10 Best Places to Visit in Austria (By a Local)

The ultimate guide to Austria – a country that attracts more tourists than Greece, despite not having islands and beaches.

This guide covers cities and essential places to visit, along with alternative and lesser-known destinations, as suggested by a local expert. It includes the best things to do in Austria, travel tips, and insider advice.

Though Austria may be modest in size, it is a year-round paradise. The majestic Alps in the west with world-class ski resorts and alpine trails, while the east presents historic cities.

The country’s cities are a fusion of history and culture. Vienna, the capital, dazzles with imperial elegance and contemporary art. Salzburg, known for its baroque architecture, resonates with the music of its native son, Mozart. Graz and Innsbruck each bring their unique character to Austria’s urban landscape.

Austria’s deep-rooted history is evident in its castles, abbeys, and historic towns, where ancient traditions meet modern life. The culinary scene is a feast for the senses, from alpine comfort food to refined Viennese dishes, not forgetting the long-standing wine-making tradition in regions like Wachau and Burgenland.

This guide brings together personal recommendations for the best places to visit in Austria, including must-sees and hidden gems. These are places I’ve experienced and wholeheartedly suggest.

Currently featuring 10 destinations, this list is an ongoing project, growing as I continue to explore Austria.


When visiting Austria, spending at least a couple of days in Vienna, the country’s capital, is a must. This city, rich in arts, culture, and history, blends its imperial past with a modern pulse. 

In Vienna, you’ll find imperial palaces like the Hofburg Palace, the winter residence of the Habsburgs, nestled alongside modern art galleries and lively coffee houses. The Belvedere Palace has an impressive art collection, connecting visitors with the city’s grand history.

Winter in Vienna brings a special charm, with Christmas markets lighting up the city. The famous market in front of the City Hall turns into a hub of festive spirit, where you can warm up with hot drinks, try local snacks, and browse a variety of crafts. 

Beethoven, who spent considerable time here, has left a lasting imprint on the city’s musical scene. The State Opera House regularly hosts exceptional performances.

Art enthusiasts are drawn to the Museum of Art History, where you can see an extensive collection of masterpieces. If you’re a contemporary art lover, then MuseumsQuartier is a place for you.

Walking through Vienna, you’ll find the Naschmarkt, a market full of fresh produce and local cuisine. Also, Vienna has a variety of night-time activities, including illuminated landmarks and cultural events.

The Vienna Woods, with its vineyards and villages, is a great place for a quiet and relaxing getaway.


Salzburg, Austria’s fourth-biggest city, is the second most visited place in the country, with over 1 million tourists each year, just after Vienna.

This city is well-known for its beautiful old buildings and as the birthplace of the famous composer Mozart.

Salzburg is surrounded by amazing scenery, sitting at the edge of the Alps. The city is split by the Salzach River, with the old part of the city on one side and the newer part on the other.

Hohensalzburg Fortress, sitting high on a hill, is one of the largest old castles in Europe with great views of the city, the river, and the mountains.

The city is also famous for music and arts, especially the Salzburg Festival.

Walking around Salzburg, you’ll find lots of historic spots. The Getreidegasse is a narrow street with shops and the house where Mozart was born, which is now a museum.

For a quiet and nice place to walk, the Mirabell Palace and Gardens are perfect. These gardens, which were in the movie ‘The Sound of Music’, are really pretty and great for a relaxing walk.

If you’re visiting Austria in colder months make sure to check out these things you can do in Salzburg in winter as well as these day trips from Salzburg.


Innsbruck, often called the Jewel of the Austrian Alps, is the biggest resort city in the Alps. 

Located in western Austria, Innsbruck is surrounded by mountains, making it a perfect base for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. The city itself is known for its imperial and modern architecture. 

One of the most iconic sights is the Golden Roof, a landmark in the Old Town with a roof made of copper tiles that shine like gold.

Innsbruck hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, exhibiting music, art, and local traditions. For those interested in history, there are several museums and historic sites, including Ambras Castle, which houses a collection of medieval art.

For a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding Alps, a trip to the Nordkette, a part of Austria’s largest nature park, is a must. 

You can take a cable car up the mountain for skiing, hiking, or just to enjoy the scenery.

Btw, just like from Salzburg, you can take many day trips from Innsbruck.


Often considered one of the most beautiful villages in the world, Hallstatt is even more mesmerizing in winter.

This UNESCO World Heritage site, with its 16th-century Alpine houses and Gothic churches, looks like a scene from a storybook when the snow falls. It’s also a great destination for a day trip from Salzburg and even you can get easy from Vienna to Hallstatt.

Located between the edge of Hallstätter See (Lake Hallstatt) and the towering Dachstein mountains, Hallstatt’s beauty is breathtaking. The village is small, which makes it perfect for exploring on foot. The charming, narrow streets are lined with traditional buildings, giving a sense of stepping back in time.

In winter, the snow-covered roofs and the frozen lake add a magical touch to the village. The crisp, clear air and the quiet atmosphere make it a peaceful place for visitors. Despite its small size, Hallstatt is packed with history. You can visit the Salt Mine, the oldest in the world, where you can learn about the village’s ancient salt mining history.

For a panoramic view of Hallstatt and its surroundings, the Skywalk “Welterbeblick” is a must-visit. This lookout platform sits 350 meters above the town is a great view on the lake and the Alps.


The second largest Austrian city, is not a typical winter destination, but it certainly has its own unique charm during the colder months. 

In the heart of the city is the historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unlike the snowy alpine towns, Graz in winter often has a milder climate, making it perfect for leisurely exploring the city’s streets and squares. The medieval buildings, Renaissance courtyards, and modern designs blend to create a fascinating urban landscape.

One of the city’s most notable landmarks is the Graz Clock Tower, located on Schlossberg, a hill overlooking the city. A walk or a funicular ride up to the top provides a great view of Graz’s rooftops and the surrounding areas.

Graz is also known for its museums and galleries. The Kunsthaus Graz, an art museum with a futuristic design, stands out for its contemporary exhibitions. For those interested in history and science, the Universalmuseum Joanneum has various collections.

During winter, Graz’s streets and public spaces light up with festive decorations, adding to the city’s lively atmosphere. The Christmas markets here are less crowded than in more popular destinations.

Zell am See

Situated in the heart of the Austrian Alps, is a town that becomes a true winter paradise every year.

Surrounded by mountains and perched on the edge of the crystal-clear Lake Zell, it’s a favorite spot for winter sports and those who love natural scenery.

In the winter months, Zell am See is a top destination for skiing. The local ski resort, Schmittenhöhe, has slopes for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, with amazing views of the Alps and the lake. Plus, the connection to the Kaprun ski area, including the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, means there’s plenty of snow throughout the season.

Beyond skiing, the town of Zell am See is a delight to explore. Its alpine architecture gives a warm, welcoming feel. Visitors enjoy walking through its streets, trying traditional Austrian dishes in cozy restaurants, and browsing in unique local shops.

A walk around Lake Zell is especially beautiful in winter. The snow-covered trees and mountains around the lake create a wonderful scene. For relaxation, there are wellness centers and spas in the area.

Zell am See also hosts various events and festivals in winter, bringing a lively atmosphere to the town. These range from traditional Christmas markets to music and winter sports events.


Kitzbühel is one of the world’s most famous ski resorts. This medieval town attracts skiing enthusiasts and visitors who want to experience a classic Alpine atmosphere.

The town is famous for hosting the annual Hahnenkamm, a challenging downhill ski race in the World Cup. Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels enjoy the wide range of slopes and top-notch ski facilities in Kitzbühel.

Beyond winter sports, exploring the town of Kitzbühel is a delight. Its colorful buildings and cobbled streets create a charming backdrop. 

Visitors can wander through the town, enjoy historic sights, and relax in cozy cafes and restaurants serving tasty local dishes.

Kitzbühel also has a variety of shops selling traditional Austrian clothing, modern fashion, and sports gear. 

Even for those who don’t ski, Kitzbühel in winter is a treat. The snowy landscape is perfect for walks, and the town has several wellness centers for relaxation and rejuvenation.


Seefeld, a charming Alpine town in Austria, is a top destination for winter sports, particularly known for its cross-country skiing. Set on a plateau above the Inn Valley, it is a perfect place for winter activities.

This town is a haven for cross-country skiers, with an extensive network of well-maintained trails. These trails cater to all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned athletes. Seefeld also hosted the Nordic events during the Winter Olympics twice

Seefeld has a picturesque village center, where traditional Tyrolean architecture creates a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Here, visitors can stroll through the streets, enjoy local cuisine at various restaurants, and browse shops selling regional products and crafts.

Seefeld is also a great place for those looking to relax. The town is known for its wellness resorts and spas, with a range of treatments and therapies. During the winter months, Seefeld lights up with festive decorations, adding to its charm. The town often hosts winter events and markets, providing entertainment and a taste of local traditions.

Hoher Dachstein 

A striking peak in the Austrian Alps, is a must-visit for anyone who loves mountains and outdoor adventures. As one of the highest mountains in Austria, it is particularly captivating in winter.

This mountain is part of the Dachstein massif and attracts climbers, hikers, and skiers. In winter, the snow-covered landscape turns it into a picturesque setting for skiing and snowboarding. On the Dachstein Glacier you can ski even outside the traditional winter months.

The Dachstein Skywalk is a popular attraction here. This observation platform, hanging over a sheer drop, with breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. 

For those interested in ice caves, the Dachstein Ice Cave is a wonder to explore. These naturally formed ice caves have incredible formations.

Bad Ischl

Bad Ischl, named the European Capital of Culture for 2024, is a town that rightfully earns this recognition.

It’s a place in Austria’s Salzkammergut region, where culture, history, and natural beauty come together seamlessly.

Famous for its thermal springs, Bad Ischl has a long-standing reputation as a spa town. Today, its spas and wellness centers continue to draw visitors looking for relaxation and rejuvenation.

The town also has a rich historical background, especially noted for its connection to Emperor Franz Josef. The Imperial Villa, once the summer residence of the Emperor, now serves as a museum, showcasing the luxurious lifestyle of Austrian royalty.

Bad Ischl’s cultural life includes a variety of events, theaters, and galleries.