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From cozy villages and magnificent mountains, to grand museums and palaces, Austria boasts a plentiful choice of options for a winter holiday.
Of course, skiing is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Austria, however, there are so many more experiences you can indulge in within this beautiful country.
We have created the ultimate compilation of stunning winter destinations, which will guide you through some of the hidden gems of Austria and help you expand your itinerary for your next visit. You will discover where to find the highest suspension bridge in Europe, a spa built into the mountainside, a magnificent ice palace and a butterfly oasis, among other must-visit attractions.
TOP Destinations for a Winter Holiday in Austria
Austria offers a range of ski resorts, where children and adults can enjoy snowshoeing, ski jumping, snowboarding and sledding against the backdrop of the iconic Alpine peaks. On the other hand, it also has a variety of completely different offerings due to the fact that the country is rich in natural resources, such as warm thermal springs, known for its medicinal qualities. Some of the most coveted locations to visit in Austria on a winter holiday include Hallstatt, Bad Gastein, Aqua Dome, Dachstein Glacier and The Imperial Butterfly Park.
Nestled in the Salzkammergut region east of Salzburg, Hallstatt is famed for its postcard-perfect pastel-coloured houses surrounded by soaring mountains. In fact, China has a life-size replica of this village in the province of Guangdong as part of an exclusive residential development. The real Hallstatt is a UNESCO-listed area and offers plenty of activities to do in winter. One of its main attractions is a viewing platform called the Hallstatt Skywalk, which is 350 meters above the village. The platform offers a beautiful panoramic view of the UNESCO World Heritage Region with impressive mountain scenery and overlooks Lake Hallstatt.
Another popular destination in Hallstatt is The Salzwelten – the world’s oldest salt mine. Boasting a 7,000-year history, it has a 64 meter-long miners’ slide, which takes you back to the very beginnings of salt mining. As well as this, you can immerse in the history of the Bronze Age mining with the Bronze Age Cinema, located 400 m below the ground. This place also has the oldest staircase in the world, which was discovered in 2002 in the prehistoric section of Salzberg outside Hallstatt. You can check the ticket prices and timetable on salzwelten.at.
Hallstatt is located on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut region. If you are traveling from Vienna, then you should know that the nearest city to Hallstatt is Salzburg, which is only 70 km away. You can get here:
By plane and/or car: you can take a plane to Hallstatt and upon arrival rent a car at the airport in order to reach Hallstatt via the 158 highway, which will take about 1 hour 15 minutes. If you decide to drive the entire way from, for instance, Vienna to Hallstatt, then travel time will be slightly over 3 hours.
By public transport: it is possible to take a train from Vienna Westbahnhof with a short transfer stop in the resort town of Attnang-Puchheim. Once you reach Hallstatt Train Station, there is a year-round ferry service which will take you to the village itself. The entire trip will take a little more than 2 hours.
Hailed as the Monte Carlo of Alps, Bad Gastein attracts many visitors due to its belle-époque architecture and wide variety of activities. First of all, there is the ski resort named Gasteiner Bergbahnen, which offers ski touring routes, tobogganing descents and sledding on the Stubnerkogel mountain. For an adrenaline rush, there is also the adventurous Gastein Ski Demon, which combines fitness and skiing skill improvement. You can earn the title of Gastein Ski Demon in bronze, silver, or gold and it is suitable both for children and adults. As well as that, Bad Gastein houses the highest suspension bridge in Europe, the scenic platform Glocknerblick, a 100-meter long rock trail, as well as Gasti Snowpark where children can have the time of their lives. You can check the website skigastein.com for more information.
For the ultimate recreation experience, you can also visit Felsentherme Gastein, which is the highest located thermal spa of Salzburg at an altitude of 1,100m above the sea level and the first public spa resort in Austria. Located right at the head of the Gastein Valley and built right into the mountainside of Hohe Tauern, it is supplied with 18 springs, which aim at a one-of-a-kind revitalization. It is worth noting that over 1,000,000 liters of water feed the pools of Felsentherme Gastein daily, so you can be sure that it does not contain any chemical additives such as chlorine. The official website of the spa is felsentherme.com. Bad Gastein can be found in the district of St. Johann imm Pongau, in the Austrian state of Salzburg. You can get here:
By car: Salzburg and Bad Gastein are connected with the A10 highway so you will be able to reach the village within 1.5 hours.
By plane: the nearest airports to Bad Gastein are located in Salzburg and Munich. From there you can order a shuttle service which will take you straight to Bad Gastein, which will take 1 hour and 25 minutes from Salzburg, and 2 hours 40 minutes from Munich.
By public transport: there are direct connections to Bad Gastein, including the euro and intercity trains. For instance, a trip from Vienna will take about 4 hours.
Aqua Dome - Tirol Therme Längenfeld
Aqua Dome is a must-visit thermal spa, located in Ötztal Valley, which boasts floating basins and a cone-shaped covered stairway. It welcomes both hotel guests and day visitors throughout the year and treats them to the Spa 300 wellness area, the Panorama Relaxation Room and the Thermal Baths and Sauna Room.
Encircled by the mighty 3,000-meter high peaks of Oztall, the area of the spa has been used since the 16th century and now Aqua Dome is an officially approved mineral spa under Tyrolean spa law. It features an extensive range of exciting architectural concepts, such as a shower world, a 100°C sauna, an ice-cold grotto and a trail of alternating hot/cold water.
NBD! When you are planning a trip to the spa, remember that it is mandatory to pre-book a ticket on shop.aqua-dome.at
The highlight of Aqua Dome are 3 UFO-Esque pools, which give swimmers a sense of weightlessness. There is also Alpen Arche Noah, which is a state-of-the-art children’s area offering pools, a water fun park, water slides, board games and cuddly areas. For those who are willing to prolong the ultimate relaxation experience, it will be useful to know that Aqua Dome also houses a 4* hotel, with over 140 rooms, a bar, a lounge, a fine eatery, a library and a seminar room.
As mentioned earlier, Aqua Dome is situated in Oztal Valley, Langenfeld, which is the longest-side valley in Tyrol. It branches off the initial valley, between Piztal and Stubaital. You can get here:
By plane and/or car: the closest airport to Aqua Dome is Innsbruck Airport. From there you can hire a taxi transfer which will take you to Aqua Dome, however, this is quite a costly option. It is possible to rent a car at the airport and travel from there which will take 1 hour from Innsbruck via highways A12 and B186. Meanwhile, travel time to Innsbruck from Vienna will be about 5 hours.
By public transport: you will have to take the train Railjet at the railway station of Innsbruck Hbf and get off at the Otztal station. Next, take the bus VVT at the Ötztal-Bahnhof station, which will take you straight to the Langenfeld Edelweiß/Abzw Gries. The entire trip will take a maximum of 2.5 hours.
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Dachstein Glacier is the perfect location for a winter holiday, hidden between the borders of Salzburg, Upper Austria and Styria. The 2,995 m high Dachstein is the tallest mountain in Styria and offers a wonderful view as far as the Czech Republic and Slovenia. It houses Austria’s highest suspension bridge, which is directly linked to the Dachstein Ice Palace. Created in 2007, the latter wows its visitors with exquisitely detailed ice pillars, carved figures and a crystal dome 6 meters under the eternal ice. Not forgetting the Stairway to Nothingness, which provides an out-of-this-world experience. This attraction contains 14 narrow steps leading to a glass platform at a vertigo-inducing height, ensuring a magnificent view downwards and across the mountains. Panorama Gondola is also highly recommended to try. Made entirely of glass, this is a cable car which rises 1,000 m in 6 minutes and travels without lift pillars up to 210 meters above the south face of Dachstein. Of course, there are also winter sports activities available to try, such as skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and freeskiing. In order to acquire more information on tickets and opening times, you can visit derdachstein.at.
Dachstein Glacier is conveniently located between the towns of Hallstatt and Obertraun in the north and Ramsau am Dachstein in the south. Meanwhile, the nearest bigger cities are Salzburg, Liezen, Linz and Graz. You can get here:
By plane and/or car: you can take a plane to Salzburg/Linz/Graz or travel to these cities by car. For instance, the drive from Vienna both to Graz and Linz will take slightly more than 2 hours. From these cities it will take about 2.5 hours to reach Dachstein via the A9 and B320 highways, whilst traveling from Salzburg will take approximately 1.5 hours. Of course, you can always hire a transfer service at the airport as well.
By public transport: there are both regular direct OBB trains and buses available for a trip to Dachstein from the above-mentioned cities. Unfortunately, there are no direct connections to Vienna, thus the trip can take up to 10 hours. Meanwhile, you can reach Dachstein Glacier from Salzburg in 1.5 hours and from Linz in 2.15 hours.
Imperial Butterfly Park
Although the Imperial Butterfly Park (Schmetterlinghaus), is part of the world-renowned Hofburg Palace in Vienna, this is not a very well-known attraction. Originally, the first greenhouse was built on this site in the 1820’s by the architect Ludwig Remy. However, in the beginning of the 20th century it was replaced by the current Art Nouveau palm house with a variety of colourful butterflies. The place itself is not very big but it is brimming with tropical flowers, trees and shrubs, as well as a raised platform and a small waterfall for visitors to take in their surroundings.
The Imperial Butterfly Park houses about 400 large free-flying butterflies, with some of them reaching up to 30 cm in size. This attraction is known for its high humidity of about 80% to preserve all the butterflies, so it is the perfect place to get warm in the snowy winter. For more information, please visit schmetterlinghaus.at.
The imperial Butterfly House is hidden between the Albertina art museum and the Neue Burg wing of the Hofburg palace complex. You can get here:
Tram/bus: you can take trams 1, 2, D or 71 to Burgring or bus 2A to Albertinaplatz.
Metro: Station Stephansplatz (U33/U1), Museumsquartier (U2) or Station Herrengasse (U3).
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What Else Can I Do during a Winter Holiday in Austria?
Winter is a wonderful time for exploringfancy restaurants in Vienna, which include numerous Michelin-starred establishments with some of the world’s most famous chefs. Thus, you can discover various gastronomic delights from different countries, including Japan and Croatia, as well as a fusion of global cuisines.
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