From well-groomed pistes to challenging freeriding, from building igloos to taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage through a winter wonderland and from sampling schnapps at a music festival to night tobogganing and celebrating the day with a lively après-ski session, these are all unforgettable experiences to be had in Austria. The glorious Alpine scenery, monumental Habsburg architecture, and the world’s favourite musical – Austria’s tourist industry certainly plays up to the clichés. However, it’s not all bewigged Mozart ensembles and schnitzel. Modern Austria boasts some of Europe’s most varied museums and contemporary architecture not to mention attractive and sophisticated cities whose bars, cafés and clubs combine contemporary cool with elegant tradition.
The journey really is the destination in Austria. Perhaps yours will be a meandering one through deeply carved valleys, on railways that unzip the Alps to thread improbably along sheer mountain flanks, past glaciers and through flower-freckled meadows. Chances are, however, that such lyrical landscapes will have you itching to leap onto a bicycle saddle or lace up hiking boots to reach those enticingly off-the-radar corners of the country. In winter, the slopes hum with skiers and boarders, while summer beckons white-water rafters and canyoners to glacial rivers and lakes that sparkle like gemstones.
There’s more to Austrian cuisine than boot-sized schnitzels and dumplings heavier than bowling balls. The country has come on in culinary leaps and bounds recently while staying true to its ethos of careful local sourcing. Whether you’re at a farmers market, a retro-style deli, a cool new brunch spot or a Michelin-starred restaurant, the love of the land shines through time and again. Asparagus in spring, Marille in summer, mushrooms, game and new wine in autumn – Austria likes its food to swing with the seasons and taste of the source.