Your comprehensive travel guide to Austria - All in one place!
Tucked in between the soaring Alps, Austria is an enchanting country with dream-like landscapes, picture-perfect meadows and grasslands, stunning baroque architecture and music flowing through its veins. From pretty villages to magnificent cities, from the best operas to the most lavish desserts Austria has the perfect ingredients to intoxicate your senses.
History and Government
Austria was first officially mentioned in the 12th century as the eastern part of Bavaria ‘Osterrichi’. Later, Austria was growing under the Habsburg dynasty through intelligent negotiation and a brilliant marriage strategy. The Austrian-Hungarian Empire became one of the most powerful ones within Europe, governed by famous emperors Maria Theresia, Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth (more famous under her nickname Sissi). Unfortunately, this diversity of countries and cultures led to its breakdown - the powder keg on the Balkan led Austria into the First World War, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was breaking down. As a result, the much smaller republic of Austria was founded. The political isolation of Austria as well as the weak world economy situation in the 1930s led to the annexation to Nazi-Germany and consequentially to the Second World War.
After the Second World War the country was occupied by USA, USSR, France and Britain. The result of the following negotiations was a neutral state, founded in 1955. The foreign troops finally left Austria on 26th of October. In 1995, Austria joined the European Union and became, despite its small size, one of the richest countries within Europe.
Geography and Environment
Austria has three main geographical areas: the Lowlands, the Hill Country and Alpine Region.
The Lowlands of the east and southeast are the country's agriculture center. A sliver of lowland also fronts the Lake Constance area on its border with Switzerland.
In the Hill Country, north of the Danube River, the land rises into forested hills and lower mountains up to its border with the Czech Republic.
Most of Austria is covered by the Alpine Region, central and west, as the Alps extend on into Austria from Switzerland.
In this region snow-capped ranges of the Alps dominate. The major ones include the Bavarian, Carnic and Otztaler ranges.
The highest peaks are in the central Tauern Range. The Tauern Range eventually slopes into the Danube River Valley, and into the eastern lowlands, from Vienna, south to its border with Slovenia.
The Danube is the most significant river in the country. It's the second longest river in Europe and a vital waterway for commerce. Dozens and dozens of lakes run amidst the mountain ranges, especially in the south and to the immediate east of Salzburg. The largest in the county is Lake Neusiedler.
Austria covers an area of 83,878 square kilometres with a population of 8,822,267 residents, including 1,395,880 foreign citizens. In 2017, an average of 1,970 million people with migration background lived in Austria, that is 22.8% of the entire population.
Vienna is Austria’s most densely populated province with 4,500 residents per square kilometer; Tyrol and Carinthia are the least densely populated provinces with 59 inhabitants per square kilometer. The average life expectancy is for woman 83.9 years and for man 79.3 years.
Austria is one of Europe's foremost cultural destinations, with the glorious musical heritage of Vienna and Salzburg, the contemporary art and architecture of Linz and Graz, and the varied folk traditions of the Alps and the eastern plains.
Vienna is unquestionably one of the great cultural cities of Europe: from the 18th to the early 20th centuries it was the pulsing, multicultural heart of one of the great Empires of the day, and artists, composers, musicians, architects, writers and poets. The resulting cultural inheritance includes great palaces such as Schonbrunn, Belvedere and Hofburg, a tradition of fine music dating back to when luminaries such as Strauss, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn were active.
Bregenz is perhaps not the best known of Austrian destinations, but this small city on the banks of Lake Constance at the extreme western end of Austria has also developed a cultural tradition with its innovative Theatre Festival based around a giant stage floating on the lake.
Food and Drink
In general, food from Austria mixes Central European produce, textures and flavours. Most of these influences date back to more than six centuries of Habsburg Empire. While Austrian food focuses on meat, poultry, root vegetables, and dairy Austrian desserts mostly work their magic using chocolate, soft cheese, yeast, compotes and jams.
Summer is a time for various festivals. You can note a two-week jazz festival, as well as a festival of classical music and operetta. Do not forget that Vienna has long been considered the main musical center of Europe. Here they appreciate classical music and theatrical art. Modern music also does not stand aside. Young people organize their discos and open-airs, where the best DJs perform. This is a great time for young people who want to have fun. Such holidays help to know Austria and the Austrian people from the new side.
Best Time to Visit
Austria is one of the most idyllic places in Europe and the world. Every traveler who dreams of a European holiday has Austria in his or her itinerary and this has been immensely due to the prevailing climatic conditions in the country. Thanks to its topography, Austria witnesses diverse climatic conditions, which are very evident for tourists and visitors as well. The differences in the temperatures during summer, winter, spring and autumn make Austria one of the most picture-perfect destinations in the world. So if you are planning to visit Austria, you need to remember that the perfect season to visit Austria depends on what you want to do here. Tourism in Austria is different in each season, where there are different beautiful things to look forward to in each season.
The official currency in Austria is euro. The more profitable and reliable option is to exchange money in banks.
For convenient transportation, you can use car rental services. You can rent a car in Vienna for about 10 Euros a week. To do this, you will need a credit card and a valid international driving license. The driver must be at least 21 years old.
The temperate continental climate dominates in Austria. The lowest temperature is observed in January. In July and August, it is quite warm here. Don’t bring a lot of things, as it's better to dress according to the weather. It's better to choose convenient and practical things, because the Austrians don't bother about their look.