Austria Travel Guide

There are many ways to experience Austria: skiing and hiking in the alps, touring wine regions, seeing operas, dancing at balls, visiting palaces and abbeys, and eating lots of cake. And, you absolutely should do all of those things. However, what makes Austria so special and dear to our hearts is the Austrian approach to life.

Austrians cherish Gemütlichkeit, which means comfort and coziness. You’ll find that Austrians experience life more slowly and comfortably.

In the mountains, there are cozy mountain huts, which serve food and drinks throughout the day to day visitors and overnight guests. In the wine regions, there are family-friendly Heurigen (wine taverns) that offer comfortable spaces for drinking and socializing. Throughout Austria, there are elaborate thermal spas (Thermen) that invite visitors to soak in thermal water, sweat in saunas, and rest in relaxation spaces. 

So, what we’re trying to say is that Austria has mastered an elevated style of slow living, which is especially enviable if you’re coming from a workaholic culture. Even in the capital city, Vienna (Wien in German), life is unhurried and relaxed. 


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Spitz in October, Wachau, Austria

Where to Go in Austria

Click the dots to explore specific destinations

Below, you’ll find a map with all the top destinations in Austria. For a curated list of our favorite places, read our Best Places to Visit in Austria and Where to Stay in Austria in Summer.

Austrian States
  • Vorarlberg
  • Tyrol
  • Salzburg
  • Carinthia
  • Styria
  • Upper Austria
  • Lower Austria
  • Vienna
  • Burgenland

Nur net hudln.

Don’t Rush. Take Your Time.









Austrian Saying

Best Things to Do in Austria

Our favorite experiences
Drinking Sturm at Buschenschank Pulker, Rührsdorf, Wacchau
Drinking Sturm at Buschenschank Pulker in Rührsdorf, Wachau

Drink Wine at a Heurigen

Heurigen (also spelled Heuriger) is a wine tavern in Eastern Austria. More specifically, it’s where a local winemaker serves his/her/their new wine under a special license during the growing season. The name is a reference to the year’s young wine, which can be purchased by the glass or in bottles. In the fall, when grapes are being harvested, fresh grape juice (Traubensaft) as well as fermented grape juice (Sturm) are also served.

Heurigen are usually rustic and charming, offer indoor and outdoor seating, and are frequented by Austrians of all ages. In the traditional Heurigen, only cold snacks are offered (e.g. belegtes Brot, sliced bread with toppings). Especially around Vienna, it’s common to see a buffet, with cold meats, hard and soft cheeses, different spreads, olives and pickles, and various salads. In the more “modern” Heurigen, a small selection of warm foods (e.g. Spinatstrudel) are offered.

Depending on what region you’re in, you might also see Buschenschänke, which are very similar to Heurigen, but even more rustic. They’re only allowed to serve cold foods and their opening times are far more limited. The name “Buschenschank” refers to a “Buschen,” which is a bundle of twigs that are found at the entrance of the establishment.  If the bundle is visible, it means that the Buschenschank is open and you are welcome to come in. You’ll see lots of these in the Wachau Valley in Lower Austria and South Styria.

Typically, Heurigen are only open for a limited period of time. You can find these wine establishments in Austria’s wine regions in the states of Lower Austria, Styria, Carinthia, and Burgenland.

The history of the Heurigen goes back to 1784 when Emperor Joseph II issued an ordinance that allowed everybody to sell homemade food, wine, and juice without having to apply for a permit.

Venediger High Trail, Venediger Group, Hohe Tauern National Park
Venediger High Trail

Visit Hohe Tauern National Park

Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest protected area in the Alps. Stretching across the federal states of Salzburg, Tyrol (East Tyrol) and Carinthia, this massive area can be accessed from many different towns and valleys across Austria. You can experience Hohe Tauern in a single day, or over the course of weeks. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Tobelsee Lake, Schruns-Tschagguns, Montafon Valley, Vorarlberg, Austria
Rätikon Alps

Hike Hut to Hut in the Austrian Alps

The Austrian Alps are a playground for hikers and mountaineers. One of the best experiences you can have in Austria is hiking from one mountain hut (Hütte) to another. Huts offer meals, beds, and refreshments. So as you relish the alpine beauty of your surroundings, you can also indulge in delicious Austrian cuisine.

For those that love food as much as the outdoors, we can’t recommend hut to hut hiking in Austria enough.

If you love multi-day treks, there is an abundance of long-distance hut-to-hut trails throughout Austria. Check out these hut to hut hikes:

Learn More: Trekking Austria – Best Treks and Long Distance Hikes

Aqua Dome, Tirol, Austria

Relax at a Therme: Austrian Thermal Spa

A Therme is a thermal spa complex that houses thermal pools, various saunas, resting and silent rooms, and restaurants. Austrians spend hours at Thermen, rotating between resting, sweating, rinsing, swimming, and eating. 

Most Thermen are for all age groups, though the sauna area is designated for adults only. Bathing suits aren’t permitted in saunas for hygienic reasons, so be prepared to take it off and rock your birthday suit. Depending on the Therme, the saunas are either separated by gender or integrated. 

  • Prices: Prices vary based on how long you decide to stay. Usually, Thermen offer  2 hours, 3 hours, half-day, and full-day rates. Full-day rates range between 26 and 40 Euro. Usually, you have to pay more for access to the sauna area (recommended). 
  • When to visit: You can visit a Therme at any time of the year, but the best time to go is in Winter, especially after spending the day skiing.
  • What to Bring: Something to read, towels (2-3 per person), bathrobe, soap, and waterproof sandals.

Read Next: How to Visit an Austrian Therme

Our Favorite Austrian Spa Hotels:

Kaiserschmarrn, Sulzenalmen, Filzmoos
Sulzenalmen, Filzmoos

Get to Know Alm Culture in the Austrian Alps

An Alm is a high alpine pasture where livestock graze freely in the summer months. During the hiking season, mountain pasture huts (Almhütten) welcome guests with their hearty and regional specialties and make for excellent lunch breaks. As you nibble on heart-warming Kaiserschmarrn, you’ll likely hear cowbells and cheerful Austrian music.

While many alpine pasture huts cater to day visitors, many huts across the Austrian Alps are “nicht Bewirtschaftet,” which means they are not managed. Paper trail maps will always distinguish between “Bewirtschaftet” huts and “nicht Bewirtschaftet” huts.

The State of Salzburg has the highest density of alpine pastures of all the Austrian states. In Summer, 550 huts welcome hikers with their fresh and local cuisine. There are countless alpine pastures to hike to, including the charming Sulzenalmen, which we wrote about in Salzburg Hiking Trails.

To learn more about mountain pastures, including safety tips, read Alps in Summer: Things to Know Before Visiting.

Alpine Pasture Hikes:

Spitz, Wachau Valley, Austria

Explore the Danube’s Wachau River Valley

The Wachau is a romantic river valley region in Lower Austria between the towns of Melk and Krems. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore both sides of the Danube river by bike, car, or foot along the Wachau World Heritage Trail. Keen walkers should check out stage 1 from Dürnstein to Krems.

There are villages, castle ruins, Heurigen and Buschenschänke (wine taverns), monasteries and vineyards on both sides of the Danube. The Wachau is a wine-growing and apricot-growing region. In the summer and fall, you’ll see homemade apricot products (jam, nectar, schnaps) being sold on the sides of the road. In Autumn, you’ll also see winemakers and families harvesting their grapes.

Notable landmarks in the Wachau include the Melk Abbey, Schönbühel Castle, Aggstein, and the Dürnstein Castle Ruins, where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned in 1193.

Learn more about the Wachau Valley:

Wachau Day Trips from Vienna:

Justizpalast Interior, Vienna, Austria
Justizpalast, Vienna

Fall in Love with Vienna, Capital of Austria

With impressive and varied architecture and immaculate streets, Vienna is easily one of the most gorgeous cities in the world.

Prior to WWI, Austria was a sizeable empire that encompassed much of what is today Eastern Europe. The grandeur of the former Austro-Hungarian empire can be felt throughout Central and Eastern Europe, but nowhere more keenly than in Austria’s capital.

You’ll be wowed by the city’s many palaces, museums, concert halls, opera houses, and coffee houses.

Learn More: Vienna Travel Guide

Wachau Valley Vineyard, Austria

What to Eat & Drink in Austria

Austrian Etiquette

Prost (Cheers) – In Austrian culture, it’s really important to make purposeful eye contact when you toast.  Say “Prost” or “Zum Wohl.” You should tap glasses with everyone within reach. There’s only one exception to the rule. When you drink Sturm, an early wine, you should say “Mahlzeit” not “Prost.”


Mahlzeit (Bon appetite) – You say Mahlzeit right before anyone at your table begins to eat. It means “enjoy your meal.”


Austrian Cuisine

Eierschwammerlgulasch – chanterelle mushroom goulash. This heartwarming dish is usually served with dumplings.


Tiroler Gröstl – cooked potatoes combined with beef or pork and onions are roasted in a pan. A fried egg is served on top. This hearty meal is really popular in the hiking and skiing regions of Tirol.


Käsespätzle – spätzle is a soft egg noodle. In Tyrol, spätzle is sautéed with a variety of pungent mountain cheeses and garnished with fried onions and chive.


Kaspressknödelsuppe – cheese dumpling soup. One or two large  flat-pressed dumplings, made with bread, eggs and cheese, are served in a clear broth soup.


Wiener Schnitzel – Thin, breaded and pan fried cutlets of veal. Squeeze a slice of lemon on this quintessential Viennese dish before digging in. If you’re not into veal (we’re not), you can usually order Schnitzel vom Schwein (pork), Schnitzel von der Pute (turkey), or Schnitzel vom Huhn (chicken). Schnitzel is typically served with a side of potato or mixed salad.


Tafelspitz – Boiled Beef. This Viennese specialty was actually Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorite dish. The tender beef is served in a pot of broth with bone marrow. The dish is accompanied by sides of fried potato rosti, vegetables (spinach, string beans), horseradish and apple sauces. We recommend trying this dish at Plachutta.

Austrian Desserts

KaiserschmarrnShredded Pancakes. It’s often made with raisins. If you don’t want the raisins say, “Bitte ohne Rosinen.” This is eaten as both a meal and a dessert. We say eat it for dessert. Traditionally, it’s served with a side of plum sauce.


MarillenknödelApricot dumpling covered in powdered sugar, best sampled in the Wachau region of Lower Austria

Austrian Wine

If you want to order a glass of wine, you should say “ein Achtel” (an eighth of a liter), which is the common serving size.


Weisswein gespritzt – It’s very common to drink white wine with sparkling water, especially earlier in the day.  If you like sweeter drinks, order a Kaiserspritzer, which is a Weisswein gespritzt with Holunderblütersirup (elderflower syrup).


Sturm – this is an early, sweet wine that is only served in early Fall. Unlike all other alcoholic beverages, you don’t say Prost (Cheers) before drinking. Instead, you say Mahlzeit. If you make the mistake of saying Prost, there’s an unwritten rule that says you’re obliged to pay for this round of drinks.

Non-Alcoholic Austrian Beverages

Soda Zitrone – sparkling water with lemon juice


Johannisbeersaft gespritzt – black currant juice mixed with sparkling water


Marillensaft gespritzt – apricot juice mixed with sparkling water


Almdudler – carbonated lemonade drink flavored with natural alpine herbs.

Hochkönig, Austrian Alps, Austria

Austria Travel Basics

Official Name: Republik Österreich (Republic of Austria)

Capital:  Wien (Vienna)

Government: Federal Republic

Regions:  Austria is composed of 9 states:

(1) Vienna (Wien), (2) Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), (3) Upper Austria (Oberösterreich), (4) Styria (Steiermark), (5) Tyrol (Tirol), (6) Carinthia (Kärnten), (7) Salzburg, (8) Vorarlberg, and (9) Burgenland

Population: 8.7 Million

Language: German. In specific regions, Croatian, Slovenian und Hungarian are recognized.

Currency: Euro

Tipping Etiquette: 5-10%, Cash Only.

Water Quality: Excellent

Something Interesting: The bodies of the Hapsburg Emperors are buried in three different burial sites in Vienna. Their intestines are stored in urns in St. Stephan’s Cathedral, their bodies are buried in the Kapuzinerkirche (Capuchin Church), and their hearts are buried in Augustinerkirche (Church of the Augustinians).

Lake Drachensee, Ehrwald, Tyrol, Austria

Getting Around Austria

Public Transit

Austria has an excellent public transportation system, which you should absolutely take advantage of. Here are your options:

The ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways) is the #1 train transit system in Austria. Use this website to book train travel. 

WESTbahn is a train transit system that connects Vienna with western Austria. It’s an alternative to ÖBB. Destinations include St. Pölten, Amstetten, Linz, Wels, Attnang-Puchheim, and Salzburg. Price example: Vienna – Salzburg (2 hours 24 minutes) costs from 33,50 EUR one-way (as of 2020).

Wiener Linien (subway, trams, and buses) and the ÖBB (S-Bahn = trains) provide a very extensive public transportation system in Vienna.


We recommend renting a car if you want to explore the Austrian Alps. Use these 3 road trip itineraries for inspiration:

We recommend using the car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Europe. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.

Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.

Check car rental rates here

Important: If you’re driving into Austria from a neighboring country, you’ll need to purchase a toll sticker: Vignette. A Vignette sticker allows you to drive on the Austrian autobahn (highways). Learn more about purchasing a digital toll sticker here.

As of 2023, you can purchase a 10-day vignette (9.90 EUR), a 2-month vignette (29 EUR), or a 1-year vignette (96.40 EUR). See current pricing here.


One really easy and cheap way to travel throughout Austria is via a Flixbus. You can also take a Flixbus to neighboring countries. These comfortable buses are punctual, clean, and provide wifi. It might take a bit longer than a train, but it will save you a lot of money.

Aqua Dome Therme Spa, Austria

Austria Travel Resources

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Austria Travel Guide
Austrian Alps Destinations and Attractions
Austrian Mountain Lakes
Austrian Gorges
Great Day Hikes in Austria
Austrian Hotels
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  • The village center of Appenzell in northeastern Switzerland 🇨🇭 
Here are a few things you shouldn’t miss: 
🍰 Drei Könige bakery and cafè - order the Käse-Zwiebelfladen. 
🍜 When you’ve had your fill of Rösti, grab a bite to eat at Chanh, a delicious Vietnamese restaurant near the Landsgemeindeplatz.
🍺 Pop into Brauerei Locher to sample the Appenzeller beers and Locher craft beers. You can also join an open tasting on Thursdays at 10:15 am (CHF 12). 
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  • Photo dump from last weekend’s hike above Lake Achensee in Tyrol.
Trail: Seekarspitze - Seebergspitze Ridge Trail 
Starting Point: Achenkirch (Bus Stop: Achenkirch Abzw Achensee)
Ending Point: Pertisau (Bus Stop: Pertisau Bootshaus)
Distance: 12.4 km point-to point
Time Needed: 6:30 hours
Elevation Gain/ Loss: 1300 meters
Difficulty: Difficult
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The complete trail description is on the blog. 
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It has existed in its current form since 1884, making it one of the oldest mountain guesthouses in Switzerland. 
The fastest and easiest way to get to Berggasthaus Aescher is from the Ebenalp plateau, accessible by cable car from Wasserauen. From Ebenalp, it only takes 25 minutes to hike down to Aescher via the Wildkirchli caves.
Alternatively, you can skip the cable car ascent and hike from Wasserauen to Aescher via the stunning Lake Seealpsee.
📍Alpstein, Appenzell Alps
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Marwees Ridge Trail
Trailhead: Wasserauen
Distance: 14.5 km circuit
Time Needed: 6:45 hours
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1225 meters
Trail guide on the blog.
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