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Austria Travel Guide

From prehistoric salt mines to Roman legionary forts, medieval monasteries to Imperial castles. From the lowlands to the Alps, Austria’s historic and cultural sites are as diverse as its landscape. A diversity seen in its UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites: prehistoric settlements next to alpine lakes and the historic cities of Vienna, Salzburg and Graz. Whether you enjoy city breaks and moseying around some of the world’s finest museums or hiking and cycling to ruined forts and castles spanning many centuries, this landlocked country will not disappoint. 

Reasons to Visit Austria

Amphitheatre Carnuntum
Roman Forts & Towns,
Vienna National Library

Baroque Art & Architecture,

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Artists & Masterpieces,
Johann Strauss Vienna Stadtpark
… and Music & Mountains.

About Our Austria Travel Guide

Interesting Things to Know About Austria

Austria was ruled by the Hapsburg Dynasty from 1273 to 1918. Following the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 the Republic of Austria was formed. This ended in 1933, with the rise of a fascist dictatorship. In 1938 Austria was annexed by Hitler, and it was not until 1955 did the country regain its independence as the Second Austrian Republic.
One of the most impressive Baroque palaces built by the Hapsburgs, the Hofburg, is home to the Austrian National Library. Formerly the Imperial Court Library, which was established in 1368. There are over 12 million items in the libraries collections, including a vast collections of items from the middles ages. Making this one of the most important libraries in the world. Collections are organised into five museums, each of which has permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Humans have been living in what is now Austria since the Palaeolithic. One of the most remarkable artefacts from this period is the so-called Venus of Willendorf, an 11 cm high statuette dated to around 25,000 years ago. Carved from limestone, the female figurine was recovered during archaeological excavations near the village of Willendorf and is now on display in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
In 1683 for a second time the Ottomans failed to take Vienna. By this time, however, much of eastern and southern Austria was devastated as a result of conflict between the Hapsburgs and the Turks. To re-establish their power and authority, the Hapsburgs set about rebuilding the destroyed churches, monasteries and palaces. And they did so in a most opulent way, giving rise to an extraordinary Baroque heritage in Austria. Popular examples of this Baroque opulence include Schloss Schönbrunn, Schloss Belvedere and Melk Abbey.
An interesting historical fact abut Austria, particularly appealing to travellers and tourists, it was in Austria-Hungary that postcards were first used, in 1869. They were immediately popular and by 1870 postcards were being used as a form of quick communication in England.

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Travel Ideas & Inspiration

Five Popular Attractions in Austria

Carnuntum Heidentor
Carnuntum
City and castle Hohensalzburg at sunset - Salzburg Austria
Hohensalzburg Fortress
The striking Baroque Melk Abbey high on a rocky outcrop against a blue sky.
Melk Benedictine Abbey
Ossuary Hallstatt
Beinhaus
Famous golden roof in Innsbruck Austria - architecture background
The Golden Roof

Archaeology & History Sites in Austria

Capuchin Crypt, Vienna

Near Hofburg Palace is a Capuchin church and monastery, founded in 1618. Since 1633 the crypt has served as the Imperial Crypt, being the principal final resting place for the members of the House of Habsburg. Some 150 individuals have been entombed in 10 vaults, including 12 emperors and 22 empresses and queens representing 400 years of Austrian and European history, from the Thirty Years’ War to revolutions and the first steps towards a united Europe. Guided tours are available in a number of different languages.

Carnuntum Roman Town

In just over a century a small Legionary fort grew to become a provincial capital with around 50,000 inhabitants. Today the Carnuntum Archaeological Park covers some 10 km2, offering visitors a museum and several features typical of a Roman city: two amphitheatres, town houses, a striking triumphal monument.

Day Trip from Vienna to Austrian Alps & Hallstatt

The picturesque lakeside village of Hallstatt is known for its prehistoric salt mine and the ossuary or beinhaus in St. Michael’s Chapel. After an early start in Vienna and a journey through the Austrian Alps with a stop at the Baroque Admont Abbey, enjoy a guided walking tour of the historic town of Hallstatt. One your return to Vienna you will get to see the 11th-century Schloss Ort.

Guided Tour of St. Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna

Explore one of Vienna’s most well known landmarks on a two hour guided tour. The tour takes you to parts of the cathedral not accessible to casual visitors, where you will hear all sorts of myths and stories. You will see the catacombs as well as the attic and roof top. From here you will get unbeatable views over the city to the surrounding mountains.

Mauthausen Memorial

Mauthausen Memorial commemorates prisoners of the former Nazi concentration camp in the town of Mauthausen. The camp was at the centre of a network of over 40 subcamps throughout Austria and southern Germany. Set up soon after the Anschluss, over 190,000 people were imprisoned here of which about 90,000 were murdered. Opened as a memorial in 1975, today permanent exhibitions show how there was more to the camp than the obvious killing areas, such as the gas chambers and crematoria – which are still intact.

Melk Abbey

Situated on a high rocky outcrop above the town of Melk with a commanding view of the Danube River is the striking Baroque abbey. Founded in 1089, the Benedictine abbey has the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau, as well as several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty. Still a functioning monastery with its own school, many historic features of the abbey are nonetheless open to the public. The grounds cover 2.2 ha, and include a Baroque pavilion and an Oriental garden. Melk Abbey is a popular day trip from Vienna.

Michaelerplatz

During excavations in 1990 at Michaelerplatz archaeologists uncovered the remains of Roman, medieval and later Vienna. In the circular island these remains have been left exposed in a rectangular trench that looks much like an archaeological excavation. The remains include those of a Roman legionary outpost that stood at a junction of Roman roads. Roads that linked Roman forts along the Danube. Panels and maps provide necessary information for visitors to make sense of what they are looking at.

Schloss Schönbrunn Roman Ruins

In the palace gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn are artificial Roman ruins, that are also known as the Carthage Ruins. The feature is made up of a rectangular pool, surrounded on three sides with a colonnade and a large arch. They are obviously Classical in character, and appear as if in a ruinous condition. Features like these are common in Baroque gardens. Built in 1778, the ruins were designed by Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg and modelled on the temple of Vespasian and Titus in Rome.

The Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace in the centre of Vienna is the former imperial residence of the Hapsburg Dynasty. It is a complex of buildings, the earliest of which date to the 13th century. More recent additions are from the 19th and 20th centuries. Today part of the palace serves as the seat of Austria’s head of state, being used as both a residence and work place. A number of features of the imperial palace are now open to the public, including imperial apartments, the treasury and the Spanish Riding School.

Theseustempel

In the Volksgarten not far from The Hofburg is a reproduction of an ancient Athenian temple. Built between 1819 and 1823, the replica was intended to house a marble statue, Theseus defeats a Minotaur, by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. The Theseustempel was based on the Temple of Hephaestos. At the time it was built the temple in Athens was thought to have been dedicated to Theseus, we now know it is dedicated to Hephaestus. Canova’s statue was removed to the nearby Kunsthistorischen Museum in 1890.

World War II Historical Walking Tour of Vienna

Starting at the Albertina Museum, during this 2.5 hour walking tour of Vienna you will see the effect the Second World War on the city, both during and in the immediate aftermath of the war. You will also learn about how a young Adolf Hitler was influenced by Vienna, where he studied fine art. The tour takes in the Synagogue that survived some 10,000 bombs, as well as a Holocaust Memorial.

Museums & Art Galleries in Austria

Albertina Museum

The museum is housed in a former palace that for around 100 years was the Vienna residence for Habsburg archdukes and archduchesses. Today it is one of the top fine arts museums in the world, with one of the largest collections of drawings and old masters prints. Besides permanent and temporary exhibitions of the art collections, visitors can also view the state rooms of the former palace.

Dazumal Bad Tatzmannsdorf Open-Air Museum

At the Bad Tatzmannsdorf Open-Air Museum in Burgenland, a range of historic buildings from this area have been brought together both to preserve them and to help showcase the vernacular architectural styles of this region. The museum first opened in 1972 and since that time has grown to encompass over 20 structures of 18th and 19th century date, including farmhouses, a blacksmith’s workshop, a wine cellar, and a bell tower.

Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance

Founded in 1963, the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance exists to provide information on topics related to National Socialism, persecution, resistance, the Holocaust, and right wing extremism. Besides an extensive archive, there are both permanent and temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition charts the rise of National Socialism, resistance and persecution in the Nazi era, as well how Nazism is dealt with post-war, and is the most detailed exhibition of its kind in Austria.

Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna - Dortheergasse

With both permanent and temporary exhibitions, the Jewish Museum in Vienna explores the history of the city’s Jewish community. There are two locations, the permanent exhibition at Dortheergasse is divided in two parts. The ground floor floor explores the story of the Jewish community in Vienna from 1945 to the present, while the exhibition on the first floor covers the story from the Middle Ages to the Shoah a period in which the Jewish community in Vienna became one of the largest in Europe.

Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna - Judenplatz

The Jewish Museum in Vienna explores the history of the Jewish community in the Austrian capital. The museum has two locations. With recent archaeological excavations and building history, the permanent exhibition at the Judenplatz branch tells the story of the first Jewish community with its synagogue in Vienna. A community that took root in the 13th century only to be expelled at the beginning of the 15th century. On the Judenplatz is the memorial to the Austrian Jewish victims of the Shoah.

Museum Lauriacum

One of the most modern museums in Austria, having been totally refurbished in 2018, the museum in the former town hall of Enns is dedicated to the history of Roman Lauriacum, as well as the nearby legionary camp of Albing. This was a legionary base and important town on the Limes Noricus, a part of the Danube Limes. Although the focus is on the legio II Italica, exhibits also showcase civilian life. State-of-the-art exhibits and the visitor experience have earned the museum a number of awards. Guided tours are also offered.

Museum of Tyrolean Farms, Kramsach

Located in the idyllic environment of the Kramsach Lake Plateau in Tyrol, the Museum of Tyrolean Farms aims to preserve and display timber buildings from this area of western Austria. The Museum of Tyrolean Farms Society began assembling the collection during the 1970s, and it now houses 14 farms and 23 outbuildings. They range in date from the 16th through to the 19th century. Various events, including a harvest festival, take place at the museum throughout the year.

Niedersulz Village Museum

The Niedersulz Village Museum in Sulz im Weinviertel, brings together a range of historic buildings from the Weinviertel region. Covering an area of 22 hectares, the open-air museum provides visitors with the impression of local village life as it would have appeared around the year 1900. Among the structures in its collection are domestic dwellings – including the Mayor’s house, agricultural barns, an inn, a grocer’s shop, a vicarage and a chapel devoted to the Virgin Mary.

Salzburg Open-Air Museum

The Salzburg Open-Air Museum near Großgmain, brings together a number of historic buildings from this part of Austria. Spread over 50 hectares of ground, the museum hosts around 100 buildings, dating from the 16th to 20th century. These include a range of domestic dwellings in various styles, providing an important educational resource. As well as hiking through the beautiful natural environment, visitors also have the option of traveling around the open-air museum on a narrow-gauge railway.

Vienna Tourist Pass from Tiqets

With this digital pass for Vienna you get to visit two of the famous palaces in the city: Schönbrunn Palace and the Upper Belvedere Palace. At the Belvedere you will have the opportunity to see Gustav Klimt masterpiece The Kiss. While at the Schönbrunn you will have a guided tour. Included in the pass is an audio guide to Vienna and access to a hop-on-hop-off bus.

Popular Tours & Activities in Austria