Austria is still one of the most diverse countries in Europe to visit. It was once part of a mighty empire, which the Habsburg's ruled over from Vienna for some seven centuries. Although Austria today is just a fraction of its former glory, it still maintains its rich cultural and artistic heritage. With two-thirds of the country's landscape shaped by the Alps, Austria is paradise for anyone eager to explore the mountains or nature in general. Some of the world’s top ski resorts can be found in the western part of the country and during the summer months many of the cable cars can be used to reach hiking trails or mountain bike routes. There are also a multitude of climbing areas in the valleys and lower elevation with good destinations year round. The regions around the Danube, as well as south of Vienna, are known for their many family-run wineries and there are plenty of bike paths to follow as you explore. Austria is also a leader in the farm-to-table movement, and has over 20% of its agriculture, and more than 20,000 farmers, committed to organic farming.
Temperatures in spring and fall are usually milder, making it a great time to visit if you wish to climb or explore by bicycle. Winter sports are a major draw to the resort towns in the Austrian Alps, and the skiing is consistently ranked as some of the best in the world. The season lasts from December through late March. Vienna and Salzburg tend to be more crowded in July and August, and during major festivals, this is also the time period to trek in upper elevations. Temperatures vary by region and elevation, but averages normally do not climb above a comfortable high 70s in most of the county during summer. Austrians love outdoor recreation so there are plenty of other sports to enjoy throughout the year.
Vienna can be reached via direct flights from several North American cities, including New York (JFK and Newark), Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, and Toronto, though it is often practical to fly through Munich or Zurich—especially for a trip to Austria’s western provinces. Smaller airports in cities like Salzburg, Graz, Klagenfurt, and Innsbruck can be easily reached. High-speed trains connect Vienna and Salzburg with cities like Munich and Zurich. A hydrofoil travels between Bratislava and Vienna on the Danube. U.S. visitors can stay up to three months with just a passport, after which time a visa is required. If you are entering Austria using a rental car, make sure there is a Vignette (toll sticker) affixed to the windshield.
Cities in Austria are linked by a fast and efficient rail system, with Vienna to Salzburg taking as little as two-and-a-half hours. To explore large towns and cities, public transportation (bus and tram), biking, or walking is best. Driving on Austria’s highways requires a toll sticker—available in ten-day, two-month, and twelve-month increments—which can be purchased at gas stations, post offices, auto clubs, and even in neighboring countries. Renting a car is another great way to explore rural regions and high Alpine routes.
Some consider Vienna the cultural capital of Europe. The city has been synonymous with the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, to name a few, as well as painters like Klimpt. \ The 640-year legacy of the Habsburg dynasty, which officially ended in 2011 with the death of Otto von Habsburg, can be found throughout the city. Oh, and let’s not forget the Boys Choir. Austria has nine inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, the Historic Center of Vienna, Wachau Cultural Landscape, Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps, Historic Center of Salzburg, Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape, Graz Historic Center and Eggenberg Palace, Fertö/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape, and the Semmering Railway.
The year waltzes in with Vienna’s Ball Season in January and February, during which time “Fasching,” Austrian Carnival, also begins. The world famous Salzburg Festival takes place July–August. During the summer months there are a variety of music festivals as well as wine festivals extending into the fall.
Austria has nine provinces: Vienna, Burgenland, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Salzburg, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg. While German is the official language, there are regional dialects that German speakers from outside may have trouble understanding. In some cases, totally different words are used. Overall language shouldn’t be an issue since English is widely spoken.
Austria’s cuisine reflects heavily on its imperial past, with influences from Hungary, Italy, and the Balkans. Classic dishes like Tafelspitz (beef, root vegetables, and sauerkraut), Wiener Schnitzel (veal cutlet, flattened and fried), and Gulasch (rich meat stew, often with paprika) can be found throughout the country, while every region is proud of their speciality dishes. One of the major food draw is the varied cakes and pastries, including the famous apple strudel and Sachertorte. Vienna is the only world capital producing significant quantities of wine within its city limits. White wines dominate the vineyards of the Wachau Valley, while reds prevail in Burgenland and Styria.
Italy is one of the most diverse places in the world to visit but there is more to the country then Venice, Florence, Roma, Cinque Terre and a couple of other top attractions. If you plan you days well and understand how to move around within the country you can a great cost effective vacation full of activity, history, culture, and great food and wine. Contact us to get the insights to travel in Italy. We offer: