The late morning sunlight filters through the branches of the larch trees. The carefree singing of the birds makes the steep trail seem effortless. Around a bend, a small clearing appears encircling a pile of boulders, revealing the valley beyond. Like the wayfarer contemplating a sea of clouds in a canvas by Caspar David Friedrich, the visitor to Carinthia and the Tyrol is inevitably struck by the scope and beauty of their epic landscapes. The region unfolds in a string of mountain lakes that sparkle like so many magic mirrors under a limpid sky, conifer forests carpeted with moss in infinite shades of green, and villages of traditional wooden-shingled chalets. The ideal way to enjoy the scenery is aboard the Zillertalbahn, an old-fashioned steam train that chugs between Jenbach and Mayrhofen, through valleys where the majestic golden eagle soars and along slopes populated from fall to spring by flocks of chamois. This marvelous region décor is a paradise for amateur hikers and experienced mountain climbers alike, and also offers wintertime activities like exploring by dogsled or horse-drawn sleigh and skating across frozen lakes like theWeissensee.
But even the tallest peaks don’t overshadow Austria’s cultural treasures. In Innsbruck, the Tyrolean capital, centuries of history are kept alive through a multitude of events, like the Early Music Festival that draws crowds to Ambras Castle for two months every summer. The castle’s Spanish Hall, a gem of Renaissance architecture, and ceremonial chambers offer a unique setting for enjoying operas with elaborate sets and costumes, classical recitals and pops concerts. To the east, Graz resonates with a more contemporary tonality: since being named European Capital of Culture in 2003, the “City of Design” has been home to a number of wildly futuristic constructions. In Austria, nature and culture combine even more harmoniously at higher altitudes. Die Romantische Straße, the Romantic Road, stretches fromWürzburg to Füssen in southern Germany, revealing along the way the very essence of the Germanic soul. Through the enchanting countryside, baroque citadels succeed medieval manors all the way to the world-famous castle of Neuschwanstein, built by Ludwig II of Bavaria in an effort to realize his rapturous fantasies. In memory of the “Mad King,” visitors can wander the grounds, littered with service tree berries, to pick the lovely little blue-violet flowers perhaps appropriately called vergissmeinnicht (forget-me-nots).
No one in the history of literature has succeeded in capturing the soul of Vienna as insightfully as Stefan Zweig: “For the genius of Vienna — a specifically musical one — was always that it harmonized all the national and lingual contrasts. Its culture was a synthesis of all Western cultures. Whoever lived there and worked there felt himself free of all confinement and prejudice. Nowhere was it easier to be a European, and I know that to a great extent I must thank this city, which already in the time of Marcus Aurelius defended the Roman — the universal — spirit, that… I learned to love the idea of comradeship as the highest of my heart.” This ebullient universal spirit, expressed in Zweig’s The World of Yesterday, is still palpable in today’s Vienna. With its cafés where pianists and violinists play at all hours of the day, its restaurants where gourmet dining merges jubilantly with rustic cuisine, its innumerable concert halls, theaters and museums, the Austrian capital remains a thriving hub of art and culture. Few cities in the world can boast of being the historical home of so many illustrious composers, from Haydn to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, Berg and Schoenberg, while continuing to live by a calendar with high points like the Opera Ball and New Year’s Concert.
An estimated 10,000 music lovers fill the city’s concert and recital halls every evening. Still, behind the classical façade of this former imperial capital, Vienna also feels the beat of the most cutting-edge musical movements. At nightfall, pop and electro fans flock to atypical venues housed in disused subway stations or along the banks of the Danube, and the high-energy revels can continue through the wee hours in the city’s many after-hours clubs. Vienna’s unique quality of life is also nurtured by its architectural heritage and numerous green spaces, creating an ideal environment for admiring the works of historic artists from Albrecht Dürer to Gerhard Richter, not to mention Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. The city’s location in the very heart of Europe also makes it an ideal base for exploring the neighboring countries, whether for skiing in the Alps or basking on the sand in Hungary, whose Lake Balaton, nicknamed “Hungary’s little sea,” is prized for its beaches, quaint villages and baroque castles.
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. Facing the impressive Stubai glacier, the Jagdhof offers a spacious welcome with its rooms and vast suites (up to 115 m2), all beautifully decorated. Numerous activities are available, and you can enjoy fine dining in a unique, convivial atmosphere. The Vitalwelt spa of 3,000 m², one of the best in Austria, offers twenty different types of bath, relaxation and sauna. A modern fitness room and a programme of activities are likewise available. The gourmet restaurant and the à-la-carte restaurant “Hubertusstube” feature local and regional products. The wine cellar boasts further culinary delights. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant on a big river. A table dressed under the trees and, as a backdrop, breath-taking landscapes: Schloss Dürnstein promises unforgettable dinners on the beautiful terrace overlooking the Danube. You are in Lower Austria, in the charming Wachau valley, listed as world heritage. The forested slopes along the river are marked by orchards, small villages, vineyards, monasteries and castles. This 17th century castle has a splendid décor as well as a sauna, hammam and pools. Should your thoughts turn to a waltz melody, then it will probably be the masterpiece by Johann Strauss, On the Beautiful Blue Danube. The title could not be more fitting. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in town. The Steirereck is a jewel of Art nouveau architecture, in one of the most beautiful parts of Vienna, the Stadtpark, close to the famous statue of Johann Strauss. Drawing on produce from local farmers as well as from his own farm, Chef Heinz Reitbauer creates the very finest of contemporary Austrian cuisine in a relaxed, chic setting. The dishes and their origins are explained in detail on small cards, which make a lovely memento of a unique culinary experience. Also in the building, the Meierei Milk Bar proposes 120 cheese varieties from 13 different countries as well as traditional Austrian pastries. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. The property sits on a hillock in the middle of a vast peaceful garden planted with flowers and fruit trees. The views over Kitzbühel and the surrounding mountains are beautiful. The hotel is at the foot of the Kitzbüheler Horn ski resort and overlooks the legendary Streif ski slope. The furniture and antiques in the rooms of this former farm belong to the family. The pools and steam baths in the spa are ideal places to relax. In summer, you will appreciate magnificent hiking trails, which start directly from the hotel and an exceptional offering of golf courses. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in town. Palais Coburg, in the heart of Vienna, offers a comfortable ambiance for you to enjoy. Each suite is decorated in honour of one of the high-society families that marked the history of this palace which, since the 19th century, has been one of the most prestigious venues for receptions in the capital. The view from the spa over the roofs of Vienna adds the finishing touch to the relaxing treatments. The gourmet restaurant and the restaurant “Clementine im Glashaus” with its wonderful garden make Palais Coburg the top spot for culinary delicacies, and the cellars boast 60,000 bottles – one of the largest stocks of Mouton Rothschild, Château Yquem and Pétrus in the world. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. The Top Hotel Hochgurgl, at an altitude of 2,150 m, is one of the highest Relais & Châteaux in the world. In Hochgurgl, one of Austria’s snowiest mountain resorts, there is the possibility to ski to and from the hotel doorstep on renowned ski runs, hire all equipment on site, perfect skills in the ski school and, of course, enjoy the après-ski at the hotel. Take advantage of the sunny balcony , the intimate, cosy atmosphere of the main suites with subdued lighting and open fireplaces or enjoy the mountain spa, a magical place where massages, flower baths and jacuzzis guarantee unforgettable moments. ... Learn moreless
Hotel and restaurant in the mountains. The historic inn Gasthof Post is located in the centre of Lech, a world-renowned winter sports resort. The atmosphere of the “Post” is marked by the long family history of the place, its country house charm and local antiques as well as loving attention-to-detail in the décor, which create a welcoming ambience. Culinary delicacies await in the restaurants that have won several awards for their outstanding cuisine. Relaxation is complete at the Badehaus Spa and its spectacular panoramic pool, with stunning mountain vistas and treatment suites that are wonderfully located in the heart of a beautiful botanic garden. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in the mountains. On the most attractive slope of the Kitzbühel Alps, at the foot of the Gaisberg, culinary arts meet chic contemporary design in the visionary cuisine of Chef Simon Taxacher, one of Austria's most distinguished Chefs, and the art of living at Rosengarten. The rooms and suites are elegantly appointed, and the property boasts a piano bar with smoking room, a delightful spa, and a cookery school where the chef shares his secrets. At the "Simon Taxacher" restaurant the Chef creates a ground-breaking , perfectly served French-Mediterranean cuisine. Breakfast is a royal affair: it comes on a special trolley with a profusion of drawers, each with an exquisite surprise nestling inside. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant and hotel in the country This lovingly refurbished hotel, dating back to the 1930's, is located just half an hour from the capital, in the picturesque Wienerwald with its forested plateaus. The architecture, featuring stone, glass and local wood, offers the space and tranquillity for dreams and reflection or to simply admire the objets d’art carefully chosen by Heinz Hanner, the owner and Chef, who grew up in this property. This lover of contemporary art produces avant-garde cuisine. The décor of the rooms is just as uncluttered as the cuisine. A welcoming and warm atmosphere. ... Learn moreless
Restaurant in a village. Mörwald “TONI M.” Restaurant, in the Mörwald family home in the wine village of Feuersbrunn, in the heart of the Wagram wine-growing region, is proof positive of the high quality of Austrian cuisine. This restaurant’s contemporary décor, with its leather armchairs and pop ceiling, is perfectly in tune with its spirit – it aims to use its experience to bring a modern touch to classical haute cuisine. It manages to tease the very best out of the finest regional ingredients, both in their preparation and their presentation. Viennese style jellied and fried veal head with lukewarm langostinos is one of Chef Toni Mörwald’s signature dishes. ... Learn moreless