Some of Austria's prettiest towns and villages
Although the Austrian capital Vienna holds the top spot for quality of life year after year, sometimes one just needs to get out of the city and go explore nature.
In case you feel that way this summer, especially as temperatures in the capital rise, here are the six prettiest towns in Austria as compiled by The Local Austria.
1. Alpbach, Tyrol
Alpbach easily tops the list when it comes to the most beautiful towns in Austria. Don’t trust us? Alpbach was voted “Austria’s Most Beautiful Village” in a national TV contest. It is located in western Austria in the state of Tyrol. The town is well known for its ski resorts but also its traditional Austrian architecture. During the summer the gorgeous mountain backdrop and particularly clean air provides the perfect opportunity to do some hiking, mountain biking or to go paragliding. An interesting fact is that Alpbach holds a meeting of the minds every year, the Alpbach European Forum, which gave the town the nickname “The Village of Thinkers”.
2. Dürnstein, Lower Austria
Dürnstein is one of the most visited towns in the Wachau region. Its location on the banks of the Danube make it perfect for a summer getaway. The town is well known for its wine gardens and its many “Heurigenlokale”, which are restaurants that also grow and serve their own wine. Steeped in history, Dürnstein was first mentioned in 1192 when Leopold V, Duke of Austria, held King Richard I of England captive in Dürnstein’s castle during the Third Crusade.
3. Zell am See-Kaprun, Salzburg
Photo: Joachim Köhler/wikimedia
The area around the town of Zell am See-Kaprun is very dominated by the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, which means that you can ski almost all year round. Its ski season starts in autumn and goes all the way to spring. Tauern Spa is the perfect place to relax if all your muscles ache after a long hiking trip exploring the surrounding mossy woods and cliffs. It is the second biggest spa complex in Austria. While you're there, check out the mountain reservoirs held back by some of Austria’s largest dam walls.
4. Gmunden, Upper Austria
Photo: Christian Jansky/wikimedia
Gmunden is an important centre of the salt industry in the Salzkammergut. It is well known for being a summer getaway, unlike other areas in Austria more famous for being ski destinations. One of the most famous sights in Gmunden is its ceramic factory and castle, Schloss Ort. An interesting fact about Gmunden is also that it known for being a health getaway offering a variety of lake, brine, vegetables and pine-cone baths.
5. Ebnit, Vorarlberg
Photo: böhringer friedrich/wikimedia
Ebnit is a mountain town and belongs to a group of towns called the
Vorarlberger Walserdörfern. Ebnit offers hiking tours like most other Austrian towns but also advertises a number of “Adventure” activities. These adventure activities include canyoning and a ropes course. If you like your towns small, Ebnit is your place as it only had 111 people living there full time the last time it was measured in 2011. This is due to the fact that it is mostly a tourist destination and many people who have houses there only spend time there in the summer holidays.
6. Millstatt am See, Carinthia
Photo: Johann Jaritz/wikimedia
Millstatt am See is a market town in Carinthia. It is known for former Benedictine Millstatt Abbey, which was founded about 1070. In its museum you can find out more about the abbey’s history and its cultural heritage. Every summer the town holds their annual Millstatt Music Weeks festival in and around the monastery church. Whether you are interested in sacred, choral, classical, jazz, or chamber music, there is a concert for each type of music in the festival. An interesting fact about Millstatt am See is that it was a fashionable summer resort for the nobility and the wealthy bourgeoisie of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
So whether you are interested in breathing the cleanest air in Austria in Alpbach or canyoning into fast-flowing mountain stream in Ebnit, there are lots of beautiful towns to discover in Austria. Go on what are you waiting for.
Written by: Helena Uhl