Austria is often linked to its Alps and ski resorts as well as its history as a cultural center of Europe. For seven centuries, Austria was the focal point of the powerful Habsburg Monarchy who ruled over the Austrian Empire and later the Austria-Hungary Empire. This empire dominated central Europe before WWI brought an end to its reign. In WWII, Austria was annexed by the Germans and their defeat resulted in the temporary occupation of the Soviets after the war, but Austria regained its independence soon after in 1955. The country has since joined the European Union and is today a constitutionally neutral country.
Austria is an intriguing tourist destination. With the Austrian Alps in the west and the Danube Basin in the east, it is a haven for ski lovers. Over 60% of the country is comprised of the Alps. The best ski resorts are found in Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, and Salzburg, the latter two being more crowded and touristy than the former two. But in general, the Austrian ski resorts are known to be less crowded than those in France or in Switzerland, albeit less glamorous as well. The nightlife at these resorts is superb and you’ll find many taverns, beer gardens, clubs, and other “après-ski” joints. Après-ski, which describes get-togethers and social chats at bars and pubs among skiers and snowboarders after a tiring day at the slopes, is very popular in Austria.
Hiking and cycling in Austria is also popular around the Alps and the mountain vistas. Health spas, saunas, and nude beaches are also very much embraced by the Austrians, many of them such as the FKK Strand make nudity not merely optional but compulsory. Bad Ischl, where the Austrian emperors used to spend their holidays, is a famous spa and wellness resort town worth checking out.
Austria is also a country with cultural riches, much of it produced during the 17th and 18th centuries at the height of the Habsburg’s power. You’ll find ornate opera houses, imperial residences, baroque churches, squares and fountains, medieval castles, and fine arts museums at such oft-visited cities like Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. Other top Austrian destinations include Imst, Wels, Steyr, Radstadt, Graz, Linz, Schladming, and Bregenz.