Is Austria worth visiting? A short answer is YES. A longer answer is in this blog post. Austria is a real gift for any traveler. Fans of outdoor activities can conquer the Alpine peaks and go hiking in the fascinating Austrian nature.
Music fans and art lovers will find a diverse cultural scene with classic to ultra-modern events. Foodie-travelers will love Viennese street food and concept restaurants. Here are the top unique things to do in Austria that you can add to your Austria bucket list.
If you, like me, love unusual and quirky attractions, I highly recommend visiting the Hundertwasser house in Vienna.
It's a house-celebration, a work of art in itself, and the most unusual residential building in Vienna.
This hidden gem of Vienna is not located in the historical center of the city and is usually not part of tourist routes.
Vienna-born painter and architect Friedrich Hundertwasser was a rebel of his era. This building is a manifesto of freedom. Hundertwasser endowed his project with bold colors and unusual shapes. Trees grow right in the apartments, while the roof turned into a creative garden with grass and bushes. This style can be described as a riot of colors and vegetation.
Hundertwasser's House in Vienna is not his only creation. Find out about the most beautiful buildings designed by Hundertwasser in other Austrian cities here.
My alternative travel guide to Vienna is coming soon!
You cannot find this unusual planet in the starry sky even with the largest telescope, although it is located within the solar system.
But to see it, you don't need to fly into space.
All you have to do is get on a plane and go to Austria.
Every day in the small Austrian town of Wattens near Innsbruck, the crystal world comes to life in an underground cave.
The history of this fabulous planet began in 1995 when the famous Austrian company Swarovski celebrated its centenary. Swarovski has created a museum to help people discover the magical beauty of crystals.
The creator of the museum, the Austrian artist Andre Heller, suggested placing it underground. Well, where else can there be the treasures of Swarovski comparable in their purity and splendor to diamonds?
They named this fairytale cave Swarovski Crystal Worlds. It’s one of the best unique things to do in Austria because… well, you can find it ONLY IN AUSTRIA!
The cave museum is a labyrinth of seven rooms connected by narrow corridors and staircases. At the entrance, you will meet a giant carved into the hill. His eyes burn like coal, and a waterfall falls from his mouth.
At night, the light splits into thousands of small rainbows, and it seems that the waterfall is also made of crystal. When you enter the cave, follow a glass tunnel that will lead you to the underground treasury.
In the museum, you can see the smallest and the largest Swarovski crystals. Both are the stars of the Guinness World Records. The weight of the giant crystal is 62 kilograms, and its diameter is 40 centimeters. The diameter of the smallest crystal is 0.8 millimeters. You can see it only through a microscope.
Each hall of the cave is an unusual world where you will experience a flurry of emotions. For example, in one room, you find yourself inside a colossal crystal. And in another, you will see the history of our planet told by Swarovski crystals.
To get to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens from Innsbruck, you can use this shuttle bus.
By the way, if you decide to visit the Swarovski Museum and Innsbruck, you can stay nearby in one of the most amazing and unusual hotels in Austria - the Aqua Dome Thermal Spa Hotel. It deserves its title of the Instagram star.
Apart from The Aqua Dome, there are more unusual hotels in Austria, and many of them you can find in Vienna. These hotels are not just places to sleep but an attraction in itself.
For a lasting memory of your Austrian experience, stay at a quirky boutique hotel in Vienna.
Vienna is a temperamental city and has unique hotels for every taste.
Do you want to spend the night in a coworking hotel, in a social hotel, or an industrial hotel in a vinegar factory? Or how about a hotel where fashion shows take place or a hotel in a store window?
Here is my selection of unique hotels in Vienna that are different from ordinary chain hotels. They tell a story and will make you remember your trip to Vienna for life.
The best place to visit in Austria? Without a doubt, Hallstatt is a must see place in Austria and you definitely should add it
to your Austria bucket list.
Hallstatt is a perfectly preserved alpine village from the 16th century on the lake of the same name. In 1997, Hallstatt became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hallstatt, like the entire Salzkammergut region, is a territory of mountains and dozens of lakes. Wherever you turn your head, a fantastic view awaits you. The sighs are so stunning that I wanted to take pictures every second. But then I decided to put the camera away and simply absorb this beauty into myself.
The historical and cultural landscape made Hallstatt the most photographed city in Austria.
The only drawback of this unique place in Austria is its popularity.
There are a lot of tourists here, especially in summer. Roughly ten thousand people come here per day in a high season. Therefore, if you do not like crowds of tourists, come here in early spring, autumn or winter, or in the summer months early in the morning at 6-8 o'clock.
The main attractions of Hallstatt, in addition to the colorful houses and narrow streets of the town itself, are picturesque nature and iconic alpine landscapes.
Another distinctive feature of Hallstatt is the oldest Salt Mine in Europe. You can visit illuminated salt mines and see current exhibitions. Going to the salt cave on a special underground funicular is an exciting adventure in itself. The mines are open for visitors from March to November.
A fun fact - Chinese tourists liked Hallstatt so much that they spent a billion dollars to build a copy of this town in China. In 2012 in China, they constructed a replica of Hallstatt in Luoyang.
How to get to Hallstatt?
Hallstatt is easily accessible from Bad Ischl, the capital of the Salzkammergut region, by train or bus.
“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” - Frank Lloyd Wright.
“When you are looking for peace, nature is always the answer.” - Unknown.
“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.” - Gary Snyder. When you are in the Dachstein Mountains, you realize how true these quotes about nature are.
The 5 Fingers Observation Deck in the Dachstein Mountains is an absolutely stunning experience as it allows you to see the beauty of Alpine nature from a bird's eye view. Many travelers call it one of Austria best places to visit.
Nearby you can also visit ancient caves, some of which are ice caves.
To reach the viewing platform, you have to take an aerial tramway with ultra-modern and equipped cabins that move you to a height of 2000 meters.
The 5 fingers viewpoint got its name due to its appearance: 5 metal bridges look like spread fingers. This "palm" hangs over an abyss with a depth of is 400 meters.
Each of the five fingers of the observation deck is special.
The first one has a frame for photoshoots.
The floor of the second finger is made of glass so that tourists have the opportunity to experience the effect of hovering over the abyss. But in reality, the floor is not very transparent and does not create such a powerful effect.
The third finger is much shorter than the others, and besides, it is forbidden to enter. This finger serves as a symbol of freedom and inaccessibility of the Alpine mountain peaks.
The fourth finger has a hole through which you can examine in detail the abyss below.
On the fifth finger, you can admire the distant landscapes through a telescope. The telescope is free of charge.
Entrance to the observation deck 5 fingers in Austria is free. You only need to pay for the ride on the funicular.
You can buy the tickets at the box office and also pay by card.
The price of a two-ways ride on the funicular is € 31.50 for adults, € 28.20 for teenagers, € 17.40 for children.
Is Salzburg worth visiting? Why do seven million travelers from all over the world come to Salzburg every year?
Everyone finds the answer to this question for himself, but I have not yet met people who regret a trip to Salzburg.
Salzburg is an extremely atmospheric city and one of the best places to go in Austria. Even if you decide to spend just one day in Salzburg, it will be a highlight of your trip to Austria. Salzburg made me feel like a traveler in time - the Salzburgers successfully preserved the attributes of the 18th century in the city.
The most visited place in Salzburg is the house and a museum of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In Salzburg, everything revolves around Mozart. Therefore, if you are a fan of his work and classical music-love, you will find a lot of interesting things here.
Salzburg is also worth visiting to dine at the oldest restaurant in Europe, St. Peter Stiftskulinarium. Locals say that this restaurant has been operating since before AD 803 !!
The restaurant is located in the building of St. Peter's Abbey. Here you can enjoy a candlelit dinner with Mozart's music performed by a string quintet and two soloists. What can be better than watch performances from Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni and at the same time taste traditional dishes and good local wine?
Another reason why you should visit Salzburg is to try famous round chocolate candies with marzipan filling - Original Salzburger Mozartkugel.
They were invented by the Salzburg confectioner Paul Fürst. In 1905, he even received a gold medal for this invention at the world exhibition in Paris.
Each Mozartkugel is still hand-made and wrapped in silver-blue foil that keeps them fresh for two months. You can buy these sweets (€ 1.10 each) only in Salzburg in five FÜRST brand stores or ordered from the online store. Only these Mozartkugel candies are original.
Mozartkugels in golden-red foil from Mirabell and Rebel companies, which are widespread in supermarkets, sovenir shops and duty-free shops are also good but not original. To be honest, original Mozartkugels are really tastier than mass-market ones. So be sure to taste those iconic sweets in Salzburg, start with one balloon, and if you like it, take the box home!
And if you decide to add Salzburg to your Austria bucket list, I recommend visiting the Berchtesgaden National Park.
This natural gem of Bavaria is located only a few kilometers west of Salzburg. Tourists from all over the world come to visit this unique place. Its main attractions are:
The Eagle's Nest - is a masterpiece of the building art of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler’s famous mountaintop retreat.
To reach the place, you have to drive along a picturesque mountain road and take a golden elevator to a height of 1834 meters. From the observation deck, you get a breathtaking panorama of the Bavarian Alps.
With so many amazing places in Austria, we can't forget about the Austrian food!
Austrian food is quite diverse. Each federal state of Austria has its traditional dishes, such as Tiroler Groestl (fried potatoes with bacon and scrambled eggs) in Tyrol, Kaernten Kasnocken (dumplings-like small pasta pockets filled with cheese, spinach, and spices) in Carinthia.
In the western parts of Austria from Vorarlberg and Tyrol to Salzburg and Upper Austria, peasant cuisine dominates with dumplings, dark peasant bread, cold beer, and strong schnapps.
Eastern Austria inherited Bohemian-Hungarian cuisine. In this part of Austria, you can try the best goulash and pancakes.
In Austria, there is also a phenomenon of the "Viennese cuisine". It features dishes that came from different regions of the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy and have melted into the classic Viennese cuisine with unique dishes.
Perhaps the most famous Austrian national dish in the world is Viennese schnitzel.
Every tourist who has visited Austria is obliged to try this delicacy. It is made from expensive fresh veal, that's why the cost of Viennese schnitzel in restaurants is around 15 euros. Here's where to eat the best Schnitzel in Vienna.
Kaiserschmarren is another hit of Austrian cuisine. It's a sponge cake, fried like an omelet and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
My favorite Austrian desert is undoubtedly the Viennese strudel, a traditional apple pie or roll made of thin dough. It's a must-try in Austria.
Another phenomenon in Austria is a Viennese Café, aka The Viennese coffee house.
The “Viennese Coffee House Culture” is even a part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage! If you are in Vienna, discovering and experiencing the captivating character of Viennese Coffee culture is a must. For this, head to Demel, Cafe Landtmann, Sacher Cafe, or Cafe Schwarzenberg, some of the best cafes in Vienna that will make you feel "gemütlichkeit".
If you are a food-lover, read more about Austrian foods on Austria.info – their Viennese Apple Strudel recipe looks delicious. They provide easy recipes of almost
all traditional Austrian dishes that you can cook at home.
And if you want to eat Austrian food like a local, join the ultimate food tour in Vienna that will bring you to the secret cafes, authentic restaurants and markets.
If you want to tickle your nerves and get an adrenaline rush, take the Dachstein Sky Walk.
The Dachstein Glacier Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in Austria. It is 100 meters long and 1 meter wide.
Austria's Dachstein Skywalk is built at a height of 2,700 meters.
This quirky bridge is one of the top Austria landmarks.
For those who are still wondering if it is safe, here are a few facts. The bridge can withstand wind gusts of 250 km / h and a load of 750 kg per m2!
On the other side, the next challenge awaits you: a floating staircase of 14 narrow steps leading to nowhere!
If you got nerves of steel, stand on the glass observation deck at an altitude of 400 meters above the abyss.
I highly recommend visiting this corner of Austria to all lovers of thrills, incredible mountain views, and nature.
The entry fee to the suspension bridge is € 3 for adults. Children can go for free. Nearby, I recommend visiting the Ice Palace connected by a bridge to the glacier Dachstein.
If you want to see a different side of Austria, then go to the Wachau Valley. Although Wachau is located only 80 km west of the capital, it's completely different from Vienna.
The Wachau is a valley between Melk and Krems with a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river.
People come here to see architectural monuments and stunning scenery and breathe the clean mountain air. Bike enthusiasts and those who love adventures and active recreation go on a bike tour around the Wachau Valley.
A typical Wachau picture: pretty towns and villages along the Danube coast, old castles, vineyards on steep terraces, and apricot orchards.
This region is famous for the best grapes and the best wine in Central Europe. Almost every household in the villages of Wachau valley produces its wine.
So when you're in Wachau, don't miss the opportunity to stroll through the vineyards and taste the local wine.
One more fact that should convince you to go there: the Wachau valley is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List! So, it deserves to be on your Austria bucket list.
A must-see in the Wachau Valley is the town of Durnschtein. Beautiful ruins of the 12th century Künringerburg castle await you there. But the city and the castle went down in history primarily because Richard the Lionheart languished in captivity here for two years.
Another point of attraction is the Augustinian monastery, founded in 1410, with the Marie-Himmelfart church, a pearl of the Austrian Baroque.
The Danube town Melk is the western gateway to the Wachau region. Take a walk around this charming town that was listed as a UNESCO site. The main attraction of Melk is a grandiose abbey with an enormous library.
Hi, nice to meet you! I'm Sasha Naslin, a founder of The Alternative Travel Guide and a world citizen at heart.
I traveled to 60+ countries on different continents and stopped counting cities after two hundred.
I am Russian-French and write in Globish, as English is not my native language, so feel free to correct me or make fun of me :).
Vienna is a temperamental city, so why on your visit not to stay in a hotel with a character? In Vienna, there are some unique hotels for every taste.
Do you want to spend the night in a coworking hotel, in a social hotel, or a hotel in a vinegar factory? Or how about a hotel where a fashion show takes place or a hotel in a store window? It will be something different from your ordinary chain hotel.
Here is my selection of hotels in Vienna in the style of The Alternative Travel Guide: unusual and unique hotels with the history that will make you remember your trip to Vienna for life. The choice is yours.
A house-celebration, a work of art in itself, and the most unusual residential building in Vienna, - this is the Hundertwasser House.
This hidden gem of Vienna is not located in the historical center of the city and is usually not part of tourist routes.
But if you, like me, love unusual and quirky attractions, I highly recommend visiting the Hundertwasser house.
In this blog post: Who is Hundertwasser? What is unique about Hundertwasser’s house and museum? How to get there? And more!