With a well-deserved reputation as one of the most scenic destinations in Europe, Austria is defined by its epic chocolate-box beauty, comprising spectacular mountains, deep verdant valleys and flower-strewn alpine meadows. On the other side of the coin, the exquisite Baroque architecture and classical culture of its main cities Vienna, Innsbruck and Salzburg create the perfect marriage of tradition and contemporary elegance.
Sharing borders with Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the Czech Republic, much of this land-locked central European country is mountainous, most notably with the presence of the iconic Alps. Europe’s longest and most famous river, the Danube, passes through Austria on its way to the Black Sea, including through Vienna.
Aside from its spectacular natural beauty, the country is also well known for its great composers, artists and musicians, which include familiar names like Gustav Klimt, Mozart, Haydn and Johan Strauss.
What to Do
Austria is an extremely popular tourist destination, with enviable appeal in both summer and winter months. Providing some of the best skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the Alps, in places like Mayrhofen, Kitzbühel, St Anton and others, the same mountains that are blanketed in snow during the colder months are transformed into crisp-aired, wildflower-strewn Alpine pastures in the summer.
Hiking is an extremely popular pastime in the warmer months, as are climbing, canyoning and white water rafting – with a plethora of opportunities on offer. Magnificent natural sights like Krimmler Ache (home to the country’s highest waterfalls) contrast with the mighty man-made feat of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse road, which leads to Franz-Josefs-Höhe and the reward of some of the most spectacular views in Europe.
The cities of Salzburg and the capital, Vienna, offer a genuine cultural feast. Don’t miss the architectural gems like the Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Belvedere Palace, Hofburg Palace and Spanish riding School in Vienna, and the Altstadt in Salzburg. Salzburg is also, of course, renowned as Mozart’s birthplace and the location for the enduring cinematic favourite, the Sound of Music.
While the food here is most often associated with heavy meat and cheese based dishes, there’s much more to the cuisine than that, with plenty of regional and contemporary variations. But the food focuses heavily on fresh seasonal produce served up in a hearty and flavoursome way. There are, of course, certain dishes that are on the must-try list.
The famous Wiener Schnitzel is top of the list, made with a cutlet of veal and pan fried – you can guarantee that it’ll be a very different version to the one you get in your supermarket freezer! Goulash is another iconic Austrian dish, borrowed from its neighbour Hungary but adapted to become a local tradition, while Erdäpfelsalat is their version of potato salad, only so much more delicious.
For the sweet tooth, it’s hard to resist the mouth-watering local speciality apfelstrudel (which doesn’t really need translating), and also the national symbol of the country, the Sachertorte, a rich and very more-ish chocolate cake.
Austria’s temperate alpine climate means lovely warm summers with cool evenings, and very cold winters with temperatures quite often dropping into the sub-zero range. Winter is from December through March, with the coldest month being January, while in summer the average maximum temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius. April and November tend to have the most rainfall although it does rain throughout the year.
How to Get There
Getting to Austria from the UK is easy, with multiple airlines offering direct flights to various airports including Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna. Flights take on average just two hours and, once you land, Shuttle Direct’s range of shared and private transfer services mean if you pre-book your transport before you leave home, you’ll be met by a driver and whisked to your accommodation in no time.
Travelling to Austria? Don’t Miss…
- One of the country’s top attractions, the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is a Rococo and Baroque masterpiece. Built as the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, the interiors are no less impressive than the outside, with staggeringly ornate furnishings and décor throughout its 1,441 rooms.
- Innsbruck is a stunning city set against the dramatic backdrop of the Alps and a superb base for outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing and, of course, skiing. It’s also known for its beautiful architecture (particularly the area of the Altstadt) and, as capital of the Tyrol, its delicious cuisine.
- Speaking of food, Graz is a foodie’s absolute dream destination. Quite often overlooked for its more glamorous counterparts Salzburg and Vienna, Graz is the country’s second largest city. It has its own distinctive charm, with fabulous food and wine and gorgeous Renaissance architecture to be explored. Slower and more laidback than Vienna, Graz is a less-visited authentic gem that really shouldn’t be missed.
About Shuttle Direct
If you’re looking to start your holiday off in the best way possible, make a simple online pre-booking with Shuttle Direct. We’ve got a reputation as the best in the business and our range of shared and private airport transfers means that no matter where you need to go and whatever your budget, a professional local driver will be waiting to meet you when you land.