Best cities in Austria
There are four, or maybe five, cities you should visit in Austria:
It goes without saying: the capital of Austria has the stately houses and palaces of the Hapsburg Empire, the cutting edge design of the Museums-Quartier, and the cultural icons of Mozart, Freud and Jung… Not to mention the Third Man. All this is balanced by the grungier suburbs and edgier youth music and street art which can be found everywhere outside the main centre. We enjoyed it all when we went through Prague and Vienna during #IndieRail
This is the city you’re most likely to visit if you’re popping into Austria from Switzerland or Lichtenstein… or if you’re into skiing. It’s most famous for its winter sports, but during summer the mountains are equally good for hiking. There are even free hiking tours put on by the council: you pay for your trip by buying a drink and a bite to eat at one of the traditional mountain houses.
Graz can be skimmed over on a day trip from Vienna or makes a great lunch stop if you’re heading down to Italy by train, but that would be a mistake. Graz does reward a night or two spent there. The historic town centre is home to a great jazz scene, and you’ll be able to find bands playing every night in and around the bars and restaurants on the pedestrianised streets.
Don’t just think of the Sound of Music, then scream and run away. Actually, it’s a nice place. Parts of it take all the ‘pretty’ of Austria and concentrate it until you’re mesmerised… even if there IS a hostel that plays the Sound of Music every night. Click here to book, or learn where to avoid!
There’s great day trips from Salzburg: the Hallein salt mines, the limestone ice caves near Werven, and — maybe Linz…
Honourable mention: Linz
Wikipedia will tell you that Linz was once the most important city in the Holy Roman Empire and that Johannes Keppler discovered the third law of planetary motion there… but it’s better known for being Hitler’s childhood home. I have often wondered if this has negatively affected its growth after WWII.
It certainly has some wonderful modern elements that complement its baroque buildings and pastel facades: the Ars Electronica Centre is one of the best digital galleries I’ve even been to: it’s worth the trip just for that. There’s also a great little arts, cafe and cinema complex off the main street on the OK Plaza.
Exploring the countryside of Austria
There are plenty of wonderful countryside regions to explore: the Weinviertel and Mostviertel spring to mind: the first famous for wine, the second for cider (most). If you’re visiting Austria’s many wine regions do try to get to Neusiedl am See in Burgenland, or go really way out and try to find Sankt Anna am Aigen near the Slovenian border.
Things to see, practicalities, and planning resources
We touch briefly on the train network and the delicious food and wine during the podcast, but visit our Austria travel page for more details.