Austria is a landlocked alpine German-speaking country in Central Europe bordering Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east and Slovenia and Italy to the south. Austria, along with neighboring Switzerland, is the winter sports center of Europe. However, it is just as popular for summer tourists who visit its historic cities and villages and hike in the magnificent scenery of the Alps.
Summer and winter, large flocks of tourists are drawn to Austria’s mighty mountainous scenery. With no less than 62% of the country at an altitude of 500m or more, it’s hard to miss the stunning snow-covered peaks and green valleys.
Depending on the season, you’ll find green mountain meadows or white landscapes as far as you can see, but either way, you won’t be disappointed by the grand views.
Highlights include for example the High Mountain National Park in the Zimmertal Alps, with peaks up to 3476m, narrow gorges and steep cliffs. National Park Thayatal combines beautiful valley landscapes with a variety of castles and ruined fortresses. The country’s highest peak is called Grossglockner and is located on the border between Carinthia and the East Tyrol. To get a good view, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, with its gorgeous panorama’s comes highly recommended. At the feet of mountain peaks you’ll find luscious valleys, including the lovely Villgratental.
The river Danube created some beautiful valley landscapes, where you’ll now find famous vineyards.
Wachau and Dunkelsteinerwald in Lower Austra are fine (and protected) examples. To make the image complete, the valley landscapes and hillsides are dotted with countless picturesque villages.
Beside all that rustic, tranquil nature and countryside, Austria has a whole other side too. As one of Europe’s former great powers, Austria boasts a wealth of majestic architecture and historic structures. As it was long a centre of power in the Holy Roman Empire, you’ll find not only palaces and magnificent city architecture but also grand cathedrals, monasteries and churches.
Vienna, the country’s capital and most popular destination, is packed with Medieval and Baroque structures. Schönbrunn Palace with its 1441 rooms is the absolute highlight, and every little girls’ princess dream. Its zoo, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, is the oldest in the world.
The 12th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the most prominent religious building.
Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, combines delightful Alpine surroundings with a beautifully preserved historic centre. The same goes for Innsbruck, at the heart of Tyrol.
The Mariazell Basilica in Mariazell is one of the country’s most visited attractions and an important pilgrimage destination.
Similar to Schönbrunn Palace is Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt, which is situated in the most eastern province. It’s said to be one of Austria’s most beautiful baroque castles. Neusiedler See, a national park, is also worth seeing in this region. Austria information from wikivoyage
was a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire and later a crown-land of Austria-Hungary. During those times Styria also included parts of Slovenia. It borders Carinthia, Salzburg, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Slovenia.
The province can be split into three main regions.
- Upper Styria lies to the north of the Mur-Muerz valley.
- Eastern Styria lies to the east of the Mur and to the south of the Mur-Muerz valley.
- Western Styria lies to the west of the Mur and to the south of the Mur-Muerz valley.
- Lower Styria referred to the ancient slovenian parts of Styria, however today most Austrians use it to refer to eastern and western Styria at once.
Styria has a well developed tourism infrastructure with many things to see and do:
- Judenburg Sternenturm. In the town of Judenburg there is a (locally) famous planetarium. The town also has a town tower which can be climbed offering views of the entire area. Even though the town is very industrial, it is worth the visit.
- Burg Riegersberg. This wonderfully preserved medieval castle (in the town of the same name) is privately owned by the ruling family of Liechtenstein. Entry is cheap, although photographers will have to buy a permit to use their cameras. The castle can be reached by walking up the original access path that winds its way through the castle’s defensive gates. For those who don’t wish to walk there is a cable car which ascends the other side of the hill.
- Zotter Chocolate. Also near Riegersberg is the Zotter chocolate factory. They make all their chocolate in an ethical and organic manner. The tour of the factory allows you to taste all of their varieties of chocolate (around 150). Styria information from wikivoyage
Murauer Bier. The Murauer Brewery has a permament brewing museum (just turn up on Tuesdays and Thursdays). The tour includes the museum, brew house, a video presentation and a free Murauer beer or lemonade in any of their bars in the town.
Bruck an der Mur
is a small city located in the north of Styria in Austria. In medieval times Bruck an der Mur was one of the most important trading centres in Styria, nowadays Bruck an der Mur is one of the major train hubs (two international train routes cross here) in Austria, so it’s very likely that you come across this city while travelling through the country.
Kornmesserhaus – a beautiful Venetian-style house, built in the late 15th century located at Hauptplatz.
Eiserner Brunnen – located in the middle of Hauptplatz, this fountain has beautiful iron decorations which are unique within Styria. The fountain is at least 400 years old, since it has been mentioned in 1613 for the first time. (due to repair works)
Gauklerfest – A village fair hold every second Saturday in August. Mainly dominated by jugglers.
Martini-Markt – Carnival hold every year on November, 11th. Bruck an der Mur information from wikivoyage