Austria

Best things to do and see

Austria: Why go

From stately Baroque palaces and prancing Lipizzaner stallions to the ice-crusted peaks and glacial valleys of the Austrian Alps, this is a country of immense scale, variety and grandeur.

Home of the imperial Habsburgs, Vienna boasts a wealth of art (Klimt, Schiele, Rubens), music (opera, masked balls) and architecture (a Gothic cathedral, Neoclassical museums) to rival any European capital. And Salzburg, with its music festivals, hilltop castle and Mozart mania, is not far behind.

But it's for the great outdoors, the healthy food, the cheerful Alpine communities, the fresh mountain air and the turquoise lake swimming that we are drawn back to Austria time and again. This is where our Austrian collection kicks off.

Add in a proud history of serious spas and thermal bathing, and it's the perfect antidote to modern stresses. After a fortnight in summer, you'll wonder why everyone else flocks to the crowded beaches of the Med (or, dare we say, the overpriced resorts of neighbouring Switzerland).

Come in winter for the most reliable snow cover in the Alps: outstanding skiing, boarding, toboganning, sledding, not to mention winter climbing and ski-touring for the adventurous.

It's also very family oriented: some of the mountaintop adventure playgrounds have kept our own children rapt for hours, while many hotels (including wonderful Haus Hirt) boast child-friendly cookery courses, brilliantly guided hikes, perhaps archery or tennis lessons.

07:52 | GMT +1 Hours