Austria: Top 20 Things to Do and See – 2018

Top Things to do in Austria

Would you like to explore Austria on your next trip?

Excellent idea!

This Central European country, as rich from a cultural point of view as natural is full of places of interest to discover.

To help you plan your trip, I have prepared a guide to the 20 best things to do and see in Austria.

From Vienna to Hallstatt via the beautiful Tyrol region or the city of Salzburg (cradle of Mozart!), You will find something to spend unforgettable holidays.

So where to go in Austria? Follow the guide!

Visit Austria: the must-sees

1. Vienna

If you come to Austria, you can not miss the capital, Vienna.

Regularly ranked first in polls as one of the liveliest cities to live in, it is also very rich from a cultural point of view .

Vienna is the city ​​of museums, it has more than a hundred! Add to it many theaters, opera houses, palaces and churches and you will get one of the must-see destinations for your next vacation.

The main places not to be missed in Vienna  :

  • Schönbrunn Palace, which served as a summer residence for the Habsburg family. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Hofburg Palace was the Habsburg winter residence and today houses the offices of the Austrian President. Indispensable to discover the life of Sissi, Empress of Austria.
  • The MuseumQuartier, as its name suggests, is the museum district with the Leopold Museum and the Mumok. It covers more than 60,000 square meters.
  • The Belvedere Palace which contains the works of the great Austrian painter Klimt
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the central square of Vienna
  • The Naschmarkt, the largest market in Vienna

Find more information on our article on the city: Vienna, Top 20 things to see absolutely.

Vienna, capital of Austria

2. Salzburg

The Austrian city of Salzburg is famous for having one of Mozart’s most famous music composers born .Every year, it organizes one of the largest classical, opera and theater festivals in the world.

During your stay in Salzburg, you can visit:

  • The fortress of Hohensalzburg, dominating the city, which served to protect the princes and archbishops from external attacks.
  • The birthplace of Mozart, who was born in 1756 and spent his childhood and adolescence. Located in the Getreidegasse at number 9, the house is now a museum dedicated to the Austrian composer.
  • The old town of Salzburg whose left bank is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Mirabell Castle and its beautiful garden with fountains and terraces.

Prepare your trip to Salzburg with our article: The 12 things to see absolutely in Salzburg

Salzburg, cradle of Mozart

3. Hallstatt

Hallstatt is a very pretty, picturesque village in Austria. With its lake and the surrounding mountains, its narrow streets, its flowered balconies and its church that is reflected in the waters of the lake, it brings together all the elements of a postcard decor. With all this not surprising that it is very touristy in all seasons.

The main attraction of the village is its Skywalk, a panoramic platform perched above the void. To access it you have to take a funicular from the bottom of the village. Once at the top, it’s very impressive, especially if like me, you’re dizzy! But the view is so breathtaking that it was worth the effort!

It is also in Hallstatt that you will find the oldest salt mine in the world, which can still be visited today.

This small village is a must for your trip to Austria!

To find out more about Hallstatt and prepare your visit, you can read our article: Visit Hallstatt: the 6 things to discover

The picturesque village of Hallstatt

4. Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the capital of one of Austria’s most emblematic regions: Tyrol. The city, besides being famous for winter sports, has many other assets.

The main tourist activity is to take the funicular to access the Hungerburg station which offers beautiful views. The resort is also the starting point for several hikes .

From Hungerburg, you can then take the cable car to reach the summit of Hafelekar, the highest peak of the Nordkette mountain range, which rises to 2,300 meters above sea level. Up there, the grandiose panorama is guaranteed!

Places of interest not to be missed in Innsbruck:

  • The discovery walk from the historic center
  • The small golden roof, a golden balcony built during the wedding of the emperor who became the emblem of the city
  • The imperial palace and its sumptuous ballroom
  • Ambras Castle, located on the heights of Innsbruck

All information and advice to visit Innsbruck are in our article: Top 15 things to do in Innsbruck

Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol

5. Swarovski Crystalware

15 kilometers from Innsbruck , in Wattens, is a very touristic site of the Tyrol, the Swarovski Kristallwelten, translated by the Swarovski Crystal Worlds. Since its opening in 1995, more than 12 million visitors have come to discover it.

To enter this underground museum, you will have to pass under the head of a giant of greenery integrated in the hill and whose mouth spits a waterfall of water. Inside, you’ll find 14 rooms called ”  Rooms of Wonders ” that showcase the crystal through play of light and a very special atmosphere. No doubt you will come out with sparkling eyes!

And of course, at the end of the visit, you will find a Swarovski shop  with a whole set of jewels and accessories. Ladies, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Gentlemen, one tip: take your trouble!

All information for the visit of the Crystal Worlds can be found on the official website.

The green giant, entry of the Swarovski crystal factory

6. The Grossglockner Road

A classic on a route in Austria is the Grossglockner Road in the Hohe Tauern National Park. It’s a bit like the Austrian route 66 (in cold version and that turns a lot: p).

This legendary route connects the region of Salzburg with Carinthia. Exactly 48 km long and with its 36 hairpin bends, it offers exceptional views of the entire mountain range.

The entire road has been laid out to make the most of it with gazebos, car parks, toilets, restaurants and information points. You can also go hiking on one of the many trails while observing the inhabitants of the place: marmots and chamois!

This excursion will take you to the highest point of the park, the Kaiser-Franz-Josephs Höhe. From here you will have great views on the glacier Pasterze and Grossglockner, the highest peak of Austria.

Note that the road Grossglockner is only accessible from May to November and the access to the road is paying, 35 € for a car, regardless of the number of passengers. It is certainly not given, but the expense is worth it when we consider the beauty of the landscapes.

The official Großglockner Road website allows you to have all the details and to buy your ticket in advance.

Plan a full day for the road and leave early in the morning. It would be a shame to pay 35 € and to be forced to return without being able to go to the end.
The legendary Grossglockner Route

7. The Eisriesenwelt cave

About fifty kilometers from Salzburg, in the Tennen massif, I recommend you to visit the Eisriesenwelt cave. At 42 kilometers long, it is the largest accessible ice grotto in the world!

To reach it, go to Wefen and follow the road to the parking of the visitor center. You will then have to climb the cable car then take a short walk to access the entrance to the cave.

Inside, the photos are not allowed and you will only have carbide lamps to enlighten you. This is an opportunity to admire strange sculptures and magnificent ice palaces through several rooms. Without question one of the best natural sites of the country.

Find all the information to organize your visit to the Eisriesenwelt cave on the official website (in English). The caves are only open from May to October.

Remember to cover yourself warmly and go with good walking shoes because the visit is a little physical and you will have to climb about 700 steps then down.
Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

8. The Krimml waterfalls

Another natural curiosity not to be missed if you are in the region of Salzburg, Krimml waterfalls.

Located in the Hohe Tauern National Park and 380 meters high, they are the highest waterfalls in Central Europe and the fifth largest in the world.

well landscaped path of 4 kilometers, dotted with views at different levels, provides access to the 3 falls. To reach the highest of Krimml falls it takes about 1 hour on foot, see a little more because the climb is a bit rough at the last level. If you feel like it, then you can continue hiking in the National Park on one of the many trails.

The official website (in English) is here. Access to waterfalls possible from mid-April to October.

Expect a budget of about 20 euros for the waterfalls because there the access road is paying (9 €) and the parking (6 €) and you will then have to pay 3 € extra per person for the entrance ticket.
Krimml Waterfalls

9. Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey is one of the most famous abbeys in Austria. First castle, it is now more than 900 years that it welcomes monks belonging to the Benedictine order.

Built on a rocky ground above the Danube, the abbey is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture. It is an impressive and grandiose building that still serves as places of worship of course, but also a school for nearly 900 students.

Inside, you can admire the church, the staircase of the emperors, the imperial apartments turned into a museum, and especially the impressive library that contributes greatly to the reputation of the Melk Abbey.

The exterior of the abbey enjoys a beautiful view of the Danube below and its surroundings, and a well-maintained garden for walking or even picnicking.

Located about 1h20 by car from Vienna, it is a must during a stay in Austria.

Melk Abbey

10. Graz

Graz, the capital of the province of Styria, is the second largest city in Austria. I highly recommend visiting it as it is a unique city that combines old buildings with futuristic architecture. As the city was the cultural capital of Europe in 2003, some facilities are still in place.

During your visit in the city, you will see:

  • The Schlossberg, a hill that offers an impressive view of all Graz. A funicular allows easy access but you can also do it on foot. It feels good and it warms up!
  • The Landeszeughaus where are exposed more than 32 000 pieces of armory. An exceptional museum to visit absolutely to find yourself projected at the time of the knights.
  • The Joanneum Universal Museum presents the history of this Austrian region.
  • Hauptplatz, a beautiful little square with typical Austrian houses and full of food truck to test Austrian specialties. As soon as it comes to testing culinary traditions, BonAdvisor is here!

Do not miss out on the highlights of Graz with our full article: Visit Graz, Top 8 things to see. 

Graz, unique city

11. The Semmering railway line

The Semmering railway line connecting the cities of Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag since 1854 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is indeed the first railway line built in Europe. More than 20,000 workers participated in the construction of the 16 viaducts, 15 tunnels and 100 bridges through which the line passes. A real feat for the time!

On the whole route the Semmering line runs along the Austrian mountains and allows you to contemplate landscapes of great beauty. This is an unusual activity that I highly recommend because it is the best way to enjoy this sensational setting. It really is to do during your stay in Austria.

Semmering railway line

12. The lakes of Salzkammergut

The Salzkammergut region is famous for its many alpine lakes, making it one of the best places for many hikes.

With its 76 dark green lakes and adorable little villages nestled on the edge, the region presents some of the most beautiful Austrian landscapes. The village of Hallstatt and its lake, which I mentioned earlier, is one of them.

State of play of the most beautiful lakes to see in the Salzkammergut region :

  • Lake Attersee, the largest in Austria
  • Lake Traunsee with bathing areas, ideal for swimming
  • Lake Irrsee, one of the warmest in Austria, the water can reach 27 °!
  • Lake Mondsee, very well equipped and offers a wide range of water sports such as sailing or water skiing
  • Lake Wolfgangsee is also well-equipped and offers a boat rental service.
One of the lakes of Salzkammergut

13. The Benedictine Abbey of Admont

Admont Abbey is one of the oldest monasteries in the world and is home to the largest monastic library in the world. 2 good reasons to go for a ride!

Nearly 200,000 books from all over the world are stored here, some of which, like the Diderot and Alembert Encyclopedia or the Martin Luther Bible, are extremely rare. There is also a large collection of manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages.

Rococo style, the library besides being the largest, is also beautiful. The floor is marble and is surmounted by 7 cupolas adorned with beautiful frescoes. Its dimensions: 79 meters long, 14 meters wide and 13 high are impressive.

Renovated for 4 years, the library welcomes many visitors today. Note that if you want to take pictures inside it is in addition to the visit. Without a doubt to discover during your trip to Austria.

Benedictine abbey of Admont

14. The Dachstein Massif and its suspension bridge

I now propose an activity reserved for people a little reckless and who do not have the vertigo.

In the Dachstein Massif, you can experience the height (and the void!) By taking the highest suspension bridge in Austria. At 400 meters from the ground, called “Stairway to nothingness” or ”  The stairs of nothing  “, this bridge with a length of 100 meters is an essential activity for thrill seekers.

When you have managed to cross it, you will have another challenge: to descend on the glass platform by the 14 steps of the stairs to admire the 360 ​​degree view of all the Austrian Alps. Go a little effort, you have survived so far!

To reach the suspension bridge, you have to go through the scenic Dachstein route until you reach the cable car station that will take you from the Skywalk.

For adrenaline seekers, here is a list of other scenic platforms that are popping up everywhere in Austria, as everywhere else in the world. If the heart tells you it’s guaranteed sensations  !

  • Triassic Park
  • BIG 3
  • Top of Tyrol
  • Top Mountain Star
  • Adlehorst with the possibility of descending in zip line over 600 meters
  • Pyramidenkogel whose tower contains the highest indoor toboggan in Europe
Panoramic platform of the Dachstein Massif

15. Linz

Just behind Vienna and Graz, Linz is the capital of Upper Austria and the third most populous city. It is a good part of our top things to see in Austria.

It is a particularly modern and very contemporary city. You can visit the Lentos Museum, a museum of contemporary art, and the ARS Electronica Center, an interactive museum on electronic technologywhere you can make many fun experiences.

The city also has a very beautiful historic center with its central square, its typical facades, its renaissance buildings and many cafes and restaurants for a break.

See also in Linz, the new cathedral (Mariendom in Austrian). It is the largest in Austria and can accommodate almost 20,000 people. I recommend climbing up the tower to enjoy a view of the entire city.

And to organize your visit to Linz, see our detailed article: Top 10 things to see in Linz

Llinz, modern city

16. Saint Florian Abbey

After the Abbey of Melk and that of Admont, I propose to visit one last, the Abbey of Saint Florian.

It is the largest baroque abbey in Upper Austria and one of the oldest still active. Dedicated to St. Florian, the patron saint against fires and floods, it is governed by the order of St. Augustine.

It is also famous for welcoming and forming an institution in Austria , the little singers of Saint Florian. Famous throughout Europe, they even do international tours.

Inside, 2 elements are to be seen imperatively: the organ of Bruckner and its 7343 pipes and the immense library of 150 000 works very richly decorated.

The magnificent library of Saint Florian Abbey. To see during your trip in Austria!

17. Skiing in Austria

You wondered if I was going to talk about it and yes! An article on the top things to do in Austria would not be complete without mentioning the national sport, skiing!

So yes if you go to Austria in winter, you can of course go skiing. You will be spoiled for choice for resorts: quiet and family or hip and trendy.

It is in Tyrol that you will find the majority of ski resorts and the largest ski areas. The 3 biggest are Mayrhofen, Kitzbuehel, and Arlberg and the 10 biggest totals nearly 1900 kilometers of track, enough to spend some great moments of gliding.

And for the après-ski party atmosphere and the trendy version of a ski resort, you have to go to the Isghglski resort. Station reserved more for the golden youth than conducive to family activities.

If you are at the Wildkogel Ski Resort, you will have to try the longest toboggan run in the world. With a height difference of 1300 meters and 14 kilometers long, it takes 30 to 50 minutes to get off. The ideal between 2 ski sessions.

For the chilly, the new Austrian chairlifts even have heated seats!
Skiing in Austria

18. Relax at the spa in Austria

Another key activity when you go to Austria and especially after long days of visits, is to take a walk in one of the many spas in the country.

Austria has many therapeutic water sources .

I named among the most famous Spas:

  • The Aqua Dome and its flying saucer-shaped pools
  • Alpentherme Ehrenberg and its 6 saunas with different atmospheres
  • The Alpentherme Gastein with its toboggan area for children
  • Therme Laa spa with 60,000 square meters dedicated to relaxation
It is better not to be modest if you want to enjoy the saunas, for the most part bathing suits are forbidden. Yes you understand, you will be in naturist mode!
Relaxing in a spa in Austria

19. Attend a classical music concert

Birthplace of Mozart, a stay in Austria would be nothing without a concert of classical music.

Vienna being considered the birthplace of classical music, you will not have any trouble finding a concert that will please you in the wide range of choices. More than 15,000 music events are organized every year.

The most legendary venue in Vienna for a concert is the Musikverein, world famous for the golden hall, which has an extraordinary acoustic quality. It is here, that takes place every year, the New Year Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Streamed live on TV around the world, be aware that seats are full one year in advance!

Other places such as the Schönbrunn Palace , the Auersperg Palace and the Karlskirche also offer concerts at various prices.

You can consult this site very well done, which presents, by theaters (including the Musikverein), all the concerts taking place in Vienna. For each show you will also find the rates (around fifty euros for the cheapest seats).

The Musikverein in Vienna

20. Minimundus

Finally I close this top 20 things to do and see in Austria, an activity that will appeal to both large and small.

In Austria you can visit the Minimundus Park. This vast park exhibits nearly 150 scale models (scale 1/25) of the most famous monuments around the world. You will find the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal and many more.

Small piece of data: the replica of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was built in 6 years, with the same marble that was used for the real one. It still cost € 730,000!

A very pleasant visit that will allow you to go around the world in half a day.

Prepare your visit to Minimundus on the official website .

Minimundus, a miniature world tour

And you, what are the places of interest that tempt you for your trip to Austria?

Are you going to Austria? To read also

Austria: Top 20 Things to Do and See – 2018
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Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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