What do waltzes, the Hapsburgs, the Sound of Music, Mozart, mountains for days, schnitzel, and dumplings all have in common? Austria is a country that magically weaves between high culture and music, amongst urban old town charm that’s juxtaposed with the vastness of alpine summits and outdoor delights. Use this Austria 7 day itinerary as inspiration and foundation for your future trip to the country. Inside you’ll find advice from someone that’s been there, tips on where to eat, where to stay, what to see, and what to do.
This itinerary picks the best of the 3 cities of Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck that’ll have you humming tunes, dreaming about the mountains, and salivating over Sacher Torte. You’ll be amazed by the beauty of Austria and trust me, you’ll want to come back for more. The hills and so much more are alive here.
Austria 7 Day Itinerary Highlights
This 7 day Austria itinerary covers the top bucket list items and shows you how you can easily spend a week if not more.
Here are my top 5 highlights of Austria that you can’t miss!
- Mozart Concert Dinner
- Sound of Music Tour
- Swarovski Crystal Worlds
- Belvedere Palace
1. Mozart Concert Dinner
3. Sound of Music Tour
4. Swarovski Crystal Worlds
5. Belvedere Palace
- Where to stay in Vienna
- Best SIM card for travel in Europe
- Cheapest way to travel Europe on a budget
- Best photography spots in Prague
Where to stay in Austria?
- We stayed in 4 remarkable hotels in Austria but if I were to pick, the best one out of all of them was The Mozart in Salzburg with its modern take on boutique with an awesome restaurant and close proximity to all the action in the city.
Table of Contents
Looking for something specific in this itinerary? Jump to what you want to read.
Here's what we're covering:
- Austria 7 Day Itinerary Highlights
- Table of Contents
- Things To Do In Austria – A 7 Day Itinerary
- Trip Planning Map
- Day 1 – Vienna – Grand Palaces of Vienna
- Day 2 – Vienna – You Can Have Your Art and Cake Too
- Day 3 – Salzburg – All About Mozart
- Day 4 – Salzburg – The Sound of Music
- Day 5 – Salzburg to Innsbruck – Off To The Alps
- Day 6 – Innsbruck – Royalty and Crystals
- Day 7 – Innsbruck & Vienna – Nordkette
- A Quick Austria Travel Guide
- The Whole Experience
Things To Do In Austria – A 7 Day Itinerary
Austria is often a country that most will pass through. In fact, my first experience to the country was 6 years ago and we hopped into Vienna and then bounced right out to Prague. Yearning to go back, this Austria 7 day itinerary is a really great introduction to what the country is all about, allowing you to see the three cities of Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck that I can only describe as unexpected and surprisingly incredible.
As I do with all of my other itineraries, this is a travel guide that’s meant to provide a detailed walkthrough of how you can plan your own trip if you only have 7 days to work with. I’ll describe what each of your days is like and also summarize it below for each day. I’ll also be making key recommendations and tips that I learned along the way.
Trip Planning Map
If you’ve seen my 14 Day Greek Islands Itinerary, 3 Day Niagara Falls Itinerary, Richmond BC 4 Day Itinerary, or Best Ramen in Tokyo, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of trip planning maps especially for when I’m on the road. I always have one prepared before I travel so that I can quickly pull them up for reference. With this trip planning map, you’ll be able to take this to go and have it ready for you on your phone or use it as part of your itinerary planning.
Tip: View the Austria 7 Day trip planning map in full screen and create a copy (this step is key) for yourself. Make tweaks for your own trip and in Google Maps, you’ll be able to view it by going into the menu, selecting “My Places” and the “Maps” tab.
Day 1 – Vienna – Grand Palaces of Vienna
Vienna is a lesson in imperial history, one where the Hapsburg monarchy is ever so present and with your first day in the capital of Austria, you’ll be going all-out by seeing some of the most important residences that’ll rival most other cities in Europe.
If you’re coming from North America like I was, brace for a long day because many flights arrive early in the morning and you’ll need to have the endurance to last.
Once you arrive, there’s one thing you’ll need to do. Head over to the tourist info booth at arrivals and pick up your Vienna City Card. For your two days in the city, order the 48 hour card and this’ll cover you for all local transit and more than 210 discounts to attractions all over the city. Once you’ve done that, take your private airport transfer which I recommend because it’s affordable and convenient and have them drop you off at your accommodation for the next 2 days. We were lucky with the Gratzlhotel in Karmelitermarkt because my room was ready by the time we arrived in the morning.
Don’t lie down though because there’s much to do on your first day!
To get things started, a great way to get situated is by doing either a larger group city tour or go with a private tour with a local guide so you can get to know the neighbourhood you’re staying and also the core which is known as District 1.
The tour will cover quite a bit of ground but if it’s a private one and you’re staying in District 2 like I did, make sure to stroll through the buzzing Karmelitermarkt, spot where Johann Strauss lived, drink a typical Viennese drink known as a melange (shot of espresso with foamed milk), and see the revitalized Danube canal.
Say goodbye to your guide at your lunch spot which should definitely be at Motto am Fluss, a trendy restaurant perched right above the canal which has a prime view of the water way and the mix of new and old architecture of District 2. Here you can try Austrian classics or dive into their excellent breakfast items while sipping on fresh lemonade.
The tour might’ve taken you into the core but now is your time to explore the city on your own. Make your way to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and marvel at the mosaic roof and the incredible detail you can see when you enter the church. It’s free to walk inside the church but if you’re looking to do a guided tour or see the catacombs.
Once you’re here, there’s a maze of winding and wide promenade of pedestrian shopping streets. You’ll be back tomorrow so no need to do it thoroughly. Make your way over to the Karlplatz U-Bahn station.
This’ll be the first time you take the metro so make sure you validate your Vienna City Card by inserting it into the little blue boxes that are typically right before the escalator down to stamp the back of it with the date. Don’t validate it until you actually want to start using your card.
TIP: If you plan it right, you can stretch your 24 hour Vienna City Card over multiple days. For example, you can start it at noon and you’ll be able to use it until the next day at 11:59AM. Don’t validate your card until you actually need to use it.
Vienna City Card
One thing that you’ll notice quickly about Austria is that all major cities have their own city card. Vienna’s is excellent and a must-have if you’re spending even just 1 day in the city. There are too many benefits to describe but here are the key features that matter:
- All local transit is included in the city.
- Discounts to almost all major attractions including the Hofburg, Schönbrunn, Leopold Museum, Belvedere, Albertina, and tons more.
- 1 day starts at 17 EUR. A 24-hour U-Bahn ticket is already 8 EUR. Savings for attractions range from 2-5 EUR. Hit up 3 attractions a day and you’re golden!
- There are also advanced passes that include hop-on hop-off busses, and transfers from the airport if you need it.
- The pass doesn’t start until you validate it at a metro station machine.
Take the U-Bahn all the way to Schönbrunn station.
Schönbrunn was the Hapsburgs’ summer palace and is an opulent example of court life, the pinnacle of architecture from the 18th century, and the melding of art and design in the gardens that sprawl all around the grounds.
Take your time to explore Schönbrunn. Depending on your interests you can do the tour of the palace, special side attractions, or you can walk right into the grounds and walk the gardens free of charge.
You need to know that the grounds are massive and so you’ll need to plan your time well. Besides the palace itself, the labyrinth is worth it and so is the Gloriette viewing terrace that’s all the way on the other end of the gardens. The Cafe Gloriette is a great place to rest your feet and take in the spectacular view.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna
Hours: The hours vary quite a bit throughout the year and is also different between the palace museum and the gardens. In general, the palace opens at 8AM and the gardens open at 6:30AM. The full breakdown of hours can be found here. Note that in the winter season (November and onwards) many attractions are closed.
Price: There are a ton of attractions and combination passes at the Schönbrunn Palace. The below are adult ticket prices. Concessions/discounts are available. The discounts with the Vienna City Card are indicated in red.
- Imperial Tour (22 rooms) – 16 EUR
- Grand Tour (40 rooms) – 20 EUR
- Classic Pass (5 attraction combination) – 26.50 EUR (22.50 EUR)
- Classic Pass Plus (same as the above but includes the zoo) – 40 EUR
- Sisi Ticket (includes Grand Tour, Hofburg, and Imperial Furniture Collection) – 34 EUR (31 EUR)
- Gloriette – 4.50 EUR (3.50 EUR)
- Maze – 6 EUR (4.50 EUR)
- Privy Garden – 4.50 EUR
- Orangery Garden – 4.50 EUR
- Children’s Museum – 9.50 EUR (7.50 EUR)
Do they accept credit card?: Yes
- You actually don’t need to pay anything just to walk the main grounds of the gardens and to look at the palace from the outside.
- If you buy your tickets online through the official site is you can purchase them in advance and not have to queue at the ticket office in person. That said, there is no discount for purchasing online.
- The advantage of purchasing skip-the-line tickets Imperial Tour from Viator is that a guide is included. Official tickets for the Imperial Tour are self-guided.
- When you purchase tickets, you need to pick a time slot and these selections are binding. If you show up late, your ticket is invalid. That’s one reason for purchasing tickets in-person if you’re not sure about timing.
From Schönbrunn, take a combination of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn to Quartier Belvedere Station.
Belvedere may not have the scale of Schönbrunn but it is just as striking and beautiful in its own right. This is a baroque masterpiece at one point belonged to Prince Eugene of Savoy who was the commander-in-chief of the Hapsburgs which was gifted to him after his successful campaigns against the Ottoman Empire.
Consisting of an Upper and Lower Belvedere, the Palace Stables, and gardens in between, there’s much to see here with all buildings now part of the Belvedere Museum. In the Upper Belvedere, you’ll find famous Austrian painter Klimt’s best known work “The Kiss” and many other highlights from Monet, van Gogh, and more all housed in an incredible Baroque palace. The Lower Belvedere is an art exhibition of Prince Eugene’s period. Lastly is the Palace Stables which has treasures from the Middle Ages. There’s also the newly built Belvedere 21 across the street on the north side which is an icon of post-war Modernism and houses international art, film, and music in the contemporary style.
You might only have time to breeze through one of these or if you’re near closing time, it’ll be worthwhile just walking the grounds and catching the sunset from the large pool of Upper Belvedere or the palace gardens.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Upper Belvedere, Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna
Hours: The hours are different for each of the buildings so it’s worth heading to the Belvedere Visit page. In general, all the museums close at 6PM except on Fridays when they open late to 9PM.
Price: Like Schönbrunn, there are many attractions here and different packages. The below are adult ticket prices. Concessions/discounts are available. The discounts with the Vienna City Card are indicated in red.
- Upper Belvedere – 16 EUR (14.50 EUR)
- Lower Belvedere (includes Palace Stables) – 14 EUR (12 EUR)
- Belvedere 21 – 8 EUR (6 EUR)
- Klimt Ticket (Upper and Lower combo) – 22 EUR (19.50 EUR)
Do they accept credit card?: Yes
- On July 1, 2019 a time-slot ticket system is being introduced for the Upper Belvedere. This means that you need to book a specific entrance time for your visit and like Schönbrunn, you need to be there for your slot.
- You can bypass the above by buying a ticket online through GetYourGuide which has a general ticket. You show up with your printed voucher at the group cash desk to receive your time slot ticket when you get there.
To close out the night, call an Uber over to Karlsplatz where you’ll be able to see the magnificent Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) illuminated by light and reflected by the pool of water in front. Pay attention to the design of the church which many say is an architectural curiosity because it is such an eclectic mix of styles of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Baroque, and Renaissance all in one.
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Dinner is right next door at the Heuer Am Karlsplatz. This is located right in a local corner park which means a lovely outdoor terrace in the summer. Inside is always buzzing with energy, frequented by locals chatting about their week, the sizzling from the kitchen, and fresh ingredients displayed on wooden racks. This is a refreshing restaurant that gives you a look into what the modern culinary scene in Austria is like.
I’m going to throw another wrinkle in your trip planning by introducing you to the Vienna Pass which is not the same as the Vienna Card that I talked about earlier. What’s different about the Vienna Pass is that you get free access to attractions instead of just discounts. The basic card doesn’t include public transit but that can be added with what they call the “Travelcard” option. The price is going to be more and is good for those that can really pack in a ton of attractions and sights in a day. You can check out all the attractions it includes and how it works here.
Key free access to:
- Hop on Hop off bus tour
- Spanish Riding School Morning Exercise
- Upper and Lower Belvedere
- Schönbrunn Palace Grand Tour
- Leopold Museum
- Imperial Treasury Vienna
- Danube Tower
- and more you can find here.
Day 1 Summary
What you’ll see:
What you’ll do:
Where you’ll eat:
- Lunch – Motto am Fluss – Situated right along the Danube canal, you have prime views of the waterway and transition from District 1 and 2.
- Dinner – Heuer Am Karlsplatz – A modern eatery with Austrian classics. Super trendy spot that is popular for its beautiful outdoor terrace, ambiance with DJ music, and solid drinks.
Where to stay:
As with my all of my trips, I was able to find everything I needed through Booking.com because of their massive inventory and variety in terms of types of accommodations.
Here, I share with you where I personally stayed but also recommended alternatives that I think you’ll like based on different budgets. For a full breakdown, make sure to read the best area to stay in Vienna.
I STAYED HERE
A urban accommodation concept in Vienna where former side-street bars have been transformed into ground-floor studio apartments. These large spaces are fabulously furnished and complete with small kitchenette.
New as of 2015, if this is anything like the Motel One I stayed at in Hamburg, you’re going to blown away by this property. Their breakfast are legendary, rooms are modern, and location superb.
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Day 2 – Vienna – You Can Have Your Art and Cake Too
Your second day in Vienna is going to be packed with culture and sweets so get ready!
To start your morning, head to Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier which is an area within the city’s Ringstrasse that can only be described as a complex near the Imperial Palace that is hive of artistic and cultural activity that includes museums, studios, schools, cafes, and shopping. Sit in one of the many purple chaises in the neighbourhood’s sprawling courtyard and feel the creative energy fill in.
Among one of the highlights of MuseumsQuartier is the Leopold Museum. From the outside, you’ll see a bright sandstone cube building but inside is one of the most important collections of modern Austrian art. You’ll find the incredibly impactful work of Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oska Kokoschka, and designers of the Weiner Werkstätte.
I highly recommend that you try to do one of their public guided tours to maximize on your experience at the museum so you can pick up on all the small details of Viennese Art Nouveau, Vienna Workshop, and Expressionist Period.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien, Austria
Hours: Daily except Tuesday: 10PM to 6PM. Thursdays: 10AM to 9PM. Closed on Tuesday.
Price: The discounts with the Vienna City Card are indicated in red.
- 14 EUR for regular admission (12 EUR)
- 10 EUR for reduced ticket
- Audio guides are 4 EUR
Website: Leopold Museum
Public guided tour: The schedule for the tours vary quite a bit so it’s recommended to contact the museum in advance. The price of these tours is 3 EUR.
- The museum does not allow large backpacks inside the museum so you’ll need to either use their lockers (coin deposit required) or the use of the coat check (1 EUR).
Vienna’s coffee culture is something you might not’ve known of before but it’s time to dive right in to an integral part of the city’s social experience.
The story goes that when the Turkish invaders were pushed out by the Polish-Hapsburg army in the late 1600’s, they left behind many sacks of small brown beans. Not knowing what they were for, they experimented on them until the birth of the country’s premier beverage.
Today, it’s an absolute staple to go to one of the city’s grand cafes that feature high ceilings, cultivated interior decoration, and an air of elegance. Here the practice of drinking coffee is one of the city’s most coveted traditions as they lay one of many claims to the invention of the addictive brown beverage.
If you’re looking for one of the city’s best coffee houses for that elevated experience, look no further than Café Sperl. With grand tall ceiling, opulent decorations, cosy booths, and unhurried air, the 1880 cafe is the perfect place to grab lunch, their incredible strudel, people-watch, and of course sip on a coffee.
If you’re looking for food recommendations, take a look at these on the menu:
- Melange – mocha with foam that is close to a cappuccino except with a bit more foam
- Beef soup with thin-sliced pancakes
- Sausages with mustard, horseradish, roll – Classic Austrian appetizer
- Apple strudel
After lunch, make your way over to one of the most historically important buildings in Vienna – the Vienna State Opera House which is also known as the Staatsoper.
Open in 1869, this opera house has graced the presence of celebrities, state officials, and world-class artists including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Even if you don’t get a chance to see a performance here, the behind-the-scenes tour of the venue is a must-do in Vienna. Given in a number of different languages, you’ll get to see the world’ largest repertory theatre, learn about its history, architecture, how it operates, and see many of its salons, state rooms, and backstage.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
Hours: See the tour schedule as it varies quite drastically because of the opera season and other operations that might be happening at the opera house. Normally tours are conducted at 1PM, 2PM, and 3PM.
- Adults: 9 EUR
- Seniors: 7 EUR
- Children and students (up to 27): 4 EUR
Website: Vienna State Opera House
- Tours are given in German, English and Spanish at all times but if you are looking for tours in Italian, French, Russian and Japanese, you’ll have to call.
- You can’t purchase tickets in advance. For the tour time that you’re interested in, show up 20-30 minutes in advance. There’ll be a large overflow of people outside because the ticket purchasing process is slow. Once you’re in, they’ll slot you into language sections and there’s almost a continuously flow of groups that go in so the tour times aren’t exactly at one slot per say. They limit group sizes to roughly 20 and they keep alternating between the languages until everyone gets through.
Once you finish at the Vienna State Opera, you’ll be in prime location to start your own mini-adventure. You have a few choices – you can walk through the pedestrian streets of Vienna around St. Stephen’s Cathedral or you can do what we did which was go on a cake hopping extravaganza.
The first spot deserves a bit of attention because of how popular it is and the rest I’ll list off and I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you want to visit or not.
The cake you’ve undoubtedly read about or have had a friend tell you about is the Sacher Torte. This is an elegant and refined combination of chocolate flavours with a truly Austrian apricot jam, chocolate icing, and of course a mandatory dollop of whipped cream.
This national culinary specialty was invented by Franz Sacher for Prince Metternich in Vienna. Franz’s eldest son eventually took over the business and opened a boutique hotel. Today, this tasty triad of chocolate, whipped cream, and apricot jam is truly symbolic of Vienna and a mandatory stop to make sure you can try the “Original Sacher Torte”.
Business is booming because right across from the Vienna State Opera house is not one but 3 different Sacher cafes. So which one do you go to? Well the truth is any will go but if you’re looking for the newest, I’d recommend that you try to line up for Sacher Eck Vienna. The queue may look long but it moves pretty quickly. In no time you’ll get a spot in the velvet padded cafe.
Tip: If you’re looking for the shortest line, don’t be afraid to scope out the other cafes along the street parallel to the opera house. Tourists are always drawn to the longest line but most don’t realize that they all serve the Sacher Torte.
The other cafes that you can weave into your tour of Vienna are:
- Cafe Central
- Cafe Imperial
For dinner, you’ll be eating at a hyper-local establishment. Recommended by locals in-the-know, Gasthaus Ubl is where you’ll get a chance to eat a superb selection of Austrian dishes including veal schnitzel, Viennese boiled beef, pork & sauerkraut dumpling, and liver dumpling soup. A heads up that they only have hand-written German menus here so you may have to get some help from the servers there.
Day 2 Summary
What you’ll see:
Where you’ll eat:
- Breakfast – MQ Daily – The perfect cafe in the museum district.
- Lunch – Café Sperl – The classic Viennese coffee house that has many Austrian classics and one of the city’s best strudel.
- Dessert – Sacher Eck Vienna – Newest of the 3 cafes by Hotel Sacher that serves the famous Sacher Torte.
- Dessert – Cafe Central – Another classic Viennese cafe that has a wide selection of cakes. Expect lines here.
- Dessert – Demel – A historic cafe in the middle of Vienna’s pedestrian zone. Not many seats here but has excellent cakes.
- Dessert – Aida – There are multiple locations and this is more of a casual dessert shop in the city. Great place to take a break while exploring the city.
- Dessert – Cafe Imperial – Located at one of the city’s most prestigious hotels, their Imperial Torte may not be as famous as the Sacher Torte but is quite amazing in my opinion.
- Dinner – Gasthaus Ubl – German-only menus shouldn’t dissuade you from coming here as they are a classic example of an Austria eatery that is frequented by locals and serve the best of the traditional dishes.
Day 3 – Salzburg – All About Mozart
With two days in Vienna completed, it’s sadly time to say goodbye but don’t worry, there’s a ton ahead as you make your way to the city of Salzburg.
From your hotel, grab an Uber to the central Hauptbahnof train station in the city. Once here, you’ll have a ton of opportunities to pick up some breakfast including either the popular cafe/bakeries Ströck or Anker.
If you haven’t yet, purchase an ÖBB Railjet that’ll take you from Vienna to Salzburg in 2.5 hours as the train tops 230 km/h.
Upon arrival in Salzburg, hop on another cab to your hotel for the next two days, The Mozart. This is really the perfect place to stay while in Salzburg. It’s a new boutique hotel that’s got that European modern decor but with an added spunk of art and Mozart. Location wise, it’s conveniently located not far from the main pedestrian street north of the river so everything is walkable. Their included breakfast is superb and their lunch is quite excellent as well.
In fact, it’s at the hotel’s restaurant, Mozart Bistro, where you’ll be having a modern tapas take on Austrian food.
Since it’s quite early, you won’t be able to check into your rooms so leave your bags in storage and meet your city guide for a tour around this city which you’ll soon find to be much more compact, easily explorable, and packed with charm.
In order to become a guide in Austria, you need a professional license. This is why you’ll see the governing body, “Austria Guides”, appear on most websites. This is actually a good thing because this means that the country is regulating the industry and ensuring a standard of service and quality.
The 2 hour tour starts in the stunning Mirabell Gardens and Palace. For those that are Sound of Music fans, this should bring back memories of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ so don’t be surprised to see people hopping on the steps or marching around the fountain. It’s here that you’ll learn more about Salzburg’s Walk of Modern Art and how sculptures can be found all over the city. Pass by the Mozart Residence and then cross over the River Salzach on the famed bridge that is filled with locks.
This brings you into Old Town where you’ll be able to roam the pedestrian streets of Getreidegasse that is lined with popular shops, hidden alleys, and charming streets. There are some brilliant examples of medieval, gothic, and baroque styles here and there’s a story behind all of them. Your guide will point out key features that you’d normally pass and also explain the history of Mozart Balls (Mozartkugel), show you the best cafes, and show you the original family behind all of the iron-wrought signs.
In the middle of it is Mozart’s Birthplace. Using your Salzburg Card, you’ll gain access to building where the famous composer spent most of his early life in. It’s here that you’ll be able to see the room where Mozart was born, artifacts and recreated room of the time when they lived in a small humble section of the building, to the full story of his career, the family, and rise as a legend.
Salzburg has its own version of a city card and it has incredible value with completely free access to almost all the attractions in the city including Fortress Hohensalzburg, St. Peter’s Monastery, Mozart’s Birthplace, Salzburg City Cruises, Hellbrunn, Salzburg Museum and more. What made it extra convenient was that for most locations that had turnstiles, all you have to do is skip the line, tap and go. You also get free public transit throughout the entire city.
During low season (Jan – Apr, Nov – Dec) it’s 26 EUR for 24 hours and high season (May-Oct) it’s 29 EUR for adults.
Purchase your card online and pick it up at either Mozart Square or at the Salzburg Hauptbahnof.
Continue your tour where you’ll pause at Salzburg Dome Cathedral, St. Peter’s Monastery, and learn about Fortress Hohensalzburg beside the golden sculture dubbed “Sphaera”.
As you make your way back to the hotel, make sure to drop by Cafe-Konditorei Fürst which is in fact the creator of the beloved Mozart Balls or Mozartkugel. What you learn quickly about Salzburg is that the balls are everywhere and all of them look kind of the same with Mozart front and center. Through our tour, we learned that almost all of them are machine made is replicas of the original created in 1890 by Paul Fürst. There are only 3 shops in town so if you want this handmade treat of marzipan and pistachio surrounded by nougat and dark chocolate, make sure you drop by. They’re 1.40 EUR each, 8 EUR for 5, 10 for 15 EUR, or 15 for 23 EUR.
It’s time to change and snazzy up because you’re in for a treat this evening at the Mozart Dinner Concert. Grab an Uber and make your way back to St. Peter’s Monastery and the adjacent restaurant. The venue of the concert is actually one of the world’s oldest, dating back to the year 803.
Whether you’re a fan of Mozart or not, this is a delightful evening where you’ll hum to the music of 3 of Mozart’s greatest operas while also having a candlelit dinner in a beautiful hall that’ll transport you back to the 1790’s. You’ll be treated to a multi-course meal created from original historical recipes while listening and watching arias and duets performed by two opera-singers and chamber ensemble, all while wearing authentic period costumes.
What impressed me the most about this experience is that it’s done in a way that you can enjoy the music and meal thoroughly because the food is served during the performance intermissions. This way, you’ll be able to finish one course as a break to the performance before it begins again which keeps you engaged and refreshed instead of one continuous performance while you’re eating.
You might not know it all but you’ll be sure pick up on famous moments from “The Magic Flute”, “Don Giovanni”, “The Marriage of Figaro”, and “A Little Night Music”.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Stiftskulinarium St. Peter Restaurant: St.-Peter-Bezirk 1/4, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Hours: Performance starts at 7:30PM and doors open at 6:30PM, 7 days a week however depending on the time of year, there are periodic days off so make sure to check the schedule.
Price: 66 EUR Adults, 51 EUR Youth (14-26), 43 EUR Children (<14)
Website: Mozart Dinner Concert
- What’s on the menu? – It’s a 3 course meal:
- Dark rye bread with butter
- Lemon-chicken broth with a curd cheese and rosemary dumpling
- Stuffed roasted chicken breast in a red wine and herb jus with potato gratin and homegrown vegetables
- Wild honey parfait with 2 different kinds of fruit sauce
- If vegetarian, vegan or allergy-free alternatives required, let them know and they will aim to accommodate
- Drinks are extra (including bottled water)
- Reservations – This is not a large hall and so performances do fill up quickly. It is highly recommended that you reserve this several weeks ahead of time.
- Photography – Flash photography is not allowed but you’re definitely allowed to take photos from your dinner table.
Day 3 Summary
What you’ll see:
What you’ll do:
Where you’ll eat:
- Breakfast – Ströck – One of the large franchises of bakeries in Austria that you’ll find at Hauptbahnof which is great for food on-the-go.
- Lunch – Mozart Bistro – Newly opened that does this modern twist of Austrian traditional dishes in tapas form.
- Dessert – Cafe Konditorei Fürst – The place of the original Mozart Balls.
- Dinner – Mozart Dinner Concert – Amazing music and dinner experience that you have to do while you’re in Salzburg.
I STAYED HERE
Newly opened that takes European modern and adds a funky artistic and Mozart twist. Rooms are fabulously furnished, there may be a creepy Mozart bust, bathroom floors are heated and their breakfasts are to die for.
AFFORDABLE BY MIRABELL
Surprisingly affordable for its location and rooms. This is a traditional hotel in Salzburg steps away from Mirabell Palace that you can often find under $100. There’s free wifi throughout and is eligible for 10% Genius discount with Booking.
This building dates back to 1878 and right by the pedestrian zone of the centre of Salzburg. All rooms have been renovated to have a modern feel while retaining its traditional roots. Free wifi is available and breakfast is included.
Perfectly located on Linzergasse Street north of the river, this is a 700 year old building that is conveniently located to explore all of Salzburg. Rooms are clean and spacious. Reviews of this hotel are excellent including “this hotel is without doubt the best property we stayed in.” Amazing free breakfast is included.
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Day 4 – Salzburg – The Sound of Music
You can’t come to Salzburg and not re-enact your favourite scene from The Sound of Music. It’s one of those things that many of you may have grown up with and have spent multiple Christmases huddled around the TV watching.
Regardless of your level of fandom, much of the beauty of Salzburg and the whole province is tied to the iconic landscapes featured in the movie so on your fourth day in Austria, you’ll be spending your day with Salzburg Experience and the esteemed Michaela Muhr who is extremely well reviewed.
Now one thing I have to set straight because this is hilarious ironic is that most Austrians haven’t watched this movie and don’t know about the hype. The reason is that this was purely a Hollywood creation and so if you come to Salzburg expecting all the locals to be crazy about The Sound of Music, you’ll be in for a surprise.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Website: Salzburg Experience
- During your research for a Sound of Music tour, you’ll find a lot of options. Salzburg Experience is one of the best options but if you’re looking for others, there are definitely others that came up in my research that you can definitely consider:
- Salzburg’s Favourite Things – This is run by Michaela Muhr and covers the most important historic sites but avoid the big tourist crowds as much as possible. You will also see several famous Sound of Music film locations and a few hidden gems. This is a private tour.
- Driving Tour of Salzburg’s Favorite Things – A Michaela Muhr tour that spends a day covering the best sites of Salzburg city and Salzkammergut region including the go-to spots for Sound of Music as a private tour.
- The Original Sound of Music Tour – These guys are the only ones that can be named “Sound of Music” because of legal rights so they’re probably the best known. This is on a large coach bus and will take you to all of the main filming locations for the movie. It’s 4 hours long and is quite affordable but will not take you to some of the smaller sights that a full day tour will afford you.
- Private tour of Austrian Lakes and Mountains – The focus here is more on the lake region outside of Salzburg but as a private tour you can request to see more Sound of Music sights.
- Private Sound of Music Tour with Breakfast at Leopoldskron – This is a 6 hour long tour capped at 9 travellers that is very similar to the Salzburg Experience tour and exclusive to Viator.
The Sound of Music tour starts with Leopoldskron which you’ll immediately recognize from the rowboat scene near the beginning of the movie. The larger tour busses aren’t able to come through here because the neighbourhood that runs up to the lake consists of small narrow streets. From here you get an amazing view of Schloss Leopoldskron, the lake, and Fortress Hohensalzburg in the distance. Today, the castle is a hotel and conference centre. You’ll also learn that the gazebo built for the movie was filmed here but because of the unwanted attention and traffic that it resulted, it was later moved.
Where the gazebo is currently standing is at Schloss Hellbrunn. While you may be here for a twirl in front of the iconic gazebo, what you’ll actually remember are the trick fountains of this palace. Built by prince-archbishop of Salzburg as a summer palace, Hellbrunn is filled with mysterious grottos, water-spewing stags, hidden water jets, and hydraulic powered figures. Take a tour of the enormous grounds to see all of the behind-the-scenes water “tricks” and water playground.
At the end of the tour you’ll find the famed gazebo where the lovesick Liesl von Trapp sang ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’. Normally, the gazebo is closed to visitors but with an official Austria Guide, they’re able to grab the key for you to take a twirl inside.
To really solidify the Sound of Music connection, you’ll get to stop at Hotel Villa Trapp which was the actual home of the von Trapps which is today turned into a B&B hotel.
For lunch, you’ll be heading to Schloss Fuschl that sits perched on the idyllic Lake Fuschl. Have lunch on the beautiful terrace of Marriott Luxury Collection property restaurant which serves a high-class fusion of Austrian and French cuisine.
In the afternoon you’ll drive through the mountain passes and lakes that this region is so well known for. Along the way you’ll pass by the Red Bull headquarters which you’ll be surprised to hear is Austrian, a gorgeous lookout of the town, St. Gilgen, which is used in the opening helicopter shots of the movie. Finally, close out with a visit of St. Michael Basilica where Maria and Georg von Trapp marry in the movie.
You’ll have free time in the afternoon to explore the rest of the old town of Salzburg.
If you’re a photographer and want that perfect shot of the city, I highly recommend that you take a look at the Trip Planning Map above where I mark the spot where you’ll get the best view of Fortress Hohensalzburg, the river, and flanking sides of the city. During my research, it wasn’t obvious where I could get this shot but after talking to locals and doing my own scouting, I learned that it was this pedestrian bridge (not the one with the locks) further north along the river that I needed to be on.
For dinner, head to the historic Pitterkeller. On the outside it might not look it being below a modern office building/hotel but down below is Salzburg’s oldest beer cellar. A popular meeting spot for locals, this traditional restaurant has an extensive selection of popular Austrian dishes and first-class brews. This is also your chance to try the traditional Salzburger Nockerl which is an exquisite dessert that is light and fluffy, meant to evoke the memories of Austria’s snow capped-mountains.
Day 4 Summary
What you’ll see:
Where you’ll eat:
Day 5 – Salzburg to Innsbruck – Off To The Alps
There’s one big thing that you haven’t been to explore yet and that’s the giant fortress that you’ve been looking at your whole time in Salzburg.
Start your morning early with another amazing breakfast at The Mozart Hotel.
As you make your way over, there’s a really great viewpoint that overlooks the old part of Salzburg and the fortress as well and again I’ve marked that on the Trip Planning Map as Kapuzinerkloster. There are hidden steps located on Steingasse that lead upwards. Keep going up and you’ll see the beautiful lookout.
If you want more details, the city of Salzburg has actually created a couple of curated walking tours including the Instagrammable Salzburg Footpath which is where I got the inspiration to do this.
When you’re back down, cross the river and make your way past the golden ball sculpture, Sphaera, and to the bottom of the hill where the funicular for Fortress Hohensalzburg is located. Thanks to your Salzburg Card, you’ll be able to bypass any line and head straight to the turnstiles where you tap you card and enter.
Depending on how much time you have, there is a million of things you can do once you’re in the castle. Beyond taking lots of photos once you get off the funicular, there’s the Fortress Museum, the apartments, Marionette Museum, the Altes Zeughaus for the castle’s arsenal, as well as the Museum of the Rainer Regiment. If you’re short on time though, you might only be able to head up to Observation Tower which has awesome 360 degree views of the castle, city below, and the countryside.
Check out of your hotel and cab back to the Salzburg Hauptbahnof to catch your 1 hour 45 minute train ride to Innsbruck. For lunch grab something quick at another favourite in the station, Anker.
You’ll arrive in Innsbruck in the mid-afternoon which will be just enough time to check into your hotel and do a quick tour of the city which is quite walkable. There’s just enough time to climb up the twin-helix circular staircase of Stadtturn Town Tower which is a great orientation of town, see the Golden Roof of Innsbruck that you’ll come back to the next day, and also head to the river where you’ll see a row of colourful houses in the foreground to the giant mountains towering behind.
On your walk around of the city, make sure to stop by Tomaselli Gelateria which has a number of stores scattered around and the perfect little snack to stroll with.
A top restaurant that you must to try Innsbruck is Gasthof Weisses Roessl. Serving traditional Tyrolean dishes, this has to be one of my favourite ones from the whole trip for their service, quality, and ambiance. The dining rooms give off a homely cottage ambiance with their cedar wood decor and hunting trophies. You can tell that there’s a strong emphasis on authentic cuisine using fresh ingredients. Dishes you should definitely try are the Speckknödel (dumplings), spicy Tiroler Gröstl (sautéed meat and potatoes), sweet Kaiserschmarrn (famous minced pancakes), and Cordon Bleu (get the spicy one if they have it available). Also, we learned that there’s a Tyrolean cola here that’s quite unique called Tirola Kola.
Day 5 Summary
What you’ll see:
- Fortress Hohensalzburg
- Stadtturn Town Tower
- Golden Roof
- Colourful houses of Innsbruck
Where you’ll eat:
- Breakfast – The Mozart Hotel – Included buffet breakfast
- Lunch – Anker – Grab a few pastries at the train station
- Dessert – Tomaselli Gelateria – Superb gelato in Innsbruck
- Dinner – Gasthof Weisses Roessl – Highly ranked Tyrolean cuisine restaurant in the heart of the city
I STAYED HERE
Located a short walk from the train station, this hotel has superb views of the mountain from the panoramic windows. It’s modernly furnished and extremely spacious. Breakfast is extra but is quite amazing. Despite being closer to the train station, it is still quite walkable to the core and main attractions.
This is an Airbnb like apartment that have units that comprise of a sofa, dining area, fully equipped kitchenette including cooking appliances, private bathroom, and free wifi. Ski storage space is available on-site. Location is walking distance to all the major sights in town.
This is an incredibly central hotel 5 minutes away from Old Town. The hotel has panoramic views of the mountains as the city’s highest building, free wifi, and spacious rooms. This is also a Marriott property. “The room was larger than expected, well appointed and the staff were just delightful.”
Located on the bank of the river, you’re only 5 minutes away from Congress Centre and the cable car. This luxury hotel is known for their modern rooms, 2 spa areas, pool, and breakfast. “Really nice hotel, clean modern rooms with all comforts. Breakfast was really good. Staff very friendly and accommodating of all our needs.”
Day 6 – Innsbruck – Royalty and Crystals
Innsbruck is mostly known for its winter sports being at the gateway to the Austrian Alps but there is plenty more to see that you might not make a direct connection with.
Armed with your Innsbruck Card, you’ll be able to take all local busses including the Sightseer line. This essentially operates like a hop-on-hop-off bus except it’s operated by the city. From Hauptbahnof, it’ll take 40 minutes to get to Bergisel Ski Jump while getting a nice bus tour of the city.
You shouldn’t be surprised that Innsbruck also has a card. Their card is quite robust as well in terms of its offerings of activities and transportation. The card gives you access to almost everything you’ll want to see in the city including the City Tower, Swarovski Crystal World, Bergisel Ski Jump, Imperial Palace, and Golden Roof. In addition, the biggest value comes from it also including the funicular and cable cars that’ll take you up the Nordkette mountain, the Sightseer bus, and all other public buses.
They are available in 24 (43 EUR), 48 (50 EUR), and 72 hours (59 EUR).
Bergisel Ski Jump is one example of star-architect’s Zaha Hadid work in the city. The newest iteration of the ski jump has a prime panoramic view of Innsbruck and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to watch ski jumpers training here which is quite the delight. There’s a funicular that takes you to the base of the tower and from there an elevator up to the top. What makes this unique is that it’s quite rare to get this up close to the actual ski jump but as visitors you can get right up to the ramps themselves from the observation deck and cafe.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Bergiselweg 3, 6020, Innsbruck
Hours: 9AM – 6PM June to October, 10AM – 5PM November – May. Closed at certain times for special events so check the hours.
Price: 9.50 EUR for adults, 8.50 EUR for seniors, 4.50 EUR for children 6-14. With the Innsbruck card, this is free.
Website: Bergisel Ski Jump
- During the summer (May to November), there is a ski jumping show at 10AM-12PM and 1-3PM (if weather and wind conditions allow).
Back in the city thanks to the Sightseer bus, it’s time to grab lunch at Stiftskeller. There’s a ton of history and tradition here as part of the Emperor’s palace and where royalty used to frequent. Inside you’ll find many charming features including frescos in the knights room, and another room that has the crests of all the nearby towns. While you’re here, try out the “national drink of Austria” which is called Almdudler – an alpine herbal soft drink that is kind of like ginger ale.
After lunch, this’ll be your chance to visit the Golden Roof museum, Hofkirche, and the Hofburg Imperial Palace. Through visits, you’ll begin to understand Emperor Maximillian’s importance to the city of Innsbruck and what makes him so adored and well-remembered.
The Hofkirche is a special gothic church that houses the emperor’s cenotaph. Also known as the Court Church, it was built from 1553 to 1563 after Emperor Maximilian I died in 1519. It’s one of the finest examples of royal court churches with the ornate black marble tomb, incredible detail in the reliefs, and also the flanking giant marble figures of the family and historical figures that pay their respects to him. When here, make sure to watch the multi-room presentation that tells the story of Maximillian.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Universitätsstraße 2, 6020 Innsbruck
Hours: Mondays to Saturdays 9AM – 5PM, Sundays & Holidays 12:30PM – 5PM
Price: 7 EUR for adults, 5 EUR reduced price, children under 19 are free. No discount for Innsbruck Card.
Website: Court Church
Hofburg Imperial Palace stands alongside Schönbrunn Palace and the Imperial Palace of Vienna in terms of importance and impressiveness. Extensive work has been done to restore the interior and it shows with the chance to walk through the Giant’s hall, Empress Elisabeth Apartment. You really get a sense of the splendour and wealth of the Hapsburg dynasty with examples of furniture, tapestries, and art as you walk through the palace.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Rennweg 1, 6020 Innsbruck
Hours: 9AM – 5PM everyday with last admission at 4:30PM
Price: 9.50 EUR for adults, 7 EUR for reduced admission. Free if you have the Innsbruck Card.
Website: Hofburg Innsbruck
- No photography allowed inside at all.
- Backpacks can be brought inside but you will have to wear it on your front.
For the rest of the day, Swarovski takes centre stage. I certainly didn’t know this before coming to Austria but yes, Swarovski is Austrian and has its headquarters only 20 minutes outside of Innsbruck. Not only are the crystals made here but there is an entire world made from Swarovski bling.
When it comes to Swarovski Crystal Worlds (Kristallwelten), think amusement park meets modern art museum. As you may have guessed, everything here is made with crystal. With the Tyrolean mountains as the backdrop, this is a wonderland that is unlike anything else I’ve seen.
There are two parts – the outdoor park and the indoor Chambers of Wonder. Outside, you’ll find a number of giant (pun intended) art installations. Front and centre is “The Giant” where the gaze of the crystal eyes of the mythical mountain creature greets you with a spouting of water from its mouth and into the pond. Outside you’ll also find a collection of pools, mazes, and mystical sculptures that’ll transport you to another land. The key highlight here is Crystal Cloud where 800,000 Swarovski crystals float in the sky like whisps of cloud and reflect down on a black Mirror Pool. This is also the perfect place for kids with their Play Tower.
When you delve inside to the Chambers of Wonder, you’ll encounter room after room of insane crystal artwork and installations by many well-known artists that’ll blow your mind. My favourites are the Crystal Dome, Into Lattice Sun, Transparent Opacity, and El Sol. Each room has a special message, is interactive, and contains many ways to interpret the work.
Inside you’ll also find Yayoi Kusama’s only permanent piece named “Infinity Mirror Room”.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Kristallweltenstrasse 1, 6112 Wattens, Austria
Hours: Daily 8:30AM to 7:30PM (last entry at 6:30PM). In the winter (Nov 29 – Jan 6), hours are extended from 8:30AM – 9PM.
Price: 19 EUR for adults, 7.50 EUR for children 6-16) , free for children up to 5. Free with the Innsbruck Card.
Website: Swarovski Kristallwelten
- They offer a new audio guide that is location intelligent. As you walk into various areas of Crystal Worlds, audio will play. The cost is 2 EUR.
- Shuttle busses are available from Innsbruck with pick ups at Hauptbahnof and Congress/Hofburg. Check the full schedule. Cost is 9.50 EUR for round trip or 5 EUR one way. Children under 16 are free. The shuttle is free if you have an Innsbruck Card.
- Crystal Worlds is free if you’re just interested in visiting The Giant in front, the souvenir shop, or to have dinner at Daniels Kristallwelten.
- Combo tickets that include shuttle and admission can be purchased here in advance.
Crystal Worlds also has its own on-site restaurant, Daniels Kristallwelten, and they are well-known for their gourmet cuisine and a perfect pairing after you’ve explored the grounds. They serve a combination of international, regional, and fresh seasonal cuisine plus they make their own pastries. On Thursdays they also have DJ night which made for quite the ambiance amongst the crystal-themed restaurant.
Day 6 Summary
What you’ll see:
Where you’ll eat:
Day 7 – Innsbruck & Vienna – Nordkette
So far you’ve done most of the main sights in the city but you have yet to make your way up to the mountains that you’ve been staring at for the past few days. Today’s the day to head up to the Nordkette which has almost a cult status amongst locals and visitors because of its mesmerizing beauty and dynamic contrasts from the ground below. Mere minutes away from the downtown core, you can get away from the city and ascend above the clouds into a colourful array of greenery, sharp rock faces, and visibility as far as the eye can see. It’s where the urban meets the outdoors.
What’s most impressive is how easy the city has made it to get from ground to peak. Right in the city is the station and next to the Hofburg and Congress Center is an underground station which is the start of the Hungerburgbahn funicular. There are 4 stops in total and this takes you across the river, over the Alpenzoo, and eventually to the final Hungerburg stop. This is the first phase.
From here, you switch over to the Seegrubenbahn cable car/gondola. This takes you up to 1,905 metres above sea level at a midway point called Seegrube. Here you’ll find a restaurant, general facilities, the way to the Path of Perspectives hike which ends in a gorgeous cantilevered viewing platform that juts out from the mountain. This is second phase.
For the final phase, you’ll need to connect onto the Hafelekar cable car and go all the way up to 2,556 metres. It’s here that you’re finally near the top of the Nordkette mountains. There are view points galore here. On one side you can look down and see the entire city below. Go to the back side and you’ll see a dazzling depth of mountains that start with rugged rock faces and alpine trees below. To one side of the range you can make your way to the Hafelekar ski-run which is one of the world’s steepest in the world. This is also the start of a via ferrata route and you might catch a few people making their way up. On the other side is a short hike to the very peak of the mountain and should only take you 10-15 minutes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Address: Congress Station – Rennweg 3, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
- Hungerburgbahn – Weekdays 7:15AM – 7:15PM, Weekends 8AM – 7:15PM, departs every 15 minutes
- Seegrubenbahn – Daily 8:30AM – 5:30PM, departs every 15 minutes
- Hafelekarbahn – Daily 9AM – 5PM, departs every 15 minutes
Price: These are round trip tickets from the city to Hafelekar – 38 EUR for adults, 34.20 EUR for seniors and students, 30.40 EUR for youth 17-19 and 22.80 EUR for children 7-16. Children 6 and under are free. However, if you have an Innsbruck card, this is all free.
- Is the hiking strenuous? – No, if you’re not doing any of the long hikes and sticking to the peak of Hafelekar and Path of Perspectives, you won’t have too much of a challenge. I’d say it’s for low to medium fitness levels.
After your mountain adventures, head back to your hotel and you have just enough time to grab lunch at the aDLERS Hotel restaurant. From there, walk to Innsbruck Hauptbahnof and catch the Railjet back to Vienna which should take 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Upon arrival in Vienna, catch an Uber over to your hotel, Hotel Daniel, and settle in.
Since it’ll be perfect for sunset, you’re located perfectly to visit Belvedere Palace one last time. Take sunset photos here and either walk or take a cab over to your dinner spot.
So far you’ve had a lot of amazing traditional Austrian foods but one thing you haven’t done yet is have that epic-sized schnitzel. Now many guide books will tell you to go to Figlmuller but all the locals told us that it’s way too touristy there. That’s why we ended up at the snazzier Meissl & Schadn where actual local Viennese go to for their schnitzel.
With #SchnitzelLove as their motto, I was quite amused that from the street you can watch the chefs pound and prepare the veal before dunking it in egg yolk and smothering it with batter. Okay fine, it’s a little bit touristy but once you’re inside you definitely don’t get that feeling.
While there is quite the selection on the menu, ultimately the thing to order here is the wiener schnitzel prepared the way Sigmund Freud had it all those many years ago. What is unique at this restaurant is that you can actually choose what type of oil you’d like your schnitzel fried in and also choice in side. The full Sigmund Freud combo gives you all the sides and is fried in lard (when in Vienna right?).
Holy moly this schnitzel is massive and is literally the size of my face, if not larger!
Head up stairs at the same hotel and have a drink (or two) at the Grand Etage Rooftop Restaurant where you’ll be able to lounge on comfy couches in the open air to reminisce how incredible your trip to Austria has been.
Day 7 Summary
What you’ll see:
Where you’ll eat:
- Breakfast – aDLERS Hotel – Buffet breakfast
- Lunch – aDLERS Hotel – They offer a set-menu lunch here that is very good and affordable.
- Dinner – Meissl & Schadn – One of the top restaurants to have gigantic schnitzel in Vienna.
- Night cap – Grand Etage Rooftop Restaurant – Superb rooftop bar in the same hotel that Meissl & Schadn is located.
A Quick Austria Travel Guide
Money – Credit card is widely accepted all around Austria as you’ll find very few places that only accept cash. ATMs and moneychangers are also accessible in each city but the usual caution applies in terms of making sure you don’t ripped off by the exchange rate for Euros. Loose change is certainly useful for things like tips. Normally in European cities, coins are good to have for bathrooms but did not any that were paid on this particular trip.
When is the best time? – The best time to go to Austria will largely depend on the type of activities that you want to do in the country. For instance, if you’re looking to take advantage of their wealth of mountains and use Innsbruck as a launching pad for skiing or snowboarding, the winter months between December – March are amazing. If you’re coming to Austria for hiking, city exploring, and great weather, come when it’s not as hot and the crowds aren’t as thick so that would be in the shoulder months between May – June and September – October.
Getting here – The primary way into the country is through the capital of Vienna (VIE) where most international flights will arrive in which is why it’s the perfect place to start your trip. Salzburg (SZG) and Innsbruck (INN) have their own airports but are served regionally but may be worth looking into if you’re coming in from another European city. The European rail network is also an option and is quite efficient if you’re continuing your trip from one of the neighbouring countries (Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and Slovenia). For budget travellers, you may want to look at Flixbus as well.
How do I get around the city? – All three cities visited in this itinerary are very similar so I’ll speak to them as a collective. There’s a fairly comprehensive bus network that’s handy to use when visiting the city but not absolutely necessary and the main reason for that is because everything is quite walkable in Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. When tight on time, you can always take a taxi or Uber but walking is the best way around. Vienna has more sprawl naturally so luckily they have a local train system you can take to get to farther reaching places like Schönbrunn. In all cases, they all have their own city card (Vienna City Card, Salzburg Card, and Innsbruck Card) and each one covers all transportation for the number of hours that you purchased the cards for. Renting a car isn’t necessary in these cities unless you’re doing a road trip because exploring within the city is easy and going between cities is convenient by rail.
Where should I stay? – The most comprehensive platform for bookings based on personal experience was Booking.com. They had everything from hotels, hostels, and guesthouses and we always managed to find an awesome place for a great place. As an alternative, there’s also Expedia and Airbnb. Remember if you sign up with a new Airbnb account, you can get up to $52 USD credit.
Do I need travel insurance? – As always, travel insurance is highly recommended. My philosophy is that you want to make sure you’re covered in case the unknown happens. With the amount of travel that I do, I always get basic travel insurance that’s good for multiple trips and lasts the full year. If you’re wanting for adventure sports coverage as a Canadian, travelcuts has a really good custom plan that you won’t find anywhere else. If you’re from Canada, I always check Kanetix to make sure I get the best rates. If you’re anywhere else in the world including the US, World Nomads is my preferred insurer.
The Whole Experience
From start to end, my trip to Austria truly opened my eyes. If I’m being candid, the general feeling I get from people when I ask about Austria is that there’s always the thought of “we’ll go there someday” or “isn’t it like Germany?”. This couldn’t be further removed from the truth and I got to see this first hand.
First, Austrians are fun, friendly, and have some spunk about them. What I mean by that is that you come here expecting it to be like Germany (My German friends, hopefully you don’t take this the wrong way!) which is very serious, orderly, and Vulcan if that makes sense. Austrians have a little bit of that and of course they speak German but whether in mannerism or culture, or food, the only way I can describe it is that they’ve brought in a little bit of Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Swiss, Slovakia, and Slovenia. They’re Germanic but with attitude and spunk.
I then think about each of the cities we visited and they were so incredibly dynamic and different and each with its own surprises. With Vienna, there were the grand palaces, incredibly art galleries, and heartbeat of music but I didn’t expect the coffee houses or their love for cakes. In Salzburg, we saw a lot of Mozart and the Sound of Music of course but I didn’t expect to find a via ferrata in the city or the trick fountains Hellbrunn. Then we have Innsbruck which I knew to be a place for winter sports but I didn’t expect to learn about Emperor Maximilian, Tyrolean culture, and Swarovski.
Austria may not be on the top of your list but it really should be. The whole country deserves at least 7 days if not more because I didn’t even get to go to places like Hallstatt or delve into the mountains to do more of the outdoor adventure stuff I love doing.
What you need to prepare before you go:
- Buy a Vienna City Card or Vienna Pass if you really want to maximize your time in the city
- Book your Mozart Dinner Concert way ahead
- Buy a Salzburg Card
- Buy an Innsbruck Card
- Make sure you have your hotels booked through Booking.com and train tickets via ÖBB.
Austria is a trip you’ll never forget.
Got questions for your own trip to Austria? Let me help by simply dropping a comment down below!