Top Ten Tourism Sites in Austria. A List Based On the Number of Visitors
Austria is an amazing travel destination. Full of history, beautiful landscapes, cultural riches and equipped with a fine hospitality this little country in the heart of Europe attracts some millions of visitors from all over the world each year. The curious visitor will find sites which cater to virtual all needs and wants. History buffs, nature-lovers and enthusiasts of the urban lifestyle alike will all be satisfied by the many attractions Austria has to offer. But travel time is usually too short and the poor traveler is to be spoiled for choice.
This hub lists the top ten most attractive tourist sites of Austria. The selection of these sites is not by myself. As I am living in this country I would probably be too subjective in selecting the most attractive tourist sites. Instead this list is based on the ‘election’ of the fellow visitors themselves. I have ordered all major Austrian tourist sites according to their number of annual visitors (data provided by the official Austrian tourism agency).
The list includes both old treasures like some of the many imperial buildings in Vienna or the old castle of Hohensalzburg with its roots in medieval times as well as more modern ones (Riesenrad in the Prater made famous by Orson Welles’ ‘The Third Man’) and the Crystal Worlds (exhibition show of Swarovski) in Wattens (Tyrol). The list does not include sites which are basically free to visit, since nobody counts the millions of people which are wandering around the Saint Stephens Cathedral in Vienna or in the streets of the old city of Salzburg.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Old View of the Basilica Mariazell
Great Ferris Wheel Prater, Vienna
- Schönbrunn Palace is the most visited tourist attraction of Austria. Its unique style of imperial Baroque painted in the archetypical Hapsburg light yellow makes it the undisputed number one. Schönbrunn is a huge complex of various additional buildings (such as the Gloriette or the Palm house) in a landscaped garden complete with a labyrinth. Schönbrunn was the summer residence of the Hapsburg family and the birthplace of Emperor Franz Josef (born 1830). Attached to Schönbrunn is one of the world’s oldest and largest zoo which has been modernized recently according to the highest standards.
- The Fortress Hohensalzburg is the dominant landmark of Salzburg, the city of Mozart. Towering above the old city this castle dates back as early as to the twelfth century. Continuously revamped and fortified it grew to one of the mightiest castles in Central Europe ensuring the power of the Roman-Catholic Archbishops who ruled Salzburg until the late eighteenth century.
- The Grossglockner High Alpine Road connects the two provincial states Salzburg and Carinthia over the high mountain passes just in the vicinity of the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain (3798m). The road is mainly for sightseeing travel and is closed during winter (October – May).
- The Basilica Mariazell is located a two hour car-ride in the South-West of Vienna. Probably not that prominent at an international level it is an important pilgrim location for Roman-Catholics. Pope Johannes Paul II (in 1983) and Pope Benedict XVI (2007) visited Mariazell during their official voyages to Austria.
- The Giant Ferris Wheel is a prominent Viennese landmark in the Prater, an old traditional amusement park just between the Danube and the inner city. The Giant Ferris Wheel was built in 1896/1897 and recently revamped. The Giant Ferris Wheel gained international prominence while featuring in “The Third Man” (1947, with Orson Wells), a film playing in the desperate post-war years of Vienna. Riding the Giant Ferris Wheel gives an amazing overview of the Viennese City, especially to the old city area around St. Stephen’ Cathedral.
- The Schlossberg Graz with the Clock Tower is the landmark of Graz, capital of the provincial state of Styria and Austria’s second largest city (350.000 inhabitants).
- Swarovski Crystal Worlds is a theme-park exhibition showcasing the crystal jewellery of Swarovski. It was built in 1995 and designed by Austrian artist André Heller.
- The Melk Abbey is located some 100 km West of Vienna on a rocky hill above the Danube marking the Western end of the Wachau, a unique river landscape along the Danube. The abbey was founded as early as 1089 and has been a centre of Christian scholarship ever since. Its monastic library is of worldwide fame and its scriptorium has had enormous influence during the medieval ages. In the early eighteenth century the abbey was rebuild as a Baroque castle designed by famous Austrian architect Jakob Prandtauer.
- The Museum of Fine Arts at the Ringstrasse (just opposite the Hofburg, the imperial palace) was built in 1891. Originally it was built to showcase the many collections of the imperial family. Today it is still considered as one of the major museums housing eminent work of world famous artists such as Bruegel, Rembrandt, Dürer, Vermeer and many others.
- The Belvedere in Vienna’s third district (just near the Südbahnhof and the Schwarzenbergplatz) was originally built as the summer palace of Prince Eugen von Savoyen, a famous and successful military leader in the eighteenth century. Designed by Austrian baroque architect Lukas von Hildebrandt it is worth a visit just due to its architectural style. However, its museum is also show casting the world’s largest Gustav Klimt collection together with an array of other famous Austrian artists like Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka.