Austria is a tiny country about the size of Arunachal Pradesh with a population of less than ninety lakhs. But this small land holds within it a repository of some hidden gems- splendid locations that you must explore. You are going to fall in love with this charming country with its great outdoors, rich history, enticing architecture and beautiful villages.
Major attractions and places to visit in Austria
Vienna In Austria
There are numerous things to see in the city with beautiful churches, myriad museums ,inviting cafes and plenty of parks but remember that pretty much the whole of Vienna is wonderful and almost dreamy. So, choose your pick according to your taste and spend more time in appreciating the city .
Having said that ,there are a few attractions, which should not be missed at any cost.
1. Schonbrunn Palace
3. Upper and Lower Belvedere
4. Haus der Musik Museum
5. Vienna State Opera
6. The Hofburg palace
7. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
8. Vienna’s Ringstrasse
9. Natural History Museum
10. Imperial Burial Vault
Melk in Austria
For a memorable day trip from Vienna, take an early morning train to Melk. It’s a quaint little town along the banks of Danube river, with which you will fall in love the moment you get down from the train. There is just one Abbey, recently restored, which falls in the category of tourist interest per se, but this town itself is worth visiting. People here are extremely friendly and polite. Once you reach the village, follow the blue stones on the streets to reach the Abbey. Explore the Abbey and Museum and spend some peaceful time in the gardens outside it. We had had a very enjoyable lunch in the village centre. I would definitely suggest you to do the same before embarking on the return journey.
If you are an adventure enthusiast ,consider making the return journey by bike upto Krem. It’s a three to four hour, gently downhill pedal from Melk to Krem. The stretch is cyclists friendly and takes you through the most scenic route the Wachau Valley. You can bike either on the north side of the river, which has more attractions but heavier traffic or the south side, which is quiet and more rural. Inexpensive ferries which also carry bikes, give you the chance to switch sides midstream.
If you would rather put your feet up and rest while enjoying the scenic view, take a boat along this route. This one hour and forty-five minute boat trip is amongst the best that you can imagine. Then you reach Krem, which is just one hour train ride away from Vienna.
Salzburg in Austria
Salzburg is famous for Mozart and The Sound of Music but the arresting natural beauty of the place gives you enough incentive to visit inspite of the two. It is situated on the Salzach river. This small city wins your heart with its old world charm, spectacular architecture, graceful domes and spires and the enchanting mountains.
Begin the tour of this city with a visit to the Mirabell gardens, drinking in the beauty of startlingly green grass with an array of colourful flowers. This is where many of the scenes of The Sound of music where shot.
Five minute walk from the gardens is Mozart Wohnhaus (Mozart’s Residence). Have a peek at it even if you decide not to go in.
A short walk of about fifteen minutes by one of the many pedestrian bridges will take you to the Old Town of Salzburg. It is a beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage site, a breathtaking experience, with its timeless baroque architecture. Make sure to visit Salzburg Castle, Salzburg Dom Cathedral, Mozartplatz, Residenceplatz, St.Peter’s Monastery. After having enjoyed the colourful shops of Getreidegasse, very famous shopping lane of the city, stroll around the river enjoying the excellent view and some lovely bridges like Mozartsteg bridge or Salzburg’s very own love-lock bridge.
Eiseriesenwelt(Ice Caves),Werfen in Austria
From Salzburg, keep a day to visit the world’s largest ice caves. Forty kilometres away from Salzburg, it’s a mind-blowing attraction to visit.
It is one of the true wonders on earth. A 42 kilometre long stretch of underground world of natural ice sculptures and formations, it’s like nothing you have seen or can imagine.
Hallstatt in Austria
If you are staying at Salzburg ,take a day trip from there to Hallstatt. You can take a train, bus or drive by hired car to this piece of heaven on earth. This fairy tale destination is considered to be the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe. It’s home to about thousand people and is just a small stretch of land between mountains and the lake .The place is so small that you can walk the whole village in under an hour covering about one kilometre .The beauty of this place is that there is nothing to do but just drink in the extraordinary charm of the place. Walk the whole distance, exploring the old city with its mesmerising churches and the city centre. A visit to the graveyard is recommended as all the graves here come with their own flower garden and a view of the lake. Also visit the bone house ,which has an unusual collection of 600 painted skulls and even more bones.
Take a ride on the Hallstatt funicular for aerial view of the village below. A fifteen minute uphill walk from there takes you to the Salt Mine. You may not care much for the mine but the view is worth something.
Innsbruck in Austria
Located in Western Austria ,Innsbruck sits in the heart of the Alps. The surrounding Nordkette mountain ranges have made it grow into the most popular ski town. But it’s not only about winter sports. It has the perfect balance between the natural mountain scenery and vibrant city life. The city is flanked by majestic snow capped mountains and enticing buildings with both renaissance and baroque architecture. The river Inn cuts through the city and has the most stunning river views in the world.
Begin the tour of Innsbruck with a walk through the old city which seems like a trip back in time. The cobblestone streets, quirky shops and effervescent atmosphere is simply amazing. Instead of cars people move on foot or ride bicycles. The city’s most popular sights are the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Hofkirche (Court Church), and the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof).All these are all within walking distance of each other.
From the very heart of the city take the cable cars to go up the mountains and enjoy the stunning view of the sparkling snow covered mountains. Try to walk back ,which will give you ample opportunity to enjoy the scenery. You can see the zoo on way.
Spend some time near the river front. Take plenty of pictures. There is no angle of the city where you can go wrong with the clicks. Apart from its beauty, the city is extra-ordinarily clean and the residents are extremely polite and friendly. A trip to the place feels like stepping into a picture postcard.
Every bit of Austria is beautiful and worth exploring but in the limited time, above mentioned are some of the great locations to visit and create memories, you will cherish for life.
So go ahead and have a great time or as they would say in Austria ‘eine gute Zeit haben’.
An avid traveller who has a passion for reading and writing!