Best places to visit in Austria

Austria has so much to offer. Here you will collect inspirations and ideas for your vacation, these are the best places to visit in Austria!

My Austrian wife is sharing her top tips with you.

Best places to visit in Austria cover image

💡 Tips

All the places mentioned in this little guide are absolutely worth a visit with your family in winter and in summer.

Spring and Autumn are more budget-friendly seasons but some sights and cable cars tend to be closed during those seasons.

  • Winter – December, January February
  • Spring – March, April, May
  • Summer – June, July, August
  • Fall/Autumn – September, October, November
natur historische museum and empress Maria theresia statue
Naturhistorische Museum and empress Maria Theresia statue in summer

In winter it gets colder the higher you travel and in summer the sun is stronger in the higher altitudes.

The guide starts at Vienna in the east and ends in the west. So theoretically you could land at the Vienna airport and leave from either Munich, Germany, or Zurich Switzerland.

To get around between those cities, we recommend hiring a car. Some cities are also easily accessible by train, some destinations in the mountains not so. So, a car is the better option.

Paying by card is also not always the norm. Tourist-related establishments tend to be stubborn and only accept cash. So, be ready for that and take cash and cards with you.

People in the cities may speak English. It’s not common for Austrians to speak English, especially since the older generations never learned the language.

Austrians speak a variation and many dialects of German, which are also known as Austro-German.

A decent hotel room costs about 60-80 € per night, and most are very functional, well furnished, and decorated. Heating in winter is the norm, ACs in the summer are still not that common.

alps in austria

🎡 Vienna

Vienna is the capital of Austria and an important cultural hub in Europe. The city is located in East Austria close to the Hungarian and Czech border. The Danube river flows through the city.

In the center of the old town, known as the 1st district (erster Bezirk) is the Stephansdom cathedral and around that the Ringstraße.

Most attractions, museums, shops, and other recreational places are located in or around the ring.

The city is known for its castles, museums, and great artists of the past. The Nationalbibliothek, Naturhistorische Museum, Kunsthistorische Museum are just a few of the many amazing establishments that you ought to visit with your family.

When in Vienna, you most definitely need to visit the Prater and its biggest attraction, the largest and oldest giant ferries wheel (Riesenrad).

The Prater is an open amusement park. That means you pay for each ride individually. It’s one of the oldest amusement parks in the world!

Because Vienna has so much to offer, we recommend spending 3 days in Vienna.

vienna city center
Vienna city center

🌳 Vienna Woods and Wachau

The Vienna Woods (Wiener Wald) and the Wachau are located near Vienna and are part of rural East Austria.

The area is known as the Vienna basin, so the landscape is flat and slightly hilly. It’s the transition between the Alps and Carpathian mountains.

This is a place for you if you want a laid-back atmosphere with plenty of nature. You will find forests and vineyards there.

In the Wiener Wald, we recommend that you visit the Klosterneuburg monastery with Austria’s oldest winery and the Thermal healing water spa Römertherme in Baden.

In the Wachau, we recommend checking out the Dürnstein village and castle where Richard Lion Heart king of England was kept prisoner and the Melk Abbey with its ancient book and baroque architecture.

monastery Melk in Wachau
Melk Monastery in Wachau

🗻 Großglockner & Hohe Tauern National Park

The Großglockner (ß is spelled ss) is the tallest mountain in Austria with 12,461 feet or 3,798 meters.

It’s situated in the Hohe Tauern National Park area and you can get there by car.

Take the scenic Großglockner Hochalpenstraße (I know it’s a mouthful) up to the Kaiser-Franz-Josephs Höhe (named after the late emperor). It’s a beautiful toll road that was built in the 30s before WW2.

The endpoint offers plenty of free parking, a museum and you get a great view of the glacier and the mountains.

We walked down to the Pasterze glacier or what is left of it.

🚢 Zell am See

Zell am See is a smaller city in the Salzburg area, located next to Kaprun and near Salzburg city and the Großglocknerstrasse.

It is known for the Zeller lake and the surrounding mountains.

The empress of Austria used to love hanging out in Zell am See.

Take a walk around the lake or enjoy a relaxed boat ride with your family in Zell am See.

YOu can go skiing all year round there too. The glaciers in nearby Kaprun can be accessed in summer too.

⛪️ Hallstatt

Hallstatt is that postcard town that you might have seen when looking up Austria.

It’s actually just a small village located in the Salzkammergut area at the Hallstatt lake.

The place is a quintessential Instagram photoshoot hotspot for people from all over the world.

But the place has so much more to offer!

Historically, Hallstatt is one of the oldest settlements in Austria, known for being the center of the Hallstatt culture.

The mines above the village were mined thousands of years ago for salt and iron. Today, they still extract salt in Hallstatt! In fact, it’s our table salt in Austria.

We recommend that you visit the Hallstatt mines. It’s educational and fun. Kids love it!

hallstatt salzkammergut
Hallstatt

🏰 Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the capital of the Tyrol region in West Austria. Tyrol is locally spelled as Tirol.

The city is known for the medieval, typical Tyrolean, architecture. The inner city center has its greatest treasure, the golden roof (Goldenedachl).

The Inn river runs through the city and Innsbruck is located in the Inn valley, which is a vast valley. You can visit the Nordkette mountains with the cable car.

Innsbruck is a former winter Olympic city and what’s visibly left of that is the famous Bergisel ski jumping ramp. You can visit the place, I was told that the food is great in the restaurant there.

Our favorite hangout in Innsbruck is Schloss Ambras, a renaissance castle with beautiful gardens. The castle can be visited, of course, the gardens are free and absolutely stunning.

🥃 Rattenberg

Rattenberg is Austria’s smallest city located in Tyrol. It’s a medieval-walled city with colorful buildings.

The place is known for its traditional age-old glass workmanship. You can buy some of the finest glassware in Rattenberg!

The castle ruins are located above the town and it’s just a 5-minute walk up. You will be rewarded with a breathtaking view.

Rattenberg is well visited in winter during the advent, pre-Christmas period. The market is famous because of its traditional approach and vibe. You get Glühwein there and local food delicacies such as Daumnidei (sweet dumplings).

Discover more fantastic places in and things to see in Tyrol.

🏫 Bad Radkersburg

Bad Radkersburg is our insider tip! The city is located in Styria, southern Austria and it’s mostly frequented by Austrian Tourists.

Bad Radkersburg has a long history and it borders directly Slovenia, which was part of the Austrian empire at its prime.

The place is a small medieval walled town with beautiful fields surrounding it.

Bad Radkersburg, as the name Bad for bath suggests it, is a thermal spa. Those are openly accessible to the public.

You get a children’s area there, an adult bathing area, and a great sauna village with one ticket. The waters are healing and enriched with minerals.

The area is known for some of the best wines, meats, and pumpkin seed oil in Austria. We recommend that you visit a Buschenschanken. Those are food and wine places and your hosts are the wine farmers.

bad radkersburg city
Bad Radkersburg from afar

⏱ Graz

Graz is the capital city of Styria, a large southern region in Austria.

The city is known to be different from other places in Austria. It has some great super welcoming people with a forward-thinking mindset and you will find many people with a multi-cultural background there.

Graz is known for the Uhrturm on the Schlossberg, which is a medieval clock tower.

You will also find some important museums and galleries in this warm city.

Graz city and the schlossberg
Graz

🎼 Salzburg

Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace and you have to add this Austrian city to your bucket list.

It is conveniently located between Vienna, the east, and Innsbruck, the west. Besides, Salzburg is bordering Germany and is therefore just a stone’s throw from Munich.

The old town is a pretty walk and you will enjoy getting lost in it. Small charming boutiques and hidden historical corners await to be discovered.

The city is known to host the Jederman Salzburg festival every summer. Besides, if you want to soak in some culture, I recommend you visit a theater play or museum.

Salzburg is surrounded and built between 5 hills. You get a great view of the city from the Festungsberg, Mönchsberg, and Kapuzinerberg. You can also visit the fortress Hohensalzburg on the Festungsberg

Do you love pretty gardens? How about you discover the Mirabelle and Hellbrunn gardens.

🏡 Alpbachtal

The Alpbachtal is a mountain valley located in Tyrol near Rattenberg.

It’s special, because the village known as Alpbach in the Alpbachtal, had made it a rule after WW2, to retain the local wooden farmhouse architecture.

So, every building that was built in the last 70 years, looks like from over 100 years ago.

Imagine that with the views of the alps and green pastures!

Alpbach also hosts the yearly European Forum Congress.

Alpbach is your place to be if you love nature!

🌅 Bad Gastein

When you enter Bad Gastein it is as if you traveled back in time. The buildings and architecture sure make an impression and will give you a taste of what the Austrian empire felt and looked like.

Bad Gastein is known for its water. The water is widely sold as plain mineral drinking water and flavored water in Austria.

The water is also the reason why this place is so popular. It has always been a place where the rich and famous would converge to have a healing bath.

Today the local spa is affordable and open to the general public and the best about it are the outdoor lakes in the spa and sauna village area.

Bad Gastein
Bad Gastein

🎭 Bregenz

Bregenz is the capital of Vorarlberg, the region located to the west in Austria. It’s bordering Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and Germany.

The city is known for the Bregenzer Festspiele in the summer, which is an arts festival held on a floating stage.

Bregenz is one of the cities at the banks of the large lake Constanz. The other cities are located in Germany and Switzerland.

You can take the Pfänderbahn, a cable car, up the mountain for an unforgettable view of the Austrian Alps.

Bregenzer Festspiele
Bregenzer Festspiele Stage

So where are you planning to go first?

Feel free to reach out in a comment or mail, if you have a question.

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