While not as popular as its big brother, Germany, Austria has fantastic tourist activities and should not be underestimated when planning a Europe trip …. here are the top 7 things to do.
1. Prater Amusement Park
The Prater amusement park dates back to the Austrian Empire and is one of the best amusement parks you will ever visit. Ferris wheels, bumper cars, indoor skydiving (crazy!) and amazing Viennese restaurants make this a must see attraction if you visit Austria’s capital, Vienna. Have an amazing meal, then enjoy amazing views of Vienna from the height of the Ferris wheel!
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2. Schönbrunn Palace
Austria’s palaces have been overshadowed by countries like France, but they are second to none in terms of extravagance. The most stunning thing about Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace is not the Baroque style palace at all (which encompasses 300 years of various tastes), but the massive gardens out front which are usually the main attraction for tourists (a walking tour of these gardens is highly recommended).
Enough about history. Hangar-7, owned by the founder of the famous Austrian company Red Bull GmbH, is a multifunctional building in Salzburg with 25 display airplanes, helicopters and race cars. The building also houses the famous Ikarus restaurant (which is Michelin starred …) and has several posh bars for those seeking a night out. The building really shows off Austria’s savviness for modern architecture.
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4. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The most striking thing about St. Stephen’s Cathedral is not its burnt black colors, but its stark location directly in the heart of downtown Vienna. This cathedral is the most recognisable and important building in the city. The best part about visiting the cathedral is being able to enjoy its history and architecture without having to leave the city center.
5. Music Events
Austria is often called the country of music. Year round, music festivals happen throughout the entire country spanning genres such as EDM, rock, jazz and blues. The FM4 Frequency Festival (formerly the Vienna City Festival) which happens in St. Pölten features rock, electronic and hip hop acts that are both local and international, making it a large scale event. The most well-known classical and opera composers are from Austria, so make sure to visit an operetta or a musical if you happen to be in Vienna (who says you have to do Broadway anyway?)
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6. Christmas Markets
Europe’s best Christmas markets can be found in Austria. Although Germany is the most well-known country for holiday festivities, Austria’s have a charm that make them unforgettable (and mountains that increase the likelihood of snow!). Vienna has some of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. The market in the square in front of Vienna City Hall dates back to 1298 (wow!). In Innsbruck you can enjoy a medieval style Christmas market in front of the famous Goldenes Dachl (“Golden Roof”) landmark structure.
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Written by Kent Austin