Those seeking the perfect, picture-postcard European break will find plenty to feast their eyes on during a holiday in Austria. It's famed for ski resorts like St. Anton and stunning alpine cities like Zell am See, but Austria is more than just a winter wonderland. During the warmer months you can go for a dip in Lake Constance, one of the most striking lakes on the Continent, and then of course there's Vienna to explore. With its ornate architecture, musical heritage and celebrated café culture, it's the ideal city break destination.
There are plenty of flights to Austria, with direct flights to Vienna International Airport available from London Gatwick and London Heathrow. Austrian Airlines, bmi, easyJet and British Airways are among the airlines offering direct flights. Average journey time is around 2 hours and 15 minutes, and Vienna International is 17 kilometres from the city centre. It's worth bearing in mind you can cut costs and have the option of travelling from a variety of other UK airports if you go the indirect route.
If a ski resort is your ultimate destination, Vienna International may not be the most convenient airport. If visiting Tyrol, for example, Innsbruck and Munich airports are far better situated than Vienna. Trains offer the best way to get around, are comfortable and affordable and connect most major towns and cities, while buses will get you to the smaller settlements. If you're really looking to explore the more out-of-the-way and rustic locations, the best option is to hire a car, but remember you may be required to pay tolls if you drive on the motorways and look out for the blue lines which designate parking zones which need to be paid for.
As Austria's hugely popular with tourists, it's important to plan well ahead to avoid doing undue damage to your bank balance. Shop around and book in advance online to find cheap hotels in Austria, and this is particularly crucial if you're hoping to enjoy one of the many big and bustling music festivals. The most famous is the Salzburg Festival, which takes place every summer. Its popularity and extravagance can make it forbiddingly expensive to attend, though, so try out some of the less established alternatives, such as the Grafenegg Music Festival. Keep an eye out for offers on the Real Deals page.
Good value restaurants abound in Austria, and they're the perfect places to indulge in humble but highly traditional fare like boiled beef and potatoes, and meat schnitzels. If you're after genuine, unpretentious and well-priced dishes, you'll want to sit down at a Gasthof or Gasthaus, where hearty meals can generally be had for well under 10 Euros.
Updated 15th May 2013
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