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Austria Travel Guide, Alps Country

January 9, 2015

austria

Today we’ll take a peek at another beautiful European country, namely Austria, also known as Osterreich, which means the Eastern Empire, or Realm. Obviously, Austria is a German speaking country and can be described as a land of contrasts.  Having a population just shy of 8.4 million people and a surface of 83, 871 square kilometers, Austria is bordered by Lichtenstein and Switzerland on its western borders, the Czech Republic and Germany to the North, Hungary and Slovakia on the Eastern border and Italy and Slovenia on the Southern.

We can safely declare that Austria is the capital of winter sports, given its relief and climate, not to mention the spectacular scenery of the Alps Mountains.

While the popular (and correct) perception is that Austria is a mountain country (the alps cover actually 75% of its surface), the country consists actually of a mix of landscapes.  There are numerous provinces both outside and inside of the Alps, like Tyrol, Salzburg, Styria, and Burgenland and of course, Vienna, the capital, that make for magnificently beautiful places for a “professional” tourist.

The climate is temperate-continental, with hot/rainy summers and moderate winters.

Heiligenblut-Austria

As I already told you, Austria can be defined as a country of startling contrasts. Everything is beautiful and you can delight your senses with the majestic scenery of the Alps but in the same time, if you’re afraid of heights, you can admire the green pastures of the Danube Valley.

There are numerous cultural figures that were “spawned” by Austria, let me mention just Mozart, Schubert and Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology.

austria tyrol

What to do, what to see while in Austria?

Well, if you’re the “Aristocratic” type, I have great news for you. Austria harbors about 150 golf courses, which are located in beautiful/historical places, i.e. castles, terraces and alpine valleys.

Let me tell you a thing or two about the awesome-crystal clear lakes of Austria : go visit Mondsee, Traunsee, Hallstattersee, Wolfgangsee or Worthersee. All of them are beautiful places with good water quality and temperature (During summer at least).

The Donau-Auen national park is one of the last and well protected floodplains you can visit in Europe, basically a rain forest that harbors a variety of plant and animal life.

austria salzburg

Naturally, you can hike the Alps, the world-capital of wintersports, all in good fun; you can find everything here, ranging from green pastures to rocks and glaciers. There are also beautiful caves in the Alps, even Ice Caves, like the Eisriesenwelt in Werfen, where you can admire ice sculptures all the year around.

One of the special traits of  Austria  is represented by the floating opera; it’s just like a regular opera performance, but  the one at St Martin Tower is the biggest floating  stage in the whole wide world (and not the only one).

The city of Salzburg harbors the classical music festival, being the birth place of Mozart. While here you can sample the famous Austrian wine, the Riesling, also the Burgenland and Baden varieties.

Cities to consider visiting are Salzburg, Graz (haute couture), Tirol (spectacular views and old castles), Windischgarsten(home of the annual festival->Lederhosen, which features traditional Austrian attire) and Vienna, of course.

Vienna, the capital is the biggest and the most beautiful city in this part of the world, at least according to some people (I can declare myself a huge fan of Vienna).

austria-vienna

Vienna is among world’s favorite tourist destination, thanks to its baroque architecture. Things to see while here are the First District (the most elegant), Salzburg, Altstadt (the old city) that’s home for the Hohensalzburg fortress, a UNESCO heritage site, St Peter’s Abbey, the Domkirche and the old market square (Alter Markt). While Vienna has a solid reputation when it comes to arts, literature and music, the nightlife in Austria and especially the Viennese nightlife is a versatile experience. You’ll find numerous cabarets, night clubs and bars, also cinemas of all kinds.

Austria Food and Drink

Austrian cuisine was heavily influenced by its south east neighbors, and especially the Viennese cuisine, which has a strong flavor of Serbian, Hungarian, Romanian and Dalmatian.

The gourmet culture is at home here and coffee is an art in Austria, just like in Italy and France.

Food Specialties include the famous Austrian Wiener Schnitzel, boiled beef, pancakes, apple strudels and mehlspeisen.

Visa and Passport Requirements

 

Austria is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID. For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

vienna-austria-2

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