Austria is a small European country with less than 33,000 square miles of land. Though it’s slightly larger than Maine, this destination has tons of culture and exciting tourist attractions.
Eight countries border Austria, so you can travel to other European nations during your trip. But which ones are worth seeing? Don’t worry — we’ll show you this and more in our comprehensive guide below.
17 of the Best Places to Visit in Austria
Austria has something for every type of traveler. You can experience natural beauty, like the Alps and Krimml Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in Europe. Eisriesenwelt is the largest ice cave in the world, stretching about 26 miles.
The Austrian National Library in Vienna has more than two million books and stunning architecture. You can tour Schönbrunn Palace, attend the Salzburger Festspiele opera festival, and experience thrill rides at the Prater, one of the oldest amusement parks.
You’ll want to plan your trip carefully since Austria has so much to see. Check out 17 of the best sights in Austria to get an idea of what this country offers.
Vienna is the capital of Austria and is home to a third of the country’s population. It’s on the Danube River, so you’ll want to take a riverboat tour there.
Since the city has so much culture and unique food offerings, booking private tours or taking a hop-on bus will let you see as much of the city as possible in a short time.
Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Vienna in 2023
Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is still known as a music city. It’s the fourth-largest city in Austria and combines German and Italian cultures.
The sight of the skyline with the Alps rising behind them is picturesque and will make you feel like you’re in another world. Some scenery might look familiar, as it was one of the filming locations for “The Sound of Music.”
Innsbruck is the fifth-largest city in Austria, known for hosting the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics twice each. You can explore the nearby mountains for outdoor sports or visit historical buildings in the city center, like City Hall and Golden Roof.
There are also several museums, including:
4. Bad Gastein
Bad Gastein is a spa town in Austria. It’s located in the Hohe Tauern mountains, making for stunning views, including the Gastein Waterfall. Construction crews built Bad Gastein buildings into cliffs 3,300 feet above sea level.
You can spend time exploring nature, skiing, hiking, and paragliding. There are also historical buildings to visit, including the Gastein Museum.
Linz is the third-largest city in Austria, but many tourists overlook it for Vienna and Salzburg. Linz has the reputation of a creative city, with plenty of markets and shopping centers offering unique goods to tourists.
There are also historical attractions, such as St. Mary’s Cathedral, the tallest church in Austria, and a monument for those who died from the plague.
Wine lovers will appreciate Wachau, a city near the Danube River known for its vineyards. The land helps grow luscious apricots and grapes, giving this region’s wines a unique flavor. However, you can also see history in Wachau. There are several monasteries, the Schallaburg Castle, and the Durnstein Castle.
Styria is the second-largest state in the country, located in the southeast region of Austria. This area is famous for its forests, mountains, and wildlife.
The Gruner See has vibrant green waters, while Skywalk Dachstein has a breathtaking view of the land. You can enjoy outdoor tours and walking tours in the cities and explore historical buildings like the Schloss Eggenberg palace.
The Alpbach is the prettiest region of Austria, which says a lot about this country of natural beauty. You’ll love to relax in this village of meadows and timber farmhouses.
However, you can also experience skiing and hiking activities in the nearby Alps. There are slopes ideal for beginners and professional skiers, so everyone can enjoy this location.
9. National Park Donau Auen
The National Park Donau Auen is open from March until November, then closed due to snowy weather and troublesome access. You can explore the Danube wetlands, as this is the last great floodplain in Central Europe.
There are educational centers to teach adults and children about the land, and you can get some insight into the wildlife that lives in the park.
10. Krimml Waterfalls
Krimml Waterfalls are the tallest in Europe, with water falling over 1,200 feet. The falls have lush green forests surrounding the water, making this a stunning sensory experience.
You can hike around the waterfalls to see them from several different vantage points. Due to Austria’s weather, the paths are accessible from mid-April until the end of October.
11. Lake Constance
Lake Constance includes the upper lake, lower lake, and Lake Rhine. The bodies of water are at the border of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
It’s a popular tourist attraction for the beauty of the surrounding Alps and watersports like sailing and swimming. There are also cultural attractions around the lake, like the opera festival Bregenzer Festspiele.
12. Grossglockner High Alpine Road
If you want to take a road trip in Austria, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is the path to follow. You’ll travel through the mountains, drive on the edge of cliffs, and see lush meadows.
You don’t have to take in all the views while driving because there are many spots to park and admire the view. Due to snow, the road is usually open between May and October.
After your road trip along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, you’ll want to explore Carinthia. This region surrounds Grossglockner mountain and has plenty of lakes and forests to help you relax in nature. You can also visit the Hochosterwitz Castle and nearby Renaissance buildings, then enjoy wine produced in the area.
14. Vienna Woods
The Vienna Woods is a biosphere reserve overseen by UNESCO, focused on sustainable development. There are more than 2,000 plant species and 150 bird species in this region alone, many of them endangered.
The region includes 15 nature reserves, four national parks, and vineyards. The area includes rivers and forests, providing a stunning landscape for tourists.
15. Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is an opera house built in 1869. You can see ballets, operas, and kid-friendly shows at this theater, making it a must-see stop on your vacation. If you don’t have time to take in a show, you can enjoy a guided tour to learn about the history of the opera house and explore the stage.
16. Eisriesenwelt Cave
The Eisriesenwelt Cave is the longest ice cave in the world, stretching about 26 miles into the Earth. It’s a popular tourist destination and, since it’s only open from the end of April to the end of October, you’ll want to book tickets in advance.
You can explore the cave on foot or travel via cable car. The tour takes up to four hours, so carve out plenty of time to enjoy the experience.
17. Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace is a unique Austrian attraction. The palace has over 1,400 rooms total, with 45 open for exploration. The Palace hosts special concerts and events inside or on the grounds.
So check the calendar before you book your visit. The building also has historical information about the palace and the family that used to summer there.
Things to Consider
Before you travel to Austria, make sure you understand what the country is like. Keep these considerations in mind to make the most of your trip:
- Businesses typically close on Sundays. In America, you can visit almost any establishment on Sunday, and it’s business as usual. In Austria, Sunday is a day of rest, so plan your visit and dining accordingly.
- Prices on Austrian menus and tags are the final purchase price. There’s no need to calculate extra funds for tax because they charge you the amount listed. You don’t need to tip 20% in restaurants, either, because wait staff gets paid what they’re worth.
- Though most Austrians speak English, it’s nice to know a few German phrases so you can greet people in passing without making them stop and speak in your language.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve learned about 17 of the best places to visit in Austria. If you want more information before finalizing your itinerary, check out the answers to these frequently asked questions:
What part of Austria should I visit?
If possible, you should make time to see as much of Austria as you can. If you have limited time, definitely hit Vienna, the capital city.
It has historically stunning architecture, delicious restaurants, and plenty of cultural landmarks to visit. You should also try to see Salzburg, which was the setting for “The Sound of Music,” and Innsbruck, where they sell Swarovski crystals.
What’s the number one tourist attraction in Austria?
The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is the most popular destination in Austria. You can tour 45 rooms of the palace and the outside gardens.
There’s also a children’s museum that makes the history more engaging for younger visitors. You can attend unique festivals, see concerts, and shop homemade markets on the palace grounds depending on the season.
How long should I spend in Austria?
There’s so much to see in Austria that it’s best to spend at least ten days in the country. You’ll be able to explore some of the major cities and also spend time in the gorgeous countryside.
Plan carefully to ensure you’re making the most of your travel time and seeing the best spots as you go from destination to destination.
When is the best time to visit Austria?
The tourist season in Austria typically runs from May to September. Visiting during this time means you’ll get stunning weather and can hike the alpine trails without encountering snow.
Due to Austria’s location, you’ll also have more daylight, with the sun staying bright until 21:00. The crowds decrease a bit in October, and you’ll still catch the tail end of the nice weather.
Do they speak English in Austria?
The majority of the Austrian population speaks English, but it’s a German-speaking country. As an English-speaking tourist, you shouldn’t have trouble finding people who can help you find your way if you’re lost or give you recommendations for attractions and restaurants.
So, Which Places Will You Visit in Austria?
It’s hard to choose the best place to visit in Austria since there are so many beautiful locations. If you only have time for one destination, you’ll want to go to Vienna.
The capital city gives you a taste of the country’s culture and has plenty of attractions to keep you busy. However, if you have over a week in the country, consider traveling to many different areas.
With so many amazing places to see, you’re sure to have the trip of a lifetime. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Austria today!