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6 great alternatives to Austria's overcrowded tourists hotspots

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
6 great alternatives to Austria's overcrowded tourists hotspots
Wörthersee in Carinthia, a great alternative to Austria's more crowded tourist spots. Photo by Katie Archibald-Woodward on Unsplash

Austria has some of the most overcrowded tourist spots in the world but if you are looking for some alternative hidden gems then we've picked out six.


Spring is here, and it is a great season to start traveling and explore different parts of Austria.

It is also the time of the year when certain locations tend to get very crowded, such as bigger cities like Vienna and Salzburg, the lakeside area of Salzkammergut near Salzburg, and of course, the small and globally famous town of Hallstatt in the same area.

In fact, Austria is recognised as the world's most overcrowded countries, with more than three tourists for every permanent resident of the country. In bigger cities, tourism is still often warmly welcomed, but in smaller towns and regions, the situation can be different.

In the small-town Hallstatt, tourists from all over the world arrive during all periods of the year, which is something that the locals are not always able to tolerate. Last year, placard-waving locals blocked the tunnel into Hallstatt and also created a fence to block the views from the city, making it hard for tourists to take selfies.

The bigger cities tend to be more welcoming, but also they sometimes need to take certain measures to deal better with the high number of tourists. For example, Vienna has promoted alternative attractions and neighbourhoods, encouraging tourists to explore things beyond the city centre.

If you want to avoid the crowds and still enjoy beautiful nature, interesting towns and other places, we have some ideas that you might not have heard that much about.


The lakes in Carinthia

When it comes to lakes, Austria is most famous for the Salzkammergut lake region outside Salzburg. Although this is an incredibly beautiful place to visit, it can be very crowded with tourists, especially during the summer months. Luckily, Austria has other places to explore where you can go swimming in crystal-clear water while surrounded by mountains.

The region of Carinthia has a lot to offer in terms of lakes and beautiful nature. The lakes are close to each other and surrounded by mountains and smaller beautiful towns where you can enjoy cultural events, history, or just some great food.

The mountains in the area are a great place to enjoy hiking, biking, climbing, and during the colder months, skiing.

Some of the most beautiful lakes in the area include, of course, the most famous one, Wörthersee, but also others such as Ossiacher See, Faaker See, and Millstätter See.

People sail on the Wörthersee lake. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)


Instead of visiting the sometimes very crowded capital, you can explore the capital of the Styrian region, Graz, a city that has a lot to offer.

Graz is known in Austria for being a lively city with many students, beautiful buildings, and a great cultural scene, offering a variety of museums, theatres, festivals, and music venues, many of them located in the old town. Graz's historical old town is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an interesting place to walk around and explore historical buildings and sites such as Graz Cathedral and the Clock Tower.


You can also enjoy some great food in Graz, where you can choose from a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and markets. The city is known for its high-quality regional products.

If you want to enjoy a nice view of the city, you can visit Schlossberg, a hill in the centre with great views of the city and surrounding landscape. You can hike up the hill or take the Schlossbergbahn funicular.



Schlossberg in Graz. Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash


You might not have heard about Mallnitz, but then you definitely have missed out on something. Mallnitz is a small mountain village in Carinthia, just a ten-minute train ride in the mountains away from the famous tourist ski resort, Bad Gastein.

Mallnitz is located in Hohe Tauern national park and is surrounded by beautiful nature with high mountains and is a great place to go if you want to explore the areas through hiking, skiing or climbing.


The village also has a decent number of guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, and bars. Different from Bad Gastein, it offers a quieter surrounding where you can relax in nature and where it's easier get to know the locals.

Lake Stappitzer in Mallnitz. Photo by Aydin Hassan on Unsplash

Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park

Ötscher-Tormäuer is a nature park in Lower Austria, a two-hour drive from Vienna by car, or three hours by public transport. The nature park is known for its tall cliffs, deep valleys, waterfalls, and many trees.

Here you can go hiking, biking, skiing, or simply just enjoy the nature and many waterfalls. You can also explore various castles and villages in the area, such as Lackenhof am Ötscher.

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St. Wolfgang

If you still want to visit the popular Salzkammergut but avoid crowded Hallstatt, St. Wolfgang is a great alternative. It is a town located at Lake Wolfgangsee where you can go swimming or enjoy a boat ride while taking in the incredible views of mountains and nature surrounding you.

If you want to explore the area further, you can go on a hike in the mountains or do some skiing during the colder months.

The old town is itself is definitely worth a visit due to its many traditional beautiful buildings, cute cobblestone narrow streets, and the big church called the Gothic parish church of St. Wolfgang.

Evening at Lake Wolfgangsee. Photo by S. Widua on Unsplash

Gross Walsertal

Gross Walsertal is a valley and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Vorarlberg. It is known by Austrians for its beauty and cultural heritage.

The area is great for all types of mountain sports, such as biking, hiking, and skiing.

In Gross Walsertal, there are many small settlements and cute villages where you can get a glimpse of the old Alpine way of life, with Fontanella being one of them. The buildings in the area, such as the many farmhouses, are made of wood and have been around for centuries.

The valley is named after the Walser people, a German-speaking ethnic group that settled in the area in the Middle Ages. The Walser have preserved their unique dialect and traditions, which you can still experienced in the region today.


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