Austria, From The Perspective Of A Local
Austria, From The Perspective Of A Local
There are thousands of guides out there for Vienna, Salzburg, Hallstatt and all the other world-famous cities in Austria. But Austria, the country of incredible sceneries, charming villages and the most livable city in the world (Vienna), is about much more than what you can find in your usual travel guides. The incredible culture paired with many different local traditions, the unrivalled and partly untouched nature, and the delicious Austrian cuisine. In this article you will learn about Austria from a local’s perspective.
Make sure you visit a local “Dorf-fest” (folk festival)!
There is no better way to emerge into a local culture than by spending time in places where the culture is celebrated. Almost any village and smaller city in Austria has a “Dorf-fest” at which the whole village comes together and celebrates with beer and traditional Austrian food once a year. Generally, these happen on weekends in July, August, September and October and are free for anyone to visit.
If that’s a too intimate setting for you, check out some of the larger customs and tradition festivals happening in the major cities:
“Aufsteirern” in Graz – A Festival in September with around 150.000 visitors who celebrate in traditional Austrian Lederhosen and Dirndl. The Festivals lasts from Friday to Saturday and spans over the entire city center. It’s a highlight for any Austrian who owns a Lederhose or Dirndl.
“Wiener Wiesn” in Vienna – Similar to the Oktoberfest in Munich, the Wiener Wiesn is Austria’s largest traditional customs and folk music festival. It offers 18 days of great entertainment and traditional fun for all ages in late September, early October.
“Wachauer Volksfest” in Krems – just outside the gates of Vienna, in the beautiful Wachau valley with a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river, every August you will find the Wachau Fest. With around 115.000 visitors this festival is definitely a highlight of the Austrian festival season.
If you happen to visit Austria in late summer, early fall, be sure to check out some of these traditional festivals. I promise they will be worth your while.
Hike National Parks and Swim the Beautiful Alpine Lakes!
The Austrian Alps are home to some of the most amazing and beautiful national parks and crystal-clear alpine lakes. If you are into incredible and picturesque nature or are looking for the perfect Instagram spot, then the follow national parks should be on your list of things to do:
Hohe Tauern National Park – the largest alpine national park is home to 266 mountain summits, 250 glaciers, 878 kilometers of hiking trails and 551 mountain lakes. Definitely consider spending more than one day to explore.
Danube Auen National park – if you prefer less of an incline, then the Danube Auen National Park, just outside of Vienna, is perfect for you. With 38 kilometers of untouched nature situated along the famous Danube river, the Danube Auen offers the largest untouched floodplains in central Europe.
Gesäuse National Park – With its precipitous limestone mountain peaks and the crystal-clear river rapids flowing in between them, the Gesäuse National Park offers a unique experience for hikers, climbers, water sports enthusiasts and ski tourers.
If you are more into water sports than mountaineering, then Austria offers some of the largest and cleanest lakes in all of Europe. With most lakes offering drinking water quality, and crystal clear, turquoise waters, it’s hard to not jump in for a quick swim when you pass them. Many Austrians spend the hot summer weekends at one of the countless alpine lakes for cooling off and for some time in nature. Some of the most incredible lakes you have to visit:
The Attersee – Austrias largest lake has a depth of 169 meters and is surrounded by mountains on one side and plains on the other side.
The Hallstätter See – Most people know the city of Hallstatt, but very few people who visit actually spend time to explore the almost 10 km long lake.
The Wörthersee – Probably one of the most popular bathing lakes in Austria, nestled between the alps, the Wörthersee can reach temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius in summer!
The Delicious Cuisine
If you are into hearty, flavorful and sweet dishes, then traditional Austrian cuisine is a match for you. The dishes from Austria are generally an influenced by many different Central European produce, textures and flavors. Savory foods generally consist of meat, poultry, root vegetables and lots of different dairy products, typical Austrian desserts are often made with chocolate, yeast, eggs and jams.
No matter where you are in Austria, there will always be a bakery around the corner. With hundreds of different types of bread and bread spreads available, Austrians typically eat bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner (as a side dish).
If you are into soups, then you won’t have to search for long in Austria. Any traditional “Gasthaus” (Restaurant), will serve you many types of soup, including the famous Frittatensuppe which is clear chicken or beef broth with savory pancakes.
As for the main courses, the traditional Wienerschnitzel, the Tafelspitz and the Gulasch are all dishes that will satisfy any meat lovers cravings.
When it comes to deserts, you have to try the Kaisersmarrn, which is made of eggs and flour and the countless variations of Strudel which is puff pastry filled with different types of fruit and sweet bread crumbs.
Most of these dishes you will get at any decent Austrian restaurant across the whole country.
You convinced me! When Is The Best Time To Visit?
I often get asked by friends when the best time to visit Austria is and the truth is, there is no best time. Austria has four seasons and has a unique offering during every part of the year. So, don’t let certain guide fool you by saying that you have to visit before Christmas or you have to visit in the summer time. Anytime is a good time to visit! If you are into skiing and snow, then visit in the winter and spring. If you like to go for a hike, want to swim in crystal clear lakes and enjoy immersing into new cultures, then summer and fall is your time to visit.
If you are planning to visit Austria, don’t just spend time in the major cities. Go out and explore this beautiful country. Because Austria has so much more to offer than the typical tourist destinations.