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Austria is one of our favourite European countries, and not just for Vienna’s stately elegance. Yes, the capital is amazing, but we also love the other major cities, the small towns, the countryside — and of course, the food and drink. Whether you visit for a few days or several months, there’s plenty to do, see, and eat. Yum.

So, here are out 10 best things to do in Austria!

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.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 327 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

2. 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.

Austria's a great country to get around by train.
Austria’s a great country to get around by train.

3. 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.

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.

The food that almost brought Craig to tears.
The food that almost brought Craig to tears.

5. Go wine-tasting

You can visit the wineries themselves, or head 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.

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.

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.

I can't get enough of Austria.
Got to love those Austrian small towns.

7. Cruise on the Donau

You can call it the Danube if you like, but make sure you spend a little time on the water.

8. Discover Salzburg

Although it’s known in English-speaking countries as the home of the Sound of Music, there’s a lot more to Salzburg than singing nuns. Explore the castle, head to one of the salt mines for which the city is named, visit Mozart’s houses. And if you’re a Sound of Music fan, watch the movie while you’re there and do one of the many, many tours on offer.

Looking over the city of Salzburg
Salzburg is a great city to explore.

9. 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.

Drinking Austrian beer is a must.
Drinking Austrian beer is a must.

10. 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.

To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

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Note: this article was originally published in 2012 as “Nine Best Things To Do In Austria”. It was reworked as a podcast in 2016.

Your thoughts on "Top 10 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
  • You can also visit a castle. Burg Kreuzenstein is close to Vienna and it is a great day trip. :)

    on June 21, 2017 at 11:37 pm Reply
    • Castles are great too! Thanks for the tip. :)

      on July 4, 2017 at 12:33 am Reply
  • Cool sharing, i would definitely like to visit those places.

    on July 12, 2017 at 4:57 pm Reply

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