Austria

Austria

While known historically for its rich collection of classical composers, and more currently for exporting schnitzel and strudel to the world, Austria serves up much more besides these clichés.

If it’s palaces, history, pomp and ceremony you’re after, then look no further than Vienna. Start with the Schonnbrunn, perhaps move on to the Hofburg, take in St Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) and then kick back and spend some time with the famous Spanish Riding School. To cap off a day of high culture, book yourself in for some Mozart or Schubert at the Vienna State Opera House.

Further afield from Vienna, Salzburg, marketed as ‘the home of Mozart’ possesses one of Europe’s grandest castles, on a hill towering over the city, alongside the typical collection of baroque palaces. Salzburg also acts as the focal point for exploring the Salzkammergaut, a region of stunning lakes and mountains offering wonderful hiking and water activities, as well as just a chance to sit back and relax.

Moving further into the genuine alpine areas of the country, Innsbruck serves up some fascinating history, culture and architecture as well as spectacular mountain scenery, but is known mainly as the jumping off point for outdoor adventures in Austria. Home to the Olympics a couple of times in its history, this is the gateway to the ski-fields and hiking options for which Austria is famous. In winter the slopes and the valleys are dominated by skiers and skaters, but come summer the hikers are joined by white water rafters and all manner of adrenalin junkies seeking the latest fix.

While these two centres are among the most popular for outdoor pursuits, you can pretty much grab some walking poles, a bike or your skis and be content anywhere around the country, such is the richness of options available. And, you’ll be able to recharge your batteries after a day of exertion with wonderful local produce, washed down with any of the array of wines or beers produced throughout the country.

Image by Zoltan Duray, Shutterstock