25 Interesting Facts to Know When Preparing for an Austrian Holiday
Known for its spectacular scenery, Austria is a country to put on your must-travel list. The country hills are indeed alive with the sound of music – as lovers of the famous ‘Sound of Music’ may know, this picture-perfect corner of Europe was the backdrop of the famous musical.
There is no place quite like Austria. Alpine mountains, pristine glassy lakes, wildflowers dotting rolling green hills, and some of the world’s most famous castles are only a part of the whole postcard-perfect Austria.
If you are enticed by this scenic part of the world, read on to learn some interesting facts before you go and become lost in the charm of this mountainous wonderland.
Austria’s history and heritage
Austria’s official language is German, and the language is spoken by 98% of the population. Other minority languages include Croatian, Hungarian, and Slovak.
Important phrases before travelling to Austria include “gruss gott” (“good day”), “Auf Wiedersehen” (“good-bye”) and “danke” (“thank you”).
Austria borders the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
The Austrian flag is one of the oldest national flag’s in the world, dating from 1191.
The name ‘Austria’ derives from the Germanic word ‘austro’, meaning ‘east’. It first appeared in the Ostarrîchi document of 996, which is the foundation of Austrian identity. You can view the document at the Ostarrichi Museum located between Salzburg and Vienna.
Austria was first inhabited by the Celtics and then later conquered by the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Bavarians and Slavs that occupied the country.
After WWII, Austria regained its republic status and became part of the European Union in 1955, declaring permanent neutrality.
Austria’s sights & landmarks
The Austrian National Library, located in Vienna, is one of the world’s most major libraries. Established in 1726, the library houses more than 2.5 million books and has a collection dating back to the 14th century. It is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, featuring baroque architecture and mural ceilings.
Two-thirds of Austria is covered by forests and meadows, and it is one of the most densely forested places in the world. The Hohe Tauern National Park is Central Europe’s largest area of protected land, featuring ancient forests, green rolling meadows, rugged cliff-faces, and waterfalls.
Kirchberg in Tirol is considered as one of the oldest alpine ski resorts, with its first chairlift built in 1928. One of the most popular sights in the town is the chapel Kirchanger and St. Ulrich Church.
The ‘Sound of Music’ was filmed in Salzburg and features visuals from Salzburg’s beautiful lake district, the Salzkammergut. 6 miles from Salzburg is the Bavarian village of Markt Schellenberg, where Maria makes her first twirling appearance in the movie.
Hofburg Palace, built in the 13th century, was once home of the counts of Vienna. Today it is the official residence of the president of Austria. Also known as ‘The Winter Palace’, it houses several attractions including over 700-year old architecture, 18 buildings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms. Visitors can tour the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection - featuring more than 7,000 ceremonial tableware from the Imperial Court.
In the mountainous Salzkammergut region, the ancient village of Hallstatt rests on the picturesque Lake of Hallstatt. Hallstatt is believed to be the oldest still-inhabited village in Europe.
Austria is famous for its sweet desserts and cakes, including the oldest cake in the world, the Linzer Torte; a red currant cake with a lattice design on top and named after the city of Linz.
Coffee shops have a long history originating in the capital of Vienna. The oldest coffee shop still in use is Cafe Frauenhuber, established in 1824. Mozart was said to have performed at this very cafe.
While in Vienna, try a traditional Vienna coffee made with 2 shots of strong black espresso infused with whipped cream – it’s delicious!
The national dish of Austria is called a wiener schnitzel. It is a thin piece of veal served with sliced lemon and potato salad.
Austria is home to the world’s oldest still-operating restaurant, St Peter Stiftskeller, established in 803. The 1200-year-old restaurant is located in Salzburg.
Austrians have one of the highest standards of living in the world. In 2018, Vienna was named the best city in the world.
The famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, was born in Austria.
Famous composer, Mozart, was born in Salzburg.
Adolf Hitler was born in Austria, in the small village of Braunau Am Inn.
The Waltz was born in Vienna and the Alpine region of Austria. Over 400 Viennese balls are staged each Winter.
The sewing machine was invented by Austrian Josef Madersperger.
The expression “Na” is one of the most common in Austria. A derivative of the German word “nein”, na is often used to mean “no” just as it is common here in Australia.
Drinking alcohol in Austria is a ceremonial affair. Austrians take a moment to make eye contact and say “Prost!” as a toast to each person at the table. One of the most popular drinks in Austria is Schnapps, which is often served after a meal.
Alpine skiing, also known as downhill skiing, has been the most popular sport among Austrian people for over 100 years. One of the most popular skiing spots in Austria is founded in the Arlberg region; known as ‘the cradle of alpine skiing’.
Come alive in the Austrian Countryside
Albatross Tours have a number of tours that visit the wondrous and enchanting country of Austria. Discover our available tours here, and find out which will be best for your next European adventure.