Lower Austria & Burgenland
Surrounding Vienna on all sides, Lower Austria is a cradle of Austrian civilisation and a region offering visitors one of the country’s most lively cultural landscapes. Outdoor activities, some great museums, wine, food and a glimpse into the age of the Romans at Carnuntum make leaving the capital for a day or longer an attractive prospect.
Much of Lower Austria has excellent autobahn, rail and bus connections to the rest of the country. Travelling through the province can be done mostly by rail, but the Waldviertel north of the Danube and the Mostviertel south of the Danube have limited train connections. Here it’s better to have your own set of wheels, or use local buses.
Vienna is packed with imperial history; at the same time it has exciting contemporary museums, lively eating and nightlife scenes, and many quiet corners to explore. City of Music Vienna is one the most musical cities in the world. This is partly due to the vast number of great composers and musicians who were born here or lived and worked here.
Salzburg & Salzburgerland
One of Austria’s smallest provinces, Salzburgerland is proof that size really doesn’t matter. Well, not when you have Mozart, Maria von Trapp and the 600-year legacy of the prince-archbishops behind you. This is the land that grabbed the world spotlight and shouted ‘visit Austria!’ with Julie Andrews skipping joyously down the mountainsides.
Salzburg is storybook Austria. Standing beside the fast-flowing Salzach River, your gaze is raised inch by inch to the Altstadt's mosaic of graceful domes and spires, the formidable clifftop fortress and the mountains beyond. It’s a view that never palls. It’s a backdrop that once did the lordly prince-archbishops and home-grown genius Mozart proud.
Austria’s second-largest province is a picturesque combination of culture, architecture, rolling hills, vine-covered slopes and mountains. Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, is Styria's attractive and relaxed capital. Head south from Graz and you’re in wine country, dubbed the ‘Styrian Tuscany’.
Upper Austria may not have the in-your-face splendour of the Tyrolean Alps or Vienna’s imperial palaces. But, as locals delight in telling you, it has a taste of all that is great about Austria. For starters, there's the mighty Danube and a rich musical heritage, old-world coffee houses and castle-topped medieval towns, and resplendent Augustinian abbeys and spas.
'In Linz beginnt’s' (it begins in Linz) goes the Austrian saying, and it’s spot on. This is a city on the move. Daring public art installations, a burgeoning cultural scene, a cyber centre and a cutting-edge gallery that look freshly minted for a sci-fi movie all signal tomorrow’s Austria, and reveal that Linz has its finger on the pulse of the country's technology industry.
Hohe Tauern National Park
If you thought Mother Nature pulled out all the stops in the Austrian Alps, think again: Hohe Tauern National Park was her magnum opus. Welcome to Austria’s outdoor wonderland and one of Europe’s biggest nature reserves (1786 sq km), which straddles Tyrol, Carinthia and Salzburgerland and is overshadowed by the 3798m hump of Grossglockner, the country's highest peak.