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Tyrolean Alps | © hamist/Pixabay
Tyrolean Alps | © hamist/Pixabay
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11 Epic Places in Austria That'll Give You Wanderlust

Picture of Kate Jackson
Updated: 7 June 2017
Austria cannot be rivaled for its dramatic, scenic landscapes. Read on to discover are some of its most jaw-dropping sights.
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The Transformative Lake

The Grüner See is one of nature’s mythical wonders, with seemingly transfiguring powers: a shape-shifting landscape that alternates between being a lake and a country park. Transparent water, a glittering emerald from a distance, makes it a honey-pot location for happy-snapper Instagrammers. Although restrictions have now been applied preventing water sports that cause damage to the lake’s environment, it is still a wonderfully picturesque place to admire from afar.

Grüner See, Austria

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Wachau

This is a magical part of the country, with an endless expanse of rolling hills, historic fortresses and vineyards, all set around the River Danube. The Wachau area in rural Upper Austria is perhaps most famous for being the site where the notorious King Richard Lionheart of England was captured and imprisoned for a year after he insulted Duke Leopold. In 2000, the Wachau was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its rich architectural and agricultural history.

Wachau, Austria

Wachua Valley sunset | © Austrian Tourist Board

River Danube and the Donau Kanal

During the summer months, flocks of locals and tourists alike populate the banks of the dreamy River Danube, the promenades of the canal populated by a younger crowd drinking cans of beer and watching the sunset, and the Danube Island – a strip of land that was constructed in order to prevent flooding – attracting naturists, who bask, unabashed, in the heat on lazy days.

Danube Island, Austria

Sunset in Vienna (view from Donaupark to Kahlenberg)
Sunset in Vienna (view from Donaupark to Kahlenberg) | © Österreich Werbung / Filmspektakel.a
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Zell am See

Holidays in this spectacular lakeside town are full of endless wonders, and are terrific in both the summer and winter. Those who visit in the warmer months should be sure to embark on some hiking trails, which promise to deliver breathtaking panoramic views and some satisfyingly challenging routes. Nearby Kaprun is famed for its glacier ice rinks.

Zell am See, Austria

Kaprun, Austria

Winterlandschaft Winter 2013, Schweizerhütte | © Austrian Tourist Board

Winterlandschaft Winter 2013, Schweizerhütte | © Austrian Tourist Board

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Arlberg

Located on the border between Austria and Switzerland, between Tyrol and Voralberg, are some of Europe’s most indescribably enchanting natural landscapes. Not only does Arlberg offer scenic sights that will knock you sideways, the area also boasts incredible conditions for winter sports, and thus contains numerous resorts for skiers and hikers, with some testing slopes and staggering views. St Anton is considered the capital of the region, favoured by visitors for its numerous boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants.

Arlberg, Austria

St Anton, Austria

Vineyards, Burgenland

Austria is not widely acknowledged by connoisseurs for its wine culture, but unjustifiably so, for it is a country producing many rich and full-bodied varieties of wine deserving of high praise. The Eisenberg Hill, in the South Bergen, is an ideal location for producing fine wine, with a complex soil structure and climatic influences from nearby Steiermark. Mörbisch am See has a number of wineries where you can sample local products and enjoy the colourful, winding patchwork-quilt landscape of vineyards.

Eisenberg, Austria

Mörbisch am See, Austria

Vineyards near Oggau
Vineyards near Oggau | © Österreich Werbung/H.Wiesenhofer
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Gosau

Located 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level, the district of Gmunden in Upper Austria is a delightful area blessed with densely rich forests, rugged mountains and glittering streams. Between the January 13 and 21 each year the azure skies explode with colour, when hundreds of Luftballons grace Gosau’s heavens for Hot Air Balloon Week. This is just one of many spectacular attractions to enjoy here; the glaciers and the enchanting Lake Gosau are also sights not to be missed.

Lake Gosau, Austria

Ballooning near Gosau, Upper Austria | © Österreich Werbung/Himsl L.

Ballooning near Gosau, Upper Austria | © Österreich Werbung/Himsl L.

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Spa Hotel in Bad Blumau

This striking building has an other-worldly aesthetic, appearing as if has been cut from a comic-book. The brains behind this enchanting creation belong to Austrian painter and designer Friedensreich Hundertwasser, whose other works include the curious and unique Hundertwasser Haus in Vienna. The dreamlike buildings that make up the complex are not just an eyecatching piece of art, but the are also the location of a luxurious thermal spa, a beautiful and vast land of baths, saunas and steam rooms all set between the dramatic scenes of Hundertwasser’s utopian visions.

Spa Hotel in Bad Blumau (Styria) | © Österreich Werbung/Rogner Bad Blumau

Spa Hotel in Bad Blumau (Styria) | © Österreich Werbung/Rogner Bad Blumau

Bad Blumau 100, 8283 Bad Blumau, Austria

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Innsbruck

Innsbruck, the capital of the Alps, is at its most captivating during the winter months when the sky turns a deep navy, the mountain peaks are dusted with icing-sugar snow and glowing Christmas markets pop up all around the city. While most people flock to Vienna when visiting the country for the first time, Innsbruck promises a far more tranquil and unassuming holiday away, boasting the best of both worlds, with natural beauty and intriguing city sights.

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck winter nighttime | © Österreich Werbung/Mallaun

Innsbruck winter nighttime | © Österreich Werbung/Mallaun

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Austrian Sculpture Park

Wandering through these gardens, located just outside Graz, you will find twisted metal and surrealist shapes of lurid colour emerging from the ordinary landscape. Marrying nature and art harmoniously, the Austrian Sculpture Park makes for a wonderfully dreamlike day out, and will introduce you to the work of some of Austria’s most prominent modern artists, including Fritz Wotruba and Franz West, Erwin Wurm, Heimo Zobernig and Michael Kienze.

Thalerhofstraße 85, 8141 Premstätten

Austrian Sculpture Park | © Österreich Werbung/kriskulakova

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