The only thing Austria lacks is a coastline. It has everything else a tourist might desire: a rich cultural history, a passion for food and drink, cities such as Vienna and Salzburg and world-class ski resorts. Getting here is a doddle too. It has six airports (Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz and Salzburg) and several airlines offer cheap flights to Austria including flag carrier Austrian Airlines and easyJet.
Austria is landlocked by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. All these have influenced Austrian cuisine. The Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal fried in butter) is just the start.
Vienna pioneered coffee-house culture in the 17th century, providing welcoming and warm surroundings for reading newspapers, playing chess, chatting and debating the issues of the day. They could be said to have played a role in Austria’s strong arts tradition: in music it can boast Mozart, Strauss (father and son), Mahler, Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven (German-born, but lived in Vienna for much of his life); in art, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele; in literature Franz Kafka; and perhaps most famously Sigmund Freud. There more to experience than is possible in just one trip.
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Austria has four distinct seasons, averaging 20 degrees in the summer and zero degrees in the winter. Hiking and walking can be enjoyed from April to October, or you can hit the slopes from December to March.
Vienna is a year-round city, though tourism is most popular in the main holidays: Easter, Christmas and summertime. In the Alps, winter is obviously peak season for skiing, though the summer is popular with walkers, hikers and bikers. As it is a year-round destination, cheap flights to Austria may take a bit of searching. The best bet is to fly into Vienna or even find a cheap flight to Bratislava and take the bus from there (about a 90-minute journey).
Late autumn (from October through to the start of December) and late winter (Late January through to March or the start of Spring) is the least popular time to visit, because of the less appealing weather.
Domestic Austria flights are available from Austrian Airlines and Tyrolean Airways.
The train service is extremely efficient and the network is extensive. All trains are comfortable and fast and it is unlikely that you will not be able to find a service to your destination. In some parts of the Alps old steam trains are available for transport between resorts. This is a slower way of travelling, but the views are spectacular.
For short trips take the bus, called the Bundesbus.
In the Alps, travel up the mountains is by cable cars, gondolas and ski lifts. Many stay open in the summer for hikers.
(prices quoted are from London)