Austria is where the iconic movie The Sound of Music was primarily shot, and it’s also the home country of Arnold Schwarzenegger! But it’s so much more than those things as well. Austria is a breathtaking country full of delicious food, snow-capped mountains, and beautiful architecture. To get the most out of your trip, here are some things to know before visiting Austria.
Take a Wine Tour
One of the things to know before visiting Austria is that Vienna produces some amazing wines, and a great escape from the regular tourist traps is to visit the Wachau Valley — one hour out of the city.
Check out the bike wine tour these visitors take, resulting in some stunning scenery and amazing vintages from small, privately-owned wineries.
Try the Pastries
French pastries such as the croissant and pain au chocolat are called viennoiseries because they’re from Vienna originally. The word viennoiseries literally means “things of Vienna.” So, of course, if you’re in Vienna, you’ll want to head to a bakery.
You can taste all the fluffy, puff pastries you can manage to stuff in your mouth. A few to keep at the top of your list include the Apple Strudel, Baked Yeast Buns with Vanilla Sauce, and Curd Cheese Pancakes.
Go to the Holiday Markets
If you love European-style holiday markets — or just want to experience something new — head to Europe to experience the original ones for yourself. Vienna has one of the most quaint and holiday-spirited markets (pictured above).
The Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz already announced a starting date of November 20th, 2021. Traditionally, most markets start up in mid-November and all should open by the end of that month. They stay open until after Christmas.
Another positive? Flights to Vienna are often less expensive because of the cold weather, but there’s plenty of things to do.
Haunt the Krampus Christmas Parade
If you’re in Austria in early December, try to check out a Krampus Christmas parade.
Krampus is a horned, demon-like creature usually featured with hand-carved wooden masks, suits made from sheep or goatskin, and large cow bells attached to the waist. He’s kind of like an evil Santa, who comes to town on December 5 to whip naughty children with branches or sticks.
“There are a lot of different stories or tales about what Krampus will do to you if you are naughty,” Molli Bauke, a resident of Vienna, Austria, told the Orion. “But, he travels with a broom-type thing to hit kids with.”
You won’t really see him whipping kids, but it is an excuse for a nighttime street party with drinking and scary sights.
Visit Castles and Palaces
Austria is also full of palaces and castles. Start your castle tour in Vienna and work your way around the country.
There are 14 palaces in Vienna alone! The architecture in Austria is known worldwide. So, even if you’re just walking down the street, keep an eye out for the exterior decorations on buildings. You’ll be in awe of the intricate carvings and statues that adorn them.
Tour The Sound of Music & Alpine Villages
If you’ve ever watched The Sound of Music, you know that the von Trapp family escapes Austria by hiking into the Alps. Head to Salzburg to take a Sound of Music bus tour, then either a bike or hiking tour the sites where the bus can’t reach.
Visit an Alpine lake or go for a hike. You’ll experience clean air, blue skies, and jagged mountain tops all around you. Little Austrian villages and towns dot these mountains, giving you a chance to experience local mountain life.
However, understand that sometimes it rains on these trips. Here’s a sampling of one tour that starts wet, but ends fun.
Museums and Opera
Did you know that there is an Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Austria? This should be at the top of your list. Um, so should the other places to know…
Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna) — Art gallery
MuseumsQuartier (Vienna) — Stunning modern art
Mozart’s Geburtshaus (Salzburg) — Honoring the great man
Mauthausen (Upper Austria) — Sobering concentration camp
Tiroler Volkskunst-Museum (Innsbruck) — Inside a 16th-century abby
Landeszeughaus (Graz) — Armory museum
Österreichisches Freilichtmuseum (Outside Graz) — Outdoor museum of vernacular architecture
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