Austria Travel Guide: Spectacular Beauty of the Alpine Country

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Austria, known for its stunning natural beauty and rich history, is a country that offers a plethora of picturesque destinations to explore. From the magnificent cities steeped in history to the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Austrian Alps, this Alpine country has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply seeking adventure, Austria will not disappoint. In this article, we will take you on a journey through the 12 best places to visit in Austria, showcasing the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, charming old towns, and breathtaking alpine scenery.

1. Vienna: The Imperial City of Music and Culture


We begin our Austrian adventure in Vienna, the capital city and one of the most famous tourist destinations in the country. Known as the city of music and culture, Vienna boasts a rich history and is synonymous with legendary figures like Mozart, Beethoven, and Freud. The city is home to numerous iconic landmarks, including the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a stroll through the old town and immerse yourself in the baroque architecture, visit the Vienna State Opera for a mesmerizing performance, and explore the Museum of Fine Arts. Vienna truly captures the essence of Austria’s grandeur and is a must-visit destination.

2. Salzkammergut: A Dreamscape of Lakes and Mountains

Next on our list is the picturesque region of Salzkammergut, characterized by its breathtaking natural beauty consisting of 76 lakes and several mountains. This dreamscape is a paradise for nature lovers, offering incredible views of glaciers near Dachstein and a plethora of hiking routes. One of the highlights of this area is the Krippenstein mountain, where you can experience the thrill of standing on the Five Fingers viewing platform, providing panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Salzkammergut is a haven for outdoor activities and a perfect place to unwind amidst nature’s splendor.

3. Hallstatt: A Charming Lakeside Town


Nestled on the shores of Lake Hallstatt, the town of Hallstatt is a true gem and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known for its idyllic beauty, Hallstatt offers a unique experience with its alpine lodges and quaint streets. Explore the charming old town, visit the Hallstatt Museum to learn about the region’s rich history, and take a boat ride on the serene Lake Hallstatt. The town’s picturesque setting has even inspired a replica in China, a testament to its extraordinary beauty. Hallstatt is truly a place that will leave you spellbound.

4. Innsbruck: The Capital of the Alps

Situated in the heart of the Alps, Innsbruck is a city that captivates visitors with its stunning mountain vistas and rich cultural heritage. Surrounded by towering peaks, this picturesque city offers a unique blend of history, culture, and adventure. Wander through the medieval old town and marvel at the Baroque Saint Jacob Cathedral, the Habsburg Imperial Palace, and the 16th-century Schloss Ambras. For breathtaking views, take the Nordkettenbahnen cable car to the top of Nordkette mountain and soak in the panoramic vista of the city below. Innsbruck is a perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts, with ample opportunities for hiking, skiing, and mountain biking.

5. Zell am See: Alpine Beauty by Lake Constance

Zell am See

Tucked away in a picturesque valley surrounded by the majestic Kitzbühel Alps, Zell am See is a postcard-perfect alpine city. The town is located on the shores of Lake Zell, which lends its name to the area. In summer, the town comes alive with outdoor activities, including swimming, sailing, and hiking. In the winter months, Zell am See attracts skiers and snowboarders with its nearby ski resorts and excellent slopes. The town itself is charming, with its alpine architecture and the Romanesque St. Hippolyte’s Church being a standout attraction. Zell am See is the perfect place to experience the beauty of the Austrian Alps.

6. Wachau Valley: A Scenic Delight along the Danube River

The Wachau Valley, located in the northeastern part of Austria, is an 18-mile stretch of breathtaking cliffs, rolling hills, and picturesque vineyards. Situated along the Danube River, this scenic region is renowned for its wine production, particularly the famous Grüner Veltliner and Riesling grapes. Explore the charming town of Dürnstein, home to the Dürnstein Castle, where Richard I of England was once held captive. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the river, visit the beautiful Benedictine abbey in Melk, and savor the stunning views that the Wachau Valley has to offer. A journey through this enchanting region is a feast for the senses.

7. Grossglockner High Alpine Road: A Thrilling Adventure

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

For those seeking a thrilling adventure, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a must-visit destination. This epic 30-mile road trip is considered one of the most scenic drives in Austria. Starting in Bruck, the road winds its way towards the magnificent Grossglockner, Austria’s tallest mountain. Along the way, you’ll encounter hairpin turns and breathtaking views of the dramatic valleys and mountains. The road also passes through Hochtor Pass, offering panoramic views of the Alpine divide. Hikers will find plenty of trails to explore, including the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe lookout point, which provides panoramic views of Grossglockner. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is an adventure not to be missed.

8. St. Anton am Arlberg: A Winter Wonderland and Summer Haven

Nestled in the heart of the Tyrolean Alps, St. Anton am Arlberg is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. This renowned ski resort town offers an extensive ski area suitable for all levels of abilities. The highlight of the region is Valluga Mountain, which can be reached by the Vallugabahns aerial tramways, providing breathtaking views of the Lechtal Alps. However, St. Anton am Arlberg is not just a winter destination; it also offers a range of outdoor activities in the summer months. Explore the grassy meadows, lush forests, and enjoy hiking, cycling, and mountain biking. The town itself is charming, with traditional restaurants and cozy cafes to relax in after a day of adventure.

9. Bad Gastein: A Spa Town Surrounded by Alpine Splendor

Bad Gastein

Bad Gastein, located in the heart of the High Tauern Mountains, is a picturesque spa town renowned for its stunning landscape and charming Belle Epoque architecture. The Grand de l’Europe Hotel, perched on the mountainside, is an iconic landmark and offers panoramic views of the town below. The town is also known for its therapeutic thermal spring waters, with dozens of resorts and thermal baths offering radon therapy. Bad Gastein is a haven for skiers and hikers, with its proximity to the Alps providing ample opportunities to soak up the stunning scenery. Explore the town’s winding streets, visit the impressive Bad Gasteiner Waterfall, and immerse yourself in the tranquil alpine atmosphere.

10. Graz: A Blend of History and Vibrant Culture

Austria’s second-largest city, Graz, is a vibrant destination with a rich history and a lively cultural scene. Situated on the banks of the Mur River, Graz boasts a well-preserved historic center, featuring baroque palaces, Renaissance courtyards, and centuries-old churches. The city’s crown jewel is the tree-clad Schlossberg Hill, offering panoramic views of Graz and its iconic clocktower. Graz has a youthful and vibrant atmosphere, thanks to its numerous universities and colleges. Explore the lively nightlife scene, indulge in local cuisine at the city’s many bars and restaurants, and immerse yourself in its vibrant cultural events. Graz is a city that seamlessly blends history with a contemporary vibe.

11. Worthersee: A Jewel in Carinthia’s Crown


The largest lake in Carinthia, Worthersee is a jewel in Austria’s crown. Located in the south of the country, this stunning lake is nestled at the foot of the Gurktal Alps and the Karawanks mountain range. Worthersee attracts visitors with its warm waters, Mediterranean climate, and lush surrounding forests. The lake is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with fantastic hiking trails and a scenic bike path winding along the lakeside. While once known as “Austria’s Monte Carlo,” Worthersee has transformed into a family-friendly destination, offering picturesque towns, relaxing spas, and vibrant nightlife. Discover the beauty of Worthersee and immerse yourself in its relaxed and idyllic atmosphere.

12. Zillertal Alps: A Paradise for Nature Lovers

Snaking along the border of Austria and Italy, the Zillertal Alps is a paradise for nature lovers. This awe-inspiring landscape is home to towering glacial peaks, jagged mountain cliffs, and tree-lined valleys. With over 85 glaciers, including the Hintertux Glacier, which is open for skiing and hiking year-round, the Zillertal Alps offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures. Explore the High Alps Nature Park, with its hundreds of miles of trails catering to all levels of hikers and mountaineers. For a more leisurely experience, embark on the scenic Zillertal High Road and enjoy the breathtaking views from the comfort of your car. The Zillertal Alps is a destination that will leave you in awe of nature’s grandeur.

Conclusion: Discover the Beauty of Austria


Austria is a small yet attractive Central European country with stunning scenery, rich history, and culture. Exploring its best cities and natural beauties invites you to discover the unique tapestry of the best things to see and do. Austria has something for every traveler, from the architectural marvels and classical music of Vienna and Salzburg to the tranquility of the Hohe Tauern National Park and the snow-capped Zillertal Alps. Austria’s beauty is best experienced in its variety and depth, whether you’re drinking Viennese coffee in market squares, visiting Bad Gastein, or driving through the Eastern Alps. From popular tourist attractions to secluded mountain cottages and crystal-clear lakes, each destination tells the narrative of a landlocked country that lives through its seasons, giving the best ski resorts in winter and lush walks in summer. The charm of little towns and the grandeur of Bad Ischl and Hallstatt exhibit Austria’s high mountains, gorgeous structures, and hot springs. Remember that Austria’s charm lies not just in its most beautiful places but in the journey through its heart, where every corner, from the northern limestone Alps to the vibrant streets of its most beautiful cities, is worth visiting. Austria, with its picturesque roads, historical riches, and cultural vibrancy, awaits you to discover its stunning beauty and rich tapestry.