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15 things to do in Austria in summer 2022

Visiting Austria for the first time? Or perhaps you want to impress visitors with your adopted home? Whatever the reason, here’s 15 ways to while away the summer days in the Alpine Republic.

15 things to do in Austria in summer 2022
Exploring Austria's wineries is a great activity for the summer. (Österreich Werbung, Fotograf: Harald Eisenberger)

Explore the Alps

For many people, summer is not really summer in Austria without a hiking adventure in the Alps.

A top recommendation is the Salzburger Almenweg, which was named as one of the best hut-to-hut walks in Austria by Lonely Planet. This hike is around 350km and takes approximately one month to complete all 31 stages, or they can walked individually in short trips.

Scenes from The Sound of Music were even filmed in the area, giving fans a chance to reenact the famous scene of Maria skipping through the meadows (if that’s your thing).

Another long distance hike to add to your must-do list is the Adlerweg (Eagle’s Trail) that can take up to four weeks to complete. The trail traverses classic alpine landscapes in Tyrol from St Johann to St Anton am Arlberg. The best time to hike this route is between June and September when the trails are snow-free and the huts are open.

For a day hike, check out the Pinzgauer Spaziergang Trail from Zell am See to Saalbach. The 17km route takes hikers across the top of the Schmittenhöhe at 2,081 metres above sea level, with the option to reach the start and end points with a gondola.

READ MORE: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Acquaint yourself with a Heuriger

A Heuriger is a tavern where local makers serve their new wine. They are found in eastern Austria and are especially popular with locals in Vienna during the summer and early autumn months.

A must-visit Heuriger (according to locals) is Mayer am Nussberg, which is located in the middle of a vineyard with views overlooking the capital. Guests can sample a variety of wines by the glass or the bottle, including the Mayer am Nussberg classic house red and white wines. Snacks and regional delicacies are also available to order alongside the wine.

Visitors can make their way to the winery via the Heurigen Express (which runs from Vienna between April and October), by a hiking trail from the Kahlenberg Station or on tram line D.

A word of advice though: Mayer am Nussberg is only open on good weather days from Thursday to Sunday (as well as public holidays), so don’t try to visit when it is raining.

FOR MEMBERS: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer

Visit a traditional Austrian hut

Hiking up a mountain is not really worth the effort unless you stop for lunch and a cold beer (or soft drink of your choice) at a traditional Austrian mountain hut.

In fact, some huts can only be reached by foot, like the rustic Gruttenhütte in the Wilder Kaiser mountains that sits at 1620 metres in the Kaisergebirge in Ellmau, Tyrol.

Whereas others, like the Pritzhütte on the Katschberg in Salzburgerland can also be reached by horse and carriage for a romantic alternative to hiking.

Then there is the Schiestlhaus, which sits at 2154m in the Hochschwab mountain range in Upper Austria. These mountains are easily accessible for people living in Vienna and there is even accommodation at the hut for people that want to stay overnight.

Plus, Austria is now home to its first – and only – meat free mountain hut in Salzburg’s Lungau Riedingtal Nature Park, where not even a sausage graces the menu.

Hut manager Evelyn Matejka told Der Standard that the Franz-Fischer-Hütte serves dishes like cheese dumplings, lentil stew and potato gröstl, and has since been awarded the environmental seal of approval by the Alpine Association.

So it appears that vegetarianism can work in the Austrian mountains.

FOR MEMBERS: Discover Austria: Five beautiful hikes and destinations south of Vienna

Eat and drink as the locals do

First, no Austrian summer is complete with sipping on a chilled Hugo on a terrace – whether in a city centre or lakeside.

A Hugo is an aperitif of prosecco, elderflower syrup (Holunderblütensirup), a splash of sparkling water and fresh mint leaves. It’s a refreshing drink that is often served across Austria in spring and summer. 

However, despite its popularity in Austria, the Hugo isn’t an Austrian invention. The Hugo actually originates from South Tyrol in Northern Italy and was apparently invented by barman Roland Gruber in 2005 in the town of Naturno (just don’t tell any Austrians).

When it comes to food, it doesn’t get more Austrian than the Schnitzel.

In case there are some readers out there that are unfamiliar with the Wiener Schnitzel, it is a piece of veal that is breaded and fried, then served with potatoes and a wedge of lemon.

National Geographic describes the dish as “unassuming” but don’t let that fool you. The schnitzel dominates most menus in Austria – whether at a mountain hut or in Vienna – and can even be found in restaurants specialising in international cuisine.

Then there is Austria’s thriving cheese industry, which is not to be overlooked, so be sure to sample a selection of protected Austrian cheeses this summer, including Gailtaler Almkäse, Tiroler Bergkäse, Tiroler Graukäse and Vorarlberger Alpkäse.

READ ALSO: Which Austrian cheeses are protected foods and why?

Swim in a lake

Spending time at a beautiful lake is a quintessential way to enjoy summer in Austria and should not be missed.

For people in Vienna, it’s incredibly easy to make a day trip to Neusiedler See in Burgenland, or lake Neusiedl, also known as the Sea of the Viennese. The journey takes around one hour by car or 40 minutes by train.

The lake is huge at 315 square metres of surface area, and it reaches the border with Hungary. The Austrian side is particularly packed in the summer months, as Vienna residents flock to the See to enjoy swimming and water sports.

Other stunning Austrian lakes to add to an itinerary include Hintersteinersee in the Wilder Kaiser National Park in Tyrol. The crystal clear water is freezing (it was created in the last ice age) but on a hot day it’s a great way to cool off and be surrounded by nature.

Finally, there is the famous Schwarzsee in ritzy Kitzbühel. This is the warmest moor lake in Tyrol but it is packed with visitors during the peak summer months of July and August. Families especially like this lake for the water slides and children’s play area. There is also a section without facilities that is free to enter and is known locally as “the wild side”.

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Perseid meteor shower: The five best places for stargazing in Austria

The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its highest point on the night of Friday, 12th, to Saturday, 13th. Even though the full moon makes it harder to watch the shooting stars, people can still follow the once-a-year event.

Perseid meteor shower: The five best places for stargazing in Austria

If you live in a city, chances are light pollution is stopping you from seeing many of the stars in the sky. But there are many areas in Austria where you get completely dark skies and can enjoy stars and constellations in all their glittering glory.

Unsurprisingly, there’s generally less light pollution in the Austrian Alps and away from urban areas.

Night skies in Europe are reportedly getting some six percent lighter each year, with Austria’s skies exceeding this average by six to eight percent. Yikes.

“If it carries on like this, then by 2040, there will be the first few areas where you won’t be able to see any stars at all with the naked eye,” Stefan Wallner, astronomer at the University of Vienna told Austrian newspaper Kurier.

You can see just how bad light pollution is in your area here.

Fortunately, Austria has so-called star parks (see below) where they are making a conscious effort to keep light pollution down to a minimum.

It’s always a good time to check the skies out, but it should be particularly special from August 11th to August 13th with the Perseids meteor showers – possibly the most beautiful night of the year for stargazing as you should see between 50-110 ‘shooting stars’ per hour!

You might need to set your alarm, though, as the best time to see them is between 9pm and 6am, looking to the north-east.

No telescope? No problem. We’ve put together a list of the best places across Austria where it’s dark enough to see stars even with the naked eye.

Sternenpark Naturpark Attersee-Traunsee, Upper Austria
In 2021, this park was certified as Austria’s first star park by the International Dark Sky Association.

This means everyone in the area makes it their job to keep light pollution at very low levels – you’ll struggle to find any brightly lit buildings or advertising hoardings here. Street lighting is kept to a minimum, too.

You can find out more in the video above (in German).

The park offers many different trails and discovery tours, as well as photography workshops for beginners and more advanced snappers, and other creative courses, such as natural drum-making.

Durrenstein hut to Locatelli hut by night

The Dürrenstein wilderness area is Austria’s first World Natural Heritage site. Photo by Mia Battaglia on Flickr.

Ybbstaler residence in the Dürrenstein wilderness area, Lower Austria

Fans of stargazing can stay in this chalet on the 1,343-metre-high Ybbstaler Alps, in the Dürrenstein wilderness area.

Unesco declared Austria’s only wilderness area the country’s first World Natural Heritage Site in 2017 – giving it the same protection as the likes of the Dolomites and the Grand Canyon.

Given its position and protection, it’s easy to spot the milky way and zodiacal light (that faint white triangular glow you see just after sunset or before sunrise), as well as thousands of stars, with the naked eye.

And it’s a great place to spend a bit longer, too: there are 3,500 hectares of wilderness to discover via tours, excursions and hiking trails.  

Visitors can explore the wilderness area on guided tours and excursions, which also provide a view of the Rothwald, or on the official hiking trails.

Hohe Dirn Star Park, Upper Austria

Grab your torches and something and reach for the stars – and the milky way – at the 1,100-metre-high Star Park observation point in the Upper Austrian municipality of Reichraming.

They also hold special events and public observation evenings (see above video) where you’ll get a short intro to the starry night. They’ll point out key constellations, answer your questions on astronomy and, depending on conditions, you might be able to see some objects up close with a telescope.

You can register for the next ones here.

Frauenberg and Hochtor

The summit to the right is the Hochtor, part of the Gesäuse National Park and the highest mountain in the Ennstaler Alps in Styria, Austria. Photo by Bernd Thaller on Flickr.

Gesäuse National Park, Styria
This 12,000-hectare national park in the mountainous region of Upper Styria extends over Admont, Johnsbach, Weng, Hieflau, Landl and St Gallen – Jonsdach was recently found to be the darkest place in Austria, so you know the views are going to be good here.

It’s said that people have even been able to see the milky way here without a telescope.

As well as stargazing opportunities a-plenty, they also have exhibitions, a photography school, and climbing, cycling and boating routes.

Plus, there’s a designated camping area.

telescope in front of mountain residence

There’s no light pollution on the Emberger Alm. Photo by Sattleggers Alpenhof

Mountain residence with observatory, Carinthia
If you fancy spending more than an evening with the twinkly ones, then how about a star-watching holiday?

Sattleggers Alpenhof on the Emberger Alm in Carinthia offers just that – there’s a mini observatory at 1,800 metres, a weather-proof star-watching hut with a retractable roof, astronomy photography workshops, and crucially, very dark nights with no light pollution.

waiting for the stars in grossmugl

Waiting for the stars at Großmugl. Photo by captain.orange on Flickr.

And Vienna (!)
Even if you’re in Vienna, all is not lost.

Just outside the city, you’ll find the Georgenberg Sterngarten observatory.

They hold lots of events for star fans, including tours, lectures, observation evenings, shooting star nights and picnics under the stars.

There’s also the Großmugl star walk just 30 minutes from Vienna.

The path is suitable for all ages – it’s about 1.5km long and has information boards all along it describing the phenomena you might see in the night sky.

And what about if it’s raining? Then head to the planetarium!

Austria’s largest planetarium allows you to stargaze whatever the weather.

There are events for young and old star-spotters alike, including watching the spectacular Perseids meteor shower (12th August, 2022) and private tours.

You can even dine under the 9,000 twinkling stars. Prices start at €149 per person.

The Urania Observatory, Austria’s oldest – yet most modern – observatory is also in Vienna. Thanks to a super-powerful automatic double telescope you can still observe the skies despite the brightness of the city.

And if you’re wondering when the best time to stargaze is, you better set your alarm clocks, as it’s between 2-3am, ideally during a new moon.

Happy stargazing!

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