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Austria - Other than Vienna

Hi! We're in the process of planning another backpacking/train trip for this spring and need some recommendations for Austria. Last year on our trip we went to Vienna which was not our cup of tea at all. We're more laid back folks and enjoyed places such as Bratislava, Brugge and Krakow. Wondering if you have any suggestions for places in Austria as we are looking to add this to our our itinerary. So far I've come up with Salzburg and Innsbruck. Have you been to these areas? Are they worth visiting? Any other suggestions ? (Open to the whole country as we have to head back to Czech Republic to catch our flight home).

Posted by
2876 posts

The Worthersee area in southern Austria is very scenic - a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by forest and snow-capped mountains. Nearby towns are Klagenfurt, Portschach, and Velden. It used to be a popular summer getaway for Vienna's rich and famous. Brahms used to vacation in Portschach and it's the home of an annual Brahms music competition.

Posted by
4637 posts

Austria is a unique country. It's beautiful almost everywhere and significantly cheaper than other two very beautiful countries: Norway and Switzerland. Rent a car and just drive around. Where you feel like it stop, get a pension (B & B). There are so many that I was not booking ahead. Especially I remember one pension in the Alps in Kaprun. For breakfast we had their homemade bread, homemade butter, homemade jam, what a difference! If I should mention some villages: Halstadt, Zell am See, Finkenstein (close to Villach), Heiligenblut etc. When you go back to C.R. to Prague stop in Cesky Krumlov on your way.

Posted by
153 posts

We loved Salzburg as well as the Salzkammergut. But we loved Vienna as well. It is a wonderful pedestrian city.

Posted by
1834 posts

We enyoyed Linz and were there three full days. Our intitial reason for going there was for the tortes. Oh, were they good. So was the shopping. In the Czech Republic we spent three days in Plzen. It wouldn't be difficult to repeat that visit. Salzburg was another place we spent two days. That was enough as we aren't enamored by the Sound of Music. I can help with hotels in these cities.

Posted by
11973 posts

Salzburg is great. I don't know anyone who hasn't liked it, from a newlywed couple in their 20's doing a bicycling honeymoon through Europe to people in their 80's who rely on bus tours. Innsbruck, less so. It's not particularly pretty or interesting to visit. I like Hall in Tyrol, just down the road from Innsbruck, for a quick visit. It has a nice medieval center. Melk Abbey is often mentioned. It's newer than a lot of things I enjoy but the area is nice.

Posted by
2995 posts

Salzburg is absolutely worth visiting. And if youre outdoorsy it's a great base for exploring the surrounding mountains, lakes, and forests, with plenty to do in the area (even if Salzburg itself is rather small and can be seen in one day)

Posted by
219 posts

Can I ask what you didn't like about Vienna? I am planning a trip there and everyone says they love it, but reading about it hasn't particularly excited me.

Posted by
60 posts

Thank you everyone! Great suggestions thus far :) As for what we didn't like. I felt like I was in NYC, it was way too busy and to us it was just bland. We like older more historic / medieval and quieter places. Vienna just wasn't that.. If you had a choice between Vienna and Prague I would choose Prague!

Posted by
6510 posts

I liked both Innsbruck and Salzburg but if forced to choose one or the other it would be Salzburg, hands down. Salzburg and the area around it is just so wonderful. I agree with other poster, I've never met anyone who didn't love Salzburg. I liked Linz too and I also liked Villach a lot, the southern part of Austria near the Italy border is beautiful and more "countrified", a little more laid back than Vienna, of course the cities and towns are much smaller. I liked Vienna but I wasn't as enthralled about it as most posters here are. It's definitely worth visiting but it's not on my short list of places to re-visit. Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
3 posts

We love Vienna and spend at least a week there every summer, but we also love Graz and all of the little villages in the southern areas of Karnten. We have a special place called Weissensee in Karnten that is high in the mountains and far away from city or village life. The lake is clear and clean, the community is small and charming, and you can hike, bike, swim, fish, and soak up hospitality at any of the little local hotels. The Wachau region is lovely, the Hallstatt and Saltskammersgut (spelling by memory and not accurately, I am afraid) regions are gorgeous, and any drive through Steirmark will be filled with green vistas and lovely villages. Tyrol is wondereful, too, with high mountains and small villages. Austria is a treasure.

Posted by
2723 posts

Hi Christina, We love Salzburg, but aren't big fans of Innsbruck itself, although we love the general Innsbruck area, including the old town of Hall in Tirol. We can highly recommend the Gashof Badl in Hall in Tirol. We stayed here in '01, '03, '05 and '10. Wonderful place to stay and we love the old town of Hall in Tirol. www.badl.at The nearby Zillertal (incl. Mayrhofen and Zell am Ziller) is filled with stunning alpine scenery. Paul

Posted by
671 posts

"...older more historic / medieval and quieter places" Try Graz, in Styria. It is all of what you seek. Graz's old town has a number of medieval buildings, a masoleum where one of the Habsburg Emporers is buried, a beautiful Dom, one of the best presevered armories in Europe, has a fortress on a hill overlooking the city, with its famous Uhrturm (clocktower), a new modern art museum, a great university, etc. Plus, there are many interesting places to visit within a 30-45 minute car ride (Schloss Eggenberg, Piber Stud Farm - where the Lippizzaners are bred, the Austrian Open Air Museum, a zoo and naturepark Castle Herberstein, a Hundertwasser-designed church in Barnbach, etc.). If you are indeed looking for a quiet place, I can tell you that Salzburg in tourist season ain't one of them.

Posted by
2995 posts

Vienna was basically the capital of the Holy Roman Empire for a thousand years (not to mention the impressive Austro-Hungarian empire). The ruling family, the Hapsburgs, were the most powerful family in Europe for a long, long, long time. There's an absolute ton of history in Vienna. If you don't like it, that's fine - people seem to either love it or be underwhelmed with it in my experience. But it is extremely historic and you can view much of that history just by walking around. No, it doesn't look medieval. Being a large important city for such a long time they had the money to modernize during different waves of architecture as they came along. Well preserved medieval cities are often those that had a heyday during that period then fell from importance shortly thereafter, which helped preserve the character and look from that time (like Rottenberg odT in Germany).

Posted by
3696 posts

I love Salzburg as most people do. It is the perfect size town for me. Did not care for Innsbruck all that much, but Hall is beautiful. I did enjoy Melk Abbey but am not a big fan of Vienna either... just not the ambience I am usually looking for. I loved just exploring Austria with my car and stopping at whatever town looked inviting..not sure that would work with train travel. If you want to jump over to Germany the area of Bodensee (Lake Constance) is a beautiful area for outdoorsy stuff.

Posted by
527 posts

Go for a great out of the way spot with excellent hiking and scenery...Lech am Arlberg. When you stay there you get the free Lech card which gives you free access to all of the lifts and hiking buses in the area. Another option maight be for you to rent bikes in Vienna, take the train to Passau and bike back. Excellent villages and scenery along the way...great wine too.

Posted by
12972 posts

Christina, Other than Vienna if you're set on doing a day r/t, presumably Salzburg too, my first choice is Graz in the Steiermark, as recommended above, in southeastern Austria. Graz was one of those cities that suffered little war damage. When the war ended in Europe, it was one of the Austrian cities yet to be occupied by either the Anglo-Americans or the Soviets. I find Graz fascinating and "klein aber fein." If you want a small place, ie., instead of another city, then I suggest Eisenstadt in Burgenland. Both places are very doable by train from Vienna.

Posted by
109 posts

My mom really loved Salzburg due to its old-world feel. She adores Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany and kept comparing them. I liked it for its history, but not so much for its "feel" like the small winding lanes and squares, etc. We stopped in Linz for a few hours to tour the Voestalpine steel mill. That was really interesting. We did a little shopping in the old-town center, but that is all we had time for there.

Posted by
78 posts

Try St. Leopold and Hallstadt. They are extremely picturesque and located in the Sazkammergut which is the part of the mountains around Salzburg. We went there after hiking. I think you would love these small places.

Posted by
6950 posts

Christina: It's obvious that the whole country of Austria is just absolutely gorgeous. Every region is different. Austria is a very orderly country, and I've never stayed in any accommodations that were not really, really clean. We like staying in B&B's everywhere. It's a country best visited by rental car. I especially like driving from town to town up in the mountains, just rambling around. And the most beautiful place I've ever seen is the Grossglockner High Alpine Highway, south of Zell-am-Zee. The road takes you over to Lienz, Austria, just north of the Italian border (and East of Cortina.)
I went to the University of Innsbruck 40 years ago, and am naturally drawn back to Tirol.