Next week (26th October) welcomes the 52nd Austrian National Day, an annual holiday marking the beginning of peacetime, celebrated with a host of events in Vienna. As part of the yearly festivities, the Austrian military parade along one of the world’s most beautiful boulevards, the Ringstrasse, and Vienna’s Imperial Palace opens its doors to visitors. So what better opportunity to appreciate all that Austria has to offer at this magical time of year.
The Sound of Music
If your plans of a crisp evening walk along the Danube are spoiled by wind and rain then take heart, because Austria is the musical delight that Julie Andrews promises it to be. And what better way to spend a gloomy October evening than indoors, listening to the angelic voices of the Vienna Boys Choir or enjoying the acoustics at Peterskirche church in the heart of Vienna. Discover the Austrian National Day concerts in the comfort of the sumptuous Vienna Konzerthaus’ Grand Hall, where you can appreciate the great works of Mozart, Strauss and Schubert. Or, for the real-life version of the film, spend a weekend in the city of Salzburg where you can find music everywhere from tiny town squares to great cathedrals.
October is the perfect time of year to take in some culture and plenty of interesting indoor events are held in Vienna during the darker months. Take advantage of Austrian National Day to visit some of the government buildings in the city, or take part in the Long Night of Museums when you can visit more than 650 museums and galleries (or as many as you can manage in a night) with a single €15 ticket.
A Hiker’s Paradise
From alpine hikes to gentle country strolls, Austria offers some of the most spectacular mountain walks in the world, with panoramic views and picture perfect scenery for miles on end. In autumn the hills really do come alive with bursts of colour all across the horizon and the milder temperatures make it the perfect time of year for a long, active day outdoors. Expect cosy mountain huts, imposing landscapes and crystal clear lakes along the way.
Cold Weather Comforts
Austrian food is the perfect solution for cold autumn days and makes the perfect fuel for skiing, hiking or a long day of city sight-seeing. There’s no shortage of warming comfort food to choose from, whether it’s soups and dumplings or sausages and cheese. However the real stars of the show are the Austrian cakes and desserts, and the Instagram-worthy patisserie windows will easily pull you in off the streets.
Austria is heaven for skiers; you can even carve up the slopes in August with a visit to the Hinterlux glacier, a winter-wonderland of natural ice palaces and snowy pistes (find out more here). Austria makes a cheaper and more beginner-friendly ski destination compared with some of its neighbouring resorts, with spots such as Obergurgl and Seefeld being a firm favourite for families. Fear not, if you’re a little more familiar with the sport then St Anton, famous for its beauty and reliable snow, is ideal for experts and Ischgl’s après-ski scene is one of the best in Europe. Skiing in the Tyrol area means you’re not too far from Innsbruck either, making for quick and simple transfers from the airport to the chalet. It also makes it easy to give your legs a break with a day trip to the region’s capital, a stunning city nestled among the Austrian Alps.
For more about the best ski resorts in Europe, read our guide to booking a ski holiday.
The Original Christmas Market
Christmas markets may now be a staple of the season the world over, but in Vienna they are an age-old tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. The unique backdrop of Vienna’s spectacular city hall, complete with carolers and all the delicious aromas of Glühwein and gingerbread, is enough to bring out the festive spirit in anyone. Or, for a truly romantic winter break, take a trip to the markets at Innsbruck where the medieval houses are framed with snowy mountains and trumpets play Christmas hymns from the roofs of the buildings at dusk.