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Things To Do In Austria
A country that is so stunning that you’d feel you have gone down the rabbit hole, a land so rich in architecture and history that you’d find yourself time travelling at every other corner, a nation so full of ‘natural’ nature that you wouldn’t want to exhale once you have inhaled the fresh crisp air. Austria is a poetry on land, through and through; a landlocked one albeit, one that is bordered by Germany, Hungary and Czech Republic in the heart of Europe. There is so much you would want to do when here and so much time that you’d want to just spend stretched out in a nice spot. So what to do when in Austria? Well, for one, take historic tours. If preferred, visit this country in December to enjoy its renowned Christmas markets. Go skiing, go hiking in caves, visit fairytale-like towns and soak in as much beauty as your eyes can take.
Explore Vienna’s Art Circuit
Vienna is the capital of Austria and for all the right reasons. This city is like a living breathing museum, with its ancient and medieval structures flanking the beautiful river Danube, houses built centuries ago and theatres so intricately designed that they take your breath away. Do no miss the Baroque palaces and museums humming the sweet tunes of the past, and also do not miss the residences of some of history’s most iconic men - Beethoven, Mozart and Sigmund Freud. You should visit the Museums Quartier district, followed by the Habsburgs’ Summer Residence and the Palace of Schönbrunn. Catch a show or two at Vienna Opera House and chill at Ringstrasse Boulevard, followed by a quiet visit to St Stephen’s Cathedral.
What is Austria known for world over? Christmas. Christmas. Christmas.
Yes, the festive season is one to look forward to in most Austrian towns as it starts from November. The whole of December month is full of markets popping up in every town, open night markets and Christmas trees along with children singing carols in nooks and crannies. Imagine meandering your way through these markets with a glass of spicy mulled wine and a doughnut or some roasted chestnuts… the feeling is par magical. Some of the best markets are found in Innsbruck (Old Town Christmas Market, Hungerburg Christmas Market), Salzburg (Salzburg Christkindlmarkt), Linz, Graz and Vienna (Christmas World at City Hall, Old Viennese Christmas Market on Freyung).
Follow the Hapsburg Trail
The Hapsburgs are not only the royal name connected to Germany but were one of the most influential dynasties to conquer and rule central Europe for more than 600 years; including Austria. You will find the Hapsburg heritage in a lot of museums, villas, castles, palaces, gardens and boulevards here; from the Upper Austrian gems of Bad Ischl Museum to the Imperial Villa. Vienna is a gold mine of Hapsburg riches and architecture. You can follow the trail of their sites from the Schönbrunn Palace to the Hofburg Palace, Lainz Game Reserve and the Hermes Villa to Belvedere Palace. The iconic Ringstrabe boulevard here was also constructed by Emperor Franz Joseph, and is today one of the most beautiful in the world. The Lower Austrian landscape boasts of Laxenburg Castle, Schloss Hof and Melk Abbey while Innsbruck was basically created by the Habsburg emperor Maximilian I as the ‘Capital of Alps.’
Go Skiing in the Alps
Skiing is one of the best winter sports one can explore in Austria. With its upper reaches boasting of snow covered alps and the perfect powdered texture making the slopes gentle and thrilling all at the same time, ski resorts and schools are all the rage in Austria during winters. Alrberg is called the cradle of skiing in the Alps and for the right reasons. It also boasts of a cable car in the town of St. Anton, along with a ski school opened by Hannes Schneider. The Ski Club here is also the oldest in the world and has Olympic champions for members. Another great place to ski is Kirchberg in Tyrol, were you can enjoy spas as well as skiing trails, snowboarding and biking in the mountains.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born in Salzburg, would have never known that he would one day become synonymous with music itself. Austria is not only the birth place of Mozart but also the land where he gave the world the tremendous sounds of his creation. Salzburg is at the top of Mozart-related tours - from cultural evenings to musical performances, museum expeditions to his birthplace tour. You must attend the Mozart Concert in Salzburg, which is followed by a lavish three-course meal. You will enjoy live performances by some of the best artists here, coupled with a live orchestra and drama like no other. This show is around 3 hours long and costs around 79 USD per person.
Conquer Mt. Grossglockner
Hikers, worry not, Austria offers loads of challenging trails and routes, as well as tall peaks to conquer for you. The adventure junkies will love to take a trek up Grossglockner, which happens to be the highest peak in the country, located in the Alps. It goes up to a height of 12,461 ft and is shaped naturally like a pyramid with not one but two pinnacles. This peak is not very hard to climb and the trail is graded PD+ (not too difficult). You can also detour to the High Alpine Road or the Franz-Josefs-Höhe viewpoint for some stunning scenery of Austria.
Taken, Austrian cuisine doesn’t hold a candle when it comes to fame on the world platform. But that doesn’t mean it is not tasty. The Austrians love their food rich - so expect butters and meats and cheeses as well as decadent silky chocolate and nuts. Try their soups, speck (smoked bacon), pork dishes, Wiener Schnitzel and strudels. Sweet tooth is relished by indulging in pancakes, chocolate pralines, sacher torte or chocolate cake and marzipan balls. Some of the best places that you will find local delicacies at their best are Reinthaler’s Beisl, Cafe Landtmann, Fabio’s and Old Vienna Schnapsumeum (for raspberry schnapps).
Shop for Chocolates and More
One of the most satisfying shopping trips in Austria is shopping for everything chocolate. From sacher torte (chocolate cake) to Zotter chocolates, Mozartkugeln (chocolate marzipan balls) to chocolate wafers - there is no other nirvana than picking up these decadent delicacies. Wait, maybe there is - eating them! You can try Sachertorte’s beautifully wrapped chocolate cake, Manner Schnitten’s hazelnut wafers, Mozartkugel’s Mozart ball and Altmann & Kühne’s mini praline bars/balls/coins. These are also great unique souvenirs to take back home for your loved ones and will make them relish every bite.