This land of dizzying peaks, cobalt lakes and rushing rivers creates a breathtaking backdrop for outdoor pursuits. Whether you want to climb mountains in Tyrol or carve up the slopes in the Alps, freewheel along the Danube or paddle the raging Inn River, Austria's got the lot.
What To Do
Austria is a great place to get into the outdoors, with a gigantic backyard full of spiky peaks, clear lakes and raging rivers custom-made for vigorous activities. Skiing and walking are perennial favourites and share the limelight with gravity-defying sports designed to make you scream.
The cycle of music festivals in Austria is unceasing. In January, New Year concerts consist of lavish balls in Vienna. February brings Fasching (Shrovetide carnival) which celebrates the return of spring with masked processions and dances. Corpus Christi (the second Thursday after Whitsun) is heralded with more carnivals, some held on lakes in the Salzkammergut. The Wiener Festwochen (from May to mid-June) has a wide-ranging programme of arts and is considered the highlight of the year. Midsummer Night's celebrations on 21 June light up the sky with magnificent bonfires. The Salzburger Festspiele takes place in late July and August and includes plenty of music by the city's favourite son, Mozart. National Day on 26 October involves lots of patriotic flag-waving. St Nicholas Day, on 5 to 6 December, marks the beginning of the Christmas season.
Perchtenlaufen - 5 Jan
Celebrated across much of western Austria, this festival promotes good fortune and a prosperous harvest for the forthcoming year. Locals dress as Perchten (spirits crowned with elaborate headdresses) and parade through the streets. Salzkammergut's equivalent is Glöckerlaufen.
Fasching (Shrovetide Carnival) - Jan/Feb
Austria's carnival season, which really only gets going at the end of January/beginning of February, when people parade around in fancy dress and party till the wee small hours. Look for Fasching Krapfen (a sweet bun filled with jam) during this time.
Maypole Day - 1 May
Colourful, lively countrywide affairs accompanied by maypoles, plenty of alcohol and unabandoned merriment.
Midsummer Night - 21 Jun
A celebration of the summer solstice, with hilltop bonfires and partying through the night.
Music Festivals - Jul/Aug
Classical, jazz and rock festivals take place throughout the country over summer.
Wine Harvest - Oct
All through October, Styria, Burgenland and Lower Austria mark the grape harvest with bottle after bottle of wine and folk music.
St Nicholas Day - 5 Dec
More for the kids, this day sees St Nicholas drift from house to house handing out presents to good children. He is often accompanied by the Krampus (devil), who punishes the bad children (which never happens). In many places, this day is also marked by Krampuslaufen: young men dress up as demons in heavy wooden masks and run through the streets, terrorising villagers along the way.