Who needs a beach?
In the very heart of Europe, Austria is a country which could have been created with activity holidays in mind. It is a land of majestic mountains, tranquil lakes, fast flowing rivers and streams, deep forests, undulating meadows, charming village which cling fiercely to their architectural traditions and cultural heritage and cities which still reflect the artistic grandeur of the old Austro Hungarian empire.
There is not one single province which does not offer a wealth of activities to the holidaymaker, whether they be young or old, highly active or more sedentary. The Austrians have long played the host to an influx of foreign visitors and approach the business of making their guests feel at home and lay on a diversity of entertainment in a most professional manner .Whatever activity you may decide to try, whether you be expert or novice you can be confident that the organisation, the equipment , the tuition and the whole infrastructure will be first class . Language is rarely a problem, except perhaps in the most remote village and even here there will always be someone with sufficient English to answer questions or help soothe out any problems . The Austrians are amongst the most friendly and warmhearted people you are likely to meet with a great sense of humour and an almost obsessional desire to see their guests enjoying themselves. There is always a fine sense of camaraderie between visitors and locals and at the end of the day, no matter what activity you have been indulging in, relaxation in pleasant surroundings with amiable company is the name of the game. Austria is a country that appeals to all members of the family. There are dozens of places where you can spend a week or fortnight engaging in one particular specialist sport whether it be mountaineering, river rafting, sailing or whatever but most resorts have a whole wealth of other activities which are available, Members of the family or of a group can try different sports either separately or together perhaps combining several different activities during the course of the stay. Glacier skiing in the morning and water skiing in the afternoon, mountain biking on Monday followed by a leisurely round of golf on Tuesday. All kinds of combinations are available. To the Austrians the children are the VIPs and the family unit is well catered for. Indeed there is a group, the Kinder Hotels – Children Hotels, which are designed around the theme that children are the most important guests and there are many villages and hotels that have organised children’s clubs with a programme of activities to keep them entertained for the day whilst mum and dad have a well deserved rest or do an activity that does not involve the children. Golf has become more popular in Austria and there has been an explosion of golf courses springing up in many of the regions. The Alpine Golf Card covers a total of 28 golf courses in the Tyrol and Salzburg regions many of which are located in some of the most magnificent landscapes of the Alps. There is also a group of hotels which offer special services and individual programs for golfers. They guarantee quality food and accommodation. The Alpine Golf Card which includes five green fees, saving up to 30%, and may be used throughout the summer season including weekends, holidays and on tournament days, and golfers are given priority regarding reservation of a starting time or registration for a tournament. The tee-off reservation can be booked by phone up to one day before play. The card can be purchased at all 28 golf clubs and in many golf hotels. River rafting has always been popular on the rivers lnn and Saalzach. There is a good selection of rafting schools and beginners as well as experts will enjoy the excitement of this sport. Canoes are an alternative and groups are arranged either for lessons or for a paddle along some of the scenic rivers. When conditions are right the mountain tops become the starting point for the Paraglider or Dragonfly. The gondolas transport fliers to the peaks and there are a great number of schools who will take the raw recruit on a tandem flight to give you a taste of what flying like a bird is really like. Lessons are essential but just to watch the experts soaring on the thermals is enough to make anyone want to have a go at this sport .Windsurfers and dingy sailors will find the beauty of the lakes great places to enjoy these sports. Again there are plenty of places to obtain instruction or for the more experienced hire a board or dinghy and have a go.Austrian countryside is ideal for horse or pony riding a sport for all the family. The very young can sit in the saddle for the first time with expert tuition which is to be found in the many riding schools throughout the provinces. It will not be long before they are wanting to exploring the local countryside. Good fishing can be found in the lakes, rivers and streams. There is underwater diving in the lakes some of which are deep and there are schools and clubs where equipment and advice can obtained. Summer skiing can be found on the several glaciers throughout Austria, The Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun in the province of Salzburg, the Hintertux glacier in the Ziller valley and the Stubai glacier at the far end of the Stubai valley in Tirol. Ballooning and gliding clubs can be found for those interested in either a trial flight or gaining further experience.Canyoning is a sport which can be practiced at several places where the waterfalls and gorges are ideal. The right equipment and an expert are essential for the inexperienced. Water has a special attraction for children and pools and beaches abound throughout Austria with the facilities second to none. Many villages and have invested in large sports complexes which apart from the many indoor activities such as squash, tennis etc have large bathing pools with slides and play areas that will keep the most energetic child happy all day.
Vienna for everybody
When it comes to high culture, Vienna pretty much has it sewn up. It’s the city Klimt, Schiele, Strauss and Mozart among others called home. As far as hip destinations go however , Vienna has had a harder time cutting it: this is, after all, the city immortalised by Midge Ure, and whose biggest pop export is Falco .This is clearly something the Viennese have taken on board. For while no visit is complete without a trip to a classical concert, or to the Belvedere to see the Klimt collection or to one of the celebrated coffee houses, there is now a bar and restaurant scene to rival any within Europe. Not bad for a city of just 1.6 million. While the traditional wine taverns dotted around the city are worth a quick visit –Vienna is the only metropolis with its own wine-growing industry anyone wishing to see where it’s at should head to the new Museums Quarter. Here’s where you get your culture fix - the Leopold Museum, housing the world’s largest collection of Schiele, is a must–see–yet, it’s also where you’ll find some of Vienna’s most fashionable bars and restaurants.Motto is the restaurant of the moment ,Stylish it may be – the 70s inspired décor is pure Wallpaper magazine, the waiters sport Travis Bickle haircuts – but the prices are reassuringly un-chic. You can eat what you like without undue fear of the bill, although. Unless your language skills are up to speed, ordering includes a certain element of surprise. After your meal, head to nearby Bar Italia, a trendy popular hangout – although that said there’s nothing visibly Italian about it, if you can’t find a seat at the upstairs bar, head down to the basement, where friendly staff will mix you a tasty but lethal cocktail form their extensive list. Alternatively try Café Mobel, a unique bar cum furniture shop where you can order a designer sofa alongside your latte.Vienna isn’t a shopping city in the same way as ,say, London or Paris, but should you find yourself in the central shopping district, Sky Bar is the place to stop and rest your feet. It’s a swanky café-bar, where tuxedoed waiters bring you pastries and coffee, or something stronger, situated at the top of Steffl department store. Getting there means taking a lift up form the street, which gives you a great view of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Another swish place to drink and indeed stay is the “Das Triest” a designer hotel in the centre of town. Grab a banquette in the art deco bar and check out your fellow clientele – this is where celebrities such as David Bowie stay when they’re in town. A slightly lower-key, although no less fabulous for it, place to stay is the Altstadt. It’s a small, boutique hotel, dripping with style and character, with huge comfortable suites making it the ideal base from which to explore Vienna. You can’t go to Vienna without eating a strudel in a coffeehouse. Yes, it’s cliché, yes it’s touristy, but yes it’s worth it. There are far too many to list here, and they range from the grand and imposing to the scruffy and bohemian, but they all have real charm. These are where everyone form students to politicians to artists to bankers meet and socialise or simply relax with a newspaper. For a visitor they’re the perfect place to people watch and plan your exciting day ahead. The Town Hall Galleries - International flair in the city centre of Innsbruck With the motto "365 days of strolling" and sheltered from all weathers underneath an artistically created glass roof, Innsbruck invites its visitors to take a leisurely "window-shopping" stroll through the Town Hall Galleries. Covering an area of approximately 9,000 square metres, the new shopping arcade in the heart of the Olympic town boasts elegant stores of international name and attractive bars and restaurants, including modern gourmet cuisine as well as cosy wine bars. But the so-called "RathausGallerien" offer much more than a simple shopping experience. Another "highlight" that has been integrated into the gallery complex is the 4-star congress hotel, "The Penz", with a capacity for 200 people and a roof terrace offering splendid views. However, all those aiming high should not only pay a visit to the shops. The "Campanile", a 37 m high glass tower that seems to reign over the entire Town Hall structure and is even higher than the city tower, provides breathtaking views to let your eyes roam over the city below. And should you wish to get married and are not afraid of heights, the new wedding room high above Innsbruck provides just the right location. Following the ceremony, the honeymooners can enjoy their glass of champagne at the café "Lichtblick" (bright view) on the roof terrace of the 7th floor, which really does do credit to its name. From the lookout platform "Belvedere" on the 9th floor, visitors can take in the endless panorama onto the roofs of Innsbruck.
Innsbruck, city of sports, boasts new symbol
The new ski-jump at the historic Bergisel mountain rises majestically into the air towering over the Olympic city of Innsbruck. The oustanding location has always been of great importance to the Tyrol and especially to Innsbruck: Around 200 years ago, brave Tyroleans with their leader Andreas Hofer fought a battle on the Bergisel for the liberty of their homeland. And in 1925 the first ski-jump was erected on this famous historic site. The outstanding sports stadium twice hosted the most important competition on international scale: On the occasion of the Olympic Games 1964 and 1976, the Olympic flame was lit at the Bergisel. Even though the most modern ski-jumping facility all across the globe with more than 28,000 seats for the public is mainly reserved for breathtaking ski-jumping experiences, Innsbruck's new symbol also offers a lot of opportunities from a tourism point of view. In fact, the new stadium will meet the expectations of all its visitors, whether they come to see marvellous panoramic views, want to have a cup of coffee, admire the technical structure or just love looking at innovative architectural design. The entire facility, including cable-car, tower lift, panorama café and lookout terrace onto the ski-jump has been open to the public every day since 20 September 2002 from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm. From May 2003, visits to this unique tourist attraction are included in the "All Inn-clusive Innsbruck Card". From the entrance of the spectacular construction into the tower you just have to take 255 steps or spend a few minutes in the modern inclined elevator to go up 47 m higher before you can enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the mountain scenery. The restaurant with its 120 seats may also be hired out between 7.00 pm and 1.00 am for private functions such as "work incentive programmes" with transport by cable-car and elevator. Thanks to its own car parking facilities and busses, the stadium is perfectly prepared to receive a huge number of visitors. Austria – Where Alpine Skiing is a way of Life If a ski area expert could do a free-flow design of his terrain, he would come up with the Austrian Alps. The relatively low elevation of the villages, 750 to 1,500 meters (2,500 to 5,000 feet) above sea level, treats vacationers form low-lying metropolitan areas gently, eliminating altitude discomfort and making adjustment easy.Austria, small as it is (83,858 square km/32,368 square miles) is a world power in uphill transportation: more than 4,000 lifts of all types make short work of getting skiers up to the starting points of ski runs. One ski complex often incorporates 50,60,70 lifts, all available on one lift pass; “ski seesaws” open up two opposite faces of the same mountain, tying villages in different valleys together into one practical, shuttle buses, generally free for holders of valid lift tickets, provide the links in far-flung winter sport districts . “Gemütlichkeit” - The Magic of the Mountains Few people can pronounce it, nobody can define it precisely, everybody can feel it, the uniquely Austrian mood that pervades the old inns, flavors meals, flows form all the traditions, sparkles in the folklore. Gemütlichkeit is an appreciation of time and leisure, a celebration of friendship old and new, the savvy of finding and enjoying the good things in life, a warm casualness, the instinct to find the right allies in the pursuit of a good time, the essence of convivial gatherings. It welcomes you when you linger in a hut or in a rustic little bar with fellow skiers as you come off the slopes. It makes the zither tunes at the wine tavern vibrate. It enhances the flirtation at the nightclub as you dance, sip and converse. It embraces and warms you as you take a sleigh ride to an inn outside the village for dinner. It turns back time as you stroll through the streets of the town, taking a breath of fresh air. With its roots deep in the traditions of the mountains, it gives your stay in Austria the fantastic touch no other destination can duplicate. Come and let it happen to you!