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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.

starry sky at night 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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Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

Vienna is full of events, places to visit and great new restaurants to try out. If you are overwhelmed with the possibilities or just wondering where you can find a cool event only the locals know of, here are some ideas.

Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

Haus des Meeres

Since it looks like we are heading for a rainy weekend in Vienna, it’s a good idea to check out some interesting indoor places. If you haven’t visited Austria’s aquarium in Vienna 6th district, the weekend is a great time to do so.

The aquarium has several areas, including a crocodile park, a tropical house with free-flying birds and monkeys going up and down, and loads of animals in different tanks. The top floor has a roof terrace and a bar with beautiful views of Vienna.

Here you can find more information.

Free beginner Forró class

How about learning a typical Brazilian dance called Forró? This Saturday, August 20th, from 8 pm to 9 pm, there will be a free beginner course at Jo&Joe Hostel in Vienna’s 15th district.

After the class, DJ Serginho will bring some Latin Vibes music to spice up your evening. The beginners class is free, but you should register beforehand – and wear proper clothes and shoes to dance away during the night.

Here you can find more information.

Veganista

While the weather is still lovely and hot, of course, ice cream parlours are very popular in Vienna. One of the most famous is the vegan shop Veganista, founded by two sisters and with several branches in the city.

Besides being vegan, the ice cream is made with no paste or ice powder mixtures, artificial additives or flavourings. The ice cream is delicious and popular even with non-vegans.

Here you can find more information.

Vienna Classic Days 2022

Every year, old and classic cars parade on the Vienna Ringstrasse, turning the city’s centre into a moving museum. They drive from the Donaupart through Viennese suburbs and the Vienna Woods, then through the first district until Wien Mitte and, this year, around 250 old vehicles are expected.

The drive starts at 9 am on Saturday, but the parade through the first district should be at 3:30 pm and the great drive on Vienna’s Ringstrasse starts at around 5:30 pm. A similar but shorter route is also happening between 10 am and 1 pm on Sunday.

Here you can find more information.

Neustifter Kirtag 2022

The end of summer, just before the start of school, is when several traditional events called Kirtage (kermesse) take place. This weekend, one of the most traditional, with people dressing up in Lederhosen and Dirndl and enjoying a wine fair, is happening in the 19th district.

The Neustifter Kirtag has free entrance and is back after being cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic. A very quintessential Austrian event, there are processions, food and beverage for the entire family from Friday (19th) to Monday (22nd).

Here you can find more information.

Do you know any other cool events happening in Vienna during the weekends? You can email us at [email protected] to share your tips and suggestions.

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