Austria is among the best destinations for skiing and snowboarding in Europe and it is beyond doubt that the country has a lot more tourists in winter than in summer. The reason for that is clearly the gorgeous Alps that spread almost all over Austria. Nevertheless, there is not only natural beauty in the Alpine republic, but cultural sights all over the place as well. That is why the UNESCO association gave the UNESCO Cultural Heritage title to 9 enriching places. Here you go:
1. Neusiedler See / Fertö Cultural Landscape
For about 8 millenia, a lot of different cultures met and lived around lake Neusiedler See. It is a location which is renowned for its rich cultural and natural beauty, a true paradise for cyclists and hikers. Neusiedler See lake is filled with 100% rainwater and normally quite warm as the area is well-known for its many sunny hours. The lake is perfect for small children as its average depth is merely 0,6 meters. It is Austria’s lowest point in general.
The area is UNESCO Heritage since 2001 with two countries sharing the title: Austria and Hungary. It became an UNESCO site because of several villages, churches and castles from 18th and 19th century which were built on top of ancient settlements.
2. Historic Center of Salzburg
The historic center of Salzburg is UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 already.
Salzburg is a city you cannot forget once you have been there. Around every corner, you will find something even more picturesque than before. You can walk through all the romantic alleys and streets and stop at the iconic plazas where you will find impressive monuments from different epochs. These monuments can be from the Gothic era, from Renaissance times or also in Baroque style. The unique living houses in the center of Salzburg still date back to the monarchy and are worthwhile a photograph.
You must not miss all the monuments related to world famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born in Salzburg in 1756. Popular places related to Mozart are his birth house or the house where he lived later on. Do not forget to visit the huge Salzburg Cathedral, where Mozart was baptized.
3. Historic Center of Graz
People talk about Vienna and Salzburg all the time, but what about Graz? Graz is as impressive as the other two cities, but counts more as a hidden gem. Being Austria’s second largest city, Graz has a splendid historic center offering an interesting mixture of architecture from the Balkans, Mediterranean countries as well as from the German-speaking area. The city center and also Eggenberg Palace nearby were listed as UNESCO World Heritage in 1999.
The city is dominated by the mountain “Schlossberg”. It is a forested hill in the medieval center. A charming muddle of hiking paths as well as a funicular lead to the top where you will find the bell tower, Graz’ old landmark. Yes, there is an old landmark and a new landmark in Graz and you can choose which one fits better to Graz. The city's new landmark is the “Kunsthaus” (House of Modern Art) which is located next to the Mur River, floating like a giant, blue bubble.
4. The Semmering Railway
Did you know Austria owned the one of the oldest railways in the world? It is called Semmering railway, situated some kilometers south of Vienna and already more than 150 years old. The train ride on the so-called Semmeringbahn is a huge pleasure, bringing you from Gloggnitz to Murzzuschlag. As it slowly runs up the hill for about 41km /25 miles), you can admire lots of cultural towns and villages and enjoy the great views of Alpine landscapes, mountains, valleys and even viaducts. UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site since 1998, the Semmering railway will bring.
5. Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape
Austrians have a song starting with “Im Salzkammergut, da kann man gut lustig sein”, which means “in the region of Salzkammergut, you can really have a lot of fun”. Indeed, the immensely beautiful city of Hallstatt and the surrounding region of Salzkammergut are more than diverse and you can enjoy your time there during any time of the year (but mostly in winter due to the exquisite skiing possibilities).
Nevertheless, the region is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the prehistoric civilization that took place there and because of the world-famous salt mines. Salt exploitation has been a source of income and a reason for the region’s wealth since about 2000 BC already. The prosperity can be seen in the local architecture.
6. Historic Center of Vienna
Vienna is the capital of Austria and has currently about 1.8 million inhabitants. As New York and Berlin, you could likewise call Vienna a melting pot of nationalities since immigrant communities from all over the world live in the city. in 2016, Vienna acquired the status of the most liveable city of the world in terms of the quality of life for the 7th time in a row.
Vienna’s astonishing city center became a UNESCO listing in 2001. Walking on the “Ringstrasse” in the city center, you will be able to jump from one amazing site to the other as all of them are basically neighbors. You will not only find Vienna University and the Parliament on Ringstrasse, but also the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Cultural History, countless time-honored hotels, the Opera house and the City Hall. What are you waiting for?
7. Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps
Inscribed as UNESCO site since 2011, these remains of prehistoric pile dwellings from 5000-500 BC are something truly special. The wooden buildings come from Neolithic and Bronze Age and were built around rivers and lakes.
You can find the dwellings around Lake Keutschacher See in the state of Carinthia, around Lake Attersee nearby Litzlberg and Abtsdorf and likewise around lake Mondsee in the state of Upper Austria. If you are truly interested in the pile dwellings, you can find more of them in countries like Switzerland and Austria.
8. Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn
There is not only the historic city center of Vienna but another site that owns the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is Schönbrunn Palace and its beautiful gardens. They were put on the UNESCO Heritage list in 1996 and therefore, it holds the title 5 years longer than Vienna’s historic center. Schönbrunn Palace and Schönbrunn gardens are the most visited attraction in Austria. The Baroque palace and its imperial furnishings were built to rival with the big brother Versailles (well, they do look alike!) . When you visit Schönbrunn you will know exactly while the imperial family of the Habsburgs lived here during summer.
9. Wachau Cultural Landscape
Wachau Cultural Landscape is a delight for all your senses. Since 2000, the steep terraced slopes covered with forests, idyllic vineyards and woods are inscribed at the UNESCO association. In Wachau, one wine village can be found after another.
Furthermore, you can admire fortified churches and impressive Renaissance monuments there, as well as a replica of the Venus of Willendorf, a 27,000 year-old mini statue standing for fertility. Some popular places to visit include the village of Dürnstein with all its Baroque cathedrals and a fortress and Melk Abbey, the largest Benedictine monastery in Europe.