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.
Baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna's artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes. Why I Love Vienna By Catherine Le Nevez, Writer With its rambling palaces, winding cobbled lanes, elegant Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses) and cosy wood-panelled Beisln, Vienna is steeped in history.
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.
Tyrol is as pure Alpine as Austria gets, with mountains that make you want to yodel out loud and patchwork pastures chiming with cowbells. After the first proper dump of snow in winter, it's a Christmas-card scene, with snow-frosted forests and skiers whizzing down some of the finest slopes in Europe.
The joke 'If it's baroque, don't fix it' is a perfect maxim for Salzburg: the storybook Old Town burrowed below steep hills looks much as it did when Mozart lived here, 250 years ago. Standing beside the fast-flowing Salzach River, your gaze is raised inch by inch to graceful domes and spires, the formidable cliff-top fortress and the mountains beyond.
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 photogenic and fabulously relaxed capital. Head south from Graz and you’re in wine country, dubbed ‘Styrian Tuscany’.
Unfolding across the gently undulating countryside, this under-the-radar region 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.
Austria’s second-largest city is its most relaxed. Graz is an appealing place dotted with leafy green parkland, a sea of red rooftops and a narrow but fast-flowing river loudly gushing through its centre. A very beautiful bluff – connected to the centre by steps, a funicular and a glass lift – is the city's signature attribute.
In Austria's far west, the Vorarlberg nudges up against Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Parts of it remain gloriously off-the-radar, with narrow valleys carving up mighty peaks and forests. The snow-capped heights of the Silvretta-Montafon give way to the wavy hills and lush dairy country of the Bregenzerwald, which in turn fall to the Bodensee (Lake Constance).
'In Linz beginnt’s' (it begins in Linz) goes the Austrian saying, and it’s spot on. This is a city on the move, with its finger on the pulse of the country's technology industry. 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.
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 largest 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.