My Austria Travel Guide highlights my personal travel pins on my home country’s map. Use it to plan an authentic Austrian vacation.
You have likely found out what to do in Vienna. Increase your radius to discover Austria. Which places can be reached conveniently from Vienna? Which are the best transport connections and how long would it take you to get there? And what should you do once there? The following 21 locations have been taken from my personal photo albums, memories and hot tips from local friends and family. They are listed by Austria’s eight federal regions (in addition to Vienna) Lower Austria, Burgenland, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Carinthia, Tyrol and Vorarlberg.
Use the Austrian Railway search widget at the bottom of this post to find train timestables and book tickets. If you’d like to get things sorted and have 7 days at hand for Austria, consider a railway tour from Vienna to Salzburg, Innsbruck and Swarovski Crystal Worlds (photo) with accommodation in 4-star hotels.
If you need help planning your trip, visit Austria Travel Advice, my bespoke travel concierge service.
1. Austria Travel Guide: Wachau Valley
This UNESCO World Heritage Site makes a perfect day out for wine lovers, boat ride fans, medieval and baroque art aficionados, hikers and bikers, and rural tranquil seekers. Visit Duernstein, Spitz and Melk Abbey. If you like classical music find out what is on at Grafenegg Castle. For more tips on what to see and do there, go to Wachau Valley.
By train: Wien Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof train station to Krems or Melk; approx. 1 hour / 1.25 hours
By car: via A1 highway; approx. 1.15 hours / 1.5 hours
Top local hotel deals in Wachau Valley: get the best deals for Hotels in Wachau.
The castle between Vienna and Slovakian capital Bratislava was Prince Eugene of Savoy’s beautifully restored baroque country retreat. It boasts lavish rooms, manicured baroque gardens and an authentic manor farm. The palace makes a fantastic day trip from Vienna for culture travellers and families. It is open from early April to early November.
By train and bus: Vienna Central Station to Marchegg train station, from there take free shuttle bus to Schloss Hof; approx. 1.25 hours
By car: via A4 highway; approx. 1 hour
My tip: connect your visit with a trip to nearby Bratislava the following day;
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3. Austria Travel Guide: Vienna Woods
You would want to venture out into the Vienna Woods if you love wine, hiking, wellness spas, classical music and casinos; I grew up in the spa, casino, operetta and wine town Baden. In the 19th century, the Austrian Emperor built a summer residence there. Musicians like Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Strauss spent their summers there. On Summer weekends you can listen to free classical concerts in the pavilion of Kurpark. Insider tip: Visit the winery festivals in Gumpoldskirchen and Pfaffstätten if you are around in August/September. Find out what to see and do in Vienna Woods.
By train: Vienna Central Station to Gumpoldskirchen, Pfaffstaetten or Baden bei Wien; approx. 30 min
By car: approx. 45 min
Find the best Vienna Woods hotel.
4. Austria Travel Guide: Lake Neusiedl
Each summer I visit Lake Neusiedl, called the ‘seaside of the Viennese’, with my local family. We would swim, rent a little boat, visit local wineries, go biking along the lake, and take our kids to the wildlife centre at Seewinkel. Shipping across the river from Illmitz to Podersdorf is highly recommended. The steppe lake’s water is quite muddy but doesn’t do any harm, it’s all natural. Best villages to visit: Rust, Illmitz and Mörbisch; If you visit in the summer, make sure you take insect repellent with you.
By train and bus: Vienna Central Station to Rust am See, Illmitz or Podersdorf am See (change to local busses as indicated on train timestables); approx. 1.5 hours / 1.25 hours / 1.25 hours.
By car: approx. 1.25 hours to 1.5 hours
5. Austria Travel Guide: Eisenstadt
Burgenland’s capital is a well kept travel secret. The small town has loads of character and boasts stunning baroque Esterházy Palace. It is mostly known as baroque composer Joseph Haydn’s main realm of composing and conducting.
Best connection: To visit both Eisenstadt and Forchtenstein Castle get on the Esterházy Bus for a day trip by coach to Eisenstadt, Esterhazy Castle, the Haydn Hall and Forchtenstein Castle. The tour is available between May and September. Further information and booking: email email@example.com
6. Austria Travel Guide: Burg Forchtenstein
You probably know this kind of castle from ‘middle earth’ fanstasy films. This is the real one, though. The 15th century renaissance fortress close to Eisenstadt is picture perfect. It is set in the dark forests of the Rosalia mountains, and hosts the sparkling treasury of the Esterhazy family.
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7. Austria Travel Guide: Salzkammergut Lakes
Think ‘Sound of Music’, subtract Hollywood and you’ll get the breathtaking surroundings of Alpine lakes and mountains. I have sent families, groups of friends and romantic couples there, and they were all amazed. My top three must-see lakes: Lake Hallstatt, lake Wolfgang, and lake Fuschl. If you visit Salzburg, you can join a mountain and lake resort day tour from there. Alternatively, take a private tour to Hallstatt. Insider tip: At St. Wolfgang, get uphill by Schafbergbahn steam cogwheel railway from St. Wolfgang for a fabulous view of lake Wolfgang; then take a boat ride from St. Wolfgang to St. Gilgen;
By train: Wien Westbahnhof to St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut via Bad Ischl or Salzburg; 4 hours
By car: via A1 higway, approx. 3.75 hours
Access Salzkammergut hotel deals
8. Austria Travel Guide: Danube Region
The stretch along the Danube in Upper Austria is one of the most picturesque in the country. Bikers can go from Passau via Linz to Vienna across flat plains, sloped banks and hills on the Danube bike path. Hikers can use the Donausteig hiking path. You will love the many historic villages, medieval ruins and baroque monasteries and castles on the way. The best locations for culture travellers are Engelhartszell monastery, Aschach and Enns, Austria’s oldest town. Most impressive patch is the Schlögener Schlinge. From Passau to Vienna, it is mostly downhill.
By train: Wien Westbahnhof to Linz an der Donau; 1.25 hours
By car: via A1 highway, approx. 2.5 hours
Find Hotels in the Danube region
The best locations to stay along the Upper Austrian Danube are the Dom Hotel in Linz, Hotel Schloss Mühldorf in Feldkirchen, and Hotel Donauschlinge in Haibach. For Salzkammergut, choose a wildly romantic lakeside hotel in St. Gilgen or Hallstatt.
9. Austria Travel Guide: Salzburg City
Austria’s second most popular city deserves the attention of culture travellers in general and Mozart fans in particular. Everything here lifts my spirits, whether I stroll through the historic Getreidegasse, visit Residenz Gallery, have coffee at Café Tomaselli or go up to Mönchsberg and the Fortress Hohensalzburg. Don’t miss Mirabell Palace. For added convenience, join a good historic walking tour. Mozart music is almost everywhere in town. Find out what classical events are on stage during your stay here. If you decide to stay in Salzburg, add some time to also explore the surrounding regions. Sound of Music fans: you will find a buzzing fan community onsite. If you like to keep it more private, consider doing an exclusive Sound of Music tour. The annual Salzburg Festival takes place from mid July to the end of August – expect the town to explode with music and visitors.
By train: Wien Westbahnhof to Salzburg Hauptbahnhof
By car: via A1 higway, approx. 3.5 hours;
Organised tours: If you’d just like someone to whizz you to Salzburg and back, check my favourite Vienna tours to Salzburg;
10. Austria Travel Guide: Hohe Tauern National Park
The Hohe Tauern National Park is where Austrians spend their mountain holidays. What I find most fascinating there is that mix of rough rocks and lush green mountains, pure water and super clean air. You can join a national park ranger for a hike, learn about schnaps distilling and Alpine flowers, visit the Krimml waterfalls, travel by steam locomotive through mountains and valleys. Best local ski resorts are Bad Hofgastein (you may find me there) and the glacier of Kaprun.
By train: Wien Westbahnhof or Vienna Central Station to Bad Gastein, Mittersill and Kaprun; approx. 4.25 hours / 5.25 hours / 5.25 hours
By car: via A2 highway approx. 4.75 to 5.25 hours;
Read more on the best places in Styria, Carinthia, Tyrol and Vorarlberg.