Steeped in arts and culture, Austria is a wonderful place for vacationers looking for a blend of history, sightseeing and adventure. A visit to Vienna's Imperial Hofburg Palace recalls the grandeur of the Habsburg Dynasty and the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire who once ruled from there. The palace, which now serves as the official presidential residence, has grown into a sizeable complex encompassing museums, the Imperial Library, a national theater, and horse stables with a riding school.
The Alps that stretch into Austria from neighboring Switzerland cover seventy percent of the country, making it a perfect landscape for a European ski vacation. The ski resorts that dot the landscape offer hundreds of miles of downhill terrain, deep snow and glacier skiing. The après-ski activities are just as exciting, featuring bars, restaurants, casinos, and an occasional glimpse of vacationing royalty.
As spring arrives and the snows recede, warmer months reveal the rugged beauty of the mountainous landscape. Rare birds and wildlife make their homes among the castles and ruins at the six national parks, 20 alpine gardens, and nearly 60 nature preserves and nature parks.
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Birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Central Austria boasts stunning alpine scenery, picturesque castles, Europe's oldest restaurant and the largest intact fortress in Central Europe. A tour of the Eisriesenwelt ice caves reveals the amazing "World of the Ice Giants."
Home of the Danube Valley and The Blue Danube composer Johann Strauss II, Eastern Austria offers a wide range of cultural experiences. Locals gather at Viennese cafés to eat, read and debate, while formal waltz balls draw thousands of dancers in ball gowns and black tie.
Farmland and rolling hills set the stage in Northern Austria, where friendly people and a slower pace greet visitors. Notable landmarks in the region include the ruins of Heidelberg Castle and the St. Florian Monastery, which dates back to the early ninth century.
Southern Austria is a study in contrasts. The opulent intricacies of gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture enhance the natural beauty of national parks, lakeside beaches and thermal spas.
Quaint Tyrolean villages dot the landscape across Western Austria, and beautiful Lake Constance welcomes swimmers, sunbathers and sailors to her shores. Nestled in the midst of the Nordkette, Patscherkofel and Serles mountains, Innsbruck is known as the "Capital of the Alps."