Autumn in Austria: Six destinations to add to your travel list
Autumn is a great time to explore Austria – it’s not too hot, not too cold and there aren’t many tourists around. Here are the best places to visit before winter kicks in.
Reasons to travel in Austria in Autumn
Austria has two distinct tourist seasons – winter and summer (with winter being the most popular).
As a result, many people overlook autumn, but it can be the perfect time for making the most of Austria’s cities, mountains and culinary scene.
First, accommodation is often cheaper during autumn as it’s considered to be “off-season”. This means you can find some good deals at wellness hotels in the Alps, or boutique hotels in city centres.
Then there are the autumn colours to enjoy with trees across the country changing from green to red, yellow and orange. This is especially pretty in city parks or in the mountains.
The cooler weather in Autumn also means it can be the best time of the year for hiking or exploring Austria’s wine regions.
So whether you prefer a city break or you want to connect with nature, here are six of the best places to visit in Austria for an autumn break.
South Styria is known as the culinary heartland of Austria, so it should be at the top of the list for any foodies.
This southern part of Austria is packed with restaurants, cafes and wineries. Popular dishes served in Styria include Backhendl (fried chicken breast), Schweinsbraten (roast pork) and goulash soup.
Autumn is also when Sturm (early wine) is served at the many wineries in the region. Sturm is cloudy and slightly fizzy, and is typically served with roasted chestnuts in Styria.
FOR MEMBERS: The best Austrian wineries to visit this summer
Thankfully, you don't have to worry about gaining a few pounds while indulging in food and drink in Styria as there are many hiking and biking trails to explore. And you can combine sports and gastronomy with a tour along Styria’s 400km wine country cycling route.
There is even something for culture aficionados as the trails wind past many historical sites, like Schloss Seggau in Leibnitz, which has a 300-year-old wine cellar.
Wachau Valley, Lower Austria
Autumn is often tipped as the best time to visit the Wachau Valley – another Austrian foodie location.
The Wachau Valley is around one and a half hours from Vienna by car, or less than two hours by train, making it easily accessible for a weekend break.
Food, drink, hiking and biking feature heavily in the Wachau (just like in Styria), with opportunities to try local cider, attend harvest festivals or simply take in the golden leaves on the trees.
Then from mid-November, Martinigansl season starts which is when goose is served with the first young wines from the region.
But if you’re looking for adventure, head to the Mostviertel. This region borders Styria and Lower Austria and is dotted with hiking and cycling trails, as well as gorges, waterfalls and forests.
Many people overlook visiting Austria’s capital in the autumn, but it’s actually a great time to explore the city.
There are less tourists around, which often means off-season rates. And the autumn colours in the parks are beautiful.
Like elsewhere in Austria, autumn in Vienna is a celebration of the city’s wine scene and culinary scene. For this reason, plan a visit to a Heurigen (wine tavern) to sample local food and wine.
Vienna is also a hub for art and culture, with many museums like the Albertina Modern and the Museum of Natural History. Or, if museums aren’t your thing, discover more about the country’s imperial past at Schloss Schönbrunn.
The downside to visiting Vienna in the autumn is that the evenings can be chilly. So instead of people watching while sipping drinks on a terrace, book a ticket for an opera show at the Vienna State Opera.
Alternatively, catch a screening at the Viennale, Vienna’s annual international film festival.
For an autumn weekend getaway filled with art, culture, shopping, and gastronomy, the compact city of Salzburg ticks all the right boxes.
Located near the border with Bavaria in Germany, Salzburg is easy to reach from Vienna, either by train (around 2.5 hours) or car (three to four hours).
The city’s train station is also well connected to other cities across Austria like Innsbruck and Graz. As well as further afield locations in neighbouring Germany and Italy.
Classical music plays a big role in Salzburg, from Mozarts Geburtshaus (birthplace of Mozart) on Getreidegasse to concerts at Mozarteum University and Salzburg Cathedral.
Then there is the impressive Salzburg Castle (Festung Hohensalzburg) that sits on a cliff top overlooking the city. It was built in 1077 and is one of Europe’s largest mediaeval castles.
Salzburg’s Old Town (Altstadt) is also worth exploring where you can find high street shops, designer boutiques, antique stores, galleries and cafes.
Lake Weissensee, Carinthia
If you’re searching for peace, quiet and solitude then head to Lake Weissensee – one of Austria’s highest lakes known for having a fjord-like appearance.
The main tourist season at Lake Weissensee is summer but autumn is equally as enjoyable as the leaves change colour and the tourists go home. This makes it a top location for rest and relaxation.
For anyone that enjoys getting outside, the Slow Trails around Lake Weissensee are perfect for taking in the landscape. The trails are just 8.8km around the shore with plenty of opportunities to stop in secluded bays and enjoy the backdrop of the Gailtal Alps.
As autumn is off-season at Lake Weissensee, many of the big wellness hotels close for a short break. But plenty of smaller and independently owned accommodation providers still operate, often with discounted prices.
Rust is located on the western shore of Lake Neusiedl, not far from the border with Hungary. It is Austria’s smallest city, but don’t be deceived by its diminutive size.
Described as a “hidden gem”, Rust is an historic Austrian city with houses dating back to the 16th Century. It also has a thriving wine industry, which makes it another key culinary destination for Austrian food and drink.
Additionally, autumn in Rust is a great time to enjoy activities like cycling, sailing and windsurfing. The east of Austria enjoys a milder climate, so there is still plenty of sunshine and warmer temperatures to make the most of the outdoors.
For residents in Vienna, it’s easy to travel to Rust either by train (around 1.5 hours) or by car (one hour). Ideal for a weekend trip.