22 Things To Do In Austria

Things To Do In Austria

Austria is a country that seamlessly blends natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, making it a dream destination for travelers. From its majestic alpine landscapes to its charming cities and towns, Austria offers a myriad of experiences that cater to all types of visitors. Whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a history buff, or a culture aficionado, there’s something for everyone. This guide to “Things To Do In Austria” highlights some of the best activities and attractions to ensure your trip is unforgettable. From exploring historic cities like Vienna and Salzburg to enjoying the serene beauty of alpine lakes and valleys, let’s dive into the top things to do in this enchanting country.

Things To Do In Austria

  1. Explore Vienna’s Historic Center

Vienna, Austria’s capital, is a city steeped in history and culture. The historic center of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, grand imperial buildings, and cultural landmarks. Start your exploration at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a stunning Gothic structure with a colorful tiled roof. Climb the 343 steps of the south tower for a panoramic view of the city.

Stroll along the Ringstrasse, a grand boulevard encircling the inner city, and admire the opulent Hofburg Palace, the former imperial winter residence. Don’t miss the Spanish Riding School, home to the famous Lipizzaner horses, and catch a performance if you can.

Vienna’s museums are world-class. The Kunsthistorisches Museum houses an impressive collection of art, including works by Vermeer, Raphael, and Bruegel. The Albertina is another must-visit, featuring a vast collection of graphic art.

Vienna is also a city of music. Visit the State Opera House for a night of classical music or explore the House of Music, an interactive museum dedicated to Vienna’s musical heritage.

  1. Discover Salzburg’s Old Town

Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is a city where music and history blend seamlessly. The Old Town, another UNESCO World Heritage site, is a charming area filled with baroque architecture and historical landmarks.

Start your visit at the Hohensalzburg Fortress, one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved medieval castles. Perched atop Festungsberg hill, it offers stunning views of the city and the Alps. Inside, explore the state rooms, the fortress museum, and the Marionette Museum.

Stroll through Getreidegasse, a bustling shopping street where you’ll find Mozart’s birthplace. The house is now a museum showcasing the life and works of the musical genius. Visit the Salzburg Cathedral, an impressive baroque structure, and St. Peter’s Abbey, one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking world.

For a touch of nature, head to Mirabell Gardens, a beautifully landscaped garden with colorful flower beds, statues, and fountains. The gardens are famous for being featured in the film “The Sound of Music.”

Salzburg is also known for its music festivals. If you visit in summer, don’t miss the Salzburg Festival, a world-renowned event featuring opera, drama, and concerts.

  1. Skiing in the Austrian Alps

The Austrian Alps are a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. With world-class ski resorts and breathtaking mountain scenery, it’s a must-visit for skiing and snowboarding.

One of the top destinations is Kitzbühel, known for its challenging slopes and luxurious resorts. The Hahnenkamm downhill race is one of the most famous ski races in the world. For a more family-friendly option, head to St. Anton am Arlberg, which offers a mix of slopes for all skill levels and vibrant après-ski activities.

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the Austrian Alps offer other winter activities. Try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or a thrilling toboggan run. For a unique experience, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snowy landscape.

After a day on the slopes, relax in one of the many alpine huts or luxury spas. Enjoy traditional Austrian cuisine like Wiener Schnitzel, Kaiserschmarrn (sweet shredded pancakes), and a warm drink by the fire.

  1. Cruise the Danube River

A Danube River cruise is a scenic way to see some of Austria’s most picturesque landscapes. The river, Europe’s second-longest, flows through several charming towns and cities in Austria.

Start your cruise in Vienna and sail towards the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning vineyards, rolling hills, and historic castles. Stop in Dürnstein, a quaint town famous for its blue church and the ruins of Dürnstein Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was once imprisoned.

Another highlight is the town of Melk, home to the magnificent Melk Abbey. This baroque masterpiece sits high on a hill overlooking the Danube and features ornate architecture, beautiful gardens, and a library with an impressive collection of ancient manuscripts.

Cruises often offer guided tours, allowing you to explore these towns and learn about their history and culture. Enjoy local wines and delicacies on board while taking in the breathtaking views of the river and its surroundings.

  1. Visit Hallstatt and the Salzkammergut

Hallstatt, located in the Salzkammergut region, is often described as one of the most beautiful villages in the world. This picturesque village, with its pastel-colored houses and serene lake setting, is a must-visit.

Start your visit with a stroll through the village, admiring the charming architecture and scenic views. Visit the Hallstatt Museum to learn about the area’s history, particularly its salt mining heritage, which dates back to prehistoric times.

Take a boat ride on Lake Hallstatt for a different perspective of the village and surrounding mountains. For panoramic views, ride the funicular up to the Hallstatt Skywalk, which offers a breathtaking view of the village, lake, and mountains.

Explore the Dachstein Ice Cave and the Five Fingers viewing platform, both offering spectacular natural sights. The Salzkammergut region also offers numerous hiking and biking trails, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

Hallstatt is a great destination year-round, with winter offering a magical, snowy landscape and summer providing opportunities for water sports and hiking.

  1. Relax at Lake Wolfgang

Lake Wolfgang, located in the Salzkammergut region, is a stunning alpine lake known for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings. It’s a popular destination for relaxation and outdoor activities.

The lake is surrounded by charming villages, each with its own unique appeal. St. Wolfgang, the most famous of these, is home to the White Horse Inn, a historic hotel and the setting for the operetta “The White Horse Inn.” Visit the Pilgrimage Church of St. Wolfgang, known for its beautiful baroque altar.

Take a boat trip across the lake to St. Gilgen, another charming village with connections to Mozart’s family. St. Gilgen offers a variety of water sports, including swimming, sailing, and windsurfing. For those seeking relaxation, there are plenty of spots along the shore to sunbathe and enjoy the serene views.

Hiking and biking are popular activities around Lake Wolfgang. The Schafberg Railway, a cogwheel train, takes you up to the Schafberg mountain, offering stunning panoramic views of the lake and surrounding peaks.

In winter, the area transforms into a winter wonderland, with opportunities for ice skating, cross-country skiing, and winter hiking.

  1. Experience the Graz Clock Tower

Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, is a vibrant destination with a mix of modernity and history. One of its most iconic landmarks is the Graz Clock Tower, located on Schlossberg hill.

The clock tower, dating back to the 13th century, offers a fantastic view of the city. To reach it, you can climb the Schlossberg stairs, take the funicular, or use the glass elevator inside the hill.

The tower’s clock mechanism is unique, with the large hand showing the hours and the small hand showing the minutes. Surrounding the tower, the Schlossberg park is a lovely place to relax and enjoy the scenery.

After visiting the clock tower, explore Graz’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll through the Hauptplatz, the main square, and admire the Rathaus (town hall). Visit the Graz Cathedral, a stunning Gothic structure, and the nearby Mausoleum of Emperor Ferdinand II.

Graz is also known for its culinary scene. Don’t miss trying local specialties like Styrian pumpkin seed oil and hearty Austrian dishes at one of the city’s many traditional restaurants.

  1. Tour the Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey, perched high above the Danube River, is one of Austria’s most famous and beautiful baroque buildings. This Benedictine abbey is not only a religious site but also a cultural and historical treasure.

Start your visit with a tour of the abbey’s stunning interiors. The highlight is the Marble Hall, with its elaborate ceiling frescoes and marble columns. The abbey library is another must-see, housing a vast collection of ancient manuscripts and books, some dating back to the 9th century.

The abbey church, with its ornate baroque architecture, is a masterpiece in itself. Don’t miss the stunning views from the abbey’s terraces, overlooking the Danube and the surrounding Wachau Valley.

The abbey’s gardens are also worth exploring, especially in spring and summer when they are in full bloom. The gardens feature beautifully manicured flower beds, statues, and peaceful walking paths.

Melk Abbey is not only a place of beauty but also a site of learning and reflection. Guided tours provide insights into the abbey’s history, architecture, and the daily lives of the monks who live there.

  1. Wander through Innsbruck’s Old Town

Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is a city where alpine charm meets imperial grandeur. The Old Town, with its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets, is a delight to explore.

Start your visit at the Golden Roof, an iconic landmark with a balcony covered in 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. The adjacent Maximilian Museum offers insights into the city’s history and the life of Emperor Maximilian I.

Stroll through Maria-Theresien-Strasse, the main street, lined with shops, cafes, and historic buildings. Visit the Imperial Palace, once the residence of the Habsburgs, and admire its grand rooms and ornate decor.

Innsbruck is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Take the Nordkette cable car from the city center to the Seegrube station for panoramic views of the city and the Alps. In winter, this area becomes a ski paradise, while in summer, it’s perfect for hiking and mountain biking.

For a cultural experience, visit the Tyrolean State Museum, which showcases Tyrol’s history, art, and culture. Don’t miss the Hofkirche, home to the elaborate tomb of Emperor Maximilian I, guarded by 28 bronze statues.

  1. Enjoy the Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens

Schönbrunn Palace, located in Vienna, is one of Austria’s most visited attractions. This former summer residence of the Habsburgs is a magnificent example of baroque architecture and opulence.

Take a guided tour of the palace’s lavish rooms, including the Great Gallery, the Hall of Mirrors, and the imperial apartments. Each room is richly decorated, offering a glimpse into the lives of Austria’s former rulers.

The palace gardens are equally impressive. Stroll through the beautifully landscaped grounds, which include fountains, statues, and flower beds. Visit the Gloriette, a grand pavilion atop a hill, offering stunning views of the palace and the city.

The Schönbrunn Zoo, located within the palace grounds, is the oldest zoo in the world and home to a diverse range of animals. It’s a great visit for families.

Don’t miss the Palm House, a large greenhouse with exotic plants, and the nearby Desert House, featuring plants and animals from arid regions.

In summer, the palace hosts classical concerts, adding to its allure. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply enjoying beautiful gardens, Schönbrunn Palace has something for everyone.

  1. Hike in the Hohe Tauern National Park

Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest national park in Austria and one of the largest in Europe. It offers a stunning natural landscape with towering mountains, alpine meadows, glaciers, and waterfalls.

For nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts, Hohe Tauern National Park is a must-visit destination. The park spans over 1,800 square kilometers and is home to Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak. Numerous hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging climbs, cater to all levels of hikers.

One of the highlights is the Krimml Waterfalls, the highest in Austria, with a drop of 380 meters. The trail to the falls is well-maintained and provides spectacular views of the cascading water. Another popular hike is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, which offers breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.

Wildlife enthusiasts can spot ibex, chamois, marmots, and golden eagles. The park also has several visitor centers providing information about the flora and fauna, as well as guided tours and educational programs.

In winter, the park transforms into a snowy paradise, offering opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice climbing. Whether you visit in summer or winter, Hohe Tauern National Park promises an unforgettable experience amidst Austria’s most pristine natural beauty.

  1. Visit the Seegrotte Hinterbrühl

The Seegrotte Hinterbrühl is an intriguing attraction near Vienna, featuring the largest subterranean lake in Europe.

The Seegrotte Hinterbrühl was initially a gypsum mine before it was flooded and turned into a tourist attraction. A visit to this underground lake offers a fascinating glimpse into history and geology.

Begin your tour with a walk through the old mine tunnels, where you’ll learn about the mine’s history and its transformation into a unique attraction. The highlight is a boat ride on the underground lake, surrounded by eerie, beautiful caverns. The water is crystal clear, and the lighting adds a magical ambiance to the experience.

During World War II, the mine was used by the Nazis as an aircraft factory, adding a historical dimension to your visit. Exhibits and displays provide insights into this dark period and the mine’s role during the war.

The Seegrotte Hinterbrühl is not only a geological marvel but also a historical site that offers a unique, immersive experience. It’s a great destination for families, history buffs, and anyone looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure near Vienna.

  1. Explore the Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves

Eisriesenwelt, located near Werfen, is the largest ice cave in the world, stretching over 42 kilometers into the Tennengebirge mountains.

Visiting the Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves is like stepping into a frozen wonderland. The caves are filled with stunning ice formations, including frozen waterfalls, gigantic ice pillars, and glistening ice walls.

Your adventure begins with a scenic cable car ride from the valley floor to the cave entrance, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Once inside, guided tours take you through the first kilometer of the cave, where you’ll marvel at the incredible ice sculptures and learn about the cave’s formation and history.

The highlight of the tour is the Great Ice Embankment, a massive wall of ice over 25 meters high. Another notable feature is the Hymir Hall, named after a giant from Norse mythology, with its impressive ice formations and eerie blue glow.

The caves are naturally cold, so warm clothing and sturdy footwear are recommended. The Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves offer a unique and awe-inspiring experience, showcasing the natural beauty and geological wonders of Austria.

  1. Take a Wine Tour in the Wachau Valley

The Wachau Valley, located along the Danube River, is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its picturesque landscapes and world-class wines.

A wine tour in the Wachau Valley is a delightful way to experience Austria’s wine culture and stunning scenery. The valley is renowned for its terraced vineyards, charming villages, and historic castles.

Start your tour in the village of Dürnstein, famous for its blue church tower and the ruins of Dürnstein Castle. Wander through the cobblestone streets and enjoy tastings at local wineries. The region is particularly known for its Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines.

Take a scenic drive or bike ride along the Danube, stopping at vineyards and wineries along the way. Many wineries offer guided tours, where you can learn about the winemaking process, stroll through the vineyards, and sample a variety of wines.

The town of Melk, with its magnificent Melk Abbey, is another highlight. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at a winery restaurant, savoring local specialties paired with Wachau wines.

The Wachau Valley also hosts several wine festivals throughout the year, where you can enjoy music, food, and, of course, plenty of wine. A wine tour in this beautiful region is a perfect blend of relaxation, culture, and culinary delight.

  1. Relax in Bad Gastein’s Thermal Spas

Bad Gastein, nestled in the Hohe Tauern mountains, is renowned for its thermal spas and stunning alpine scenery.

Bad Gastein has been a popular spa destination for centuries, thanks to its natural thermal waters, which are rich in minerals and believed to have healing properties. The town’s elegant Belle Époque buildings add to its charm, making it a picturesque and relaxing retreat.

The Felsentherme Spa is one of the most popular in Bad Gastein, offering a range of thermal pools, saunas, and wellness treatments. Enjoy soaking in the warm waters while gazing at the snow-capped peaks surrounding the town. The outdoor pools are especially delightful in winter, providing a contrast between the warm water and the crisp mountain air.

For a more exclusive experience, visit the Alpentherme Gastein, which offers luxurious spa facilities, including a sauna world, thermal lakes, and a family-friendly water park. The spa also provides a range of beauty and wellness treatments, ensuring complete relaxation and rejuvenation.

Aside from the spas, Bad Gastein offers excellent opportunities for hiking, skiing, and exploring the Hohe Tauern National Park. The town’s unique combination of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and therapeutic waters makes it a perfect destination for those seeking relaxation and adventure.

  1. Explore the Zillertal Valley

The Zillertal Valley, located in Tyrol, is one of Austria’s premier destinations for outdoor activities and stunning alpine scenery.

The Zillertal Valley is a paradise for adventure seekers and nature lovers. In winter, it transforms into a world-class skiing destination with four large ski areas: Fügen-Kaltenbach, Zell-Gerlos, Mayrhofen, and the Hintertux Glacier. The glacier offers year-round skiing and spectacular views from its peak.

In the warmer months, the valley is a hub for hiking, climbing, and mountain biking. There are over 1,400 kilometers of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging mountain treks. The Zillertal High Road provides breathtaking panoramic views and is a favorite among cyclists.

For a unique experience, visit the Spannagel Cave on the Hintertux Glacier, the highest publicly accessible cave in Europe. The cave features impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and marble formations.

The valley is also known for its traditional Tyrolean culture. Visit local farms to taste homemade cheese and schnapps, or enjoy a meal at a mountain hut with stunning views. The Zillertal Valley offers a blend of adventure, natural beauty, and cultural experiences, making it a must-visit destination in Austria.

  1. Visit the Swarovski Crystal Worlds

Swarovski Crystal Worlds, located in Wattens near Innsbruck, is a unique attraction dedicated to the beauty and artistry of crystals.

Swarovski Crystal Worlds is an enchanting place that combines art, culture, and entertainment. Created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Swarovski company, this attraction features a series of fantastical installations and exhibitions showcasing the brilliance of crystals.

The journey begins at the Giant, a large grass-covered head with sparkling eyes, which serves as the entrance to the crystal world. Inside, you’ll find 17 Chambers of Wonder, each designed by renowned artists and designers. These chambers feature stunning crystal art, immersive light displays, and interactive installations.

Highlights include the Crystal Dome, a room covered in 595 mirrors that create a kaleidoscopic effect, and the Chandelier of Grief, an infinity mirror room designed by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The garden outside the Giant is equally magical, with crystal sculptures, a maze, and a playground for children.

The on-site Swarovski Shop offers a wide range of crystal products, from jewelry to home decor. Swarovski Crystal Worlds is a captivating experience for all ages, blending art, design, and the sparkling beauty of crystals in a truly unique way.

  1. Explore the Grossglockner High Alpine Road

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is one of the most scenic drives in Europe, winding through the heart of the Austrian Alps.

Driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a breathtaking experience that offers stunning views of Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner, and the surrounding Hohe Tauern National Park. The road stretches for 48 kilometers and features 36 hairpin bends, ascending to an altitude of 2,504 meters.

Start your journey at the toll booth in Fusch an der Glocknerstrasse, and make your way up through lush meadows, past glistening glaciers, and along dramatic mountain ridges. There are several viewpoints along the route, each offering spectacular panoramas and photo opportunities.

One of the highlights is the Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe, a viewing platform that provides close-up views of the Grossglockner and the Pasterze Glacier, Austria’s largest glacier. The visitor center here offers informative exhibits about the region’s geology, flora, and fauna.

The Edelweißspitze, the highest point of the road, offers a 360-degree view of more than 30 peaks over 3,000 meters high. The Alpine Nature Show Museum at the Fuscher Törl and the Glocknerhaus are also worth a visit for their fascinating exhibits.

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a must-do for anyone visiting Austria, providing an unforgettable journey through some of the country’s most stunning landscapes.

  1. Discover Linz’s Ars Electronica Center

The Ars Electronica Center in Linz is a cutting-edge museum and research center dedicated to technology, art, and society.

Known as the “Museum of the Future,” the Ars Electronica Center is a dynamic and interactive space where visitors can explore the latest in technology and digital art. The museum features a wide range of exhibits and installations that highlight the intersection of science, technology, and creativity.

One of the key attractions is the Deep Space 8K, an immersive experience that uses high-resolution projections to create stunning visual displays. Visitors can explore everything from microscopic views of cells to the vastness of the universe.

The museum also features hands-on exhibits where visitors can experiment with robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality. The Futurelab is a collaborative research space where artists and scientists work on innovative projects, and visitors can often see these projects in action.

The Ars Electronica Center also hosts events, workshops, and festivals, including the annual Ars Electronica Festival, which attracts artists, scientists, and technologists from around the world.

A visit to the Ars Electronica Center offers a fascinating glimpse into the future, making it a must-see for anyone interested in technology and innovation.

  1. Enjoy a Performance at the Bregenz Festival

The Bregenz Festival, held annually on Lake Constance, is one of the most unique and spectacular cultural events in Austria.

The Bregenz Festival is renowned for its stunning open-air performances on a floating stage set against the backdrop of Lake Constance. The festival primarily features opera, but also includes orchestral concerts, theater productions, and contemporary music performances.

The highlight of the festival is the opera performed on the Seebühne, a stage built on the lake. The stage design is always extraordinary, incorporating elaborate sets and innovative technology to create a visually stunning experience. The acoustics are exceptional, and the setting is magical, with the lake and mountains providing a natural backdrop.

Past productions have included famous operas such as “Carmen,” “Turandot,” and “Rigoletto,” each brought to life with unique and imaginative staging. The festival attracts world-class performers and directors, ensuring high-quality productions.

In addition to the performances on the Seebühne, the festival also features events at other venues around Bregenz, including the Festspielhaus and the Kunsthaus Bregenz.

The Bregenz Festival is a must-visit for music and theater lovers, offering a one-of-a-kind cultural experience in a breathtaking setting.

  1. Visit the Abbey Library of Admont

The Abbey Library of Admont, located in Styria, is one of the most beautiful and historic libraries in the world.

The Abbey Library of Admont is part of the Admont Abbey, a Benedictine monastery founded in 1074. The library, completed in 1776, is a masterpiece of baroque architecture and a treasure trove of knowledge and art.

The library hall is the largest monastic library in the world, measuring 70 meters long, 14 meters wide, and 13 meters high. The hall is adorned with stunning frescoes by Bartolomeo Altomonte, depicting the stages of human knowledge, and the ceiling features intricate stucco work and gilded decorations.

The library houses over 200,000 volumes, including rare manuscripts, incunabula (books printed before 1501), and early printed books. The collection covers a wide range of subjects, from theology and philosophy to natural sciences and history.

Visitors can admire the exquisite baroque interior, with its ornate bookshelves, sculptures, and frescoes. Guided tours are available, providing insights into the history of the abbey and its library.

The Abbey Library of Admont is not only a place of learning but also a work of art, offering a glimpse into the rich cultural and intellectual heritage of Austria.

  1. Tour the Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg

The Stiegl Brewery, located in Salzburg, is Austria’s largest private brewery and a must-visit for beer enthusiasts.

Founded in 1492, the Stiegl Brewery has a long and storied history of brewing high-quality beer. A tour of the brewery offers a fascinating look at the brewing process, from the selection of ingredients to the final product.

The tour begins at the Stiegl-Brauwelt, a museum dedicated to the history of brewing and the Stiegl brand. Visitors can learn about the brewing process, explore historic brewing equipment, and see the brewery’s impressive beer bottle collection.

One of the highlights is the brewhouse, where you can see the modern brewing equipment in action and learn about the different stages of brewing. The tour also includes a visit to the fermentation and storage cellars, where the beer matures to perfection.

After the tour, visitors can enjoy a tasting session, sampling a variety of Stiegl beers. The brewery’s restaurant, the Stiegl-Braugasthof, offers delicious Austrian cuisine paired with their excellent beers.

The Stiegl Brewery tour is a great way to experience Austria’s brewing tradition and enjoy some of the country’s finest beers in a historic setting.


Austria is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences, offering a perfect blend of nature, history, culture, and adventure. From the architectural splendor of Vienna and the musical heritage of Salzburg to the breathtaking alpine scenery and serene lakes, the list of things to do in Austria is endless. Whether you’re cruising down the Danube, hiking in the Hohe Tauern National Park, or enjoying a performance at the Bregenz Festival, each experience promises to leave you with lasting memories. As you plan your trip, let this guide be your companion, ensuring that you make the most of everything Austria has to offer. Embrace the charm and diversity of this beautiful country and create stories that you’ll cherish forever.

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