Looking for a country in Europe where you want to experience the beauty of nature? Austria may not be the first name that comes to mind. We are pretty sure it is among the most beautiful places we’ve visited (if not the most beautiful one). Nature is at its full glory with beautiful lakes, rolling green hills and mountains blooming with flowers in the summer and turning into the most amazing ski resorts in winter. It is one of those places where you want to keep going back and is home to some amazing food, culture and sights.
Austria (or Österreich in German meaning the “eastern realm”) is a dream choice for itinerary makers – it shares its borders with Slovenia and Italy in the south, Hungary and Slovakia in the east, Czechia and Germany in the north and Switzerland (and Liechtenstein) in the west – giving travellers many options to plan short trips to the neighbouring countries.
Best time to visit
June to August is the peak tourist season as is the case in most European countries. If you want to avoid the crowds, plan your trip in April-May, early June or September – the prices will be lower and you will also get good weather. Having said that, Austria is great for all seasons especially because of its ski resorts which come into action in the winter. And of course, you don’t want to miss the Christmas festivities in Vienna while you’re there anyway.
What’s the best way to get around Austria?
To plan your travel in detail, check out our blog on Travelling in Austria made easy. Here is a quick snapshot.
Austria is extremely well connected by rail and bus. You can enter the country at any of the major cities and then use the rail and bus networks to explore the country. We didn’t have to look for cabs or private transport anywhere – just make sure you have the bus and train timetables handy so that you can plan your travel. The buses usually run on time and you don’t want to end up a minute or two late.
Indians can enter Austria with a valid Schengen Visa.
What is the ideal number of days to spend in Austria?
This is an important question to answer as you don’t want to miss out the best places the country has to offer. As always, it also depends on your budget (both in terms of number of days and money) and we have a strict limit on our number of days – so optimization is key. We would recommend that you spend atleast 5 days in Austria to cover Salzburg, Vienna and the Salzkammergut. Here’s our itinerary along with some of the options to help you decide!
Day 1: Arrive at Salzburg by train from Prague (with a changeover at Linz). Walk around the town, explore some of the local food.
Day 2: Explore the town – Mirabell Palace, Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart’s birthplace and the Cathedral. Everything is within walking distance so you don’t need to worry about transportation. Here is the blog detailing how you can plan your day in Salzburg. Take the bus to St. Gilgen in the evening. Night in St. Gilgen.
Day 3: Take a boat across the Wolfgang Lake to Schafberg and take the cog railway (Austria’s steepest) up to the peak with the spectacular panoramic view of the Salzkammergut – one of the best things you’ll ever see! Explore the town of St. Wolfgang. Boat back to St. Gilgen.
Day 4: Morning bus to Bad Ischl. Train to Hallstatt and connecting boat to cross the lake and reach Hallstatt town. Explore the town and go up to the salt mines (the oldest salt mine in the world). Bus to Dachstein to explore the ice caves (yes! Ice in summer!). Bus, boat, train back to Bad Ischl. Explore the town and back to St. Gilgen. Salzkammergut has many gems – read our detailed account and don’t miss out on them
Day 5: Morning bus to Salzburg and train to Vienna. Explore the city, visit the palaces and museums and attend the Opera. Here is our Vienna guide. Night in Vienna.
Day 6: Train to Budapest.
Here are some suggested changes based on the type of person you are / group you are travelling with:
Culture and History Buffs: Vienna is the perfect place for this. You should definitely budget 2-3 days in Vienna to explore the museums (especially the Natural History one) and palaces in more detail. There are also a lot of iconic spots around the city and some really good cafes which you shouldn’t miss!
Time is not a Constraint for me: Add Innsbruck to your list of places – it is a short train ride away from Salzburg. You can also spend more time exploring the Salzkammergut.
Foodies: Check out our Austria Food Guide to follow our food trail.
So this was our itinerary. Check out our other blogs on how to make the most of your Austria trip here. We absolutely loved Austria – especially the smaller towns! If you want to enjoy nature and culture, pick Austria and you will not be disappointed!
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