Like a well-orchestrated symphony, Austria strikes a chord with its exuberant Hapsburg palaces, baroque abbeys and spirit-soaring landscapes. Here days unfold as melodically as a Strauss waltz, whether you're sipping tea in a Viennese cafe or strolling the Danube's poetic riverscapes. In this scenic playground, you can catapult down a black run in St. Anton, splash into Lake Constance, or simply gaze up at Hohe Tauern's misty Krimml Falls. But take it slow and absorb the local Gemütlichkeit (relaxed attitude), because, frankly, it's too good to rush.
Vienna waltzes between its Hapsburg past at the opulent Hofburg and its dynamic future at the MuseumsQuartier's edgy art galleries. Crowned by Hohensalzburg Fortress, beautifully baroque Salzburg is Mozart's birthplace, the film set for The Sound of Music and a 365-day feast of classical music. Imperial palaces, alpine views and Zaha Hadid's space-age landmarks dazzle in Innsbruck. Peer above red-tiled rooftops and gables in Graz's Old Town. Linz sends you spiraling into the future at cutting-edge museums by the Danube.
Austria's lyrical landscapes reach beyond the snowy realms of the Alps. Trace the meandering Danube through the World Heritage Site Wachau, passing vineyards, medieval castles and majestic Benedictine abbeys. Mingle with the locals in wine taverns in rural Burgenland and Styria's gold-tinged vineyards. Walkers and those craving a peaceful respite head to the Bregenzerwald's rolling dairy country, woodlands and chocolate-box villages. The farmhouses tucked between Upper Austria's cornfields and apple orchards make a great escape.
Eating and Drinking
Gemütlich (comfortable)? You will be in Vienna's old-world cafes, where chocolate Sachertorte comes with an encyclopedic coffee menu. Linger for perfectly crisp Wienerschnitzel and Tafelspitz (boiled beef with horseradish). Austrian food reflects its unique landscapes, from Styria's pumpkin specialties to Bregenzerwald's creamy cheeses to Salzkammergut lake trout. Dig into comforting fondue and Gröstl (pork and potato hash topped with fried egg) in the Tyrolean Alps and Salzburg. Crisp Grüner Veltiners and Rieslings are best sampled in Lower Austria's rustic Heurigen (taverns).
Mountains and Lakes
Party-mad après-ski in St Anton, the fashionable slopes of Kitzbühel, glacier skiing in Sölden: Whatever your style, there's a ski resort with your name on it in the Tyrolean Alps. Hikers and mountain bikers enjoy the wilderness of Hohe Tauern National Park, where the 380m Krimml Falls thunders. Corkscrewing past ice-blue glaciers and the snowcapped peaks, the high-altitude Grossglockner Road is like a greatest hits of Austrian scenery. Bathe in the sparkling lakes of Salzkammergut, Carinthia and Lake Constance.