Austria is a country of startling contrasts, from the Austrian Alps in the west to the Danube Basin in the east. It is not only famous as one of the world’s premier skiing regions, but also for its historical buildings, world-class museums and galleries, breathtaking scenery, magnificent mountains and established hiking trails. After Vienna, the western provinces of Salzburg, Tirol and Vorarlberg are the most popular tourist regions, although the southern province of Carinthia (bordering Italy and Slovenia) is now very popular owing to its mild climate and attractive lakes.
Austria lends itself to walking, cycling and climbing as well as skiing, with an extensive network of hiking and mountain routes. Skiing facilities can be found in over 600 wintersport resorts between Brand in the west and Semmering in the east. Skiing enthusiasts of all ages and levels have a choice of more than 400 schools and top ski-instructors. It is possible to travel leisurely by boat from Passau on the German border to Vienna; this stretch of the Danube includes some of the finest scenery of its entire course.
The capital city of Austria is Vienna, you will find a whole new world of fun-filled holidays, from blissful relaxation to action-packed adventure.
In winter, Austria adopts the motto “from the slopes to the spas” and becomes a vast winter playground of fun!
Visit one of Austria’s many Christmas markets and sample the mulled wine, ski openings and to explore the magic of snow on and off piste… and Austria’s great value will astound you!
During the summer, enjoy the outdoors, the beautiful scenery of mountains and rivers to wander at your own pace. The cable cars will take you up into the mountains where you can view from a dizzy height.
The Austrian Tyrol is a picture-book region of outstanding beauty, where jagged, snow-capped peaks tower above fast-flowing rivers, green meadows and onion-domed churches. It is a paradise for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, offering excellent downhill and cross-country skiing in winter, and wonderful walking in summer.
Within The Tyrol area no matter what season it is you will always find enjoyment
- Winter – Christmas markets and walks in the snow-covered countryside
- Spring – meadows filled with alpine flowers and a chance to explore the popular city sights in relative peace
- Summer – village festivals and exciting mountain walks
- Autumn – traditional events like the bringing down of the cattle from the mountains, or the local wine and beer festivals.
The Tyrol as a whole measures some 10000 square miles and is covered almost entirely by the Alps (before being named the Tyrol, it was known simply as the ‘land in the mountains’). After World War I, the southern half was granted to Italy, while Austria retained possession of the North and East Tyrol, which boasts some mighty peaks – more than 700 mountains are over 3000 metres high.
Innsbruck – The Tyrolean capital is Innsbruck. It is a compact city, its size restricted by the surrounding mountains, which provide a spectacular backdrop to the medieval old town, with its attractive Gothic and Baroque buildings. The city’s most famous sight, the Goldenes Dachl (‘Golden Roof’).
Neuschwanstein Castle – one of the many historic sites close to the Tyrol.
Schönbrunn Palace / Vienna.
Imperial Palace / Vienna
How to get there
There are many airlines to choose from which fly to the major cities. Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck are popular destinations.
Austrian Airlines (tel. 0845/601-0948 in London; www.austrianair.com) has four daily nonstop flights into Vienna and two daily nonstop flights to Innsbruck from Heathrow.
From the United States, you can fly directly to Vienna on Austrian Airlines (tel. 800/843-0002 in the U.S. and Canada; www.austrianair.com), the national carrier of Austria. There’s nonstop service from New York to Vienna (approximately 9 hr.) and more recently from Washington and Toronto to Vienna.
If you’re coming over from Britain and have arrived at a Channel port in France, by either ferry or the Chunnel, Vienna is about 1,285km (800 miles) and Salzburg is about 1,030km (640 miles). It’s faster to travel on the motorways going through Frankfurt, Cologne, Passau (Germany), and Linz (Austria). One of the main roads into Austria is the Autobahn from Munich via Salzburg to Vienna. From Switzerland, the main arteries are via Feldkirch to Innsbruck (capital of Tyrol), or from Basel via Karlsruhe to Munich and then on that busy Autobahn to either Salzburg or Vienna.
Rail travel within Austria itself is superb, with fast, clean trains taking you just about anywhere in the country and going through some incredibly scenic regions. Train passengers using the Tunnel under the English Channel can go from London to Paris in just 3 hours and then on to Vienna. Le Shuttle transports passengers along the 31-mile journey in just 35 minutes. The train also accommodates passenger cars, charter buses, taxis, and motorcycles through a tunnel from Folkestone, England, to Calais, France. Service is year-round, 24 hours a day.
Because of the excellence of rail service from all parts of the Continent into both Salzburg and Vienna, bus transit into Austria is not especially popular. But there is some limited service.
Osterklang Festival: March
Music Festival Vienna: May – mid-June,
KlangBogen Vienna: annually in July and August
Vienna Music Film Festival: annually in July and August
Salzburg’s Easter Festival: March
Whitsun Baroque Music Festival: May
Salzburg Festival: July – August
Styriarte – Annually June/July in Graz – Every year since 1985, when the styriarte was founded, musicians from all over the world have flocked to Graz to participate in old-fashioned music-making with the much-admired genius loci, Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Lower Austrian Danube Festival – Annually mid/late April, early/mid May
A platform for contemporary performing arts far outside the mainstream. The first part of the festival takes place in the medieval town of Krems during the last weeks of April, the second part during the first week of May in Korneuburg, both, are located on the banks of one of the most celebrated rivers in the world, the Danube. Even though the program is far from the mainstream, the festival takes place along one of the main streams of Europe: the Danube with its long history. It is this seeming contradiction that makes the festival all the more exciting.
Festival of Early Music & Ambras Palace Concerts – July-August – One of the most important festivals of Early Music worldwide. The Innsbruck Festival of Early Music is now in its 29th year: In the past few decades, it became renowned for performing some relatively unknown, but above all transcendently performed works of the Renaissance period.
Eating Dining Shopping
Tyrolean cooking is fairly hearty, with bacon and cured pork featuring in many dishes. Traditional dishes include Gröstl (pan-fried onion, meat and potato), Schlipfkrapfen (ravioli-like parcels filled with meat and/or potato) and Tiroler Knöödel (dumplings with small pieces of ham). Bauernschöpsernes is another regional speciality – lamb seared with fried onion rings, braised and then cooked with red wine and potatoes until tender. Traditionally, it should be followed by doughnuts or stewed apple for dessert, and perhaps a glass of fruit schnapps, too. Many villages produce their own varieties of schnapps, so it is worth asking to try the local brand.
Every town centre has its own shopping areas that cater for tourists.
After the abolition of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Empire of Austria was founded, which was transformed in 1867 into the double-monarchy Austria-Hungary. The empire was split into several independent states in 1918, after the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, with most of the German-speaking parts becoming a republic. (See Treaty of Saint-Germain.) Between 1918 and 1919 it was officially known as the Republic of German Austria (Republik Deutschösterreich). After the Entente powers forbade German Austria to unite with Germany, they also forbade the name, and then it was changed to simply Republic of Austria. The democratic republic lasted until 1933 when the chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß established an autocratic regime oriented towards Italian fascism (Austrofascism).
Austria became part of Germany in 1938 (the Anschluß) amidst popular acclaim. After the defeat of the Axis Powers, the Allies occupied Austria at the end of World War II in Europe until 1955, when the country again became a fully independent republic under the condition that it remained neutral (see also: Austrian State Treaty). In that year it also became a member of the UN. After the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, Austria became increasingly involved in European affairs, and in 1995, Austria joined the European Union, and the Euro monetary system in 1999.
Useful telephone numbers
Emergency Number Tel: 112
Airport Information (Vienna International) Tel: +43-1-7007-0
Train station: Tel: 17 17
Tourist Office: (Vienna) Tel: 21 11 42 22
Holiday rents online:
National Transport Line
24 hour medical service