Things to do in Austria

Things to do in  Austria

Welcome to Austria

Often known for the art it inspired, Austria mixes quaint Alpine charm with abundant opportunities for arts and culture, set against a sweeping Sound of Music landscape. The capital, Vienna, beckons with its rich musical history, plentiful cafes, and emphasis on the arts. A walking tour through the city reveals a mix of architectural styles, from Gothic and Renaissance to art nouveau, which serve as testament to Vienna's ability to seamlessly blend old and new and St. Stephen's Cathedral, with its fairy-tale appearance, is a particular must-see. In the city center, join the ranks of artists and thinkers such as Beethoven, Sigmund Freud, and Gustaf Klimt by tucking into apfelstrudel and sipping a famously thick hot chocolate at one of Vienna's many cafés. If you've got music on the brain, a nighttime visit to the Schonbrunn Palace or the State Opera House will only highlight the immortality of classical tunes. Further afield, its from Salzburg—the picturesque birthplace of Mozart, with its river cruises and fortresses—that the mountain landscape of Bavaria unfurls. Many tours take travelers through the valley for visits to salt mines, wine tastings, and bicycling; and getting back to nature is a year-round option, with ski opportunities in the winter and hikes in the summer. Alternatively, soak up one of the world's happiest destinations in comfort during a train trip through the country to see the imposing Austrian Alps, deep lakes, and idyllic villages.

Top 15 attractions in Austria

Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn)

Built to rival the opulence of Versailles, Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) was once a summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs. Today, this baroque palace is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in Austria.More

Hofburg Imperial Palace (Hofburg Wien)

Formerly the winter residence of the Austrian royal family, the Hofburg Imperial Palace (Hofburg Wien) is now a lasting tribute to the glory of the Habsburg Empire. It’s one of Vienna’s most magnificent baroque palaces, located within Vienna’s UNESCO-listed historic center. Visitors to the Hofburg can explore the Imperial Apartments, visit the Sisi Museum and the Silver Collection, or watch a performance at the world-famous Spanish Riding School.More

Mirabell Palace and Gardens (Schloss Mirabell und Mirabellgarten)

Part of Salzburg’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed historic center, Mirabell Palace (Schloss Mirabell) enjoys a rich royal history, as well as a place in movie legend: it was one of the filming sites forThe Sound of Music. Built by Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich in 1606, the palace is most famous for its magnificent baroque gardens.More

St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)

With its dark Gothic spires, intricately tiled roof, and imposing bell tower, St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is one of Vienna’s star attractions. Centrally located on Stephansplatz square in the city’s UNESCO-listed historic center, the cathedral is architecturally stunning both inside and out. It’s also a site of great historical significance—Emperor Friedrich III and numerous other Habsburg dignitaries were buried here.More

Salzburg Cathedral (Dom zu Salzburg)

For a touch of classic Italian baroque in Austria, head to Salzburg Cathedral, known locally as the Dom. The cathedral’s twin towers and a facade made of Untersberg marble, along with its light-filled interior and huge dome, are sure to impress.More

Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere)

Built in the 18th century as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the magnificent Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) is among the many treasures of Vienna’s Baroque era and a UNESCO World Heritage–listed monument.More

Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper)

A masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world, the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) is a hallowed venue for opera fans. Each year, the auditorium hosts 350 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Vienna State Ballet (Wiener Staatsballett) performances, as well as the Vienna Opera Ball.More

St. Peter's Church

Also known as Peterskirche, St Peter's Church in Vienna is the second oldest church in the city. The original church building was rumored to have been established by Charlemagne, but it burned down in 1661. The new church, inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, was consecrated in 1733 and a relief plaque on the outside of the church tells the legend of Charlemagne. St Peter's Church was the first domed structure in Vienna and features an ornate interior with colorful frescoes and gold stucco. Most notable for visitors are the gilded pulpit with a representation of the Holy Trinity atop the canopy, a gold and silver sculpture of the Martyrdom of St. John opposite the pulpit and the fresco in the cupola depicting the Coronation of the Virgin.Over the years, the 18th-century paintings in the church grew darker and the interior began to turn gray, but a massive renovation project from 1998 to 2004 restored the frescoes to their original bright colors.More

Salzburg Old Town (Salzburger Altstadt)

Salzburg’s Old Town (Salzburger Altstadt or Altstadt Salzburg) is the historical and navigational heart of the city, a maze of medieval streets stretching along the banks of the Salzach River. The birthplace of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s atmospheric Altstadt is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site and overlooked by the hilltop Hohensalzburg Fortress.More

Historic Center of Vienna

The Historic Center of Vienna is the beating heart of Austria, and the home of top attractions such as Vienna’s city hall, Parliament, and the lively Museum Quarter. Also known as the First District or Inner City and preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area is rich with baroque castles and gardens, as well as the 19th-century Ringstrasse, a beltway of grand buildings, monuments, and parks that encircles most of the inner city. There are enough landmark sites here to keep you snapping photos all day long.More


If you’re looking to sample authentic Viennese cuisine or soak up local culture, head to the 16th-century Naschmarkt—the oldest of Vienna’s many markets. Located just south of Vienna’s historic center, Naschmarkt hosts a week-long food market and a Saturday flea market.More

Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus)

Just an hour’s drive outside of Salzburg lies the alpine town of Berchtesgaden and the historic Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus), Adolf Hitler’s mountaintop chalet and the former southern headquarters of the Nazi party. Perched atop Mt. Kehlstein, Eagle’s Nest offers a dark history and panoramic views of Germany’s Bavarian Alps.More

Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)

Built in 1077, Austria’s Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg) is one of the largest fully-preserved castles in Central Europe. Here you can enjoy incredible countryside views and guided tours of the baroque state rooms, lookout towers, and museum collections.More

Hellbrunn Palace (Schloss Hellbrunn)

Built in the early 17th century, Hellbrunn Palace (Schloss Hellbrunn) served as a summer retreat for the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Its baroque exterior conceals an exuberant interior made for entertaining, though the real draws are the whimsical trick fountains (Wasserspiele) in the gardens, which spew water from unexpected places.More

Vienna Musikverein (Wiener Musikverein)

Among the most striking neoclassical buildings in Vienna, Vienna Musikverein (Wiener Musikverein pays homage to the city’s music-infused past and present. The concert hall is home to the renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and boasts some of the best acoustics in the world.More

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Top activities in Austria

Hallstatt Day Trip from Vienna
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Hallstatt Day Trip from Vienna

Private Day Tour of Salzburg, Hallstatt and Melk from Vienna
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Budapest Small-Group Day Trip from Vienna
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Salzburg Small-Group Day Trip from Vienna
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Salzburg Day Trip from Vienna
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Salzburg Day Trip from Vienna

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People Also Ask

What is Austria known for?

The Sound of Music almost perfectly summed up what Austria is known for with the line “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” Other Austrian staples include skiing, schnitzel, and fairytale-looking castles.

What is the most beautiful part of Austria?

Picking the most beautiful part of Austria is like picking a favorite child, but many would say that the popular, picturesque alpine lake town of Hallstatt with its epic mountain backdrop deserves the title.

Should I go to Austria or Switzerland?

Choosing between Austria or Switzerland will depend on a number of things. Both countries have the Alps for you to explore, but they also have their differences. Austria has musical and imperial heritage, while Switzerland has diverse regions and a fondness for cheese.

What is the number one tourist attraction in Austria?

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is Austria’s most popular tourist attraction, receiving around 4 million visitors in 2019. Once the summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs, the baroque palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Is Austria part of Germany?

No, Austria is not part of Germany and has been an independent country since 1955. Austria was a part of Germany from 1938 to 1945.

Is Austria tourist friendly?

Yes, tourists generally find Austria an easy country to visit thanks to its modern transportation networks, established tourism industry, and widespread use of English. However, Austria has ranked low on surveys of the most welcoming countries, possibly because of the residents’ typically reserved and formal demeanor.

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