[Best of] The 7 cities you should visit in Austria

by editor

Austria is quite possibly one of the most stunning countries in the world and often gets trumped by its more famous neighbours; Italy and Germany.  

But this beautiful place, although small is not to be missed on your next upcoming Euro trip. 

Just before we dive in, here are  some fast facts about Austria: 

  • Capital city: Vienna
  • Population (Jan 2020):  approximately 8.9 million 
  • Official language:  German 
  • Currency used:  Euro 
  • Land size:  approximately 83.000 km2
Best cities in Austria - map

More reason to visit Austria is to see and experience its extremely diverse and dramatic landscape.  From striking mountain peaks, glacial lakes to historical villages, rolling vineyards and meadow fields. 

If you’re thinking about exploring Austria but not sure where to start, here’s a list of the Best Cities in Austria to visit. 

Let’s get started! 

Best cities in Austria

1. Salzburg

Lonely Planet voted Salzburg as the number one place to visit in their ‘Best of Travel 2020’ category early this year and for good reason.  

Many travellers who visit this fairy-tale like city, describe Salzburg as one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe. 

And that’s why it’s at the  top of our list of the BEST City to visit in Austria. 

Get lost through the alleys of the well preserved walls of the Old Town and take a walk through the incredibly maintained Mirabell Gardens just a stone’s throw away from the city centre. 

Best cities in Austria - Salzburg

Three must do’s in Salzburg: 

  • Take  a walk (or funicular car) up Europe’s largest medieval castle – the Hohensalzburg Fortress that overlooks the entire Old Town 
  • Sing along to your favourite ‘Sound of Music’ songs and visit the locations around Salzburg where this cult classic film was produced 
  • Discover Mozart’s birthplace and learn about Europe’s classical music culture 

Looking to stay a few days? We’ve written a comprehensive guide on the 12 Best Things to do in Salzburg. 

Where to stay:

For a sustainable stay in the inner city, check out The Keep Eco Residence  

Best cities in Austria - The keep residence

2. Vienna

Taking second place in our ‘Best Cities in Austria to visit’ is the capital city; Vienna.  

Ranked as the most livable city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2020, Vienna is a city that can’t be missed on your next trip to Austria. 

With so many instagrammable sights around the city centre, you can spend the days visiting imperial palaces, historical museums and experiencing Vienna’s famous coffee house culture. 

Best cities in Austria - Vienna

Three must do’s in Vienna: 

  • Visit Cafe Central – an institution in Vienna and a place regularly visited by Sigmund Freud, Josef Stalin and even Adolf Hitler! Housed in a magnificent historical building that dates back to the 1800’s, enjoy coffee and cake and take a step back in time
  • Get lost in the gardens of Schönbrunn palace and take a tour through this architectural wonder.  And for the kids, don’t forget to make your way to the Vienna Zoo, which is also located on the grounds of the Schönbrunn palace
  • Experience Vienna in true style and watch a classical musical performance at the State Opera. 

Where to say: 

For a modern hipster vibe in the middle of the city check out the Ruby Sofie Boutique Hotel 

3. Innsbruck 

Nicknamed the ‘Capital of the Alps’, Innsbruck takes 3rd place in our list of ‘Best Cities in Austria to visit’.

Nestled between dramatic alpine peaks, this is THE town to visit for seasoned snow sport fans as it hosted the Winter Olympics, twice! 

And like many of Austria’s major cities, Innsbruck too has a stunning Old Town. 

Best cities in Austria - Innsbruck

Three must do’s in Innsbruck: 

  • Take a cable car up to Nordkette and wander through Austria’s largest national park and enjoy breathtaking views at the top 
  • In the winter months, enjoy a day in the snow at one of the world’s most famous ski resorts 
  • Enjoy dinner and drinks on the rooftop of the Adler Hotel that overlooks the entire city 

Where to say: 

For something a little fancy and luxurious, check out stage 12 – Hotel by Penz

Best cities in Austria - Innsbruck


4. Hallstatt

No list can be taken seriously unless it’s got Hallstatt in it!  

Our 4th Best City  in Austria to visit is conveniently positioned between Vienna and Salzburg and makes for the perfect stopover on your trip to Austria. 

This is a place that inspired the world’s first cloned city in China and you can see why as it is seriously beautiful.  

Surrounded by mountains and lakes, Hallstatt is considered to be one of the most picturesque cities in all of Europe. 

Once only accessible by boat, today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Austria. 

Best cities in Austria - Hallstatt

Three must do’s in Hallstatt:

  • Wander the winding cobblestoned streets of the city’s Old Town etched into the shoreline of the city’s lake  
  • Enjoy traditional dishes made from freshly caught fish taken straight from Halsttatt’s lake 
  • Get snappy happy and walk around the outskirts of the city in order to get the perfect picture combing the lake, mountain-scape and the Old Town all rolled into one

Where to stay:

For uninterrupted views of the lake and surrounding mountains, check out Hallstatt Hideaway

 5. Graz 

5th on the Best Cities in Austria to visit is a little place called Graz.  

Most of you probably haven’t heard of this city but we think it’s definitely worth a day trip during your visit to Austria. 

Graz means ‘a little castle on the hill’ and is considered to be the most northernmost Mediterranean city in Austria with its milder weather, taking inspiration from a mix of Central Europe, Balken and Italy. 

Best cities in Austria - Graz

Three must do’s in Graz:

  • Visit Graz’s Old Town – a rich combination of Austrian and Italian culture
  • Walk up to the Schlossberg which literally translates to ‘Castle-Mountain’ and discover the city’s most popular landmarks from above. This perfectly preserved entity takes you back in time so put on your walking shoes and get your camera ready
  • For something very unique to Graz, get to the Glockenspiel clock at 11am, 3pm or 6pm daily to watch a dancing couple made of wood, pirouette to traditional Austrian folk music.

Where to stay:

For apartment style living overlooking the Old Town, check out Superbude Graz

6. Bregenz

This charming and unassuming little city is sandwiched between the famous Lake Constance and Pfänder Mountain. 

It’s that combination of lake and mountain that draws thousands of people to see Bregenz every holiday season. 

Taking 6th place on our ‘Best Cities in Austria to visit’ is Bregenz as it’s the perfect place to explore its natural beauty that this region has to offer. 

For nature lovers, Bregenz will be your place of retreat as it sits on Lake Constance, providing countless walking tracks and swimming spots. 

Best cities in Austria - Bregenz

Three must do’s in Bregenz:

  • Feeling fit and adventurous? Bike around the entire lake with over 260km of cycling paths that passes through Austria, Germany and Switzerland
  • Take a cable car or hike up the Pfänder Mountain for spectacular views of the lake and the city 
  • Get a culture hit and enjoy outdoor performances in the summer months at the Bregenz Opera Festival 

Where to stay: 

Combining nature with luxury and surrounded by mountains, check out the Biohotel Schwanen

 7. Alpbach

The final destination on our list of the ‘Best Cities in Austria to visit’ is Alpbach. 

With a tiny population of just a little over 2000 inhabitants, Alpbach is the smallest city (or rather village) on the list. 

It was voted the most beautiful village in Austria and with its traditional timber houses and floral decor pitched on top and in between rolling hills, you can imagine why! 

Best cities in Austria - Alpbach

Three must do’s in Alpbach:

  • Enjoy a ski holiday at one of the country’s most famous ski resort with over 100km of pistes and 45 lifts 
  • Climb up the Wiedersberger Horn and enjoy spectacular views from the peak at 2000 metres
  • Visit the local brewery  –  a one-man-show who brews award winning beers all by himself

Where to stay: 

To experience traditional mountain living in style, check out Alpbach Lodge Chalet Superior 


So there you have it!

Our list of the ‘Best Cities in Austria to visit’! 

Thinking of planning a trip to explore this little country filled with beauty, culture and history? 

Make sure you add at least a few of our top picks of  Best Cities in Austria outlined in this article! 

And for those of you looking to read about a particular place, here’s the overview for you:

  1. Salzburg
  2. Vienna
  3. Innsbruck 
  4. Halsttatt
  5. Graz
  6. Bregenz
  7. Alpbach 

Final thoughts

Here are some stunning images to get you wanderlusting over your next trip to Austria….

Vienna Belvedere Castle by night
Vienna Belvedere Castle by night
Dachstein Mountain range in the Winter
Dachstein Mountain range in the Winter
Glacial lakes surrounded by mountain peaks in the Summer
Glacial lakes surrounded by mountain peaks in the Summer

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