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.
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 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org;
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.
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
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