As far as tourist destinations go, Austria is a country with a lot to offer. Whether you are looking to travel there for a family holiday, soak up the city life and discover the cultural side, go on a walking or hiking break or even winter skiing, this place has it all. It is a country of great contrasts and diversity, which makes it all the more appealing. This completely landlocked country has a population of 8.6 million people. Situated in central Europe, this German-speaking country is jaw-droppingly beautiful, famed for its cultural heritage as well as its spectacular scenery and stunning baroque architecture.
Discover The Province of Vorarlberg
It is comprised of 9 provinces including Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Tirol, Carinthia, Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Burgenland, the smallest of which is Voralberg. Situated in the west of the country, Vorarlberg is a mountainous state which lies next to the border with Germany. Outside of Vienna, this is the richest of Austria’s provinces and has a diverse landscape of lakes and mountain ranges. It goes without saying that you will find excellent ski resorts here but there are plenty more sports to be enjoyed here as well. You could take your pick between high alpine courses or cross border if golf is your game of choice. If you want to spend time in the great outdoors, why not take part in a hiking tour and spend the night in the mountains. There are several routes to enjoy which will take you to huts set in magnificent surroundings. This is also home to some beautiful bathing lakes. Just minutes from Vorarlberg’s capital, Bregenz, lies the shore of Lake Constance, which is one of the largest lakes in Europe. A perfect time to see the lake is in the evening as the sun is setting. There are also plenty of boat trips to be enjoyed which offer you either mini cruises or day excursions of Lake Constance. If you want to make a really special day of your trip here you could go on the lake’s only paddle steamer The ‘Hohentwiel’, which was built in 1913 and has to be the most stylish way to explore the lake.
Visit Tirol and Its Capital Innsbruck
Whether you are visiting Tirol in summer or winter, there is plenty on offer for outdoor enthusiasts in the Tirolean mountains. In winter, alpine skiing is the popular sport but during the summer months it is great for hiking and rock climbing. Apart from sporting activities, there’s plenty more for its visitors to enjoy. I would say that the historic towns are some of the best you could ever visit. Its capital, Innsbruck is spectacular. Set in the heart of the Alps, this town is a fabulous fusion of history and culture. The old city centre is a maze of narrow streets and if you are there you must visit its world famous symbol, The Golden Roof. This 15th-century, three-storey building has an incredibly impressive roof which is made up of 2657 brightly gilded copper shingles. The building, originally home to the sovereign is now a museum with its focus on the Emperor Maximilian as well as being the home of the Innsbruck city archives.
Another fabulous place to visit is The Museum of Tyrolean Folk Art. It is thought to be one of the best regional heritage museums in Europe and is located in the old town. The collections are comprised of religious folk art, festive costumes and other such treasures from Tiroli which document its past. There are many items on display and it gives real insight into the history and the culture of its people. Ambras castle is definitely worth visiting whilst you are in Innsbruck. Set high on a hill above the city, this beautiful renaissance castle is a cultural gem. One of its best features is the Spanish Hall, a banquet hall which has been perfectly preserved. The highlight of the hall is the incredibly ornate inlaid wooden ceiling. There is much to discover here, with an impressive collection of late medieval paintings as well as Europe’s oldest collection of armouries, books and art.
Take A Trip To Salzburg
No visit to Austria would be complete without taking a trip to the historic city of Salzburg. This fabulous city is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. It is the fourth largest city in Austria and in 1997 was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old town is world-famous for its baroque architecture and its historic centre makes it a popular tourist destination. It has many incredible attractions on offer to keep visitors entertained, in fact, there is so much to see that you will be spoilt for choice. I’d say that a trip to the Residenzplatz, or Residence Square is an excellent starting point on your sightseeing tour. It is located in the heart of the old town and is truly magnificent, with Salzburg Cathedral on one side and the Bishop’s Palace and a row of medieval burgher houses on the other. Its main attraction is the Residenzbrunnen Fountain, which is the largest Baroque fountain of its type outside of Italy. Built between 1656 and 1661, the fountain is divided into four different sections. At the base, there are four sea horses which surround a rock which carries four men who are holding a bowl, in which are three dolphins carrying a bowl with Triton holding a snail’s shell at the top. It is a very popular attraction and can be quite busy.
The Mirabel Palace Gardens is another fantastic tourist spot. It opened in 1730 and from here you can get some of the best views of old Salzburg. Fans of the ‘Sound of Music’ film may well recognize many of the scenes that were used on location here, particularly the Pegasus Fountain. The grounds are a joy to explore, especially the Gnome Garden and the Hedge Maze, which are particularly good for anyone travelling with children. If you have time a visit to Steingasse (Stone Road) is also worthwhile. It is one of the best preserved medieval lanes in Salzburg. This narrow, cobbled street is lined with pastel coloured buildings and seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Historically, this was once the main point of entry to the city and a very busy street lined with artisans and tradesmen due to its location near the River Salzach, which was an important trade route. Nowadays, its primary use is residential with just a few shops and bars which makes it an ideal place for a quiet stroll where you can enjoy the beautiful views across the river to the city.
Finally, you must make sure that you take a trip to Getreidgasse before you leave Salzburg. This is an incredible Medieval pedestrianised shopping street. The best thing about it though is the shop signage. Due to the fact that in the Medieval period very few people could read, tradesmen would use icons instead of written signage so buyers could see what they made or sold. The shop facades are very elaborate and it really is a joy to explore. There are a huge variety of shops to be discovered here and whether you are looking for designer fashion, antiques or souveniers, you will find it here. The arcades, courtyards and winding streets are beautiful and you can easily pass a few hours wandering around and discovering hidden treasures.