One of Europe’s most attractive capital cities, Vienna rewards its visitors with cosmopolitan ambience and magnificent grand architecture. It’s a city that encapsulates a lot of European history, and mirrors the great themes of empire building, war and reinventing itself for the modern age. This venerable past appeals to visitors who are treated to a modern city that has retained its traditions and customs.
The Viennese themselves are particularly proud of their cultural heritage and cosmopolitan worldliness, perpetuating Vienna’s rich history that’s celebrated all year-round in festivals of music, theatre and cuisine. But it’s also well worth travelling beyond this to experience the Heurigen (wine taverns) and coffeehouses frequented by the Viennese locals for centuries.
On the banks of the green Salzach river, and under the shadow of its powerful fortress Salzburg is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most beautiful baroque cities. Infused with culture, born of its association with its most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it’s a world centre for the arts. Thousands of visitors flock to its charms each year, particularly for the famous Salzburg Festival of July and August when the cobbled streets ring with the music of Mozart and his contemporaries.
The Salzburg we see today dates back to the 16th century and the personal vision of one of the city’s famous Prince Archbishop rulers – Wolf-Dietrich. Bolstered by the wealth of the nearby salt mines from which Salzburg gets its name, Wolf-Dietrich ordered the city rebuilt in sumptuous baroque style. It’s this Salzburg that visitors experience, one of fabulous churches, gable-ended buildings, cobbled streets and secluded squares.
Austria’s third-largest city is situated half-way between Vienna and Salzburg and offers a winning combination of great nightlife centred on its vibrant pub scene, and a rich cultural heritage as befitting an imperial baroque city. The patron saint of Linz is Saint Florian, protector of Linz citizens and firemen everywhere.
A good time to visit Linz is in late May when there is free rock and jazz music on the city streets. Alternatively, if you visit during September you’ll catch the Anton Bruckner (a famous composer) Festival, or in July, the annual street theatre festival.
Regional capital of the mountainous West and two times Winter Olympics host, Innsbruck provides reliable snow during winter in a glorious setting. The city is extremely friendly and makes an ideal base for launching a winter sports holiday – with the nearby Stubai glacier and its permanent snowfield offering year-round skiing in some of Austria’s most spectacular scenery. Innsbruck itself is rich in history and the nearby town of Wattens is home to the world famous Swarovski Crystal which is dedicated to crystal design in all its diversity.
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