Austria is a landlocked European country located in the Alps and is known to many as a winter sports destination with world-class skiing and snowboarding. The country also has many historic cities that are postcard-perfect, complete with cathedrals and castles set against the magnificent Alps. The capital, Vienna, is home to a number of historic palaces, such as the Belvedere, Helbrunn and Schönbrunn palaces, while the country has many world-class museums with rare pieces of art and historical artifacts.
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Schönbrunn Palace is a palace in Vienna that was formerly used as the imperial summer residence and remains one of the most impressive and significant architectural, historical, and cultural monuments in the country. The building is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Several ticketing options are available, and the two most popular tours are the Imperial Tour and the Grand Tour. The Imperial Tour visits 22 rooms and lasts about 30 to 40 minutes. The tour focuses on the different eras of the monarchy as well as the daily lives of the palace’s residents. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit the state rooms and private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi. The Grand Tour visits all of these rooms with an additional look at 18th-century state rooms from the era of Maria Theresia.
Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-81-11-30
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Ambras Castle sits in the hills above the town of Innsbruck. The castle was built in the Renaissance style in the 16th century and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. Early on, the site was the seat of the Counts of Andechs and later served as the residence of Archduke Ferdinand II. The Lower Castle is one of the oldest museums in Europe and contains the collection of Ferdinand himself as well as other pieces that have been added over the years. The Upper Castle contains approximately 300 portraits of rulers from the Habsburg family and other prominent Europeans from history.
Schloßstraße 20, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Phone: +43-15-25-24-48-02
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Hofburg is a 13th-century palace in the center of Vienna that was the former imperial palace, the seat of the Habsburg dynasty, and the official residence and office of the president of Austria. The Hofburg was the primary resident of rulers during the winter months. The palace has been expanded many times throughout the years and contains a large number of wings. Three museums at the palace depict everyday life in the court of Vienna as well as the home, furnishings, and silver collection. Guests can visit the imperial apartments of Franz Joseph and Elizabeth, which are furnished with beautiful furniture and decor from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone:+44-15-33-75-70
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The Goldenes Dachl, or Golden Roof, is an iconic landmark in Innsbruck’s old town. The structure consists of a copper-gilded roof built in 1500 using 2,738 copper tiles. The balcony overlooks the city square and was used by the emperor and his wife to celebrate momentous occasions such as tournaments, festivals, and other public events held in the square. The front of the structure is decorated with murals and carved reliefs. There are eight coats of arms and various other interesting decorative features. The Golden Roof Museum features information and entertainment related to the emperor’s rule and daily life from the time the Golden Roof was built.
Herzog-Friedrich-Straße 15, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Phone: +4-35-12-53-60-14-41
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Hellbrunn Palace is a palace in Salzburg from the early baroque period. The palace was built by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, as a daytime summer palace. There is no bedroom in Hellbrunn, so the archbishop rarely spent the night there. The park surrounding the palace includes a stone theater, a small building called the Monatschlossl, and a nearby zoo. One of the most popular attractions are the famous jeux d’eau, or “watergames,” on the palace grounds. These are trick fountains that often spray guests unexpectedly in hilarious ways, such as from the seat of a chair that one is seated in.
Fürstenweg 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria, Phone: +43-66-28-20-37-20
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The Hofkirche is a Gothic church in Innsbruck that was constructed in the mid-1500s. The church was constructed by the Emperor Ferdinand I as a memorial to his grandfather, Emperor Maxmillian I. Maximillian’s marble cenotaph stands in the middle of the nave, but does not contain the body of the revered emperor. The tomb has a series of stone reliefs depicting the emperor’s life and several interesting statues depicting family members, ancestors, and horses of the emperor surrounding the tomb. The church also contains the sarcophagus of Philippine Welser, Andreas Hofer’s funerary monument, and an organ that is nearly 500 years old.
Universitätsstraße 2, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Phone: +4-35-12-59-48-95-14
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The Krimml Waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in the country, are situated on the Krimmler Ache river in the High Tauern National Park near the town of Krimml. The waterfall is a tiered waterfall that contains three significant drops. There is a well-maintained path that travels to the upper section of the waterfall and offers stunning panoramic views. The hike up the waterfall begins in the village of Krimml and includes three stages, with several scenic views along the way. The hike takes about 1.5 hours to reach the Bergerblick at the top of the falls. If you wish to take a break along the way, there is a restaurant, the Schoenangerl, at 4,216 feet.
5743 Krimml, Austria, Phone: +43-65-64-72-12
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The Kunsthistorisches Museum, or Museum of Art History, is one of the many art museums in Vienna. It is housed in a palace-like building with an octagon-shaped dome. The museum was opened by Franz Joseph I in 1891 along with the Museum of Natural History, which is similar in appearance and faces the Kunsthistorisches from across Maria-Theresien-Platz. The museum primarily holds the Habsburg’s large art collections and has an especially large number of portraits and pieces of armor as well as paintings of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. There are also several Old Master paintings from the likes of Michelangelo and Raphael.
Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-52-52-40
© Leopold Museum
The Leopold Museum is an art museum in Vienna’s Museumsquartier. The museum has one of the largest collections of modern Austrian art. A wide range of Austrian artists are included in the museum such as Gustav Klimt, Richard Gerstl, and Oskar Kokoschka. The museum also has the world’s largest collection of Egon Schiele pieces. Most of the museum’s artworks were collected by Austrian art collectors Elisabeth and Rudolf Leopold, who amassed more than 5,000 works over a period of 50 years. The Leopold Museum Shop contains a selection of art-related souvenirs, prints, apparel, and gifts. There is also a small coffee shop in the museum and plans for a larger cafe are in the works.
Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-52-57-00
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Melk Abbey is a Benedictine abbey that overlooks the town of Melk. The abbey is home to the tomb of Saint Colman of Stockerau as well as many members of the House of Badenburg, which was the first ruling family of the country. The abbey was founded in 1089 and later became home to a monastic school and a significant monastic library, which was well known for its large manuscript collection. The baroque building that stands on the site today was constructed in the early 1700s and still exists as a school today. Self-guided visits are available from April to early November, however from November to March guests must arrange a pre-booked tour.
Abt-Berthold-Dietmayr-Straße 1, 3390 Melk, Austria, Phone: +43-27-52-55-50
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Mirabell Palace is a historic palace in Salzburg. The palace and gardens are considered a cultural heritage monument and are part of the larger City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace was originally built in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau; however, it was rebuilt in the ornate baroque style in the early 1700s by his successor. The palace has beautiful gardens, including the Mirabellgarten, which is geometrically arranged and features several mythology-themed statues from 1730 as well as statues from 1690 that were created by Italian sculptor Ottavio Mosto. Several scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed here, adding to the palace’s appeal as a tourist destination.
Mirabellplatz, 5020 Salzburg, Austria, Phone: +43-66-28-07-20
12.Museum of Military History
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Vienna’s Museum of Military History is the primary museum of the Austrian Armed Forces. The museum’s exhibits tell the story of Austrian military affairs throughout history. Items on display include a wide range of armory, tanks, airplanes, military uniforms, medals, badges, flags, and model battleships. Many pieces of art related to Austrian military history are also on display, including a variety of paintings and many real-life photographs. Permanent exhibits include The Thirty Years War, War against the Ottomans, Maria Theresa, The First World War, and an outdoor Tank Collection, which is open seasonally. Visitors can tour the museum on their own or with a guide.
Arsenal Objekt 1, 1030 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-79-56-10
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Naschmarkt is a large market originating from the 16th century. The market has more than 100 stalls selling food, vintage items, and more. You will find plenty of ready-to-eat food such as fresh fruit, hotdogs, and a variety of sandwiches. However, you will also find a variety of gourmet food ingredients and produce items for sale. Fresh fish and meat are available and can be prepared to your liking. A wide range of ethnic groups are represented in the market and the products for sale are truly diverse. Dining al fresco in the market or packing sausage, wine, and cheese for a picnic in a nearby park is one of the highlights of a visit to Austria.
1060 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +43-14-00-00-54-30
14.Natural History Museum
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The Natural History Museum in Vienna is a large museum dedicated to natural history. It includes around 30 million objects, some of which are displayed in the museum’s exhibits, spread over 94,000 square feet of exhibit space. The exhibits are housed in 39 halls of an elaborate palace. Some of the most famous items in the museum are the 25,000-year old Venus of Willendorf, a replica skeleton of a diplodocus dinosaur, a giant 258-pound topaz crystal, and a range of extinct animal specimens, including a Steller’s sea cow. The museum also has an impressive solar system exhibit that features the world’s largest collection of meteorites.
Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-52-17-70
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The Wiener Rathaus is Vienna’s city hall and is one of the most impressive buildings in the city. It was designed by Friedrich Schmidt and constructed between 1872 and 1883. The building is built in the Gothic style and features a tower that brings to mind a Gothic cathedral. Today, the building is used as the head office for the city’s administration. The various state rooms in the Rathaus are often used for special events such as press conferences, balls, and concerts. Visitors can tour many parts of the building, including the Council Chamber, the Coat of Arms Halls, Festival Hall, Senate Chamber, and the Arcade Courtyard. Tours are available with multilingual audio guides or with German-speaking tour guides.
Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +43-15-25-50
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Salzburg Cathedral is a Roman Catholic baroque cathedral dating to the 17th century and was dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. The cathedral is one of the most significant in the city and is a distinctive part of the skyline of Salzburg. Interestingly enough, the church still retains the baptismal font where famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized. Guided tours are available free of charge all year round. In the summer, tours occur almost every afternoon but they can be arranged at any time by calling the cathedral. The small Cathedral Museum has a variety of treasures from approximately 1,300 years of the church’s history.
Domplatz 1a, 5020 Salzburg, Austria, Phone: +43-6-62-80-47-79-50
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The Albertina is an art museum in Vienna’s first district. It is home to one of the most significant print rooms in the world. The collection includes more than 60,000 drawings and Old Master prints numbering near a million. The permanent collection also includes significant Impressionist and early 20th-century pieces. The museum restaurant, DO & CO Albertina, serves delicious Viennese cuisine and international dishes. The restaurant’s terrace looking out on the State Opera is an ideal place to dine in the summer whether or not you are visiting the museum.
In addition, Shop of the Albertina has a selection of gifts, souvenirs, art books, postcards, and print reproductions.
Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +43-01-53-48-30
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Alpenzoo Innsbruck is a zoological park in the town of Innsbruck. The zoo highlights the species and habitats of the Alps and is home to approximately 2,000 animals, which include many alpine mammals, a large number of birds, reptiles and amphibians, and virtually all the fish species in the region. The zoo is known around the world because it famously reintroduced to the wild several endangered species, such as the Alpine ibex, bearded vulture, and northern bald ibis. The zoo is the only one in the world that has the wallcreeper, a small Eurasian bird, on display. The zoo is open all year round and you will find many animals are active throughout the seasons.
Weiherburggasse 37a, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria, Phone: +43-05-12-29-23-23
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19.Spanish Riding School
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The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is a traditional riding school for Lipizzaner horses. The school is the only one of its kind in the world and has consistently taught the haute école for many years. The haute école is a classical, Renaissance style of dressage which is performed in the Winter Riding School in the Hofburg. The school building is a beautiful baroque structure that was built in the 1700s. Visitors can attend public performances to watch the riders train the Lipizzaner stallions and show off their marvelous skills. The riding school has merchandise for sale both at their facility and online if you are looking for a souvenir or a gift for a friend.
Michaelerplatz 1, A-1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +43-15-33-90-31
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20.St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna
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St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the mother church of Vienna’s Roman Catholic archdiocese and the seat of the city’s archbishop. The building is built in the Romanesque and Gothic style and stands on the site of two earlier churches. The building, with its multi-colored tiled roof, is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. In addition to being a tourist attraction, the cathedral is a working place of worship. There are seven services each weekday and ten on Sunday. Interested visitors are welcome to participate in a worship service or simply tour the church and appreciate it as a cultural heritage site and historical monument.
Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +43-15-15-52-30-54
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The Tiergarten Schönbrunn, or the Vienna Zoo, is the oldest zoo in the world. It is located on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace and was originally founded in 1752 as an imperial menagerie. Original baroque buildings and well-designed modern zoo structures together make for beautiful zoo grounds. Today, the zoo is known around the world for its work in species and nature conservation and scientific research. Perhaps its most famous residents are four giant pandas, and the zoo is one of only a few zoos in the world that have pandas on display. In addition, they have an Amazon rainforest house, an aquarium, and an Arctic exhibit.
Maxingstraße 13b, 1130 Wien, Austria, Phone: +4-31-87-79-29-40
22.Vienna State Opera
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The Vienna State Opera is both an opera house and an opera company that dates all the way back to the mid-19th century. The opera house is located in Vienna’s city center and was formerly called the Vienna Court Opera. The opera house is one of the busiest in the world and performs more than 50 operas each year as well as ten ballet productions, totaling more than 350 productions in all. They are particularly well known for their children’s productions, which are performed in a tent on the opera house’s roof. Each year, the venue is also home to the internationally renowned Vienna Opera Ball.
Opernring 2, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-51-44-40
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The Wiener Musikverein, otherwise known as the Viennese Music Association, is a concert hall in Vienna’s Innere Stadt borough. The venue is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. The hall is considered to be one of the finest concert halls in the world due to its superior acoustics. The hall has nearly 1,800 seats, with more standing room. Today, it has a stunning pipe organ that replaced the original one in 1907. The Musikverein hosts various musical performances throughout the year, featuring a variety of international musicians. The hall is also open to the public for guided tours when concerts are not scheduled.
Musikvereinsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +43-15-05-81-90
24.Austrian National Library
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The Austrian National Library is the country’s largest library. Its collections contain more than 7 million items within Vienna’s Hofburg Palace and the Palais Mollard-Clary. The complex contains four museums; these, as well as the impressive baroque State Hall, feature a variety of permanent exhibitions and special displays. The Literature Museum highlights Austrian literature while the Globe Museum contains more than 250 globes and related items. The Papyrus Museum has some of the world’s oldest papyri as well as some more recent Islamic papers. Finally, the Esperanto Museum is dedicated to the modern Esperanto language as well as other linguistic issues.
Josefplatz 1, 1015 Vienna, Phone: +43-15-34-10
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The Belvedere Palace was established in 1903 as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. Today the palace mostly attracts visitors who are interested in art as it holds a large collection of art from both the Middle Ages and the baroque period in addition to some more modern pieces. The Belvedere is a complex of buildings and contains several historic buildings including two baroque palaces, the palace stables and the orangery. The palace grounds are beautifully landscaped and feature decorative fountains, grand wrought-iron gates, and baroque sculptures. Guests are free to tour the museum on their own, however, guided 1-hour tours are also available.
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna, Austria, Phone: +4-31-79-55-71-34
25 Best Things to Do in Austria
- Schonbrunn Palace, Photo: Courtesy of mRGB - Fotolia.com
- Ambras Castle, Photo: Courtesy of mary416 - Fotolia.com
- Hofburg, Photo: Courtesy of pure-life-pictures - Fotolia.com
- Goldenes Dachl, Photo: Courtesy of Mattoff - Fotolia.com
- Hellbrunn Palace, Photo: Courtesy of Anibal Trejo - Fotolia.com
- Hofkirche, Photo: Courtesy of Anibal Trejo - Fotolia.com
- Krimml Waterfalls, Photo: Courtesy of mRGB - Fotolia.com
- Kunsthistorisches Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Blickfang - Fotolia.com
- Leopold Museum, Photo: Leopold Museum
- Melk Abbey, Photo: Courtesy of Zechal - Fotolia.com
- Mirabell Palace, Photo: Courtesy of vichie81 - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Military History, Photo: Courtesy of miccolino - Fotolia.com
- Naschmarkt, Photo: Courtesy of Ingo Bartussek - Fotolia.com
- Natural History Museum, Photo: Courtesy of hanseat - Fotolia.com
- Rathaus, Vienna, Photo: Courtesy of JFL Photography - Fotolia.com
- Salzburg Cathedral, Photo: Courtesy of JFL Photography - Fotolia.com
- Albertina, Photo: Courtesy of alexey fedoren - Fotolia.com
- Alpenzoo Innsbruck, Photo: Courtesy of markushohenauer - Fotolia.com
- Spanish Riding School, Photo: Courtesy of seawhisper - Fotolia.com
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Photo: Courtesy of oben901 - Fotolia.com
- Tiergarten Schonbrunn, Photo: Courtesy of Christian Weninger - Fotolia.com
- Vienna State Opera, Photo: Courtesy of chaoss - Fotolia.com
- Wiener Musikverein, Photo: Courtesy of unclepodger - Fotolia.com
- Austrian National Library, Photo: Courtesy of R.Babakin - Fotolia.com
- Belvedere, Vienna, Photo: Courtesy of pure-life-pictures - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of JFL Photography - Fotolia.com