When people think of Austria, their minds are automatically filled with images of classical music halls and elegant balls filled with waltzing dancers. While Vienna remains one of the country’s most popular destinations, Austria is also brimming with glistening lakes, charming villages, and grandiose palaces just waiting to be explored!
If you are looking to venture outside the capital city to explore the landscapes and towns of Austria, where do you start? Well, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best destinations around Austria, from the snow-capped national parks to the beautifully preserved riverfront towns!
Although Austria is often overlooked by tourists in favor of it’s neighboring countries, its steep in ancient history and overflowing with culture. If you love the outdoors, delicious foods, and the arts, then you will absolutely love Austria!
Staying Safe in Austria
Austria has one of the lowest crime and danger rates in the entire world. It’s a very safe country and visitors should not be concerned about walking alone or at night. However, some parts of the city are safer than others, so always use your best judgment.
Although violent crimes rarely occur, petty theft can still be an issue. Visitors should always take precautions when traveling through its big cities. Remember to keep your valuables locked up in the hotel, or in sight at all times.
But while Austria is very safe as a whole, no matter where you travel you absolutely NEED to have travel insurance.
Travel insurance is the best way to keep you and your belongings safe and secure while you are traveling abroad. We have personally tested TONS of travel insurance companies, and can say without a doubt that World Nomads is the absolute best (and most affordable!). Fill out the form below to get a quote :)
#1 – Salzburg Altstadt
One of the nicer places in Austria to sightsee!
- 27 churches to visit
- Located in the Alps
It’s no wonder why the historic city center of Salzburg has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the oldest cities in all of Austria! This beautifully preserved town is lined with Medieval and Baroque castles and cathedrals, and you can easily get lost amongst the cobblestone streets and colorful burgher buildings.
Not only is the Salzburg Altstadt rich in history, but it also has strong musical ties as it is where Mozart was born.
- Hohenzsalzburg Castle has been perched high above the city on Festungberg Hill since 1077. The hike to the castle may be a little exhausting on a warm day, but the panoramic vies of Salzburg are just as impressive as the castle itself!
- Mozart’s Birthplace Museum is where music aficionados can learn more about the composer’s early days in Salzburg. You can visit all the rooms in his house and even see his original compositions and documents.
- Residenzplatz is a magnificent plaza in the center of the city center. Surrounded by the Salzburg Cathedral and Alte Residenz, this 16th-century square is the perfect place to grab a Viennese coffee and watch the locals go about their day.
Where to Stay
#2 – Schönbrunn Palace
- 40 rooms are open to visit
- Summer home to Austro-Hungarian monarchy
The grand Schönbrunn Palace takes sophistication to a whole new level! Located in the outskirts of Vienna, the Schönbrunn Palace was the original summer home to the royal House of Habsburg.
Tourists from all over the world come to view the palace’s astounding 1,441 rooms, sculptured gardens, and historic monuments. If the Baroque architecture wasn’t enough, then there are even reconstructed Roman Ruins for you to look at!
- Hall of Mirrors is a glamorous white and gold facade room lined with mirrors that give the illusion of being much larger than it is. It’s also the site of Mozart’s first concert to Empress Maria Theresa, which he played when he was only six years old!
- The Great Gallery was the center of life in the palace and hosted a variety of festivals, receptions, and balls down it’s 40-meter long hall. Decorated in elaborate frescos and illuminated by crystal chandeliers, the Great Gallery is a site to see.
- The Palace Gardens are just as impressive as the palace itself! Explore the botanical gardens, mazes, and even the on-site orangery!
#3 – Margareten, Vienna
Cool place to see in Austria with friends!
- 5th district of Vienna
- Cool, artsy vibe
Although Vienna is known for classical music and historic traditions, you can still find a glimpse of contemporary culture in Margareten. Overflowing with bohemian vibes, this small neighborhood has trendy cafes and modern bars on the bottom floors of classic Viennese buildings.
The streets are crowded with young artists and hip designers which makes Margareten a wonderful place to explore if you’re looking for the newer, more modern side of Vienna. If you are making the trip there, you should definitely check out our article about the best day trips from Vienna.
- Naschmarkt is the bustling market situated right next to the riverbank of Margareten. You’ll find everything from fresh fish to exotic fruits here, so make sure you come hungry!
- Margareten Platz is the large square centered in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s a wonderful spot to see some of the best architecture in Vienna, like the 19th century Margareten-Hof and the Margaretenbrunnen fountain.
- Margaretenstraße is the main street that runs through Margareten. Cafes, art galleries, and restaurants are busy and buzzing with visitors and students until the late hours of the night.
Where to Stay
#4 – Melk Benedictine Abbey
- Founded in 1089 by Leopold II
- Home to over 20 monks and many students
Overlooking the flowing Danube River, the Melk Abbey is a spectacular monastery that can’t be missed during your visit to Austria. While the abbey itself is an ornately decorated church, the main attractions are the final resting places and burial sites.
Melk Abbey contains the remains of Saint Coloman of Stockerau, as well as several other tombs from members of the House of Babenberg.
- The Library of Melk Abbey is particularly impressive as some of the 16,000 books are over 500 years old! The library room itself is also just as stunning, with colorful frescoes and murals adorning the walls and ceilings.
- The Marble Hall is a beautiful room decorated in vibrant, unique frescoes. Famous Baroque painters designed the ceiling frescos, which show many Greek Gods floating through the heavens.
- The Tomb of Saint Coloman lays inside a golden alabaster sarcophagus in the second largest alter. Saint Coloman was an Irish Saint who was supposedly tortured and hanged in Vienna when residents thought he was actually a secret spy.
#5 – Hallstatt
A fascinating educational place to visit in Austria!
- Charming mountain and lake town
- Explore salt mine caves and museums
Located on the banks of the Hallstatt Lake stands the picturesque town of Hallstatt. Originally a salt mining town, Hallstatt has since transformed to become one of the most visited villages in all of northern Austria.
When you’re not admiring the charming Baroque homes and quaint riverfront views, you can enjoy some of the many unique attractions that dive into Hallstatt’s rich history and culture.
- Dachstein Caves are breathtaking ice caves that run over 1,100 meters deep. A tour through the Giant Ice Cave and Mammoth Cave will show you some of the largest icy stalagmites and stalagmites in the entire world!
- Salzwelten Salt Mine is the oldest salt mine in the world dating back over 7,000 years. Don your helmet and headlamp to explore the depths of the salt mines that put Hallstatt on the map!
- World Heritage View Skywalk is a 360-meter high free floating skywalk that stretches over the colorful town and glistening lake below. The panoramic views from the top are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, so don’t forget your camera.
#6 – The Innsbruck Hofburg
- Built in 1460
- Five themed museums and areas
This gigantic palace was once the main residential building for the House of Habsburgs for almost 500 years and continues to be one of Austria’s major cultural attractions.
Although it was remodeled throughout the years to adapt to more Baroque and Rococo architecture style, the palace still continues spectacular apartments, halls, and galleries rich with history. You can easily spend an entire day just wandering through the lavish rooms and manicured gardens!
- The Hofburg Chapel is a vibrantly white and gold decorated Rococo style room where Emperor Francis I died. Besides the glamorous interior, you’ll also find large marble sculptures, bright frescoes, and even window and wood panel paintings.
- The Chinese Room is decorated in giant Chinese paintings and motifs, which are very unique for this time period. The murals on the walls were hidden beneath wallpaper and were not discovered until the late 1950s.
- The Palace Courtyard is situated right in the middle of the Innsbruck Hofburg. Measuring 1,300 square meters, this cobblestone square is decorated with the Austrian striped shield. After touring the interior, step inside the courtyard to admire the impressive building from a different angle!
#7 – Kitzbühel
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Austria
- Summer and winter activities
- Upscale ski town
Located in the snowy Austrian Alps, Kitzbühel is a charming medieval town known for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the entire country! Affluent winter lovers from all over the world flock to Kitzbühel for its glitzy ski resorts, fine dining, and magical views of the mountains.
With over 170 kilometers of skiable mountains, you’ll find something for every skill level ranging from beginner to extremely advanced. If you’re not big into winter sports, then visiting the town center is can be just as intriguing!
- 3S Cable Car is the tallest cable car in all of Europe at over 400-meters high. Take the cable car 3.7-meters to Jochberg for some of the most outstanding views of the snowy hillside and quaint ski resorts below.
- Kitzbühel Horn is the 2,000-meter high mountain that makes this region so famous. It’s a skiers paradise during the winter and becomes packed with hikers and cyclists once the snow melts in the summer.
- St. Andreas Parish Church is over 500 years old and was recently remodeled to fit into Baroque style architecture. The inside of the church is amazing, with vibrant frescoes, 15th-century ceiling paintings, and beautiful stucco walls.
#8 – Kufstein
- One of Tyrol’s oldest cities
- Few tourists around
Austrian Tyrol may be known for some of the most charming villages in all of Europe, and Kufstein is no exception! With only 18,000 residents, Kufstein feels intimate and cozy which is perfect if you’re looking for a non-touristy city to spend a few days.
The town center is quite compact so you’re only a few minutes stroll on foot to all of Kufstein’s attractions, restaurants, and shopping.
- Kufstein Festung is the grand fortress that is one of the top sights in Kufstein. Built on top of a 90-meter high hill, the fortress overlooks the entire city center beneath it. Kufstein Festung was historically used as a prison in the late 17th-century but it’s now a museum open to visitors. Don’t miss the world’s largest outdoor organ that’s in front of the fortress!
- Römerhofgasse is the historic alley that runs through the center of Kufstein. The small, colorful dwellings and dimly lit shops along the lane are pages right out of a fairytale!
- Stadtplatz is the main square situated in the middle of Kufstein. To the right of the square is the city hall, a bright yellow building that can’t be missed.
#9 – High Tauern National Park
One of the most amazing places in Austria!
- Extremely diverse landscapes
- Home to Austria’s highest mountain
Austria’s largest national park covers an astounding 1,800 square meters. The landscape throughout the park is extremely diverse, and you can find everything including snowy mountain peaks, calm meadows, ice glaciers, and even flowing waterfalls!
If you love being in the outdoors, then summer at High Tauern National Park is for you! The area is abundant with trails and hiking paths perfect for exploring the nature of Austria!
- Krimml Waterfall is the highest waterfall in all of Austria at 380 meters! Unlike the structure of most waterfalls, Krimml is tiered and flows down in three different stages until it reaches the river Salzach.
- The Glacial Educational Path Innergschlöss is a 1.5-hour nature trail that leads you through the park’s natural glaciers. On the way, you’ll see cobalt blue lakes and blooming meadows, as well as the Schlaten Glacier itself.
- Mittersill is a small village in the center of the park. If you’re looking for Austrian souvenirs like dirndls, lederhosen, soaps, and chocolates, then spend a few hours shopping the boutiques in Mittersill.
#10 – Bad Gastein
- Health resort town
- Great ski town in the winter
A drive through the Hohe Tauren Mountain Range drops you off at Bad Gastein, a picture-perfect town where you can spend the weekend in total relaxation.
Bad Gastein’s dozen or so thermal hot springs contain radon, a substance known to have magical healing properties for those with ailments and arthritis. The architecture is Bad Gastein is also fairly unique, with many buildings being designed in the French Belle Epoque style.
- Gasteiner Wasserfall is a waterfall that plunges 341-meters through the rocky mountainside. To get the best view of the falls, climb the Wasserfallbrücke on the opposite side.
- Thermalwasser Trinkbrunnen are little water fountains located throughout the city center in Bad Gastein. The water in the fountain also contains radon, so you can drink a few glasses to get all the health benefits for free!
- St. Nicholas Church is a 15th-century yellow, gothic church. The frescoes on in the inside altar are meticulously preserved, and the stone pulpit in the center is one of the oldest in all of Austria.
Where to Stay
#11 – Kalkalpen National Park
- Over 200 square meters
- Hiking, cycling, and horseback riding
Central Europe’s largest forested park is Kalkalpen National Park in Upper Austria. The park is located in the Northern Limestone Alps, one of the longest mountain ranges that run through neighboring Germany.
Although there are few activities in the park itself, visitors come for the awe-inspiring views and peaceful surroundings. This just means that it’s unlikely you’ll be bumping shoulders with other tourists, so you feel as if Kalkalpen National Park is there just for you!
- Wurbauerkogel is a watchtower with some of the best panoramic views of the entire park. Standing 21-meters high, this glass observation tower has views of over 21 mountain peaks, including the peaks from the Wasserklotz, Tamishcachturm, and Sengsengebirge Mountains.
- Steyrtal Trail runs through the park and is the most popular path for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. It was once the site of the Steyrtal Railway, which crossed through Upper Austria until it was closed in the 1980s.
- Molln is a small village that sits at the base of the park. It remains completely untouched by tourists, but still includes a little visitor center with plenty of information about the national park.
#12 – St. Gilgen
- Picturesque town by the lake
- Cute cafes and restaurants
Fans of The Sound of Music will most definitely recognize St. Gilgen, a village on the outskirts of Salzburg! Besides providing the scenic backdrops for the movie, St. Gilgen is also considered Mozart’s Village since most of his relatives (including his grandfather, mother, and sister) lived and worked in the town.
With its clear lake, charming streets, and cultural history, St. Gilgen is worth a quick day trip if you’re visiting Salzburg.
- Wolfgangsee is the turquoise lake nestled next to the city center. Over 10-kilometers in length, Wolfgangsee is also located next to the Salzkammergut Mountains which makes an unforgettable backdrop to St. Gilgen.
- Saint Aegidius Church is the town’s delicate yellow and white church dedicated to St Aegidius, also known as St. Giles. The church’s cemetery unique compared to other cemeteries since it rests on a bed of rocks that are covered in bright, flowers.
- The Zwölfhorn Cable Car leaves from Wolfgangsee and lifts you up into the clouds of the mountainous summit. Once you’re at the top, you’ll have trails to hike or a restaurant to dine at if you’re feeling hungry!
#13 – Mirabell Palace
One of Austria’s coolest historical sites!
- Located in the middle of Salzburg
- Free to tour during the day
You don’t need to leave the city of Salzburg in order to find an embellished, elegant palace! Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by the Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau as a secret hideout for him and his mistresses!
Since then, the palace was used by some of the most prominent figures in Austrian and Bavarian history. It’s now used as the Salzburg Mayor’s office, as well as an event hall for lavish weddings.
- Mirabell Gardens line the grounds directly in front of the palace. The rectangle plaza and geometric hedges make the garden one of the most recognizable landmarks in Salzburg. The park also contains several fountains, a rose garden, and even an orangery.
- Marble Hall is the largest, breathtaking room inside the palace, and is often used for wedding receptions, concerts, and formal receptions. The white and gold facades scale the inside of the walls, while the glimmering crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings.
- The Dwarf Garden is a little park on the outside of the main Mirabell Gardens. Take a short stroll and see the dozens of small, marble dwarf statues that are bizarrely scattered around the park.
#14 – Lienz
A nice non-touristy place to visit in Austria
- Tourist free town
- Plenty of outdoor activities for all seasons
If you’re looking to soak up a bit of sun in the middle of Tyrolian winter, then head to Lienz! Known for having the most sunlight in all of Austria, Lienz has plenty of activities where you can enjoy the great outdoors.
The quaint city center dates back to the medieval ages and lies right next to the Isel and Drava riverbanks. Lienz also serves up some of the most delicious traditional Austrian dishes that you enjoy while you wash it down with an ice gold class of beer!
- Osttirodler Alpine Coaster is a quirky Lienz attraction that is guaranteed to get your heart racing! This one-person steel rollercoaster propels you down the side of the Alps at over an incredible 40kph. Don’t worry, your car comes with a hand brake so you can slow down if the thrill gets to be too much!
- Hauptplatz Lienz may be the main square in the city center, but it remains virtually free from tourists! Several cafes and restaurants face the square where you can eat and drink in peace.
- Tristachersee is a gorgeous lake that’s perfect for a midday swim. While the waters are shallow, there are still diving boards and floating pontoons to keep you entertained.
#15 – Innere Stadt, Graz
- Austria’s second largest city
- Center of historic and political Graz
Architecture lovers must visit the historic city center of Graz, Styria’s capital city. The entire city center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you could easily spend several days roaming the winding roads and gawking at the different architectural styles of the buildings, which range from the Gothic era all the way to present day.
The Innere Stadt also has several dozen museums, gardens, and parks to explore.
- Schlossberg is the iconic pine-covered hill centered in the middle of Graz. While the hill’s fortress was once active the 10th-century, it has now become a popular public park where visitors come to relax and enjoy dramatic views of the surrounding area.
- The Styrian Armoury is the world’s largest collection of weapons and armor, with over 32,000 individual pieces. Take the guided tour to learn more about the building’s history during the Ottoman Empire.
- The Graz Opera is a prestigious 17th-century opera house where Mozart used to play! It’s home to the Graz Philharmonic Orchestra and is also used for classical concerts and live theater performances.
Where to Stay
#16 – Innsbruck
A must visit place in Austria on the weekend!
- Upscale resort town
- Beautiful views of the mountains and Alps
Huddled between the Karwendel Alps and the Patscherkofel Mountains stands the valley town of Innsbruck, Tyrol’s major capital. Although Innsbruck is a popular retreat down for skiers during the winter, it’s a city that can be enjoyed year round.
The crowd tends to be more upscale, and the city is littered with high-end restaurants and brand name shops. However, Innsbruck is still brimming with over 500 years of history and is a delightful town to explore while in Tyrol.
- Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen is a 20-minute cable car that whisks visitors up the Nordkette Mountains. The cable car makes several stops until it reaches the peak, where you’ll have dramatic views of Innsbruck.
- Bergisel Ski Jump is a 90-meter ski slope that has been used in the World Championships as well as the Olympics. Even if you’re not a skier, you can still enjoy the cafe and view at the top!
- Swarovski Kristallwelten is an outdoor garden completely dedicated to the sparkling world of Swarovski Crystals. The main highlight is the grass man sculpture, which has a waterfall pouring out of his mouth into a glistening blue pool.
Where to Stay
#17 – Wachau World Heritage Trail
- Hike through hills, vineyards, and villages
- Runs parallel the Danube River
Winding through 180-meters of ancient castles, quiet villages, and serene countrysides is the Wachau World Heritage Trail. It doesn’t matter which point on the trail you start or end because you’re guaranteed to find interesting sights and attractions along the way!
The majority of the trail is flat, so you don’t need to hike up mountains or hills to enjoy the sweeping view of the Wachau region!
- Aggstein Castle overlooks the Danube River and is one of the most popular stops on the trail. This 12th-century castle is perched 30-meters above the river, so the view at the top is extra spectacular.
- Ferdinand Watch Tower is an observation deck on a steep hilltop that overlooks the Danube. The little, wooden pavilion is perfect for a quick stop just to snap a few photos on your journey.
- Wachau Vineyards can be found on many of the hills throughout the walk. Come during late summer to see the vineyards crawling with ivy and grapes before they are harvested!
#18 – Lake Constance
One of the most underrated places to see in Austria!
- A stunning lake that spans three countries
- Hike, cycle, or boat in the summer
Bordered by three different countries, Lake Constance is one of Europe’s most delightful gems. In Austria, the lake is in the state of Vorarlberg, but it also touches Germany as well as Switzerland.
At over 63-kilometers long, Lake Constance is divided into two different parts, the Upper Sea and Lower Sea. During the summer, there are a variety of outdoor activities on the lake, including boating, swimming, and kayaking. The blissful lake is truly one of those landmarks you cannot miss!
- Bathing House of Lake Constance floats in the middle of the lake, right off the city of Vorarlberg. The house is propped up by reinforced concrete, and the sundeck provides a 360-degree view of the lake.
- Pfänder Mountain stands proudly over Lake Constance. To reach the summit, visitors ride a cable car 600-meters high for sweeping views of the entire lake!
- Bergenz is the beautiful capital of Vorarlberg, which surrounds Lake Constance on one side. The town is filled with cafes, museums, and restaurants, many with lakefront views where you can casually spend an afternoon.
#19 – Zell am See
- Lakeside activities in the summer and winter
- A resort town with hot springs and spas
Although Zell am See is a popular tourist destination, it still remains an authentic Austrian city full of traditional experiences! Although many come in the summer to enjoy the pristine waters of Lake Zell, the city itself is a wonderful slice of Austrian culture.
Zell am See is divided into five separate neighborhoods, each offering something different and memorable. Whether you’re interested in indulging in Schnitzels or shopping for souvenirs, Zell am See has something for you!
- St. Hippolyte Church was built in a Romanesque style in the early 1500s and remains a focal point in the city’s historic center. The bell tower connected to the church is 36-meters high, and of course, provides great views from the windows.
- The Grand Hotel Zell am See is a 5-star hotel situated right on the banks of Lake Zell. Even if you’re not staying in the hotel, you should see how stunning the chalet looks next to the snow-capped mountains.
- Cruise Lake Zell on one of the panoramic cruises! Offered several times a day, the 45-minute journey takes you through the lake to see the city and mountains from this jaw-dropping vantage point.
#20 – Feldkirch
- Small town with beautiful architecture
- Several castles and palaces
While this tiny town in the Rhein Valley may often be overlooked by tourists, it’s still worth a visit if you want to see the village life of Austria. The city center was built in the early 1200s and remains accurately preserved despite its prominent role in the Battle of Feldkirch in 1799.
This medieval city was also protected by a moat and wall, most of which you can still see today. If you’re looking for a quiet place to spend half a day, then think about venturing to Feldkirch!
- Schattenburg Castle was built in the late 1300s by the German-Swabian counts of Montfort. You can now visit the castle, which has been turned into a museum and restaurant.
- The Palais Liechtenstein may not look like much from the outside, but many visitors come for the panoramic views from the rooftop! Besides the viewpoint, the palace also has an exhibition which details 800 years of Feldkirch history.
- The Poolbar Festival occurs every July and August in Feldkirch in an old pool house. The festival aims to celebrate the cinema, art, fashion, and poetry across Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
#21 – Stadtpark, Vienna
- Vienna’s oldest park
- The largest number of statues in Vienna
Although there are many parks and gardens to visit in Vienna, Stadtpark continues to impress thousands of tourists each year. Considered the oldest part in the entire city, Stadtpark is bisected by the Vienna River and contains many sculptures of famous Viennese artists, musicians, and poets.
With so many attractions and monuments, you’ll have a lovely time going for a long stroll admiring everything Stadtpark has to offer! Also – if you’ll be in this area, you HAVE to check out our article about the best hostels in Vienna.
- The Kursalon was once a spa house during the mid-1800s. Austrians believed that the water had healing powers and that bathing in it would heal their ailments. Although it’s no longer a bathhouse, the Kursalon was renovated to be an event space for concerts and performances.
- Monument to Johann Stauss II is a marble and gold statue dedicated to the late composer. It’s an iconic landmark to Vienna and remains one of the most photographed places in the whole city.
- The Meierei may look like an ordinary restaurant, but it was once an old milk drinking hall! However, the building was practically destroyed during the war and reopened as a public restaurant near the Vienna River.
Austria is a wonderful country to explore, whether you’re traveling alone, or with your friends and family. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the lush, green gardens situated at the foot of the Alps, while architecture buffs will adore the monumental palaces and castles.
No matter what type of activity you are looking for, Austria has it all!
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