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Discover Austria: 19 ways to make the most of autumn this year

The sun might still be shining but the seasons are changing and autumn is just around the corner. Here’s how to fully embrace the season this year.

Discover Austria: 19 ways to make the most of autumn this year
Autumn is more than a change of seasons in Austria - it's also a great time to explore the country. (Photo by Anastasia Lashkevich / Pexels)

It’s no secret that winter in Austria is long and cold.

This is why it’s so important to make the most of autumn before the winter really kicks in.

Here’s how to make that happen with our selection of events, activities, places to see and seasonal foods to eat.

FOR MEMBERS: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Events

The Viennale – the annual international film festival – takes place from October 20th to November 1st.

A preview of this year’s programme includes feature films from France, Kazakhstan, US, Canada, Greece, Austria and the UK. As well as a monograph on Elaine May – the award-winning American comedian, actress, playwright and filmmaker. 

Screenings take place at various venues across Vienna, such as Gartenbaukino on Parkring, Stadkino im Künstlerhaus and Urania on Uraniastrasse.

The full Viennale programme will be published on October 11th at 8pm and the ticket presale starts on October 15th at 10am.

Oktoberfest is another autumn event to add to your list of seasonal fun.

The annual celebration of beer, dirndl and lederhosen might originate in Munich, Germany, but Austria is not one to be left behind. As a result, there are many Oktoberfest events that take place across the country from mid-September to early October.

READ ALSO: Discover Austria: Six off-the-beaten-track towns to visit

Unfortunately, Vienna’s Wiesn event has already been cancelled this year due to difficulties in securing a venue (according to the official website). 

But similar events are taking place, like Knödelfest in St Johann in Tyrol on September 24th, which is a one-day festivity of dumplings, beer and traditional music.

If Oktoberfest-style events are too kitschy for you, then check out Vienna’s Craft Bier Fest instead. It takes place from November 18th and 19th at the Marx Halle and visitors can sample beers from local and international brewing companies. 

Activities

Autumn can be one of the best times of the year in Austria for a hiking adventures as temperatures are cooler but there is still plenty of sunshine.

If you’re in the mood for a multi-day hike, then try the Adlerweg (Eagle’s Trail). It can either be broken down into smaller hikes or completed in one go in around four weeks.

The trail traverses classic alpine landscapes in Tyrol from St Johann to St Anton am Arlberg. However, some huts close from around mid-October before the winter sets in, so keep that in mind when planning a hiking trip.

READ MORE: Discover Austria: Five beautiful hikes and destinations south of Vienna

Alternatively, get involved in Vienna’s Wine Hiking Day on September 24th and 25th.

Every year, Viennese wine taverns (Heurigen) open to hikers searching for a panoramic view of the city while sampling local wines. Participants can choose from four different routes for the hike – ranging from 2.4km to 9.6km.

If hiking is not your thing, you can take the Heurigen Express instead. This is a dedicated train service that departs from the U4 station at Heiligenstadt and takes you into Vienna’s wine country.

If you prefer to explore the great outdoors on two wheels, then head to Burgenland to cycle along the province’s extensive bike trails. Burgenland has a slightly warmer climate and so enjoys a longer outdoor season than other parts of Austria.

Or test your stamina with a multi-day cycle from Vienna to Linz, the capital of Lower Austria, along the Danube cycle path. 

Autumn in Vienna (Photo by Ashkan on Unsplash)

Places to visit

Autumn is a great time for a city trip in Austria, especially as the weather gets colder and wetter in many parts of the country.

Vienna is always a top destination for a weekend getaway and if you can squeeze in a visit while the Viennale is on, then even better. But there are always plenty of other attractions to enjoy in Austria’s capital city, from museums to restaurants and live music.

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

Then there is Linz, which is home to Ars Electronica, a cultural institution with a focus on new media art. Highlights in the autumn programme include the Deep Space Concert with keyboardist Gerald Peter on September 21st, and a Familienwochende (family weekend) on September 24th and 25th.

On the other hand, if you want to venture off the beaten path, head to Eisenstadt, the capital of Burgenland

Eisenstadt is a little-known (and small) city but boasts lots of culture, such as the grand Esterházy Palace. There is also an historic old town with shops, cafes and restaurants, and several Heurigen in the districts of St. Georgen and Kleinhöflein.

Seasonal food and drink

A switch to cooler weather is the perfect time to sample regional, hearty food in Austria, and there is nothing more Austrian during autumn than Schwammerl.

A Schwammerl is a large mushroom (the name comes from Austrian and Bavarian dialect, so it doesn’t mean the same as Pilz, which is just mushroom) and they are found in forests across the country from late summer. 

The best way to find Schwammerl in Austria is to go foraging yourself – as long as you know what you are looking for.

But if you’re not interested in picking mushrooms, you can find Schwammerl at most supermarkets, independent grocery stores and farmers markets during autumn.

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

Alternatively, if you want to sample fresh mushrooms but can’t be bothered to cook, then head down to your favourite Austrian restaurant to try a regional Schwammerl dish. 

Highlights include Semmelknödel mit Rahmschwammerl (bread dumplings with cream mushroom sauce) and Böhmisches Schwammerl-Gulasch (bohemian mushroom goulash), the latter being a Viennese speciality.

For wine lovers out there, autumn is also Sturm season in Austria.

From late September to early October, Sturm – fermenting grape juice that is on its way to becoming wine – is served at Heurigen across the country.

Sturm has the look of cloudy, unfiltered beer but has a fresh, juicy flavour. It is most popular at Viennese Heurigen where you can usually sample local food alongside your glass of fermenting wine.

Find out more about Austria’s wine scene with The Local’s guide to the best wineries in the country.

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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

Discover Austria: How to make the most of 24 hours in Innsbruck

Looking for a short break in Austria that combines city life with the great outdoors? Then make your way to Innsbruck, where you can explore the mountains by day and the city by night.

Discover Austria: How to make the most of 24 hours in Innsbruck

Innsbruck is a small city nestled in the heart of the Austrian Alps in Tyrol.

It’s surrounded by mountains and has a strong connection with nature. But at the same time it has a strong arts and culture scene and a vibrant nightlife.

Here’s how to make the most of both worlds with The Local’s guide to 24 hours in Innsbruck.

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Outdoor adventures

When it comes to outdoor adventures in Innsbruck, exploring the Nordkette mountain range is a must-do.

The Nordkette (or North Chain) is located just north of the city and is part of the stunning Karwendel Nature Park – Austria’s largest nature park covering 727 sqm.

This mountain range is easily accessible from the city centre with the Nordkettenbahn (Nordkette cable car). In just eight minutes, visitors can go from Congress Station on Rennweg (near the Golden Roof – see more below) to the Hungerburg Station via the Hungerburgbahn. 

From there, you can visit Hermann Buhl Square to find out more about the famous Austrian mountaineer. Or simply take in the panoramic views across the city.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can then head to the Seegrube Panorama Trail or to the Seegrube Restaurant to try Tyrolean cuisine like homemade soups and Gröstl (a bacon, onion and potato fry up).

The cable car runs every 15 minutes from 7.15am to 7.15pm, Monday to Friday. On Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, the operating hours are 8am to 7.15pm.

Tickets for the Hungerburgbahn start at €10.90.

READ MORE: Discover Austria: 19 ways to make the most of autumn this year

History and culture

The Goldenes Dachl (or Golden Roof) is a landmark structure. It’s located in the Old Town (Altstadt) and is considered Innsbruck’s most important and historic symbol.

The building was completed in 1500 and finished with 2,657 fire-gilt copper tiles on the roof, which give the effect of a roof made from gold (hence the name). It was built for Emperor Maximilian I.

Visitors can take in the structure from outside for free – or from the comfort of one the nearby cafes if you can get a seat on the terrace. Alternatively, you can pay a fee to go inside and explore the museum, depending on how much time you have.

From October to April, the Goldenes Dachl is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm.

While you’re at the Goldenes Dachl, it’s also worth taking some time to wander around the Old Town and then down to the river. There is a pretty view across the water of different coloured houses, all of which have stunning mountains as the backdrop.

READ ALSO: How to keep safe and avoid problems when hiking in the Austrian Alps

(Photo by Harold Wainwright on Unsplash)

Food and drink

If you’re on a budget, or just want to sample some local and seasonal produce while you’re in Innsbruck, then add the Markthalle (market hall) to your itinerary.

The Markthalle has more than 40 vendors and sells everything from Speck (cured ham) to Austrian cheeses and fruit and vegetables. 

On the weekend, the Markthalle is only open from 7am to 1pm on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. But it’s open from 7am to 6.30pm from Monday to Friday.

For craft beer fans, add Tribaun bar to your list of things to do in Innsbruck.

Tribaun is centrally located on Museumstrasse (about a five-minute walk from the Goldenes Dachl). It has around 16 different craft beers on tap, as well as a food menu with pizzas and burgers. 

Tribaun is open Monday to Saturday from 6pm and customers can book a 90 minute beer tasting for the full experience.

Another recommendation for food is burrito hotspot, Machete, on Anichstrasse, where you can sample Mexican cuisine while sipping on cocktails.

Unfortunately, Machete does not take bookings, so it’s worth arriving early if you really want to get a table. Machete is open from 11.30am to 1am from Tuesday to Saturday, and from 11.30am to 12am on Sunday. 

READ NEXT: Schwammerl season: What is it and when does it start in Austria?

Shopping

Maria-Theresian-Strasse is the main shopping street in Innsbruck. It is home to Kaufhaus Tyrol and the RathausGalerien, both indoor centres with shops and cafes.

All the usual high street shops can be found on Maria-Theresian-Strasse. As well as some Austrian favourites, like Swarovski, and stores selling traditional dirndls and lederhosen.

If you want an alternative to high street stores then stroll through the Old Town where there are many small, independent shops selling jewellery, souvenirs and local food. This is the place to go to pick up some Tyrolean gifts.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

And just outside of the city centre there is the DEZ shopping centre, where you can find stores like H&M, Zara, Humanic and even IKEA.

Got a recommendation for our 24 hours in Innsbruck guide? Let us know in the comments section below or email [email protected].

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