Austria Travel Guide

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Austria is one of those countries you should pay a visit in your lifetime, if you’re into old-school European culture. Despite being a relatively small country, Austria spawned celebrities like Mozart, the Habsburg dynasty and Hitler. Vienna, the capital, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and Austria’s magnificent Alpine scenery is absolutely delightful. In German language (the official language of the land), Austria actually means the Eastern Realm and it’s often quoted as being the place to live in if you’re lucky enough to be in the European Union. You know what I’m talking about: the super-state EU, where borders are obsolete and you can basically relocate/work/live wherever you like. Austria is a true melting pot of cultures and different peoples, as it was the core of the Austro-Hungarian empire, which stretched to most of east and central Europe, including territories that are now pertaining to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Poland, Ukraine and even Italy. The imperial capital was Vienna, a truly cosmopolite city, home of cutting edge architecture and contemporary art, innovative and tasty cuisine, with a bursting night-life and friendly people (they all seem to speak or at least understand English, which is pretty cool if you’re from the US or another Anglo-Saxon country). Austria is a highly developed country, with a high standard of living, very clean and very safe and imbibed with culture. Its natural beauty combines perfectly with its neo-classical and Baroque architecture, being an ideal place to relax, recline and relish.

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Austria is located in Central Europe and neighbors Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west and Italy and Slovenia to the south. Its surface spreads over 83,879 square km (32,385 square miles) and it has a population of 8,602,112. Austria’s capital and largest city is Vienna, its metropolitan area holding around 2.6 million people, making for almost one third of the country’s population.

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What to see, what to do
If you’re traveling to Austria, you surely need to include Vienna on your “to-watch” list. The country’s capital is a cultural treasure, abounding in historical buildings, museums, majestic Baroque and Medieval structures, palaces and monuments. Among the most important places to see in Vienna are the opulent Schloss Belvedere and Schloss Schönbrunn palaces, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, which holds an impressive collection of art that includes works belonging to Rubens, Rembrandt or Caravaggio, the 12th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Hofburg complex, Haus der Musik – the first museum of sound and music in the country, Staatsoper and Musikverein – the city’s opera and ballet venues, Tiergarten Schönbrunn – the world’s oldest zoo.
Vienna is also the place to go when the Johann Strauss Ball takes place once a year at the Hofburg Palace.
Another beautiful point of interest in Vienna is the Riesenrad (Ferris Wheel) from the Prater amusement park.

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Visit Salzburg for admiring the city that gave Mozart to the world. The Salzburg Festival, which is held uring the summer, is worth checking out for enjoying a taste of drama and music.
If you’re visiting during the summer, be sure to offer yourself some peace and relaxation by spending some quality time in Carinthia, known as the Austrian Riviera for its crystal clear lakes, such as Faaker See, Klopeiner See, Millstätter See, Ossiacher See, Weissensee or Wörthersee. The award-winning waters from here are known for their quality, turquoise color and their high temperatures, which reach 28 degrees during the summer. Carinthia is the place to be for admiring its jaw dropping landscape, imposing mountains, lakes and also for swimming, sunbathing or practicing water sports (scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing, water skiing, parasailing and more).

salzburg-austria-hohensalzburg-fortress-salzachAustria is also known for being Europe’s winter sports capital, having a plethora of ski resorts for those of you who are passionate about skiing, snowboarding, skating and so on. The Austrian Alps are also great for going hiking.

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Food and drink
The Austrian traditional dishes include wiener schnitzel – a bread crumbed and fried veal escalope, kletzennudeln – noodles filled with soft cheese and dried pears, apfelstrudel – apple strudel, tafelspitz – boiled beef with potatoes and horseradish, palatschinken – pancakes.
Some Austrian regional drinks are schnapps – the national liquor, a strong fruit brandy, almdudler – soft drink made from mountain herbs, Eiswein (ice wine) – a dessert wine, and wine, beer and especially coffee, which is served in a variety of styles.

Visa Requirements

Austria is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID (if anything). For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).

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