Taking a tour from east to west, here are some of the major cities of Austria which are worth stopping in. In between enjoy the postcard-perfect landscapes, dominated by the peaks of the Alps.
Vienna’s imperial past is evident throughout the city. The Schloss Schonbrunn, summer palace of the Habsburgs, is a definite must-see when in Vienna, as well as a number of other ornate baroque palaces, spectacular castles and some of the finest opera in Europe at the Vienna State Opera House. Alongside this is a superb coffee house culture, providing a welcome break from all the sightseeing.
Austria’s second largest city is down in the south-east corner of the country. It’s a vibrant city with a large student population.
Traditional architecture from the Renaissance and baroque periods sit comfortably alongside some striking new modern public buildings. In fact, the Old Town earned its title as a Unesco world heritage site precisely because so many architectural styles, from gothic to contemporary, are incorporated harmoniously within it.
Situated on the north-eastern plains of Austria,Linz is an industrial city but with an innovative vibe. Cutting-edge art and architecture and a daring cultural scene make this the up-and-coming city to visit in Austria, particularly since it earned the title of European Capital of Culture in 2009.
Salzburg, set against a backdrop of snowy mountainous peaks, is wonderfully infused with historical magic, imposing baroque churches and romantic gardens. Mozart enthusiasts will notleaveSalzburg disappointed as the yellow houseonGeitregasse street in which Mozart was born is now preserved as a museum, as well as the house atMarketplatz 8 where he lived between 1773-1780.
Set right within the mountains, Innsbruck is often covered in a pretty white blanket of snow in the winter and basking in beautiful alpine sunshine in the summer. Most people fly into Innsbruck and head straight to the hills for outdoor activities, but the city is an absolute delight to explore and worth stopping in for a day or two. Discover the medieval Altstadt and its cobbled streets, the lavish Hofburg palace and the baroque cathedral.
View the parish church of Maria Worth at sunrise on the shore of Lake Worth on the southern border of Austria. With a picturesque setting on the southern shore of the lake, the church also contains an excellent high altar.
This is the traditional riding school in Vienna for the Lipizzan horses, renowned for their classical dressage performances which have been practiced for nearly 450 years. This special breed of horse was developed by the Habsburg Monarchy. The horses are trained to move in synchronisation in highly stylised jumps and controlled movements.
An opera performance at the Vienna State Opera House is a real treat. This opulent setting stages operas by some of Austria’s greatest composers. If ticket availability is proving difficult then classical music by composers such as Bach and Handel are often played in historic churches around the city, which is equally atmospheric.
Constructed in the 1850s, the Semmering railway is regarded as the world’s first mountain railway and is a Unesco world heritage site. It travels from Graz to Vienna through 41 kilometres of beautiful alpine scenery.
Melk Abbey is a functioning Benedictine abbey standing on a rocky promontory overlooking the Danube river at the end of the Wachau valley. It is a superb example of baroque architecture containing ornate frescoes.
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