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Austria blends alpine scenery with an atmosphere of lost empires and past grandeur. Nowhere is the sense of history stronger than in the capital Vienna, the seat of wealth and power for the Hapsburg royal dynasty. Hear it in the angelic voices of the Vienna Boys’ Choir and see it in the rippling muscles of the Spanish Riding School’s beautiful stallions. It’s even tangible in the waft of coffee aromas and the sinful richness of a slice of Sacher-Torte in a Viennese Kaffehaus.
Vienna’s modern face offers treats like the quirky and colourful Hundertwasserhaus, a unique building designed by the eccentric architectural genius Hundertwasser, featuring undulating floors, trees growing inside and a grass-covered roof. Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, has music in its very soul, and also boasts Baroque architectural masterpieces including one of Europe’s largest castles, the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Further to the west, nestled among the mountainous Austrian Tyrol, lies Innsbruck. Venture beyond its medieval alleyways and glittering 15th century Golden Roof for your own “Climb Every Mountain” moment as you wander through a flower-filled alpine meadow and past chalets bedecked with cascades of geraniums.
Austria shares borders with nine countries, from tiny Liechtenstein to Hungary, linked to Austria by the mighty Danube. This makes it the perfect launch pad: board a boat in Vienna and cruise upstream into Germany, or head south all the way to the Black Sea
Mozart and the 'Sound of Music' were born in this striking alpine city which is split into two areas: the Old Town on the left bank of the Salzach River and the modern business district on the right. The Old Town, classed as a world heritage area, is filled with small alleyways, quaint houses, cobblestone plazas, open-air markets and outdoor cafés. The medieval Hohensalzburg Fortress can be reached by a funicular ride from the old town. Visit in July/August when the Salzburg
Festival attracts music lovers from around the world, or take a Sound of Music Tour, where the 'hills do come alive' with tales of the Von Trapp family.
For a good chunk of the 20th century, Vienna was an ideal way to experience the romance, history and beauty of Eastern Europe, with all of the grand architecture, rich culture and compelling history but without the political complications of its neighbours. Today, all of Eastern Europe is wide open to visitors, but Vienna remains a special jewel in its crown. However, don’t go expecting another line-up of glorious relics of the past – there are plenty on offer and they are not to be missed, but what makes Vienna a really exciting destination is how it combines the best of past and present. Choose to spend a morning watching the graceful manoeuvres of the Lippizaners at the Spanish Riding School, then let the latest exhibition at MUMOK challenge your sense of art in the afternoon.
Lying at the southern tip of expansive Lake Geneva, surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, with dramatic views of Mont Blanc. On the French border the French influence is widespread, from the language to gastronomy and bohemian districts like Carouge. Home to watchmaking, make sure to check out the Flower Clock and the watchmakers’ shops, and pick up some Swiss Chocolates here as this is where you’ll find the greatest Swiss chocolate makers.
Experience the secrets and basics of the 200 year-old Viennese Waltz with your private instructor at the Dance Academy close to the famous Vienna Concert Hall.
Austria is the birth place of classical music, so where better to hear a concert of Mozart and Strauss than in the historic Orangerie of Schönbrunn Palace.
Experience hands-on cooking of Austrians most popular dishes while being carefully guided by an experienced chef. Classes are in small groups in a fun, relaxed environment.
Drive over the Durrnberg Pass, crossing the German border to reach Obersalzberg via the steep mountain road. Walk through a tunnel into the mountain to the elaborate elevator taking you to the Eagle’s Nest, formerly a meeting place for Hitler and his diplomatic guests, to enjoy breath-taking views.
Straddling the banks of the Danube, rich in history, outstanding wines and UNESCO World Heritage-listed. Cycle through villages and stop at wineries, explore the medieval town of Dürnstein and the Kuenringer Castle ruins.
Relive your favourite scenes from the classic musical at the film’s iconic sites around the city and see the gazebo where ‘Sixteen going on Seventeen’ was shot. Hear about the historical background of Salzburg’s top attractions and architectural jewels.
Visit the 450 year old salt mines below Obersalzberg, a mountainside complex home to the Eagle’s Nest. Walk in miners’ footsteps wearing traditional mining outfits as you descend into the grottos. Float on the salt lake in a raft, and enjoy a train trip around the lake.
The oldest, founded in 1572, and last Riding School in the world where classic dressage is still practised in its purest form. It is closed in July and most of August and you need to pre-book.
Here's a taste of some of our favourite hotels and lodges in Austria.
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Are you planning your next trip to Austria? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on Austria.
This is just a taste of the information and advice we have available through our House of Travel consultants.
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