Austria — Attractions
Austria offers a wonderful blend of outdoor and natural attractions, with most historic sights located in the cities. Start by visiting one of the major cities, such as Vienna or Salzburg, and then head into the Alps or one of the many lake areas to enjoy the country’s natural beauty. The best thing about visiting Austria is that there are exciting activities to be enjoyed both during summer and winter, which makes it a perfect year-round destination.
Spanish Riding School (Spanische Reitschule)
Nothing exudes poise and strength as elegantly as the beautiful white Lipizzaner horses at the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna. With a history of over 440 years, the school is the best place in the country to witness riders in their impeccable outfits, personifying the height of classical riding and horsemanship. Watching the daily morning exercise is beautiful and peaceful experience, and one of the most authentic attractions in Austria. See the horses perform incredible moves of strength and agility, especially the famous Courbette jumping moves. This is a popular venue for both visitors and locals, so make sure to buy tickets well in advance. Sometimes it is possible to have a tour of the stables so it’s worth inquiring when booking tickets.
Address: Spanische Reitschule, Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Vienna
This incredible Rococo-style palace is considered to be one of the most important architectural structures in Austria. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Schönbrunn Palace is an absolute must-visit for any visitor to Austria. The palace dates back to the 16th century and although the building itself is incredibly beautiful, the gardens are considered to be just as impressive. Try to find a way through the incredible hedge maze, visit the botanical garden, or explore the Roman ruins. With so much to see at Schönbrunn, visitors are encouraged to buy combination tickets which allow access to all the attractions in and around the palace.
Address: Schönbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse 47, 1130 Vienna
Located in Vienna, this museum houses what is considered to be one of the world’s most important collections that showcases the history of art. Established by Emperor Franz Joseph, the museum holds an incredible collection of artifacts from the Habsburg dynasty with treasures dating from the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance and the Baroque period. Rare and unexpected items are also on display, including a ‘unicorn horn’ (sadly it actually belongs to a narwhal) and ostrich eggs. The museum also has a changing exhibition of modern art for those more into pop culture.
Address: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Burgring 5, 1010 Vienna
The famous Austrian crystal company, Swarovski, has a beautiful underground museum dedicated to the history of crystals and the company’s story. Enter the subterranean wonderland beneath a huge head sprouting a waterfall from its mouth, which during the winter months is completely frozen! Beautifully laid out, the crystals on display shine and sparkle in a perfect rainbow of color and some of the most impressive and ostentatious artifacts and jewelry pieces are set out to be admired. An on-site store allows visitors to purchase some of these beautiful pieces for a great souvenir. This is a great destination for both children and adults, especially in inclement weather.
Address: Swarovski Kristallwelten, Kristallweltenstrasse 1, 6112 Wattens
Considered to be the oldest village in Austria, Hallstatt is probably the quintessential Alpine village. Nestled along the Hallstättersee and surrounded by the Dachstein mountains, this is a picture-postcard countryside escape. Arriving at Hallstatt by train is probably the most dramatic way to get here, as the train station is located on the opposite side of the lake, and visitors have to take a ferry upon disembarking. A visit to the Salzwelten is a must to understand how salt was mined in the olden days as the area’s wealth grew entirely from the salt industry, with deep salt mines located nearby.
Address: Hallstatt Tourist Office, Seestrasse 169, 4830 Hallstatt
Austria might not be known internationally as a wine-producing country, but Europeans have long cherished Austrian wines. One city that has grown through the wine trade is Retz. Located in the Weinviertel (Wine Quarter), the city is famous for its subterranean cellar tunnels, which are estimated at 14 miles in length and make up one of the largest cellar networks in Europe. Make sure to take the multi-media tour to learn about the history of the wine trade, and enjoy a tasting. The city is also known for its picturesque market square and town hall so spend the day perusing the goods.
Address: Retz Tourist Office, Hauptplatz 30, 2070 Retz
The beautiful Baroque-style Schloss Mirabell is a gem in Salzburg’s line-up of historic buildings. Dating back to 1606, the palace was built by Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau for his lover; and today, is home to the Salzburg mayoral offices. The highlight of the palace is the romantic ballroom, a popular venue for weddings and concerts. The gardens of Schoss Mirabell are also incredible and have been fully restored to their original beauty. Not to be missed is the Dwarf Garden, the many mythological statues, and the Pergola walkway.
Address: Salzburg Tourist Office, Mozartplatz 5, 5020 Salzburg
Innsbruck’s leading tourist attraction and iconic symbol is the famous Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl). Built in 1500 on the commission of Emperor Maximilian I, it is actually the roof of a balcony. Covered with 2,657 gilded copper tiles, it literally glitters in the sunlight. The building used to be the residence of Friedrich IV, but today houses the Alpine Convention’s offices. The Goldenes Dachl Museum showcases the history of the building and the life of Emperor Maximilian I.
Address: Goldenes Dachl Museum, Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse 15, 6020 Innsbruck
If only visiting one of the natural attractions in Austria, it should be the Eisriesenwelten in Werfen. The 30 miles of labyrinth-like underground ice caves is simply mind-blowing. It is considered to be one of the largest ice cave complexes in the world and even during the hot summer months, can be cold inside the underground lair. Strap on a headlamp and see the stalactites and many wonders for yourself during this 1 hour, 30 minute tour. The caves are open to visitors who should wear hiking shoes and warm clothes, between May and October.
Address: Eisriesenwelt Werfen, Eishöhlenstrasse 30, 5450 Werfen