Top Ten Austrian Attractions

Top Ten Austrian Attractions


       Austria is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square km (32,377 sq mi) and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austria’s terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speak local Austro-Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country’s official language. Other local official languages are Burgenland Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene. The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria became one of the great powers of Europe and, in response to the coronation of Napoleon I as the Emperor of the French, the Austrian Empire was officially proclaimed in 1804. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary. When the Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empire collapsed in 1918 with the end of WWI, Austria used the name German Austria (“Deutschösterreich,” later “Österreich”) in an attempt for union with Germany but was forbidden due to the Treaty of Saint Germain. The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919. In the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was occupied and annexed by Nazi Germany. This lasted until the end of WWII in 1945, after which Nazi Germany was occupied by the Allies and Austria’s former democratic constitution was restored. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral. Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.6 million, is Vienna. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,723 (2010 est.). The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2010 was ranked 25th in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995 and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the European currency, the euro, in 1999.

  1. Vienna
           Vienna is the capital of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria’s primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million (2.4 million within the metropolitan area, more than 25% of Austria’s population), and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic and political center. It is the 10th largest city by population in the European Union. Vienna lies in the east of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants and this region is referred to as Twin City. In a 2005 study of 127 world cities, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked the city first (in a tie with Vancouver, Canada) for quality of life. This assessment was mirrored by the Mercer Survey in 2009 and 2010. Analytically, the city was ranked 1st globally for a culture of innovation in 2007 and 2008, and 2nd globally after Boston in 2009 from 256 cities on an analysis of 162 indicators in the Innovation Cities Index on a 3-factor score covering culture, infrastructure and markets. As a city, Vienna regularly hosts urban planning conferences and is often used as a case study by urban planners. This city rates highly in popular opinion-based journalistic rankings from magazines such as the Economist Intelligence Unit, whom rated it the 2nd best city in which to live according to their Global Livability Survey in 2011 as well as Monocle, where it is rated 8th among the “Top 25 Livable Cities” in 2010.
    Links: Top Ten Vienna Hotels, Top Ten Vienna Restaurants, Cities, Museums and Galleries, Churches, Top Ten European Churches, Palaces,,
  2. Salzburg
           Salzburg, literally “Salt Castle,” is the 4th largest city in Austria and the capital city of the federal state of Salzburg. Salzburg’s “Old Town” (Altstadt) has internationally renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In the mid-20th century, the city was the setting for parts of the American musical and film “The Sound of Music,” which features famous landmarks in Austria. The musical was a partnership between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The capital city of the State of Salzburg (Land Salzburg), has three universities, which add liveliness and energy to the area.
    Links: Top Ten Mozart Compositions, Top Ten Composers, Sculptures, Top Ten Fountains,,
  3. Hallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape
    Hallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural LandscapeHallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape1Hallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape2Hallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape3Hallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape4Hallstatt–Dachstein Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape5
           The Salzkammergut is a resort area located in Austria. It stretches from City of Salzburg to the Dachstein mountain range, spanning the federal states of Upper Austria (80%), Salzburg (7%) and Styria (13%). The main river of the region is the Traun, a tributary of the Danube. The name Salzkammergut means “Estate of the Salt Chamber” and derives from the Imperial Salt Chamber, the authority charged with running the precious salt mines in the Habsburg Empire. With its numerous lakes and mountains, the Salzkammergut offers many opportunities to take part in water sports, bathing, hiking, cycling and golf as well as relaxing around lakes such as the Grundlsee or Toplitzsee. The Katrinalm, an alpine pasture, is found near Bad Ischl. Typical Salzkammergut culinary specialties include dishes such as Kaiserschmarrn (cut-up and sugared pancake with raisins), Krapfen (similar to doughnuts) or Lebkuchen (gingerbread). Large parts of the region were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1997, with the description: “Human activity in the magnificent natural landscape of the Salzkammergut began in prehistoric times, with the salt deposits being exploited as early as the 2nd millennium BC. This resource formed the basis of the area’s prosperity up to the middle of the 20th century, a prosperity that is reflected in the fine architecture of the town of Hallstatt.”
    Links: Top Ten Skiing Destinations, Ski Lodges,,
  4. Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg
    Historic Center of Graz and Schloss EggenbergHistoric Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg1Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg2Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg3Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg4Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg5Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg6Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg7Historic Center of Graz and Schloss Eggenberg8
           Graz is the 2nd largest city in Austria after Vienna and the capital of the federal state of Styria. On April 1, 2010 it had a population of 291,890. Graz has a long tradition as a student city: its six universities have more than 44,000 students. Its “Old Town” is one of the best-preserved city centers in Central Europe. Politically and culturally, Graz was for centuries more important for Slovenes than Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and still remains influential. In 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and the site was extended in 2010 by Schloss Eggenberg. Graz was sole Cultural Capital of Europe for 2003 and got the title of a City of Culinary Delights in 2008.
    Links: Palaces, Top Ten Clock Towers,,
  5. Schönbrunn Palace
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           Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,400-room Rococo summer residence in Vienna, Austria. One of the most important cultural monuments in the country, since the 1960’s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace and gardens illustrate the tastes, interests and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.
    Links: Palaces, Sculptures,,
  6. Wachau Cultural Landscape
    Wachau Cultural LandscapeWachau Cultural Landscape1Wachau Cultural Landscape2Wachau Cultural Landscape3Wachau Cultural Landscape5
           The Wachau is an Austrian valley with a landscape of high visibility formed by the Danube river. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations of Lower Austria, located midway between the towns of Melk and Krems that also attracts “connoisseurs and epicureans.” It is 40 kilometers (25 mi) in length and was already settled in prehistoric times. A well-known place and tourist attraction is Dürnstein, where King Richard the Lion-Heart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V. The architectural elegance of its ancient monasteries, castles and ruins combined with the urban architecture of its towns and villages, and the cultivation of vines as an important agricultural produce are the dominant features of the valley.
  7. Semmering Railway
    Semmering RailwaySemmering Railway1Semmering Railway2Semmering Railway3Semmering Railway4
           The Semmering railway, Austria, which starts at Gloggnitz and leads over the Semmering to Mürzzuschlag was the first mountain railway in Europe built with a standard gauge track. It is commonly referred to as the world’s first true mountain railway, given the very difficult terrain and the considerable altitude difference that was mastered during its construction. It is still fully functional as a part of the South railway which is operated by the Austrian Federal Railways.
    Links: Top Ten Train Routes, Sculptures, Top Ten Fountains,,
  8. Innsbruck
           Innsbruck is the capital city of the federal state of Tyrol in western Austria. It is located in the Inn Valley at the junction with the Wipptal (Sill River), which provides access to the Brenner Pass, some 30 km (18.6 mi) south of Innsbruck. Located in the broad valley between high mountains, the Nordkette (Hafelekar, 2,334 m or 7,657 ft. in the north, Patscherkofel (2,246 m or 7,369 ft.) and Serles (2,718 m or 8,917 ft.) in the south. It is an internationally renowned winter sports center, and hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics as well as the 1984 and 1988 Winter Paralympics. Innsbruck hosted the first Winter Youth Olympics in 2012. The word bruck comes from the German word Brücke meaning “bridge” which leads to “the bridge over the Inn.”
    Links: Top Ten Bridges,,
  9. Lake Neusiedl
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           Lake Neusiedl is the 2nd largest steppe lake in Central Europe, straddling the Austrian–Hungarian border. The lake covers 315 km², of which 240 km² is on the Austrian side and 75 km² on the Hungarian side. The lake’s drainage basin has an area of about 1,120 km². From north to south, the lake is about 36 km long, and it is between 6 km and 12 km wide from east to west. On average, the lake’s surface is 115.45 m above the Adriatic Sea and the lake is no more than 1.8 m deep.
    Links: Lakes,,
  10. Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps
    Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps
           Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps is a series of prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements in and around the Alps built from around 5,000 to 500 BC on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands. 111 sites, located in Austria (5 sites), France (11), Germany (18), Italy (19), Slovenia (2), and Switzerland (56), were added to UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2011. Excavations, only conducted in some of the sites, have yielded evidence that provides insight into life in prehistoric times during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Alpine Europe and the way communities interacted with their environment. As the nomination stated, the settlements are a unique group of exceptionally well-preserved and culturally rich archaeological sites, which constitute one of the most important sources for the study of early agrarian societies in the region.
  11. Links: Top Ten Austrian Hotels, Top Ten Austrian Restaurants,

Recommendations for Adventures in Austria