Charismatic, cosmopolitan cities, splendid Alpine scenery, exquisite palaces, Austria is one of the world's most affluent countries, and is overlooked by the second most prominent peak in Europe, the 3,798m Großglockner.
This remarkably photogenic nation was the home of one of the most influential neurologists in history, Sigmund Freud, and the birthplace of many famous composers such as Johann Strauss I, Mozart and Joseph Haydn.
Spend some time at the Hofburg Palace, which was the residence of influential monarchs for more than seven centuries and is now a fascinating exhibition venue with three renowned museums. These are the Silver Collection, featuring many intriguing imperial artefacts; the Imperial Apartments, housing majestic grand 18th- and 19th-century furniture; and the Sisi Museum, containing hundreds of items once owned by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
The city is also revered for its awe-inspiring Schönbrunn Palace, another former royal residence that is known for its spectacular Baroque architecture and has more than 1,400 rooms. Other highly rated attractions include the enchanting Belvedere palace and museum, the acclaimed Tiergarten Schönbrunn zoo (the world's oldest zoo), the striking 12th-century St Stephen's Cathedral, and the princely Vienna State Opera.
If you're looking for luxury accommodation in the city, you could choose the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, Hotel Sacher Wien or The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, or consider the more affordable MEININGER Hotel Wien Downtown Franz or the ibis budget Wien Messe.
Take in the astonishing views of Hohensalzburg Castle, which is one of Europe's largest and was completed in the late medieval era. You could also visit the beautifully preserved Baroque-style Hellbrunn Palace, the spectacular Benedectine monastery St Peter's Abbey, or the charismatic early-17th-century Mirabell Palace with its wonderful landscaped gardens.
The Hotel Sacher Salzburg and Hotel Schloss Monchstein are some of the most reputed deluxe hotels in the city, while the Crowne Plaza Hotel Salzburg - The Pitter and NH Salzburg City provide excellent value for money.
Popular with tourists taking skiing holidays in Austria in the winter and spring, Innsbruck is location of the grand Tyrolean State Museum, where you can see works of art from many distinguished artists and learn about the history of Europe from the prehistoric era. See the vast Renaissance-themed Ambras Castle, admire the tremendous Gothic church Hofkirche, and witness the unique 15th-century Goldenes Dachl structure with its 2,738 copper tiles.
The budget-friendly Baerenwirth - Hotel & Restaurant and BEST WESTERN PLUS Hotel Leipziger Hof are some of the top-rated places to stay in Innsbruck, as are high-end accommodation establishments such as the Grand Hotel Europa and The Penz Hotel.
Take a day trip to the magnificent 11th-century Melk Abbey in Melk, or climb to the top of the scenic Schloßberg hill and fortress in the Graz. For some breathtaking natural scenery, visit the shores of the exceptionally clean Achen Lake, or, for more medieval inspiration, see the 11th-century Hohenwerfen Castle overlooking Werfen.
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