10 things you have to do in Austria
Austria has a different appeal for each season. The Austria you experience in spring and summer is not at all similar to the country in the grips of winter and fall. No matter the time of the year you plan your visit, check the ETIAS visa information before embarking on your trip. The application process is done entirely online and the requirements are outlined in an easily accessible way.
When considering what to do in Austria, the options are many and varied, with something for every taste and interest. Attractions in Austria vary seasonally to some degree while many activities and places of interest can be experienced no matter the season.
When in Austria, what to visit presents itself as a smorgasbord of treats and activities with something for everyone. Let’s start off with a peek into the darker tourist attractions and lesser known things to do.
Cemetery of the Nameless Friedhof der Namenlosen
Friedhof der Namenlosen is a very small cemetery on the outskirts of the Austrian capital of Vienna. The currents of the Danube had a penchant in the 19th and 20th centuries for discarding corpses floating in its waters at this particular point next to an industrial estate. The dead were laid to rest here, many the victims of drowning, some having taken their own lives, but always unidentified and unnamed. Since its inception in 1840 until its closure in 1900, an average of one corpse was buried here a month, totaling 478. The Cemetery of the Nameless and its replacement, inaugurated beside it are, it is said, the only place in the world entirely dedicated to the dead of a river. The dead lie in wooden coffins donated by a carpenter’s workshop. Of the 478, forty-two were eventually identified. This left the rest to RIP beneath a black steel cross with a Jesus figure and an iron-and-glass lantern sometimes holding a red candle and inscribed simply with “namenlos”, meaning unknown or nameless.
When looking at what to do in Austria, try to get to the cemetery in time for All Saints Day. One day every year on the first Sunday after All Saints Day on the 1st of November, the cemetery hosts a special memorial service featuring a gathering of the Danube fishermen of the Albern district as well as onlookers and mourners. A small memorial raft is launched into the Danube to the sound of a band playing, adorned with wreaths and signs written in German, Slovakian and Hungarian. Also attached is a note requesting that the raft be pushed back into the flowing water should it become entangled on its journey downstream. The raft then floats on the current much like the corpses long dead once did but this time past Bratislava, Slovakia, and Budapest in Hungary.
Wilhelm Töhn is the name on one of the graves here. The grave bears the epitaph “ertrunken durch fremde Hand […] im 11. Lebensjahr”. The translation tells how young Wilhelm was ‘drowned by the hand of a stranger at the age of 11’. Most of the interred were suicide cases, though, but that detail is omitted from the crosses. Attractions in Austria have never been encountered quite like this.
Giant Ferris Wheel The Wiener Riesenrad
Staying in the capital city, we take a turn by the giant ferris wheel, Riesenrad, standing 212.5 foot or just shy of 65 meters tall at the entrance to the Wurstelprater amusement park in Leopoldstadt. Taking a turn at a speed of 1.7 miles per hour or 2.7 km per hour on the Giant Ferris Wheel affords a breathtaking view over Vienna. The Wheel was erected to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef I back in 1897.
“Platform No. 9” is specially constructed platform with a glass bottom and without side walls or a roof. If you dare you can experience the Giant Ferris Wheel from here, held only by a harness as the wheel turns.
Hike in Eisriesenwelt during Winter
This is a winter experience. This ice cave is 26 miles or 42 km long, making it the biggest ice cave in all the world. A guided tour informs visitors how it was formed. Not to be discounted is the scenic trip to the caves from Salzburg.
Vienna: Spanish Riding School Lipizzaner Classic Performance
The Baroque Winter Riding School in Vienna gives visitors the opportunity to appreciate the Baroque architecture of the Winter Riding Hall, known to be the most beautiful riding hall.
See the Lipizzaners in a performance by the High School of Classical Horsemanship known as the “Ballet of the white stallions” and the Riders of the Spanish Riding School. The carriage-driving ceremony by Europe’s oldest horse breed from the Lipizzaner Stud Piber is a must see, all accompanied by classical Viennese music.
SchokoMuseum of Confiserie Heindl Seductive world of chocolate
Find out all you have ever wanted to know about chocolate and then some with exclusive insights into how the Heindl and Pischinger specialties are produced. Yes, samples are part of the experience.
Capuchin Crypt (Kapuzinergruft) Imperial Crypt
The Capuchin Crypt underneath the Capuchin Church in Neuer Markt square in the Innere Stadt near the Hofburg Palace in Vienna has been the family burial vault of the Habsburgs since 1618. All in all 149 Habsburgs lie here in eternal rest. Among this number are 12 emperors and 22 empresses and queens.
From Salzburg: 8-Hour Tour with Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
What better way to get enjoy a winter wonderland experience than on a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride past snow-covered forests and meadows. This 8-hour tour from Salzburg to Ramsau am Dachstein, allowing the discovery of romantic places on a short walk with a delicious lunch included. The winter landscape of Styria is indeed a magical backdrop to this drive along the Salzach Valley past ski destinations on the way to Schladming and onto the high Alpine plateau.
Vienna: Schönbrunn Christmas Market and Classical Concert
There really is nothing like a white Christmas, and enjoying the run up with the help of this Christmas Market is just what the fairytale promised and more. The Christmas concert at Orangery Schoenbrunn is a fitting addition. The Schoenbrunn Palace Orchestra plays for your pleasure at the Palace Orangery, the very location at which Mozart performed in 1786. The Christmas Market runs between the 19th of November and the 4th of January.
Vienna: Romantic Old Town 2-Hour Discovery Tour
Take a trip through the romantic old town of Vienna, taking in the pretty squares and hidden courtyards of yesteryear, the Hoher Markt, the Greek Quarter, and the old university district. Get to know the city’s legends and personalities up close and personal.
The Third Man Sewer Tour
When considering Austria, what to visit, one might not have thought to include anything quite as bizarre as this, yet here we are. The Third Man is a classic of noir cinema set in post-war Vienna that regales the tale of an American investigating the suspicious demise of Harry Lime, his childhood friend played by none other than Orson Welles. The tour leads you on exhilarating quests through the sewer system of the city allowing an in depth exploration of the sewers such as they are depicted in the film.
Attractions in Austria are more diverse and sometimes macabre than one would at first imagine. It is worth getting to know the country from the viewpoints of up high as well as from beneath its streets and buildings where possible. Why not…