Everything we love about Europe, Austria delivers in spades: beautiful and historic cities, opulent imperial palaces, medieval castles, bucolic mountain villages, and of course, the Austrian Alps. As for culture, this is the country that produced Mozart (two museums in Salzburg, his birthplace, are dedicated to the famous composer), and in this music-centric country, you’re never far off from a fine concert hall or opera house.
When is the best time to visit?
Winter sports enthusiasts will want to head to the Alps between December and early May, whereas summer travelers can expect warm but not oppressive heat. This allows for some fine mountain hikes, camping, and boating and swimming excursions to Plansee, Faaker See, and Hallstatter See lakes. If you want to beat the summer tourist crowds and want to enjoy outdoor activities in decent weather, the spring shoulder season of April and May is a good bet.
Where should you go?
For sheer beauty and culture, Vienna rivals any other city in Europe. It’s the former seat of the original Habsburg Dynasty, and Vienna still abounds with regal architecture, including the 1,441-room Schönbrunn Palace. In another baroque palace, the Belvedere, you’ll also find an art museum housing one of Europe’s most valuable collections.
Classical music connoisseurs should head to Wiener Musikverein (home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) and Wiener Staatsoper, which produces dozens of operas and ballets throughout the year. If you’re a fan of music history, make a trip to Salzburg and Mozart Geburtshaus in the colorful Aldstadt district. For a ski holiday, visit one of Austria’s many alpine resorts, such as Semmering, many of which offer skiing and snowboarding for all ability levels.
How many days do you need?
You should plan on four or five days to properly enjoy the palaces, concert halls, museums, coffee houses, and tea rooms of Vienna. Even if you do plan a winter or summer holiday outside the capital, you’ll find that it shouldn’t take you very long to get from one location to another. For example, Semmering is just an hour-long drive away from Vienna’s international airport. If you plan to see a lot of the country, you can easily do so in about 10 days.