Are you planning a trip to the home of the Sound of Music? When planning, it might be hard to whittle down which places you should truly spend time in. That’s what this list is for – here’s the best places to visit in Austria!
Probably one of the most beautiful places to visit in Austria, Innsbruck is a city that’s based along the banks of the River Inn. I remember strolling the streets of the city and stopping at a college campus with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop, dearly wishing I studied there!
Some of the best things to do in the city of Innsbruck are – The Golden Roof, Town Tower, Court Church, Swarovski Crystal Worlds, and Imperial Palace.
The Town Tower (Stadtturm) is located near the Golden Roof in the Old Town. It’s a Gothic monument with an observation deck from where you can enjoy breathtaking 360 degree views of Innsbruck and the surrounding alpine mountains.
The Court Church, also called Hofkirche, is a Catholic church built by Emperor Ferdinand I in the memory of his grandfather Emperor Maximilian I.
With classic Gothic architecture, the church has larger than life black statues of Emperor Maximilian’s ancestors. The Andreas Hofer tomb and silver chapel are the notable features of this church. Do not miss attending the light and sound show that explains the history of the place.
Also known as Goldenes Dachl, the Golden Roof is the city’s most famous landmark and is located in the Old Town of Innsbruck. It was built in the year 1500, in honour of Emperor Maximilian I’s marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza.
The most striking feature of this attraction is the roof that’s decorated with 2,657 gold-coated copper tiles and shines bright like a sheet of gold in the sunlight.
The Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Swarovski Kristallwelten) is located just 20 km away from Innsbruck in the town of Wattens. The museum was created in 1995 by Austrian artist Franz André Heller.
Crystal works of various national and international artists are displayed in this museum. Besides the brilliant contemporary art, what struck me about the attraction was “the Giant” with the fountain mouth at the entrance. There’s beautiful natural scenery all around the museum and also a cafe and restaurant inside the premises to serve you delicious treats.
The Imperial Palace (Hofburg), built by Archduke Sigmund the Rich, is one of the three most important historical buildings in Austria. It’s a former castle of the Royal Habsburg household.
Its notable features include the Crest Tower, Council Chamber, the Sacred Chapels, and the Vestibule to the Chapel. The interiors, with beautiful paintings, artworks, chandeliers, and furniture mesmerize you and leave you awestruck.
Traveled by Vaibhav Mehta from The Wandering Vegetable
Vienna is my absolute favorite city in all of Austria. It’s located on the eastern border and is truly one of the main highlights when it comes to places to visit in Austria.
Here are some of the best things to do in Vienna!
This is a gorgeous shopping street in Vienna. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s fun to window shop and people watch here. Plus, there are many fun statues throughout the street that make the experience even more fun. The area is also very picturesque.
If you’re looking to see the city from above, look no farther than the church towers at Stephansplatz. This church itself is truly gorgeous, with the roof featuring a whole bunch of mosaic tile pieces. It stands out against any other church in the whole country because of its amazing roof.
One of the best experiences is to climb up one of the towers here. It only costs a few euros. However, it’s not for those who are scared of heights or who are claustrophobic. If you aren’t interested in climbing, you can choose to do the tower that allows you to ride the elevator as well!
When in Vienna, you can’t miss going to the Prater Amusement Park. The park itself has free entry and then you just pay by ride. The true highlight of the park is Wiener Riesenrad, which was once the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Visit and ride at night to avoid waiting in long lines and see the city lit up from above at night.
Vienna is home to tons of great palaces. The must-visits include Schonbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Palace, and Belvedere Palace. I can’t recommend enough that you visit Schonbrunn Palace at night for sunset. A great thing to know about these palaces is that the gardens are completely free to visit!
This is great especially if you’re looking to save money. I personally didn’t go inside any of the palaces but loved exploring the gardens.
Vienna is filled with so many great places to eat. One of the best restaurants/food stands is called Bitzinger. You’ll want to try their kasekrainer wurstel which is amazing. Be sure to also try out schnitzel, apple strudel, and sacher torte, among other great foods!
Traveled by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages
Hallstatt is a picturesque village on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt in the rugged Salzkammergut region of Austria.
The alpine buildings and alleyways spanning back to the 16th century are today home to a menagerie of cafes and shops thanks to this magical towns tourism boom. But far from being ruined, the old town of Hallstatt is improved by tourism, giving it a lively energetic air and plenty of attractions to make visiting worth your while. There is a lot of history here, and learning some Hallstatt facts before you go will help you appreciate this intriguing place even more. Once you are done wandering around and draining your camera better taking post-card worthy shots, there are plenty of other things to do.
Enjoy an incredible waterside meal of traditional Austrian schnitzel and strudel (with a glass of wine – of course). I recommend the Seecafé Frundsberg personally.
Explore the Salt Mine. Salt had been mined from the mountains around Hallstatt and Salzburg for thousands of years, which is why the town and surrounding area are actually UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can only visit the salt mines of Hallstatt on tour, which takes around 70 minutes.
Stop by the Welterbemuseum which has an unrivalled collection of innovations and archaeological finds from the local salt mines and from the Iron Age grave sites near the mines, explaining more in-depth the important Hallstatt culture.
Go to the panoramic high-altitude Treppe ins Nichts viewing platform. There are beautiful views, and the platform is an absolutely remarkable construction in and of itself. You get there by a fun cable car up above a glacier where you enter the platform.
Visit the Hallstatt Lutheran Church, a landmark of Hallstatt built back in 1785 and an important place of pilgrimage in the local area. It also a spooky ossuary that has become a bit of a dark tourism attraction.
Travelled by Jordan from Inspired by Maps
Soll is one of the main ski regions in the Ski Welt Wilder Kaiser and is located underneath the highest point of the ski area. Known for its interconnecting ski runs, Soll is one of the most popular places to ski in Austria.
The ski season is a great reason to visit Soll in Winter. Soll is perfectly stunning any time of year, however, surrounded by snow-covered mountains makes a visit that much more exceptional. The highest point is known as Hohe Salve, which offers black and red ski runs. The cable cars run directly from the town centre, are easily accessible from any of the local hotels and are close to the apres-ski scene as well. Soll also boasts some fantastic night skiing, offers ski lessons, cross country skiing and tobogganing, too.
If you are looking for a remarkable white Christmas in Europe experience, we can highly recommend Soll.
It is probably no surprise that hiking is also a very popular activity to partake in while in Soll. The marvellous mountains make for great outings for adventure and nature lovers. There are over 200 hiking trails accessible from Soll to explore.
A popular outing for families outside winter, is a visit to Hexenwasser, otherwise known as Witches Water, is a theme park which is located on the middle station along the cable car. Here, big and little kids can play and enjoy a range of ponds, creeks and water activities, playgrounds, a petting zoo and restaurants.
Soll village has some great cafes, restaurants, and bars. It is a lovely town to wander around and enjoy a slower pace. While in Soll, regardless of the season, you must visit Saint Peter and Paul church, in the old village; it was built 1764–1768 in a Baroque style.
Traveled by Erin from Love to Travel, Stay-Eat-Do
The historical monuments, royal palaces and castles, charming streets and impressive mountain backdrop, make Salzburg one of the best places to visit in Austria. The entire old town made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws in tons of visitors each year.
Salzburg is all about historical sights and monumental architecture in medieval and baroque style. Strolling around the old town – or Altstadt in German – is one of the main highlights of your visit.
If you’d like to visit one of those stunning buildings, the Mirabell Palace should be your first pick. This seventeenth-century palace is beautiful, but the palace gardens are the reason for your visit. The fountains in the garden might look familiar to you from the famous ‘Do Re Mi’ scene in the classic movie The Sound of Music that mostly sets in Salzburg.
Another beautiful palace in Salzburg is Schloss Hellbrunn, just south of the city. Besides the yellow castles, the castle ground also holds a zoo and a beautiful park.
As already mentioned, The Sound of Music is very much connected with Salzburg. You might not have thought of visiting the local graveyard during your Salzburg visit, but if you’re a The Sound of Music fan you definitely should. The St. Peter’s Graveyard was the film set of the final scene of the movie. It’s also the last resting place of composer Haydn and Mozart’s sister Nannerl. Other relatives of Mozart are buried at the St. Sebastian Graveyard, a beautiful green oasis in Salzburg as well.
One last must-do during your Salzburg visit, is taking the cable car to the summit of Salzburg’s highest mountains for the very best views of the cities. You could hike up as well.
Traveled by Maartje & Sebastiaan from The Orange Backpack
The city of Graz is an amazing destination and easily accessed from all of Austria and northern Slovenia. As Austria’s Culinary Capital of Delights, Graz restaurants, markets, and local food are a big draw for foodies with many food specialties and wine crafted from neighboring South Styria. With its food scene, interesting history and architecture, and small town feel, Graz is an inviting destination.
Things To Do:
Take the train from Hauptplatz in the center of town and visit nearby Schloss Eggenberg, a magnificent 17th century palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Baroque palace is filled with original works of art, murals, and furnishings. It’s 5 kilometers from the center of Graz and the train takes only 15 minutes.
Spend some time in Kaiser-Josef Market, the oldest and largest farmer’s market in Graz. Saturday is the big day for Graz residents to stock-up on fresh produce, bread, and bouquets of seasonal flowers. Have lunch at one of the several cafés in the market, but go early. By ordinance the market must close at 1pm.
Visit in August to enjoy the annual two week long Graz Food Festival featuring dozens of unique events showcasing some of Graz’s most amazing culinary talent and culminating in the Graz Long Table. Enjoy dinners prepared by top Austrian and international chefs, and exciting culinary tours. August is a great time to visit Graz!
Visit the Graz Art Museum, or Kunsthaus Graz, the otherworldly building in the historic center that looks more like a beating heart. The exhibition program is world renowned and specializes in contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day.
Take a dedicated food tour to sample the local culinary scene. As a bonus most tours will take you through parts of historic Old Town and show you hidden wine cellars, lively cafés, and usually end at a great restaurant for dinner. Even if you’ve taken a lot of food tours, you’ll find a tour through Graz unique.
Traveled by Lori from Travlinmad
Unless you are visiting Austria or Vienna in January, there is absolutely no reason why Neusiedler See should not be on your list of places to visit. Candidly referred to as the sea of the Viennese, this lake at the border of Austria and Hungary is famous as an important resting point for migratory birds and an amazing destination for nature lovers. This unique wild habitat in the idyllic Pannonian plane has been declared a part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Bikers from Slovakia, Austria, and Hungary are particularly fascinated by the lake, which can be circled within a day. 1,000 km of cycling routes spread over 40 cycle paths around the lake through this wonderful natural landscape, an offer no cycling enthusiast can resist.
Swimming opportunities abound as well around the lake, alongside offers for sailing experiences or the possibility to take a boat trip. Watersports enthusiasts will be happy to know that the lake is 1,5 meters deep and has perfect wind conditions for surfing.
Families with kids should not miss the Family Park, an ideal mix of rides and water attractions, play areas, and climbing facilities, whereas culture buffs will be enchanted with a stop at the nearby Esterhazy Palace and the Haydn House in the provincial capital Eisenstadt.
The region is also famous for its gourmet cuisine and vigorous soils for wine growing, making it Austria’s second wine-producing region. You can book your gourmet experience at Neusiedler See according to personal preferences, from a visit to a tavern or gourmet restaurant to a tasting with top wine-growers.
Traveled by Anca from Dream Book and Travel
Zell am See is a town in Salzburgerland that is known for its lake, mountain views, and the nearby Kitzsteinhorn glacier. While people flock here for skiing in winter, the town is equally attractive as a summer destination. Here are 5 things you won’t regret doing in Zell am See in summer.
Although Zell am See is close to some of Austria’s highest mountain peaks, there are hundreds of kilometres of easy hiking and cycling trails in the area. A must is to hike or cycle around Lake Zell or to take the wooden walkway up the spectacular Sigmund Thun gorge.
Located on the western shore of Lake Zell, the traditional Austrian village bursts with colour during summer. Flowers hang abundantly from balconies and some buildings have wall paintings reflecting their history. Most of the old town is traffic-free, which makes it pleasant to sit at a street café or wander in and out of souvenir shops.
The Kitzsteinhorn glacier is open for skiing year-round. Even if you don’t ski, it’s worth taking the cable cars to the glacier to play in the snow or take in the views from one of the viewing platforms. The Top of Salzburg platform at 3,029 metres puts you on the highest point in Salzburger Land.
Europe’s highest waterfalls are only 60 km from Zell am See. A day trip here is a great way to see the surrounding countryside. At 380 metres in total, the Krimml Falls is an attraction that keeps on surprising you at every bend of the waterfall hike of 4 km.
The world’s largest ice caves are yours to explore about an hour’s drive from Zell am See towards Salzburg. You won’t only cool off in the caves during summer, but you’ll also get to take Austria’s steepest cable car and take in amazing scenery on your way to the mouth of the caves.
Traveled by Linda from Travel Tyrol
Mondsee is a delightful lakeside village just outside of Salzburg. A popular stop along “The Sound of Music” tour, the town is a brief visit for many, but it is worth giving yourself more time to take in the alluring charm of the village.
The Mondsee Abbey is the primary draw for visitors to the town. The church is prominently situated in the heart of the small town. The yellow church was a filming location in The Sound of Music, although you never actually saw the outside of the church. The scene where Maria and Baron von Trapp get married was filmed inside the Mondsee Abbey.
Beyond touring the ornate church there are plenty of other things to do in Mondsee, Austria. Being situated on a scenic lake, Mondsee is the perfect place to relax on a warm day. Enjoy lunch, a cup of coffee, or a beer at one of the colorful cafes that line the pedestrian streets. Many of the cafes and restaurants offer outdoor seating with incredible views of the abbey and the mountains which tower above the town.
Stroll beneath a canopy of trees as you make your way to the lake, where you can swim in the calm waters or watch the swans and sailboats from the shore. A splash fountain by the lake is the perfect place for kids to cool off and play while parents relax in the grass under a shady tree.
Traveled by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
We were searching for a ski resort in the Alps that would offer both slopes for downhill skiing slopes and tracks for skiing cross-country. St. Anton am Arlberg had good reviews for both and the idyllic small village absolutely charmed us. There were so many fun things to do in St. Anton am Arlberg, making it a perfect place for a winter break.
Downhill skiing is the number one reason for many people to travel to St. Anton am Arlberg in the winter. The slopes and lift system are world-class and the mountain views are breath-taking. Especially intermediate and advanced skiing enthusiasts find a wide variety of slopes. Don’t miss out on the famous after-ski that takes place in the ski-in restaurants – the atmosphere was amazing.
The cross-country skiing tracks were in impeccable condition and offered fabulous scenery to enjoy while getting a full body workout. We would especially recommend Loipe Verwall, a beautiful ski track around the lake Verwall.
Tobogganing is another fun activity for adventure-minded travellers. We found the night tobogganing under the shining stars an incredible experience.
St. Anton am Arlberg offers other fun activities as well, including for example indoor and outdoor swimming pools, skating rink, and sleigh rides. We also enjoyed the variety of restaurants and warmly recommend trying out fondue.
It’s convenient to get to St. Anton as there are good train connections and it’s just a bit over an hour drive from the closest airport in Innsbruck.
Traveled by Pia from Next Stop TBC
Kitzbühel is a small town in Tirol and one of the most famous ski resorts in Austria and beyond. Thanks to a vast ski area and top-notch cableways and lifts, Kitzbühel became long ago one of the upper-class’ favorite mountain resorts. The charming, colorful houses of the town’s center and the many luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, and fashionable après-ski bars further added to its appeal.
However, Kitzbühel is much more than a winter luxury ski resort. There are plenty of things to do, especially if you like outdoors and active travel. Furthermore, it’s a year-round destination, and every season has its own charm.
If you’re an alpine ski lover, Kitzbühel is the place to go. There, you can enjoy 168km of well-kept slopes and state-of-the-art lifts. No worries if you’re not a skier. There are many other fun winter activities you can do: snowshoeing, curling, tobogganing, ice-skating, have a walk on a snow trail. You certainly won’t get bored.
If you’re visiting Kitzbühel in Summer, there’s an abundance of hiking and mountain biking trails. On the way, you can stop at one of the charming mountain huts and taste some of the delicious local food.
The lake is only about 30 minutes walk from Kitzbühel and a perfect option if you’re traveling to Austria with kids. You can stroll around the lake, have a refreshing swim, hire an electric boat, and have a picnic surrounded by beautiful scenery. Schwarzsee is a lovely spot where all the family will have fun.
No matter the season, there’s hardly a more romantic thing to do in Kitzbühel. You can relax and savor the town and its surroundings, lulled by the carriage’s rhythmic pace.
Why not combining active holidays with a bit of relaxing and pampering? In Kitzbühel, you can choose between five beautiful hotels to treat yourself with a day spa. I loved the day spa at Hotel A-Rosa, a large area with wide window panels and views of the mountains. It was a day of pure bliss, between the indoor and outdoor pool, sauna, steam bath and jacuzzi, and the perfect way to enjoy Kitzbühel on a rainy day.
Traveled by Simon from Wild About Travel
Hopfgarten is a small town and ski resort in the Austrian region of Tirol, and it’s part of a larger ski area called SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser which is located in the Brixental valley (Hopfgarten’s full name is actually Hopfgarten im Brixental). While most people will come to Hopfgarten during the winter months to ski or snowboard, just like we did, as with most Austrian ski resorts, there is much to enjoy in Hopfgarten during all seasons.
But first, let’s talk a bit about the winter sports on offer in Hopfgarten. We chose to have a family ski trip in Hopfgarten because it was a relatively short transfer time from Munich airport, had a great family hotel opposite the ski school slopes, and we had access to a vast and varied ski area in SkiWelt. We were only a short walk from the ski lift and although there was childcare at our hotel, we also spotted a daycare in the lift station too. Hopfgarten also has a train station so is easily reached by public transport too. There were several ski schools, a wide range of blue and red slopes, with a few black too, and there’s a route you can do to do a full circle tour of the ski area.
Heading up to the highest peak at Hohe Salve (two gondola lifts from Hopfgarten) is a great thing to do at any time of year so you can enjoy the views of the region from the top. And up at the top, there’s a restaurant where you can enjoy that panorama along with some Tirolean cuisine.
Back down in the valley, Hopfgarten is worth exploring itself. An old market town, it has lots of traditional Alpine architecture to look at, as well as a beautiful church, both inside and out.
In summer, you can enjoy a number of popular Alpine sports like hiking, mountain biking and even paragliding if you’re feeling brave enough. There are hotels for all tastes and budgets in Hopfgarten but whether you are thinking of going to Hopfgarten in winter or summer, if you can seek out one of the wellness hotels that will have top of the range heated pools and spa facilities.
Traveled by Frankie from As the Bird Flies