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Austria is a German speaking country situated in picturesque Alpine terrain with some of the most stunning views you can see in all of Europe.
It also makes an excellent destination to pass through if you’re traveling from Western to Eastern Europe or the other way around.
If you plan to head to Switzerland but can’t find the time and budget to do the country, the next best alternative I would suggest is Austria.
Not only is this country stunning, full of historical riches but makes an excellent destination for hiking and skiing (in the winter) as well.
The fact that it is much more affordable than Switzerland doesn’t hurt either.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN AUSTRIA
1.Visit The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
The Schönbrunn Palace is a 1441 room beauty that is one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in Austria.
The palace was the popular summer residence for Habsburg rulers and was inhabited until 1918 after which it was converted into a museum.
Based in Hietzing, Vienna, you can visit the palace on a daily basis, including public holidays. The opening times are as follows:
|1 April to 30 June||8 am – 5.30 pm|
|1 July to 31 August||8 am – 6.30 pm|
|1 September to 31 October||8 am – 5.30 pm|
|1 November to 31 March||8 am – 5.00 pm|
You can visit the Palace park free of charge during open hours, but certain areas such as the Privy Garden and the Maze are only available with a purchase ticket.
2. Spend a day in the beautiful Hallstatt.
As breath-taking in winter, as it is in summer, Hallstatt is an epic destination.
The small alpine village amidst the Salzkammergut region is a great way to take in the best of what Austria offers and enjoy the views.
About an hour and a half by road from Salzburg, if you plan to be in this region, a trip to Hallstatt is definitely worth your while.
In the summer, you can also take a boat tour at the Hallstatt lake and see what the city looks like from the lake.
While you are here make sure to visit the salt mines, which have a 7000 year old history.
3. Go skiing in Kitzbühl.
If you’re an adventure junkie or simply want to take your kids skiing in Europe, look no further than this holiday favourite.
While prices can often be expensive in the peak season, Kitzbuhel still manages to host a ton of skiing enthusiasts from all over the world.
With its streets lined with luxury resorts, its certainly not a budget destination.
If you’d like to take ski these world famous slopes, make sure to plan a trip in mid-winter to make the most of your time.
4. Take a road trip along the Grossglockner Hochalalpenstrasse.
I’ve been learning German for over two years, and I can tell you it took me a while to pronounce that too.
The name aside, this is a gorgeous route to cover between Salzburg and Carintha while crossing the largest Austrian mountain peak.
You can also cut across the Hohe Teurn National Park which is a stunning sight in itself.
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do while in Austria, definitely consider taking this scenic route.
5. Experience the Mozart Concert in Salzburg.
If you’re a classical music enthusiast, you need to check off this item while in Salzburg.
You have the option to attend a regular Mozart concert at Mirabella Palace or do one with a dinner which is slightly more expensive.
Depending on your appetite and budget you can pick one.
6. Visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress.
If you plan to stop by at Salzburg, which you should, you’re going to NOT want to miss out on the Homburg Castle or Hohenburg Fortress. Standing at 1066 feet high, it is a ruined fortress that served as the seat for the counts of Homburg in the 12th century.
The impressive fortress has one of the most stunning castle complexes in all of Europe and one that should not be missed.
Friendly Tip: There is a cable car that takes you to the top every ten minutes. Lines get long real fast, so make sure to arrive bright and early to avoid a long wait. For the active souls, you can hike to the top in roughly 20-30 minutes!
7. Visit the old town of Salzburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I was in Salzburg last Christmas, in one of the rare Christkindlmarkt that is still open on the 26th and I wasn’t disappointed.
Even with the biting cold, the old town was as stunning as I expected. Since Salzburg is a small city you only need a day or at maximum two to see the major sights.
Nevertheless, it is so pretty and historic, visit you must!
HOW MUCH TO BUDGET FOR AUSTRIA
Accommodation prices in Vienna aren’t too bad. Hostels are surprisingly affordable and there are a good number of budget hotels. Airbnb is also popular in the city, so that’s a good option if you want a little more space and privacy.
- HOSTEL PRICES: €19-€28 per night
- BUDGET HOTEL PRICES: €90-€150 per night
- RENTAL APARTMENT PRICES: €55- €100 per night
In general, food in Vienna can get fairly expensive, but there are still plenty of budget options. Traditional Viennese food includes wiener schnitzel (breaded and fried veal), tafelspitz (boiled beef), and sauerkraut.
- Breakfast will run from €1.50 (for a pastry) up to €3-€5 for a full breakfast spread.
- Small cafés offer takeaway for open-faced sandwiches, schnitzel, and fries. €1.50-€6, depending on what you get. Pita, falafel, schwarma from a cart will run around €3.50-€5.
- Traditional Austrian schnitzel will cost €7.50-€14 depending on type. the city markets are a good choice for cheap, ethnic (Asian, Greek, Middle Eastern) food. €5-€8 for a meal at one of Naschmarkt’s stands, or €6-€10 at a stand-alone place (Maschu Maschu is recommended for falafel and sides).
Tickets for Vienna’s public transit system can be purchased by the journey or by duration.
A single trip is €2.40
24-hour pass: €8
48-hour pass: €14.10
72-hour pass: €17.10
Airport transit from city centre (bus, taxi):
via taxi: ~ €45
via bus: €8
via City Airport Train (CAT): €12/single
Prices in other towns in Austria are roughly the same.
Overall, Austria is not a lot much more expensive than Germany and a lot less expensive than Swizterland. So if you’re looking to enjoy the mountains with a side of history, Austria is the country you should look at!
Looking to book your next trip? Check out the following services I use and love:
- Skyscanner to find cheap flight deals.
- Rental Cars to hop on your next road trip.
- Booking.com to find a hotel deal.
- Hostel World to find a backpacker hostel.
- World Nomads to insure your travel.
- Viator to find a cool day tour.
- Or my Global Packing List.
MORE TRAVEL GUIDES
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