In Association with: Austria National Tourist Office

Summer Austria


The many joys of Austria as a winter destination are well documented. Here is a mountain-framed country where fabled snow-bound resorts such as Kitzbühel, St Anton, Mayrhofen and Ischgl offer some of the planet's finest slopes; where skiers of all ages enjoy wonderful downhill days; where frosted peaks are set gloriously against a blue sky.


And yet, the charm of Austria as a holiday destination does not fade out in May when the skis are packed away for another six months. Far from it. As spring edges out winter and summer dances into view, Austria casts off its iconic icy appearance and turns gorgeously green – its mountains and valleys becoming the perfect playground for sunny adventures.

Hikers, cyclists, kayakers and climbers, couples and families, senior travellers, the young and intrepid – all can find a break to suit them in these leafy, craggy surroundings. And food and culture also have their moments as Austria settles into the hottest of the seasons.

Take Vorarlberg, for example. The westernmost of Austria's nine states is something of a hidden gem. Here, you can wander rocky trails as the ski resort of Lech Zürs am Arlberg switches to summer mode, passing shining bodies of water like the Speichersee (which can be reached on the 5.5-mile 'Green Ring' route). You can explore little villages dotted about the Bregenz Forest – such as Bezau, Alberschwende, Mellau, Egg and Andelsbuch – and try local delicacies like Bregenzerwalder Bergkäse, the cheese for which the area is renowned. You can also take in opera, classical music and theatre at the annual summer festival in the state capital Bregenz (23 July to 25 August 2014;

Carinthia, the southernmost Austrian state, has a similar appeal. Winter-sports fans flock to ski hub Klagenfurt in the cold months, but summer draws in walkers keen to tackle the Alpe-Adria-Trail – a splendid up-and-down 470-mile hiking route that slices through the state as it heads towards Slovenia. Visitors do not have to attempt the whole thing, of course, but should certainly amble the lovely section around the clear Millstättersee lake.


Northerly Salzburgerland, meanwhile, hails the summer in Zell am See-Kaprun – another popular ski zone which embraces the change of season. Water-sports – boating, kayaking, swimming – are all possible on Lake Zell, while those who love life on two wheels can test themselves against the three mountain-biking trails on the 3203m Kitzsteinhorn peak. Elsewhere, in the Raurisertal valley, there are descents of a different kind – as enormous birds of prey come swooping out of the heavens. The area – part of Hohe Tauern National Park – is home to a large population of vultures. Fans of wide-winged wildlife can grab a closer glimpse by riding the Rauriser Hochalmbahn cable-car to its top station at 1800m.

Then there is Tyrol, a winter icon due to the likes of Kitzbϋhel and St Anton – but also a summer hotspot thanks to splendid enclaves such as the Zillertal valley. Here – with the ski resort of Mayrhofen at its heart – is a place where you can hike along sun-dappled pathways. These include the Berliner Höhenweg (Berlin High Trail), which flits along elevated portions of the Zillertal Alps (but is accessible to tourists of all energy levels), and the tougher 35-mile Peter Habeler Route – a rugged option named after the feted Austrian mountaineer. Then there is the Wild Kaiser region, where you can stroll through idyllic villages such as Going, Scheffau, Söll and Ellmau (and also play golf in the latter).

Of course, summer in Austria is not just about the mountains and the high country. It is also about the cities. Tyrol is also proof of this. Its capital, Innsbruck, is an urban jewel amid Alpine splendour. Visitors can stride the grand boulevards of Maria-Theresien-Strasse and Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, spend an afternoon among the sighing trees of the Hofgarten park, or hit the heights via the Patscherkofelbahn – which, in rising to the 2246m summit of the Patscherkofel peak, offers spectacular views of the valley around it.

Elsewhere, in the north of Austria, Linz – the capital of the state of Oberӧsterreich (Upper Austria) – is a waterside haven, where the noble River Danube flows through the centre. Here is one of Europe's most underrated cities, home to first-class museums – including the science and technology of the Ars Electronica Center, and the striking modern art of the Lentos Kunstmuseum – and giddy amusements in the shape of the Pflasterspektakel festival, a yearly bonanza of street performance (17-19 July 2014; Alternatively, you can treat yourself to the city's patisserie gift to the world – the sugary Linzer Torte – as you relax next to the Danube on the riverside grass of the Donaupark.


Graz, the capital of south-easterly Styria, belongs to that part of Austria where the Alps start to recede behind, and a softer Mediterranean ambience makes itself felt. A day here might be spent sipping coffee on the Murinsel (a quirky metallic island built into the middle of the River Mur), perusing thought-provoking photography at the city's excellent Kunsthaus gallery, or heading to the top of the Schlossberg – the lone crag of rock which once supported Graz's (now ruined) castle – for lunch at one of several al-fresco eateries.

And what of Salzburg? A city that is indelibly connected to the story of Mozart will stage its Salzburg Festival (18 July to 31 August; of classical music and opera this year with a focus on... Richard Strauss, the 19th century German composer who 'reaches' his 150th birthday in 2014. Summertime Austria has endless capacity to surprise.

For more information, see and for best offers see


The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform