Away from the well-trodden paths of Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, there are countless charming towns and villages waiting to reward those willing to explore further afield
Where modern architecture meets tradition
If architecture is your thing, then Vorarlberg should absolutely be on your list of places in Austria to visit. A community of 22 villages in western Austria, the Bregenzerwald region is an area known for preserving local tradition and artisanship – its 33,000 inhabitants focus on using only natural, local raw materials, like wood from the forests – while also being at the cutting edge of creativity and innovation.
In this pretty region, the Bregenzerwald Umgang is a series of 12 short paths through 13 picturesque villages, each with its own character and is an absolute must-do while in Austria. The walks, which vary in duration from an hour and a half to four hours, guide you through the region’s past and present, educating modern explorers about the locals and their way of life.
Expect wood-shingled farmhouses beside contemporary buildings, bus stops designed by internationally renowned designers in Krumbach and Austria’s only Women’s Museum in Hittisau along with secret cheese cellars in Lindengau.
The first slow food travel region
The Gailtal valley in Carinthia is the world’s first travel region that dedicates itself to slow food. It began with 19 local artisans and craftsmen and women who got together for the Slow Food Project to create a more mindful culinary culture. They opened their dairy farms, wine cellars and smoke houses to visitors to tell the story of what makes Gailtal bacon so special, why the fertile ground brings creativity into the kitchen and why Gailtal’s bees produce extra sweet honey. A fascinating look into the local culture of Gailtal.
The city that’s a little bit different
This “City of Smart Tourism” has historic beauty aplenty: Its expansive main square – located right by the Danube – and its quaint Old Town have a relaxed and authentic feel. But Linz is also defined by a constant desire for change and innovation. Once primarily an industrial centre, Linz has become a pioneer when it comes to culture, art and technology in Austria. Home to a harbour that doubles as one of Europe’s biggest graffiti galleries and the cutting-edge arts and technology museum, Ars Electronica Center, Linz is a destination for travellers on the hunt for the unfamiliar.
The valley without cars
Only accessible by foot, the Kaisertal Valley is an almost untouched piece of Tirol you can explore from the town of Kufstein. Hidden behind Tirol’s Wilder Kaiser mountains, the valley was voted as one of the most beautiful spots in the country in 2016. Due to the lack of public road access only 39 people claim to live here, and rumour has it that the valley itself is a place of great power and a source of energy. The five Alpine huts here offer ultimate seclusion surrounded by natural beauty, and are bound to recharge any weary traveller’s batteries.
Austria’s southern beauty
The best way to discover Austria’s second largest city is through local food – it’s not called the “Capital of Culinary Delights” for nothing. The Mediterranean flair that comes with the Graz makes it an ideal city in which to simply stroll and take in its many charms. Sit in an outdoor space in the old city, listen to a nearby street musician, and sip that day’s second cup of coffee in the sun – there’s no big city rush in this pretty Austrian hub. You’l find local cuisine using regional and seasonal products at every corner, and events like the Graz Food Festival and The Long Table of Graz as well as regular farmers markets where producers sell their fresh produce, are integral to this city’s identity.