Curious about the best places to visit in Austria? The country is a landlocked alpine country in the southern part of Central Europe.
It has been a popular tourist destination for decades. What’s attracting tourists is its countless treasures — castles, lakes, mountains, medieval villages and amazing architecture.
Criss-crossed with well-maintained hiking paths, Austria is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Mountain bikers, rock climbers and extreme sports lovers will find Austria appealing, too.
What else is there to see in Austria?
To help you with the task of planning we’ve created this list of some of the best places to visit in Austria. Check out our article and plan the perfect Austria vacation!
7 best places to visit in Austria
When describing Vienna, two words come to my mind — elegance and chocolate.
This elegant city is known for its imperial palaces and other architectural masterpieces. And… its confectionery stores which sell mouth-watering candies, chocolates and other treats. You’ll see a lot of confectionery stores in the Historic Center of Vienna, and they usually are located on the ground floors of historic buildings.
After you’ve indulged in chocolates, visit St Stephen’s Cathedral — the most important Gothic church in Vienna and a very popular tourist attraction.
Explore Schönbrunn Palace and its magical gardens. Boasting a whopping 1441 rooms, it is s one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in the country.
Visit the Museumsquartier — one of the world’s biggest exhibition spaces. It contains large art museums, contemporary exhibition spaces, and Baroque buildings, as well as Modern architecture.
Enjoy cafe culture in Vienna. No need to search for fancy cafes. Even the smallest ones only frequented by locals are really cool, in fact, those are the best ones.
Do not miss Naschmarkt —a traditional market that has been operating since the 16th century.
With over 100 market stalls, Naschmarkt is the most popular market in Vienna. There you can get meats, fish, fruit and vegetables from around the world, exotic herbs, cheese and baked goods. There you will find also many small restaurants which offer traditional Viennese food.
Zell am See
Zell am See is a beautiful historic lakeside town and one of the best places to visit in Austria.
Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the old town and go on a relaxing lakeside walk.
Enjoy the magnificent views over Lake Zell. Views of Zell am See and the lake from Thumersbach are just gorgeous.
Zell am See is a great destination year-round. In winter it provides skiing on the above Schmittenhöhe mountain. But in summer you can enjoy the various hiking routes. With more than 150 walking routes, Zell am See area is a hikers’ paradise.
One of the most popular is the Pinzgauer Spaziergang Trail near Zell am See. It is one of the most beautiful high-altitude paths in the Eastern Alps and one of the best ways to see the Austrian Alps.
Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Austria.
Known for its Baroque architecture, Salzburg has one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps.
Also, it is famous for its magnificent castle, Hohensalzburg, which is one of the biggest fully preserved castles in Central Europe.
Perched on a hill above the Baroque historical district, Hohensalzburg Castle attracts visitors from all around the world. Prepare yourself for a steep walk to the castle. Or, step into the funicular.
Innsbruck is a stunning city nestled in a broad valley between high mountains.
With a backdrop of mountains, Innsbruck Old Town is an extremely picturesque place that attracts tourists from all around the world.
Visit the imperial palace (Hofburg) which is considered one of the three most significant cultural buildings in the country.
Do not miss Ambras Castle, a late renaissance castle which now is a national museum housing art and an armoury.
Take the Nordkette Cable Car to the top of the Nordkette, a mountain range just north of Innsbruck, and enjoy the jaw-dropping scenery of the area.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Grossglockner High Alpine Road is the highest surfaced mountain pass road in Austria.
As it is considered one of Europe’s finest mountain roads, driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is one of the best things to do in Austria.
Even though the road is not so lengthy (only 47 km), there’s plenty to see, as the road goes through an ever-changing landscape of peaks, lakes, meadows and hills.
The road takes you into the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park which with an area of 1856 km² is the largest national park in Austria.
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is closed in winter and spring (Nov — May).
Hallstatt is an ancient village with 16th-century Alpine houses and alleyways. The village is located on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore.
There’s so much to do in Hallstatt! Explore its little streets and medieval architecture. Hike around Lake Hallstatt, go mountain biking.
Do not miss Dachstein Giant Ice Cave which is located just 8 hm away from Hallstatt. Temperatures in the Ice cave rarely exceed freezing point, even in the summer. Enjoy the subterranean glaciers with stalactites and light and sound shows.
Another spectacular tourist attraction, 5fingers Viewing Platform, is located not far from Dachstein Giant Ice Cave.
Reaching out like a hand over the 400 m drop, the 5fingers Viewing Platform offers stunning views of the Hallstatt and the Hallstättersee lake area.
The region around Lake Hallstatt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Wachau is a valley with a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river.
Thanks to the landscape of high visual quality and architectural and agricultural history, the Wachau has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
In the Wachau, you’ll find terraced vineyards that produce great wine. By the way, Wachau is one of Austria’s most notable wine regions, specialising in dry wines.
Austria travel tips
- Summer (June — August) is the best time to visit Austria. But it’s also the high tourist season. Some places may get crowded. December is another popular time to visit. People come to Austria in December to experience its popular Christmas markets which are known around the world.
- Another great time for visiting Austria is the shoulder season — between April and May, and between September and October. Ski resorts open from mid-December. High season for skiing is mid-December to March.
- The official language of Austria is Austrian German, but a lot of people in Austria speak English. So you won’t have any trouble travelling around Austria if you don’t know Austrian German.
- Much of Austria is covered with mountains. This causes weather to be unpredictable, especially during winter and spring. That’s why we suggest you pack warm clothes and a windproof rain jacket.
- Also, you’ll need good and sturdy shoes for hiking. So pack a pair of durable hiking boots, preferably water-resistant.
- Public transportation is great in Austria. But renting a car in Austria is the best way to see this beautiful country. That way you’ll be able to visit not only the major tourist spots but also smaller towns.