Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

Austria travel informationAustria is one of those countries that I just can't get enough of. The soaring mountains, glistening lakes and lush pastures make it one of the most relaxing holiday destinations in Europe. However, the cities are bursting with culture, cuisine and shopping, too, so there's definitely something to appeal to everyon. I hope you enjoy reading about some of Austria's beautiful holiday destinations below.

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For a relatively small country, Austria certainly delivers big time.  Glorious scenery, delicious food, stunning architecture, history and art are just some of the delights on offer. And to me, the best way to discover Austria is by car.  This 3 week self-drive tour itinerary of Austria visits the country’s major cities, gorgeous lakes and the Danube, making for the perfect Austrian holiday.

Austria has always held a special place in my heart since my very first visit but whilst I'd visited Salzburg a couple of times previously, it wasn't until I did a self-guided cycling tour of the Austrian Lakes that I explored the lovely villages in the pretty Salzkammergut region.

Seeing the countryside of any destination from the saddle of a bike is a totally different experience to the one you get from inside a car or train.   Not only are you travelling at a slower pace, you also get to enjoy the sounds and smells of nature, and my cycling holiday around the beautiful Austrian Lakes is one I remember fondly.

Melk Abbey in Austria was never one of those ‘must visit’ places on my European bucket list but as I was practically passing the front door, I felt it deserved a visit. I’d seen it featured many times in European river cruise brochures as it is perfectly situated alongside the Danube and, being about half way between Vienna and our destination of Niederranna, it made sense to enjoy our lunch stop at Melk that day.

I'll admit I was a little nervous as a cycled alongside the lake towards Hallstatt. The lake itself (Hallstatter See) was everything I'd imagined it would be but would the town live up to my lofty expectations? For so long I'd wanted to visit the Austrian town of Hallstatt that I was a little worried that I might have been expecting too much and that it might disappoint. I needn't have been anxious, though, for it was everything I hoped it would be - and more!

Visiting Vienna was something that I'd long wanted to do. On previous trips to Europe it had just seemed a little bit too far east to fit into our itinerary, but this time I was determined to visit the much-talked about capital of Austria. With its abundance of culture and famous cuisine, not to mention those Viennese coffees, there was plenty to look forward to.

With its abundance of stunning architecture and rich history, Vienna is the jewel in Austria's crown.  As the home to the Vienna Boys' Choir, the beautiful Lippizaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School, and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the city has a rich cultural flavour but it also proudly boasts a strong cafe and culinary scene, too.  

My first introduction to Swarovski crystal came on a Contiki tour of Europe way back in 1988.  As part of our tour, we were taken to the Swarovski crystal factory in Wattens, just outside of Innsbruck, to have a look at the gorgeous products, and of course, like many on the tour, I came away with my very own piece of Swarovski crystal. A couple of years, and a few purchases later, I joined the Swarovski Collector's Society (now called the Crystal Society) and I'm still a member today.  Over the years, I have added to my Swarovski collection and have been lucky enough to return to Wattens on a number of occasions. 

Although it's worthy of at least a couple of days' visit, it is possible to get a great feel for Salzburg in just 24 hours. This beautiful Austrian city, made famous by Mozart and the classic movie, The Sound of Music, has a long, proud history and plenty to offer the visitor.