Austria is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world. We travel there often and every time try to plot our move to the stunning Austrian countryside to live out our Sound of Music dreams.
Think soaring Alps, enchanting towns tucked underneath waterfalls, dreamy landscapes, and unique baroque architecture. Austria packs a whole lotta punch for a relatively small country!
From mountain villages, to beautiful events and the best Christmas markets in the world, there are plenty of reasons to travel to Austria. Let us help you choose where the best places to visit in Austria are for you!
Austria Travel Tips
- Currency: Euro
- Language: German. Learning a few words in the local language may be helpful before arriving. Most Austrians speak English.
- Visa: Austria is a member of the Schengen Agreement; check with your embassy to see if you need visas to enter the Schengen.
- What to Pack: A great rain jacket, wool sweater, hiking clothes, wool socks, travel camera, & down jacket.
- Drinking water: Austria’s water is rated among the top five best drinking water in the world.
- Best time to travel to Austria? Austria is a year round destination. However the best times to travel are during the summer months – June to September. And during the winter for ski.
Best Places to Visit in Austria
The capital city of Vienna is a vibrant city situated in the heart of Austria along The Danube River. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to visit. The city is known for its beautiful palaces including Imperial Hofburg Palace, Schonbrunn Palace and Belvedere Palace. It’s also known for its long history and colorful culture, highlighted in the many museums such as the Sisi Museum, the Natural History Museum, Albertina and the Museum of Art History.
Here you’ll see works by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and many others. Other top attractions include St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Vienna Operahouse. Many visitors to the city enjoy immersing themselves in the coffee house scene that Vienna is renowned for.
Situated on the banks of the River Inn, Innsbruck is mostly known for being a top ski area in Austria but the city is also known for its stunning alpine scenery and unique architecture. In the pedestrian-only Old Town, you’ll find many of the city’s top boutique shops and eateries. Beyond the Old Town, there are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck.
Head up to the Old Rathaus Tower where you can get fantastic views of the city and surrounding area and uncover its long history at the Golden Roof Museum, Ambras Castle and the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum. Hofkirche gothic church, Alpine Zoo Innsbruck and the popular shopping area of Maria-Theresien Strabe are some of the other notable attractions.
At almost 800 years old, you can bet that the small town of Feldkirch along the River Rhine in western Austria has much history to be explored! The Schattenburg Museum features an incredible art collection housed in a barrack that’s more than 700 years old and the lovely Old Town district is home to many historic fountains and buildings including Schattenburg Castle.
Other popular attractions in the town include the Radio Museum, Wildpark Feldkirch, Kunstpalais Liechtenstein, Rectory St Nicholas and Galerie Sechzig.
Klagenfurt am Worthersee
Klagenfurt am Worthersee is only a small city but it’s big on history, culture and world-class attractions. Situated along beautiful Lake Worthersee, the town dates back to the mid-1100s.
Today, its narrow streets and picturesque Old Town District are great places to explore if you’re a fan of baroque architecture, galleries, cafes and lively street markets such as the Benedictine Market. One of the best ways to get around the city is by bicycle and you can rent one at several places.
There is a trail along the nearby Drau River that is great for biking and hiking. Other notable attractions around the city include Pyramidenkogel Tower, Lindwurm Fountain, the Museum of Modern Art and Reptilienzoo Happ.
Seebensee and Drachensee
Seebensee and Drachensee are two of the most beautiful lakes in Austria, and the hike to them has located just a 1.5-hour drive away from Innsbruck. One of the best days out in the mountains you can have is hiking to these beautiful alpine lakes.
Seebensee is a high mountain lake that sits at 1,657 meters. It is surrounded by colossal peaks that make up the Wetterstein mountains and Mieminger Chain. Reaching the lake requires a bit of hiking, but you can cut some of the hiking out by taking the Ehrwalder Almbahn (cable car) to Ehrwalder Alm to start your hike. The hike to Seebensee is an easy hike along a well-maintained trail that will take you anywhere between 3-5 hours.
For a bit more Austria hiking, continue hiking 250 meters up to the Coburger Hütte for a fantastic apple strudel and to get the best views of Drachensee. From the Coburger Hütte, you can hike down to Drachensee to get an up-close look at it! We loved our day out hiking to these two lakes and consider the day trip one of the best things to do in Innsbruck.
Montafon is a beautiful long valley in Vorarlberg. In both winter and summer it offers visitors a staggering amount of things to do.
In summer, there are 1,161 km of hiking trails surrounded by three different mountain ranges – Rätikon, Silvretta, and Verwall. Wander the trails while passing Austria’s most famous residents – cows. While hiking you are never too far away from mountain huts and huts and alpine taverns.
Bike tours are popular here, with e-bikes taking over so outdoor enthusiasts can go deeper into the mountains. We recommend the Wasserstubental Tour, which is almost 60 km of pure beauty.
You don’t have to work too hard here though to enjoy the views as there seem to be an endless amount of cablecars to get you high in the alpine.
In the winter this area is a skiing mecca, with the small town of Gargellan being a particular highlight. Come January and February there are some epic powder dumps here. With the kids? Enjoy night tobogganing under the stars!
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road (in German Großglockner Hochalpenstraße) is the highest surfaced mountain road in all of Austria. The road is conveniently named after Grossglockner, which is the highest mountain in Austria.
You can even see the Grossglockner from a viewing area, the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe. You can also hike to get up close and personal to Grossglockner (the photo above is from an epic hike we did). Serious mountaineers and alpinist can also summit Grossglockner.
The road was built as a scenic route, and every summer, you’ll find hundreds of bikers and motorists driving the road on any given day. Driving or biking this road is one of the best things to do in Austria!
The road starts near beautiful Fusch and ends in Heiligenblut, both stunning towns in their own right.
If there ever was an Alpine town that looks like a postcard, it would have to be Alpbach in western Austria. It’s beautiful, that’s for sure! But it’s also serene and isolated which means it’s an ideal place to head to when you just want to get away from it all.
In winter, it’s the skiing that attracts many visitors. In the warmer months, hiking is a popular activity but there are many natural areas that you can escape to where you can admire the beauty and just enjoy the peacefulness.
Situated in northern Austria along the Danube River, the beautiful city of Linz isn’t a top tourist destination but there are many reasons why it should be and why you should check it out if you’re planning a trip to the country.
This city has it all: history, architecture, culture, stunning scenery, world-class shopping and fascinating attractions.
Linz Castle is the most popular attraction but other must-see attractions include the 8th-century St. Martin’s Church, Linz Botanical Garden, Stift St. Florian Abbey and Mauthausen Memorial.
Wels is a picturesque city along the banks of the Traun River. The city is known for its vibrant downtown district full of historic buildings and for its central location which makes it an ideal base for exploring the region.
Check out the 13th-century Ledererturm Tower and admire the ancient stained-glass windows at Stadtpfarrkirche Church. Local history and culture are alive and well in the Museum Angerlehner, the Austrian Pastry Museum and the Stadtmuseum Burg Wels Museum.
Don’t miss the Welser Tiergarten Zoo, Welios Science Center and Zoo Schmiding which are just a few of the many top attractions in the city. If you happen to be there in December, be sure to check out the amazing Christmas markets that are set up.
Sankt Polten is the biggest city in Lower Austria, but with only 55,000 residents, it really isn’t all that big.
It’s just big enough to be home to many amazing attractions but small enough to enjoy a relaxing vacation close to sprawling countryside and nature areas. Learn about the region’s past at the Lower Austria Museum, House of History and Stadtmuseum St. Pölten Museum.
Escape the urban landscape at Hammer Park or Ratzersdorfer See Lake. Admire historic architecture at Herzogenburg Monastery and enjoy stunning vistas from the Klangturm observation deck.
Located along the Drava River in a mountainous region in southern Austria, Villach is a top destination for people seeking ideal skiing and hiking conditions. Fishing on Lake Faak, paragliding at Gerlitzen Mountain and hiking along the Alpe-Adria-Trail are just some of the popular outdoor pursuits in Villach.
Other popular activities in and around the city include checking out the shops, galleries and cafes of the Old Town Square, relaxing in the thermal pools at KärntenTherme Warmbad spa and exploring the many attractions including the 14th-century Parish Church of St. Jakob, Landskron Castle, Dobratsch Nature Park and Affenberg Landskron Animal Park.
Eisenstadt is another small Austrian city located in the eastern region of the country. It’s mostly known for its high number of historical attractions that highlight the region’s long history such as Österreichisches Jüdisches Museum and Landesmuseum Burgenland.
Another reason why so many people choose to visit Eisenstadt is its stunning palaces including, Esterhazy Palace and the Baroque Palace of Schlosspark.
If you’re looking to get away from it all and kick back in the lap of luxury, Bad Ischl is the place to be!
Located in Upper Austria along the Traun River, the remnants of salt mining in the area gave way to a unique opportunity that resulted in the town being renowned for its spas and salt pools that are said to have healing powers.
When you’re not relaxing at one of these spas, there are many museums and historic places to check out around town including Kaiservilla residence, Stadtmuseum Bad Ischl Museum, Leharvilla Museum and Sisi’s Cottage. Don’t forget to take the Katrin Cable Car to visit an incredible nature reserve!
The enchanting village of Maria Alm is a picture-perfect example of a rural Austrian town with vast fields, chalets, mountains and outdoor markets and, in winter, it’s one of the most stunning ski regions in the country. Explore the quaint little village and its cafes and shops or spend a day hiking at Hundstein Mountain and Schönfeldspitze.
Lech Am Arlberg
If we were to pick one of our favorite ski resort towns in Europe, it would be Lech Zurs Arlberg in Vorarlberg. Lech is exactly what you could want out of a winter trip to Europe.
The village ambiance is tough to beat due to a wide selection of boutique hotels, all intimate in size due to strict ordinance laws. You won’t find mega hotels or foreign investments in this former farming village.
It’s all distinctly Austrian, with restaurants, hotels, bars, chalets, and B&Bs run by local families. Everything in the village is modern and luxurious but understated so that you won’t be completely gobsmacked here. This charm is what continues to draw regulars from around the world year after year.
As far as small towns go in the Lower Austria region, none are quite as pretty as Durnstein. Situated along the Danube River, it’s mostly known for its wine production, and colorful buildings. The town is home to many historic sites too including Stift Dürnstein Monastery, Göttweig Abbey and the ruins of Burgruine Durnstein which was where Richard the Lionheart was once imprisoned.
A must-do while in the area is wine tastings and Domäne Wachau Winery and Weingut Tegernseerhof Winery are two fabulous places to try out some local wine.
Hallstatt has a long history that dates back to the Iron Age. This small town on Lake Hallstatt in the beautiful Salzkammergut region is known for its 16th-century homes, quaint alleyways lined with shops and cafes and abundance of outdoor pursuits including skiing and snowshoeing in winter and hiking in the warmer months.
Visit the world’s oldest salt mine at Salzwelten Hallstatt and visit some of the historical attractions including Museum Hallstatt and Charnel House. Care to see some phenomenal Alpine views? Check out the Treppe ins Nichts Viewing Platform. (Psst – visit in October for some of the best fall colors in Europe!)
Lake Constance is the third biggest lake in Central Europe and located around it are beautiful cities and villages including Bregenz. Step back in time at the ruins of Burgruine Hohenbregenz and Gebhardsberg and take a hike along one of the trails at Pfander Mountain which are accessed via a cable car.
Alpine Wildlife Park, Eagle Observatory and Kunsthaus Bregenz Museum of Contemporary Art are some of the other must-visit attractions in the area.
Zell am See
Hit the slopes or the trails early and kick back in a spa all before dinner which can be enjoyed in one of the lovely restaurants in the medieval town center. This is life in the lakeside village of Zell am See.
Lake Zell is a popular recreational area for visitors who enjoy paddleboarding and sailing and a trip on the scenic Pinzgauer Lokalbahn mountain railway is well worth it! Some of the notable attractions in the town include St. Hippolyte Church, Schmittenhöhe Mountain and Gipfelwelt 3000 Viewing Platform.
St. Gilgen is a tiny village situated in a scenic setting on Lake Wolfgang surrounded by rolling hills. Perhaps the setting will look familiar; some scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed here!
A popular thing for visitors to do in the village is to take a cruise on the lake to get a better look at the amazing scenery but hiking at nearby Fuschlsee Lake is also popular. Take a trip to the summit of Schafberg Mountain where you’ll find a great restaurant and learn about local history at the Museum Zinkenbacher Mahlerkolonie.
Melk is located in a scenic location at the mouth of the Wachau Valley along the Danube River. Like many of the small cities around Austria, the center of life in Melk mostly takes place in the historic Old Town District.
This is where you’ll find the very old buildings that give the city its character and many shops and restaurants. Atop a hill above this district is the huge 11th-century Melk Abbey which is a baroque Benedictine monastery. Schallaburg Castle, Paradiesgarten Garden, Albrechtsburg Castle and Schloss Artstetten Castle are some of the other popular attractions.
Medieval charm, unique culture, the great outdoors and world-class historical attractions. These are just some of the things that draw visitors to the beautiful village of Lienz. Check out Bruck Castle where you’ll admire a 500-year-old art collection and learn about 750 years of history.
Take a cable car up Lienzer Bergbahnen – Zettersfeld and enjoy spectacular mountain views. Visit Osttirodler Sommerrodelbahn Hochstein Lienz and catch some thrills on the roller coaster or take a hike along one of the trails.
Spend an afternoon at Adventure World Assling where you’ll find a summer toboggan run and a wildlife park.
Mountains and valleys make up the beautiful landscape surrounding Bludenz and one of the best ways to enjoy those views is with a trip in a cable car to the summit of Muttersberg.
If you love to golf, you’ll love the challenging game that awaits you at the scenic 18-hole Golfclub Bludenz-Braz. For non-golfers, hiking at Mondspitze is a popular choice. Other notable attractions include Gayenhofen Castle and Museum der Stadt Bludenz Oberes Tor.
After a long day, head to Fohrenburger Brewery which is one of the top breweries in the country.
Located on the River Salzach in the northwest region of the country, Salzburg is widely known for being the birthplace of Mozart but it has so much more to offer to visitors! The Old Town district is where you’ll find many 16th and 17th-century landmarks such as the Residenzbrunnen fountain, the Salzburg Residenz and the Getreidegasse pedestrian zone.
Look up and you’ll see the majestic Hohensalzburg Castle towering above the district. Other attractions include Mirabell Palace, Salzburg Cathedral and Salzburg Zoo Hellbrunn.
Of course, you can also visit the birthplace of one of the greatest composers of all time, and don’t forget to check out the stunning Baroque Gardens where scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed.
Bad Gastein is a pretty spa town situated in a high valley of the Hohe Tauern Mountains. The town is known for its pristine nature which includes the must-see Gastein Waterfall, thick forests, sheer mountain cliffs and the hiking areas of Ankogelbahn and Graukogel.
The center of town is known for its unique Belle Epoque architecture and is also where you’ll find The Gasteiner Museum. Don’t miss the Stubnerkogel Suspension Bridge where you’ll be able to admire stunning mountain views.
Located in the Tuxer Valley, Finkenberg is a beautiful mountain town known for its ski culture and abundance of places to downhill ski in winter and hike in the summer. In winter, Penken Mountain, Horbergbahn – Mayrhofner Bergbahnen, Rastkogel Bahnen and Harakiri, which is Austria’s steepest ski run, are top places to be. In the warmer months, visitors take to the trails at Tuxertal, Rastkogel and Ahornspitze.
Krems an der Donau
Krems an der Donau is a beautiful small city along the Danube River in the Wachau Valley in Lower Austria. This ancient city is known for its wine production and historic architecture.
There are many great attractions around the city including Kunsthalle Krems Art Museum, Landesgalerie Niederösterreich, Karikaturmuseum Krems Art Museum and Göttweig Abbey.
Graz is a fairly large city that’s said to be one of the most beautifully preserved in all of Central Europe. Today, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vibrant culture and beautiful Baroque architecture.
The city’s history and culture is highlighted in the many museums such as the Mohren Apotheke’s Theriak Museum, Graz Municipal Museum, Robert Stoltz Museum, Graz Art Museum and Landeszeughaus Armory Museum.
At Schockl, you can take a gondola to a mountain peak where there are hiking trails and many of the city’s shops and restaurants can be found in the Old Town District. Other popular attractions include Mariatrost Basilica, the 17th-century Schloss Eggenberg Palace, Schloßberg Park, Uhrturm and the museum and birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Where are the best places to visit in Austria for hiking?
- Zillertal Alps
- Silvretta Alps
Where are the best places to visit in Austria for skiing?
- St. Anton am Arlberg
- Lech-Zürs am Arlberg
How to travel around Austria?
The easiest ways to travel around Austria are by train and by car. Search for train timetables and tickets in Austria on OBB.
It’s also possible to rent a car in Austria (or nearby Germany) and road trip around the country, which is a fantastic way to explore the countryside.
Where are the most beautiful towns in Austria?
There are so many beautiful towns and cities. We recommend Innsbruck, Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Lech!
How many days in Austria is enough?
You could spend months doing all the best things to do in Austria, but in reality, you probably don’t have that much time. We recommend spending at least a week in Austria, but 10 days would be ideal.
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
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- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.