Why You Should Go Skiing in Austria This Season

Thinking about dusting off your ski jacket for a trip to the slopes this year? You’ve tried the same half dozen purpose-built resorts that everyone in the UK goes to, but there has to be more to ski holidays than that, right?

There is!

For example, a recent study of UK skiers and boarders rated five Austrian destinations in the top ten ski resorts anywhere in the world. And yet the country only makes up 28% of winter sports holidays taken by Brits each year.

If you’d consider trying somewhere new this year to reawaken your passion for the slopes, then there’s never been a better time to book a trip to the Austrian Alps. And that’s just the tip of it… there are a ton of very good reasons people choose to visit.

Here are some of them…
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 Martina Jamnig on 16.12.2014  |   No comments

Culturally Cool Austria – Europe’s Meeting Place

Ars Electronica Center & Urfahr Church Linz (c) ÖW_Peter Burgstaller

From its geographical status as a landlocked country surrounded by eight European neighbours, the Austria of today reflects its unique position at the centre of the continent where influences meet and a centuries-long history and tradition are celebrated and respected. There is a strong sense of identity - or culture if you prefer – in Austria, and, as visitors will soon experience, one that is showcased naturally and inclusively. See and hear it in the finest of music and the arts, admire it in the most splendid architecture, step into it on a mountain adventure, taste it at tables across the country, and be embraced by it in the most charming of hospitality.


In Tune
The fine sounds of music can be heard throughout Austria, whether in the setting of a grand opera house, modern concert hall, mountain venue or festival stage. Music is an art form that crosses borders, with beloved compositions able to transcend language, gender and ethnicity. Mozart, Haydn, Liszt and Mahler are just a few of the names having composed melodies recognised globally, and while their origins may be Austrian, their influence is international. Come and see where some of these composers got their start. In Salzburg, the home that Mozart was born in is open to visitors, as is the Haydnhaus in Vienna in which Haydn composed the majority of his works over his 12 years in residence. From chords to canvas, Austria also holds a strong reputation in the world of visual art, with pieces by Austrian painters in galleries around the world. Even for those not so well-versed in art, The Kiss created by Austrian-born Gustav Klimt in 1908/09 in an eye-catching gilded style – and today hanging in Vienna’s Belvedere Gallery – is almost at once recognisable.


Hungerburg Station Nordkettenbahnen Innsbruck (c) ÖW_Andreas HoferAn Architectural Arch through the Ages
Think you’ll see lovely baroque architecture and picture-perfect alpine chalets adorned with flower-bedecked balconies on your visit to Austria? Yes, quite likely. But look a bit closer, stand back a bit, and you’ll also get amazing views of an Austria that you perhaps weren’t expecting. In the past few decades, there have been many developments in Austria’s architectural identity, most notably, a blending of the old and new. For a futuristic feel, let your gaze wander up the fluorescently lit sides of the Kunsthaus Graz (Graz Art Museum), dubbed ‘the friendly alien’ with its bulbous shape and shiny blue plexi-glass panes that reflect Graz’s Old Town within them. The sky’s the limit in the former imperial town of Innsbruck, where London-based architect Zaha Hadid has left her mark on the city’s Bergisel Ski Jump as well as its Nordkettenbahnen cable car stations, a series of structural modern marvels with fluid lines inspired by natural ice formations. Need more evidence for this old-meets-new trend? The province of Vorarlberg has become somewhat of a hotbed of building innovation, catching the attention not only of those in the architectural world, but also visitors to the region. The traditional wood architecture is complemented by amazing glass constructs that proudly take a place alongside their more long-standing neighbours. This blending of building styles has become a real hallmark of Austria’s westernmost province.


Lofty Alpine Traditions
While Austria’s geographic position alone ensures its alpine designation, it’s the observances and evidence of this association with the mountains throughout the centuries that make it part of the cultural landscape. In 1991, the well-preserved body of a pre-historic man was discovered on a glacier in the Ötztal Alps at an elevation of 2300m. Nicknamed ‘Ötzi the Iceman’, he is thought to have lived some 5,300 years ago and perhaps been a trader in this region of criss-crossing alpine routes. Plenty of evidence of this centuries-upon-centuries-long trade and movement across Austria’s alpine region remains. The landmark protected Berliner Hütte at 2044m in the Zillertal opened in 1879 and still welcomes guest today. The 46km Grossglockner High Alpine Road connecting the federal provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia was constructed in the 1930s and remains one of the most famous roads in the Alps.


Viennese Schnitzel (c) ÖW_SchardtGetting a Taste of Things
While Austrian chefs are quite happy to be associated with beloved favourites such as crisp Apfelstrudel and Wiener Schnitzel, there is a fresh and innovative culinary trend evident in a lot of Austria’s kitchens. An Austrian menu nowadays reflects wide cultural influences in the re-invention of many traditional dishes. An old adage reworked as ‘The way to a visitor’s heart is through his/her stomach’ may succinctly sum up why visitors to Austria can’t wait to take their place at the table, be it at a Michelin-starred restaurant or cosy family-owned hut serving up local specialities. Not to forget the ever-important wine, of course! Austria’s reds and whites have a long tradition in the country’s wine regions which consistently produce many award-winning varieties worthy of global attention.


Do Stay Awhile
For most Austrians, a strong passion for tradition and a respect for the past that is so clearly reflected in contemporary culture, characterise a way of life. As a consequence, visitors to Austria can’t help but feel the authenticity of their interactions with local hosts who help bring destination Austria to life in a real and unedited way. From the concierge at a luxury 5* hotel to the vendor at a farmer’s market, from the city tour guide to the friendly face at the ski hire shop, and from the moment you arrive until the time you depart, you can be sure of a charming tradition of hospitality unmatched throughout the world.

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 Anna Blum on 16.12.2014  |   No comments

The Mouthwatering Dishes No Austrian Ski Trip Should Be Without

by Nicola Swales

The Mouthwatering Dishes No Austrian Ski Trip Should Be Without

‘…Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple Strudels / Doorbells and sleigh bells and Schnitzel with noodles…’ go the lyrics from My Favourite Things in the famous film, The Sound of Music.

If you’ve visited the country before – ski holiday or otherwise – then it’s really unsurprising that the most well-known song from that most famous of films about Austria references food. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Eating out here is one of the absolute highlights of any first-time trip.

And let’s face it: when you’re on a ski holiday, what you eat is important. Not only do meal times become major social events that punctuate the day, but you’re also likely to be eating in restaurants much more than usual. Factor in the extra energy you’re going to need to slide down a mountain all day compared to what you’d be doing at home, and it quickly becomes clear that local cuisine ought to be something we consider very carefully before booking a trip.

Yet bizarrely, when we talk about ski resorts the factors we focus on are usually the beauty of the scenery, the quality of the snow and the value for money. All three are important of course, but if you take into account nothing else then you’re inadvertently narrowing your viewpoint to ensure you only ever discover a narrow cross section of places.

If you’re considering heading back to the slopes this year, and you agree that mountain lunches and dinners out are a big part of the experience, then read on to find out why Austria should be on your shortlist.


What’s So Special About Austrian Grub?

Distinguished by its unique mix of flavours and textures, meats and cheeses as well as delicious pastries, authentic Austrian cuisine is strongly influenced by its neighbouring countries – most notably Hungary, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic. Some recipes have been passed down for over six centuries, with most dishes today influenced by the peasant cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Traditional dishes originating from this era are heavily potato-based (potatoes saved the population from famine) but veal was also a common, cheap option during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph and is still a well-loved ingredient today.

If you enjoy a good hearty meal, you’re going to love some of the dishes below. Just be sure to come with a big appetite!


Wiener Schnitzel Is Well-Known and Rightly So

Wiener Schnitzel - Best Mountain Food in Austria
In spite of its name, Austria’s signature dish was most likely first served at a table in Rome rather than Vienna. According to legend, this breaded deep-fried Schnitzel originated from the Italian Piccata Milanese in the 12th century. It was supposedly introduced to the people of Vienna as the favourite meal of General Radetzky after suppressing the revolution in Milan.

It should be made from fine veal (aus feinem Kalbfleisch), although a more budget (and less tasty) option is made using pork cutlets (Schweineschnitzel). Every Austrian knows that the perfect Wiener Schnitzel tastes buttery on the outside and ‘zart und saftig‘ (tender and juicy) inside.

If you want to see how the pros do it, look no further than The Sound of Music’s very own von Trapp family. Sofia, Melanie, Amanda and August – the real-life great-grandchildren of Captain and Baroness Maria von Trapp – recently filmed themselves making their family’s own Wiener Schnitzel recipe at home.


You’ll Find No Better Value Than Goulash Soup

Goulash Soup - Best Mountain Food in Austria
Traditionally, any good Austrian housewife’s repertoire would include this wholesome meal in a soup. Recipes vary wherever you go, but generally you can expect a stew of meat and vegetables – such as onion, tomatoes and potatoes – seasoned with paprika and other spices.

With origins that date back over 1200 years to medieval Hungary, goulash in all its forms holds a deep cultural significance in many countries – from Austria to Albania – where the former empire once stood. The word ‘Goulasch‘ comes from the Hungarian word for cowboy or herdsman, ‘gulyás‘. In the past, Magyar herdsman would butcher the feebler cows on cattle drives and make a stew from them.

This is a meal designed by necessity to fuel these herdsmen as they marched across Europe to cattle markets in major cities like Vienna. So it’s really no wonder that today it continues to be a much appreciated winter warmer for cold skiers at lunchtime. It’s one of the cheapest – yet most filling – mountain lunches you’ll find anywhere.


Tiroler Gröstl: A Real Alpine Filler

Tiroler Gröstl - Best Mountain Food in Austria
Made up of bacon, onion, potatoes and often served with a fried egg, for hundreds of years this has been Austria’s tastiest way to use up yesterday’s leftovers. Order it mid-morning after a night of dancing and Schnaps when there’s skiing to be done, and thank me later.

It also makes an excellent mountain lunch, especially when combined with Kaiserschmarrn for pudding (more on that in a moment). If you fancy trying your own, there’s a great recipe for homemade Tiroler Gröstl here.

If that’s not for you, this part of Europe is also famous for its sausages. Order Ein Paar Wurstl – a couple of joined-together frankfurters – served with mustard, ketchup, and chips if you must. A safe choice, maybe, but streets ahead of the sausage and chips you’d get back home.


That Covers Savoury, But What About Dessert?

Linzertorte - Best Mountain Food in Austria
The tradition of desserts is a huge one amongst Austrians – some of the finest puddings in the world originate from the region. The cakes alone – from Sachertorte to Linser Torte, the oldest known cake in human history – are worthy of their own short guide.

I’ll focus on desserts you’re more likely to find in mountain restaurants here, but be sure to put a visit to a traditional cafe with decent cake selection high on your to-do list whilst visiting.


Apfelstrudel Is the Undisputed Champion

Apfelstrudel - Best Mountain Food in Austria
The headline act in an array of awesome desserts is, of course, the Apfelstrudel. Literally meaning ‘apple whirlpool’, the best ones have flaky pastry containing a generous and moist apple mix that contains cinnamon, cloves, nuts and raisins.

People have been enjoying it for centuries – although it is difficult to establish a specific date, the oldest known Strudel recipe dates back to 1696. The handwritten recipe is in Vienna’s National Library, and it gives instructions for making a milk-cream Strudel.

But don’t limit yourself and forget the more minor celebrities in the Strudel world: Mohnstrudel (poppy seed), Quarkstrudel (curd) and Nussstrudel (walnut) are also worth a taste!


Pancake Fans Will Love Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn - Best Mountain Food in Austria
This is my favourite Austrian pudding – in fact one of my favourite puddings in the world! The delicious sweet pancakes are torn into bite-sized chunks and served with icing sugar and stewed fruit.

Kaiser means ‘emperor’ and Schmarrn means ‘mess’ or ‘nonsense’ and, according to late 19th-century history, originates from a visit to the kitchens of Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace by Kaiser Franz Joseph.

There are several stories of how it came about. One involves the emperor entering the palace kitchen and upon seeing a clearly ruined pancake angrily asking the chef: ‘What is this nonsense (diese Schmarrn)?’

To which the chef, thinking quickly, replied, ‘This is my new pudding, we will name it Kaiserschmarrn!’ The emperor soon became extremely fond of this dish, as are thousands of hungry skiers in mountain restaurants today.


Salzburger Nockerl Is a Mountain Speciality

Salzburger Nockerl - Best Mountain Food in Austria
This is Salzburg’s own dish that can be sampled in mountain restaurants throughout Salzburgerland. Made from three sweet dumplings that are decorated with icing sugar to look like snow, the dish represents the three hills above Salzburg which surround the city centre.

The dish was allegedly invented by Salome Alt, the mistress of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau in the early 17th century. So adored by the people of Salzburg, they even feature in a song as part of an operetta, where the sugary dumplings are praised as ‘Süß wie die Liebe und zart wie ein Kuss‘ (sweet as love and tender as a kiss).

Another dumpling dessert worthy of your attention is Germknödel, originating from Viennese and Bohemian cuisine. It’s a favourite amongst children – but that doesn’t mean it has to be ruled out for adults with a sweet tooth! You’ll usually see them served with vanilla sauce or with poppy seeds and melted butter. They’re fairly heavy though – so don’t expect to do much skiing after lunch…

Nicola Swales is a teacher, contributor on Welove2ski.com, and food blogger on her own website Kitchenidiots.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 06.12.2014  |   No comments

Revealed: The 10 Most Romantic Ski Resorts in the Austrian Alps

by Felice Hardy

Most Romantic Resorts in Austria

There are all sorts of reasons why you might be considering a trip to the Alps this season. If you’re an experienced skier or snowboarder, you’ll need little encouragement – the sheer delight of flying down a mountainside with the wind in you hair is its own reward.

But that’s not the key factor for everyone. For parents, it can be a great way to keep children busy and grinning ear-to-ear in a healthy and active way. Others love nothing more than taking in a mighty mountain panorama on the sun terrace of a mountain restaurant, piping-hot gluhwein in hand.

Several ski resorts are also reporting that couples who’ve stopped heading to the slopes in recent winters are increasingly reigniting their passion for the mountains – and perhaps for each other – by taking up skiing or snowboarding again.

It’s not a new idea: shared enjoyment of the slopes can bring couples closer together. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Only the most cold-hearted would fail to be seduced by log fires, stunning scenery, great food, and the constant exhilaration of carving down the hill all on a daily basis.

Depending on what you’re looking for, there’ll be dozens of amazing ski destinations that fit the bill. But if romance is the name of the game and you want an Alpine setting that fits, there’s really only one option: Austria.


Why Austria Is the Answer for a Romantic Ski Break

Explore the rolling pastures and pine forests of regions like Tirol and Salzburgerland, and you’ll find the place is dotted with chocolate box villages set against a backdrop of snowy peaks. The architecture, too, is magnificent: traditional chalets are invariably constructed from local timber and decorated with intricate heart-shaped fretwork.

When you step inside each mountain chalet – be it a simple bed and breakfast pension or a five-star hotel – and you’ll regularly find a spotless interior with a warming log fire or antique tiled stove, wood-panelled walls, hand-painted furniture and home cooking.

There are very few places in the world that offer all this, and certainly nowhere that delivers it with the consistency of Austrian skiing.

So where, exactly, should you go? Look no further than my personal shortlist of Austria’s most beautiful villages, and the top ten romantic resorts for the winter.


For Medieval Splendour, Try St Johann

St Johann - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaThe 16th century silver-mining town of St Johann in Tirol is one of the most gorgeous ski towns in the Alps. The traffic-free centre has cobblestone streets and pastel-painted buildings decorated with delicate frescoes.

The centre of this pretty but unpretentious Tirolean village is full of old coaching inns, offering plenty of quiet spots to hole yourself up in with a glühwein after a hard day of skiing.

Once you hop on a lift and leave the idyllic village behind, you’ll find the slopes are mostly easy-going – the snowsure side of Kitzbüheler Horn has 60km of pistes which will suit intermediates skiers (with plenty still to offer for more advanced ability levels). A toboggan run, ice-skating rink, and indoor pool at Panorama Badewelt (with a 62-metre water chute) mean non-skiing couples have plenty of entertaining ways to fill the day.

Those in search of large lift systems and dozens of bars or restaurants will be more at home in nearby Kitzbuhel, but what St Johann lacks in scale it more than makes up for in understated charm.


Alpbach Is a Perfect, Pocket-Sized Village

Alpbach - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaAlpbach is a small sunny settlement that is regularly voted the prettiest village in Austria. A green and white 17th-century church surrounded by wooden chalets and two medieval inns dominate the centre.

In the early 1970s the resort resolved not to go down the commercial route taken by some of its rivals. As a result it remains an unspoilt village where farming carries on outside the ski season.

However, the skiing certainly isn’t limited: a couple of years ago Alpbach linked up with Auffach in the Wildschönau to form the giant Ski Juwel area.

The nightlife is quiet and laid-back, and this is one of the factors (as well as its undeniable beauty) that makes it a excellent destination for couples looking for a romantic escape.


You’ll Find Lakeside Beauty in Zell am See

Zell am See - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaZell am See was first established by a monastic order in the eighth century and was of great commercial importance in medieval times. The stately old buildings have been transformed over the years into hotels, boutiques and villas that are dotted along the shore of the beautiful Lake Zell.

There are several top ski resorts around the world near lakes, but Lake Zell is surely one of the most scenic – if not the most. As you’d expect in a lakeside resort with a busy summer season as well as a winter one, there are some lovely hotels – including five-star Hotel Salzburgerhof, and four-star Romantikhotel Zell am See which has rooms with panoramic views of the lake. Skiing is substantial – backed up by a snow-sure glacier on the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun.


The Heart of Family Skiing: Obergurgl

Obergurgl - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaObergurgl is where I learnt to ski and it will always have a special place in my heart. The first time I fell in love I was seven years old and his name was Walter; he was my ski instructor in Obergurgl and at 25 seemed ancient.

My heart broke when I had to fly home without him. Next year I was back again, but by then Walter had moved on to Squaw Valley and Pepi swiftly replaced him in my affections.

I returned 30 years later to find that the resort had grown, but remained the same charming village set around an onion-domed church, with a handful of shops and an outdoor ice-skating rink. Because the village is set at the end of a valley it doesn’t attract day-trippers or weekenders, so the pistes remain blissfully uncrowded and you never have to queue for a lift.


It’s Ischgl for Couples That Like to Party

Ischgl - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaAn unorthodox choice in a list of ski resorts characterised by their quiet charm, Ischgl is for couples that would sooner dance together into the wee hours than curl up close by a log fire.

This is the birthplace of the mountainside music festival, a badge Ischgl has worn with honour since 1994 when Elton John opened the season, and continues today with the Top of the Mountain Festival. Past concerts have featured Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Sting, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, The Killers, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue, The Scissor Sisters, The Killers, and – last year – Robbie Williams.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is therefore a resort full of the 20-somethings you’ll find in other resorts that carry a ‘party town’ reputation. The largely upmarket accommodation and smattering of Michelin-starred restaurants means the typical Ischgl-goer is at least ten years older than that.

The skiing’s not half bad, either. 45 frequently-upgraded lifts serve 235km of slopes which, especially after a big night at Pacha beneath Hotel Madlein, are regularly free of crowds.

If you like largely intermediate skiing with dramatically long runs and you love to party, I can think of no better place in Europe for a ski holiday than Ischgl.


Innsbruck Doubles as a Romantic City Break

Innsbruck - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaThe colourful old city of Innsbruck is always associated with Emperor Maximilian I who ruled here in the 16th century and built the city’s iconic landmark, the Goldenes Dachl – or golden roof.

The city has its own international airport, which is surrounded by towering mountains on either side of the valley. You can ski locally in Igls – the setting for the Men’s Downhill of the 1976 Winter Olympics which was won by Austrian legend Franz Klammer. Snowboarders head for Axamer Lizum, which is set 1000m above the city and is as close to purpose-built as you will find in Austria.

With some lovely architecture – not least the grand Habsburg palace and baroque cathedral – Innsbruck is very different to the other locations on the list simply because it’s a city. To that end, the options for restaurants and non-skiing activities far exceed equivalent ski resorts. Which makes Innsbruck a great fit for anyone who considers skiing or boarding to be only a secondary interest.


Royal Flavour: Lech and Zürs

Lech Zurs - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaFrom the late Princess Diana, the Jordanian and Dutch royal families and Princess Caroline of Monaco to Boris Becker and Vladamir Putin, Lech and its neighbour Zürs are a favourite of royals and celebrities. The two villages are quiet hideaways and very smart indeed, so it’s really no wonder that they have such a history of rich and famous clientele.

The traditional village of Lech – which also served as a film location for Bridget Jones’ Diary 2 – lies on the banks of a river, with a large collection of lavish four- and five-star hotels. It’s an ideal base for people who prefer a flattering piste to a tricky challenge. If you want something more testing, head over to St Anton, which is on the same lift pass.


Steep and Deep Lovers Should Go to St Anton

St Anton - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaSt Anton is the place for couples who are excellent skiers, as they will be tested to their limits. Beginners might find St Anton’s ski area intimidating, with the exception of party animals who are mainly here for the nightlife.

The world-famous resort is at the heart of the Arlberg area and the village is a blend of old and new, with a pedestrian zone lined with shops, bars, cafés and traditional hotels.

There are lots of romantic places to go while you’re here, including the Underground On The Piste bar which has live music and lots of atmosphere, and The Museum restaurant where you eat in front of the fireplace in what feels like someone’s large private home.


Sumptuous and Sophisticated: Seefeld

Seefeld - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaSeefeld is a stylish and sophisticated town with an attractive pedestrian main street a bit like a small Innsbruck or Kitzbühel. Plush hotels with gourmet restaurants, a casino, and an impressive health centre attract visitors who don’t necessarily come here to ski downhill.

Which makes it a great option if you’d prefer a winter wonderland experience to an intense week of skiing. You can wrap up warm for a romantic sleigh ride, walk along some of the many mountain paths, or try Seefeld’s raison d’être: cross-country skiing on the 279km of trails.

Several hotels have a great spa setup too, so if you fancy chilling out with your feet up or going for a couples massage then this is a fine place to do it.


Wildschönau Is a Wild and Beautiful Valley

Wildschoenau - Romantic Ski Resorts in AustriaI once spent a month in the Wildschönau, which is a quiet valley containing four classically-pretty villages – Niederau, Oberau, Auffach and Thierbach. The largest village is Niederau, with its chalet-style hotels and attractive tree-lined slopes.

I’ve always thought the most attractive village is tiny Oberau, which has a treat in the form of the 12th-century Tirolean inn, Gasthof Kellerwirt. The inn has belonged to the same family for six generations, serves excellent food and holds wine tastings in its cellar.

There’s plenty to offer on the slopes, too. Auffach was recently linked with Alpbach in the neighbouring valley to form the Ski Juwel area, doubling the size of the accessible terrain. Considering Wildschönau is just 45 minutes from Innsbruck by car, there’s a lot to like about this valley.

Felice Hardy is co-editor of ski information website Welove2ski.com.


These Are the Best Value Ski Holidays You’ll Find Anywhere This Winter

Not skied for a while? Then book a ski holiday to one of 14 top Austrian ski resorts with the Ski Again programme. Provided by ski holiday companies Inghams and Ski Total, Ski Again packages start at £825 and include flights, transfers, 7 nights accommodation, 6-day lift pass, 6-day ski and boot hire and up to 16 hours of SkiWorkShops. Getting back to the slopes has never been this easy.

Visit austria.info/uk/skiagain for more information on Ski Again and the affordable packages available.



 Martina Jamnig on 26.11.2014  |   No comments

October Skitouring in the Arlberg

by Matt Clark

Chris Loerke & Matt Clark (c) Tom Fichtel

Chris Loerke & Matt Clark (c) Tom Fichtel

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons in Austria. It’s a quiet and peaceful pause between the summer tourism season and the madness of the winter season, yet equally a time of change of excitement; you can feel and smell the approach of winter, and the very air seems pregnant with the potential of a fresh new season.


The first significant snow of winter 14/15 fell across Austria on 24th October. The build up to the storm was fraught with anxiety, at least in the LUEX Snow Travel office: the various snow forecasting websites continually switched expected amounts and locations up and down, east and west… Would we score, or not? On Tuesday things got serious, and the Austrian police issued a severe weather warning… On Wednesday morning the first flakes began to fall, as clouds shrouded the mountains and winds howled around the peaks. We all went to bed early on Thursday night. Read More

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 Anna Blum on 07.11.2014  |   No comments

Treasures of the Salzkammergut

by Susanne Stiegler

Gmunden at Lake Traunsee

Gmunden at Lake Traunsee

When people holiday in the Salzkammergut they mostly visit the major attractions like the Salt Trail, the Ice Cave at Dachstein or the Imperial Villa in Bad Ischl, but there is more to experience!

Lake Attersee and Lake Traunsee offer exciting activities as well, which are well worth giving a try.

When staying at Lake Attersee, one must-do is a cruise with the Attersee shipping company, which offers different tours of the lake. I would recommend going on board of the southern route, which takes about 2.5 hours. The special thing about this route is that you cannot only enjoy the beautiful landscape and feel the fresh lake air, but also view magnificent villas of Austrian and international celebrities. Maybe you are lucky and spot the two times Austrian Olympic champion in alpine skiing Hermann Maier sunbathing in his garden – who knows? Read More

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 Anna Blum on 17.07.2014  |   No comments

Noshing in Vienna

Sandra Shevey visited some Austrian markets. The Naschmarkt in Vienna was of course on top of her list. So, what does she have to say about it?

“Of Vienna`s 26 permanent markets, Naschmarkt is the oldest with a charter dating back to the 17thc.  It probably however was going long before that as an unincorporated market.Naschmarkt, Wien, 2009, Copyright www.peterrigaud.com

Meaning `wares` or `spices` Naschmarkt was repatriated to Wienzeile over the Wien River in 1917 when the Vienna River was covered over and city planners had decided to demolish the old city walls and redevelop Vienna`s `Ring`.  The original market site now hosts Vienna`s fine Opera House.  Naschmarkt spans 1.5 kilometres.

The old quarter still has a link with the ancient markets as old street names prevail such as meat market, fish market, honey market, bread market, milk market, cheese market and others.  It is on Meat Market that `Some Like It Hot` director Billy Wilder lived as a boy when attending grade school in Vienna.

The Naschmarkt was rebuilt within city walks just before the market was moved to Karlsplatz (its present site) in 1917….moved along with the old market building which still serves as its primary administrative centre.  Architecturally it is impressive- a rotunda market building with a majolica frontpiece symbolising fecundity- cherubs, grapes and vines. Read More

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 Martina Jamnig on 26.06.2014  |   No comments

A Summer Journey to Austrian Wine

Wine & Travel (c) AWMB

The picnic basket filled with scrumptious Schmankerl delicacies is ready. The bicycles are geared up for the first tour of the season, and the joy of a warm spring day in an Austrian vineyard can barely be contained! Austria’s wine growing regions from Vienna to Steiermark and from Donauland to Südburgenland offer endlessly delightful adventures and experiences.


The warmth of the sun entices to go outside and into nature. The blissful months of April, May and June play host to 4.5 million Austrian holiday trips – the second highest number after the summer holiday period. So now would be an optimal time to plan, book and enjoy an Austrian wine journey.


There are so many things to discover – beginning with a bike or walking tour along the Danube river; the opening of the Viennese Schanigärten sidewalk cafés; a visit to see the Lipizzaner horses in Styria and the beautiful nature parks near the Neusiedlersee (Lake Neusiedl). But that isn’t all. For those who are particularly attracted to regional delights and enjoyment on the highest level, a wine and pleasure journey is exactly the right thing. This kind of travel is mainly an all-round experience, where wine and pleasure along with nature, culture and attractive places of interest make up a well-rounded holiday. For some food for the soul, take a romantic stroll through the Kellergassen (cellar lanes) in Lower Austria, visit the winery of your favorite producer, or take a walk through the vineyards and then enjoy a hearty Brettljause platter of coldcuts with a glass of good wine in a Buschenschank tavern.


“Wine & Travel” made easy

Where, when and how long is a Heurigen or Buschenschank “Ausg´steckt” – open to serve their own wine and food? Which winery has guest rooms? When do regional wineries hold their Weinfrühling – wine springtime open-house? Where are the places of interest? The answers to your questions and much more can be found on the wine-tourism platform www.winetravelsinaustria.com. This tool offers the possibility to search for and find interesting points and locations such as winemakers, wines, vinotheques, hotels and restaurants, and to combine them together in one or more travel routes. So, go ahead and plan your Austrian wine and pleasure journey, upload photos and videos, rate your target destinations and share it all with other users and begin your summer with Austrian Wine!


All travel tips and advice are available on the “Wine Travels in Austria” platform from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) at www.austrianwine.com

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 Anna Blum on 06.06.2014  |   No comments

Innsbruck Market: On a Clear Day You Can See George Clooney

Sandra Shevey visited some Austrian markets. The Innsbruck market was one of it. So, what does she have to say about it?

The train to Innsbruck was jammed with evangelists on their way to Oberammergau for the Passion Play which runs every 10 years.  Seating was difficult as I had to make my way around the placards which obstructed the corridors. Window views appeared like a film montage- images of mountains and sheep and deer (right out of `The Sound of Music`). Five hours later I arrived dog tired at Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol (western Austria) and one of the best ski resorts in the world.  It has hosted the Winter Olympics twice (1964 and 1976) and has also hosted the Paralympics (1984 and 1988).  In 2008 it was chosen to host the first Winter Youth Olympic Games to be held in 2012.Innsbruck_Copyright Innsbruck Tourism

Meaning `Bridge over the River Inn` Innsbruck was and is an important trade crosspoint of both Germany and Italy.  Lake Como is just across the border and on a clear day you can see George Clooney who has a villa there. The counts of Andechs were given rights over the Tyrol valleys by the Roman Emperor and in 1180 established a market, built a bridge to facilitiate movement of goods between north and south regions of the Alps. It is conceivable they merely regulated an existing market in as much as the location has always had an enviable proximity linking trade routes and the Brenner Pass.

In this Innsbruck would not be unlike our own Borough market in London which originally existed on the north side of the Thames and was expanded by the Romans who built the bridge linking north and south London.

The market began in the open amidst the cobbles and alleys in the old town square.  It still exists to some extent today in the same form and the same place. An Art Noveau indoor market hall was built in 1921.  A bit of the old building exists and you can view it from the rear of the New Food Hall which was built in 1960. In times past the 1921 hall was doubtless used to sell perishables whilst outdoor stalls sold fruit and veg and other produce.

There still is an outdoor market, generally specializing in antiques, bric-a-brac and other flea items but it was cancelled during my trip.  Two outdoor stages had been erected for band concerts taking place in the market square later that evening. I think this is a good omen…..a progressive omen…a healthy omen.  Rock concerts sure beat the kinds of entertainment previously generated for the amusement of sovereigns who would sit on their thrones peering down from terraces as some poor soul got his arm or leg hacked off in a tournament or some other blood sport.

The difference between New Hall and Old Hall is that between farm-fresh and organic.  New Hall reminds a bit of Harrods.  Everything is pukka, smart and expensive.  It`s like Saturday at the Borough market in London. Old Hall produce is not only local and home-grown.  It is organically grown which means the taste is that much more rarefied.  The houmas was thick and rich.  Fillets of roast pork were so tender you could eat them with your fingers. Pumpernickel and creme fraiche sprinfled with parsley were definitive in both taste and texture.Food_Copyright Innsbruck Tourism

The General Food Hall is open Monday – Friday 6am – 6:30pm and on Satuday from 6am – 1pm.  The Farmers Market is open Monday – Saturday 6am – Noon. I must admit at this stage that I speak not a word of Austrian.  Not a word.  And yet it didn`t seem to matter.  I had long conversations during my trip but they weren`t always verbal. I was asked to try a cheese which translated means `love cheese`.  I was given a single taster.  `Nothing`, I said to the cheesemonger. `I need more than one taster to get me going`.  A local behind me in the queue quipped, `Natural Viagra`.  I howled.  I laugh every time I think of the remark, even now as I write the blog. Another stall purveyed homemade onion cake and also a delicious bread called `Feigen cake` which is stuffed with nuts, apples and raisins.

Saturday also hosts two small Farmers markets in other parts of Innsbruck.  Visiting them gives you the chance to walk around the city.  You feel diminished by the grandeur of Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo architecture- also somewhat daunted by the wooden Durer-like crucifixes which still dominate this lovely, lost Austrian valley, shrouded in mist, mountains and magic.

And it`s not just on the streets.  I was booked into the Hotel Adler, around the corner from the old marketplace.  A large part of the hotel was originally a Capuchin convent.  This 400 year old hotel owned by the Ultsch family since 1900 and currently part of the Best Western Group remains architecturally true to its monastic origins and those origins include a singificant amount of religious iconography. As I savoured some of the best cheese I have ever eaten, I departed this last Austrian market venue.  It was the end of the tour.  I was sorry it was over.  But I thought I`d come back.  Like the cheese, it had left a pleasant taste in my mouth.

Copyright 2010 Sandra Shevey All Rights Reserved
Sandra Shevey runs tours around local markets worldwide.  http://sandrashevey.tripod.com
Contact: sandra_shevey@yahoo.com
 Hospitality courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office, www.austria.info

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 Martina Jamnig on 07.05.2014  |   No comments

It begins in Linz…

Linz (c) linztourismus_JohannSteininger

Linz (c) linztourismus_JohannSteininger

By Cynthia Flaggl


There is an Austrian saying „In Linz beginnt’s”, which basically means „It begins in Linz”. So why don’t you actually start your holidays in Austria in Linz?

Admittedly, there are far more famous cities in Austria than Linz, but why don’t you step away from the crowded tourist paths and enjoy exploring a really interesting and upcoming city far away from Mozart and the Sacher Torte?

Linz was made European Capital of Culture in 2009 and since then its image really has changed. Linz developed itself from a very industrial city to a modern, upcoming, cultural hub, which is definitely worth visiting.

Linz offers something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in culture, shopping or nature, Linz has something for you too.

On a sunny spring day I would recommend you to take a stroll along the famous Linzer Landstraße. The Landstraße is the most important shopping street in Linz and offers a variety of different shops. I can ensure you, you will find something there. And if you are a little bit tired after your stroll you can walk up to the “SKY GARDEN” and enjoy a coffee with a unique view of the cathedral and the Pöstlingberg. There is a reason why “SKY GARDEN” can say that they have the most beautiful terrace in Linz.

But no worries, if you are not that interested in shopping there are plenty of other things to do in Linz, which are connected with culture and nature.

For cultural lovers it is a MUST to pay the Ars Electronica Center a visit. And if you are lucky and you are in Linz at the right time (4th – 8th of September 2014), then there is also the Ars Electronica Festival which is absolutely worth a visit. This festival turned out to be a very successful and remarkable event for media art, and it now belongs to the most important of its kind. In the Ars Electronica Center you can enjoy different exhibitions, which change over time. But they are always connected to the theme of the permanent exhibition – “Neue Bilder des Menschen” (meaning “new pictures of humans”) – and take a closer look at humans, how the live and how they will be living.

Another highlight in Linz is the Bruckner Festival (13th of September – 5th of October 2014). This festival has taken place in the Brucknerhaus every year since 1974. The Brucknerhaus, named after the famous composer Anton Bruckner, is a famous concert and event venue. During the Bruckner Festival there are many outstanding concerts with elite international artists and ensembles.

And if you still looking for more cultural experiences in Linz you can also pay a visit to the Mariendom cathedral, the Lentos Kunstmuseum or the Schlossmuseum.

But if you have done enough culture and are now looking for some relaxing outdoor activities, I would recommend you to either take the Pöstlingbergbahn - Europe’s steepest mountain railway – up to the Pöstlingberg, or why not enjoy a cycle ride along the beautiful and majestic Danube?

Up at Linz’s local mountain – the Pöstlingberg – you can enjoy visiting the Wallfahrtsbasilika, Linz’s Zoo or the popular fairy-tale world of the Grottenbahn. Not to forget the absolutely magnificent view over Linz, which awaits you at the mountain top.

So, after telling you all of these things about Linz, why don’t you pay a visit and experience Linz on your own. You will, without a doubt, come to the conclusion that Linz is definitely worth a trip!!!


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 Anna Blum on 11.03.2014  |   No comments