Austria is a German-speaking country in Central Europe, characterized by its mountain villages, baroque city architecture, Imperial history and rugged alpine terrain. Vienna, its Danube River capital, is home to the Schonbrunn and Hofburg palaces, and has counted Mozart, Strauss and Sigmund Freud among its residents. The country’s other notable regions include the northern Bohemian Forest, Lake Traun and eastern hillside vineyards. The country counts approximately 8.5 million people.
Austria is best known for its sugar-cake baroque church interiors, its historic palaces such as Schloss Belvedere and its Gothic masterpieces such as Stephansdom – the country has impressive contemporary architectural contours! A visit to Vienna’s Museums-Quartier, to Ars Electronica in Linz, or a stroll alongside the illuminated Kunsthaus Graz are a must if you wish to experience and explore the country’s various faces.
The best way to experience Austria is to travel through the deeply carved valleys, along roads and railways cut improbably into the rocky flanks of mountains, and around picturesque lakes. But often the landscape is simply too rugged for road or rail: hiking and mountain biking is then the best way to reach isolated alpine meadows. Sometimes cable cars or dizzying chair lifts offer an alternative way up, and come winter they bundle skiers and snowboarders onto the slopes. Austria’s plentiful lakes are ideal for summer swimming, and in winter many freeze over for skating.
Culinary specialties? Vienna’s traditional coffee houses are perfect relaxing and recharging in a homely atmosphere. Traditional Beisln (bistro pubs) are laced with the smell of Goulash, Tafelspitz (boiled beef in broth, traditionally served with horseradish, chives and apple sauce) and other traditional Austrian dishes. Outside Vienna, regions such as the Waldviertel, the Danube Valley and Southern Styria are places to enjoy rustic food and excellent wine in picturesque landscapes.