What to see in Austria: cities, regions, attractions and recommended itineraries

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Austria is a country able to satisfy a varied type of tourists: from art and architecture lovers to nature lovers; from the tireless sportsmen, to the dreamers, who find the classic fairytale landscapes in the small villages of Carinthia and Tyrol. Furthermore, for this very reason, Austria attracts visitors all year round, since for every season, it offers the right proposal of activities. Also, above all from Italy, it is very convenient to reach the Austrian country, either by car, simply crossing the border, or by train or plane, especially to large cities.

So let's find out together what to see in Austria: cities, regions, attractions and recommended itineraries!


  1. The main tourist regions
  2. Major cities of Austria
  3. 10 things to see: Austria's most important sights
  4. The main routes in Austria
  5. Where it is
  6. Travel informed: useful information
  7. What to do in Austria: activities, excursions and tours
  8. User questions and comments

The main tourist regions

Austria, despite being a small state, boasts nine regions. However, only six of these are known, thanks to the big cities and the itineraries most often proposed. Furthermore, each of them is distinguished from the others by the characteristics of its tourist offer, which makes Austria a country suitable for every need.

1 - Laender of Vienna

The Laender of Vienna is of course the most important region since it hosts the country's capital and is the only one to have a mayor.

Vienna is a city that lends itself to be visited all year round, because its history and its architecture are of such importance that they cannot be relegated to a single seasonality. Of course, as often happens, it is in the Christmas period that the city expresses its maximum splendor, thanks to the beautiful decorations and the Christmas markets.

  • Reference airports: Flughafen Wien (VIE)
  • Main towns: Vienna (capital)
  • Main attractions: St. Stephen's Cathedral, Hofburg, Schonnbrunn Castle, Prater, Town Hall, Vienna Opera
  • Best time: Vienna lends itself to being visited all year round thanks to the wide range of activities on offer - find out more
  • Getting around: to be able to move around the city of Vienna it is advisable to use the underground - find out more

2 - Salzburger Land

On the one hand, Salzburg is naturally known for its capital, namely Salzburg, which in addition to being a beautiful city full of important monuments, such as Hohensalzburg Castle, is also imbued with the history of the composer Mozart: his birthplace, the very famous marzipan balls, the numerous annual festivals. Here, everything speaks of him. If you plan to stay a few days, we recommend purchasing the Salzburg Card!

But around this bustling city a region rich in nature extends, thanks to the Grossglockner mountain and all the itineraries that wind around it. Not to be missed the quaint town of Hallstatt, which can also be visited thanks to various half-day tours departing from Salzburg, transport included.

  • Reference airports: Flughafen Salzburg (SZG)
  • Main towns: Salzburg (capital), Bad Gastein
  • Main attractions: Salzburg Old Town, Salzburg Salt Mines, Bad Gastein Ski Area, Grossglockner Nature Trail, Liechtenstein Gorge, Eisriesenwelt Cave
  • Best time: all year round, thanks to the variety of attractions, both natural and cultural
  • Getting around: within the city of Salzburg, it is possible to move around on foot or by trolleybus. To reach the nearby towns it is advisable to take the bus or, even more, the car to be able to travel along the asphalted nature trails

3 - Tyrol

Tyrol is the most widely known region, primarily because it is one of them bordering Italy, therefore easily accessible. In addition, its typical houses adorned with flowers, represent the typical landscape of Austria.

However, the Tyrol is very popular also for the numerous attractions, available all year round: from the enchanting cities such as Innsbruck and Lienz, to the very long ski slopes, which in the summer turn into very popular trekking routes, for nature lovers and more.

  • Reference airports: Flughafen Innsbruck (INN)
  • Main towns: Innsbruck (capital), Kitzbuehel, Lienz, Wattens, Kufstein
  • Main attractions: Innsbruck Golden Roof, Swarovski Kristallwelten, Ambras Castle, Tratzberg Castle, Lienz Old Town, Kitzbuehel Ski Area
  • Best time: all the year. In summer for city tours and nature hikes, in winter for alpine sports and for enjoying Innsbruck's Christmas markets - find out more
  • Getting around: in the cities you can easily move on foot, moreover the ski slopes are always well connected by bus service. However, the car remains the best way to reach all locations, even the highest ones

4 - Carinthia

Probably, Carinthia could also be called the Lakes Region since to it belong the most important lakes of Austria, including Millstätter See and Worthersee. And it is precisely around these lakes that numerous activities develop, such as nature trails or water sports.

But also the simple walks and shopping in the main cities are very often sought attractions: Klagenfurt, Villach, as well as Spittal, in fact, attract numerous visitors for their center and their monuments.

  • Reference airports: Klagenfurt Airport (KLU)
  • Main towns: Klagenfurt (main town), Villach, Spittal, Rennweg am Katschberg, Velden
  • Main attractions: Klagenfurt old town, Worthersee lake, Nockalmstrasse, Villach spa, Millstattersee lake, Hochosterwitz castle
  • Best time: all the year. From spring to autumn, to be able to take the nature trails with a favorable climate, in winter for the numerous ski resorts in the surroundings and the Christmas markets of the cities - find out more
  • Getting around: within the cities you can easily move on foot. For the different locations, the best way to get around is the bus, the less recommended are the trains. The rental car is always a winning solution

5 - Styria

Styria is the most mountainous region of Austria and its landscape is dominated by woods and hills that blend with the surrounding cities.

Graz is its capitalIn addition to boasting a fascinating medieval-style historic center, it is also a very modern creative center. In addition, it is also popular for his proximity to the spa, which make it a very trendy and sought after destination.

But Styria is suggestive also for its ancient buildings, such as Admont Abbey and Steinz Castle, a former hunting lodge.

  • Reference airports: Flughafen Graz (GRZ)
  • Main towns: Graz (capital), Admont, Riedersburg
  • Main attractions: Graz Old Town, Eggenberg Palace, Dachstein Mountain, Admont Abbey, Mariazell Basilica, Steinz Castle, Riedersburg Castle.
  • Best time: all year for the proposed activities. Spring and summer for visits to the cities and trekkin excursions, in autumn for the landscape is tinged with the colors of the foliage in the woods, in winter for winter sports
  • Getting around: in cities mainly on foot, between the different locations with the dense integrated transport network, consisting of regional trains and buses, both day and night

6 - Upper Austria

Thanks to its striking views, Upper Austria is one of the most romantic regions in the country. Just think of its most iconic town, namely Hallstatt, which overlooks the lake of the same name: this town is visited throughout the year, by over 30.000 visitors a day and its panorama is the most photographed in the region. Due to its proximity to Salzburg, several half-day tours of the resort are organized every day!

The same goes for Ort Castle, on Lake Traun, which represents a small jewel on a stretch of water. Of course, it is also highly visited the capital Linz, which in the past also had the honor of hosting the composer Mozart.

  • Reference airports: Flughafen Linz - Hörsching (LNZ)
  • Main towns: Linz (capital), Hallstatt, Bad Ischl
  • Main attractions: Linz Old Town, Hallstatt Lake, Ort Castle, St. Florian Monastery, Kaiservilla Bad Ischl
  • Best time: in summer, to be able to appreciate the landscapes, even along scenic trails. In winter there are numerous ski resorts for winter sports
  • Getting around: in the individual cities easily on foot, with the Postbus and bus rides of the Upper Austrian Transport Consortium. A rental car is also recommended for greater autonomy

Major cities of Austria

  1. Vienna: the capital of Austria and the most visited imperial city, which tells the life of Princess Sissi and her melancholy in every corner. Enchanting at Christmas time - discover the Vienna Guide
  2. Salzburg: a city full of narrow streets and music, famous for being the birthplace of the composer Mozart. In its square you can breathe vitality and joy, as if it were a continuous party
  3. Innsbruck: capital of Tyrol and destination for many Italians, due to its proximity to the border. It can be visited all year round, thanks to its small but elegant old town, and the natural attractions in the surroundings - discover the Innsbruck Guide
  4. Klagenfurt: it is the capital of Carinthia and its center, between historical and modern, is always colorful and lively. In the immediate vicinity, Lake Worthersee, an unmissable attraction for those who love nature and relaxation
  5. Villach: it is the gateway to Carinthia, a city not far from the Italian border and therefore very popular and popular, even for a weekend. Also ideal for a short spa stay
  6. Graz: A city also considered a university, thanks to its numerous locations, but which also boasts one of the best preserved historic centers in Europe and for this reason included among the Unesco World Heritage
  7. Linz: the city that gave birth to Kepler who, right here, gave birth to the laws on the movement of the planets. Among its attractions, it boasts a Frederick's castle, a large square and an elegant shopping street
  8. Kitzbuehel: Alpine city belonging to the Tyrol region, not far from Innsbruck. It is much loved and appreciated by ski and winter sports enthusiasts, even if it is also frequented for its medieval old town, very pretty
  9. Hallstatt: it is probably the most romantic city in Austria, overlooking the lake of the same name. Completely snow-covered in winter, bright in summer, it is the most representative photo of its region. It can also be visited with tours from Salzburg and tours from Vienna
  10. Wattens: A few kilometers from Innsbruck, Wattens is usually visited because it hosts the famous KristallWelten, or the Crystal World created by Swarovski, full of brilliant jewels and sculptures. It is recommended to purchase the entrance ticket online given the large turnout

10 things to see: Austria's most important sights

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  1. Schönbrunn Palace: famous imperial palace of Vienna, it was the seat of the imperial house of Habsburg. The Imperial Palace complex contains a vast garden and the large building that was the seat of the Hapsburg Empire - more info
  2. Grossglockner High Alpine Road: one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in Europe, near Salzburg, offers hikers thrills and spectacular views of the Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria
  3. The Swarovski Crystal World of Innsbruck: Not far from the capital of Tyrol, in Wattens, an impressive world made only of Swarovski crystals with gardens, fountains, play areas for children
  4. Nock road and Villach thermal baths: in Carinthia, you can decide whether to dedicate yourself to nature, along the Nock road, which leads to the discovery of mountain huts and glaciers, or relax, perhaps at the Villach spa, after a walk in the center
  5. Lake Worthersee: a few kilometers from Klagenfurt is Lake Worthersee, ideal for relaxing walks and sporting activities
  6. Castles of Tyrol: even if they are never majestic, the castles of Tyrol are very impressive and worth a visit. Among the most popular, the Ambras castle, perched on a small mountain and surrounded by a small but beautiful garden, and the Tratzberg castle, completely immersed in the woods
  7. Linz and Hallstatt: after a day spent in the beautiful historic center of Linz, characterized by the castle of Frederick III, we move to the enchanting city of Hallstatt, which overlooks the lake of the same name, creating a postcard show
  8. Salzgkammerkut and Traun lake: the Salzgkammerkut is a tourist area that includes several villages and nature trails, including the climb to the Schafberg peak. Not far away, there is also the Traun lake, on which stands a small but spectacular castle, the Ort castle
  9. Graz and Mount Dachstein: the medieval city of Graz, very young thanks to its six universities, boasts a historic center protected by UNESCO. Furthermore, in its vicinity, it is possible to walk nature trails on the Dachstein mountain
  10. Carinthian lakes and its elegant centers: not only Lake Worthersee, near Klagenfurt, but also the small lakes of Millstatt and Velden which, in addition to providing the possibility of numerous bathing and sports activities, are surrounded by elegant cities in which to shop, such as Spittal and , indeed, Velden

The main routes in Austria

Austria is a very diverse country, for this reason, the itineraries can be very different from each other, truly satisfying all types of travelers, from those who love art and culture, from those who want to experience a holiday full of sport and adrenaline, up to families with children

  1. The big cities: a tour between the 2 main cities of Austria, Vienna and Salzburg. At least 5 nights are recommended (3 in Vienna, 2 in Salzburg, train connections). The tour is dedicated to Imperial Palaces and castles with beautiful gardens, characterized by the strong presence of their illustrious characters: Princess Sissi and the composer Mozart.
  2. Christmas markets: it is the moment of the year when Austria lives its maximum splendor. In addition to the big cities (Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck), we suggest making stops in Klagenfurt and Graz. The two cities are connected by direct train (2 h), recommended minimum time 5 nights
  3. The best of nature: in the summer Carinthia and Salzburgerland are tinged with green and lovers of nature and summer sports can find mountain trails and various activities. We recommend the car and at least 5 nights stay. Base towns Rennweg am Katschberg, Spittal an der Drau or Bad Gastein
  4. Romantic and suggestive Austria: in addition to Vienna and Salzburg, this itinerary includes a stop in two very small and often little mentioned villages. These are Linz, the capital of Upper Austria and Hallstatt, which overlooks the lake of the same name. Car recommended and at least 6 days
  5. All sport: Alpine sports are one of Austria's greatest attractions. The region most frequented by ski enthusiasts is Tyrol, both for its proximity to Italy, and for the famous Kitzbuehel ski area. A week in the resort is the minimum, a car is recommended to get around

Where it is

Austria it is located in the so-called Mitteleuropa, i.e. Central Europe. From Friuli Venezia Giulia and Alto Adige it is possible to reach Austria directly by simply crossing the border. Additionally, Austria borders Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Hungary.

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 8.902.600
  • Capital: Vienna
  • Languages: Austrian German
  • Local currency: euro (€)
  • Weather: mainly alpine, with average temperatures around 15 ° - find out more
  • What to do in Austria: activities, excursions and tours

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