Mum of 3, Travel Counsellor and Travel writer, Andrea Bailey is passionate about travel and creating great memories for her family and clients.
Austria needs no introduction….ever popular with those seeking adventure, great landscapes and fun, Austria remains a favourite destination for solo and family travellers. Mostly German speaking, it was the Habsburg family that ruled the country from 1526 to 1918. Austria is bordered by 8 countries, Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Hungary and Slovakia to the east.
For movie buffs, the Sound of Music was filmed on location around the country sides of Austria. And for the classical music lovers, Austria has given the world many famous composers such as Mozart and Schubert.
The country is 62% Alps so finding pretty mountains should be too hard.
VIENNA: A city rich in history, every street is lined with historic buildings, palaces, museums and statues of famous people. Beautiful gardens and tree lined streets add to the beauty of the city.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO AROUND VIENNA
Schönbrunn Palace- The summer palace of the Habsburgs with its 1,440 rooms has rolling gardens, a maze, a labyrinth, a nearby zoo and takes up a half day to visit.
FOR CHILDREN: At the Schonbrunn Palace Schloss Schönbrunn Experience: There are guided tours around the palace showcasing imperial life. There are even toys for children to play with.
The Maze: Built in the 17 th century, it consists of 4 different parts. One of the highlights of a visit to the Palace grounds.
The Labyrinth: A giant kaleidoscope lets you see yourself from every possible angle. More adventurous visitors can climb but it only counts if you ring the bell at the top! And for everyone who likes a mental challenge: try the mathematic riddle.
VIENNA ZOO: Tiergarten Schonbrunn or Vienna Zoo is located near the breathtaking Schonbrunn Palace and dated from 1752, making it the oldest zoo in the world. With a diversity of animals including panda bears, bird species and others, this place is an important key attraction in Austria’s capital, as it has high standards and good conditions for all its animals.
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN – AROUND THE CITY
A FREE AMUSEMENT PARK: PRATER PARK
An amusement park and an oasis of greenery for almost everyone, this park is the location of the Giant Ferris Wheel, one of Vienna’s most famous symbols. The Vienna Prater is in season from March to October. It hosts the world’s oldest carousel plus other 15 gondolas where tourists can admire a beautiful view of Vienna.
But the world-famous Giant Ferris Wheel and a few other attractions are open all year round. It’s a free of charge theme park and offers endless entertainment options for both parents and children.
ZOOM – CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
A great learning experience for children, the Museum offers different areas – Exhibition (6-12), Ocean (0-6), Studio (3-12), Animated Film Studio (8-14)
TOP TIP: Limited number of participants in all ZOOM programs, so advance booking is recommended. ZOOM remains closed on Mondays!
DAY TRIPS FROM VIENNA
WACHAU VALLEY: Take in the spectacular Austrian countryside dotted with castles, abbeys and pretty villages. Discover the treasures of the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy a romantic 1.5-hour boat ride down the Danube River from Spitz to Melk (seasonal) and visit the Melk Abbey, an imposing Benedictine overlooking the Danube.
BRATISLAVA: Capital of Slovakia, this is only a 1 hour’s drive from Vienna and a lovely day trip if you have the time. The main castle of Hrad is the high point and sits atop a hillside like a grand old dame. A great place for panoramic views of the city. When we visited, there were thunder and hail storms and we were soaked to the skin. That didn’t stop us from taking the little red train for the 1 hour tour around the old city.
SALZBURG – A city built on the Salzach River that was used to carry salt and therefore called Salzburg (Salz = Salt), the baroque architecture and the lush greenery around feels like a step back in town. Alongside the river lies the Schloss Mirabell and Hellbrunn Castles with their picturesque gardens, gorgeous galleries and impressive halls.
A city that has a river running through it makes for a very beautiful setting. Known as the birthplace of the legendary classical musician Mozart, it’s easy to find little trinkets of Mozart in almost every shop around the old town. Boutique stores with fancy labels and cafes line the long narrow streets. The white-stone Hohensalzburg fortress sits upon a hill and offers magnificent views over the city.
Getting away from the city, you could venture into the Kapuzinerberg forest, with its splendid Alpine views and natural beauty.
Take a Sound of Music Tour; One of the best known films of all time, the Sound of Music was filmed on location here in Salzburg. The tour includes scenes of the famous house of the Captain Von Trapp and the gardens where his children and Maria sang Do-Re- Mi.
DAY TRIPS FROM SALZBURG
EISRIESENWELT: Ice Caves If you’re a bit more of a nature lover instead of a music fanatic, the Eisriesenwelt – German for ‘World of the Ice Giants’ – is the perfect spot for you to visit (it is located about 40km south of the city). The natural limestone ice caves are hidden inside a section of the Alps. They are in fact the largest ice caves in the world, stretching over 42km. The caves are only open from May until the end of October, and the temperatures in the cave are (obviously) below freezing, so make sure you wrap up very warm before you visit!
THE HALLEIN SALT MINES: If you like a bit of underground activity, the Hallein Salt Mines are located just outside of Salzburg and they have been functioning as mines for over 7,000 years!! Some of the caves are lit up beautifully and feels quite like an underground lagoon as the light reflects off the walls, turning the water a dazzling shade of blue. It’s been a museum since World War I, and you can take a 1 hour tour through the tunnels with a guide, who will tell you all about their history.
EAGLE’S NEST: The so-called “Eagle’s Nest” (Kehlsteinhaus) was built as a teahouse for Adolf Hitler on Kehlstein Moutain at an elevation of 1,834 m. Due to its high elevation, the Eagle’s Nest generally can’t open until mid May.
Well known for its quaint town square, towering steeples and a great alpine zoo, Innsbruck makes for a delightful stop on the holiday itinerary.
WHAT TO DO AROUND INNSBRUCK
ALPINE ZOO: Located a few metres away from the town centre, you would need to take the funicular up to the zoo. It’s quite a trek within the zoo with a lot of walking up or down. There is a little café and play area where you can take a break.
FOR MUM: SWAROVSKI WORLD: Head out to the Museum and shops of the Swarovski World and be amazed at their crystal exhibits. Their shop is always busy with visitors looking to buy crystal jewellery.
GROSSGLOCKNER ROUTE: Almost Equi-distant from Salzburg and Innsbruck, Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a treat for the eyes! Kaiser-Franz- Josefs-Höhe is the desired reach of each visitor and it opens up a grand view of Austria’s largest mountain. The snow-covered Johannisberg caps off the mountain panorama. The hiking trails into the Gamsgrube amidst the special conservation area of the High Tauern National Park affords unique views and sightings of rare alpine animals, such as the majestic ibex. Exhibitions and museums, information points and natural trails await discovery. Families with children will learn a lot about the construction of the road and the high alpine nature at four themed playgrounds. The visitors’ centre with exhibitions and numerous attractions rests on the ridge named after the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph!
TOP TIP: Purchase your ticket before starting your journey at the online ticket shop and receive a 15% discount in all shops of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road!
HOW TO GET THERE: Costs range from AED 1800 per person return fare
Emirates, Etihad – direct flights to Vienna. Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways – with one stop to Vienna.
WHERE TO STAY:
VIENNA; Melia Hotel Radisson Blu Style Hotel (room rates from approx.. AED 900 per night)
SALZBURG: Radisson Blu Aldstadt Hotel, Sacher Hotel (Julie Andrews stayed here during filming of the Sound of Music).
INNSBRUCK: Hilton Innsbruck (room rates from approx.. AED 500 per night)
WHAT TO EAT: Wiener Schnitzel is a typical Austrian main dish.
SACHER HOTEL: Try out the rich Sacher Torte dessert created in 1832 by chef Franz Sacher at the Sacher Hotel, Vienna.
TOP TIP: The Travel Mum recommends the Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck Cards from the visitor centres for discounts on main attractions.
For more information, please visit Andrea’s website BEYONDAVISIT.COM