What to do in Austria?
Do you want to visit Austria on your next trip?
This Central European country , as rich from a cultural point of view as it is natural, is full of places of interest to discover.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared a guide to the 20 best things to do and see in Austria.
From Vienna to Hallstatt via the magnificent region of Tyrol or the city of Salzburg (birthplace of Mozart!), you will find something to spend an unforgettable holiday.
So where to go and what to visit in Austria? Follow the leader!
Visiting Austria: the essentials
For those of you who wish to go to Austria for a week, I have prepared a 7-day itinerary for you . I recommend you to read it after this article.
You will find all the practical information and lots of good addresses in Austria. To read it, just click on the links in orange below:
It will allow you to organize your trip super easily!
And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments at the end of the article. I will be happy to help you organize your stay.
If you come to Austria, you cannot miss its capital, Vienna.
Regularly ranked at the top of the list in polls as one of the most pleasant 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 this many theatres, opera houses, palaces and churches and you will have one of the must-see destinations in this Austria tourist guide.
The main places to see in Vienna:
- Schönbrunn Palace (tickets on sale here!), which served as the summer residence of the Habsburg imperial family. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Hofburg Palace which was the winter residence of the Habsburgs and now houses the offices of the Austrian President. Essential to discover the life of Sissi, Empress of Austria.
- The MuseumQuartier which, as its name suggests, is the museum district with the Leopold Museum and the Mumok in particular . It extends over more than 60,000 square meters.
- The Belvedere Palace which contains the works of the great Austrian painter Klimt
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna ‘s central square
- The Naschmarkt, Vienna’s largest market .
Find more information on our article dedicated to the capital of Austria by clicking on the link here: 4 Days in Vienna.
Vienna being one of the most touristic cities to visit in Austria, it is always very crowded. To visit all the main monuments of Vienna without queuing, I therefore recommend that you buy the Vienna Pass.
In addition to benefiting from skip-the-line access to more than 70 sites, you can also take the unlimited multiple-stop bus.
Full details of the Vienna Pass can be found by clicking the link below:
Buy the Vienna Pass now!
Another must-see city on a circuit in Austria: Salzburg.
The Austrian city of Salzburg is famous for having seen the birth of one of the most famous composers of music in the person of Mozart. Every year, it organizes one of the largest classical music, opera and theater festivals in the world.
But no matter when you decide to visit Austria, special Mozart concerts are also organized throughout the year in various places in Salzburg.
During your stay in Salzburg, you can visit:
- The fortress of Hohensalzburg (skip the line ticket here!), dominating the city, and which served to protect the princes and archbishops from external attacks.
- The birthplace of Mozart, who was born there in 1756 and spent his childhood and adolescence there. Located in 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 magnificent garden with fountains and terraces.
Prepare your trip to Salzburg with our article, to read here: The 12 things to see absolutely in Salzburg.
Hallstatt is a very pretty, picturesque village to go to in Austria.
With its lake and the mountains that surround it, its narrow streets, its flowered balconies and its church which is reflected in the waters of the lake, it brings together all the elements of a postcard setting.
With all this no wonder it is considered one of the most beautiful places in Austria and therefore very touristy in all seasons.
The main attraction of the village is its Skywalk, a viewing platform perched above the void.
To get there 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 have vertigo! 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 on your trip to Austria!
To know everything about Hallstatt and prepare your visit, you can read our article: Visiting Hallstatt: the 6 things to discover.
Innsbruck is the capital of one of Austria’s emblematic regions: Tyrol. The city, in addition to being famous for winter sports, has many other assets, which makes it one of the places to see absolutely in Austria.
The main tourist activity consists of taking the funicular to reach the station of Hungerburg which offers beautiful panoramas. The resort is also the starting point for several hikes.
From Hungerburg, you can then take the gondola to the summit of Hafelekar, the highest peak of the Nordkette massif which culminates at 2300 meters above sea level. Up there, the grandiose panorama is guaranteed!
You can book your tickets online by clicking directly here!
Places of interest not to be missed in Innsbruck:
- Discovering the historic center on foot
- The Little Golden Roof, a golden balcony built during the Emperor’s wedding which has become the city’s emblem
- The Imperial Palace and its sumptuous ballroom
- Ambras Castle, located on the heights of Innsbruck.
All the information and our tips for visiting Innsbruck are in our article: Top 15 things to do in Innsbruck.
To visit Innsbruck during your road trip in Austria, I recommend that you buy the Innsbruck Card.
It includes in particular entry to the main tourist sites, a hop-on hop-off bus tour, the use of public transport and an ascent/descent by cable car.
Book your Innsbruck Card now by clicking on the link below:
Buy the Innsbruck Card now!
5. Swarovski Crystal
15 kilometers from Innsbruck, in Wattens , is a very touristic site in Austria and the Tyrol, the Swarovski Kristallwelten, translate as the Swarovski Crystal Worlds.
To enter this underground museum, you will have to pass under the head of a green giant integrated into the hill and whose mouth spits out a waterfall.
Inside, you will find 14 rooms called “Chambers of Wonders” which showcase crystal through the 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 store with a whole set of jewelry and accessories.
Entrance tickets for the Crystal Worlds tour are available by clicking on the following:
Reserve my ticket for the Crystal Worlds now!
6. The Grossglockner Route
A great classic during a route in Austria is to take the Grossglockner road, in the Hohe Tauern National Park. It’s a bit like the Austrian route 66 (in a cold version and which turns a lot: p).
This mythical road connects the Salzburg region to Carinthia. Over 48 km exactly and with its 36 hairpin bends, it offers exceptional panoramas over the entire mountain range.
The whole road has been laid out to make the most of it with viewpoints, parking lots, toilets, restaurants and information points. You can also indulge in hiking on one of the many trails while observing the local inhabitants: marmots and chamois!
This excursion will take you to the highest point in the park, the Kaiser-Franz-Josephs Höhe. From here you will have a breathtaking view of the Pasterze Glacier and the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak.
Note that the Grossglockner road is only accessible from May to November and that access to the road is chargeable, €35 for a car, regardless of the number of passengers.
It is certainly not cheap but it is an activity not to be missed in Austria and the expense is worth it when you consider the beauty of the landscapes.
The official website of the Grossglockner route allows you to have all the details and to buy your access ticket in advance (in French).
Allow a full day for the drive and leave early in the morning. It would be a shame to pay €35 and be forced to return without being able to finish.
7. The Eisriesenwelt Cave
About fifty kilometers from Salzburg, in the Tennen massif, I recommend that you visit the Eisriesenwelt cave. At 42 kilometers long, it is the largest accessible ice cave in the world and one of Austria’s top tourist attractions!
To reach it, go to Wefen and follow the road to the visitor center car park. You will then have to go up by cable car and then take a short walk to access the entrance to the cave.
Inside, photos are not allowed and you will only have carbide lamps to light you up.
This is an opportunity to admire strange sculptures and magnificent ice palaces through several rooms. Undoubtedly one of the best natural sites in the country.
Find all the information to organize your visit to the Eisriesenwelt cave on the official website (in English). The caves can only be visited from May to October.
Remember to wrap up warmly and go with good walking shoes because the visit is a bit physical and you will have to climb about 700 steps and then descend them.
8. Krimml Waterfalls
We continue this guide to Austria with another natural curiosity not to be missed if you find yourself in the Salzburg region, the Krimml waterfalls.
Located in the Hohe Tauern National Park and at 380 meters high, they are the highest waterfalls in Central Europe and the fifth largest in the world.
A well laid out 4 kilometer path, dotted with viewpoints at different levels, provides access to the 3 falls.
To reach the highest of the Krimml waterfalls it takes about 1 hour on foot, or even a little more because the climb is a bit tough at the level of the last landing.
If you feel like it, you can then continue hiking in the national park on one of the many trails.
The official website (in English) is here. Access to the waterfalls possible from mid-April to October.
Plan a budget of twenty euros for the waterfalls because there is a charge for the access road (9€) as well as the parking lot (6€) and you will then have to pay an additional 3€ per person for the entrance ticket.
9. Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey is one of the most famous abbeys in Austria. First a fortified castle, it has now been home to monks belonging to the Benedictine order for more than 900 years.
Built on a rocky outcrop above the Danube, the abbey is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture. It is an impressive and grandiose building which still serves as places of worship of course, but also as a school for nearly 900 students.
Inside, you can admire the church, the emperors’ staircase, the imperial apartments transformed into a museum, and above all the impressive library which greatly contributes to the reputation of the Abbey of Melk.
The exterior of the abbey enjoys a lovely view of the Danube below and its surroundings, and a manicured garden for strolling or even having a picnic.
Located about 1h20 by car from Vienna, it is a must during a stay in Austria.
Graz, the capital of the province of Styria, is Austria’s second largest city.
I highly recommend you to visit it because it is a unique city that combines old buildings with futuristic architecture.
During your visit to the city, you will be able to see:
- The Schlossberg, a hill that offers an impressive view of all of Graz. A funicular provides effortless access, but you can also do it on foot. It feels good and it warms up!
- The Landeszeughaus where more than 32,000 pieces of armory are exhibited. An exceptional museum to visit absolutely to find yourself projected in the time of the knights.
- The Universal Museum Joanneum which presents the history of this Austrian region.
- Hauptplatz, a beautiful little square with its typical Austrian houses and lots of food trucks to taste Austrian specialties. When it comes to testing culinary traditions, Tips is here!
Do not miss any of the must-see places of interest in Graz, Austria thanks to our complete article: Visit Graz, Top 10 things to see.
11. The Semmering Railway Line
The Semmering railway line, which has linked the towns of Gloggnitz and Mürzzuschlag since 1854, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is indeed the very first railway line built in the mountains 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!
Throughout the journey, the Semmering line runs along the Austrian mountains and allows you to contemplate landscapes of great beauty.
It’s an unusual activity that I highly recommend because it’s the best way to appreciate this sensational setting. It is really to do during your stay in Austria.
12. Lakes of the Salzkammergut
The Salzkammergut region is famous for its many alpine lakes which make it one of the best places to go in Austria if you like hiking.
With its 76 dark green lakes and charming little villages nestled along the shore, the region has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Austria. The village of Hallstatt and its lake, which I told you about earlier, are also part of it.
Here is my selection of the most beautiful lakes to see in the Salzkammergut region:
- Lake Attersee, the largest in Austria
- Lake Traunsee with equipped bathing areas, ideal for swimming
- Lake Irrsee, one of the warmest in Austria, the water can reach 27°!
- The Mondsee lake, very well laid out and which offers a wide choice of water activities such as sailing or water skiing
- The Wolfgangsee lake, also well equipped and which offers a boat rental service.
13. The Benedictine Abbey of Adamont
The Abbaye d’Admont is one of the oldest monasteries in the world and houses within it the largest monastic library in the world. 2 good reasons to go there if you have decided to visit Austria!
Nearly 200,000 works from all over the world are stored there, some of which, such as Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedia or Martin Luther’s Bible, are extremely rare. There is also an important collection of manuscripts dating from the Middle Ages.
In Rococo style, the library, in addition to being the largest, is also magnificent. The floor is marble and it is surmounted by 7 cupolas decorated with superb frescoes.
Its dimensions: 79 meters long, 14 meters wide and 13 high are impressive.
Renovated over 4 years, the library now welcomes many visitors. Note that if you want to take pictures inside it is in addition to the visit. Undoubtedly to discover during your trip to Austria.
14. The Dachstein massif and its suspension bridge
To continue to do some sightseeing in Austria, I now offer you an activity reserved for people who are a little reckless and who are not afraid of heights.
In the Dachstein massif, you can experience height (and emptiness!) by crossing Austria’s highest suspension bridge.
At 400 meters above the ground, called “Stairway to nothingness” or ” The staircase of nothingness “, this 100-meter-long bridge is an essential activity for thrill seekers.
When you have successfully crossed it, you will still have another challenge: descend on the glass platform by the 14 steps of the staircase to admire the 360 degree view of the entire Austrian Alps. Go a little effort, you have survived so far!
To reach the suspension bridge, you have to go through the Dachstein panoramic road until you arrive at the cable car station which will take you to the start of the Skywalk.
For adrenaline seekers, here is a short list of other viewing platforms that are springing up all over Austria, as well as all over the world. If you feel like it, it’s guaranteed sensations!
- Triassic Park
- BIG 3
- Top of Tyrol
- Top Mountain Star
- Adlehorst with the possibility of ziplining down 600 meters
- Pyramidenkogel whose tower contains the highest indoor slide in Europe.
Just behind Vienna and Graz, Linz is the capital of Upper Austria and the third most populous city. It is of course part of our top things to see in Austria.
It is a particularly modern and very contemporary city.
In particular, you can visit the Lentos Museum, a museum of contemporary art and the ARS Electronica Center, an interactive museum on electronic technology where you can do lots of 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 to take a break.
Also worth seeing in Linz , the new cathedral (Mariendom in Austrian). It is the largest in Austria, it can accommodate nearly 20,000 people. I recommend that you climb to the top of the bell tower to enjoy a view of the whole city.
And to organize your visit to Linz, see our detailed article: Top 10 things to see in Linz.
16. The Abbey of Saint Florian
If you are still wondering what to see in Austria, after the Abbey of Melk and that of Admont, I suggest you visit one last one, the Abbey of Saint Florian.
It is the largest baroque abbey in Upper Austria and one of the oldest still in operation. Dedicated to Saint Florian, the patron saint against fires and floods, it is governed by the order of Saint Augustine.
She is also renowned for hosting and forming an institution in Austria, the Little Singers of Saint Florian. Famous throughout Europe, they even tour internationally.
Inside, 2 elements are imperative to see: Bruckner’s organ and its 7343 pipes and the huge library of 150,000 very richly decorated works.
17. Skiing in Austria
You were wondering 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 have decided to go to Austria in winter, you can of course go skiing. You will be spoiled for choice for resorts: quiet and family-friendly or trendy and posh.
Tyrol is where you will find the majority of ski resorts and the largest ski areas in Austria.
The 3 biggest are Mayrhofen, Kitzbuehel, and Arlberg and the 10 biggest total nearly 1900 kilometers of track, enough to spend some great moments of sliding.
And for the après-ski party atmosphere and the trendy version of a ski resort, the resort of Isghgl is the place to go. Resort reserved more for the golden youth, than conducive to family activities.
If you find yourself at the Wildkogel ski resort, you will have to try out the longest toboggan run in the world. With a drop of 1300 meters and 14 kilometers long, it takes 30 to 50 minutes to descend. Ideal between 2 ski sessions.
For the chilly, the new Austrian chairlifts even have heated seats!
18. Relax at the spa in Austria
Another activity you absolutely must try during your itinerary in Austria , and especially after long days of sightseeing, is to take a short trip to one of the many spas in the country.
Austria has indeed many sources of water with therapeutic virtues.
I have named among the most famous Spas:
- The Aqua Dome and its flying saucer-shaped swimming pools
- The Alpentherme Ehrenberg and its 6 saunas with different atmospheres
- The Alpentherme Gastein with its slide area for children
- The Therme Laa spa and its 60,000 square meters dedicated to relaxation.
Better not be modest if you want to take advantage of the saunas, most of them prohibit bathing suits. Yes, you understood correctly, you will be in naturist mode!
19. Attend a classical music concert
Birthplace of Mozart, a stay in Austria would be nothing without a classical music concert.
With Vienna considered the birthplace of classical music, you’ll have no trouble finding a concert you like from the vast array of choices on offer. More than 15,000 music-related events are held here each year.
The most mythical place in Vienna to listen to a concert is the Musikverein, world famous for the golden hall which presents an extraordinary acoustic quality.
You can book your tickets to attend a Mozart concert at the Musikverein by clicking here!
It is here that the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Concert takes place every year . Broadcast live on TV around the world, you should know that places are full one year in advance!
Other venues like Schönbrunn Palace, Auersperg Palace and Karlskirche also offer concerts at varying prices that you can attend during your visit to Austria.
You can consult this very well done site, which presents, by venue (including the Musikverein), all the concerts taking place in Vienna. For each show you will also find the prices (around fifty euros for the cheapest seats).
Finally, I close this top 20 things to do and see in Austria, with an activity that will appeal to both adults and children.
In Austria , you can visit the Minimundus park.
This vast park exhibits nearly 150 scale models (1/25 scale) of the most famous monuments from around the world. Here you will find the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal and many more.
Small figure: the replica of Saint 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 family visit to Austria that will allow you to go around the world in half a day.
Prepare your visit to Minimundus on the official website.
What to do in Austria: the tourist map
To help you visualize the country a little better, I made you a tourist map of Austria listing the places to visit that I talk about in this top 20 things to do in Austria. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.
And you, what are the places of interest that tempt you for your trip to Austria?