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