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Raise your right hand if you love road trips. Raise the other one if you’re passionate about winter sports. Raise both if you’re a nature lover and an adventure seeker. At this moment, even if you’re raising only one hand, we have the perfect holiday destination for you – Austria. Located in Central Europe, Austria combines nature, adventure and history like no other country in the world. With alpine mountains, outdoor activities and picture-perfect villages, the landlocked country of Austria is one of the must-visit locations on the planet.
Austria’s capital Vienna – located in the country’s north-east region – is popularly known as the city of music because of its rich musical heritage. It is city of modern architecture and coffee-house culture, majestic Imperial palaces and Baroque streetscapes. The former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers – Hofburg – is a highlight of the city’s historical architecture. Today, it servers as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. This 13th-century palace, located in the heart of Vienna, is home to a few good museums as well. Schonbrunn Palace – a UNESCO world heritage site, is another of Vienna’s major attractions, where you can explore 40 out of a mind-boggling 1441 rooms. Apart from majestic palaces, the city has quite a few museums as well – Kunsthistorisches Museum being one of the best, where you will find works of some of Europe’s best painters, sculptors and artisans. Then there’s MuseumsQuartier – one of the largest districts for contemporary art and culture in the world. Spread over 90,000 square meters, entry to the site is open around the clock and free; without any gates or barriers. Enjoy an opera or ballet show at Vienna State Opera (Staatsoper) and go up to the top of Danube Tower, for a stunning 360-degree view of Vienna.
Located about 100 kilometres northwest of Vienna, Wachau Valley – a UNESCO world heritage site – is dotted with undulating hills, vineyards and fortresses. The nearby city of Melk is known for Melk Abbey (also known as Stift Melk) – an 11th-century hilltop monastery. There are over a dozen castles and numerous historical sites, within a few kilometers of the city. Austria’s second-largest city – Graz is another medieval city with Renaissance courtyards and baroque palaces, and offers a lively nightlife.
The Salzkammergut region in the Austrian Alps, has some of Austria’s best alpine and lakeside views. The picturesque village of Hallstatt – situated on the western shore of its namesake lake – is the crown jewel of this region. One of the oldest still inhabited settlement in Europe, this ancient salt-mine village has 16th-century alpine houses and alleyways and a mountainous backdrop. Overlooking Lake Wolfgangsee, Saint Wolfgang im Salzkammergut is another charming town in the area. While the town can feel crowded at daytime, you will find it quite peaceful for an evening walk. The town’s main claim to fame is its 14th-century church. Nearby, bordering Germany, Salzburg is a historic city and the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – a renowned music composer in Austria. Salzburg offers numerous historic sites and monuments including the 11th-century hilltop fortress Hohensalzburg. It also hosts the annual Salzburg Festival – dedicated to music and drama, every summer. Located about 90km south of Salzburg, Zell am See is a picturesque lakeside town and the perfect place to start a scenic road-trip on Grossglockner Road – the highest surfaced mountain pass road in Austria. Kitzbuhel is one of Austria’s greatest winter resort towns. This skiing paradise is located approximately 55km northwest of Zell am See. However, for the best winter-sports experience, visit Innsbruck – a picture-perfect city with the perfect blending of winter sports, historical elements and natural beauty. This is where the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics and 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics took place.
Austria’s natural beauty is one of its biggest draws. The country is home to the largest accessible ice caves in the world – Eisriesenwelt. Exploring the blue-hued cave makes you feel like you have entered the world of Narnia! The 380 meter high Krimml Waterfalls (also known as Krimmler Wasserfalle), Austria’s highest waterfall is another natural landmark and one of the most visited attractions in the country.
It is impossible to describe Austria’s beauty in limited words. Plan a trip to this amazing country today and experience one of the gems of Central Europe.
Austria is home to the largest accessible ice caves in the world – Eisriesenwelt.