At the very least, I believe it’s merely human nature to strive and be prepared in advance. Traveling to new places isn’t an exception. Personally, I tend to do intensive research on every new destination that I intend to visit. I mean who doesn’t, right?
What’s Austria famous for? Austria is mostly known for its rich classical music history. Austria is a German-speaking landlocked country that’s located in central Europe. While Vienna, its capital, remains a popular tourist destination, most outdoor lovers will enjoy the fresh mountain air and idyllic scenery.
Austria is one of the top romantic destinations in the world. If you love places with a rich cultural history, delicious food (especially desserts), elegant modern art galleries, and breath-taking architecture then you’ll simply love Austria.
In this article, I’ve listed some of the most popular things that this picturesque country is famous for.
I’ve also shared some interesting facts about Austria and sightseeing opportunities for you that you should totally keep an eye out for during your visit.
Hub For Classical Music
Since the 18th century, Austria continues to serve as an iconic hub for musical innovation throughout Central Europe. In fact, its capital (Vienna) is termed as the European capital of classical music.
Historically, the country is widely known to have produced excellent composers such as Beethoven, Johann Strauss II, Mozart, and Joseph Haydn among others.
Despite the inclusion of several other music genres that are flourishing throughout Austria, they still hold colorful music festivals to attract tourists.
The Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg Palace was built in the 13th century and was used to house the seat for the Hapsburg dynasty (Austria’s monarchy).
This lavish landmark sitting in a 59-acre land with up to 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms currently houses the president of Austria as his official residence.
The palace is located at Heroes Square and features an impressive royal accouterment, art, museums, and ancient natural history. During your visit, you might want to keep an eye out for the Sisi Museum, the impressive imperial silver collection, and the imperial apartments once used by Emperor Franz Joseph and his family.
The Spanish Riding School
Harbored in the Hofburg Palace, the world-famous Spanish Riding School dates back to 1562 when Emperor Maximilian II first introduces the Lipizzaner horses in Austria. Watching this breath-taking animal ballet should top your bucket list during your tour.
Especially, viewing the aristocratically preferred riding skills through the magnificent halls that were built in 1735.
Being one of the very few places in the world where classical riding styles are still practiced, tickets are highly sought out for. Word of advice, try to book yours online in advance before your visit.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of Austria’s major landmarks found inside the old city center in Vienna. The building itself has had its fair share of architectural history with a number of alterations and reconstructions.
The original cathedral dates back to the 12th century. Major reconstructions and replacements have since been done through the years until the 14th and 15th centuries when the different Chapels and South Tower (Steffl) were added respectively.
TIP: To get the best views, you can choose to either climb 343 steps in the Steffl side or take an elevator in the North Tower.
From these viewing platforms, you’ll be amazed to see the catacombs of the 14th century.
The Dachstein Salzkammergut is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in one of Austria’s small towns called Hallstatt. The town is full of life and basks in its wealthy Baroque architecture thanks to its long-term salt production history.
Hosting some of Europe’s greatest cavern networks, you should visit the Dachstein Caves or explore the Hörnerwerk cavern’s underground salt lake. Important highlights for your tour include the Giant Ice Caves, and the 5 Fingers viewing platform.
With these, you’ll be able to view the spectacular scenes of frozen waterfalls and an above-ground idyllic Alp scenery that will astound your senses.
Built-in the 1700s, in the outskirts of Vienna, lies the Schönbrunn Palace. With 1441 rooms and a 500-acre garden and labyrinth, this palace used to be a summer home for Empress Maria Theresa.
Additionally, this entire complex is now a UNESCO World Heritage with up to 40 rooms of the royal apartment open to the public.
Kitzbühel The Skiing Spot
If you’re a nature enthusiast in general, Kitzbühel will quickly turn out to be your little heaven on earth.
This 170-kilometer long slope provides the perfect terrain for skiers of all levels with a 1998 meter steep Kitzbüheler Horn. It’s the summit.
Despite being a great spot for hikers in the summer and skiers during winter, the highlight for your tour could just be the incredible summit view and an enjoyable cable car ride.
The Burg Hochosterwitz
The Burg Hochosterwitz is a medieval castle whose history dates back to 860 AD. To date, the castle is known to have remained under the ownership of the Khevenhüller family.
Highlights for your visit might include driving on its steep access road called Burgweg, a beautifully arcaded courtyard, and ancient paintings dating back to 1570 and 1729.
The Prominent Grossglockner Road
The Grossglockner Road is a 22-kilometer road running from Bruck to Heiligenblut. Its 5-year construction ended in 1935.
Being the most elegant mountain road in Europe, it cuts through Austria’s most spectacular sites. These include the Hohe Tauern, which is Austria’s highest mountain massif, and the Grossglockner, the highest mountain in Austria.
If you intend to explore the scenic beauty of this road, remember to use the information-rich materials available at the visitor center. Here you’ll learn of the area’s history and glacier records among other tourist specific data.
The Benedictine Abbey In Melk
As you might already have guessed it right, the Benedictine Abbey in Austria is one of the globally famous monastic attraction sites.
The complex’s length is 325 meters long and has magnificent buildings spread out in its courtyard.
The abbey is strategically perched in high ground above Melk town. Some quick highlight while touring the abbey generally includes imperial remains, portraits, paintings, and statues of the first ruling family in Austria.
St. Peter’s Abbey
St. Rupert originally established the St. Peter’s abbey in 690 AD as a spiritual center and residence of the Prince Archbishops.
Top-notch artists and architects were employed to decorate, design, and build the monasteries, churches, and residences in the abbey.
This old gem still has a surprise moment for you. That is if you’ve watched the film entitled The Sound of Music. You’ll immediately recognize the background of the magnificent cathedral, charming squares, and elegant catacombs.
Down again on the historical steps of the Klosterneuburg Abbey, will gradually take you back to the 12th century.
These lead to where Leopold III remains are buried inside the chapel of St. Leopold.
The Famous World Of The Ice Giants
“Wow! What are these?” is a quick question nagging your brain right now. At least if you’re hearing of this for the first time.
Locally it’s well known as Eisriesenwelt. This elegant world of ice giants covers an area of about 30000 square meters with caves originally carved by ancient underground streams. This enormous system of ice caves was first discovered in 1879 but was opened to the public in 1912.
To date, only 45 kilometers of this system’s network has been explored. Some of the highlights for your tour will include a general wind along the Great Ice Wall down to a hall full of icicles and spectacular ice formations. If you’ll decide to descend the stone steps, they’ll take you to the great ice palace with an outstanding 1775-meter high ice gate.
Tiergarten Schönbrunn Or Better Yet The Vienna Zoo
The Vienna zoo is arguably the world’s oldest zoo whose origin traces back to the menagerie hobby of Emperor Francis I. The zoo was established back in 1752.
Highlights of your visit will include seeing an impressive diversity of 750 species harbored in an interactive aquarium and rainforest house.
One of the most fascinating species you might really want to see while here are the giant pandas and their cubs.
The Vienna State Opera House
Locally known as Wiener Staatsoper, the Vienna State Opera House is the largest and most magnificent theatres in the world. The Opera House was built in 1869 and has hosted the world’s greatest performers of all time.
Some of the most renowned opera singers that have performed in this house include Placido Domingo and Enrico Caruso.
Today, the Vienna Opera Households at least 300 ballet and Operatic performances on a yearly basis.
This excellent complex is quite spacious and with baroque design. It comfortably accommodates more than 2000 audience and an additional 100+ musicians.
An important highlight here will be the ability to have the subtitles in your most preferred language. The most sought languages being English, Russian, or Japanese.
Austria’s Tallest Waterfalls
For those into hiking, I would suggest that you tour Austria’s famous and tallest waterfalls commonly known as the Krimmler Ache.
This waterfall has a height of 380 meters and is perched in a wooded valley at an altitude of 1076 meters that can be used to hike and camp for a few days.
Stopover At Demel For A Mouth-watering Experience
Demel’s reputation supersedes any other café in Austria. Formally registered as Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel, the exquisite café and bakery were established in 1786 and still serves sumptuous dishes and cakes from centuries-old recipes.
Imagine having a similar cake whose recipe was specially prepared for Emperor Franz Joseph.
Quick highlights for your tour include the modest set up of the café’s management and of course, the mouthwatering displays of pastries. Interestingly, you might end up being served one of their cake creations that resembles a mythological creature or character.
Prater is a vast natural park found between the Danube canal and the Danube lying on a vast 3200 acres. Initially, the royal family members used it as a hunting ground.
For years, the park still ranks among the top most popular recreation spots in Vienna. It cumulatively composes of a theme park, Prater Museum, Planetarium, and the Giant Wheel.
The Giant Wheel is widely known to provide the finest views of Vienna since 1896. That said, for the best experience, you should try hopping into the super luxurious cabin that will accommodate a maximum of 12.
Wiener Schnitzel – Austria’s Famous Dish
On matter’s food, Austria is pretty famous for its Wiener Schnitzel which is almost a standard menu in most restaurants. You must be wondering what this is.
Well, the Wiener Schnitzel is an escalloped bread with veal that is later deep fried. During your tour especially in Vienna, you should remember to order it with potato salad for fries and redcurrant jelly for ketchup.
Landeszeughaus: The Famous Armory Landmark
The Landeszeughaus refers to the Styrian Armory found in Graz.
This armory dates back to 1644 when it was built with the purpose of housing a wide collection of 17th-century arsenals enough for about 32000 soldiers.
These include weaponry, arms, armors, and helmets.
The Famous Church In Maria Saal
Somewhere in Carinthia, which is in Southern Austria, is a twin-towered church that is very common among the pilgrimage community. It’s the church of Maria Saal.
The church stands on a high hill in Zollfeld and was hallowed by Bishop Modestus in the 750 AD.
Its original architectural design was gothic back in the 15th century but this was later “updated” in the Baroque era.
Hofburg Imperial Palace And Hofkirche In Innsbruck
The Hapsburg imperial palace used to be the first residential quarters for Emperor Maximillian I back in the 1400s. The palace was later altered and remodeled in the 18th century with renaissance and baroque style by Empress Maria Theresa. Its painted ceilings are one thing you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Just adjacent to this imperial building is the Hofkirche, which is a court church that contains elegant tomb housing the remains of Emperor Maximillian I.
Keen architectural skills can evidently be recognized through the different sculptures trying to emulate the events in the Emperor’s life.
Austria’s Famous Sons and Daughters
Austria might seem like a small country but it has produced some of the greatest men that the world will live to celebrate.
These great men and women range from Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus of the 17th century to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Yup! That heavily built former governor of California acting terminator. His roots trace back to Graz, Austria.
The Hochosterwitz Castle is yet another medieval building in Austria that’s actually believed to have inspired the castle in Slapping Beauty.
Well, the castle has 14 gates to reinforce the defense of the people living within and an inclined railway system for visitors.
TIP: Another important highlight for your tour includes the marble-church with plenty of sculptures together with the armory that features weapons dating back in the 14th century.
The Mirabell Palace also known as Schloss Mirabell is a lovers’ site offering one of the most scenic spots for weddings in Salzburg.
It was elegantly built in the 16th century by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich to house his mistress.
It was later renovated significantly in the 17th century with a baroque stylish interior, impressive gardens, and spectacular sculpture collection.
Zell Am See
As far as Alpine destinations are concerned, Zell am See is arguably one of the most famous among tourists.
Thanks to the picturesque background of the Zeller See, the lake surrounding the city, these destinations still remain popular.
Some of the things that you might enjoy doing while out here include cycling, skiing, and fishing. You can also go for a walk and further explore other neighboring historical landmarks such as Castle Rosenberg.
The Hohensalzburg Castle is situated on top of Festungsberg Mountain towering over the great city of Salzburg.
Just like the rest of the other castles, the Hohensalzburg Castle is a medieval castle.
While visiting this large and well-kept castle, look out for the Salzburg Bull, which is an enormous mechanical musical organ that contains about 200+ pipes.
The Famous St Anton Am Arlberg
Found in Tyrol, St. Anton am Arlberg is yet another very popular ski destination resorts that are worth visiting. If you’re a skier who loves challenges, then the serious terrain in this village is exactly what you should be training on.
That said, this area is quite popular attracting adventurous and strong-willed crowds all year round.
In the summer, you’ll enjoy the company of numerous mountaineers and hikers while in winter you’ll have the highly psyched skier majority to mingle with.
Seefeld – The Winter Olympics Host
Seefeld is located in Tyrol inside a nature reserve. Its location and terrain are perfect for outdoor winter games including skiing for beginners.
No wonder it has hosted the Winter Olympics twice.
Despite this, the region is also famous for hiking events and can provide you with the perfect getaway spot.