Austria is a country that is as well knownfor its scenic beauty as it is for its cultural activities.
Situated in the Alps, it is a very popularplace with skiers and hikers, but it is also a country that gave the world an importantmusical heritage, ranging from the classical composer Mozart to the Strauss waltzes andthe Von Trapp family whose story was told in The Sound of Music.
Here’s a look at the best places to visitin Austria.
Located in Hohe Tauern National Park, thespa town of Bad Gastein is well known for its Belle Époque buildings surrounded bymountains and fog-free air.
At 3, 000 feet above sea level, visitors flockto Bad Gastein to breathe the pure mountain air, soak in its hot springs and partake ofspa treatments.
Bad Gastein also is popular with outdoorsmen, who like to ski in the winter and hike or bike mountain trails in the summer.
Carinthia’s biggest lake, Worthersee isone of Austria’s most famous summer destination.
It appeals not only to those who want to canoeacross the lake, but also spelunkers who will want to check out several caves, includingGriffen Stalactite Cave, which is considered Austria’s most colorful cave.
Those who enjoy visiting cathedrals won’twant to miss the Cathedral of Gurk, which dates back to the 12th century, while vintagecar enthusiasts may enjoy a visit to Gmund, birthplace of the Porsche.
Students will find a Mecca in Austria’ssecond largest city, Graz, which is known as a city of students, with its six universitiesenrolling more than 44, 000 students.
It also has one of the best preserved oldtowns in central Europe, which reflects the culture of the Balkan States and Italy.
The city is filled with numerous museums, ranging from art to armory.
Living up to its reputation as a City of CulinaryDelights, Graz offers a wide variety of international cuisines.
Cooks may want to bring home a bottle of pumpkinseed oil, a local product, after touring a summer farmer’s market.
St Anton am Arlberg.
St Anton am Arlberg is widely regarded asthe leading ski resort destination in Austria.
Located in Tyrol, this village offers serious, legendary ski terrain that caters for a mixed level of abilities.
Often attracting adventurous youths, St Antonis notorious for living up to the saying “work hard, play hard”.
The vast landscape welcomes its loyal wintercrowd, as well as its summer mountaineers, who come to trek the landscape each year.
With the Danube River running through it, the Wachau Valley is a popular tourist destination in southern Austria.
The town of Dunstein is well known as theplace where Duke Leopold V held the British king, Richard the Lion-Hearted, prisoner forseveral years in the late 12th century while the town of Melk is renowned for its beautifulBenedictine abbey.
Wachau is also known for its wines, as wellas fruits such as apricots.
The valley has more than 500 historic monuments, so tourists are going to have to make some tough choices.
Zell am See.
Zell am See, located in the state of Salzburg, is another well known tourist destination, famous for its mountains and lakes.
Once governed by French troops back in theearly 19th century, Zell am See has hosted several international skiing competitions.
Off the ski slopes, one of its most famousattractions is the Romanesque St.
Hippolyte’s Church, with an elevated walkway that datesback to the early 16th century.
Zell am See is also a good starting pointfor the Grossglockner Alpine Road, a panoramic road famous for its high alpine scenery.
Innsbruck, with a name that translates as“bridge over the inn, ” is an all-season tourist destination.
It is internationally known for its wintersports, having hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976.
But this Tyrolean city offers more than justgreat skiing.
It offers a good mix of cathedrals, such asHofkirche, which houses the tomb of Emperor Maximilian I; the Schloss Ambras, which hasa collection of paintings and armor; and the Bell Museum, a nod to 400 years of bell-making.
Salzkammergut is a beautiful resort area thatstarts with Salzburg and heads east into a land of lakes.
Sparkling clean lakes, green hills, wonderfulmountains, romantic towns like St.
Wolfgang and Hallstatt make up this region.
Travelers who have seen the movie The SoundOf Music will know what this lake region looks like, because that movie was filmed in andaround the city of Salzburg and the neighboring Salzkammergut region.
The resort area is popular with sunbathersas well as visitors who seek relaxing spa treatments.
Visitors can join in the relaxed moods bydonning the ever-popular resort wear, lederhosen for men and dirndl outfits for women.
Situated in central Austria, near the Germanborder, Salzburg is probably best known as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Travelers come to Austria’s fourth-largestcity to view the sights that inspired such unforgettable music.
With its hill-topped medieval fortress, picturesqueAltstadt old town and breath-taking Alpine scenery, Salzburg is one of the most populardestinations in Austria.
For those seeking to relive scenes from themovie “The Sound of Music”, must-see attractions include the 17th-century Baroque MirabellPalace and Gardens and the von Trapp family home, which is now a hotel.
Mozart aficionados can visit his birthplaceas well as a reconstruction of his home Number 1.
Elegant waltzes and Johann Strauss immediatelycome to mind when one thinks of Vienna, the capital of Austria and its largest city; thecity still holds more than 200 balls each year.
But the city also is known for other classicalcomposers such as Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven and Schubert.
Travelers can take a break from music by visitingthe Hofburg, which houses the Hapsburg rulers’ imperial jewelry, and the Kunsthistorisches, a museum that has an outstanding collection of paintings by old masters.
Vienna is also famous for its cafes wheretravelers can rest their weary feet while deciding which museum or park to visit next.