19th hole, and Golf Eichenheim in Kitzbuehel for views across the Kaiser Mountains.
Ride Austria's steepest steam railway
Take an old 19th-century steam train and gaze at some picturesque Austrian scenery. Starting at the famous and beautiful village of St Wolfgang in Salzkammergut, Austria’s steepest cogwheel rail pulls itself to the top of Schafberg Mountain. At 1,783m (5,850ft), riding the railway is preferable to making it up under your own steam.
Sample the best of Austria's vineyards
Take a tasting tour through one of Austria's wine-growing regions, such as Lower Austria or Southern Styria for their elegant Sauvignon blanc and the Burgenland. Most wines, such as the well-known Riesling wine, are white, but there also some good reds from Baden and Burgenland worthy of attention.
See the striking stallions of Austria
Watch the famous Lipizzaner stallions perform finely executed dressage manoeuvres in Vienna. Set to Viennese classical music, the performances are held at the splendid Hofburg Palace. The Spanish Riding School, named after the horses' heritage, is also in the capital, while in Piber, visitors can see the stud farm where they are looked after, trained and ridden.
Take to the lake for floating opera
Attend the Opera in style: besides the many opera performances in Austria's major towns and cities, journey to Bregenz for a show with a difference. The Upper City is home to St Martinsturm (St Martin's Tower) and the world's largest floating stage for summer opera productions.
Unwind with coffee and cake
Relax and watch the world go by as you submit to Austria's Kaffeehaus (coffee shop) culture: cakes and puddings (such as torte, of which there are around 60 varieties) can be eaten guilt-free, knowing that it is all in the name of upholding a national institution.
Visit the birthplace of Mozart
Pay homage to Salzburg's most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. His birthplace (Mozart Geburtshaus) is in the Getreidegasse, also the city's main shopping street and is now a dedicated museum. So too is his family home (Mozart Wohnhaus) on the market square, where concerts and lectures are held alongside a permanent exhibition.
Waltz the night away at the Johann Strauss Ball
Dance the hours away at a recreation of a traditional Austrian ball. Find out your most elegant black tie attire for the annual Johann Strauss Ball, which takes place in a beautiful ballroom in the Kursalon Vienna, one of Vienna’s most beautiful and historic buildings. Guests are welcomed with a waltz and served fine dining cuisine before finishing the evening with a midnight concert.
Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) in the UKAddress: 4th Floor 54 Hatton Garden, London, EC1N 8HN
Telephone: +44 20 3409 6616 or 0800 400 200 00 (holiday information and brochure request line).
Austrian Tourist Office (ATO) in the USAAddress: 61 Broadway, New York City, 10006
Telephone: +1 212 575 7723