Austria is one of the best countries to visit in Europe, and for good reason. From epic cities like Vienna to beautiful natural landscapes, there are so many great things to do in Austria. Use this Austria bucket list to plan out your perfect next trip to the country!
Without further ado, here are some of the best things to do in Austria.
Kreuzenstein Castle is one of the most charming Austrian castles outside Vienna. It’s easily reachable from the capital within 30 minutes by train or car. This castle has such a gorgeous fairy-tale design that it rivals many more famous European castles and definitely belongs to an Austrian bucket list.
The interesting fact about this castle is that the building is quite new. The original castle was built in the medieval times but was blown up by a retreating enemy army during the Thirty Years War. The ruin was bought by the ancestors of the current owner and reconstructed in a completely new design during the last decades of the 19th century. The building material used for the castle is historic, gathered from various historic properties from all over Europe, including the furnishings and medieval weapons collection.
Today, this castle is a popular filming location for historic dramas and fantasy series. You might recognize several outdoor spots, such as the moat bridge and inner court in various films.
The tour takes around 50 minutes and will cost you around 10 Euros per person. Come in comfy walking shoes. Close to the castle, there is a falconry show which you can add to your visit as well as a restaurant with outdoor terrace where you can enjoy local food and a glass of cold beer.
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One event not to be missed when travelling in Austria at the end of summer is the Almabtrieb, which is basically a massive welcome home party for cows!
If you’ve ever come across photos of beautiful cows donning bells around their necks and flowers on their heads, you had a glimpse of the Almabtrieb. You see, during the summer months, the cows are led up to the Alps by their farmers to graze the pastures. Then, when autumn rolls around and the temperatures begin to drop, the cows return home to their farms. This event calls for a big celebration that entire towns partake in and it’s a really fun time.
At the festival, you can expect to find Tyrolean bands playing traditional tunes, locals wearing their dirndls and lederhosen, markets selling handcrafted goods ranging from ceramic cow figurines to bottles of schnapps, craft demonstrations like woodcarving and shingle making, and lots of beer and local dishes on offer.
Of course, the main event is the parade through town as the cows make their way to their farms. Visitors can then visit the cows in their pastures and admire their headdresses which are quite varied and made from leather with pine, flowers and giant plumes.
The Almabtrieb is an event that’s held across the Alps, and while I attended the one in Reith im Alpbachtal in Tyrol, there are numerous destinations to choose from. The only cost to attend is your transportation there and whatever food and souvenirs you buy during your visit.
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One of the most enchanting places to visit in Austria is certainly the Wolfgangsee in the Salzkammergut. During a stay can expect a wonderful, clear bathing lake, surrounded by idyllic mountain scenery and magnificent nature. It’s best to visit in summer, but you can also put this jewel on your budget list in winter!
The village of the same name, St. Wolfgang, is definitely worth seeing, with its beautiful alleyways and local restaurants inviting to linger and enjoy. The world-famous hotel “Im Weissen Rössl” is also located directly in this vacation resort! The perfect accommodation for a very special stay on the lake.
Another highlight that you should not miss on any visit to Lake Wolfgang is a boat ride on the nostalgia ship. This steamer travels across the lake and connects the beautiful resorts with each other. During the trip, you can enjoy magnificent views of Lake Wolfgang and experience the region from its most beautiful side.
Beautiful and another must-do is a ride up the Schafberg with the Schafberg Railway. With a rustic locomotive it goes up to the approximately 1734 meters high mountain from where you experience a magnificent view. All in all, the Lake Wolfgangsee is a real highlight that you should definitely see on a trip to Austria!
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Innsbruck is the capital of the Austrian state of Tyrol and with over 300,000 inhabitants THE metropolis in the western part of the country. Right at the foot of imposing mountain peaks, it is beautifully situated on the river Inn – how the name suggests.
From everywhere from the city high mountains can be seen. The most famous ones form the so-called “Nordkette”. The Nordkette, the “Jewel of the Alps”, as it is titled by the local tourist board, is easily accessible from the historic city center of Innsbruck. The Nordkettenbahn takes you via a few stations to an altitude of 2269 meters at the Hafelekarhaus.
From here you can climb further meters on foot. From the Nordkette you have a gigantic view over the Karwendel Nature Park.
In the Karstube of the Hafelekarhaus a rich gastronomic offer awaits you. Eat and drink with a view – rarely is there so much truth in it. Sit back and enjoy the alpine panorama far away from the hectic city center.
On the way down, you can still admire some architectural highlights: The Hungerburg mountain railroad stations were designed by star architect Zaha Hadid and blend impressively into the Alpine landscape with their curved shapes.
In winter Innsbruck is a popular destination not only for hikers but especially for winter sports enthusiasts – for students, use of the ski lifts is even included in the semester ticket.
Innsbruck itself is a nice spot to explore the surrounding region of Western Austria.
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If you are headed to Austria, buying a dirndl or lederhosen in Villach is a must! These traditional outfits were once worn by men, women, and children in the Alpine regions of Austria and Bavaria. Today, locals and visitors love to keep the tradition alive by wearing these festive outfits at celebrations across the Alpine region, such as the popular Oktoberfest in Germany every year.
Although you can buy this festive apparel in many towns in Austria and Germany, Villach offers such an authentic, charming, and small-town feel, unlike larger cities, such as Vienna or Salzburg. It really makes you feel like you are immersed in the traditional culture.
Dirndls and lederhosen at the small authentic shops in Villach can be on the pricier side (expect to pay around 200 euro or more). Though, remember this is no Halloween costume you’re buying off of Amazon. The quality is top-notch and it is something you will [hopefully] keep forever. Villach is located on the southern border of Austria, just north of Italy and Slovenia. It is approximately a 3.5-hour train ride or 2.5-hour drive from major cities, Venice and Salzburg, and about a 4.5-hour train ride or 3.5-hour drive from Vienna.
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Zell am See is the famous austrian ski town, located almost 2 hours from Salzburg by train. This enchanting mountain area is filled with diverse hiking opportunities, to be precise more than 30 mountain peaks. Equally beautiful in summer like in winter Zell am See is mostly popular because of its lake in the centre.
Zell am See belongs to Hohe Tauern National Park which is the oldest national park in Austria covering three most important mountains: Kitzsteinhorn, Maiskogel and Schmittenhöhe.
Schmittenhöhe mountain with its 1965m is a middle-easy hike of 4h where the chapel of imperatrice Elisabeth finds the place. The peak Schmitten can easily be reached by cable car also, once there you can relax in one of the 15 restaurants which are usually almost full.
Not only Zell am See, the neighbour town Kaprun is rich with offers. The ancient castle is the highlight of Kaprun which leads to the alpine road Grossglockner and Sigmund Thon Canyons in Kaprun.
Zell am See is a charming town where typical austrian painted houses with many souvenir shops will just delight you. Grand Hotel imposantly stands at the lake promenade which is 11 km long, the biggest of the dozen hotels.
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One of the best, most fun places in Austria is the Hallein salt mine or Saltzwelten Salzburg. It’s located about 30 minutes from Salzburg in a small town called Dürrnberg. Extremely easy to find, experiencing a tour of the mine is great for both kids and adults. Although, only children 4 and above are allowed.
After getting your tickets (30 Euros for adults, 15 for children), the fun begins. First, you have to get dressed. Everyone wears white coveralls and hard hats to enter the mine. Then there’s a train that takes you into the mine and to the beginning of the actual tour.
The mine tour talks about the importance of salt economically throughout history. Kids may not want to listen to all the details, but it’s okay, because they have little stuffed people and scenes all around the mine to illustrate the history, which they will love.
There are a few parts of the tour that really make it a great time. One is you get to cross the border between Austria and Germany underground. And the second is that everyone rides a slide to the levels below. The slides are fast and just a tad bit scary. Some people refuse to do it, but there’s an elevator for them. I highly recommend you do slide, though. What a blast!
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Sacher Torte is one of the most famous cakes in the entire world. A simple but absolutely delicious chocolate cake with apricot jam and chocolate ganache, it is one of Austria’s most well-known exports. So, what better item for your Austria bucket list than having a slice of Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel where it was invented? The cake was invented by 16-year-old apprentice chef Franz Sacher when the master chef was too ill to create an extraordinary dessert requested by Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich. The result has stood the test of time and is a highlight of any trip to Vienna.
The Sacher Café in the Sacher Hotel is a quintessential Viennese coffee house. It has an indoor and outdoor section. Indoors is ornate and sumptuous in traditional European style, with chandeliers, black and white tiles and plush red banquettes. However, if the weather is nice, it is hard to beat having a slice of cake made with the original recipe al fresco while people-watching to your heart’s content. Pair your cake with a coffee or – even better – a glass of alcoholic hot chocolate!
The Sacher Hotel is in the center of Vienna, next to the Opera House. A slice of original Sacher Torte served with whipped cream is 7.90 euros.
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Highline179 is the longest suspension bridge in Austria.
It is situated in the Reutte Valley about 88 km from the Austrian capital of the Alps, Innsbruck, and 125 km from the Bavarian capital, Munich in Germany.
Highline179 was built in 2014 in the Tibet style.
From this 114-meter-high and 406-meter long bridge itself, you can enjoy an absolutely stunning panoramic view. The bridge is surrounded by thrilling scenery and spectacular mountain chains. After enjoying the awesome vista from the bridge, explore the ruins of Ehrenberg Castle and the ruins of Fort Claudia built in the 16th century.
The entrance fee for Highline179 suspension bridge is 8 €.
As for getting there, from both Innsbruck and Munich, first, you have to travel to the gorgeous Tirolian village, Reutte by train. Then, from Reutte, you have to take a bus to Ehrenberger Klause. From this point, you have to walk to the bridge. It’s a short 20-minute walk amid beautiful evergreen pine trees.
Due to the fact that there is no bus on the way back, you need to walk from the castle to the train station in Reutte. It will take 40 minutes. Thus, in total, it is an easy and pleasant 1-hour walk two ways.
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Prater is a historic amusement park in Vienna and is a great place to have some fun. The park started life as an Imperial hunting ground, then it was opened to the public to enjoy on 1766. The amusement park is in the Leopoldstadt area of the city, a short trip on public transport from the central areas of Vienna. Prater Amusement park has a variety of rides for visitors to enjoy, this includes the iconic Wiener Riesenrad and Prater Turm.
Wiener Riesenrad is a big Ferris Wheel that was built in 1897, thus making it the oldest working Ferris wheel in the world. For much of its history, it was also the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna, and great fun. People can opt for a quick ride to see the views and experience the ride or you can enjoy a meal onboard for an extended session. The Wiener Riesenrad entrance takes visitors through a museum of Prater with many lifelike models of the park through the ages.
Another must do ride is the Prater Turm which is a 117 metres tall swinging carousel. This ride also has some fantastic views across Vienna, while your legs dangle and enjoy the wind through your hair. There are also many other options for fairground rides from tame family fun to some more extreme rollercoasters, thus a great place to visit for some fun.
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Winter in Europe is a magical time, and wandering around Vienna’s Christmas markets is a must-have experience. Sure, the weather might be a bit challenging to deal with, but you’ll be rewarded with a visit-worthy wonderland. From the illuminated displays to the food to stalls selling all kinds of goods, the atmosphere is undeniably heart-warming.
Start by visiting the big and lively markets, including the ones taking place in the Belvedere Palace, Maria-Theresien-Platz, theSchönbrunn Palace, and Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). Next to the last one, you’ll also find a huge ice rink covering more than 3,000 m². Buy some handicrafts, stuff your face with Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), and enjoy a cup of hot apple cider or mulled wine.
Next, head to the smaller Christmas markets in Vienna, which are cozier and less crowded. For example, Spittelberg, a tiny central quarter in the city, hosts an enchanting market you do not want to miss. Other unique spots include the Art Advent on Karlsplatz, Advent Delights Market next to Vienna State Opera House, and the Am Hof Advent Market.
Apart from Christmas markets, Vienna also hosts other winter events such as the Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concert and the New Year’s Eve Ball.
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The Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for it’s fortresses, vineyards and hillside scenery. Its unique climate is perfect for growing some of the tastiest apricots in the world. If you plan to visit the Wachau Valley region you cannot leave without tasting a Wachau Apricot, sometimes referred to as Wachau Saffron.
I would highly recommend visiting the small town of Durnstein, which has an apricot vineyard at the edge of the Danube. The vineyard harvest apricots in July but you can enjoy the blossoms in the months before and apricot products all year round!
It’s not just apricot jam that’s produced here, the vineyard has diversified, and you can now sample apricot Brandy, wine, mustard, vinegar and liqueur. The apricot Brandy will certainly give you a warm feeling inside. The Austrian apricot dumplings are one thing I really enjoyed tasting.
One of the best ways to enjoy the Wachau Valley is on a Danube river cruise. The ever-changing landscape means that you can simply sit and watch the world go by. It also offers the opportunity to explore the smaller towns and destinations on the Danube. Most Danube river cruises start in Germany or Hungary and travel through Austria, stopping at Linz, Krems (for Durnstein) and Vienna. Tours of the local destinations are included in the cruise price so there’s no need to worry about finding your own independent excursions.
Unlike, ocean cruising, river cruises are more likely to stay in destinations overnight or into the evening so you can explore places by day and night.
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Something that I’m sure is on the bucket list for many of you is paragliding! If it’s not on yours yet, maybe it’s added after reading this.
The beautiful mountain landscapes are known worldwide and attract millions of tourists every year. However, most of them use the time off in Austria to hike among the mountains. But why don’t you take the opportunity and check it out from above? It’s really impressive and guaranteed to be a highlight of your Austria trip! It is an incredible adrenaline rush to run towards the abyss and jump off the mountain. Within a few fractions of a second you are floating and flying through the air. An indescribable feeling! During your “flight” you sit super comfortable in the straps and can enjoy the view. If you have a cool guide, you can even do a few tricks!
I was especially impressed by how long you can float in the valley through the updraft before coming in for a landing. But be careful – risk of repetition! 😛 If you want to learn more about it and look for more info on Austria, check out this Austria packing list beforehand.
Where can you go paragliding?
Basically, there are many places in Austria where it is possible. We did it in Galtür. Our host made the contact. The cost for this experience is around 100€.
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The small town of Mondsee, just outside of Salzburg is home to one of the most famous cathedrals in all of Austria. Basilica St. Michael, often called the Mondsee Abbey, has become both a historical and pop culture landmark, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the small town each year.
The pale yellow church flanked by two clock towers stands prominently in the center of Mondsee, and was used as a filming location in the 1965 classic movie Sound of Music. The beautiful basilica should be on anyone’s Austria bucket list, as touring it is one of the top things to do in Mondsee, Austria. While it’s cinematic claim to fame is the primary reason people visit the Basilica St. Michael, the altar inside the Mondsee Abbey is perhaps even more noteworthy. In it, you’ll find the mummified remains and full skeletons of martyrs and saints who perished while defending the abbey in the 1100s. The remains are adorned with jewels and crowns, making the peculiar display one of the most interesting church altars in the world. Basilica St. Michael is free to enter, and serves as both an active cathedral and a tourist attraction.
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The City of Graz, known as the “Culinary Capital of Austria” should be at the top of any Austria bucket list but even more so for foodies. The highlight of this foodie mecca is the annual Graz Long Table (Lange Tafel in German) dinner which celebrates local food and wine prepared by the city’s premier chefs.
This culinary event is held near the end of August in the main square of Old Town Graz with the beautiful town hall and clock tower as a backdrop. 750 lucky ticket holders gather at long tables covered with crisp white linens, glistening stemware, and bouquets of summer flowers, and treated to a seven-course gourmet Chef’s dinner paired with amazing wines from the region of Styria. As traditional Austrian music plays in the background, the entire scene is magical, and one that food and wine lovers won’t soon forget.
Even better is that everything served at the Long Table is sustainably sourced from local producers and the event meets the Austrian Ecolabel for Green Events.
This event is the foodie fete of the year and tickets can be hard to come by. The 2021 event is sold out, but take heart, tickets for 2022 will go on sale on later in 2021.
If your travel plans include Austria, get tickets early and plan on a relaxing and fun summer evening at the Graz Long Table.
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Mirabell Palace in Salzburg, Austria is one of the epic bucket list items to add to your Austrian bucket list, especially a romantic one. Built in the 16th century by a prince for his beloved wife, it is one of the famous architectures in the world that echoes love from all angles.
The palace is famous for being one of the most beautiful backdrops for romantic weddings. The Marble Hall inside the palace makes it one of the best wedding halls in the world. If you love the “Sound of Music” movie or want to chase Mozart’s birthplace, you are definitely going to cross the mountain town Salzburg when in Austria.
Mirabell Palace and gardens is one of the major attractions here, making it one of the best photo shoot locations where you don’t need to be a photographer to capture the beauty. When I visited here during a solo trip to Salzburg, I remember spending a very happy time with myself clicking tons of pictures with the beautiful palace, gardens and the splendid Pegasus fountain, my most memorable time here.
As you can imagine, it is one of the most desirable photo shoot locations, the main tip is to go early in the morning before tourists crowd the place. I would describe the Mirabell Palace and gardens as the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal of Austria and would highly recommend it to you Austrian bucket list- suited for a couple travel, solo trip and family travel equally.
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Bad Blumau located in the municipality of Styria, the second largest in Austria, is a spa town located about an hour away from Graz, its capital.
What makes Bad Blumau special is the Rogner Bad Blumau spa designed by renowned architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser who is popular for his colourful designs and incorporating mosaic styles in his work.
The spa is built around an area full of natural hot springs and one can spend at least two to three days here.
The area is massive, with multiple hot pools located at various points in the complex. It takes about 10 minutes to walk from one of the complex to another!
In addition to the thermal vulcanic waters, there’s also a spa and a few restaurants located inside the resort.
It has been designed in such a way that the spa sits at the centre and various ‘houses’ surround it.
There’s an art house, stone house and forest yard houses to name a few.
What makes it unique and worth a visit is its healing waters and its backdrop of the Styrian rolling hills. The produce here is organic and the traditional food, delicious, making it the perfect bucket list getaway in Austria. The local Sau beer is a must try!
Stay costs about 200 Euros per night and is one of the destinations famous with the locals that not many travellers know!
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If there was one city you should visit in Austria, it would be Hallstatt. Located in the middle of Salzburg and Graz in the Salzkammergut region, this lake town is beloved for its pretty Alpine houses and alleyways. It’s brimming with things to do and sights to see, and you can experience its charms both during winter and summer.
Hallstatt is believed to be one of the oldest European settlements that is still inhabited, and is a UNESCO heritage site. As it sits by the picturesque Lake Hallstatt, it is also known as its guardian. If you love mountain views and quaint villages, you will find paradise in this Austrian town.
You can walk from one side of Hallstatt to the other in around thirty minutes. Plus, cars are actually banned from 10am to 5pm between May and October, so you will most likely be exploring on foot if you visit during these times.
Don’t forget to stop by Salzwelten Hallstatt, the beating heart of this traditional gem and the world’s oldest salt mine. This museum carries 7000 years of history while featuring interesting exhibits, an underground slide, and exciting boat ride across the salt lake.
We also recommend the Cultural Heritage Museum and the Beinhaus, two of the quintessential spots to get to know the fascinating history of Hallstatt. From boating and surfing to hiking and museum hopping, there are plenty of activities to keep you engaged.
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You’ll need to make an early start to catch the sunrise from the top of Wierdersbergerhorn mountain in the Tyrol. There are just six dates this summer when an early morning cable car will take you partway there (10 Euros if booked in advance).
We leave our hotel in the pretty village of Alpbach at 4 am and took a short drive to the cable car station. Despite it being the middle of summer, as we step out of the gondola, at 1,850m high, it’s just 6°C.
The walk to the top starts with a gentle ascent as we make our way through the dark, passing the occasional cow, their bells softly tinkling. The path gets steeper as we climb higher and higher. My heart pounds and despite all the walking I’ve done leading up to this, I wish I was fitter. The altitude doesn’t help, of course.
The distant call of an Alpine horn far below us drifts up the mountainside. Just before the sun breaks over the horizon we stop and turn around to face the east.
The sky begins to glow in ever-changing shades of pink and orange. There’s a sense of comradery amongst all those on the mountain top as we share a unique experience watching the sun, a golden globe, break through the clouds. Beams of light reach out towards us. It’s magical, as is the sense of achievement.
As the sun rises higher, a golden light falls on a myriad of Alpine flowers forming swaths of colour on the hillside. We take a path around the summit to the mountain top café, Hornhalm, and devour a well-earned breakfast. At over 2,000 metres, eggs and bacon have never tasted so good. Watching the sunrise from the top of Wierdersbergerhorn is a memory that will stay with me forever.
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As a passionate skier I can speak from experience: there are hardly better places to ski in the world than Austria. I mean it, because the ski lifts here are the best of the best, the slopes are long, wide and usually very well groomed and the ski huts are such a vital part of the whole experience, there’s no excuse to miss them. You can find slopes for all levels of expertise and in every ski resort you’ll find many rental shops. Ski tickets cost around 55€ for a day ticket, but this gives you access to around 100km of slopes. You’ll want to add skiing to your Austria bucket list!
The most famous ski resorts in Austria are Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn, Ski Amade (which includes top resorts like Schladming, Flachau, Zauchensee …), Zillertal, Kitzbühel … Be aware that the ski season lasts from beginning/mid-December until (usually) Easter Monday and the peak season (so most expensive accommodation) is during the Christmas-New Year’s holidays and the entire February, because of school holidays.
If you want to experience something unique; you can also go skiing in summer in Austria: the Hintertuxer glacier is open year-round. Many ski resorts are accessible by public transport, as Austria has excellent train connections. The best regions to base yourself and experience white topped mountains are Tirol, Salzburger Land, west Styria, Carinthia and Vorarlberg. Once on the slope, make a few turns, enjoy the (usually) excellent snow conditions and at the end of your ski day turn also into a ski hut for a proper après ski.
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Schönbrunn Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that should be added to your Austria bucket list. For centuries the palace served as the summer home of the Habsburgs & reflects the interests and tastes of the Habsburg monarchs. Under Empress Maria Theresa’s influence, Schönbrunn Palace soon became the focus of court and political life.
Schönbrunn is considered to be one of Europe’s most impressive Baroque palace complexes. If you are interested in history and imperial lifestyle, you should definitely visit Schönbrunn Palace. It has 1441 rooms, though only some are publicly accessible for visitors.
You can take the Imperial Tour that usually takes at least 30 minutes & costs around 18euros. The Grand Tour at 22 euros is an excellent choice if you have further time and interest. You can select between a guided tour and tour with audio guide.Photography and filming is generally prohibited inside the palace.
The palace gardens & surroundings are beautiful. You’ll find many smaller gardens, fountains and statues,where large parts can be accessed without charge. There is also a zoo, Neptune fountain, the Maze,Obelisk fountain among others.
Depending on your interest, it can take you up to a whole day for your visit to the palace and the gardens.
Timings: The palace is open daily, including public holidays. The timings differ – April through June, Sept through Nov: 8am – 5:30pm. July through Aug: 8am – 6:30pm. Nov through March: 8am – 5pm
Getting There: The Schönbrunn station is on tram lines 10 and 58, bus route 10A, and U-Bahn route U4. Public parking is available if coming by car. Vienna is the nearest airport.
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As you can see, there are so many great attractions and activities worth adding to your Austria bucket list!
What do you most want to do from this list in Austria? Leave a comment below!