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24 July 2014

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Summer in Austria: where’s your happy place?

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austria 2013 - A-gentle-hike-above-Innsbruck.jpgWhether you want fresh mountain air, an indulgent spa holiday or simply a relaxing cultural break in a picturesque town, Austria has it all.

As a year-round holiday destination, Austria moves effortlessly from seasonal strength to seasonal strength, and when its winter ski landscape melts, it gets the chance to show off its summer colours. Whether you hike, cycle, swim or play golf, Austria’s magnificent landscape offers the perfect natural arena.

Walking holidays are soaring in popularity with British holidaymakers, and in Austria many routes offer lodge-to-lodge connections with your luggage taken care of by your hosts. One of Europe’s greatest walking trails is the Alpe-Adria Trail in Carinthia. Each stage includes a ‘magic place’ where the four elements are in harmony, creating an inviting spot in which to stop for a while and experience the landscape.

Cycling is another fresh-air escape, whether through the picturesque Danube region of Upper Austria, alongside the vineyards of the Wachau Valley, or on a cooler ride along the wide trails of the Donau.

Tip: the Zillertal cycling region has more than 500 miles of trails, eight mountain lifts with bike transport, and 140 mountain huts. Why not try a guided e-bike tour and conquer your first summit?

For more alpine adventures, Zell am See-Kaprun offers a unique combination of glaciers, mountains and lakes, and many recreational activities for the whole family.

Take a city break

Among Austria’s cities, it’s well worth visiting Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz, Graz and the capital, Vienna, all of which have something different to offer. Innsbruck, for example, is a stunning combination of modern and historic architecture, restaurants and amazing alpine views. See the city from 2,000m on the Nordkettenbahn cable car, designed by Zaha Hadid. Alternatively, stay downtown and admire the mountains from one of the chic street cafés or a horse-drawn carriage.

austria 2013 - Bauernhof-Wildsch_nau-mit-Talhintergrund.jpgArt & Architecture: A+

Austria’s wooden chalets and lodges are celebrated, but there is also a contemporary Austria where modern architecture coexists with alpine style. One of the most striking examples is in Vorarlberg province, where minimalistic designs, in timber and glass, blend in seamlessly with the landscape.

In Linz, European Capital of Culture in 2009, the eye-catching Lentos Art Museum is considered one of central Europe’s most important centres for contemporary art. And something a little out of this world is going on in Graz – the Kunsthaus (art museum) is known by locals as the city’s ‘friendly alien’ due to its blue, bulbous shape. With an exclusive focus on modern art, it is a display venue for international projects and works.

Stay a while and spa

Spa holidays in Austria have garnered attention, from the earliest Roman travellers to present-day spa enthusiasts, who choose Austria not only for its well-established spa tradition, but also for the value it offers.

All-inclusive spa holidays at family-run resorts in gorgeous alpine locations feature gourmet dining and five-star amenities. Enjoy the latest in wellness and beauty methods, or choose a more traditional treatment using home-grown alpine products.

A modern turn: music and museums

Austria also boasts a burgeoning contemporary cultural scene. The annual Bregenz Festival is the epitome of cool – imagine opera under a starry sky, in view of a mesmerising stage that floats on Lake Constance, to the sound of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Even James Bond couldn’t resist an impromptu appearance on stage in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Austria’s museums house cutting-edge new works alongside classical masterpieces, and some of the buildings themselves are noteworthy, such as Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Art, perched atop the cliff face of the Mönchsberg, with a bird’s-eye view of Salzburg’s historic old town. In Bregenz, the Kunsthaus Bregenz, with its glass façade and lantern-like shape, absorbs the light from Lake Constance. And a popular draw in the capital is Vienna’s Museum Quarter, one of the world’s largest complexes for art and culture, with a collection of nine permanent museums, exhibitions and event halls.

austria 2013 - Grein(c)_W_Peter-Burgstaller.jpgFancy this or that? It’s all here in Austria

So, if your summer pleasure is being outdoors and active, give Austria and its stunning backdrops a go. If it’s the unexpected that piques your interest, marvel at constructs built to impress. If it’s an escape from the nine-to-five, look no further than a spa holiday offering exceptional value for money. If a city break is all there’s time for, stroll along shopping streets, lovely riverbank paths, well-preserved old town alleys and urban green spaces. And, if it’s a cultural experience that you’re after, immerse yourself in a magnificent blending of classical and contemporary. Happy holidays in Austria!

For more information and offers on holidays in Austria please visit the Austrian National Tourist Office's website

This advertorial was published in the spring 2013 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.

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