A landlocked country in the centre of Europe, in the west Austria offers beautiful Alps, balanced by the cosmopolitan delights of Vienna in the east.
Once at the heart of the powerful Habsburg Empire, for centuries much of Europe was controlled from Austria, its rule over Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and much of Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans lasting up until the First World War.
This imperial history is still very much in evidence today in the stately buildings and august cultural institutions of Vienna, the Austrian capital. Here you will find grand palaces, ornate coffeehouses, cosy inns, captivating churches and magnificent ballrooms where dancers still create elegant patterns to the accompaniment of Strauss waltzes.
Austria’s cultural legacy is as significant as its imperial grandeur. Mozart was born in Salzburg, a beautiful historic city where stunning baroque churches sit prettily framed by the majestic Alps. Artistic works by Klimt and Schiele, and philosophical touchstones such as Freud’s couch and Wittgenstein’s house also vie for your attention.
Natural beauty also looms large in the overall Austrian picture. The Alps reach out into Switzerland and provide winter skiers with an inviting playground of challenging slopes and alpine villages.
Yet Austria’s charm does not lie wholly in picturesque relics from its illustrious past. Modern Austria boasts a vibrant industrial and commercial society that knows how to work and play hard. Austrian hospitality and cuisine are legendary, and how better to relax after a great meal than with a cruise on the magnificent Danube River? Alternatively, if you’re in search of a more active break, how about a cycle tour through alpine meadows? There’s something for everyone in Austria, which offers some of the finest art collections in Europe, world-class opera and cosmopolitan nightlife to rival that of any of its neighbouring countries.
Temperate Austria is a year-round destination, with snowy winters perfect for mountaineering, skiing and snowboarding, and mild summers ideal for sightseeing.
Average summer temperatures in Vienna are 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit), while the winter months hover on average around freezing point.
The ski season in the Alps runs from December to April but the mountains are also popular with hikers and climbers over the summer when the weather is usually warm and bright.
The official language of Austria is German.
Austria is a member of the European Union. You may need a Schengen visa (short stay visa) to stay in the country for more than 90 days. Please check rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
Travel to Austria is generally trouble-free, however, the usual precautions are advised in larger cities.
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