O, Austria. Such a beautiful and diverse country. A few years ago I had the privilege to live in Vienna for an internship and I fell in love with the beautiful city. But I somehow never made it further out into the country during those three months. So this summer I backpacked across Austria from East to West, visiting small towns as well as cities. And I loved it! The mountains, the little villages, the cute houses, the blue lakes. It all looked like a postcard come to life. To experience the best of Austria you have to combine cities and countryside and definitely visit these places:
I had the absolute pleasure of living in Vienna for three months during my Erasmus+ internship in 2015. During the day I worked at the University and during the night I was living it up with my new friends. Weekends were for exploring and getting some much-needed sleep. For me, Vienna is synonymous with sophistication and culture, but it is far from stuffy. It is undoubtedly one the most beautiful cities in Europe with a historic city center that exudes glamour and elegance. There is no way you’ll ever get bored in Vienna, but if you are looking for tips on things to do, here are a few highlights.
I thought Vienna was the height of beauty, but then I got to Salzburg. Although much smaller, Salzburg can undoubtedly compete with Vienna for stunning views and architecture. It has more of a renaissance than baroque character and plenty of incredible sights. I also loved seeing all the places I knew from The Sound of Music and I had the songs stuck in my head the whole time. Here are a few tips to see the best that Salzburg has to offer.
I cannot believe it took me so long to explore the countryside of Austria. The landscapes are absolutely breathtaking and exactly what you would imagine. The Wachau region above Vienna is known as the wine region of Austria, producing crisp whites that go so well with the rich Austrian food. The Donau valley is particularly beautiful and Krems was the highlight for me. Krems an der Donau is the full name of this lovely little Medieval town. It is so charming and cute with little streets and squares, each prettier than the next. From Krems, you can bike and hike through the whole Donau valley, something I highly recommend.
The same thing goes for Steyr, another Medieval city that feels like it has been frozen in time. The town itself is lovely and charming and it is made even better by the landscape. The Steyr region is home to a gorgeous national park and many of those typical Austrian mountains with fresh green alms and thick forests. Hiking among those views will have you singing ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music’ 😉
The only place with better mountains than Steyr is Tirol. This is the epitome of Austrian Alps, a skiing paradise in winter and a hikers dream in summer. I especially enjoyed a multi-day hike in Tirol with overnight stays in mountain huts (although they were more like hostels and very comfortable). Tirol is quintessentially Austrian with people walking around in traditional clothing and everything looking like a postcard. I highly recommend hiking here, exploring the little villages and trying all the traditional food, such as these dishes.