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).
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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