Austria: Main Sights
To say that there’s something for everyone in Austria is an understatement – there’s something for everyone three times over! Whether you are an adrenaline junkie, a sun-worshipper, or a sightseer, there is so much to do, whichever part of the country you’re staying in, whatever the time of year. We’ve listed below the top attractions for a holiday in Austria, but our best tip is simply to plan your holiday carefully so you can fit everything in...
Attractions in Vorarlberg
This region is the western-most province in Austria, and offers visitors a range of attractions, together with some colourful and traditional Austrian towns.
Pfänder – The mountain at the lake
Overlooking the stunning Lake Constance, the Pfänder is a great place to visit for summer sightseeing or winter sports. Standing over 1060m high, you can see across 240 Alp peaks to Germany and Switzerland. The crystal clear lake laps the bottom of the mountain and is surrounded by the Rhine valley and the Swabian hills. In summer it is perfect for hiking holidays and spotting birds of prey. In winter the resort is lively with sporting activities including skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing.
Rolls Royce Museum
A great one for car lovers. Vorarlberg province is home to the largest Rolls Royce collection in the world. With over 1,000 exhibits, visitors can learn about how the cars were originally made and modern restoration techniques.
Attractions in Tyrol
A very popular tourist destination, especially if you are after an activities holiday, or somewhere to really revitalise in beautiful surroundings. As well as being well known for its dramatic scenery, Tyrol also has some hidden gems, or sparkles you might say...
Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Come and admire the magnificent collection of Swarovski crystal at this architecturally quirky site that millions of visitors have already flocked to see. First built to commemorate the 100th birthday of the brand, this is now the province’s number one attraction which boasts a fairytale land of mystery and sparkle.
Innsbruck’s Schloss Ambras
If you are staying in the Tyrol region, a visit to Innsbruck is highly recommended. This charming and colourful Austrian town is a culture-lover’s dream. Not only does it give you a taste of traditional Austria, but it also features a number of important landmarks. The Schloss Ambras is one such landmark; a spectacular renaissance palace built above the city with the largest collection of armour in Europe. It also holds a vast and famous art collection, including works from the likes of Lukas Cranach, van Dyck and Diego Velásquez.
Alpenzoo Innsbruck Alpine Zoo
A great one for keeping the kids entertained while you’re on holiday in Austria. You’ll find over 150 different species of animal at the Alpenzoo; it receives good reviews, especially if you’re interested in seeing alpine animals such as moose and bears. Access is easy, with both bus and train routes going directly from Innsbruck.
Located to the south, this province has an abundance of lakes and breathtaking landscape. Its attractions are perfect for sightseers who want a little bit of history mixed with lovely European architecture.
An unusual ‘miniature’ park that is well worth a visit if you have the time – kids will especially love this. There are more than 150 models at this highly popular tourist attraction, most of which are famous landmarks from all over the world. Models include, the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, Tower of London, White House, Taj Mahal and more. You are also doing a great thing for charity by visiting, as all contributions go to Rettet das Kind ("Save the Child") association, who run the park.
Dom Zu Gurk
There is something chilling about this awe-inspiring 12th century Roman Basilica which remains a highly important religious building in Europe. Comprising of three-aisles, a crypt, a gallery and three apses, this Basilica has lasted through Europe’s turbulent religious millennium. If you like a good fill of gothic artefacts, intricately decorated paintings, beautiful stained glass, and a rather extravagantly decorated sarcophagus of St. Hemma, then this is certainly worth a visit.
Classical musical lovers this way please. If you are looking to immerse yourself in some of Austria’s finest sights and culture, a short stay in Salzburg is a fantastic idea.
On January 27th 1756 Austria’s most famous export came into the world. The house in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born, number 9 Getreidegasse, is now a museum. If you happen to be a Mozart fan, you have the chance of laying your eyes on his piano, his childhood violin and his concert violin. You can also learn all about the Mozart family and see the rooms in which they lived.
Salzburgerland has more to offer than Mozart, some of you may be excited to hear. The Krimml waterfalls, located in the Hohe Tauern national park, are the 5th highest in the world. Climb up to see the waterfall in three stages – a 400 metre drop, a 100 metre drop and a final 140 metres. The view is spectacular and it makes a fantastic summer attraction if you fancy taking a trip outside Salzburg into the Austrian countryside.
If you’re staying in Salzburg and you fancy having a gawp at the largest medieval fortress in Central Europe, you can just look up. Almost engraved into the countryside and overlooking the Salzach river, the Hogensalzburg is an impressive giant of a gothic fortress. Today it is a museum and you can walk through extravagant state rooms and the pretty courtyard which now host a number of events throughout the year.
Mirabell Park featured in "The Sound of Music"
Considered one of the most stunning baroque gardens in Europe, make time in your visit to Salzburg to go to the Mirabell Gardens. As well a beautiful array of flowers, you can find a host of statues of Roman gods including Flora, Ceres, Minerva, Diana, Venus, Juno, Jupiter, Mars, Hercules and Apollo, which were made in 1689 by B. van Opstal. Your visit would not be complete without finding that iconic Pegasus fountain where you can play out ‘Doe a deer’ to your heart’s content like one of the Von Trapp children!
A fantastic winter break destination, and famous for its panoramic scenery and friendly locals, there are a number of attractions to fit in while you stay here.
Open Air Museum Stübing
For a truly wholesome excursion where you get to see some of the agricultural background of this lovely region, the open air Museum at Stübing, just 15km north of Graz, is a great day out. The award-winning museum is more or less a country walk through Austria’s history, where you tour approximately 100 farmhouses from all over Austria. You can see how lodgings changed over the centuries and admire the beautiful gardens. There are many stories and much folklore surrounding the houses and you can watch baking demonstrations and let the children stroke the different animals you’ll meet. The lovely surroundings and the relaxed nature of the museum makes it feel like a very rewarding journey into the past.
Many legends exist around this iron mountain; including whether J.R.R Tolkien took inspiration from it for his trilogy The Lord of the Rings. “Gold for 10 years, silver for 100 years or ore for eternity”, a waterman declared in return for release. They chose ore, and so far it’s going strong. You cannot quite believe that the grooves made into this mountainside are manmade; there is a pyramid quality about the way this mountain has been mined since the 4th century. Take a trip inside the mountain and see the how the ore is extracted, or take a trip up a neighbouring mountain and admire its spectacular appearance from afar.
With Vienna planted at the heart of this region, it is particularly ideal for visitors wanting to get a flavour for Austrian architecture and religious buildings. Along with some stunning sights of natural beauty, Lower Austria is again full of attractions and fantastic day trips.
These caves were never intended to be the incredible phenomenon that they now are. In 1912 an underground blasting mission at the Hinterbrühl mine went badly wrong and caused 20 million litres of water to blast forth. The mine was flooded and created a magnificent subterranean lake that is thought to be the biggest in Europe. In the 1930s the splendour of these caverns was discovered and you can now take a boat trip through the mine and experience the eerie beauty of this phenomenon. Only 20km from Vienna, there are good transport links by road, bus or hired car.
A stay in Lower Normandy dictates a trip to Vienna. This culture-rich city is by far the most vibrant in Austria and offers great history along with modern activities.
Hofburg Imperial Palace
The home of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy for 600 years, this Imperial Palace is arresting upon first view. Taking cue from a number of architectural styles; from gothic to Ringstraßen, various monarchs have added to this building over the years to make it a little city of its own, complete with the Austrian National Library, the Silver Treasury, a number of museums and (curiously) the world famous Spanish riding school.
The Eiffel tower of Vienna; this cathedral, with its 137 metre tower, is an iconic landmark in Austria. An impressive and beautiful piece of architecture, this building dates back to the 13th century, with the north tower housing Austria’s largest bell. The style is distinctly gothic, with the interior displaying a range of late gothic sculptural art. A particularly good choice for anyone interested in architecture during their break in Austria, or for visitors who simply want to soak up one of Vienna’s many elegant sights.
If you’ve got kids with you, and they’ve decided they’ve seen enough medieval sculpturing, you can always take them down to Austria’s oldest funfair, Wiener Prater. The selection of rides here is vast; from standard carrousels to adrenalin pumping roller-coasters. Worthy of note is the 65 metre Ferris Wheel, which is another famous icon on Vienna’s cityscape. The views from the top are spectacular and you can get a good look at all those buildings you just saw in the brochure. Though built all the way back in 1897, we are told that its safety features are impeccable! The restaurants in the park also have excellent reviews, with Schweizerhaus earning special attention for its pig's trotters and freshly drawn beer.
Ice caves and salt mines; you’ll go back to nature with a visit to the Upper Austria province. There are a variety of natural beauty sites in this area that is rich in history and Austrian tradition.
Hallstatt Salt Mines
The fascination with these mines revolves around the ‘man in salt’ mystery. The corpse of an anonymous old man, who had been preserved in the salt for 3,000 years, was discovered in the 20th century. He proved to be the evidence that these mines have been around for 7,000 years. Now considered the world’s oldest salt mine, you can take a trip on the cable car and enter these ancient tunnels to hear the story for yourself. The region has been appointed a Natural Heritage site and scientists hold out hope that another corpse could be discovered at any time.
Dachsteinhöhlen Ice Caves
What could be better on a hot summers day than to take a trip inside these icy caverns. The walls are ice, the ceiling is ice, the floor is…icy; this is like a dramatic winter wonderland. The Giant Ice Cave has walls of 25 metres thick and is considered one of the world’s largest. Other cavern choices, such as the limestone Mammoth Cave stretches 60 km into the depths of the mountains. Much like the salt mines, there are chilling tales surrounding these caves which meant locals regarded them with awe and trepidation. However, if you are feeling brave they can be reached from Obertraun, a town situated on Lake Hallstatt.
A vibrant and colourful province on the very eastern edge of Austria; this is a lovely destination with some superb tourist attractions and a host of activities.
When it comes to packing their castles full of artefacts, the Austrians are pros. There are 20,000 exhibits on show at this impressive castle which is one of Central Europe’s biggest private museums – from armour, to jewellery, to war trophies. A fort built to protect the Habsburg monarchy from the invading Turks between 1635 and 1652, it is no wonder that war is such a big theme in this castle. Accordingly, there are war paintings, artefacts and precious items from the Turkish wars. You’ll also find an entire regiment’s equipment from the 17th century and an ‘Arts and Wonder’ chamber which houses exquisite objects such as ivory art and silver miniatures.
Neusiedler See - Seewinkel National Park
If there are any bird lovers with you on your holiday in Austria, this is the place to take them. A natural beauty spot, with a rare ecosystem, makes this a lovely location to spend a summer afternoon. You have a good chance at finding over 300 species of bird, plus other wildlife, at this park. See if you can spot a great white heron, a white stork, a pied avocet, a graylag goose or a great bustard. And if you can’t see them, you may well be able to hear them; a range of songbirds breed here, including the reed bunting, the bearded readling, and the reed warbler. If you happen to go to Seewinkel during the Spring or Autumn you could be surprised by an even greater variety of wildlife, as many birds choose to stop over at the nature reserve as they migrate.