Austria is home to some of Europe’s most beautiful cities and offers tourists a lot of options in terms of city breaks. Austria’s most visited cities combine a mix of the classical imperial architecture with the unique alpine culture the nation is famed for. With so many distinctive destinations to choose from, it can sometimes be challenging to pinpoint where to visit on a short trip to the country.
While this mountainous country isn’t Europe’s biggest, Austria’s most beautiful cities are spread all over the nation and choosing where to go in advance can often make the difference. To create a better idea of where to visit on a trip to Austria urban towns, this article gives you a clearer picture of:
- The most popular cities in Austria
- Must see places in Austria
- The best times to visit these destinations
Once all the bag packing is complete and Austrian visas arranged for those who need them, tourists will be ready to experience the country’s most famed cities.
Vienna is the jewel in the crown of Austria. The impressive capital city is a magnet for tourists visiting the country and that is unsurprising considering the broad range of cultural treasures it boasts.
As the former capital of Imperial Austria and the historical seat of the House of Habsburg, the city is full of remnants of the golden years of the empire. This includes extravagant opera houses, opulent palaces, and beautiful, well-kept parks.
The restaurant culture in the city is also second to none, with high-quality eateries serving top quality international and local cuisine throughout. Vienna is also a coffee lover’s dream, with expert coffee makers and historical coffee houses dotted all over the city. This is truly the place to try some of the most refined food and drink Europe has to offer.
What to Do in Innsbruck
Innsbruck, in the country’s western region close to Germany, is a great destination to enjoy the country’s culture and natural environment in equal measure. The city is surrounded by the impressive Nordkette mountains, which offer great hiking opportunities in the summer and amazing skiing in the winter.
The city itself, however, offers much more to the avid sportsperson and has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. Today the sports complexes from those games are still in use in Olympiaworld where ice hockey, soccer, and music events are held to this day.
One of the best day trips to enjoy in the city, if not the county, however, is a trip by cable car to the peaks of Nordkette. Here tourists can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and travel deep into the country’s biggest national park in relative comfort.
Salzburg: Mozart’s birthplace
Salzburg is an exceptional place for a visit while in Austria. The historic Altstadt (Old Town) dating back to the medieval era and Neustadt (New Town) dating back to the 19th Century are both impressive in the scope of their preservation and completeness.
Towering above both of these, though, is the imposing and beautiful city Fortress. Sat atop Festungberg Hill, it has been a stronghold for the city’s rules all the way back to the 1000s.
However, Saltzburg is most famous for being the birthplace of Mozart. His historical legacy is still felt in the city today and it is still possible for classical music lovers to visit his former residence.
Things to Do in Graz
Austria’s second-largest city showcases an interesting mix of baroque and renaissance architecture. This southern city close to the country’s Slovenian border features a UNESCO recognized old town and the opulent 17th-century Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II.
Graz is also a great place to visit for fans of the country’s military history or military history in general. The Styrian Armory harks back to the days of Ottoman conquest in the region and boasts a large collection of antique armaments from throughout the country’s history.
Linz, Home of the Oldest Cake in the World
Linz is notable for being the home of the Linzer torte, which is sometimes attributed as the oldest cake in the world. However, it is one of the country’s best shopping destinations with 13 shopping malls found around the city and the biggest shopping street outside of Vienna.
The city is also a great spot to experience a local festival in Austria. It has a major festival for approximately every season. These include the local music promoting Linzfest and Crossing Europe Film festival in spring, Bubbledays during the summer where street art and extreme sports are celebrated, or the Ars Electronica festival which focuses on media-visual arts in Autumn.
The Best Times to Visit Austria’s Cities
The country is accessible year-round no matter the weather, however, each season offers different experiences and there’s no definitive single best time to visit Austria if you’re on a city break. If you’re in Austria to hike or explore outdoors, it’s better to visit in late spring or early fall, when the weather is temperate but not too hot or cold.
Naturally, Austria is famed for its winter weather. It is one of the best tourist destinations in Europe for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts. For those wishing to enjoy the winter sports scene or some of the country’s spectacular Christmas markets then the long winter between December and February is the best time to visit.
Having a clear idea of when and where to go in Austria is a great way to prepare before traveling. While it is not a particularly difficult country to traverse, having a good itinerary ready before setting off can make the most of your time in the country.
Remember, if you’re planning to fly to Austria from the end of 2022 as a foreign tourist you will need an ETIAS Schengen visa waiver for Austria in order to enter. Applying for this electronic visa waiver online will only take a few minutes and will grant visitors access to all 26 Schengen member countries.