In Austria city life and the great Alps are joined at the hip. On any particular day you can hike or ski alpine summits in the morning and experience the indulgences of imperial Vienna in the evening.
The Habsburgs had over the centuries invested an immense fortune into the fine arts and music, building palaces and castles like no other before them. And to this day you will feel their influence in Austria's culture, whether its seeing the majestic Hofburg with its Rubens Masterpieces at the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Museums Quartier. Full are the lavish and golden concert halls that feature the classic works of Mozart, Strauss, Haydn and Schubert, including the many music festivals like the Salzburg Festival and Bregenzer Festspiele staged against mountain and lakeside backdrops.
The best thing about Autria is that it's not the destination, but rather the journey that fascinates. With its deeply carved valleys, sharp mountain peaks, glaciers and spring meadows, the best way to see Austria is either by car or by train. And once you are there, strap on some hiking boots and explore the endless hiking trails far away from any urban disturbance. Summer is the best time for hiking and rafting, while the winter months entice with many ski slopes open for enjoyment.
When we think of Austria we think of history, ceremony and pomp. And surely places like the Hapsburg Schloss Schönbrunn and the Stephansdom remind us of these past times. Austria however is also very modern, with a cool intertwining of history and modern architecture. So make sure to venture beyond the old and check out the modern art galleries and museum like the Museums Quartier, located in the imperial stables, Kunsthaus Gratz and Ars Electronica in Linz, featuring an amazing Rubik's cube.
Austria has evolved well beyond schnitzels and dumplings. These days you will find modern interpretations of the classic dishes that are much lighter (and healthier). With a focus on organic and locally sourced ingredients, local chef's take great pride in letting local ingredients take center stage. Like in Germany, you should not miss the chance to try White Asparagus in spring, where many restaurants offer full side menus featuring great variations. The Marillen Knödel (apricot dumpling) becomes especially prominent during summer, while venison and mushroom dishes are plenty in the fall. In the bigger cities, global cuisine, vegan bistros and Michelin-starred restaurants are a plenty.
If it's popular you may want to book ahead. Michelin Star top restaurants should be reserved at least a week or two in advance. At regular restaurants, simply show up and seat yourself at an empty table. If its busy, its ok to ask to sit with other people at a larger table.
Austria really isn't known for being clubbing central. Although the large cities will have their share of bars and nightclubs, the smaller towns will be more likely to have one major restaurant and cafe that closes before 10 PM. Since skiing is big in this alpine country the so called "Après-ski" have turned into large party-fuelled nights in the big ski resorts in winter.
Trip Concierge offers you a choice of 13,500 hotels ranging from our Smart budget hotels to our Premium 4-star hotels and palatial 5-star Luxe hotels. There are also a lot of Bed & Breakfasts, also called Pension or Gasthof, that may not appear on travel sites - some do not accept credit cards. However you can inquire at the many tourism offices in major cities, who keep lists of the most recent B&B's available. The Alpine Huts are only open in the summer months from June through late September. Most hotels in Austria are very well furnished, a few B&B's remain with shared shower facilities. Keep in mind that most smaller hotels do not have elevators, so please contact us if you need an accessible room. You should always book ahead during the summer months. Your Trip Concierge travel consultant will be happy to assist you in creating the perfect itinerary.
Vienna is the destination hub for Austria, but smaller airports with regional service into Europe include Graz, Linz, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Innsbruck. Vienna International Airport: Austrian Airlines (www.austrian.com) is the national carrier. easyJet, Eurowings and Ryanair also fly into Salzburg.
There are several entry points by road from Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. Liechtenstein has one border-crossing point, near Feldkirch in Austria. The majestic Alps very much reduce travel options coming from the south into Tyrol.
Before you hop on a bus, we suggest you take a train. It's much more comfortable and way more scenic than sitting on an Autobahn (highway) in holiday traffic.
Rental cars can travel into and out of Austria to other European countries, however your car rental agency may not allow you to enter the Czech Republic due to ongoing vehicle theft, please confirm with your rental agency on geographic limitations. Many highways in Austria are toll roads, so you will need a Vignitte (motorway tax) sticker if you plan on using the autobahn. If you are using a rental car, the agencies normally handle this for you. All border crossing points are open 24 hours, and petrol stations are usually handily located nearby.
The train remains one of the best options for sightseeing. There is nothing better than having the landscape pass by you as you gather many picturesque moments in your memory. Austria has excellent rail connections to the rest of Europe and because most borders are open, passengers do not need to disembark at borders. However, please make sure you have any required travel visa for the country you are entering.
River cruises are another wonderful way for seeing the major cities in Austria. In fact, you can see several cities in Europe without ever having to pack and unpack. Be sure to ask us about river cruise options.
If you decide to go away, book your hotel, flights and activities through our trip concierge for discounts and benefits. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, free hotel credit and VIP gifts at many luxury hotels for the same price as the hotel’s own websites. (Book direct and you don’t get these benefits so why would you?). Our packaged vacation prices tend to be considerably cheaper than flight and hotel prices available online.
Austria is tiny by American standards. Going from one end of the country to the other is like driving from San Francisco to Fresno, you could fly, but the regional service is not so great, so car and train are your best options.
Austria has enshrined general bicycle laws and bicycle-only lanes, so you will see that many tourist boards have cycling facilities and extensive brochures on destination options. One of the most renown trails is the Danube cycling trail running the entire length of the border between Germany and Slovakia. If you are up for an extreme challenge, you can try the Tauern Radweg, a 310km monster trail through the Hohe Tauern National Park. It will take your breath away. Literally.
The Danube is the main river between Vienna and Lower and Upper Austria. Most of the boat cruises here are of the slow and scenic excursion type. Some of the country’s larger lakes, such as Bodensee and Wörthersee, have boat services. On the Bodensee you can also travel between Germany and Austria via ferry.
The major rail lines are supported by the local Postbus service. In particular in the more inaccessible mountainous regions. Buses are fairly reliable, and usually depart from outside train stations.
Autobahn (highway) are marked ‘A’, Bundesstrasse (major routes) are marked "B" and Landstrasse (country roads) are marked "L". Please remember that some mountain passes are blocked due to snow from November to May. If you plan on going skiing, please make sure to have snow chains with you - as they are mandatory on many mountain pass roads leading to the major ski resorts.
Car rentals are easy to book in major cities like Austria, with convenient pickup locations at major airports or rail stations. Most small towns will not have rental agencies. A translation or International Driving Permit (IDP) is required by the traffic police for any non-EU licence not in German. You can get one from your local AAA office or ask us.
A comprehensive tour of Austria that covers all the major places including the big palaces and Vienna coffee houses as well as the Alpine region known as Salzburgerland. We start you off with two to three days in Vienna where you can enjoy world-class culture, palaces and that world renown Sacher tort at Hotel Sacher. A short train ride you will head into the Danube region wine country with beautiful towns like Wachau. A one or two night stay at a local gasthaus or winery will be worthwhile. Then we are off to the Salzkammergut with its stunning mountain backdrops and lakes and the Dachstein ice caves (summer only). From there we will head to Salzburg, the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Explore the baroque art and palaces and a one night stay in Werfen to experience castles built inthe sky.
Vienna can also be included on a stopover to other European destinations.
ATMs also known as Bankomat are common and widely disbursed. Make sure to look for the Visa, Mastercard, Maestro or Plus logo to use your debti card. Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted, American Express is not always accepted, so make sure to have a VISA or MasterCard credit card with you. Expect to pay cash in smaller towns, restaurants, stores or rural regions. Travellers cheques are generally not accepted other than at financial institutions.
Austria's currency is the Euro, divided into 100 cents. There are coins for one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and for €1 and €2. Notes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.