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Discover Austria: 7 must-see destinations for a spring break

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Discover Austria: 7 must-see destinations for a spring break
Austria's Wachau region is one of the best places to visit in spring. (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

The best way to blow away the winter cobwebs is by planning a spring adventure. And there's no better place to explore than Austria.

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Austria is usually known as a winter destination, but it’s a beautiful country to explore in the spring too. 

In the east, flowers and trees come to life in cities and the countryside, and snow capped mountains sparkle in the spring sunshine in the west.

The only downside is that the weather can be unpredictable with spells of sunshine often interrupted by rainfall. And the west can still get snow flurries until May. 

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FOR MEMBERS: Six of the best things to do in spring in Vienna

But as long as you don’t mind packing for two seasons, there is plenty to see and do during spring in Austria.

Here are seven places to visit for a spring adventure in the Alpine Republic.

Winemaker Nikolaus Saahs, 34, poses for a picture in one of his vineyards overlooking Wachau Valley near Mautern, Lower Austria, on August 21, 2014. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Wachau

At the top of your list for a spring destination in Austria should be the Wachau – a region in Lower Austria that runs alongside the Danube River and is home to many vineyards and pretty villages.

Between March and April, the Wachau comes to life as around 100,000 apricot trees come into bloom. Spring is also the time when winegrowers open their taverns after a winter break, so it’s a great opportunity to sample some local food and drink.

To really make the most of the region, the best way is to hike the Wachau World Heritage Trail. This is a 180 km trail broken down into 14 stages (so you don’t have to do it all). Most people start in Krems and the trail takes you along the river, past vineyards and historical locations. 

Salzkammergut

In the Salzburg region, famous for its stunning lakes and mountains, try out the Salzkammergut cycle path this spring. It is 337 km-long and runs past 13 lakes.

Some of the main sights along the way include the city of Salzburg, spas in Bad Aussee and Bad Mitterndorf, the famous world heritage site of Hallstatt and the beautiful Grundlsee.

May is recommended as one of the best months to enjoy the Salzkammergut cycle path before the main summer season starts. However, there could still be some chilly days on the higher elevations, so be sure to pack a warm jacket before setting off.

READ MORE: What you need to know before travelling to Austria in spring 2023

A chilly and beautiful spring morning in Zillertal, Austria (Photo by Simon Maisch on Unsplash)

Zillertal

Spring is a great time to visit the Zillertal valley in Tyrol as you can enjoy activities like hiking and cycling, as well as winter sports.

Most ski resorts close around early to mid-April, depending on the conditions. But the Hintertux Glacier is open all year round, so you can get your skiing fix while enjoying the spring sunshine.

The Zillertal Valley is also a great place to get back to nature with lush green meadows and gently sloping mountains. Or visit the popular hiking village of Ginzling, which sits at 1,000 metres above sea level and is a base for exploring the region by foot.

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The Austrian city of Graz. Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

The Austrian city of Graz. Photo by Daniel J. Schwarz on Unsplash

Graz

In southeast Austria near the Slovenian border, Graz is a former Slavic settlement dating back to the 12th century. It has a rich historical and cultural heritage with modern buildings sitting next to more traditional Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

This unique blend of styles has earned Graz international recognition: the Altstadt (Old Town) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, and it has held a UNESCO City of Design title since 2011. 

Graz is also known as a culinary destination, which makes it an ideal choice for a spring weekend city break. Explore the Aldstadt by foot and discover its many restaurants, including vegan and vegetarian options. Or check out the farmer’s market Bauernmarkt am Lendplatz, on the other side of the river to pick up some local produce.

READ ALSO: Discover Austria: How to make the most of 24 hours in Graz

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Eisenstadt

Eisenstadt is the capital of Burgenland – Austria’s most eastern province and prominent wine growing region. It is also just 50 minutes from Vienna by car, making it a great location for a spring getaway.

Although a small city, Eisenstadt is packed with culture and a thriving culinary scene, with the districts of ​​St. Georgen and Kleinhöflein most famous for Heurigen wine taverns and restaurants. 

A highlight in Eisenstadt is the Schloss Esterházy – a beautiful baroque palace that was built in the 13th Century. It is also home to Haydnsaal, a concert hall in memory of the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn from the Classical period.

And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, the city of Bratislava in Slovakia is just one hour away across the border. 

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

Lake Lünersee, in Austria (Photo by Andreas Weilguny on Unsplash)

Lake Lünersee

Lüner Lake – known as the pearl of the Alps – is a large lake in Vorarlberg, near the town of Bludenz. In springtime it’s known for hiking trails and enjoying the fresh mountain air without the crowds of summer.

The Lünerseebahn (cable car) operates from mid-May and takes you from the valley station in Brandnertal (1583 metres) to Lüner Lake at 1983 metres. Alternatively, you can hike 2 km via the Böser Tritt to reach the lake.

However, some trails in the Alps can still be covered with snow in spring, so always do some research before venturing into the mountains. And if you want to stay overnight, the only place available at Lüner Lake is the Douglass Hütte that opens in mid-May.

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

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Grossglockner High Alpine Road

The High Alpine Road takes you on a stunning drive through the Alps to Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, which sits at 3,798 metres above sea level. The road is located in the Hohe Tauern National Park and extends across Salzburg, Tyrol and Carinthia.

The mountain pass is open to tourists from early May from 6am to 8pm and can only be accessed with a ticket. You can buy a day ticket, a three-week ticket, a season pass or a round-trip ticket. Motorcyclists can also take advantage of a tour ticket which allows for reduced entry to the Villacher Alpine Road.

There are also several mountain huts and restaurants along the route to sample some authentic Alpine cuisine, or simply enjoy the view on a sunny terrace.

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