Austria is known for its picturesque alpine landscape, its beautiful capital city and the mountain hut fun during skiing vacations. In addition to the global metropolis of Vienna, Austria also attracts vacationers with its smaller towns and many beautiful places – you just have to know where to find them. We present you the 16 best cities to visit in Austria. Let us inspire you for your next short trip to experience Austria best based on these destinations.
Bregenz, located on the eastern shore of Lake Constance, is the capital of the Austrian state of Vorarlberg. The city in the 4-country corner of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein has about 29,500 inhabitants. Bregenz looks back on a history of about 2,000 years – already the Celts and Romans have settled here. The city is also known for the famous Bregenz Festival in the summer months, which takes place on the largest lake stage in Lake Constance. Numerous theaters and galleries complement the cultural aspect. From the 1064 meter high local mountain – the Pfänder – you have a wonderful panoramic view. If you don’t want to go that high, you should enjoy the view from the lake promenade.
Eisenstadt is not only the provincial capital of Burgenland, but has also developed over time from a former Roman settlement into a royal free city.
Located on the southern slope of the Leitha Mountains, today’s city center dates back to a flourishing civic culture of the 17th century. The town design is reflected in the two- and three-story houses with late Gothic vaults and Baroque facades.
Parts of the medieval city wall and the Powder Tower complete the harmonious townscape. Eisenstadt and the surrounding area are characterized by numerous vineyards and mild, climate.
During the annual Wine and Delicacy Days, many visitors come to the old town of Eisenstadt to experience the culinary delights of the region.
Only about 50 kilometers from Vienna and centrally located in Austria, Eisenstadt offers a wide range of sights and excursion destinations.
Graz has a charming old town and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. Most of the sights, such as the former fortress Schlossberg, are located in the old town. The clock tower, which is located on the ruins of the fortress is the landmark that towers above the rooftops. Another castle in the old town is Graz Castle, a former Habsburg residence that is now used as the seat of the provincial government.
A baroque grand street- Herrengasse, runs between Jakomini Square and the second Main Square. Herrengasse is a medieval citizens’ street, all Graz trams pass through here. The alley is closed to cars and is therefore the center of public life. The city alone offers many sights: the Botanical Garden, the Mariatrost Basilica, the Schlossberg cable car, Eggenberg Castle, the Glockenspiel at the Glockenspiel Square – these are just a few of the highlights.
At the border triangle of Austria-Italy-Slovenia lies the Carinthian cultural metropolis of Villach. The seventh largest city in the Alpine Republic is a charming vacation metropolis with historical charm in the old town and a modern lifestyle. The Villach Technology Park is just one example of the modern business location in Carinthia. The city offers beautiful squares and many sights for visitors. The main square of Villach is a popular place for locals and guests and invites you to stroll and linger.
The popular squares also include Nikolai Square with the Nikolai Church. The square in front of the church is used for events, among other things. The open-minded way of life in the city on the River Drau, which can be seen, among other things, in the carnival, is known beyond the borders of Carinthia. The recreational area of Villach is located directly in the city with the Drau promenade. Here you can take a relaxing walk. Villach has a high density of cultural and art facilities. Besides the city museum, the doll museum or the vehicle museum are popular. The city has to offer the Kremlhoftheater Villach, the smallest theater in the world.
Innsbruck is a real jewel in the Austrian Alps and is known worldwide for its ski resorts. Its long history as the center of the Tyrol region and its modern history as a winter sports resort attract people from all over the world.
Many of the most popular destinations in the Tyrol can be found near Innsbruck. In the north, the jagged peaks of the Nordkette rise in the Karwendel Mountains, while in the south is the Hohe Saile. To the southeast lies the summit of the 2,246-meter Patscherkofel, popular with skiers.
But it is not only in winter that many people like to travel to the largest city in the Tyrol. The two-time host of the Winter Olympics offers numerous sights. The medieval old town as well as the narrow, winding streets and high houses in late Gothic style are worth a visit. Thus, not only the surrounding mountains, but also the city itself are a real feast for the eyes.
Mariazell is an important pilgrimage site and famous for gingerbread and digestive liqueur. The place of pilgrimage is known not only in Austria, but throughout Europe.
The absolute highlight is the Basilica, which has also been visited by two church leaders: Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
For over 600 years, pilgrims have flocked to this place to ask for help from the Blessed Mother. The story goes back to a monk who carried a statue of the Madonna he had carved himself. His way was blocked, he worshipped the Madonna figure and the way was clear for him to continue his journey. This tradition ensured that Mariazell became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world.
Even today, many pilgrims find their way to Mariazell, even if faith is not always the reason. But especially during the Catholic holidays it gets particularly crowded in the small town. During the high season, masses and devotions are held every hour.
The present church building is based on different architectural styles: first Romanesque, then Gothic, up to the Baroque extension. There are several chapels in the building.
Salzburg is unique in every respect. Visitors can hardly escape the picturesque beauty and exuberant charm of the world-famous city of Mozart. The interplay of architecture and landscape as well as tradition and modernity is harmonious. The oldest city on the territory of today’s Austria enjoys a worldwide reputation as a festival city. But in addition to the annual highlights of culture and music, Salzburg offers reasons for an unforgettable trip at virtually any time of the year.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress towers above the roofs of the old town, high up on the fortress hill. The imposing landmark of Salzburg is the largest completely preserved fortress in Central Europe.
The heart of the old town of Salzburg is the Getreidegasse. Beginning at Kranzlmarkt, it leads 350 meters straight ahead in an east-westerly direction, past the southern edge of the Town Hall Square to Bürgerspitalgasse. The most famous house of Getreidegasse and probably of the whole city is without doubt Mozart’s birthplace, which by the way is one of the most visited sights in the world.
Already more than 3,000 years ago salt was mined very successfully in Hallstatt. To this day, the town has the oldest salt mines in the world and interested visitors can admire the history of salt mining in the Salt Worlds. The panoramic cable car takes you to the Hallstatt high valley to the salt mines. Once there, visitors can take a look at the salt mines and see the “white gold” up close. Also worth seeing is a walk-in grave, a tomb that is over a thousand years old and was only recently excavated by archaeologists. A special treat is the 94-meter-long slide that leads deep into the salt mine.
Hallstatt is a real treasure trove when it comes to historical buildings. Among these buildings is the Catholic parish church with its beautiful late Gothic winged altar. A visitor magnet, however, is the so-called ossuary. In this ossuary lie 610 skulls, all imaginatively painted. Some of the skulls date back to the early 18th century, others are later. Until the 19th century, it was customary in Hallstatt to artistically paint the skulls of deceased relatives, so each skull remained individual.
The vacation resort Velden am Wörther See belongs to the most famous vacation resorts at the world-famous Wörthersee and is worth a trip in summer as well as in winter. Velden belongs to the district of Villach-Land and is located in the province of Carinthia. The town with its beautiful lakeside promenade and historic villas and magnificent buildings is also a destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Among the historical sights are the Hotel Kointsch or the parish church of Our Lady on the western edge.
On the western shore is Velden Castle, which appeared as a castle hotel in several films. The region around Lake Wörthersee is an attractive destination especially for those seeking relaxation, nature lovers and families. Sports, fun and entertainment are the order of the day here. Event highlights include, for example, the Rolls Royce and Bentley meetings. A popular arts festival with clowns, musicians and acrobats takes place in July and August in Velden on the lakeshore.
The old town of Krems has a very special charm and not only because it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 together with the Wachau Cultural Landscape. In the old town you can make an interesting time travel through the Middle Ages and enjoy the delicacies of the region. In addition, the sightseeing tour also takes you past some stores and restaurants – the perfect combination of shopping, culture and culinary delights!
The landmark of Krems is the Steiner Gate. It is part of the old city wall and the only preserved city gate. The Landstraße behind it (today a pedestrian zone) forms the main axis of the old town and extends to the Vienna Bridge. After the Steiner Gate, however, you first turn left up to the Dominican Church and the Krems Museum (in the former monastery). You should definitely take time for this if you want to learn more about the history of the town and its personalities, viticulture and Krems mustard. You can also see a copy of the oldest Austrian woman. Continue through Schlüsselamtgasse to the parish church of St. Vitus or Cathedral of the Wachau. The church is one of the first early Baroque churches north of the Alps.
Vienna proudly presents many of Austria’s top attractions and some of the most beautiful buildings in Europe. From Baroque splendor to golden Art Nouveau and modernism, you will find a multitude of architectural masterpieces and famous landmarks in the Austrian capital. In addition to the historic buildings that should not be missed in Vienna, more than 100 museums and 60 cultural institutions attract visitors to the Museumsquartier. The city was and is home to different cultures, whose traces can be found in many corners.
One of the highlights is Schönbrunn Palace. It stands for historical opulence and is a popular destination for tourists in the Austrian capital. The former summer residence of the Habsburgs impresses with imperial state rooms and with a garden of the extra class. Emperor Franz Joseph was born at Schönbrunn Palace in 1830. The Million Room, decorated with valuable miniatures from Persia and India and paneled with rosewood, is one of the most beautiful rococo rooms. Mozart played music in the Hall of Mirrors as a six-year-old child prodigy. The baroque palace park of Schönbrunn is home to numerous trees and flowers, impressive fountains, statues and the magnificent Gloriette.
The Austrian city of Klagenfurt am Wörthersee is not a big city with about 94,000 inhabitants, but it is worth seeing, lively, diverse and beautiful. Due to its location near the lake, this city is especially suitable for a summer vacation. Klagenfurt not only offers swimming in one of the most beautiful lakes in Austria, but also a lot of culture and various shopping opportunities. The charming old town invites you to stroll and attracts with beautiful squares, well restored palaces and magnificently designed courtyards.
Klagenfurt’s most famous sight is the Lindwurm fountain. It is located on New Square, which, along with Old Square, is one of the city’s central squares. The Lindwurm is both the emblem and heraldic animal of Klagenfurt and already played a major role in the legend surrounding the founding of the city. Other landmarks on New Square include the ornate Maria Theresa Memorial and the City Hall.
The most prominent points on the Old Square are the Holy Trinity Column and the Plague Column. Also often visited are the Floriani Monument on Heuplatz, erected in 1781, and the Spanheimer Monument, dating from the 13th century and commemorating the city’s founder, Duke Bernhard von Spanheim. Particularly beautiful is also the Cathedral Square including the Cathedral Church, which was built in the 16th century by order and effort of the Protestant estates.
Close to the Austrian capital Vienna lies the beautiful spa town of Baden, also called Baden near Vienna. The sulfur springs of the climatic health resort Baden were already known by the Romans. The Biedermeier town with the historical townscape from the 19th century is a popular shopping and cultural town in the Lower Austrian vacation region. Already in the early 19th century, Baden near Vienna experienced a heyday in bathing tourism. Today, there are numerous wellness and health facilities in the city, which has welcomed famous guests such as composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Musical greats such as Johann Strauss gave concerts in Baden’s spa park. The imperial spa town offers a wide range of bathing facilities.
Among the sights of the bathing city are the Roman Baths Baden or in summer the Baden Thermal Beach Bath. The famous Roman thermal bath is a unique mineral swimming pool of the Biedermeier era. Very beautiful is the magnificent building of the Thermal Beach Bath in Art Deco style. Among the many cultural offerings of the shopping city is the renowned municipal theater Baden and the Baden Museum. The oldest museum in Lower Austria is the Rollettmuseum Baden. The reputation of Lower Austria as a city of culture was helped by the operettas, which still have a traditional audience today by composers such as Strauss. In summer, the venue for operetta per
Linz, located on both sides of the Danube, is the capital of Upper Austria and is the third largest city in Austria after Vienna and Graz with a population of around 203,000. In 2009, it was the European Capital of Culture. Its origins date back to the time of the Celts. Linz was also known at the time of the Romans – at that time it was called Lentia and consisted of a wooden fort in the middle of the 1st century. In the 19th century, when the Danube navigation began, an important time also began for Linz and it became an important industrial center. Worth seeing are for example the Old Cathedral, the Church of the Teutonic Order or the pilgrimage basilica Pöstlingberg. A stroll through the baroque main square with the impressive Trinity Column should not be missed during your visit to Linz on the Danube.
The beautiful city of Steyr is located at the confluence of the rivers Enns and Steyr. The cobblestone streets and historic squares are lined with baroque town houses and without a doubt the old town of Steyr is one of the jewels among the historic towns of Upper Austria. The more than 1,000 year old city is rich in history and architecture – you can find baroque as well as gothic, renaissance and rococo buildings.
Until the 20th century, many peoples and rulers have left their traces, which have been preserved in the form of historical buildings. From the Gothic period to the time of industrial architecture, many ensembles can be visited. For this reason Steyr is a member of the Association of Small Historic Towns. Some castles like the Lamberg, the town hall in rococo style, the Bummerl House on the town square, which is also the town’s landmark, or the Schnallen Gate are among the most beautiful historical buildings.
1. Bad Ischl
The charming imperial town of Bad Ischl is picturesquely situated at an altitude of 468 meters in the southern part of Upper Austria, in the middle of the idyllic region of Salzkammergut. As the cultural center of the region, the pleasant vacation community surrounded by the rivers Ischl and Traun, east of the beautiful Lake Wolfgang beautiful has always been considered the secret capital of the former Danube monarchy. Here spent Emperor Franz Joseph with his Empress Elisabeth, better known as “Sisi”, the summer months. Bad Ischl harmoniously combines history with the present. During a leisurely stroll through the town, one always encounters living witnesses of the past. The pretty, flower-decorated town center is also a popular shopping destination. Those looking for pretty traditional costume fashions, handmade Austrian jewelry or pretty souvenirs are sure to find what they are looking for here. Epicures and gourmets will also get their money’s worth here, for example during a visit to the time-honored imperial court supplier, the confectioner Zauner.