One Week in Austria

Two friends of our recently asked me what we would recommend for a one week visit to Austria. While we only visited Vienna in our RTW trip last year, we are going to be visiting Austria in September as part of a 2-week vacation we are taking before one my best friends gets married in Germany. I’ve been researching and learning more about this gorgeous country and compiled the following as my best recommendation based on my favorite travel-planning resources. 

One Week in Austria:

Vienna: Spend 2 nights here, maybe more if you’re reallyinterested in art museums. You can get a really great feel for the city in just
two nights though (even 1 if you’re pressed for time).

  • Main
    sites:
  • Hofburg Palace
  • St Stephen’s cathedral- Tim and I saw a lot of
    old cathedrals in Europe. This one was our favorite. Go at dusk if you can. The
    candles and the incredibly well-played organ music (you are in Mozart’s home
    after all) give it a great atmosphere that really added to the experience for
    us.
  • General tips:
  • Depending on how much time you have, you can
    also add in a day trip to Bratislava in Slovakia- it’s SUPER close to Vienna.
  • If you’d like to try Austrian wine, the Wachau
    Valley wine region is also located in Vienna city limits.
  • We stayed at a Courtyard Marriott on points
    there that was slightly outside the main city center, but was literally right
    next to the train station, so it was really easy to just take a 10 min ride
    into the city.
  • There’s a public tram that runs around the Old
    Town (main center of the city) called the Ringstrasse. You can get to pretty
    much everywhere easily on this tram. That said, the city is pretty compact and
    you can easily walk everywhere too.

Salzburg:

  • I would recommend probably just one night here
    if you’re short on time
  • Birthplace of Mozart, and a good city to just
    walk around in. The museums are considered mediocre compared to those in
    Vienna, so if you’re going to spend time in museums, don’t bother with it here.
    That said, Tim and I rarely went to museums, so we aren’t the best experts on this
    topic.
  • This is also the home of the famous musical The
    Sound of Music. There are SOM tours you can take that will visit all of the
    sites from the film. Even if you aren’t a fan of the musical, it will take you
    to the main sights of the city all in one ticket, which is convenient if
    nothing else.
  • Halfway between Vienna and here is the
    Mauthausen Concentration Camp. If you haven’t visited one before, this is a
    great opportunity to do so. Bring tissues.
  • The world’s largest accessible ice cave is also
    located near here- Eisriesenwelt.

Hallstatt:

  • 1 or 2 nights
  • This is Austria’s lake district, with great
    opportunities for hiking in the hills, while also basing yourselves in Hallstatt,
    which is allegedly ridiculously charming and quaint.
  • If you are more interested in nature time over
    city time, I would spend more time here and less in Vienna or Salzburg
  •  Driving from here to Innsbruck/Tyrol, you can
    stop for a quick look at the Krimmler Waterfall, Europe’s tallest.

Innsbruck/Tyrol:

  • 2 or 3 nights
  • This is hiking and skiing heaven. The town
    itself is allegedly not very intriguing, but if time in the outdoor adventure
    is your priority, this is a good place to spend time.
  • I’ve heard that Kitzbuhel is excellent for
    skiing, even when other areas have gone bare.
  • If you make it this far west in Austria, I would
    also highly recommend popping up to Fussen, Germany for a day trip to the
    Neuschwanstein Castle. This is that famous German castle in the Alps you’ve probably
    seen pictures of. The castle itself has a very interesting history behind it,
    and the setting in the mountains with glacial lakes and streams surrounding it,
    as well as the town of Fussen, could not be more picturesque.

Other tips:

  • Download the Rick Steve’s Audio Europe
    application (free) and download all of his audio guides about Vienna (also
    free). He has audio walking tours of most European cities that Tim and I found
    super helpful for getting some background/context on a place and learning our
    way around.
  • I also have the Rick Steves guide book for
    Austria. If you want to borrow it for that week, you are more than welcome to!
  • The trains in Europe are a breeze, but if you
    are starting and ending in Vienna, I would recommend just renting a car. The
    country is really small, and most places are only a few hours’ drive away. The flexibility
    of being in your own car can really make the most of your one week here. Bonus-
    you can take a drive down Grossglockner Road, which is one of Europe’s greatest
    drives and will take you through Hohe Tauern National Park

Leave a Reply