Austria is where you’ll find Baroque elegance sitting effortlessly against quaint villages and dramatic Alpine landscapes. Enjoy this unique combinations that make it a young but proud nation.
The romance of Vienna will sweep you off your feet. Immerse yourself in the high Baroque architecture of Schönbrunn Palace and the red and green spiral columns of the Jesuit Church. Make your evening glow with the lilting voices of the Vienna Boys’ Choir or the prancing Lipizzaners at the Spanish Riding School. Indulge in a decadent einspänner (black coffee topped with a generous serving of whipped cream) in one of Vienna coffee houses, a social convention started by post-war artists, writers and architects, some of whom would direct their private mail there!
Cruise along the Danube River to the central towns of Krem and Melk- living, breathing postcard pictures in the wine-producing Wachau region. The sleepy town of Melk is dominated by the Benedictine monastery, where the monks of St Benedict lived and worked for 900 years. A three-hour cycle to Krem takes you past a charming line of vineyards and quaint villages. Wind down your day with a sip of the region’s fine wine at Krem and train back to Vienna in an hour.
Continuing westwards would bring you to Salzburg, home to musical prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and The Sound of Music, a film musical which brought Austria to fame in 1965. Take a tour of young Mozart’s house at no. 9 Getreidegasse, the main street in Old Town where wrought iron guilds still hang from high, narrow houses. Hellsbrun Palace and Mondsee Cathedral can be seen on the Sound of Music bus tour. Walk up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and take a tour of the state room and museum, and stay for the fine evening view. Smell the roses in the Mirabell Gardens with its Pegasus Fountain and enjoy the range of contemporary museums the city has to offer.
Adventurists will have a fine time in the Alpine region of Tyrol. Innsbruck, the capital, gives one access to no less than nine ski areas, the closest of which is Nordpark. Enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities such as mountain-biking, boot sleighing and hiking in the stunning beauty of the Austrian Alps. A range of camping sites are available, or simply cozy up in a holiday village, enjoying the crisp mountain air and waking up to wooden farmhouses and rolling greens beside the Hofburg imperial palace, a combination of sights unique to Austria.
Austria’s transport systems are highly developed and run according to precise timings. The main rail is run by ÖBB. A variety of travel card packages can be purchased from their website. Buses operated by the Post Bus are useful for reaching obscure places. A lovely boat ride runs along the Danube, a slow but extensive service that can even take you to across the border to Hungary and Slovakia.
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