Discover Austria’s hidden treasures

An Austrian summer is the perfect antidote to our modern, stressful 24/7 lifestyles
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The Independent Travel

A few days spent in the crisp, clean air of the mountains is a rejuvenating experience for mind, body and soul, be it adrenaline-fuelled action or just quiet contemplation in the company of nature’s finest.

A visit to Austria in the summer is a journey in its fullest sense – thing towering peaks, expansive skies and alpine meadows. Think hot sun, cool breeze and outdoor adventure. Think crashing waterfalls, serendipitous lakes and fresh spring water. Think glistening spires, mediaeval villages and the charms of an ancient Europe.

Modern-day Austria has all this… and much, much more. It is a land of hidden treasures where contemporary architecture and modern art meets the mountains, with spectacular cuisine, spas and sports, and above all the time and space to let your spirits soar.

This summer, Austria’s focus is on providing a range of new experiences which lead to self-fulfilment. An inspiring holiday is achieved by staying active, sharing the big outdoors, meeting and interacting with locals – simply experiencing the Austrian way of life.

River deep, mountain high

To experience the mountains properly you must do so on foot. The Eagle Walk comprises a 126-stage, 1,470km route; the main route, excluding all variations, is 280km long and split into 23 stages, each of which is graded blue, red or black in terms of difficulty in a way familiar to skiers. The company of a guide is recommended for their wealth of interesting knowledge, and the trail is dotted with huts, many of which offer a bed for the night.

Back to nature

The Alpbachtal is a living museum of traditional farming practices, where hundreds of years of rural history are perfectly preserved. Here you’ll find a region steeped in tradition, almost lost to the modern world, with more than 100 small working farms, owned by the same families for generations. They live in perfect harmony with their surroundings, making milk, cheese and butter so creamy it tastes like the air in the summer meadows, and pears and applpes grow in abundance.

High-altitude health kicks

The ultimate form of contemplative relaxation is walking, and the “Green Ring” 3-day hiking trail around the region is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the great mental and physical wellbeing on offer. Unusual and enthralling installations have been built along the way telling entertaining stories of mythical legends in a modern and humorous way, letting you ejoy hiking, art, nature and literature all at the same time.

The art of living

Old and new stand side by side in Bregenzerwald in a region rich in a tradition of wooden architecture. The buildings are world leaders in the use of renewable energy using geothermal energy, solar cells and different local materials. But the Bregenzerwald is not just a feast for the eyes – it is also known for its culinary delights with eight of the area’s most prized restaurants interpret traditional dishes with modern flair.

The ultimate health club

Mountain running, Nordic walking, high rope courses, swimming through caves and much more – Montafon, the world’s biggest gym, has it all, bounded not by walls but by mountainside, with blue skies as a ceiling. The highlight is the Eropatreppe, with 4,000 steps rising up a vertical drop of 700m, with a maximum gradient of 86%.

High culture

Lake Constance in Vorarlberg offers world-class opera, contemporary art and world-leading architecture with views across one of Europe’s great lakes. Every summer culture lovers come to the Bregenz Festival to see one of the world’s great orchestras performing Aida on the floating stage, or to see the Kunsthaus Bergenz, a construction of etched glass, steel and concrete with an abundance of natural light, that hosts a rolling schedule of exhibitions.

The natural kitchen

The Zillertal is one of Austria’s culinary heartlands. From simple alpine huts in the mountains to award winning restaurants down in the valley, the Zillertal cuisine enjoys a very special reputation. Together with a guide, wander through meadows and fields, spotting and smelling bouquets of arnica, Erica, dandelion, and many others.

Family wonderland

The greatest natural kids’ clubs of all time, including Schnitza’s Holzpark, a new adventure park on a wooden theme with carving, bowling and a wooden balancing course, and Wagraini’s Grafenberg, a water and mountain adventure park with one of the highest swings in the world.

Making a splash

Water makes for a perfect summer holiday and Zell am See-Kaprun has water in abundance, amid the surprisingly warm ripples of its Mountain Lake, and, high up, the year-round snows of its glacier. Climb to the Kitzteinhorm with a local guide, the roof of Europe at 3,203m, with views of more than 30 peaks and 3,000 metres rising around you. Descend the mountainside into the valley and stop off at a farm shop and buy some local cheese and schnapps, then enjoy a soothing massage from the hotel spa’s therapist – look after your body and your body will look after you.

City cool

Three cities, three ways of enjoying life:

A place to wander and discover courtyards, terraces and squares; Graz was a cradle of the Renaissance, but it also offers the best of contemporary culture (Kunsthaus museum). Known as “Austria’s delicatessen”, its geographical position at the confluence of the Alpine and Mediterranean climate zones means that everything from mountain beef and milk to Mediterranean vegetables are grown locally.

Mozart’s birthplace with romantic Baroque-era architecture is the perfect place to hear a Mozart concerto in one of the city’s theatres or old palaces and castles. Salzburg is also known for the Salzburg Festival – one of the world’s leading Festivals, which is celebrating 90th birthday

Surrounded by mountains, Innsbruck combines urban culture with the best outdoor activities, with its unique combination of historic city feel within the old town and its famous Golden Roof and high mountains all around.

Non-stop thrills

A break that offers a pure adrenaline rush is the essence of Saalbach Hiterglemm in summer. Take on the Big 5 challenge free-ride tour, with a cable car up the 5,000 metres of altitude and 57km of biking trails. But it is not just cycling here - there is also the longest zip wire in Europe, and 100 metres above the valley floor! Shoot across a valley, attached to a wire by a sturdy harness and hooks… and not much else - bulleting, Bond-style, across a ravine, with nothing underneath you but pure Alpine air.

You could even win the perfect break at one of Austria’s Hidden Treasures.