Austria: facts and travel preparations
Austria is in Central Europe, bordering on 8 countries including Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany and the Czech Republic. The country consists of 9 states: Bürgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna.
The Austrian countryside is dominated by the Alps, taking up approximately 70% of the total area of the country. The remaining area in the east and along the Danube consists of very fertile plains; the food grown here is enough to meet the needs of the local population. The highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner has an altitude of 3,797 metres, which is around 12,000 ft and is in the Hohe Tauern. The longest river, the Danube, flows through the country for more than 350 kilometres (217 miles). Austria’s largest lake, the Neusiedler, covers an area of 315 square kilometres between the Burgenland and Hungary.
Because of its varied landscapes, Austria has many different climatic influences. To the west the climate is more temperate, characterised by mild winters and warm summers with heavy rainfall. The plains tend to have a continental climate with large differences in temperature between the colder winters and warmer summers. In the Alps there is an alpine climate with very cold winters and a lot of snow. The rest of the country enjoys a mid European climate. Austria is a good year-round travel destination: those interested in winter sports are advised to visit in the time from December to April, whereas those wanting to walk in the hills or explore the beautiful cities are recommended to travel between May and September.
The official language in Austria is German. There are no particular vaccination requirements for Austria. UK nationals will need a passport to enter Austria, stays for up to 90 days are possible without a visa. You may have to show a return ticket and proof that you have sufficient funds for your entire stay on arrival.
Large cities and accommodation: Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Linz and Innsbruck.
Vienna tourist attractions
Vienna is in the east of the country; the Danube flows through the city. Vienna was already capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and has a rich history, and boasts many different architectural styles. The city also has much to offer on a cultural level, especially music and the arts.
The most famous building in the city is undoubtedly the Imperial Palace. For more than 600 years the palace was the residence of those in power in Austria and has been developed further over the years enriched with many different style elements.Today, the castle is still the residence of the President. Only about 20 rooms are open to the public including the emperor’s apartments and the living quarters of Emperor Franz Joseph and the Empress Elizabeth, known as "Sisi". The Sisi Museum is also dedicated to her. The remaining rooms, more than 2 600, contain the Treasury and the Crown Jewels. Smaller residences for the local nobility were built around the castle in the Baroque style, resulting in a magnificent ensemble. The castle is one of the most frequently visited sites in Austria. In order to enjoy the full beauty of the castle visitors should watch the Vienna Hofburg Orchestra, which concentrates on interpreting the works of the famous Austrian composer Johann Strauss as well as that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Approximately 2.5 million visitors each year visit Vienna’s second castle, Schloss Schoenbrunn, the summer residence of the emperor. In 1996, this rococo-style palace was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The castle is located in a beautiful French garden, designed by a disciple of Le Nôtre and as was customary at the time, includes many more buildings such as an orangery and false Roman ruins.
Vienna has a wonderful historical and architectural heritage, and the city also enjoys an international reputation for its culture. Vienna has many cultural institutions, such as the Burgtheatre, the State Opera, the Musikklub or the Konzerthaus for classical music, or the Theater an der Wien, the National Theatre. A number of smaller stages also offer good quality culture and entertainment. Vienna also hosts a large number of museums, documenting all areas. Among the most famous is the Kunsthistorisches Museum, devoted to the old masters, or the Museum Quarter, is home to 5 museums. After a full day of cultural exploration, the city also has a lively nightlife with numerous bars, restaurants and nightclubs to choose from.
Austria: Salzburg and other destinations
Salzburg, the capital of the federal state of the same name is perhaps Austria’s main attraction besides Vienna. The city is located on the river Salzach. In 1996 the city was declared a World Heritage Site, but it owes its international reputation to its most famous inhabitant, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. As its name suggests, the city first prospered and was allowed to flourish as a result of salt. Many of the many magnificent buildings date back to this golden age, including churches, such as Sebastian church, where Mozart’s family is buried or Salzburg Cathedral, which was built in the 16th Century.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress from the 12th Century is located above the city, and is the oldest well-preserved castle in Central Europe. The fortress can be reached on foot or by rail. The charm of Salzburg lies in its magnificent architecture as well as its narrow streets, reminding visitors of times gone by. The most famous street in the city is the Getreidestrasse (cereal road), and the most famous building, number 9 where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27.01.1756. Today his birth house is home to a museum dedicated to the composer's music. Traces of Mozart are of course to be found all around the city, whether in the form of delicacies such as the Mozartkugel, the Mozarteum, the Academy of Music, or most importantly, his music, which can be heard all year round performed by many orchestras at various festivals. The most famous festival, the Salzburg Festival, is held here every year between late July and early August.
Tourism is one of the main economic sectors in Austria. The country is a tourist magnet not merely due to the many interesting cities, but also thanks to the beautiful scenery, especially the breathtaking mountain landscape that can be enjoyed in both winter and summer. The charm of nature is combined with an excellent infrastructure. In particular the province of Tyrol attracts many visitors who want to enjoy the skiing and the city of Innsbruck.