Exploring Austria

© by Austrian National Tourist Office / Fankhauser

In 2018 Austria received an impressive 28 million tourists. Admittingly, Austria is a major winter destination, but the alpine country’s summer attractions are drawing in the crowds too. Exploring Austria is a great experience all year around.

By nature, it seems that Austria is made for travelers. Its mountains, rivers, and cultural landscape all insinuate the perfect playground for outdoor activities. Add to that, a long and rich history and you got a fantastic setting for another layer of holiday activities. Austria’s numerous castles, palaces, and sacred buildings, of which many are architectural gems, just beg to be visited. No wonder that the country is the 12th most visited travel destination on the planet.

Amazingly diverse

Within its 83,879 km² territory (32,386 sq. mi – slightly larger than Scotland, or a little smaller than the US state of e Maine) Austria holds a huge array of landscapes. From its highest point, the Grossglockner 3798 m (12.460 ft) to its lowest point at 114 m (374 ft) near Apetlon in Burgenland. Around ¾ of the country is dominated by the Alps, with only about 1/3 lower than 50 meters (1,640 ft) above sea level. The flattest parts are found in the east, around the Neusiedler See, which lies at the edge of the Pannonian Plains. The north (parts of SalzburgerLand, Upper and Lower Austria) and the southeast (Styria and Burgenland) are moderately hilly.

Compact

The size of Austria and that it’s fairly compact makes it easy to explore many parts of the country, without vesting time just to travel from A to B. Whether you are using your own transport or relying on public transport, good infrastructure allows for fast and comfortable movement. Notwithstanding, travel itself is also an important part of the experience. Reward yourself by taking time to get off the Autobahn or highspeed train, and instead use your feet or a bicycle. Because, only then you can really appreciate everything that the country has to offer.

<< Click on the images to enlarge >>

Sustainable tourism

When a small and mountainous country such as Austria takes on huge numbers of visitors, it will put a strain on the environment. The Austrians try hard to offer their visitors all the fun and adventure they ask for, and at the same time preserve their nature and culture. After all, both nature and hospitality come in a limited supply. The development of ski resorts is putting a strain on the alpine ecosystems. However, it is not only the direct impact of tourism that concerns the Austrians. With its location in central Europe, the country suffers from the massive amount of traffic, mainly trucks, passing through.

ADVERTISEMENT

Exploring Austria by road

Not only businesses profit from Austria’s excellent road network. It allows tourists to easily visit any part of the country with a minimum of hassle. Despite the Alps dominating almost the entire country, the Austrians have managed to thoroughly connect all parts of the country. You can choose to travel the scenic routes by using some of the many mountain passes, or the fast way through the tunnels. During the peak holiday season in August the main motorways are often congested. No problem, you also have the option of traveling overland to Austria comfortably by rail.

By rail

Austria is connected to all its neighbors by railway links. Since all its nearest neighbors are in or affiliated with the EU, the freedom of travel has resulted in close cooperation within the transport sector. Allowing tourists and local commuters to cross borders easily. Furthermore, when Deutsche Bahn (DB) closed down its night-train services a few years ago, the Austrian Federal Railway company Österreichische Bundebahn (ÖBB) took over this market. Hence, you can travel in modern sleeping cars to Austria from Germany, Switzerland and Italy with ÖBB’s Nightjet fleet.

By air

Besides the main airport Schwechat (VIE) in Vienna, there are international airports in Innsbruck, Salzburg, Klagenfurt, Graz and Linz. Austrian Airlines which is owned by German Lufthansa is the main carrier. The airports mentioned above all have good connections to German airports such as Frankfurt, making it easy to fly in from overseas. There are of course domestic flights in Austria, but for tourists, there are much more scenic ways to explore the country. For example, believe it or not, from the water.

By water

Austria is completely landlocked. Nonetheless, the country still has large ports and lovely promenades by the water. The main shipping traffic is found on the Danube, which flows 350 km through Austria. Freighters are using the country’s main waterway all year. While cruise ships bring tourists to ports in Vienna, Wachau, and Linz mainly in summer. In Vorarlberg in the far west of Austria, the country has a 28 km shoreline on Lake Constance (Europe’s third largest). From the port of Bregenz, regular shipping lines connect Austria with Switzerland and Germany.

  • Main square Hartberg, Styria, Austria

    Posted in:

    Hartberg – Slowness in historic surroundings

    Many old buildings have been preserved, creating a great atmosphere. The historic centre of Hartberg lies within the partially preserved city wall from the Middle Ages (12th and 13th centuries), which once surrounded the entire town. Today, visitors and residents enjoy a place where you can relax and enjoy life – in historic surroundings. The […]

    Read more

  • Salzkammergut, Austria

    Posted in:

    Salzkammergut – Austria in miniature

    The contrasts in the Salzkammergut region are large. Not only because the landscape alternates between massive mountain ranges, glaciers, lush valleys, and a plethora of lakes. But also, because the region offers a rich cultural landscape that has been characterized by more than 5,000 years of human activity. The Salzkammergut holiday region covers 58 municipalities […]

    Read more

  • Murauen, Styria, Austria

    Posted in:

    Hiking in the Murauen along the banks of the Mur

    We are not in the tropics but in southern Austria where the river Mur forms part of the border with Slovenia. This landscape, a combination of floodplains and forest is very unlike what we expect from mostly alpine Austria. Nonetheless, we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. Austria’s second largest river landscape The river Mur […]

    Read more

  • Painting: Ludwig Johann Passini, Pumpkin grocer, 1876

    Posted in:

    Viva Venezia! – Featuring Venice at Belvedere, Vienna

    From the first half of the 19th century until 1866, Venice and Veneto were part of the Habsburg Monarchy. Austrians had long been captivated by the city on the lagoon to their south. The coastal landscape there promised a light-hearted, simple life and a break from the bourgeois confines of their native land. In three thematic […]

    Read more

  • Mostveiertel, Lower Austria, Austria

    Posted in:

    Springtime on the Mostviertel Panorama Road

    The Mostviertel region in the southeastern part of Lower Austria offers a wide range of activities and is an all-year travel destination. Notwithstanding, I especially love traveling in the region in early springtime. Mostviertel is a great place to hike, but if you are visiting only for a few days I recommend driving. Pear tree […]

    Read more

Advertisement