Lonely Planet Austria

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Austria is your passport to all the most relevant and up-to-date advice on what to see, what to skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Watch the scenery unfold as you drive up Grossglockner Road, marvel at the grandeur of imperial Vienna, or ski down Austria's many pistes; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Austria and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Austria Travel Guide:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries show you the simplest way to tailor your trip to your own personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips save you time and money, and help you get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - including hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, and prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - including eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, and hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer and more rewarding travel experience - including customs, history, art, music, sports, outdoor activities, architecture, politics, landscapes, wildlife, coffee houses and wine
  • Free, convenient pull-out Vienna map (included in print version), plus over 60 maps
  • Coverage of Vienna, Burgenland, Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria, Carinthia, the Salzkammergut, Salzburg, Salzburgerland, Hohe Tauern National Park, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices)

  • Zoom-in maps and images bring it all up close and in greater detail
  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps let you stay offline to avoid roaming and data charges
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Easily navigate and jump effortlessly between maps and reviews
  • Speedy search capabilities get you to what you need and want to see
  • Use bookmarks to help you shoot back to key pages in a flash
  • Visit the websites of our recommendations by touching embedded links
  • Adding notes with the tap of a finger offers a way to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Inbuilt dictionary to translate unfamiliar languages and decode site-specific local terms

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Austria, our most comprehensive guide to Austria, is perfect for those planning to both explore the top sights and take the road less travelled.

  • Looking for a guide focused on Vienna? Check out Lonely Planet's Vienna guide for a comprehensive look at what the city to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Anthony Haywood, Kerry Christiani and Marc Di Duca

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.

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Country Map

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Vienna

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Vienna

1 / pop 1.7 million

Few cities in the world glide as effortlessly between the present and the past as Vienna. Its splendid historical face is easily recognised: grand imperial palaces and bombastic baroque interiors, museums flanking magnificent squares.

But Vienna is also one of Europe’s most dynamic urban spaces. A stone’s throw from Hofburg, the MuseumsQuartier houses some of the world’s most provocative contemporary art behind a striking basalt facade. Outside, a courtyard buzzes on summer evenings with throngs of Viennese drinking and chatting.

The city of Mozart is also the Vienna of Falco (Hans Hölzel), who immortalised its urban textures in song. In this Vienna, it’s OK to mention poetry slam and Stephansdom in one breath.

Throw in an abundance of green space within the city limits and the ‘blue’ Danube cutting a path east of the historical centre and this is a capital that is distinctly Austrian.

» Vienna has such a strong range of sights and activities that anytime – summer or winter – is a good time to go.

 

Lower Austria & Burgenland

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Lower Austria & Burgenland

Surrounding Vienna on all sides, Lower Austria is a cradle of Austrian civilisation and a region offering visitors one of the country’s most lively cultural landscapes. Outdoor activities, some great museums, wine, food and a glimpse into the age of the Romans at Carnuntum make leaving the capital for a day or longer an attractive prospect.

And naturally everyone’s heard of the Danube River which cuts a picturesque valley, the Wachau, through the region’s northwest. A place of magnificent natural beauty, this is truly a European highlight for its vineyards, castles, abbeys and medieval villages.

To the south of the capital, undervisited Burgenland is all but the typical Austria of the holiday brochures; you won’t find soaring mountains, glacial lakes and bombastic architecture here, just bucolic flatlands spread like a well- tenderised schnitzel around the jewel in its crown – Neusiedler See – a shallow mecca for extreme-water-sports fans and paddling toddlers alike.

 

Upper Austria

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Upper Austria

Upper Austria may not have the in-your-face splendour of the Tyrolean Alps or Vienna’s imperial palaces. But, as locals delight in telling you, it has a taste of all that is great about Austria. For starters, there’s the mighty Danube and a rich musical heritage, old-world coffee houses and castle-topped medieval towns, and resplendent Augustinian abbeys and spas. And the best bit, they whisper, is that nobody really knows it.

It’s true. Beyond the high-tech museums and avant-garde galleries of Linz lies a land in miniature waiting to be unwrapped. Each layer reveals new surprises: from rustic farmhouses serving home-grown Most (cider) to the limestone pinnacles of the Kalkalpen where the elusive lynx roams. Whether you’re among the mist-enshrouded hills rippling towards the Czech Republic or wheat fields fading into a watercolour distance at dusk, you’ll find these landscapes have a quiet, lingering beauty all of their own.

» Summer is a fine time to cycle along the Danube and through the countryside. Come in September for cutting-edge technology festivals and free riverside concerts in Linz. Rooms are at a premium from June to September, though, so book ahead.

 

Styria

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Styria

Austria’s second-largest province is a picturesque combination of culture, architecture, rolling hills, vine-covered slopes and mountains. Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, is Styria’s attractive and relaxed capital. Head south from Graz and you’re in wine country, dubbed the ‘Styrian Tuscany’. This is also the land of Kürbiskernöl – the strong, dark pumpkin-seed oil ubiquitous in Styrian cooking.

The eastern stretch of Styria is dotted with rejuvenating thermal spas and centuries-old castles. If you’re a fan of the former, Bad Blumau is a mandatory stop, not only to take the waters but also to appreciate its unusual architecture, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. If you prefer castles, Schloss Riegersburg is one of Austria’s best.

In the north and west, Styria’s landscape changes to cold, fast-flowing alpine rivers, towering mountains and carved valleys. Highlights are Admont’s abey, charming Murau and Erzberg’s open-cast mine. Note that the northwestern reaches of Styria stretch into Salzkammergut.

 

The Salzkammergut

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The Salzkammergut

The Salzkammergut is a spectacular region of alpine and subalpine lakes, picturesque valleys, rolling hills and rugged, steep mountain ranges rising to almost 3000m. Much of the region is remote wilderness and, even in those heavily visited parts such as the Wolfgangsee and Mondsee, you’ll always find isolated areas where peaceful, glassy waters provide limitless opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing or just sitting on the shore and chucking stones into the water. The popular Hallstätter See, flanked by soaring mountains that offer great hiking, is arguably the most spectacular of the lakes. Salt is the ‘white gold’ of the Salzkammergut, and the mines that made it famous now provide an interesting journey back in time to the settlers of the Iron Age Hallstatt culture, and to the Celts and Romans.

» Head to the mountain lakes from July to early September for lake swimming. Lakes can be chilly or cold outside these months; the Wolfgangsee and Mondsee are warmest.

» The shoulder season (spring and autumn) has changeable weather, and in midsummer short, sudden rain showers are not unusual.

 

Salzburg & Salzburgerland

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Salzburg & Salzburgerland

One of Austria’s smallest provinces, Salzburgerland is proof that size really doesn’t matter. Well, not when you have Mozart, Maria von Trapp and the 600-year legacy of the prince-archbishops behind you. This is the land that grabbed the world spotlight and shouted ‘Visit Austria!’ with Julie Andrews skipping joyously down the mountainsides. This is indeed the land of crisp apple strudel, dancing marionettes and high-on-a-hilltop castles. This is the Austria of your wildest childhood dreams.

Salzburg is every bit as grand as you imagine it: a baroque masterpiece, a classical-music legend and Austria’s spiritual heartland. But it is just the prelude to the region’s sensational natural beauty. Just outside the city, the landscape is etched with deep ravines, glinting ice caves, karst plateaux and mountains of myth – in short, the kind of alpine gorgeousness that no well-orchestrated symphony or yodelling nun could ever quite capture.

» Prices peak in family-friendly alpine resorts during winter, from December to early April. Salzburg twinkles at its Christmas markets. In January orchestras strike up at Mozartwoche, while hot-air balloons glide above Filzmoos’ summits.

 

Carinthia

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Carinthia

Few regions in Europe match the rugged beauty of Carinthia, and you’ll find that travelling through it is often a serpentine journey in valleys and natural conduits. Carinthia can also, at times, seem larger than life with its spectacularly high peaks; its gouged valleys and glistening lakes; the flamboyant show of opulence in the capital, Klagenfurt; and the resorts around the more famous of the region’s 1270 pristine mountain lakes. The most popular of these lakes, such as the large Wörthersee, have waters warmed to a comfortable swimming temperature by thermal springs.

Carinthia’s deep medieval heritage is another attraction – celebrated in picturesque walled villages such as Friesach and Gmünd, and impressive castles such as the hilltop fortress of Hochosterwitz. Many of the towns and villages nestled in Carinthia’s rolling hills hold an annual summer festival, with roving performers coming from neighbouring Italy and Slovenia to take part alongside the locals.

» Midsummer is the time to make the most of Carinthia’s lakes and excellent mountain hiking. Because it gets more sunshine than elsewhere in Austria, lake temperatures are warmer.

 

Tyrol & Vorarlberg

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Tyrol & Vorarlberg

There’s no place like Tyrol for the ‘wow, I’m in Austria’ feeling. Nowhere else in the country is the downhill skiing as exhilarating, the après-ski as pumping, the wooden chalets as chocolate box, the food as hearty. Whether you’re schussing down the legendary slopes of Kitzbühel, cycling the Zillertal or hiking in the Alps with a big, blue sky overhead – the scenery here makes you glad to be alive. Welcome to a place where snowboarders brag about awesome descents under the low beams of a medieval tavern; where Dirndls (women’s traditional dress) and Lederhosen have street cred; and where Volksmusik (folk music) features on club playlists.

The Arlberg Alps give way to rolling dairy country in pleasingly low-key Vorarlberg. Spilling east to the glittering expanse of Bodensee (Lake Constance), this eastern pocket of the country swings happily between ecofriendly architecture on the cutting edge of design and deeply traditional hamlets with more cows than people.

» In winter (December to early April), skiers flock to the Tyrolean Alps for snow and après-ski fun and prices soar, making advance booking essential. At Christmas, markets bring festive sparkle to towns and cities.

 

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