Austria has a magnificent imperial legacy. The House of Habsburg, one of the most important royal houses of medieval Europe, made Austria their power base, occupying the throne of the Holy Roman Empire for about 300 years, followed by a powerful Austrian Empire.
The wealth and influence of the Habsburg monarchy attracted a variety of important artists, resulting in cities full of magnificent baroque palaces and churches, grand castles, fine art and an incredible literary, scientific and musical heritage. Composers such as Mozart, Strauss, Haydn and Beethoven were all either born here or spent the best part of their life creating their masterpieces here.
Beneath this imposing cultural façade, Austria has stupendous natural scenery. Much of the country is covered by the Alps and their high peaks, with rolling green pastures and picturesque alpine villages in the lower foothills. In the eastern part of the country the mountains give way to plains and the sweeping waters of the River Danube. Such landscapes certainly helped inspire the great artists, composers and writers that flocked here.
In Austria, holidays can range from short breaks, perhaps to take in an opera performance, to cultural tours of its picturesque cities and their beautiful baroque churches, imposing castles and pretty streets, walking and skiing holidays in the mountains, or simple relaxation in the healthy mountain air, surrounded by stunning alpine scenery. As a relatively small and landlocked country, holidays to Austria can easily be combined with neighbouring countries such as Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary on a rail itinerary or relaxing Danube river cruise.