Where landscapes, history and architecture rule together - 15 days in adorable Austria

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Photo of Where landscapes, history and architecture rule together - 15 days in adorable Austria by Divas Bahuguna

Be prepared to enter an Alpine wonderland - Somewhere in Tyrol, Austria

Photo of Austria by Divas Bahuguna

Ever since I first crossed the German border and looked out through the window of the bus to Innsbruck, I knew this country was destined to capture a piece of my heart. Since then it has not only stolen my heart but it has managed to effortlessly capture my imagination as well through its stunning landscapes, alpine lakes so clear as hearts of the locals residing here, colorful villages straight out of a painter's masterpiece and lofty architecture in cities, providing a glimpse into the rich history of the region. With a full palette of colorful experiences wrapped in a small area like Austria, this is probably one of the most beautiful countries to explore and spend some time in. I personally believe that one needs at least fifteen days in Austria to truly appreciate the wonderland it is. So, if you still can, here's why it makes sense to give Austria a lion's share of your European itinerary.

How to travel?

With sights like these, why wouldn't you stay behind the wheels in this region!!

Photo of Where landscapes, history and architecture rule together - 15 days in adorable Austria by Divas Bahuguna

The best way to explore this picturesque country is by car. With well maintained roadways meandering through breathtaking alpine landscapes, streams of crystal clear water and vibrant settlements dotting sweeping green meadows, renting your own car provides the flexibility, comfort and thrill of exploration that your Austrian itinerary definitely deserves. Autoeurope is a popular and preferred one-stop address for car rentals of all budgets and preferences.

Note: A highway toll is applicable for all vehicles in Austria, for which you need to purchase a sticker, called Vignette, and display it on your windscreen. You may buy it from most filling stations in Austria or neighboring countries. It is highly recommended to get one before entering Austria, though, as hefty fines are levied on cars (around 120 euros!!) without these vignettes in Austria.

Day 1 : Bregenz

Located on the edge of Bodensee (Lake Constance, as it is commonly called) is the beautiful promenade of Bregenz that lures you towards itself as you drive towards the heart of your first stop on the itinerary. Bregenz is a beautiful small town in the northern region of Austria and a great place to pick your rental car from.

A pretty gateway for your Austrian itinerary

Photo of Bregenz, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

A cable car takes you to the top of Pfänder, a mountain nearby, which offers you unbeatable views of Lake Constance and the town of Bregenz from the top. If you are visiting in the months of July-August then do not forget to experience Bregenz Festival - one of the biggest art festivals in Austria!!

Day 2 and 3 : Innsbruck

A three hour drive through some of the most scenic alpine roads in Tirol brings you to my favorite city in Austria - Innsbruck. This beautiful little town along the bank of Inn river is the shining jewel of Inn valley and a trip into its old town will convince you in no time why it is so. Boasting of beautiful architecture and a rich history to back it up, this charming town nestled at the base of towering alpine peaks is particularly impressive during winter months when the slopes open up for skiing. While exploring the old town, admiring the Goldenes Dachl and Imperial Palace, you will not realize how a day flew by.

You can choose to explore the neighboring towns next day and immerse in untouched landscapes and pretty villages of the region. I personally recommend a day visit to Hall in Tirol, the original capital of the region before Innsbruck rose to present day prominence. Also, plenty of hiking trails around Innsbruck will keep every nature lover thoroughly entertained.

Day 4, 5 : Zell am See, Kaprun

The popular sport region of Zell am See - Kaprun should be the next logical stop in the itinerary. Located between Innsbruck and Salzburg, this lakeside town is surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the region - an absolute treat for the senses.

Can you feel yourself falling in love with the country already?

Photo of Zell am See, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

Indulge in leisurely walks around the lake, take a boat cruise if you are game for it or take the cable car to the top of Schmittenhohe for unbeatable panoramic views of the region. Also, close to Kaprun is the magnificent Sigmund-Thun Klamm gorge, with small waterfalls greeting you all along the walkway. The perfectly turquoise waters of lake Klamsee greets you at the end of the gorge, which is a perfect end point for one of the most beautiful trails in the region indeed.

Day 6 : Lienz

One of the many visual delights on offer in Lienz - Lienz Castle

Photo of Lienz, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

With a n unfortunate distinction of being one of the most overlooked corners of Austria, the eastern Tyrol region is home to incredible landscapes and the pretty town of Lienz. It's no surprise that the town is so pretty, given the city calls itself "Sun City"!! Located close to the Italian border the towering Dolomites extend their magnificence and charm across this town, similar to their stunning cousins in Italian alps. The landscapes around Drau and Isel valleys are particularly impressive, with pristine Alpine pastures, meadows and beautiful lakes to keep the explorer in you busy and content.

Day 7, 8 : Graz

A 4-hour drive through beautiful landscapes (...must be the umpteenth number of time I am saying this, so I'm sure you got the point - it's almost impossible not to run into incredible landscapes when driving through Austria!!) brings you to the second largest city of Austria, Graz. The red-roofed city of Graz is best appreciated from the top of Schlossberg, with the famous Clock Tower to give you company. Let me know once you figure out what's so peculiar about this clock!!

Photo of Graz, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

From queer cafes (the Duck Cafe, for example), a charming Old Town, expansive gardens to museums, the city gives you lots of opportunities to fall in love with it.

Day 9, 10 : Vienna

A two hour drive is all it takes to get to the vibrant and gorgeous capital city of Austria from Graz. The city has so much to offer to travelers that you can easily spend more days here without running out of things to do and see!! This city is bustling with Imperial Baroque architecture with the musical influences of Mozart and Strauss still perceivable.

Worthy of being the capital of a splendid country!! - Austria

Photo of Vienna, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

A visit to Belvedere Palace, Charles’s Church, St. Stephan’s Cathedral and the Hofburg is definite must. You may also choose to visit the nearby Schonbrunn Palace. Not to be missed is a Mozart concert at the Musikverein and a Wiener Schnitzel afterwards!!

Day 11 : Krems (Wachau Valley)

Follow the Danube river towards north and before long you'll find yourself in the land of Austria's terraced vineyard wonderland - the Wachau Valley. The pretty medieval town of Krems swoops your heart away with its colorful buildings and deep history attached to this city. Indulge in an entire day of tasting the traditional Austrian pastry - Topfengolatschen, visits to Steiner Tor, Stein an der Donau, Gotwin Abbey and exploration of Krems' Old Town.

Time to hit the vineyards - Krems

Photo of Krems an der Donau, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

If you have time at your disposal then maybe a visit to Melk Abbey might interest you as well.

Day 12 : St. Wolfgang

A picturesque drive past Trauensee will bring you to the beautiful lake-town of St. Wolfgang. This town is the perfect base for exploring the beautiful landscapes around Hallstatt and Bad Ischl, so make it a point to spend a few days here. Numerous lakes and hiking trails in the surrounding regions will definitely keep you occupied.

Photo of Where landscapes, history and architecture rule together - 15 days in adorable Austria by Divas Bahuguna

This fairy-tale town becomes particularly charming around Christmas, when it is host to some of the prettiest and biggest Christmas Markets in Austria. From boat cruises on the lake to beautiful hikes in surrounding mountains, this town gets more pretty with every additional day you spend here!!

Day 13 : Hallstatt

Welcome to the picture perfect fairy-town - Hallstatt

Photo of Hallstatt, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

Not much needs to be told about one of the most photographed and popular towns in Austria - Hallstatt. This all-season favorite is a must-visit for any traveler in the region. Home to one of the most beautiful Old Towns in the region, Hallstatt boasts of breathtaking landscapes and pretty trails along the mountain for alluring views of the region. The spectacular "World Heritage" view from Skywalk should definitely not be missed.

Day 14, 15 : Salzburg

The perfect end to a perfect journey!!

Photo of Salzburg, Austria by Divas Bahuguna

Bring your memorable Austrian itinerary to a perfect end at the popular and ever-so-pretty city of Salzburg. Return your hired car here and explore the city at a pace it truly deserves on foot. Made famous by Mozart and The Sound Of Music, this popular city is on everybody's European itinerary with travel blogs flooding the internet on what to do and what to see in the region. You can check out this link to plan your stay in the city.

How much will the trip cost?

Depending upon the leisure and sightseeing you indulge yourself in, not to mention the culinary preferences, you can spend anywhere between 50 euros to 100 euros a day excluding the car rental, which would be a sizable chunk of the expense.

Some journeys make up for priceless memories!!

Photo of Where landscapes, history and architecture rule together - 15 days in adorable Austria by Divas Bahuguna

Austria remains one of the cheaper European countries to travel to and for a budget backpacker it is quite easy to go under 50 euros a day too. Budget hostels in most cities are good and comfortable and depending upon which part of the year you are traveling in you can get a dorm bed starting from 20 euros a night. Couch-surfing is another popular, and my personal favorite, way to stay with locals and get a feel of the local culture. OBB, or Austrian Railway, has great connectivity across the country and you could make use of multiple offers they extend to avail cheaper train journeys.

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From doing my bit for the environment by working in electric mobility research field to often finding myself wandering aimlessly through landscapes, continuously seeking thoughtful conversations with travelers from across the world, I am a travel experience narrator. A firm believer in the philosophy that a human should experience everything and do everything in his lifetime (for specialization is for insects....), you can say "hi" to my photographer alter-ego @througharobinseye on Instagram, join me as I recount my personal travel experiences at www.talesofarobin.wordpress.com or sing along with me @undrkn5trk5hn

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