Are these the best things to do in Austria? We’ve spent quite some time there, and we certainly think so!

In 2007 and 2008, we spent about six months jumping in and out of Austria. It’s a small country, but one that we love to return to. We’ve travelled from the smallest of towns (like Sankt Anna am Aigen) to the famous boutique cities (Innsbruck and Salzburg spring to mind) and, of course, the capital, Vienna. This, then, is our pick of the best things to see and do.

1. Discover Vienna.

There’s always more to see in this tranquilly beautiful capital, from the architecture to the parks to the world-class museums in Museumsquartier. A Third Man tour is highly recommended.

A Vienna street -- busy and beautiful

Listen to our free Vienna audio guide here.

2. Ski or hike in Innsbruck.

Flying into Innsbruck is as much a treat for you as it is a challenge for the pilot, as the city is positioned between two rows of mountains — which are great for skiing in winter and hiking in summer.

Linda hiking in the mountains above Innsbruck

3. Get around by train.

The train network in Austria is excellent, and the carriages are clean, comfortable and usually equipped with power sockets. There are lots of discounts available on the rather pricy tickets, or use a Eurail pass.

The Westbahnhof will become familiar to frequent travellers

4. Eat at a heuriger.

These farm restaurants can only sell locally-produced food; usually a variety of cold-cut meats, cheeses and pickles. Accompany your meal with a glass of local wine, and you’ll be in heaven.

Typical heuriger fare -- best accompanied by a bottle of wine

5. Go wine-tasting.

You can visit the wineries themselves, or go to a local vinothek (wine-tasting room and shop). Many towns (including some very very small ones) have a vinothek, where you can try local wines and wines from further afield for a small fee.

The weinweg wine trail in St Anna am Aigen

6. Head to the countryside.

Austria’s cities are incredible, but the small towns nestled in valleys and on hillsides have a charm of their own.

Oh, and expect snow in the winter

7. Visit Melk.

Made famous by Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose

, Melk’s sumptuous monastery sits high and impressive, overlooking the Donau and a small but interesting town below.

Melk Cathedral -- amazing inside and out

8. Eat wiener schnitzel.

Preferably in Wien (otherwise known as Vienna). It’ll be served with fries or cold potato salad, and will quite likely be the size of a large plate. Make sure you’re hungry before you order one! Wash it down with beer or Almdudler: Austria’s local softdrink is hard to find outside of the country, and it’s really good.

Wiener schnitzel in Wien ... or Vienna in English

9. Go to a Christmas market and drink gluhwein.

Christmas markets pop up all over Europe in late November, but Vienna’s are a bit different. For one thing, there’s not just one market; several are scattered throughout the city –- and the setting is incredible. Warm yourself up with a glass of gluhwein (mulled wine) or a hot chocolate.

Cute display of gifts in a Christmas night market

Learn more about travel in Austria >>

But that’s only nine things to do in Austria! You must know some more — add your ideas or questions in the comments.

Your thoughts on "Nine best things to do in Austria"

  • # 10 - In summer, swim in an Austrian lake. Fresh clear clean water and if the lake is bathed in sunshine for most of the day (east to west location) the water can be quite warm in the evenings. Fresh water swimming is far more refreshing than salt water swimming.

    on February 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm Reply
    • Good call, Mike. Any suggested locations?

      on February 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm Reply
      • Seeboden near Millstatt east of Klagenfurt is reputed to be the warmest lake in Austria due to it's location. There are Campsites dotted all around the lake and hiking trails lead from most.

        on February 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm
      • Thanks, Mike. We spent a week in Klagenfurt, but didn't get there. It's on the map for next time :)

        on February 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm
  • You did not mention my favorite city, Salzburg. Wander through old town and visit places where Mozart lived, ate, drank and performed.

    on April 3, 2012 at 11:14 am Reply
  • My friend went to Austria when he studied abroad, and he constantly says it was amazing and that he wants to go back as soon as possible. It sounds like such a lovely place to go! I love that the wine tasting rooms sound like a discotech but exchange vino for disco! I know, it is silly, but that is where my mind went. In Austria do they mostly speak German, or Austrian (I don't even know if they have their own dialect)? And do most people still speak at least some English there? Also, besides the train, is it expensive to get around the different parts of the country?

    on April 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm Reply
  • I'm from Austria so I can answer your questions! :) In Austria we have much different dialects but it isn't an own language! Our official language is german and maybe in the easterly part of Austria its Croatian, Hungary and Slovene. The most people here speak English because it is one of our head subjects in school. Not everyone (especially the older people) speak English but you will find enough who speak. I don't know if the train is expensive. I think it is but I can't compare with the prises in your country so maybe it is cheaper than there or maybe its more expensive. I hope that I helped you with my answers and I have to apologize if i made some mistakes :)

    on April 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm Reply
  • I would like to ask whether to go to Eisriesenwelt(Ice cave) or is butter to visit Dachstein Höhlenwelt(Ice cave2). Actually I am planning to visit Salzburg for one day and is it possible to visit Zell am See as well. Thank you

    on July 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm Reply

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