From the faded imperial glory of Vienna to the stunning Alpine scenery that brings up instant visions of certain musicals, Austria is extremely proud of its stereotypes and wears them heavily on its sleeve, and it is not hard to see why, but there is far more to Austria than schnitzels and yodelling, Austria is home to some of Europe’s most laid back and understated cities filled with sophisticated art and architecture and a foodie and nightlife scene that will surprise any visitor. Austria is truly one of Europe’s highlights.
Most people however come to Austria to see and experience the glorious outdoors and the world class array of sports and adventure activities that span across both winter and summer seasons, from skiing to mountain climbing and beyond, there is a good reason both Olympians and the British Army train here. But Austria won’t just revive your physical health and wellbeing, it will rejuvenate your soul too with some of the most stunning scenery in the world in the small region of Tyrol and the Wilder Kaiser region. So come for the adventure, the food and hospitality, and stay and lose your heart in the unbelievable surroundings.
Culture and Etiquette.
Austria is a modern, western society with a diverse range of ethnic cultures within its borders. Most western visitors will get by in Austria with very few cultural problems. Learning a little of the language will help immeasurably but English is also widely spoken as well as a few other European languages to a much lesser extent.
What You Need To Know.
Citizens of the EU require no visa to enter Austria. Citizens of the UK, US Australia , New Zealand, Canada and most others can travel to countries in the Schengen Area (including including Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) for up to 90 days in any 180 day period without a visa. If you want to travel for longer or stay to work you can apply for a visa from the embassy which is relatively straightforward if you meet the criteria.
Since January 2021 UK citizens travelling to Europe will need to make sure that their passport is less than 10 years old and valid for 3 months for after the date you leave the country.
There are no vaccinations necessary for any visit to Austria, but obviously all routine vaccinations are recommended. The country has an excellent health care system that is easily accessible. Health insurance is still absolutely essential, and members of the EU should carry an EHIC card for access to any reciprocal healthcare.
Crime and Safety.
Austria is generally very safe with relatively low crime rates. This does not mean that crime does not occur at all, but reasonable common sense precautions for your personal health and safety are enough to keep you safe.
Costs and money.
The unit of currency in Austria is the Euro. Austria is not the most expensive country in Europe, but it is still expensive, especially if you take into account any adventure activities such as skiing or climbing. Apart from these activities, which can be expensive, as in most European countries accommodation and transport will set you back the most. A midrange budget will still set you back at least £100 – £150 GBP a day depending on where you stay and how much you travel, eat out and drink. It is possible for budget travellers to travel on roughly £50 – £100 GBP a day if they budget well, not counting any activities or sports.
When to go.
Any time is a good time to visit Austria. It is obviously world renowned for it’s winter sports and the season runs between December and early April, but summer is a perfect time to visit Austria too to take in the stunning Alpine scenery or the colonial and baroque cities, or head to the picturesque Tyrol region where there is an extensive adventure activity scene in the summer. Of course you can visit the cities any time of the year and have a great time.
Places To See.
Gilded with hints of its imperial past and adorned with grand colonial opulence, Vienna is a sight to behold, but it is far more than a faded remnant of the past. The old palaces of the Hofburg and Schönbrunn sit proudly against the newer contemporary Vienna that proudly displays a world class culinary and nightlife scene. No visit to Austria is complete without at least a few days in this magnificent city.
Austrias imperial palace is an absolute must see on any visit to Austria. For centuries this spectacular palace was the seat of Austria’s monarchy, and whilst it is state business by the president conducted there now it is still a spectacular example of a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Classicism Architecture. There are a host of picturesque squares, artwork and museums to explore so make sure you leave a full day!
The Wilder Kaiser region.
The villages of Ellmau, Going, Scheffau and Soll make up the absolute heart of Austria. Nestled around the stunning Wilder Kaiser mountain range the region absolutely embodies every picturesque stereotype you will have of Austria before arriving.
Stunning is just a word that keeps on coming when describing almost anywhere in Austria, and Inssbruck is no exception. The picturesque medieval city is a great starting point for adventure sports in the surrounding area.
Hallstatt in Salzkammergut is a picture postcard medieval village that should be on everyone’s must see list. Surrounded by mountains and nestle on the edge of the Hallstätter See, you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Particularly beautiful in the winter, it also holds a celebrated Christmas market.
Melk Abbey is one of the world’s most famous monastic sites, perched on the tope of a mountain high above the town of Melk, where it gets its name, it is a spectacular landmark abd has a vast interior complex to explore.
Go on a Sound Of Music Tour. You know you want to!
Things To Do.
Go mountain climbing.
The Wilder Kaiser region is a haven for mountain climbing and mountaineering opportunities, with peaks like Totenkirchl, Fleischbank-Ostwand or Predigtstuhl evoking awe and respect from climbers around the world, and the via ferrata Klamml in Ellmau is a stunning climb with routes for all skill levels. Wether you are an absolute beginner or a world class expert, there are guides and opportunities here to suit all ages, sizes and skill levels.
Celebrity spot along the Bergdokter route.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Austria can’t escape the Bergdoktor. This is one of Austria’s most celebrated and well loved TV shows, and many people come to the region specifically to visit the sets and locations the series is filmed in. The summer months in particular hold special Bergdocktor weeks and events for fans of the series.
Test yourself with a range of mountain sports.
Whether it is skiing or snowboarding in the winter season or hiking, cycling or climbing in the winter season, Austria has it all. The Wilder Kaiser region is perfect for mountain biking, canyoning or any other outdoor adventure you can think of, and holds a specific Alpine sports programme throughout the summer months open to people of all abilities and ages.
Indulge in hearty Austrian cuisine.
Okay, Austria isn’t as famous for it’s cuisine as other places, I grant you, but that makes the sheer indulgence and taste of the food here all the more surprising and welcome. From traditional hearty fare with plenty of cheese like Kasspressknodel to newer culinary delights, you won’t be able to help yourself and you’ll need a lot of mountain sports to burn off how much you’ll be eating!
Hike along the trail of the witches water.
Hexenwasser (Witch Water) in Hochsöll isn’t just an interesting piece of folklore, it is the longest barefoot trail in Austria, and contains a grand total of 60 stations through some spectacular scenery to experience the natural elements. This isn’t just a regular hiking trail for fitness enthusiasts though, although there are challenging parts if you want to seek them out, this is also a family trail, giving families and children plenty of opportunities to get out into the fresh mountain air. The magic forest of Ellmi’s Zauberwelt on the Hartkaiser and the KaiserWelt Scheffau adventure play area at the Brandstadl are also particularly popular.