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Last updated : Nov 2009
Austria Sports
Austria Sports - TravelPuppy.com
Wintersports

Austria is one of Europe’s major destinations for winter sports, particularly skiing and snowboarding. The Austrian Alps take up approximately 60 per cent of the country’s surface area and there are more than 800 winter sports resorts, with ski runs stretching some 22,000km (13,750 miles), and a further 16,000km (10,000 miles) of cross-country skiing trails. Austria hosts a number of prestigious international ski competitions during the course of the year. Besides skiing, many other types of winter sports can be enjoyed, such as tobogganing, sleigh rides, curling or skating. Full details of skiing packages and tours, resort information, snow reports and winter sports events can be obtained from the Austrian National Tourist Office (see Contact Addresses section), which also publishes several brochures, some of which, such as the Winter Tour Finder, can be ordered directly and free of charge from the Internet.

Walking tours

During summer and after the snow has melted, the Austrian Alps offer a vast network of hiking trails through varied landscapes, ranging from forests and green slopes to glaciers and rocks. Many of the rivers and lakes are suitable fishing (requiring a permit available from the local authorities) and swimming.

Detailed walking maps can be obtained either from the Austrian National Tourist Office or from the local tourist offices and Guides can be hired locally. Footpaths are recognisable by red-white-red markings displayed on trees and rocks. Interesting routes include the Salt Road, once used by Austria’s salt merchants, from the salt mines in the Salzkammergut, through the Mühlviertel, via many historic towns and as far as the border with the Czech Republic, and the Styrian Timber Road, giving travellers an insight into the uses of wood.

Close to Vienna, a network of city paths (Stadtwanderwege) lead through the Vienna woods or the nearby Danube wetlands. The Vorarlberg’s alpine pastures are well suited for gentle walks while the Hohe Tauern National Park is popular for more demanding trekking. Accommodation is widely available along the paths in the form of hotels, mountain huts and inns.

Mountaineering and climbing

Mountaineering and climbing are widely available throughout the Austrian Alps. For details of climbing associations and specialist operators, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office. Climbing tours are combined with hang-gliding which has recently gained in popularity and can be practised in many locations in the mountains.

Cycling

The infrastructure for cyclists in Austria is excellent. There are clearly marked cycling routes both in the cities and in the countryside. Tourist offices can provide detailed touring maps and the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) offers substantial services to cyclists. Practically all local trains allow bicycles to be carried within the baggage car. For long-distance trains, cyclists should look out for a bicycle symbol next to the train number if they wish to take their bike. The ÖBB also offers a bicycle rental service (Fahrrad am Bahnhof) at 100 Austrian railway stations where visitors can rent bicycles directly from the station at a reduced fee. Along the cycling paths, many hotels and inns have lockable bicycle racks and other facilities for cyclists. Austria’s mountains offer extensive and challenging trails for mountain biking.

For further information on planning either an organised or independent cycling tour, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office, or Radtouren in Österreich, c/o Salzburger Land Tourismus Gmbh, Postfach 1, Wiener Bundesstrasse 23, A-5300 Hallwang bei Salzburg (telephone number: (662) 66 880, fax number: (662) 668 866, e-mail: info@salzburgerland.com; website: www.salzburgerland.com).

Horseriding

There are many guest houses and hotels specialising in horseriding holidays (reitferien). Horses can be hired for short or longer periods and packages frequently include riding instruction.

Wine tours

The Austrian National Tourist Office has singled out 3 wine routes through Austria’s main wine-growing regions – Lower Austria, Southern Styria and the Burgenland.

In Lower Austria, a whole area in the northeast is known as the Weinviertel (wine quarter), where Kellergassen (wine cellars and wine-press buildings located outside the villages in the hillsides) and Buschenschanken (small wine taverns) can be visited.

The Wachau region, a section of the Danube Valley approximately 50km (32 miles) from Vienna, is reputed for its Riesling wines and the wine village of Gumpoldskirchen.

Southern Styria enjoys a moist, warm climate and its token wine is the Schilcher, an onion-coloured to ruby-red wine. The Burgenland produces more than a quarter of Austria’s wines and is known for sweet wines such as the Ausbruch. Most wine estates and cellars welcome visitors. Further information can be obtained from local tourist offices or the Austrian National Tourist Office.
Useful travel links
www.enit.it Tourist Board of Austria