Vienna, the capital, is renowned for its imperial grandeur and high quality of life, as well as its stunning architecture and art and music scene. And outside of the city there are the beautiful Alps, vineyards and lakes.
But a scroll through some of the reviews on travel website TripAdvisor suggests that the country isn’t to everyone’s taste. We were left baffled (and entertained) by some of the terrible reviews of the most popular tourist spots across the country.
Here are a few highlights:
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The Stephansdom in central Vienna, with its multi-coloured tile roof, is the city's most recognizable symbol – and is considered to be one of the most beautiful gothic churches in the world. But not everyone agrees. “Not even worth a run through. This was the ugliest, most boring cathedral we have seen in Europe, and we have seen a lot,” said one jaded traveller.
Vienna's Historic Centre
Photo: Unesco/Silvan Rehfield
Ranked as the number 1 thing to see in the capital by TripAdvisor, Vienna’s historic centre is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site with incredible architecture, including Baroque castles and gardens, and the late-19th-century Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings and monuments. However, it scored 24 negative reviews on TripAdvisor, with one tourist saying it is just “another European city centre”, and another calling it “sooooo boring”.
Photo: Simon Matzinger
The former summer residence of the imperial Habsburg family and Austria’s beloved Empress Elisabeth, this is one of the most impressive baroque palaces in Europe. The rooms, open to the public on guided tours, are mostly decorated in Rococo style – but are obviously not to everyone’s taste. “Outrageously awful, an offence to the concept of ‘museum’”, wrote one reviewer.
The imperial winter residence, this palace has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including Habsburg monarchs and rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria’s tourist board says that “no traveller should pass up the chance to visit the Hofburg” – but the reviewer who left this succinct message on TripAdvisor wishes they hadn’t bothered: “Lame. Go to Schönbrunn.” Another called it “a poor excuse for a palace”.
Photo: Walter Hochauer/Wikimedia
This Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk in Lower Austria overlooks the Danube and the beautiful Wachau valley. It contains the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria's first ruling dynasty. There’s no pleasing some, though. “Worst sightseeing experience of anywhere I’ve ever been!” fumed one reviewer.
National Park Neusiedler See – Seewinkel
Photo: National Park Neusiedler See
This national park is a protected area covering around 300km and spanning the Austrian Hungarian border. Its vast meadows, salt ponds, and reed beds are home to some 340 bird species, and it’s a haven for nature lovers. But not all are impressed. “The worst national park I have ever experienced!”, one reviewer grumbled, going on to complain about “more farmers on tractors than staff” and “wasting one euro to look through a smudged telescope for 60 seconds”.
Salzburg Old Town
Photo: Thomas Pintaric/Wikimedia
Salzburg’s Altstadt is another Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site. Its collection of Medieval and Baroque buildings is unique in the world and draws millions of visitors every year. But not all of them are impressed. “Beggars, crowded, dirty parks and gardens – you have to pay for the panorama and everything.”