Travel information for a visit to Austria
The breathtaking scenery of Alpine peaks, secluded lakes and enchanting valleys are pictures framed in many chalet windows of present-day Austria. Visitors to this tucked away country can enjoy innumerable cultural events and excellent year-round facilities for a variety of winter and summer sports.
- Nerve-breaking Alpine downhill skiing in Kitzbühel and Arlberg
- Challenging the hairpin bends of the Grossglockner Pass to Heiligenblut
- Revisited the Habsburg Empire’s glory at the Hofburg in Vienna
- River cruising along the ever-changing scenes of the River Danau
- Wander along the cobblestone Getreide Gasse of Salzburg’s Altstadt
INTRODUCTION to AUstria
Austria grew at a crossroads, when the main routes between northern Europe and Italy, and from Western to Eastern Europe, met at Vienna. Landlocked, Austria borders Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Present-day Austria is a federal state, consisting of nine provinces (Bundesländer). It has over 8 million inhabitants, of which 1,5 million live in the capital, Vienna. Austria is a conservative country and the people value their traditions highly.
As a popular tourist destination all year-round, Austria is well served by air, rail and road.
Major cities like Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Linz, Graz and Klagenfurt, all have international airports with direct flights to all main European cities, as well as to the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. The national carrier, Austrian Airlines, was founded more than fifty years ago and comprises of 75 aircraft.
WHEN TO GO to Austria
Best time to visit is May to September, with temperatures averaging between (between 15 and 25 C) and 6 to 8 hours of sunshine. Unfortunately during June to August the rainfall peaks in the mountain areas (Innsbruck 120mm/month). Between October and February the days are extremely short, very cold, with lowest rainfall between December and March (45mm/month)
GETTING AROUND Austria
RAIL: In the heart of Europe, with Vienna as its main railway hub, Austria has excellent rail links with every important city on the continent. Punctuality is one of the main benefits of rail travel. It is very convenient to travel from city centre to city centre, thus eliminating expensive airport transfers. The official rail service is the OBB; EuroCity cover longdistance high-speed connections, whereas the EuroNight, or City Nightline is equipped with sleeper coaches. It is not compulsory to reserve a seat on any international or express routes.
ROAD: Travelling by car can be a real pleasure; traffic is relatively calm, and its forbidden to sound your horn other than to warn others of a danger. Motorways are marked with the letter A (Autobahn) or E (European motorway). A pre-paid disc (autobahn pickerl) is displayed in the front window as part of the toll-system. Some of the well-known mountain passes are: Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Brenner Pass, Timmelsjoch, Semmering Pass, Fern Pass, Flexen Pass and Katschberg Pass.
WATER: The River Donau forms an important transportation link between western and eastern Austria. Many river cruise companies provide options on sections of the Donau. The renowned Amadeus River Cruises, developed by the Austrian Lüftner family, specialize on musical and cuisine focused options. (Passau to Vienna). Regular hydrofoil services run between Vienna and Bratislava during summer months, covering the 60 km distance in 90 minutes. A most enjoyable scenic cruise is by hydrofoil between Vienna and Budapest, passing the interesting riverside towns of Esztergom and Szentendre, both in Hungary. Most lakes have ferryboats which operate from spring to fall, and there is no lovelier way to explore Austria’s many picturesque lakes, than from the deck of a boat.
TOP 5 – DON’T MISS
Austria offers a diverse and wide variety of choices, to suit most travellers’ tastes:
- Discover the many secluded picture-perfect lakes in secluded country side areas, for example Hallstatt am Hallstätter See, Gossi am Grundl- and Topfitzsee, Seehaus am Almsee, Offensee and Zell am See
- Drive one of the most scenic mountain pass routes to Heiligenblut via the Grossglockner Hochalpen Strasse
- Relax while cruising the River Danau on a luxury riverboat on route passed Vienna
- Revisit some of the familiar pistes at the many excellent ski resorts in the Austrian Alps near St Anton, Mayrhofen, Lech, Bad Gastein, Ischgl, Kitzbühel, Zell am See and Saalbach-Hinterglemm
- Enjoy a cultural and musical injection in the capital of Austria, Vienna
- Experience the countryside of Austria’s back roads and visit Mariazell
TOP SLEEP & EAT SECRETS
- ArtHotel Blaue Ganz**** Located in a 14th century building in the heart of Altstadt Salzburg
- Hotel am Stephansplatz**** Centrally situated on Vienna’s square of St StephansDom Church
- Hotel König von Ungarn**** Located in a side street next to Mozart House
- Hotel Zach*** Quiet central location in Innenstadt of Innsbruck
- Hotel Zum Kirchenwirt*** Wonderful retreat in a typical Austrian countryside village of Mariazell
- Seehotel Grüner Baum*** In the World Heritage town of Hallstatt facing the picturesque lake
MEETING THE LOCAL PEOPLE
Austrians are very much focused on the detail of things: clothing are skillfully styled and charming pinafores (dirndls) are usually of provincial-print material worn with white blouse and apron. A trip to Austria would not be complete without bringing home a pair of wonderful leather shorts (Lederhosen).
Wooden boxes of all sizes and styles, painted with Tyrolean designs of flowers are everywhere available.
Many of the world’s greatest musical geniuses were born within a few miles from Vienna. Incredibly, they were all born within a relatively short span of history and their lives and music were interrelated: Haydn, Mozart, Liszt, Strauss, Schubert and Bruckner.
Although not as well-known as those of France, Germany, Spain and Italy, Austrian wines are delicious and plentiful. The majority of grapes are grown in Lower Austria, but winemakers are also found in the Provinces of Burgenland, Vienna and Styria.
In the “Wiener Musikverein” (Vienna Music Club), the Wiener Philharmoniker play what is probably the World′s most famous and most widely followed annual concert, the “Neujahrskonzert”.
- The Glöckler walk from one door to another in the Salzkammergut. This is proper pagan-action and spectacular to watch. They are young men dressed up in white trousers and dress with large crest-hat decorations that are lit up from the inside. The “Glöckler” have bells on their belts and joints and perform dances. This was traditionally done to wake the seed in the soil and nature′s spirits.
St. George′s Day, the patron of horses. This day was traditionally significant for farmers, who often relied on the power of horses. In some areas of Austria, riders are coming together for services or “Georgiritt” processions in historic costumes