So you’re going to Austria? Good choice! You’ll find a lot of memorable places to visit in Austria. This post is all about that. Let’s go from the west to the east!
A small town between the mountains very close to Liechtenstein (15 minutes away) but still part of Austria. Feldkirch has a Medieval look and you’ll see signs in many houses that protect them in case of war since they’re protected by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property. In the main street, you’ll find cafés, stores, and restaurants.
If you can, visit it during the summer to attend the Poolbar festival. This event lasts for a month and has concerts and cultural activities every day. Also of importance is the Schattenburg, a castle from the 12th century that has a museum and a restaurant. And… if you’re into animals, don’t forget to go to Wildpark Feldkirch, a free zoo where you will see deers, wolves, raccoons, groundhogs, and more!
Bregenz is half an hour away from Feldkirch in train. You maybe already know about this city because of the famous Bregenz Festival. For this festival, there are musical performances and opera in a stage that is on the lake. If you still think you don’t know it, check this. Besides the Bregenz Festival, the city has gorgeous views of the lake and during the summer you can enjoy it in the parks that are on the lakeside.
This city is super popular for winter sports and hiking… but no matter when you go, you’ll find something you’ll like! Especially during the summer, you’ll amaze at how the city is surrounded by mountains.
Architecture lovers will find this place interesting since you’ll see both imperial and modern architecture. The stations for the Nordkette funicular were designed by none other than Zaha Hadid! Please don’t leave Innsbruck without visiting the Old Town part in the city (check the Golden Roof and the empty tomb of Maximilian I). And, finally, I’d recommend you to go to the Grassmayr Museum, where you’ll learn how bells are made!
It’s possible that the oldest restaurant in Europe is in Salzburg. The Stiftskeller St. Peter was founded in 803 (way before the Botin in Madrid, Spain, that has the Guiness World Record for the oldest restaurant in the world… but we won’t discuss the reasons why here). Also, Salzburg is the place where Mozart was born! So, all in all, this is one of the great places to visit in Austria if you’re a foode and a music lover.
Close to Salzburg is the Liechtensteinklamm, which a super pretty gorge with an impressive waterfall, perfect for hikers out there! The Großglockner Hochalpenstraße connects Salzburg to Carinthia, so if you’re into driving take it because it’s one of the highest roads in Europe. The road passes by the Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria’s biggest national park.
Right on the shore of Lake Hallstatt, you’ll find this village. What’s special about Hallstatt is that the houses and the way the place is built will make you feel like you traveled to the 16th century. The streets are full of shops and cafés.
While you’re in Hallstatt, visit Salzwelten. This place has the oldest salt mine in the world and the oldest wooden staircase in Europe (which would be a must-see place if you’re a staircase fan, of course). There, you can also see a subterranean lake and if you take the funicular, you’ll get to Hallstatt’s Skywalk, a viewing platform where you’ll see the town and the lake in its full gorgeousness.
This is one of those places to visit in Austria that are super popular during the summer. The reason: Lake Wörthersee. There, the water is clear, warm, and perfect to spend some hours relaxing. There are restaurants in the shore and a family-friendly vibe that will make you just lay there and forget about your daily worries.
For those families traveling with children, there’s also a perfect place: Minimundus. Minimundus is a park with small replicas of important buildings all around the world: the Eiffel Tower, Fishermen’s Bastion, and the Pisa Tower. The most impressive replica is the one from Vatican City, don’t miss it!
And, if you’re an endurance athlete, you probably already know Klagenfurt, since its the venue of the annual Ironman in Austria.
So yes, it’s a place for everyone!
The third biggest city in Austria… and one of the most beautiful! The Linzer torte, which recipe dates from 1653, is said to be the oldest cake in the world, and it originated here. So you definitely have to try it.
Linz is also the European Capital of Culture (along with Vilnius) and it’s listed in the UNESCO’s list of Creative Cities as a city of Media Arts… which explains the Ars Electronica Center (pictured above). It is also known as the Museum of the Future. Other museums you have to visit if you’re interested in art are the Lentos Kunstmuseum and the Schlossmuseum.
Ride the Pöstlingbergbahn (a mountain tramway) to the Pöstlingberg, which is a mountain where you’ll be able to see Linz and the Danube. Ah! And if you’re traveling with kids, check out the Grottenbahn where you’ll ride the Dragon Express across fairy tale scenes and a miniature Linz.
Graz is the second biggest city in Austria and the home of the world’s largest preserved armory. So yes, definitely one of the best places to visit in Austria. The Old Town part is super beautiful and you can walk to the Schlossberg (the hill you’ll see when you get to Graz) to have a view of the city from above. This is a public park where you can walk around, find cafés and places to eat, and get to the Clock Tower.
Another place you have to visit (at least see on the outside) is the Kunsthaus Graz, a museum of contemporary art that has a unique construction that people sometimes call “friendly alien.”
Two places you can’t miss if you go to Graz and are willing to drive are the Riegersburg Castle and the Zotter Factory. Keep reading because this is important.
The Riegersburg Castle is on top of a dormant volcano. Unlike almost all of the history of castles (and the world) that are dominated by men, the history of this castle was dominated by women… inside the castle there are two special museums dedicated to the Baroness Katharina Elisabeth von Wechsler who took control of the castle in the 17th century, and another museum on witches and sorcery (!).
Now, the Zotter factory is one of the best places I’ve ever visited… ever. This is a place I’ll remember for years to come. Zotter is a very famous chocolate brand from Austria. In this factory, you’ll discover how the chocolate is made but that’s not important. What you’ll enjoy the most is that you can take a tour around the factory and EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE YOU WANT. You read that correctly, you can taste Tequila chocolate, Raspberry chocolate, have chocolate milk, and eat chocolate popcorn. I’ll accept that it might seem a bit overpriced, but trust me… it’s worth every Euro!
The capital of Austria and the biggest city there. I’d already written about Vienna and its museums. I’m a fan of museums but if you’re not, Vienna will still be a city you’ll want to visit! Just imagine visiting the city where people like Marie Antoinette, Christoph Waltz, Peter Schubert, or Erwin Schrödinger were born. Just wow.
It is one of the most culturally vibrant cities I’ve ever been to. Also, public transportation is super easy to use and you can buy a 72-hour pass for any kind of transportation in the city (check also the QUEER City Pass that includes the use of public transportation and free entrance to several attractions).
There are a lot of restaurants and bars in the Danube from Spittelau to Franzensbrücke so it’s a good idea to walk along the canal to find something interesting, you’ll also see a lot of graffitis. Other places you have to visit are the Schönbrunn Palace (which is sometimes called the Versailles of Vienna), the Schönbrunn Zoo that is just the best zoo I’ve ever been to, Belvedere Palace, The Hofburg, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
You’ll want to go to Vienna again!
10) Lake Neusiedl
Lake Neusiedl is in the border with Hungary and it’s the largest endorheic lake in Europe. What that means (because I know you’re asking yourself that) is that it retains water and there’s no outflow to rivers or oceans. Basically, it’s like a big puddle so it’s not too steep (the deepest part of the lake is just 1.75 m) and not as clear as other lakes in Austria. But it doesn’t matter, it’s as beautiful as you can imagine. Also, it’s a wine region *clink!* so you should visit Breitenbrunn and Purbach am See, wine villages, to know more about it.
Around the lake, you can visit different towns and places to fully enjoy your experience. Visit Podersdorf to see for yourself the lighthouse from above. Go to the National Park Neusiedler See Seewinkel to go bird-watching among a steppe nature reserve with salt ponds, and meadows. And, if you want some adrenaline, visit Familypark Neusiedlersee that has rides, a petting zoo, a fairytale forest, and places to eat.