The national parks of Austria give you the chance to explore the natural world in its purest form and get up close to some fantastic, unspoiled and picturesque areas. There are a fair few to choose from, all offering spectacular and diverse landscapes and promising tranquillity and quiet. The Neusiedler See National Park, located at the border with Hungary, is made up of a dramatic landscape of lush meadows and saltwater lakes, and it is renowned for being one of the most interesting natural environments in all of Europe. The Donau-Auen offers visitors to the capital some respite, being located just outside Vienna. It is a melting pot of natural wonders, and is home to around 5,000 animal species. The Thayatal, Hohe Tauern and Kalkalpen parks are all full of spectacular treats, too.
Those who want both a city break but with access to the serenity of the natural world should head to Austria’s capital, where the ‘green lung’ of the city, Vienna Woods, can make you feel as if you’re miles away from modern life. Located on the edge of the Vienna Basin, the reserve of the woods, named a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, spans a fantastic 9,900 hectares (38 square miles) and has an impressive collection of wildlife, including many different species of plant and families of wild boars. Although the area has a great many designated hiking paths, it’s also perfectly possible to go off grid, and not be too worried about finding your way back, as there are numerous information points.
In order to reach the most spectacular parts of the Kaisertal valley, you will have to climb around 300 steps to reach the base of the hiking trail. Accessible only by foot, this is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and see the Tyrol, untouched. Stay at one of the Alpine Inns for an evening or two and be sure to check out the tiny chapel that stands on Antoniuskapelle; built in 1711, it is a historic gem and is also a great viewpoint from which to enjoy some spectacular views.
This popular hiking trail takes around three days and is a gateway into some of Austria’s most breathtaking nature, including mountain lakes and rivers with glittering waterfalls. Suitable for both families and solo travellers, it is one of the less arduous routes that you can undertake in the country, but is still blessed with fantastic views.
What better way to escape the daily grind than by climbing Austria’s tallest mountain? There are various methods you can take for tackling Glossglockner: embark on a lengthy hike, with challenging peaks and romantic wilderness, or take it easy by riding the cable car halfway. Either way, you’re guaranteed some spectacular views and a feeling of having escaped from the normal world.
Mostviertel, located in Lower Austria, is named after an apple cider that is produced in the area. Largely unknown by tourists, this is a fantastic option if you want to get off the beaten track. Blessed with serene scenery and dainty villages with dramatic backdrops, it is perfect for a weekend getaway.