Did you know that the origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty, when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire? Austria is full of rich history and culture spanning centuries. Today, Austria is well known as one of Europes top destinations for tourists and ski enthusiasts.
The Alps cover most of Austria, so it’s really no surprise that this country is one of Europe’s top ski holiday destinations. Unlike some other European countries, Austrian ski villages are “chocolate-box” traditional and very pretty, centring round an onion-domed church rather than a coach park.
Austrian ski resorts also have a reputation for having a high standard of accommodation that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and some of the liveliest apres ski in the Alps. All in all, a ski holiday in Austria will give you great skiing and beautiful scenery, without breaking the bank.
Austria also has much in the way of sights to see and places to visit. The capital city of Vienna is awash with grandiose buildings including palaces, theatres, museums and cathedrals. To the west of the capital, on the border of Austria and Germany, lies Salzburg the birthplace of Mozart. Many visitors go to Austria to see the film locations used in the making of The Sound of Music.
Visit the Parliament; The Parliament of Austria is located in Vienna, the country’s largest city and capital. Austria became a federal, parliamentary, democratic republic through the Federal Constitution of 1920. The political system of the Second Republic with its nine states is based on the constitution of 1920 and 1929, which was reenacted on 1 May 1945
Seasons in Austria are quite defined and, dependent on the reason you are visiting, will dictate the best time to go. For sightseeing, the months of June through to September are recommended though it can get very hot during August. For those arriving to enjoy the pistes the ski season starts around December and goes on through to late March.
Salzburg castle is one of largest and most well-preserved medieval castles in Europe. Strategically located at the top of Festungsberg mountain, the mighty fortress towers over the city of Salzburg, breathing life into its magnificent skyline. This castle houses the “Salzburg Bull”, an organ with more than two hundred pipes. A truly stunning piece of medieval architecture, representative of the heart of Salzburg, Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in Austria.
Prince Archbishop Eberhard (1060 to 1088) built the first castle on the Festungsberg in 1077. Initially, this was little more than a bailey with a wooden wall, serving mostly for the protection of Imperial troops of the Holy Roman Empire. However, during the “Investiturstreit”, a struggle for power between Pope Gregor VII. and Emperor Henry IV., Prince Archbishop Eberhard decided to stand by the Pope.
AUSTRIA TRAVEL FACTS:
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport to enter Austria and may stay up to 90 days without a visa.
Security: Vienna is generally a safe city, however, guard against pickpockets in popular tourist and shopping areas. Don’t carry a lot of cash and lock any valuables in your hotel’s safe.
Time: Austria is six hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.
Money: The local currency is the euro. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter: www.oanda.com/convert/classic.
Phone Calls: When calling Vienna from the U.S., dial 011 43 1, then the local number. To call the U.S. from Austria, dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number.
When to Go: Visit during the mild (average 68°F [20°C]) summer season to experience the outdoor cafés and explore the historic sites on foot. December is cold (average 34°F [1°C]), but magical with Christmas markets, horse-drawn carriages, and snow-topped hillsides.
Getting There: Vienna has only one international airport, Vienna International Airport. The City Airport Train (CAT) goes directly to the city center in about 15 minutes. A cheaper alternative is the regular train from the airport to Landstrasse station (about 30 minutes). Purchase tickets on the train platform and validate before boarding.
If traveling to Vienna from within Europe, you may also choose to arrive at the Bratislava international airport about 37 miles (60 kilometers) away from the city. A shuttle bus transports arriving passengers to Vienna. www.airportshuttle.sk
Getting Around: Vienna is a very walkable city with a number of its main tourist attractions situated in the city’s first district (the city center). There’s also an extensive public transportation system including buses, trams, and five subway lines, plus an alternative system of night buses. Private sightseeing buses offer city tours (www.viennasightseeing.at). Ride the number one or two public tram lines to tour the first district along the Ringstrasse.
There are so many things you can do in Austria that If we wrote one thousand pages it would still not cover everything – so go see Austria for your self!