You find many well-preserved historic small towns in Austria. The country has a very conscious relationship with its cultural heritage and history, making it the land of beautiful historic towns and cities.
Austria’s architecture and culture have benefitted from the country’s location in the middle of Europe. As well as developing a unique style, Austria has also drawn inspiration from different neighbouring countries. Moreover, many of the country’s towns have grown up along important trade routes and been important for Austria’s nation-building. You will still find a multitude of cities and towns that have buildings dating back to the 16th century and where history is still firmly embedded in the walls.
The Middle Ages
By the turn of the millennium (1000 AD), the population in Europe and Austria began to increase sharply. This led to an increased urbanization. However, this period was also characterized by many conflicts and self-governed medieval towns often protected themselves by city walls and fortifications. As the town grew up, newer districts appeared around the city walls, and in many places the historic town centres were saved from destruction.
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All over Austria
Not only have the old historic city centres in large cities such as Vienna, Salzburg or Innsbruck retained their historical architecture. Spread all over Austria, from Feldkirch (Vorarlberg) to the west, Freistadt (Upper Austria) to the north, Bad Radkersburg (Styria) to the south and Rust (Burgenland) to the east, you will find well-preserved historic cities and towns. If you are travelling by car or maybe on a motorcycle, the small distances in Austria are perfect for visiting some of these picturesque historic small towns. Some, like Hall in Tyrol are easy reachable by public transport. Along the way, you can add everything from the spectacular Alps to a wonderful cultural landscape, to your trip.
Thriving small towns
Historical small towns are not just preserved as an open-air museum for travellers. These cities and towns are thriving communities and have become popular places to live in. Often you find a rich choice of shops, restaurants, and public offices. Furthermore, strict rules for conservation combined with the desire to preserve history, have played its part. Hence, local councils are spending lots of resources in keeping and reconstructing old architecture. This applies not only to the larger cities, but also to many historic small towns.
Here are some of the historic small towns in Austria we have visited so far:
Most people who visit Bad Radkersburg most likely come to enjoy a stay at the spa outside the historic centre. Nevertheless, during several visits we have walked up and down most streets and alleys and become acquainted with idyllic Bad Radkersburg. Within the old fortress walls, which are partly well-visible, you will find a relatively […]
The city’s main attraction is the so-called “Silberzeile” (silver row) at the Stadtplatz. Rows of colourful houses surround Schärding’s main square are its main attraction. In stark contrast to lively summer days, arriving here on a sunny serene November day was a highlight. The mellow light from the low-hanging sun softens the bright colours without […]
The village occupies a strip of land at the water’s edge, and the houses hang on the steep rock face. Hallstatt is small, and exploring even the back alleys will not require more than a couple of hours including a cake and cup of coffee. Nonetheless, take your time and enjoy the place. World heritage […]
Its historic centre (Altstadt) has by no means lapsed into to a tourist trap, but still functions as a place where people live. Furthermore, you find lot’s of shops, restaurants, patisseries and other businesses to keep you busy a few days. Although I have been here numerous times and know the town well, I’m never […]
“Off the beaten track” has over the years become somewhat of a cliché, since there are less and less such places. In Europe anyway. Mauterndorf, however, is not completely run over by large hordes of tourists as many other places in Austria are. Not because of a lack of things to do or see. There […]
A little in the shadow of Innsbruck, which is only 10 kilometres further west, Hall does not receive visits to countless busloads with tourists. Something that we appreciated when we strolled around in picturesque Hall. We just love these small historic cities in Austria. The hustle and bustle of daily life, makes Hall much more […]
For once, we visited an Austrian town, not because they have well-known tourist sights or famous architecture, but simply because it’s a lovely town. Frohnleiten has been able to modernize the city and, in particular the main square (Hauptplatz), without destroying its historical charm. The square is the lifeblood of the local community and where […]
The lovely town at the foot of the Alps in Upper Austria has one of Austria’s best preserved historic centres in the country. Located where the rivers Steyr and Enns meet, the market town celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1980. North of the city, the almost flat landscapes of the Danube Valley unfold, while to […]
Dürnstein is as taken out of a medieval novel. Dürnstein clings on narrow strip on the north bank of the Danube in Lower Austria. The small town has taken its name from the castle which occupies the cliffs above. The town is luckily much better preserved than the castle, which today only consist of a […]