Long the powerhouse of the Habsburg Empire, Austria underwent decades of change and uncertainty in the early twentieth century. Shorn of her empire and racked by economic difficulties, the state fell prey to the promises of Nazi Germany. Only with the end of the Cold War did Austria return to the heart of Europe, joining the EU in 1995. Politics aside, Austria is primarily known for two contrasting attractions – the fading imperial glories of the capital, and the stunning beauty of its Alpine hinterland.
Top Cities in Austria: –
Innsbruck – Salzkammergut – VIENNA – Bad Gastein – Salzburg – Graz – Zell am See-Kaprun
Nestled in the Alps and encircled by ski resorts, Innsbruck is a compact city cradled by towering mountains. It has a rich history: Maximilian I based his imperial court here in the 1490s, placing the city at the heart of European politics for a century and a half. This combination of historical pedigree and proximity to the mountains has put Innsbruck firmly on the tourist trail.
The Salzkammergut, Austria’s lake district, features a spectacular series of lakes and mountains. The jewel of the Salzkammergut is HALLSTATT, which clings to the base of precipitous cliffs on the shores of the Hallstättersee, 20km south of Bad Ischl.
Most people visit VIENNA (Wien) with a vivid image in their minds: a romantic place, full of imperial nostalgia, opera houses and exquisite cakes. Vienna became an important center in the tenth century.
The great aristocratic families flooded in to build palaces in a frenzy of construction that gave Vienna its Baroque character. Central Vienna is compact with the historical center just 1 km wide.
The most important sights are along the Ring street. It is like the series of traffic and tram-clogged boulevards that form a ring road around the center. Efficient public transport allows you to cross the city in less than thirty minutes. You can see sights, such as the monumental imperial palace at Schönbrunn. However, for all the grand palaces and museums, a trip to Vienna would not be complete without spending a leisurely afternoon over a creamy coffee and a piece of cake in one of the grand, shabby-glamorous coffeehouses for which the city is famous.
Combining the quiet elegance of an old nineteenth-century spa destination with modern trappings and reasonably modest price tags, the resort of Bad Gastein, 94 km south of Salzburg, is one of Austria’s best budget mountain getaways. Bad Gastein is a seasonal destination for winter skiing and high-summer hiking.
For many visitors, Salzburg represents the quintessential Austria. It offers ornate architecture, mountain air, and the musical heritage of the city’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A series of independent prince-archbishops had ruled the city and surrounding area were for centuries. It is very clear everywhere in the fine Baroque Altstadt.
Austria’s second-largest city, Graz, owes its importance to the defence of central Europe against the Turks. From the fifteenth century, it was constantly under arms. Today Graz celebrates its reputation as a city of design, thanks to a clutch of modern architectural adventures and a large student population, and it’s a fun place to spend a few days without the tourists of Innsbruck or Salzburg.
Zell am See – Kaprun
Some 80 km south of Salzburg, ZELL AM SEE is a pretty old town wedged between a perfect alpine lake and an impressive mountainous hinterland. The quintessential Austrian resort, it’s busy with skiers in winter and hikers in summer.