Is Austria worth visiting? While it may not be as well known as other European holiday destinations like Spain or Italy, we think visiting Austria is a must. First of all, there’ll be fewer tourists! But in all seriousness, it has lush mountain ranges, sophisticated cities, and delicious food (and beer), so you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss out.
Austria ticks the boxes for what most people are looking for from Europe. Beautiful buildings? Check. Historical monuments? Check. Rich culture? Check! The only thing we think is missing in Austria is a beach, but hey, a picturesque alpine lake definitely does the trick, don’t you think?
If this quick little intro hasn’t got you completely sold, then hold on to your hats, as there’s PLENTY more where that came from. We’re about to blow your
hats socks off with 7 reasons we think visiting Austria is a no-brainer! Here they are:
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Vienna is one of the TOP reasons why Austria is worth visiting. Every corner of the city center is like a postcard, with each street as beautiful as the last! It is full to the brim with imperial architecture (more on that later!), plus there are over 2,000 parks in the city to enjoy. If you find yourself visiting in springtime, checking out one of the city’s 280 imperial gardens should be at the top of your to-do list. The Volksgarten alone has 400 species of rose that will be in bloom!
As Austria’s capital city, and due to its central European location, Vienna just oozes culture and history. Many consider Vienna the world capital of music since more famous composers came from its magnificent streets than anywhere else in the world. Think Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, these men were the best of the best when it comes to classical music, and they all came from Vienna! If you have time, then you should listen to the Viennese State Opera, the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, or the Viennese Philharmonic, for some of today’s top classical music performances.
Let’s talk about museums. Vienna has over 100 of them, many of them world-class and showcasing works from some of the world’s greatest artists. The Belvedere Museum is one of the top museums on the planet with collections that span back to the Middle Ages. It is home to Klimt’s “The Kiss”, a painting you’ve no doubt heard about or seen a picture of. How great would it be to see it in person??? The city also has music museums, a Natural History Museum, and the Sigmund Freud Museum (he was from Vienna). It’s safe to say, you’ll be spoilt for choice!
You’ve heard of German beer, you’ve heard of Czech beer… How about Austrian beer? Austria is a beer lover’s paradise. Not only is the beer freaking delicious, but the country has over 300 breweries and over 1,000 different beers to choose from. So no one’s going home thirsty! Beer is definitely on the local’s minds, and per head, Austria comes second only to the Czech Republic for the amount of beer consumed.
There are top-notch pubs and beer gardens all over the country, and if that wasn’t enough, there are plenty of beer festivals including Vienna Beer WEEK. A whole entire week dedicated to beer! During the week there are brewery tours, tastings, and tap takeovers in pubs and restaurants by guest brewers. This event is basically Austria’s answer to Oktoberfest, and we are all for it!
For any of you beer nerds out there, the Engelszell Convent is definitely a reason that Austria is worth visiting. It is the only trappist brewery in the country (and one of only eight that exist worldwide outside of Belgium). The trappist monastery was founded in 1293, and to this day, the monks still brew beer. You can buy dark, amber, and blonde beers there in addition to monk-made apple juice and cheeses for any non-drinkers. If you can’t swing by Engelszell Convent, make sure you at least try Stiegl while you’re in the country, it’s the most popular beer amongst locals, and it’s pretty darn good!
Austria’s central location in the center of the Germanic, Mediterranean, and Eastern European world has led to a rich tapestry of buildings and influences. It was also the capital of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian Empire, so you just know there’s a whole load going on! You’ll find Baroque, Rococo, Romanesque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau style buildings throughout the country, particularly in its cities.
Some buildings you HAVE to see when you’re in Austria are the Salzburg Cathedral, the Belvedere Palace, and the Hofburg Palace. These are all examples of stunning Baroque architecture, a highly decorative style that originated in Italy. Picture detailed sculptures, a LOT of marble, and large-scale decorations. It’s dramatic AF and we can’t get enough of it!
We also recommend visiting the Palmenhaus, which is on the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace (a building that is the embodiment of Viennese extravagance). The Palmenhaus itself was the largest greenhouse of its kind when it was first unveiled in 1881, and the fairytale-like greenhouse is really a sight to see. What’s more, to this day it is fulfilling its original purpose as a steam-heated greenhouse filled with exotic plants, palms (Palmenhaus means Palm House), and temperate, Mediterranean specimens.
Lastly, we urge you to get your Art Nouveau ON in Vienna! The movement flourished out of Vienna in the late 19th century, with Austrian architects Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner at the forefront. A visit to Otto Wagner’s Majolikahaus will have you convinced that Art Nouveau is your new favorite style. The building exterior is decorated with golden vines, pink roses, and more colorful motifs. It’s simply stunning.
There is next-level scenery in Austria, and it’s well worth visiting for that alone! If you love hiking, walking, or just being in nature, then you have to visit. It has picture-perfect mountain ranges, alpine lakes, and quaint villages. The Stubai Valley is loads of fun in summer AND winter, and many parts are easily accessible. Whatever season you find yourself there, the Stubai Glacier is really something to behold. Under the glacier’s edge is an ice cave with ethereal, almost glowing, blue walls and a unique structure – it’s just really cool (pun intended).
For summertime, pack your swimwear as taking a dip in Lake Weissensee waters is highly recommended. The waters are rumored to have healing properties, but, if you’re one for solid facts, it is widely known as the purest swimming lake in the alps. In the summer the waters reach a pleasant 25 degrees and are crystal clear, ideal for diving, cliff-jumping, sailing, and canoeing. If you’re not a water baby, go for a pleasant walk around the lake, or for a family bike ride!
We are obsessed with the Kaisergebirge mountain range. The nature reserve includes the peaks of Wilder Kaiser and Zahmer Kaiser. The region is great for hiking, biking, and rock climbing in the summer, and in the winter, they become fantastic ski destinations. If you’re an avid hiker, the Kaiserkrone is a multi-day hike that snakes through the most impressive mountains in the Tyrol region. Over the 5 days, you’ll walk through 65 kilometers of trails, traveling hut to hut through some next-level scenery! Austria is definitely a hiker’s paradise!
Austria may not be as well known for skiing as other hot skiing destinations like France or Switzerland, but it has made a place for itself in the skiing world for its fantastic runs (including some of the world’s steepest runs) and its affordable prices! If you love skiing, then Austria is 10/10 worth visiting. The country has a huge variety of ski destinations, ranging from big and small resorts, beginner and expert slopes, and well-known or less traveled ski towns.
The ski season in Austria is from December until late March, but of course, the busiest period is over the holidays – more specifically, December 25th until January 2nd. February can also get quite busy due to the school holidays. For fewer crowds the beginning and end of the season is the best time to go, however, if you want pristine ski conditions, then it’s better to head on over in mid-January!
The Tyrol, Salzburg, and Vorarlberg ski resorts are hugely popular, more crowded, and tend to have higher prices. For better value ski resorts, head to Carinthia and Styria. We also love Ski Amade, Ski Arlberg, and the Kitzbuhel Alps for their chill atmosphere, cute ski villages, and best of all, their affordable prices. These areas are great for families too!
You may have gathered this already, but one of the biggest reasons Austria is worth visiting is that it is a fabulous destination all year long. In July (Austria’s hottest month), the temperatures are pleasant with an average of 70°F in the mountains and 81°F down in the plains. Yes, the winters are cold, BUT, since there’s snow, most people don’t mind the cool temperatures as there are more than enough fun winter activities! January is the coldest month with lows of 19.4°F, a maximum of 41°F, and a lot of snowfall.
Some of our favorite things to do in Austria over the winter are (of course) winter sports. You can go try your hand at skiing, snowboarding, and even tobogganing! For those who want something a bit more relaxed, there’s fantastic snowshoeing and winter hikes. If you’re visiting around the holiday, then visiting a Christmas market is a MUST. Christkindlmarkt in Rathausplatz square is the most popular Christmas market in Vienna with over 150 stalls and traditional huts selling locally-made handicrafts. Don’t fret if you don’t find yourself in Vienna though, as there are wonderful holiday markets all over the country!
Summer (or spring and fall for that matter) is a great time to visit the country for hiking, boating, biking, and more! It’s a great time to visit if you love wandering around quaint villages or exploring big cities on foot. What’s more, a trip to one of the country’s amazing lakes will be even better since you’ll be able to take a dip!
There are also super fun festivals all year long. The Salzburg Festival, held every summer, is an incredible event filled with opera and classical music. Every October, Vienna hosts the Viennale Film Festival, the country’s most renowned international film festival! For spring there’s the Steiermark Fruhling festival in Vienna, an event filled with apples, pumpkins, beer, and wine… basically whatever the time of year, there’s a great festival to attend!
Is Austria worth visiting for the food? It may not be the most well-known cuisine in Europe, but we think you’re going to love it! The country has hearty savory dishes AND deliciously sweet desserts – there’s something to please everyone. One of the most famous Austrian dishes of all time has got to be Wiener Schnitzel! It is one of the country’s national dishes and a specialty of Vienna. You’ll find it in every kind of establishment from street-side stalls to expensive restaurants. It’s the ULTIMATE Austrian comfort food.
For the country’s version of mac and cheese (don’t mind if we do), you gotta try Kasespatzle. This dish features a soft egg noodle/pasta served up with a delicious (and generous) helping of cheesy goodness. It’s the perfect dish to warm yourself up after a long day on the slopes! If cheese isn’t your all-time fave, then opt for a steaming bowl of Potato Gulasch. Yes, we know this dish is originally from Hungary, but the Austrians have long integrated it into their list of favorite dishes, and you’ll be able to easily find it.
Now, onto the sweet treats. If you’re a huge fan of Apple Strudel (who isn’t?), then it’s time to start packing your bags, as Viennese Apfelstrudel is one of the country’s national dishes! It’s a popular street food, and it’s available pretty much anywhere, anytime. Some other desserts you need in your life are the Salzburger Nockerl, a meringue-like cake with a base layer of jam, Sacher Torte, probably the best chocolate cake you’ll ever try, and Marillenkuchen, Austrian Apricot Cake!