Guest Author - Sarah Reid
As birthplace to many instantly recognisable names, from the notorious Adolf Hitler to Terminator star and Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenneger, there’s a lot more to Austria than its many famous sons.
Energetic winter sports vacations are popular with visitors to Austria as a result of the great skiing conditions in the Alps, which enjoy snowfall from November to May. The alpine conditions are perfect for all levels of experience, from those wishing to wow their holiday companions with their prowess on the slopes to families who prefer a less demanding vacation.
Austria is also renowned for its musical history, with Mozart, Strauss, Haydn and Schubert all being natives of this country. The capital, Vienna, was consequently the heart of music within Europe and visitors can still enjoy musical and operatic performances throughout both the capital city and the rest of the country.
The cultural heritage and importance of Austria was underlined by the choice of Linz as the European Capital of Culture for 2009. This event placed Austria and, particularly, Linz under the spotlight and drew this city to the attention of Europe as a whole. With festivals and events taking place throughout the whole year, 2009 was a fantastic opportunity for Linz to shine.
Almost as famous as its musical history, Austria is renowned for its cakes and pastries. Particular specialties are the Linzertorte, a cake linked with Linz and made from one of the oldest cake recipes in the world, and the Sachertorte, a famous Viennese chocolate cake.
Visitors to Austria can expect to experience cold, snowy or rainy weather in the alpine regions. In the north and west of the country, the weather is less extreme. In the summer, Vienna tends to be warm in the daytimes although much colder at night.
The majority of the population speak German, with many regional variations and local dialects. Austria adopted the Euro as its currency in 2002, meaning there is no need to change currency if travelling to or from one of the many other European countries which use the Euro. It is always best to carry cash, rather than expecting to be able to use credit cards as a great many places will not accept these.
The major airport within Austria is Schwechat Airport in Vienna. There are daily flights to and from a lot of major European cities and the airport is served by direct flights from a number of US cities including Orlando, New York and Washington.
As with most European countries, there is accommodation to suit all budgets within Austria. For the more extravagant holidaymaker, the five-star Hotel Sacher Salzburg could be just the ticket. Fantastic views and exquisite luxury make this the ultimate in opulence. At the other end of the scale is the Neuer Market, situated in Vienna. This budget accommodation comes in at under €90 per night for a double room and breakfast, making it an inexpensive option for travellers.
A vacation in Austria will expose holidaymakers to some amazing culture and experiences and is well within most holiday budgets.