Austria is a beautiful country in Europe and should be on the bucket list for all art and nature lovers. If you plan on visiting Vienna, you should also consider adding in some hidden gems in Austria to your itinerary. Here are 15 hidden gems in Austria off-the-beaten path as recommended by travel bloggers:
By Jenn from ThoseJohnsonBoys.com
Located less than an hour and a half away from Salzburg by car, you’ll find the quaint town of Hallstatt, Austria. And you can’t help but feel like you were placed right in a fairytale when you get there. This is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Austria off-the-beaten path.
Being one of the oldest inhabitable villages in Europe, this UNESCO World Heritage site is full of charm. Not to mention the dramatic landscape surrounding it, including the towering mountains and peaceful lake.
When visiting, don’t miss riding on the Salzwelten funicular railway. Once you reach the top, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the entire town from the World Heritage viewing platform.
Afterwards head back down and take the short walk to the opposite end of the town to snap a postcard worthy photo. Along the way, enjoy the shops, cafes, and sights.
You’ll easily be able to spend a few hours wandering around the town and taking it all in. But, although many people spend just a day there, it’s worth planning an overnight stay to experience the town with less tourists in the morning and evening.
While the town is beautiful at any time of year, it becomes absolutely magical in the wintertime. It’s the perfect addition to a European Christmas market itinerary.
By Cosette from KarsTravels.
Götzens is a small, beautiful hidden gem in a valley, near Innsbruck. The town is beautiful and worth a visit year round. However in the Winter time it’s extra special. Götzens is surrounded by mountains and in Winter these are covered in a layer of snow. So if you want to enjoy snow capped mountains and dreamy snowy landscapes, go to Götzens!
During Winter time there are several winter walks in Götzens you can venture on, you’ll see the surrounding landscape and small towns. There’s a ski lift in Götzens, which will take you higher up the mountain. There you can go snowboarding, skiing, snow shoe walking or rodeling. At the edge of town is an ice sport indoor center where you can go ice skating.
During the Summer you can go mountain biking or hiking in the mountains. In the village there are farms dating from the 17th and 18th century. They are called Mittertennhöfe and they have beautifully decorated facades. There’s a church in Rococo style, the St. Peter and Paul church, it’s situated in the middle of town. So go on a stroll through town to admire the buildings.
I recommend spending a day at least in this town. If you want to go on all the hikes, then 5 days would be best.
By Joanna from The World In My Pocket
St Gilgen is a charming mountain town near Salzburg. You can easily reach St Gilgen by local bus, from Salzburg, in less than one hour. St Gilgen is located on the Romantic Road of Austria, which means the scenery there is so beautiful. This is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Austria off-the-beaten path.
There are plenty of things to do in St Gilgen, no matter if you are visiting in summer or in winter. If you love hiking, you must take the Zwölferhorn cable car up to the top of the mountain with the same name. From the cable car you can follow the Panorama Trail, an easy one hour trail with stunning views over the Wolfgangsee Lake and the Salzkammergut region. There are a few cabins along the way, where you can enjoy a traditional Alpine lunch, such as a plate of Käsespäetzle or a Schmalz platter.
In winter, you can ski here, whilst in summer you can paraglide.
St Gilgen is located on the shores of the Wolfgangsee Lake. You can rent an electric boat if you want to explore more of the lake and just relax whilst enjoying the incredible mountain views surrounding the lake. You can also go swimming in the lake at the Lido, which is free of charge.
By Kylie from Between England and Everywhere
A lovely hidden gem in Austria is the village of Mayrhofen. Tucked away in the Zillertal Valley, an hour from Innsbruck, it’s a great area for exploring nature. In winter there are plenty of ski runs but there are lots of things to do in Mayrhofen in summer. There are two cable cars right in the centre of the village, the Penkenbahn goes up one side of the valley, and the Ahornbahn goes up the other. At the top of the Ahornbahn is Lake Ahorn, along with a birds of prey show and even a silent cinema.
Mayrhofen is a central location for visiting other places in the Zillertal Valley. The Zillertal Arena Coaster in Zell am Ziller is awesome for thrill seekers and the Spruce Tree Castle playground is an amazing wooden play structure on top of the mountain. In the opposite direction is the Hintertux Glacier, with skiing 365 days a year and even an underground ice cave open for tours.
There is a train line through the Zillertal Valley (along with public buses), but a fun alternative to the regular train is a ride on the Zillertalbahn steam train. If the weather is nice, make sure to ride in the outdoor carriage for 360 degree mountain views.
By Veronika of Travel Geekery
Lünersee belongs to the prettiest spots in Austria’s westernmost province, Vorarlberg. It’s part of the Brandnertal area and has lured mainly local tourists.
Lünersee is originally a glacial lake, nowadays serving as fuel for a hydropower plant. It’s located 1,970 m above sea level and you need to use a steep cable car to get to it.
Once up there, you’ll be in awe – a view of a perfectly turquoise lake hugged by bare mountain peaks will open up in front of you. The whole scenery is breathtaking.
There’s a simple circular path around the lake that you can walk on – it only takes an hour or so. A lot more hiking paths start by the lake and those would take you to the mountains around.
You can have some Alpine delicacies at a hut on the lake’s shore. The Douglashütte serves even a trout from the Lünersee. It’s also possible to spend a night at the hut.
All in all, it takes about three hours to enjoy your time at Lünersee. That is, to sufficiently feel the magic of the lake, to experience the thrill of riding the steep cable car up and down, and to taste the local flavors at the Douglashütte.
The cable car is in operation from May to October. Outside these dates, there’s typically a snow cover up in the mountains and visiting, by foot, is recommended only for experienced hardcore hikers.
Other than driving, you can get easily to the bottom cable car stop by a local bus, which covers the whole Brandnertal Valley.
By Merryl from merrylstravelandtricks.com
Innsbruck, the capital of the western Austrian state of Tyrol, is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by tourists in favor of more well-known destinations like Vienna. However, Innsbruck is a great place to visit for its stunning Alpine scenery, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene.
One of the best things to do in Innsbruck is to take a cable car up to the top of one of the nearby mountains, such as the Nordkette or the Patscherkofel, for breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Alps. Other popular activities include visiting the Imperial Palace, which was the residence of the Habsburg emperors, and the Golden Roof, a beautifully decorated balcony that serves as one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Innsbruck also has a thriving cultural scene, with a number of museums, galleries, and theaters showcasing the work of local and international artists. In addition, the city is home to a number of excellent restaurants and cafes, where you can sample traditional Tyrolean dishes such as dumplings and hearty stews.
For those who are interested in outdoor activities, Innsbruck is a great base for hiking, biking, and skiing in the nearby mountains. You can also take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages, such as Hall in Tirol, which is known for its medieval architecture.
Overall, I recommend spending at least 2-3 days in Innsbruck to fully explore and experience all that the city has to offer. An insider tip would be to visit during the Christmas season, when the city is decorated with festive lights and markets selling traditional crafts and food.
Recommended by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels
One hidden gem in Austria that just shouldn’t be missed is the beautiful town of Salzburg. Salzburg is located in the north western part of Austria about 144km away from Munich. It’s easily accessible by car, bus and train. The views of the city against the eastern alps are breathtaking.
Something famous Salzburg is known for is being the filming location for the classic movie, “The Sound of Music.” As you can imagine, a “Sound of Music” filming location tour is something quite popular to do among visitors. The best tour offered is The Original Sound of Music Tour by Salzburg Panorama Tours. This bus tour takes you to various filming locations in and around Salzburg including Mirabellgarten (where the song “Do-Re-Mi” was filmed), Hellbrunn Garten Gazebo (where “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” was filmed) and a stop at a village overlook with views that were featured in the opening credits of the film.
While visiting Salzburg make sure to spend some time strolling around the old town and taking in the beautiful architecture and surrounding nature. Stop by Mozart’s birthplace (Getreidegasse 9, 5020 Salzburg, Austria), the Salzburg Cathedral, and Fortress Hohensalzburg.
Enjoy your visit to the beautiful gem of Salzburg, Austria!
By Brandon from Zimmin Around the World
About an hours drive from Austria’s capital city, Vienna is the town of Dürnstein, one of the true hidden gems in Austria off-the-beaten path. Dürnstein is located right on the Danube River and is a popular stop for river cruises. Dürnstein is located in Wachau, which is an area in Lower Austria known for its vineyards, scenery, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dürnstein deserves a minimum of a half day to visit but a full day is ideal. Overlooking the town of Dürnstein is Dürnstein Castle which is more of a castle ruin, it is rumored that King Richard I of England was a prisoner here. It is recommended to visit the castle ruins, the path leading to the castle can be strenuous, but the views from the top are worth the exercise. After a visit to Dürnstein Castle, it is recommended to walk the streets of Dürnstein, do some shopping, and sit down at one of the many restaurants serving classic Austrian dishes. Don’t forget to sample apricots which are grown in the area.
Marillenschnaps is Dürnstein’s claim to fame, this is a type of brandy made from the apricots grown here. After visiting the castle, walking around town, and grabbing a bite to eat, stop by the Dürnstein Abbey to see this unique blue and white church.
For visitors that enjoy nature, there are many hiking trails around the nearby hills and mountains. There are also many bike trails that follow the Danube River.
By Larch Gauld of thesilvernomad.co.uk
If you are visiting Vienna treat yourself to a trip to Baden bei Wien, one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Austria. Only 20 minutes by train from Vienna, it is the perfect place to spend a spare day or two.
Baden bei Wien is one of the Historic Thermal Towns in Europe and part of the UNESCO Great Spa Towns. Don’t forget to bring your swimming costume if you want to visit the Mineralschwimmschule at the Baden Roman thermal baths.
However, you can tour the underground Roman Spring or visit the amazing art gallery, Arnulf Rainer Museum. Originally the ladies’ baths, it has been beautifully converted to host classical and contemporary art.
One of the big draws for classical music lovers is Beethoven Haus. During the summers of 1821, 1822 and 1823, Beethoven visited Baden bein Wien to take the waters. While staying in the town, he composed several important sections of his Ninth Symphony. His lodging house is now a museum of the great composer.
Visiting in the summer, you will be able to chill out at the Lido. Near to the beautiful Rosarium, the Lido has two swimming pools, two sulphur pool, massage jets, slides and the largest sandy beach in Austria. All set within the beautiful art deco buildings.
The two main parks to wander around are the Rosarium and the Kurpark Baden. With stunning views over the whole town, you can also see the various monuments dotted around including the Beethoven Temple and the Strauss Monument.
In the evening, you can risk your shirt at the Casino, though maybe just have dinner there and not hit the tables.
By Lisi from Escaping Worlds
The South Styrian Wine Route is located in the federal state of Styria in the very south reaching into the north of Slovenia. The South Styrian Wine Route is an actual road, but it also refers to the wine region. It is called the Tuscany of Austria and is definitely one of the best hidden gems in Austria for wine lovers.
Whether you are a wine lover, a nature cherisher or a road trip enthusiast, this region is made for you!
The South Styrian Wine Route is doable by a day trip from Graz or a great road trip pass by, but also a place to stay for 1-2 nights. The most convenient way to travel there is by car. However you can reach the region from Graz by taking the train S5 (direction to Spielfeld-Strass). Either take the stop Ehrenhausen an der Weinstrasse or Leibnitz where you can catch the bus to Ansfeld. Within the wine region you can travel by taxi, the so-called Weinmobile.
South Styria offers fun activities, such as the motorics park in the village Gamlitz. That park is basically a playground, with motoric exercises for young and old. There is also a pond for swimming. Hiking is another activity that you can find here. Within under 2 hours you can reach the peaks of Sernauberg or Gamlitzberg from Gamlitz.
Along the South Styrian Wine Route you can find one Buschenschank after another. A Buschenschank is a tavern where winemakers sell their wines, most of the time it’s a private house. Apart from the Buschenschänke you can find bigger wineries that have restaurants or even offer accommodation. You can enjoy the culinary flavors of this hidden gem in Austria with wine tastings or delicious dishes. Such as pumpkin soup with kernel oil. The oil is very famous in the region. You can buy kernel oil at the Buschenschank or it is extra added to a dish.
The city of Graz is definitely one of the best hidden gems in Austria and a visit is absolutely worth it. It is considered one of the most important cities in Austria, and thrills with plenty of interesting attractions as well as gorgeous buildings, lots of culture and events. There are so many unique things to do in Graz! Really impressive is the historic old town with many attractions, museums and shopping opportunities.
The absolute highlight and the landmark is the Schlossberg with its clock tower, which towers high above Graz and from which you have the best view of the city. In any case, you should also take a look at the main square, where the colorful buildings conjure up a particularly pretty backdrop. But the small alleys are also beautiful, where noble boutiques and fabulous restaurants are hidden inside. But you should also visit one or the other museum, especially the Zeughaus, the Joanneumsviertel and the futuristic Kunsthaus an der Mur. You can get the Museums-Card, with which you can visit all important museums in Graz for only 12,- Euro.
This romantic city is located in Styria and is only about 2 hours away from the Austrian capital Vienna. The best ways to reach Graz is by car, by bus or even more conveniently by train, which connects Graz with Vienna. 1 or 2 days in Graz is just the perfect amount of time to visit all the main attractions. If you are planning some day trips in the surroundings, it’s worth staying longer!
By Paul D’Souza of Paulmarina
Bad Gastein is a small town tucked away in the Salzburg alps located near Salzburg city. It is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Austria for mountain lovers. The town was a prominent hangout for the bourgeoisie of the 19th century. Bad Gastein gained on importance and on popularity during the peak of the Belle Époque period, when emperors and societies greatest would come to bathe at the thermal hot springs of the alpine town.
Today, it is an almost forgotten place with hotels of another period crumbling away surrounded by nature. You can experience the morbid feeling of ages gone by, by visiting the Grande Hotel de L’Europe, which was used as an inspiration for the Grand Budapest movie. Yet, the main reason why people come to Bad Gastein is to soak in the hot springs and to experience the sauna villages.
The waters in Bad Gastein are special due to the radium content as they are said to alleviate rheumatism. The valley has two major thermal baths, one in Bad Gastein and a second one with outdoor lakes attached to the textile-free sauna area in Bad Hofgastein. One of the curing highlights and insider tip experiences is to take an adventurous train ride into the heart of the mountains to a former gold mine, where the galleries are used for the radon curative tunnel treatment. Plan to take in the crystal clear air and waters in your own time. Nonetheless, to make the most of your trip to this special place, reserve at least 3 days to leave Bad Gastein reborn and rejuvenated.
By Alina from World of Lina
Among the list of hidden gems in Austria is the town of Waidhofen/Ybbs. It’s located in the state of Lower Austria, close to the borders of Styria and Upper Austria.
About 11,000 people live in this gorgeous town that offers beautiful sights such as the Rothschild Castle, the 5-Elements-Museum showing the interesting history of the town’s exciting past and the old town hall.
Most of the town’s landmarks can be found in the center besides numerous local shops and lovely, colorfully painted residential buildings. If you’re seeking some nature, check out one of the many small parks or take a stroll along the riverbanks of the Ybbs.
Make sure to climb up to the “Krautberg Kreuz” or any other of the surrounding hills for the best views of Waidhofen/Ybbs.
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure, check out the climbing park on the so-called “Buchenberg” hill, offering various difficulty levels.
Due to its convenient location, Waidhofen/Ybbs is also a good destination to choose as a day trip from Vienna, Linz or Salzburg. Whether you come by car or train, it’s an easy and short ride from any of these big cities.
Even though the town is rather small, plan at least 2-3 days so you have enough time to experience the local life.
By Sophie from Just Heading Out
Right between two popular cities, Vienna and Salzburg, Steyr is one of the often-overlooked hidden gems in Austria. Due to its location, it can easily be visited on a tour around Austria, or even as a day trip from Vienna or Linz. But is is the history and beauty that make Steyr one of the places worth visiting when traveling through Austria.
Steyr is a historic city with a beautifully preserved city center. Here, you’ll find a mix of Medieval and Rococco architecture in bright colors. The city square, lined with monuments, is the heart of Steyr. Walking around the Old Town, it feels as though you’ve been transported to a different time. Especially at the baroque Lamberg Castle.
From the Old Town, it’s worth a hike up to the Urn Cemetery. Not only is the ivy-covered cemetery beautiful, from here you also have a spectacular view over the city.
Be sure to also take a stroll along the river walk and sit down for a traditional Austrian meal at one of the cellar restaurants. If you’re feeling particularly active, you can go hiking in the hills around Steyr to the Damberg viewing platform.
While Steyr is gorgeous year-round, the city is especially popular in December as it is famous for its beautiful nativity scenes, Christmas Museum and Christmas markets.
By Diana from travelsinpoland.com
Ehrwald is a beautiful city located just beneath the beginning of the Austrian Alps not far from the border with Germany. It is one of the perfect hidden gems in Austria for those looking to go skiing.
Located right next to Germany’s highest peak, Zugspitze, Ehrwald is in the Tyrol valley of Austria, an area famous as an amazing winter destination. A cable car is available to Zugspitze, which takes travelers up quickly and allows them to cross borders at the very top!
Ehrwald provides unique experiences throughout the year. Skiing in the winter, hiking when it’s warmer and mountain biking are just a few of the experiences visitors can take part in this small city. Mountain biking in this area is among the best in Europe and is visited by many of those interested in the sport.
In the winter, Ehrwalder Alm Ski is a great skiing destination, particularly for families. With nearly 30 kilometers of slopes, beginner belts, and a family area, Ehrwald offers a great opportunity for families to take part in multi-generational skiing.
In the summer, specifically on June 20, the sky around Ehrwald lights up, as fires light up in villages all around Ehrwald, including on the mountain. It’s a spectacular site to witness and a great day to plan for any Austrian adventure.
By Kenny of Knycx Journeying
Vienna is a fascinating travel destination in Austria with a rich and vibrant scene of music, art, history, and culture. While there are so many things to see, do, and experience in Vienna, explore a little bit further with a day trip to the outskirt of Vienna Woods. This hidden gem in Austria is about 50 kilometers away from Vienna. For wine lovers, Vienna Woods is a wonderful place to visit as it’s filled with vineyards, among other exciting things like gardens, walking trails, and picturesque villages.
To get there, Vienna Woods is connected with Vienna by a number of bus and train routes. A great way to plan a day trip is to rent a car and discover various locations at your own pace. Begin with a wine tour and sample some high-quality wines in the vineyards. Afterward, take a scenic stroll through the forest, which is the Royal hunting ground in the past, or go kayaking on the Danube.
Vienna Woods has a couple of historic heritage sites worth visiting, for example, the Mayerling hunting lodge and Heiligenkreuz Abbey. No visit to the Vienna Woods is complete without visiting Heiligenkreuz Abbey as it is the oldest continuously occupied Cistercian monastery in the world! Founded by Leopold the Good in the 12th century, the site features magnificent chapels and churches – an audio-guided tour is available with more about the history of the place, and the Monastic Choir Prayer chant five times a day.
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