“Salzburg is the heart of the heart of Europe,” the poet Hofmannsthal declared, and a few steps in this beloved arts center reveals why. From legendary composers to today’s cutting-edge Walk of Modern Art, from top-shelf music festivals to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, the city breathes culture. Mozart’s Birthhouse & Residence offers a glimpse of the composer's life, plus Salzburg of the mid-1700s. Meanwhile it was through “The Sound Of Music” that the Pegasus sculpture and the hedge maze reached worldwide fame, but the gardens of Mirabell Palace have dazzled strollers for centuries. Salzburg Festival Mozart Week, Easter Festival and Whitsun Festival are all cherished – but with over 250 performances in 45 days, the summer Salzburg Festival is unrivaled.
Gallery Walk in Salzburg’s Cathedral District
For centuries Salzburg was governed by mighty prince-archbishops, the spiritual and worldly rulers of the city. Their influence on the city’s culture and economy knew no bounds. Today, you can explore the former center of their power, the DomQuartier Salzburg. For the first time in 200 years, the entire complex is accessible to the public. Tour the private and public spaces that testify to the prince-archbishop’s vast influence. Open daily, except Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shady beer gardens, traditional coffeehouses, gourmet restaurants, trendy bars and cozy inns invite epicures to wine and dine in Salzburg. The rich diversity of restaurants in the city caters to the palate of gourmets, those with a sweet tooth and night owls alike. Our personal tips include the award-winning restaurants Riedenburg and Esszimmer, the locally beloved Auerhahn and Salzburg’s culinary temple with a revolving chef residency, the Hangar-7.
Ancient wooden floors or walls of modern art. Rustic furniture or baroque design. Whether you prefer a five-star hotel on the banks of the Salzach, a charming boutique hotel in the Old City or a comfortable farm on the outskirts, you'll find the perfect accommodations in Salzburg. Three top choices: the family-run Sacher Hotel with stunning views over the Old Town, the traditional yet Alpine-chic Hotel Goldener Hirsch and the Blaue Gans, whose 600-year-old walls boast a wonderful art collection.
Zell am See
From bluer-than-blue Lake Zell to the snow-white peaks of the Hohe Tauern mountains to its charming village center, Zell am See is made for the active traveler. In summer, dive into the lake, cycle the picturesque shores or search out the best mountain views. Later, indulge in Zell am See's renowned spa and wellness facilities and its innovative organic culinary movement. The towering Schmittenhöhe boasts perhaps the most beautiful vista of any Austrian mountain, with views of 30 different 10,000-foot peaks, plus the lake, the river basin and the entire Saalach Valley. The new cable car from Porsche Design zips to the top, where a high-altitude promenade awaits. Sculptures dot the paths -- one of Europe´s largest art spaces, covering more than 450 acres across the mountain.
National Park Hohe Tauern by Train
The narrow-gauge Pinzgau train, vintage 1898, offers a romantic trip through the gorgeous Upper Pinzgau landscape – and a gateway to the stunning Hohe Tauern National Park, the largest in Austria. Start in Zell am See and train to Mittersill, and to the popular National Park Center, with its top-notch exhibits. Or take a leisurely day hike with a ranger. Thirty hikes, ranging from easy to difficult, are available in summer, and the National Park Center is open daily.
Salzburgerland - Culinary Paradise
The Salzburgerland region is an organic food pioneer. Nowhere in Europe is the proportion of organic farmers higher and Salzburgerland has more outstanding gourmet restaurants than anywhere else in Austria. A local favorite is Schloss Kammer in Maishofen, a family-run castle hotel and restaurant specializing on local delicacies. The gourmet temples are Mayer's Schloss Prielau and the Salzburgerhof, but don't miss Obauer in Werfen, Hubertus in Filzmoos and Döllerer's Genusswelten in Golling – all within an hour of Zell am See.
A century ago Zell am See was a tiny market village. In time the village grew, becoming a city in 1928. Today the lovely spot has grown to almost 10,000 inhabitants and offers a wide variety of entertainments, events and local festivities. Staying at the Salzburgerhof or the Romantikhotel Zell am See puts it all within striking distance. Just outside of Zell am See lies the picturesque castle Schloss Prielau, with stunning views over the lake and the mountains.
This is Kitzbühel. Uniquely situated in the “airport triangle” of Munich, Salzburg and Innsbruck, this elegant town in the lap of the Alps is easy to reach. The synergy of old and new plays throughout its hotels, restaurants and infrastructure. The historic section of town is 700 years old -- ideal for strolling Tirol’s most beautiful outdoor shopping center and enjoying the traditional cozy Austrian coffee houses. The picturesque inner town has a great selection of international and local boutiques, and the density of top hotels and award-winning restaurants make “Kitz” a favorite destination for those who seek out the finer things in life.
Kitzbühel's Hornbahn cable cars offer departures as early as 4:30 a.m., allowing you to summit the Kitzbüheler Horn Mountain before sunrise for a contemplative morning service, a hearty mountain breakfast and a romantic walk through the Alpine flower garden. You'll observe the sunrise alongside local woodwind melodies. Early summiteers then take a guided walk around the Horn. A ticket for the cable car ride, breakfast and guided hike is just 34 Euro. Be sure to register the day before.
Kitzbühel has no shortage of glorious venues for staying and eating, but a few rise above the rest – such as Relais & Châteaux Rosengarten in Kirchberg/Tirol, owned and managed by Simon Taxacher, one of Austria’s most lauded chefs. Also recommended: the Petit Tirolia at the Grand Tirolia Kitzbühel, where a young and modern cuisine merges with high-quality regional ingredients.
Kitzbühel’s hospitality knows no equal. The best in town: the Relais & Chateaux Hotel Tennerhof, a centuries-old farmhouse whose rooms feature wonderful Austrian décor. (Don't miss the Michelin starred and Gault-Millau 16-point dining experience.) Then there's the Weisses Rössl Kitzühel, with its stylish, Alpine luxury. A boutique hotel in the mold of an old Tirolean inn is the Hotel Schwarzer Adler; the award-winning spa features an outdoor pool with underwater sound system, counter-current swimming and a rooftop bar.
The capital of the Alps may be 800 years old and boast one of the most beautiful baroque and gothic centers in Europe, but it is also young and vibrant. Nowhere else can you shop in an historic medieval city center and, 20 minutes later, be in a mountain restaurant 6,500 feet high. The charming city of Innsbruck is also the only site to have hosted Olympic Winter Games three times! Don’t miss to attend one of the summer festival events, from the baroque music of the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music to the more beautiful waltz melodies Imperial Palace concerts. Breathtaking views, cutting-edge architecture, a redesigned Maria-Theresien-Strasse, numerous museums, cultural events and countless culinary delights, sum it pretty much up.
Daring Design in midst the Alps
Zip from Innsbruck's Old Town to the top of the Nordkette mountain range via funicular and cable car designed by star architect Zaha Hadid! In a country renowned for architectural daring, these biomorphic, futuristic creations rise above – literally. After a scenic ride, the top makes a perfect starting point for hikes. On Fridays the Nordketten funiculars stay open longer – enjoy a romantic dinner with great views -- while the Seegrube restaurant offers a great jazz brunch on Sundays in July and August.
A traditional Tirolean tavern, a gourmet restaurant or a laid-back bar? Our tips include the Ottoburg restaurant, which inhabits one of Innsbruck’s oldest buildings, a Gothic residential tower dating from 1494. Meanwhile the award-winning Europa Stüberl charms diners with its wooden Tirolean Stuben, or parlors. For great views of the mountains and fine dining after a day of shopping and touring the city, head to the glassy and memorable restaurant Lichtblick.
Some of Innsbruck's lodging features beautiful traditional Alpine design, while some is trendy and modern. The city's most starred hotel is the Grand Hotel Europa, featuring direct underground access to the railway station. Another highlight is the Romantic Hotel Schwarzer Adler and its five centuries of history. Looking for luxury apartments with Alpine flair? Try the Alpine Lodges Kühtai, located on a sunny slope of the magnificent Tirolean mountains, in the village of Kühtai.
The Arlberg is a majestic Alpine mountain massif and one of the world’s best ski areas, as well as a great resort in summer. It consists of five charming villages: luxurious Lech, sophisticated Zürs, cozy Stuben, exclusive St. Christoph and cosmopolitan St. Anton. Lech is the shining star of the bunch, having transformed from an Alpine farming community into international travel destination without losing its distinctive Walser character. Energy efficiency has been an important issue for decades and is a firmly established local value – Lech is a pioneer in this field. This great respect for nature pays dividends for the visiting guest, as has earned Lech the “Most Beautiful Village in Europe” award in the 2004 “Entente Florale” competition.
Lech’s Summer of Culture
Lech is well-known as an Alpine paradise – but it's also popular among travelers with an eye toward culture. Imagine listening to an outstanding orchestra at an outdoor cafe while gazing at a sunset over a distant peak – that's the Lech Summer of Culture in a nutshell. From the traditional Lech Village Festival to Lech Classical Music Festival, the Lech Alpine summer of 2014 represents a cultural explosion, amidst the heavenly mountain scenery of the Arlberg.
There's just something about a wonderful meal at 4,750 feet. Lech has become a phenomenal success in the international gourmet scene, thanks in part to restaurants like the Griggeler Stuba and its sophisticated use of local herbs. And don't miss the restaurant at the Arlberg Hospiz Hotel in nearby St. Christoph. This culinary temple not only serves the best in regional Austrian cuisine, but boasts the world's largest private collection of magnum bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines.
Lech has some of the most charming accommodations in the world – starting with the Relais & Châteaux Hotel Gasthof Post, in the center of the village. This five-star, family-owned property is one of the most exclusive addresses on the Arlberg mountain. A newer option is the deluxe Ski and Spa Hotel Aurelio Lech with its individually designed rooms and suites. Another gem: the artsy Kristiania Lech, a small luxury ski hotel with 29 artfully appointed rooms and suites.
Schwarzenberg / Bregenzerwald
In the westernmost tip of Austria lies the Bregenz Forest, or Bregenzerwald. “Forest” tells only part of the story: mountains, pastures, 22 picturesque villages, a premiere skiing location, 30,000 inhabitants and almost as many cows. UNESCO has recognized the cultural significance of the region, and its farming and cheese production traditions remain largely intact. (Don't miss the “alpine cheese.”) But age-old knowledge and skills also offer a solid foundation for innovation here – case in point, Bregenzerwald's award-winning architecture and craftsmanship. The region is also home to the village of Schwarzenberg, whose well-preserved center – the old “Hof” – boasts a harmonic interplay of historic buildings, charming streets and quaint squares. The Baroque church, the dancing house (a former courthouse) and 16 other historic houses have been well-preserved.
Angelika Kauffmann’s Legacy
Angelika Kauffmann (1741-1807) was an Austrian Neoclassical painter who had a successful career in London and Rome. She grew up in the village of Schwarzenberg, the daughter of Joseph Johann Kauffmann, a relatively poor man but a skilled painter. Joseph taught his precocious daughter to paint, and by 12 she was already known for her talent. Schwarzenberg honors her legacy today with both the Angelika-Kauffmann Museum and the Angelika-Kauffmann Hall – home to the acclaimed classical music festival Schubertiade Schwarzenberg.
In the Bregenzerwald the term “MundArt” refers both to the special dialect of the region and to the creativity displayed in local kitchens. Eight cozy Bregenzerwald restaurants and inns have embraced “MundArt” in their very mottos: Gasthof Adler and the Hotel Gasthof Hirschen in Schwarzenberg, Gams, Genießer & Kuschelhotel and the Hotel Post in Bezau, Hotel Gasthof Krone and the Hotel Das Schiff in Hittisau, s’Schulhus restaurant in Krumbach, Hotel Krone in Au. All are within 15 minutes of Schwarzenberg.
The wood industry is central to Bregenzerwald, and its hotels reflect this fact in their architecture and their handcrafted structures. Some of the most appealing: the Gasthof Hirschen Schwarzenberg, with its 250-year history; the Hotel Post in Bezau, which was awarded second place in the category of “Wellness Hotels” in 2012; the Hotel-Gasthof Krone in Hittisau, which cooperated with craftsmen from the Bregenzerwald Werkraum; and the Hotel Krone in Au, which reflects the style of modern Vorarlberg wooden architecture.
On the eastern shores of one of Europe's largest lakes lies the friendly and inviting city of Bregenz, capital of Vorarlberg. Bordering Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, the region is known for its blend of first-class culture and jaw-dropping mountainous landscape. Start the day at a café on Kornmarktplatz, the city's (newly renovated) heart, then pop over to the exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, home to an electrifying collection of contemporary art; later, learn about the region's deep history at the new Vorarlberg Museum (its roots go back to Roman times). Both the Bregenz bay on Lake Constance and Pfänder mountain are postcard-worthy sites. Take a cruise on Lake Constance and touch Swiss, German and Austrian shorelines.
At the internationally acclaimed Bregenz Festival, held every year in July and August, an evening of opera begins well before the conductor lifts his baton; guests are brought by boat directly to a floating stage – and thus become part of the spectacle themselves. For four weeks audiences experience monumental productions under open skies. Orchestral concerts and theater troupes round out the festival. Its reputation for bold, edgy productions is no mystery.
Bregenz may be limited to a three-country triangle, but gastronomically it casts a wide net. Fresh trout from Lake Constance is common, as are game meats from the Pfänderstock and traditional cheeses from the nearby Alps. Some favorite restaurants for these regional delicacies: The Wirtshaus am See (situated directly at the lake’s shore with fantastic views), the locally beloved Zum Kornmesser, and the grand dame of them all, the gourmet restaurant Deuring Schlössle.
Elegant or rustic, romantic or relaxed: Accommodation in Bregenz is as varied as its guests' tastes. The Seehotel Am Kaiserstrand, newly-opened in 2010, reveals not only one of Bregenz’s most glamorous pasts, it also occupies the prime spot in town: directly at the shore of Lake Constance. The Hotel Schwärzler is beloved – plus convenient to the Old Town and its diverse culture and shopping opportunities. For a more historic surrounding, the Gourmethotel Deuring Schlössle is located in an ivy-covered old castle.