Alternative Travel Index Rank: #10
Austria also ranks 6th in the Top 10 Cultural Travel Destinations
Excels in level of peace, health & hygiene, and transport efficiency
Population and tourists density at peak season: 127 (medium)
Austria is a federal republic and a landlocked country of over 8.66 million people in Central Europe. Its terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 meters, and its highest point is 3.798 meters. The majority of the population speak local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and Austrian German is the country’s official language. Austria, along with neighboring Switzerland, is the Winter Sports Capital of Europe. However, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages and hike in the magnificent scenery of the Alps.
Austria ranks #132/141 for price competitiveness in Justraveling’s Alternative Travel Index. Average travel costs per day: $75 (backpacker) – $223 (mid-range). Cheapest Austrian cities: Vienna, Graz. Most expensive cities: Salzburg, Linz.
Best Time to Go
Apr-Jun and Sep-Oct are the best time to go to Austria. The greater part of the country lies in the cool/temperate climate zone, where humid westerly winds predominate. Mid-December to March is high season in ski resort areas.
Places to Visit
Vienna is Austria’s cultural, economic, and political centre. As the former headquarter of the Habsburg court and its many empires, the city still has the trappings of the imperial capital it once was, and the historic city centre is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, and the late-19th-century Ringstraße lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.
Pinswang is a quiet, lovely village located in the northern-most region of the Austrian Tirol. A wonderful place to use as a base for exploration of the entire Ausserfern and nearby German Allgaü region.
Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. The city has three universities and a large population of students, that keep it lively.
Hinterstoder, in Upper Austria, is surrounded by several mountains and is a true “Pearl of the Alps”. Renowned for winter sports, it also offers many hiking trails and a pristine natural beauty, that is attractive year-round.
The Neusiedler See National Park, in eastern Austria, extends over an area of 97 sq. km in the province of Burgenland, and protects a variety of animals and plants. It is the only steppe national park in Central Europe, and its mosaic of environments includes wetlands, meadows, sand steppes, and salt areas.
Travel Ideas and Things to Do
The Sultan’s Trail is a scenic and historic hiking route from Vienna to Istanbul that crosses ten countries. In Austria, the trail starts at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, in the centre of the capital, and leads to the Slovakian border.
Retrace the journey of St. James in the lesser known Austrian section of the Camino de Santiago, one of the most important Christian pilgrimages since the Middle Ages. Discover tranquility and renewed strength by walking past abbeys, a charming countryside, gentle hills and the enchanting scenary of the Alps.
The Austrian Danube, a very classical European cycle route, is about 320 km long and passes through the Schlögen bend, the Wachau region, the Donauleiten Nature Reserve, Linz and Mauthausen, providing a deep picture of the country’s natural and historical heritage. Better done downstream, from Passau to Vienna.
More active travel ideas for your next trip can be found in the Hiking Series. Check out these five routes to enjoy an awesome day hike in Austria.
This Travel Guide is a work in progress. Improve it with an Austrian touch!
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Sources: some text excerpts from Wikitravel & Wikipedia; travel cost data from Numbeo.