7 Reasons to Travel to Austria For Your Next Vacation

7 Reasons Why We Always Look Forward to Austria & Why You Should Too!

We’ve got Austria on our minds.

Image credit: WienTourismus/Gregor Hofbauer

Ask anyone who has travelled to Austria and they would surely tell you that it’s unlike any other. Granted, that might seem to be an overused phrase to describe most destinations; but when it comes to this small European gem, it rings especially true. 

For one, walking around the cities and towns is bound to make you feel like you’ve landed on a magical land, far away from everything. Surely, there must be a reason why it never ceases to spark the imagination of travellers over the centuries! And mind you — that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, without further ado, here are the top reasons why we’d love to travel to Austria in the near future! 

But before all else, you might want to watch the video below first. It’s quite the soothing type of travel inspiration, if you’d ask us! 

1. These imperial palaces and castles are the stuff of which fairytales are made

Hochosterwitz Castle in Carinthia region. | Image credit: Sergey Nivokov via CanvaPro

If you didn’t visit at least one Austrian palace or castle, then did you really travel to Austria at all? 

Legend has it that Schloss Ort was built by a giant who wanted to prove his love for a mermaid inhabiting the lake. | Image credit: Andrey Khrobostov via CanvaPro

Venture into the countryside for castles that let you travel back to medieval times. First up is the Burg Kreuzenstein, arguably the most photogenic in all the land; what with its medieval towers, huge drawbridge, and hilltop location overlooking a lush valley. Another contender would be the Schloss Ort, an island fortress on Traunsee lake. And then there’s Hochosterwitz Castle: one of the oldest in Europe that stands at the top of dolomite rock and protected by 14 fortified gates! 

travel to Austria

Did you know that the ‘Schönbrunn’ in Schönbrunn Palace translates to ‘beautiful spring’? | Image credit: sborisov via CanvaPro

Meanwhile, the imperial palaces are the very definition of grandeur. Think opulent interiors, magnificent Baroque architecture, and perfectly manicured lawns — all while showcasing the country’s rich culture and remarkable history! When in Vienna, you can’t miss the Schönbrunn Palace, A.K.A. the most frequented Austria tourist spot. This 1,440-room Baroque complex served as the summer home of the Habsburg monarchs. 

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The Hofburg Palace complex stands right at the centre of Vienna. | Image credit: Österreich Werbung / Andreas Tischler

Another must-see is the Hofburg Palace, which you’ll find right in the heart of the capital. Formerly the powerhouse of the Habsburg Empire, it now serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. It has also been expanded many times since the 13th century. Currently, it boasts 18 wings, 19 courtyards… and over 2,600 rooms! 

Image credit: Schloss-Schoenbrunn-Kultur-und-Betriebsges-m-b-H, Severin Wurnig

Not to be outdone, the Schloss Hof boasts absolutely stunning outdoor scenery that reflect the aristocratic tastes of its former owners, Prince Eugene of Savoy and then Maria Theresa. Spanning over 70 hectares, it’s the biggest countryside estate in all of Austria! Oh, and did we mention that you could also rent the place for special occasions — even perhaps, as a wedding venue? (Better start saving up for your future ‘royal’ wedding.)

Also read: 5 Imperial Palaces in Austria to Live Out Your Fairytale Dreams

2. There’s never a shortage of breathtaking natural scenery

The Austrian countryside is filled with soothing sights in the most vivid of azure and verdant hues.

Beyond the dazzling royal abodes, the spectacular landscapes are also one of the top reasons to visit Austria. Think lush valleys, crystal-blue lakes, and Alpine ranges that go as far as the eye could see! 

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The medieval village of Hallstatt.

Let’s start with Dachstein Salzkammergut, a holiday region that’s about a two-hour train ride from the city of Salzburg! Here, you’ll find Austria’s most beautiful lakeside townHallstatt. It boasts colourful medieval houses surrounded by lush salt mountains, making it look straight out of a dream sequence! And if those weren’t enough, there are also salt and ice caves you can explore around the area. 

The Dachstein Mountains and their surrounding valleys. | Image credit: phbcz via CanvaPro

Another must-see in the region would be the Hoher Dachstein, which is your best bet for glacial peaks, winter sports, and panoramic views from high above. Down below, there’s the ever-glistening Lake Gosau, whose waters remain clean and suitable for drinking up to this day! It also has surrounding nature trails where one can enjoy hiking and mountain biking, especially during warmer seasons. Suffice to say, there’s a reason why Dachstein Salzkammergut is a popular destination no matter what time of the year! 

travel to Austria

Lech am Arlberg at night. | Image credit: Axel Flasbarth via CanvaPro

The Arlberg region is another natural paradise that we’re looking forward to for when we can travel to Austria again. Come for the mountain villages dotted with lovely chalets; stay for the exciting outdoor activities that range from skiing and sleigh rides, to river rafting and mountaineering. 

In between excursions, you might also want to enjoy a meal at some of the continent’s highest restaurants, such as the Valluga View in St. Anton and Hotel Bergkristall in Lech. Unparalleled alpine views and top-notch food? Count us in! Speaking of the latter…

3. The traditional cuisine never fails to amaze even the most discerning taste buds

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Wiener Schnitzel with a view of the Austrian Alps. | Image credit: Max2611 via CanvaPro

Food has and always will be an integral part of travelling, no doubt about that. Bonus points if you actually do try out an unfamiliar dish that you end up liking! So, it’s a good thing that Austria boasts a ton of flavourful bites that’ll leave you wanting more. From savoury meat-filled dishes to decadent desserts, you just might discover your next fave food here. 

Wiener Würstel and Tiroler Gröstl | Image credit (L-R): WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud; Österreich Werbung / Grégory Rohart

For iconic Austrian food that you have to try first thing, you can’t go wrong with Wiener Würstel (or Viennese sausage). Another equally iconic dish is Wiener Schnitzel; it’s typically made with boneless pork chops deep-fried to golden perfection and best paired with fried potatoes, sour cream, and onions. Most locals have it for casual lunches, though you can easily find this anywhere from street food stalls to fancy restos! Craving something heavier on carbs? We recommend Tiroler Gröstl, a hearty favourite from the Austrian Alps! This potato bacon hash is rich in butter and onions and has a fried egg on top. 

Sachertorte | Image credit: Astrid Bartl

As for desserts, we’ll admit that we’re never not craving Kaiserschmarrn: fluffy scrambled pancakes with generous dollops of jams and sweet sauces, as well as caramelised dry fruits. Its name translates to ‘the emperor’s mess,’ as it was the staple treat of  Kaiser Franz Joseph I! Other delightful pastries you have to try are Apfelstrudel (apple strudel), Sachertorte (chocolate cake with apricot jam), and Powidltascherl (plum jam turnovers). And in case you were wondering what drink to have with these…

4. Viennese coffee houses make you feel like you have all the time in the world

travel to Austria

With over a 140-year-old history, Café Central has served as the go-to of some of the greatest minds that walked Vienna’s streets. | Image credit: WienTourismus, Christian Stemper

If you think you’ve experienced the best coffee cultures from around the world, wait until you try the one in Vienna! Sure, other cities can boast about the quality of their coffee and/or café scene, but it’s the Vienesse who perfected these as an art form and a way of life. For one thing, their coffee houses and cafés are an institution, so much so that it was officially placed on UNESCO’s list of Austria’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011! 

travel to Austria

Café Frauenhuber is the oldest coffeehouse in Vienna. | Image credit: Österreich Werbung, Harald Eisenberger

Many traditional Viennese coffee houses offer a relaxed, slow-paced atmosphere that encourages you to while away your hours. Some of these — such as Café Central, Café Landtmann, and Café Frauenhuber — have also been around for centuries, and it shows in their old-world ambience. Characterised by elegant vintage interiors, high ceilings, marble furniture, and classical music playing in the background, one might describe these as the ‘city’s public living rooms.’ Here, you’ll find patrons taking their time reading, writing, or conversing with friends over fresh cuppa and pastries. 

Also read: A Cultural Guide To Vienna: History, Music, and Food!

5. Its classical music scene and history remain unrivalled

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Concert at the Wiener Konzerthaus. | Image credit: Wien Tourismus, Peter Rigaud

This country is, after all, responsible for producing some of the finest musical talents the world has ever known! We’re talking about the likes of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss I, Franz Schuber, and more. And as some of you might know, it also became the second home of foreign composers such as Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven. 

travel to Austria

The Vienna State Opera at sunrise. | Image credit: TomasSereda via CanvaPro

Furthermore, Vienna has long been dubbed as the ‘Capital of Classical Music,’ with its abundance of opera houses and concert halls showcasing glorious performances all year ‘round. While most famous musicians that Vienna is associated with weren’t really from here, it didn’t take long for the city to attract talents from Austria and beyond. Thanks to the Habsburg dynasty’s patronage, it became the place for composers to visit, stay, and create. 

The Mozart Monument in Salzburg. | Image credit: Tourismus Salzburg GmbH

Not to be outdone, Salzburg also has something to offer to the travelling music aficionado. It’s your best bet for everything Mozart, given that this is the city where he was born and raised. In fact, you can even go on a Mozart City Tour to know more about the composer’s childhood, visit his houses, and even see the instruments he used! 

In sum, both Vienna and Salzburg have quite the prevailing concert culture. Even when you’re not looking for it, it finds you. And if you’re not quite a classical music fan, you can still bask in other genres, thanks to the many free concerts happening in these cities. 

6. We’d love to see these notable filming locations IRL

travel to Austria

Mirabell Palace and Gardens served as one of the Von Trapp family mansions in The Sound of Music. | Image credit: Tourismus Salzburg GmbH, Günter Breitegger

Not that we’d ever have a shortage of reasons to travel to Austria, but it certainly helps that there are several films — set and/or shot around this country — that we can live vicariously through for now. So, while awaiting your next trip, why not add these on your to-watch list? 

travel to Austria

In Before Sunrise, an American tourist and a French college student roam the streets of Vienna together. | Image credit: Wien Tourismus / Christian Stemper

While it’s not as popular of a cinematic setting as Paris and New York, Vienna proves itself to be an underrated gem in the 1995 cult classic, Before Sunrise. It centres on a star-crossed pair who hopped off a train together and explored Vienna till the break of dawn. Suffice to say, this work is partially a visual love letter to the marvellous capital! 

While exploring Gschwandtanger Meadow, you’ll also get to see the High Werfen Castle as well as alpine peaks. | Image credit: Hiro1775 via CanvaPro

Meanwhile, Salzburg and its surroundings are the main draw for fans of the 1965 movie adaptation of The Sound of Music. In fact, during pre-pandemic times, around 300,000 tourists per year visit this city to join tours of key filming locations; from historical landmarks like the Mirabell Palace and Gardens and Schloss Hellbrunn, to the nearby Gschwandtanger Meadow in Werfen

In the icy heights of Sölden, you can relive most of the action that took place in Spectre.

As for relatively more recent flicks, there’s the 2015 James Bond instalment, Spectre — where some of the action scenes took place in the Austrian Alps! If we’re being specific, filming took place in the ski resort town of Sölden in Tyrol. Another charming town that made an appearance was Altaussee, with the stunning Lake Altaussee taking centre stage (or screen, if you will). 

Of course, these cinematic Austria tourist spots are just a few among many more. Anyway, excuse us while we prepare our popcorn… and possibly watch these in one night! 

Also read: 12 Best Summer Movies to Watch for Travel Inspiration

7. It’s an underrated gem that keeps most of its authenticity

The Vienna City Centre is certainly one of the most beautiful old town districts in the world.

Some might say that Austria is not as popular as other countries in Central Europe — when in fact, it’s actually one of the most visited countries in the world. Nonetheless, Austria does have a wide range of destinations, so tourism is often spread out throughout the whole country; rather than just one city or region having all the attention. 

That said, it holds its ground as a dazzling destination for its relatively off-the-beaten-path quality. For starters, the crowds are fewer and so, visiting most Austrian tourist spots is a breeze! We don’t know about you, but ever since social distancing became the new normal, the allure of less touristy cities has grown significantly.

Hallstatt’s market square is lined with medieval houses in the most vibrant hues.

Apart from that, the country has always been praised for retaining most of its authenticity, where one could still easily breathe and bask in the inner spirit of the place! Yet at the same time, it has endless sights that are uniquely remarkable and never a matter of ‘if you’ve seen one, then you’ve seen them all.’ Somehow, the more Austria tourist spots you visit, the more impressive the next ones are; whether it’s famous landmarks or hidden gems that only locals would tell you about! 

Also read: The Great Austria Adventure: 7 Best Experiences in Vienna for You & Your Family

Yes, it’s truly no wonder that we’re quite excited to travel to Austria again! With all these reasons we talked about, how could you not? As the famous Billy Joel song goes, “Vienna waits for you.” 

Oh, and in case you’d wish to get started pronto on your Austria itinerary (because why not, right?), you can find our top recommendations and travel guides here. And on that note — see you there soon? 

For more information, please visit Austrian National Tourist Office’s official website and Facebook page.

Brought to you by Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO).

Facebook image credit: RudyBalasko via CanvaPro

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.