The glorious Austria
Before visiting this gorgeous country for the first time, I had never imagined it had such a diversity of endless landscapes and nature that intertwine so well with vibrant urban scenes. Austria is probably one of the richest cultures in the world, made up of many neighbors' influences and assembled by the unparalleled Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The Czech-Republic, Croatia, Italy, just to name a few, were once part of a unique kingdom whose supremacy was in the hands of the Habsburg family. The monarchy helped to shape a big deal of what we see until this day, which is immediately felt when we enter this wealthy country. As Vienna was the Empire's capital, it is a place that effortlessly radiates royal heritage. It's glorious!
The food, music, architecture (how I love baroque style!), outdoors and art all form an exquisite blend that caters to anyone's tastes. Take the small Innsbruck for example, where past and future meet in the heart of the Alps. Graz, on the other hand, is the second-largest city and it has a charming Mediterranean vibe. Linz is vibrant, creative and full of young minds.
Salzburg is extremely picturesque, whose Old City Centre "Altstad" is preserved by UNESCO and makes us feel like we are in a fairy-tale (not to mention Mozart's birthplace). A must-visit is also Hallstatt, a nature paradise that has views of lakes to die for. As for Vienna, the capital of Austria, it is magnificent in its own right. The list goes on.
When to go
Seasons are well defined in Austria. Therefore, you can choose any time of year to explore it. I recommend taking the well-developed railway network which is always on time and runs through the entire country. From the train's windows there are always scenic views that capture the eyes' attention to mountains, sheep, villages, and other bucolic sights. It's really beautiful. Public transport inside the cities is also very efficient.
What to eat
A lot of people consider food to be one of the most relevant aspects of life. I agree. For many travellers, eating has a great impact on the itinerary. For meat lovers, for instance, Austrian cuisine is lush: Wiener Schnitzel, Goulash, Tafelspitz or the typical potato salad are iconic dishes, although fish and vegetables are part of the menu most of the time. When craving pastries, no one will be disappointed, there are plenty of delicious cakes (cake culture dates back to the early 18th century, when personal chefs created the most lavish pastries for aristocracy). On my recent journey to Austria I could also confirm how divine their local wines are. Don't forget to try them!
Useful tips before you go
If all of this has encouraged you to put Austria on the top of your list of destinations to visit, good. Before embarking on an Austrian tour, here are a few tips:
*The spoken language is German, but English is largely used;
*The costs are comparable to other Western European countries;
*The Euro is the official currency;
*Hotels and B&B's have styles and prices that fit anyone's budget;
*Austrian people are polite and helpful.