Austria sightseeing and travel is one of the most rewarding and exciting holiday ideas no matter what time of year you go. From some of the best skiing and sports in the winter to awe inspiring architecture throughout the country to spectacular natural resources and many family-friendly sites to visit, it is a country that has something for everyone throughout the year.
You will find some of the most amazing Austria attractions and fascinating places where you can enjoy nature at it’s finest near enough to each other that you could potentially be in the midst of large crowds and then relax in solitude all in the same day.
It is a country that combines the old world with the new world in a way that seems so natural that you will thoroughly enjoy every minute of your stay. One of the most famous residents was probably Mozart, who was born in Salzburg where they have a festival every year in his honor. Below is listed some of the greatest ideas of what to do in Austria that will make you want to return many times.
The 18 Best Things to Do in Austria
It is one of the most famous cities of the world, and is so full of the best things to do in Austria. Perhaps no where else you can find such a rich combination of architectural styles coexisting in such a natural blend. You will find ancient Baroque and Gothic buildings next to some of the most modern building designs.
Mixed in amongst these are some very colorful graffiti displays from some very talented and creative youth. Wandering down Vienna’s Danube Canal is a must for Austria sightseeing. You will see many examples of the world-famous architecture, and can stop at one of the many cafes and shops. It is a wonderful way to wile away the afternoon. There are several museums in the city, including the Albertina. It houses the world’s largest collection of graphic art that is amazing to see.
The Hohensalzburg fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the most popular Austria tourist attractions. It is just one of the fantastic things you will see in Old City. St Peter’s Abbey and the Old Market Square are other places you will want to see while in the city.
Wiener Prater, also known as “Wurstelprater, is the world’s oldest amusement park, and is one of the most popular Austria tourist attractions, especially for those people with families. You could spend several days in Vienna and not be able to visit all of the Austria things to do that are offered here. It is one place you will want to come back and visit again.
2. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, located in Vienna, is one of the most famous Austria attractions you will want to see while in the city. Built in the Gothic architectural style over 700 years ago, this amazing cathedral has stood guard and served its people well. Probably the most famous of these people is Mozart, who was married here in 1782.
The splendid Giant Gate and the Towers of the Heathens are part of the original building, and can be dated back to the 13th century. There are some amazing altar pieces in the cathedral that show the stoning of its namesake, St Stephen, who was the first martyr of the Christians. The tower has 343 steps that will take you to the top where you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the city.
Go deep into the depths of the cathedral and you will be in the catacombs and a mausoleum of the bishops and other important individuals. Guided tours will show you through the entire cathedral and tell you of the amazing history not only of the building, but the culture of those times.
You will also see some magnificent one of a kind works of art that will leave you speechless. For one of the most awe inspiring sights, this is definitely where to go in Austria while visiting Vienna.
3. The Looshaus
The Looshaus in Vienna (also known as the Goldman & Salatsch Building) is considered to be one of the most important Austria attractions because it marks the beginning of a new era in the local architectural designs. One of the major changes was doing away with the ornamental facades and leaving them plain.
Because of this, people began calling the Looshaus the “house without eyebrows”. People even protested and attacked the house so much that they had to compromise with flower boxes in the windows of the upper floor residential areas. The shape of these boxes are reminiscent of the archduke’s hat, which helped satisfy some of the historical vetting.
The main level is beautiful, with and amazing marble-lined facade and Tuscan columns outside that were meant to be similar to the entryway of St. Michael’s Church. Back when it was built, it was such a controversy that Emperor Franz Joseph called it the “ugly house” and avoided even seeing it at all cost. Today it is an amazing and historical building and one of the better things to do in Austria.
4. The Hofburg Palace
Hofburg Vienna is another of the fantastic Austria things to do while you are in the city. This Imperial home and household was the main hub for Sisi during the Habsburg empire for many centuries. Today it houses three spectacular museums where you can learn all of the culture and traditions that made up daily life during those times. First, the Imperial Apartments displays all of the housing and furnishings as they were in those days.
Then there is the Silver Collection, which has all of the utilitarian items that were used on a daily basis. Finally there is the Sisi Museum, that pulls together every aspect of life during that era. The three combined provide such a detailed and rich historical account that you can feel yourself being a part of regular life then. It is definitely one of the best things to do in Austria.
Albertina is a magnificent palace in Vienna, and is what to do in Austria for anyone loving the Neoclassical architectural style. Built in 1744, this palace has housed the finest art collection in the world since 1805. The palace derived its name from Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen who amassed the collection during his lifetime of 1738-1822. This has now become the famous, and largest in the world, Albertina Graphic Art Collection.
Throughout the years the palace had been damaged or partially destroyed during wars and other events, but has been restored almost fully to its original state. This included the Danubius Fountain, which is again in working order. Four state-of-the-art exhibition rooms have been added as well as a magnificent 64-meter titanium wing-shaped roof at the entrance. This is now one of the most famous Austria tourist attractions you will not want to miss.
It is a city that is one of the most popular Austria tourist attractions no matter what time of year it is. During the winter, it is a world-famous destination for anyone loving skiing or any other winter sport you enjoy. It was named the “best ski resort in the world” in 2013, 2014 and 2015 by Skiresort.de, the world’s largest test portal for ski resorts.
The worlds most famous ski race “Hahnenkammrennen” is held here every year and is one of the best Austria attractions any Alpine skiing lover should attend at least once in your life.
For snow lovers, there are almost 100 miles of ski slopes, 60 lifts, 54 cable cars and lifts to take you to the top, and the best park for snowboarders to be found anywhere. No matter what your favorite winter sport is, you will find possibly the best accommodations you will find to make it the most memorable event of a lifetime.
The city is also famous for its hospitality, including excellent hotels and a nightlife that makes the whole trip complete. There are many shops, restaurants, bars and clubs, and even a casino, that you will never lack for something to see or do. With many places to rent equipment or take lessons, this is where to go in Austria for everyone, from novice to expert, individuals to families and anyone else wanting that perfect winter vacation.
7. The Donau-Auen National Park
It is considered by most as one of the best Austria things to do. Located near Vienna, this is one of last major wetlands in all of Central Europe. The plant and wildlife that thrive here are so amazing to view, whether you hike or ride your bicycle. An even more relaxing of the things to do in Austria is to float the Danube River through the park.
There are many guides walking tours as well as well marked trails for hiking where you could see many endangered species of both flora and fauna. There are also other guides that will take you down the river, the lifeline of the entire park. For the ideal way to get away from the crowds and enjoy the magnificent nature of the country, this is where to go in Austria.
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8. City of Innsbruck
The one of the top choices for what to do in Austria. There is such a wide variety of things to see and do throughout the year that it has become a favorite holiday destination for millions of people. The historic Old Town section will take you back to the Middle Ages, as it was built over 800 years ago, during the time of Emperor Maximilian I, and has retained many of the original structures.
Alpine skiing at its best is close at hand, which is also a magnificent place to hike and enjoy the beauty of nature during the summer months. The city is alive with many cultural and sports events, and the cuisine here is second to none! Modern architectural structures are famous here, in such contrast to the historical significance of other sections of the city. Olympic sports venues, such as the Bergisel Ski Jump, also welcome thousands of fans every year.
Small villages are in the immediate area where you can make day trips to visit quieter places that will show you a more relaxed and calmer side of the country. Soak in the culture while you meander through mountaineering villages or sample some local wines and foods. Austria sightseeing would not be complete without visiting Innsbruck and the surrounding area.
9. The Golden Roof
The one of the most popular Austria tourist attractions, located in Innsbruck’s Old Town. Built around 1500, this covers the magnificent alcove balcony where Emperor Maximilian I would sit to watch over the town, and enjoy events such as the many jousting tournaments and public burnings. The roof is covered with the original 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles, which give it the beautiful color that gives rise to it name.
He had it added on to the Neuhof building, and it has fantastic decorations, including a scroll that is embedded on the relief, which hasn’t been fully translated even yet. Looking out over the relatively unchanged Old Town from here, one can see the entire town and get a true sense of what it was like living in the Middle Ages. With the majestic peaks of the Nordkette mountain range as a beautiful backdrop, this is one of those Austria attractions that you must see!
There is a wonderful Golden Roof Museum here that is amazing as well. It give a real first-hand experience of how it was built and how the town was in its original times. It shows everything from the colorful aristocrats live down to the beggars and regular citizens. There are interactive exhibits and others that show the celebrations as well as the bloody and violent aspects of life in the Middle Ages.
Currently there is an annual sports event called the “International Golden Roof Challenge” where athletes from all over the world come to compete. No matter what time of the year you visit, this is certainly one of the best things to do in Austria.
10. Imperial Palace
It is also located in Innsbruck’s historic Old Town, and is another one of the amazing Austria tourist attractions to see while here. Also built during Emperor Maximilian I’s reign around 1500, it is a wonderful display of the architectural skills of the Middle Ages, without the use of our “modern” equipment.
The palace had a major renovation 250 years after it was built by Maria Theresa, who wanted to make it more “modern”, and it had other such remodeling done over the years, but there are some fantastic paintings and displays that show the original building, and much of the structure has been restored and depicts how it was used.
You will see the “Gothic Cellar” (reception room), the “Silver Chamber” (treasury) and so much more. The square in front of the Palace was where competitions were held that the Emperor watched from the Golden Roof. Today it is not only one of the favorite Austria attractions, but is often used for high-profile events.
11. Ambras Castle
It is in Innsbruck is also one of the most popular places to see during any Austria sightseeing tour. It was built for Archduke Ferdinand II who loved the arts and sciences. He even had a museum built in the lower castle to exhibit all of the art collections he had.
That has been renovated over the years, and today still displays artwork that he would have enjoyed. There are also displays of his collection of armor from famous heroes as well as other collections he amassed during his lifetime.
The upper castle was originally the living quarters, but the top three stories now holds the Habsburg Portrait Gallery. Here you will find over 200 portraits from some of the most famous artists. The portraits are of the many rulers of the country, from Albert III (1349-1395) to Emperor Francis I (1768-1835).
On the ground floor of the upper room there is St George’s altar, which belonged to Emperor Maximilian I, as well as a tremendous collection of late medieval sculptures. This is certainly one of those place for what to do in Austria that you will never forget.
12. Stubai Glacier
For the absolute best winter vacation, the Stubai Glacier is where to go in Austria. There are extreme downhill ski runs, ultimate snowboarding opportunities, and amazing cross-country ski trails that will challenge even the best. At elevations from 5,741 to 10,500 ft. above sea level, you are guaranteed to have many days of snow throughout the year. While on the glacier, one of the most popular things to do in Austria is the Ice Cave Tyrol.
This cave will take you deep into the eternal ice where you can truly experience the many aspects of a glacier. Tours can teach the entire family about moraines, abrasions, glacier milk, different ice layers, alternating sequences, inclusion, glacier protection and a lot more. It is an amazing adventure all through the year. There is even a throne carved out of the ice that you can sit on for that perfect picture of being the snow king or queen. It is one of the Austria attractions that is a real hidden gem!
13. Schaufeljoch Chapel
It is also located on the Stubai Glacier and is one of the most inspiring Austria things to do. This chapel is conveniently located in the ski resort, and was built right on the snow and ice at the top of the ridge. The view over the Stubai Alps and the glacier from both sides of the ridge are breath-taking!
Take a break from skiing, or hike up to it during the summer, and you will be treated to an amazing sight. Spending time in meditation and prayer here at what seems to be the top of the world, is sure to fill you with such a peace as you’ve never felt elsewhere. It is what to do in Austria that will change you forever and make you want to return.
14. Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon
The Silvretta Classic Rally Montafon, held each year in the beautiful valley of Montafon, is one of the more popular things to do in Austria for locals and tourists alike. It is considered a “rolling automobile museum” where both new and vintage automobiles are put on display.
It is a competition that is not as much about speed but about maximum precision as they race through the winding, hilly roads of the idyllic Montafon and Vorarlberg.Old classics such as the Bentley or Duesenberg, mostly from the 1920’s compete with the newer ones.
There are such rarities as the luxury cabriolets of the 1930’s, sports cars from all periods, and even classic every day cars many will remember having as kids. There is now the Silvretta E-Car Rally run in conjunction with the Classic Rally for the latest cars that run on alternative fuel, even ones in prototype or have not been marketed yet, so you could see some cars of the future right along with cars from the past.
Seeing all of these automobiles in all of their glory while racing through the beautiful Alps is an Austria sightseeing extravaganza for anyone that loves cars.
15. Montafon Local Museum
While in Montafon you will want to spend time visiting some of the many Austria tourist attractions that are here, which must include the four museums. These are an amazing way to learn the history and culture of the region. The Montafon Local Museum is the oldest museum in the Alpine region, with the building being originally built during late medieval times.
This amazing museum focuses on the local customs, traditions and general life of the valley and the people that have made it great. You will find an old schoolroom, many workshops of days gone by, a cheese-making facility, and rooms of a typical home from 1793. To learn more of, and feel a part of, the local culture, this museum is where to go in Austria. Another Austria attractions for those loving museums is the Matins House in Bartholomäberg.
This Baroque building was originally constructed in 1657, and today displays many of the masterpieces of furnishings from that era. It is an ever-changing display of the magnificence, and visitors are even encouraged to participate in the design of the exhibitions themselves. It is such a unique concept for a museum, and will not disappoint viewers. The Montafon Mining Museum is another popular Austria tourist attraction.
Mining has been a big part of the history of Montafon over the centuries, and this museum does a wonderful job of using photos, documents and traditional tools to show visitors how the industry has evolved. The focal point is a mine shaft, complete with the ore train and a miner, where you can get a true sense of how it feels to work underground. There are special exhibitions that change often, so you are sure to see something new every time to visit.
The Montafon Tourism Museum is the fourth of the famous museums in the Montafon valley, and as the name implies, it focuses on the local Austria things to do and see in the valley. It displays some of the impressive architecture that has existed over the centuries, and people that have made it great. It brings to life the beauty of the area and much of the Alpine history. Visiting any or all of these wonderful museums is certainly what to do in Austria while in the Montafon valley.
16. Wine Regions
No list of what to do in Austria would be complete without visiting the many wine regions and getting a taste of what the country has to offer. No matter what part of the country you are in, you will find award-winning wines and many that are specialties of that particular area.
None of them are to be missed, and you will find yourself wanting to ship many of them home. In southern Austria, Sauvignon Blanc is the signature grape, which they have developed into some of the most elegant wines you will find.
The aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and the Gelber Muskateller varieties are some of the best you will find. This region has often been compared to Tuscan in Italy. In the western portion of the country, the pride of the region is the spicy Schilcher Rosé. Southeast you will find the region called The Vulkanland because of the remains from volcanic activity.
This type of soil lends wonderfully to some great aromatic varieties such as the very popular Traminer. You can sample these and many local specialties in some very modern and fashionable tasting rooms as well as traditional and less formal sites.
Many places also have wonderful hiking trails that will take you around the beautiful vineyards and the surrounding countryside. Fine restaurants and taverns that are extremely inviting and friendly offer the finest cuisine to pair with your new favorite wine.
Many small winemakers and local farmers also run some of the best inns and bed and breakfast establishments that are simply divine places to stay. if you are a connoisseur of wines in any fashion, touring the wine regions is certainly one of the best things to do in Austria.
17. National Park Hohe Tauern
It is the largest national park in all of Central Europe, and is one of the most popular of the Austria tourist attractions. Here you will discover some of the most magnificent sights Mother Nature has provided including the majestic Grossglockner and Grossvenediger massifs, the ancient woodland of the Rauris Forest and the thunderous Krimml waterfalls.
It will take you through a vast range of climate zones as it covers altitudes from 4,700 to almost 12,470 feet above sea level! The Grossglockner is one of the tallest of all the Alp’s mountains. Over thirty different hiking trails are in the park, with a wide range of difficulty so everyone can enjoy a day of seeing some of the best scenery in the world and catch a glimpse of many varieties of wildlife and plants anywhere.
There is a National Park Center in Mittersill where you can enjoy some wonderful state-of-the-art educational and entertaining things. There is the Eagle’s Flight Panorama, which is a 3-D computer animation that will give you a bird’s eye view of the mountains.
Also here is the Avalanche-Waterfall Dome, and the World of Glaciers. This park is certainly one of the most amazing Austria attractions and for any nature lover it is one of the things to do in Austria that you will never forget.
Burgenland is another must-see on anyone’s list of what to do in Austria. While the country is famous for it’s rugged Alps, Burgenland is situated in on the spectacular Pannonian plain. It is another of the wine regions that has its own special flavors, from spicy red’s to sweet whites, and experiences that will leave you thrilled. You will come across the huge Lake Neusiedl where you can spend an entire day enjoying the wonderful water or visiting some of the lakeside wineries.
Neusiedler See National Park, or Seewinkel as it is also called, is another beautiful area in Burgenland that you will not want to miss. It straddles the border between Austria and Hungary and is a bonanza for any nature lovers. It is the only steppe national park in Central Europe and is a spectacular place to hike or bike.
Familypark Neusiedlersee is the countries biggest theme park, and is another of the most popular Austria attractions for everyone, especially those with families.
All throughout Burgenland there is so much to see and do. Many music festivals are held in the area throughout the year, and there are countless opportunities for biking, horseback riding, bird watching, sailing, and hiking for the outdoor enthusiasts.
Explore the many fantastic places to try the local cuisine and check out the nightlife after a day of shopping and sightseeing. The list of what to do in Austria is endless, and no matter what type of activities you most enjoy, or what time of year you visit, you will not be disappointed, and will probably want to make it an annual visit.