In 2018 Austria received a whopping 28 million tourists. Admittingly, Austria is a major winter destination, but the alpine country’s summer attractions are drawing the crowds too.
By nature, it seems that Austria is made for travellers. Its mountains, rivers, 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.
Within its 83,879 km² territory (32,386 sq. mi – slightly larger than Scotland, or a little smaller than the US state 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 is lower than 500 metres (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 south east (Styria and Burgenland) are moderately hilly.
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 what the country has on offer.
Click on the images to enlarge >>
When a small and mountainous country such as Austria takes on huge numbers of visitors, it will put a strain on the environment. The Austrian’s 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 comes 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.
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 Austrian’s have managed to thoroughly connect all parts of the country. You can choose to travel the scenic routes by using some of the may 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.
Austria is connected to all its neighbours by railway links. Since all its nearest neighbours 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.
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 tourist there are much more scenic ways to explore the country. For example, believe or not, from the 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, of which flows 350 km through Austria. Freighters are using the country’s main water way 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 28 km shoreline on Lake Constance (Europe’s third largest). From the port of Bregenz regular shipping lines connect Austria with Switzerland and Germany.
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 […]
Hundreds of lakes are scattered throughout Austria and on warm sunny summer days, the Austrians flock to their bathing lakes. Austria is also very proud of that almost all of their lakes have drinking water quality. Add to that pleasurable water temperatures and good facilities and you have a great beach holiday. Hence, don’t forget […]
Exploring and discovering new things makes your holiday itinerary much more interesting than just following the flow. They might demand some searching and even better, trotting of the beaten path. Nonetheless, we want to point you in the direction of a few hidden gems in Austria, which are often overseen but well worth the trip. […]
Any historical town with respect for itself should have a castle, and Feldkirch has the Schattenburg. Although there has been documented a settlement on-site for more than 2000 years, the “town” Feldkirch was built together with the castle in the early 13th century. We found the Schattenburg well worth the entrance fee and learned a […]
Most of the canyons and gorges in Austria are maintained by public or private conservation organisations, and you pay an entrance fee. This covers the maintenance and conservation projects in the area. Many of the canyons are suitable hikes for the whole family, and only a few are best hiked by seasoned hikers. We collected […]
The view of Vienna from above is something you simply must experience when visiting Austria’s capital. The mixture of historic and modern buildings gives the city a unique skyline. There are several opportunities to enjoy panoramic views of Vienna. We have visited some of Vienna’s best viewing points and are going to add more as […]