It might have been the setting for The Sound of Music, but Austria holidays offer a lot more than scenic hillside rambles – though the hiking really is excellent. Nestled in the centre of Europe, centuries of fluctuating empires and royal throne-hopping have left their mark on Austria’s culture and architecture. This is especially evident in Vienna, where castles like the stately Schönbrunn Palace – a Unesco heritage site – stand alongside imposing buildings of all styles.
Elsewhere, the Danube river winds past crumbling castles in the picturesque Wachau Valley. Other city breaks might include ornate Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, or Graz, with its old town and famous medieval clock tower. For classical music fans, world-class theatres across the country echo with the creations of home-grown cultural heroes (think Haydn and Schubert – though others might be more familiar with the work of Eurovision star Conchita Wurst). Museums and galleries showcase the nation’s rich history and paintings by the likes of Klimt and Schiele.
Further afield, the Alps offer their own respite from city life, where hikers and skiers can admire fine Austrian vistas. The warmth and hospitality of Austrian culture is often best expressed through its food. Crisp wiener schnitzel and knödel dumplings are just some of its treasures, best washed down with some excellent local beer. A bit of strudel for dessert and a shot of schnapps will usually round off any meal – just a few more excellent reasons for booking a holiday to Austria as soon as possible.