Hidden Europe: unique experiences in Europe's cities
8920 · By Katie Shaw
Europe’s cities are treasure troves of culture, teeming with iconic, must-see sights to enthral even the most seasoned of tourists.Read more
From the rugged, snow-capped peaks of the Alps to the elegant refinement of its cities, Austria is a tale of two countries, one where you may enjoy coffee and a pastry at a sophisticated Vienniese café before going out to the glittering opera, or ski down steep, snow-covered slopes in the winter and hike up craggy mountains in the summer.
Lying on the boundary of the Austrian Alps, Salzburg was the filming location of 'the Sound of Music' and today is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you can explore the town for wonderful Baroque architecture, retracing the steps of Dame Julie Andrews in her iconic role of Maria von Trapp.
One of the Grand Imperial cities of Europe is Vienna, Austria's' elegant capital city. Explore the ornate Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palaces, and visit the birth place of the delectable Sachertorte, created by the 16 year old Franz Sacher in 1832.
For a change of pace, travel east to the dramatic alpine region of the country. A winter wonderland in winter and flower dotted in summer, these breathtaking mountains are wonderful all year round and are best viewed from the picturesque alpine towns of Innsbruck and Mayrhofen.
Discover the fantastic railways of Austria. It should come as no surprise that we love railways and we know many of you do too! That's why our tours feature some of the most iconic railways and trains on the continent.
Austria is the birthplace of Mozart, Schubert, Strauss and Hayden. The growth of music in Austria grew due to the patronage of the Habsburg family, a powerful lineage of kings that ruled over most of Europe for just under 300 years.
Vienna is the centre of musical Austria, containing the impressive Vienna State Opera and the Musikverein, home to one of the finest orchestras in the world; the Vienna Philharmonic. One of the most famous dances in the world, the Viennese Waltz, also originated here. What began a source of great scandal, due to the closeness of the dancing partners in a very conservative time, this iconic dance is now performed in competitions and at balls all over the world.
Traditional Austrian clothing is also a large part of the country's heritage, with women wearing plain, but pretty, dresses known as Dirndls, and the men wearing the leather breeches known as Lederhosen. In the Tyrol region of the Alps, you may also find men wearing a Tyrolian hat, which is often decorated with flowers, feathers, or even a goat's tail!
The food in Austria ranges from hearty meat based dishes to delicate pastries and delicious cakes. Many flavours and dishes have been influenced by neighbouring countries, and beef, pork and chicken are popular, with bacon featuring in a number of traditional recipes. Schnitzel is one of the most well-known recipes, made from a tender escalope of pork or veal lightly fried in breadcrumbs. This delicious dish requires very little garnish, and is traditionally served with potatoes.
Desserts in Austria are a treat hard to resist. From fluffy kaiserschmarrn to light and crispy Apfelstrudel, there is no better way to spend an afternoon than indulging amongst the hustle and bustle of a city café. Of course, no visitor to Austria should pass up the opportunity to try the world's greatest chocolate cake; the decadent Sachertorte. This rich, chocolatey delight is easily recognisable from the sheen of its thick mirrored ganache and piped 'Sacher' on the top. This is also a torte that improves with age, and it is best served a day or two after making.
Austria's modern railway network spans the entire country making even remote and rural areas accessible by fast, efficient and regular trains. This means that a rail holiday in Austria can easily encompass visits to both historic and cultural cities and scenic regions such as Austria's Alps and Lake District.
One of the highlights of rail travel in Austria is the Zillertalbahn Railway to Mayrhofen. This line opened in 1902, and is still used regularly by tourists and locals alike. This line showcases the most beautiful areas of traditional Austria, as you journey through sloping farmland and meadows, overlooked by grandiose mountains, and pass through classic Tyrolean villages.
Austria is famed for its beautifully snowy winters, perfect for skiing and drinking coffee in cosy cafés. If going in the months between November and March, be prepared for cold weather that can drop to -4 °F, but with an average temperature of 32 °F. During this time, snow is highly likely, so warm coats and sturdy shoes are a must!
Summers are fairly warm, and the hottest months of July and August can reach up to 95°F, but mainly stays around 68°F, however at higher altitudes, it can get cool quickly, so remember to bring layers so you're not caught out.
The official language of Austria is German. A few useful words to know here would be guten tag (gooten tahg), meaning hello, bitte (bitter) meaning please, danke, meaning thank you and auf wiedersehen (owf vee-der-zen), which means good bye.
The tip is usually added to the bill in Austria, however it is also customary to round up the price as an additional tip. In taxis, the driver's tip is 10% of the fare, and porters customarily receive around €1 per bag.
It is typical in Austria to wear smart clothes on an evening or when going out to a restaurant, for example a pair of nice trousers or a skirt with a collared shirt or blouse.
Helping you plan your holiday to Austria