The Wörthersee is a summer playground for the rich, the famous and the rest of us. This is warm in summer and convenient to Klagenfurt, but those who like their waters cooler can head for Weissensee, Austria's highest alpine swimming lake.
At the far-flung but popular Nassfeld ski field near Hermagor, skiers take the 6km-long Millennium-Express cable car up to the slopes for some top skiing. Nordic skiing, ski hikes and ice skating are also excellent, especially in some of the province's rugged and remote regions.
Eleven kilometres downhill on one mighty run – mountain biking is a favourite pastime in Carinthia, but so too is touring on the trails and routes around Hermagor, Weissensee or outside Villach.
Lower Austria & Burgenland
The Wachau region of the Danube Valley has top-class restaurants and local produce such as beef, cheeses and Waldviertel poppy seed, whereas Burgenland around the Neusiedler See is famous for its increasingly impressive wines, and Heurigen (wine taverns), where nothing beats a glass of Austria's finest to wash down a cold platter.
Stift Melk in the Wachau region is the monarch among abbeys, Schloss Grafenegg is a top-class venue for outdoor music and opera, Krems and Schloss Schallaburg host great exhibitions, and Eisenstadt has its splendid Schloss Esterházy.
Cycling & Water Sports
The most popular cycling path in Lower Austria is along the Danube River in the beautiful Wachau region. For lakeside cycling and watersports, don't miss the Neusiedler See in Burgenland.
Salzburg & Salzburgerland
Drinking in History
Palaces & Spas
Salzburg’s regal Residenz, the magnificent baroque Altstadt, and the Festung Hohensalzburg are cultural highlights. The city hosts the world-renowned Salzburg Festival, whereas belle-époque Bad Gastein is famous for its radon-laced springs.
Ice Caves & Waterfalls
Hikers are captivated by the Tennengebirge's landscapes. Underground lies Eisriesenwelt, the world’s largest accessible ice caves, near the precipitous Liechtensteinklamm gorge. Hohe Tauern National Park is a ‘greatest hits’ of alpine scenery, with wondrous glaciers, 3000m peaks and 380m-high Krimmler Wasserfälle.
Coffee Houses & Brewpubs
Cake comes with a dollop of history at grand coffee houses like Bazar and Sacher. Swing over to monastery-run brewery Augustiner Bräustübl or the cavernous StieglKeller for a 365-day taste of Oktoberfest.
Famous for its festivals throughout the year, the capital, Graz, makes up for its small size with some big cultural hits and an ensemble of top-rate museums, including Schloss Eggenberg.
Hiking, Biking & Skiing
Hiking trails abound in Styria – some easy, others challenging – and some good hikes and mountain-bike rides can be had in the cleaved valleys of the remote Nationalpark Gesäuse, or in the more popular Schladming area. Here, the mountains soar to dizzying heights and the pistes rev to life in winter.
Vineyards & Wine Roads
The wine at restaurant tables often hails from the vineyards hugging the slopes at the nearby Slovenian border. Tangy riesling whites and full-bodied Pinot reds are complemented by some cracking restaurants on the south Styrian wine roads.
With its contrast of soaring mountains and deep lakes nestled in steeply walled valleys, the Salzkammergut is the best place to slip into lake waters. Some of these are cold – very cold – but others such as the Hallstätter See, the Wolfgangsee or Mondsee are perfect for challenging open-water swimming or quick dips.
Hiking, Cycling & Skiing
Hallstatt and Obertraun are terrific bases for lakeside hiking, forays into the heights of the Dachstein mountains – don't miss the 5Fingers – and winter ski rambles. The cycling is superb in the Salzkammergut, too – both the mountain variety and easier touring.
Salt Mines & Ice Caves
Go in search of the ‘white gold’ that gives the region its name at Hallstatt's showcase salt mines. Or delve into a subzero world of glittering ice at the Dachstein Caves.
Tyrol & Vorarlberg
History & Heritage
Tyrol has Austria’s finest slopes – quite some feat in this starkly mountainous country. Alpine resorts like St Anton am Arlberg, Kitzbühel, Mayrhofen and Ischgl excel in downhill, off-piste and upbeat après-ski. Seefeld has cross-country runs of Olympic fame.
Hiking & Cycling
Tyrol has some of the most scenic alpine hiking and cycling in Austria. Summer calls high-altitude walkers and mountain bikers to the valleys and peaks of the ruggedly beautiful Zillertal, Ötztal and Patznauntal. In Vorarlberg, cyclists and beach-goers descend on glittering Bodensee.
Palaces & Dairies
Palatial Hofburg, Renaissance Schloss Ambras and galleries of Old Masters beckon in Innsbruck. In Vorarlberg, soak up the back-to-nature feel in the rolling dairy country of the Bregenzerwald, sprinkled with farmstays and chocolate-box villages like Schwarzenberg.
Linz’ strikingly lit Ars Electronica Center propels visitors into the future with robotic wizardry and virtual voyages, while the rectangular Lentos gallery hosts cutting-edge art exhibitions. Modern art and sculpture also hang out in the Landesgalerie.
Historic Abbeys & Churches
Kremsmünster’s Benedictine abbey and St Florian’s baroque Augustinian abbey hide ecclesiastical treasures. Linz has neo-Gothic Neuer Dom and opulent Alter Dom, while Kefermarkt is known for the Gothic altar in its church.
Rolling countryside is scattered with storybook towns like Steyr and spa retreats like Bad Hall. Farmstays in the Mühlviertel and Traunviertel offer total peace. Hike in the limestone wilderness of the Nationalpark Kalkalpen.
Art & Architecture
Drinking in Style
Peerless Palaces & Galleries
Palaces, churches and art spaces such as the Hofburg, Schloss Schönbrunn, Schloss Belvedere, Stephansdom, the MuseumsQuartier and Albertina make it literally impossible to turn a corner in Austria's capital without bumping into an architectural or artistic masterpiece.
Classical Music Highs
Listen to the music of Mozart at palatial venues across town, visit Mozart’s former home, embrace decadence and operatic greats at the Staatsoper or head to the Klangforum where the up-and-coming composers perform.
Coffee Houses & Classy Bars
Viennese coffee houses are legendary: sip, read, pause in palatial surrounds like Café Gloriette or at hip modern renditions such as Café Drechsler. Grab a cocktail in Secessionist architect Adolf Loos’ minuscule bar or visit a Heuriger (wine tavern).