Austria is a mountainous country located in Central Europe. Covering more than 32,000 square miles, Austria is landlocked, sharing borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Austria’s official language is German, although Croatian, Hungarian, and Slovene are also official languages in parts of the country, and many Austrians speak and understand English. A wide range of interesting sights and activities can be found within Austria’s borders.
Vienna is the most popular tourist destination in Austria. “Vienna” is actually the anglicized version of the city’s official name, which is Wien (pronounced “Veen”). Lovers of culture and the fine arts will enjoy all that Vienna has to offer. Theaters and opera houses are plentiful in Vienna, and music lovers should not miss a concert by the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
Composer Ludwig von Beethoven’s grave is located at the Zentralfriedhof, and there are memorial monuments for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at Zentralfriedhof and St. Marx Cemetery, although the exact location of his final resting place remains a mystery. Wine lovers will enjoy the many wineries, and beer aficionados will be interested in the large brewery and the microbreweries. Vienna’s many museums include the Vienna Clock Museum and the Military History Museum.
Ball season is very important in Vienna; more than 1000 balls are held there every year. These balls are held in palaces, and some have as many as nine live orchestras. Viennese ball season begins on November 11 at 11:11 a.m. and lasts until Mardi Gras. The world’s oldest zoo, Schonbrunn Zoo, is located in Vienna. Getting around Vienna should not be a problem; the city has excellent public transportation options, with buses, subways, and trams available.
Salzburg is also a popular tourist destination in Austria. In fact, many tourists recognize landmarks and other sights in Salzburg from having seen them in The Sound of Music, which was filmed mostly in Salzburg. Those who enjoy classical music will appreciate Salzburg as the birthplace of Mozart. In addition, Salzburg has many examples of splendid architecture; visitors should see the Nonnberg Abbey, the Salzburg Cathedral, the Hohensalzburg Castle, the Leopoldskron Castle, the Anif Castle, and the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, to name just a few.
During July and August, locals and visitors alike attend the Salzburg Festival, an annual music festival. Like Vienna, Salzburg has an extensive public transportation system.
Visitors to Austria who are interested in outdoor recreation will not be disappointed. The Alps and the Carpathians offer many resorts with opportunities for skiing, mountain climbing, and hiking. Many large ski resorts are located in the state of Tyrol and are largely responsible for Tyrol’s successful tourism industry. However, Tyrol is much more than ski resorts. Within its borders, visitors can enjoy such sights as glaciers, Renaissance mining towns, castles, monasteries, and villages.
With such a wide variety of sightseeing, cultural, and outdoor activities, Austria is a wonderful place to visit. In fact, visitors to Austria should plan to spend as much time there as possible, so that they can take full advantage of the opportunities awaiting them.