Austria is a great vacation spot if you are looking for somewhere that has something to offer all year round. In the winter you can engage in some of the best skiing and snowboarding that Europe has to offer. In the warmer months you can enjoy some of the most amazing architecture and scenery.
The capital of Austria is Vienna and is one of the most lively and interesting cities by far. It is covered with amazing music, buildings, and art. The city possesses some of the finest museums in all of Europe. While there are some expensive activities in the city, there is plenty to do for the budget conscious as well. Vienna has a wonderful nightlife with some of the most lively bars around. The people of Vienna are friendly and generally full of life. The official language of the country is German, so you might want to brush up on it before you go.
The Staatsoper Opera House in Vienna
If you want to go during winter, you’ll enjoy less of a crowd. The accommodations are less expensive; however you’ll have to deal with some very cold temperatures. While it may be cold, the atmosphere is tough to beat.
In the warmer months, it’s probably best to avoid the July and August crowds. The tourism industry takes full advantage of the increase in people with a corresponding increase in price. During these months, the temperature can get quite hot also. The best time to visit during the warm months is April through June. The temperature is good and the prices and crowd are low. This makes for a great time of the year to take a jaunt through the beautiful Alps. You’re also likely to see some type of music festival in the small towns throughout Austria at this time of year.
The city of Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe, let alone Austria. With a population of 150,000, Salzburg has amenities of a larger town with a small town feel. While its most famous resident was undoubtedly Mozart, it is not only a musical city. It has much to offer in the way of architecture, natural beauty, and overall culture compared to many other cities.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg
One marvel worth seeing is the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which has been around since 1077. It is situated over 400 feet above the river which obviously allows some panoramic views of the city below. You can enter the castle with an admission ticket year-round.
As mentioned previously, the birthplace of Mozart is located in Salzburg. It is referred to as Mozart-Wohnhaus and has some must see artifacts for all Mozart fans. Such a historic sight can even be enjoyed by the casual music lover.
St. Peter’s Church and Cemetary are also worth a visit if you’re spending any amount of time in Salzburg. While this sanctuary has a definite Baroque feel, it dates back all the way to the 1100’s. The catacombs next door are interesting as well. You can go on a guided tour of them every hour during the spring and summer months.
As the beautiful city of Salzburg has a lot to do, you may wish to spend a few days there. If you do plan to spend any significant amount of time in town, you might want to invest in the Salzburg Card. With this little jewel you can save a lot of money while you’re in town. It allows you to save on admissions to the zoo, castles, and museums in the area. You can even save on the various forms of public transportation that are available throughout the city.
One of the coolest natural attractions in Austria is the Eisriesenwelt Caves which means ‘World of the Ice Giants.’ Discovered in 1879, these are the most traveled ice caves in the world. They rest at about 5000 feet above sea level. Don’t worry about getting lost in the caves though. You can go on a guided tour that is quite safe. Most of the tours are about 75 minutes in length and are available from May through October. There is about 25 miles of passageways that can be explored. Along the way you’ll see frozen waterfalls and some natural ice sculptures.
The ice in the caves comes from the constant flow of cold air going in and out of the caves. While walking on ice might seem dangerous, you’ll not have to do any of that in the Ice Caves. The walkway is actually quite pedestrian, as it is clean concrete steps and clear paths. Even though some of the walls are over 60 feet thick, you don’t need an ice pick or climbing gear. Obviously the caves are cold, so dress for the occasion. Where there is ice, the temperature is normally around freezing. Therefore, pack a coat or sweater. Guides are even known to set of a light flare behind the ice. While this may not sound like much, the visual effects are completely stunning. It allows you to see the magnificent detail in some of the ice structures. Considering what you get to enjoy, the caves are actually quite affordable. For about $22, an adult can enjoy a cable car trip to the cave and admission to the cave itself.
Another great natural attraction is the Krimml Falls. This is an immaculate three-level summer waterfall. In the winter, the mountain is a top-flight ski slope. Either way, it attracts a lot of people. Be prepared for a challenging trail to get to the top. However, once you reach the top you’ll see that it was more than worth the effort.
Overall, the country of Austria has a lot to fall in love with. Its natural beauty is enough by itself, but the culture and amazing attractions put it well over the top. Whether you’re lazily floating down the Danube River in a boat or quickly skiing down a mountain, you’ll definitely enjoy yourself. Austria is definitely the highlight of many trips to Europe.