Ah Austria, the birthplace of Mozart, Freud, ballroom dancing, incredible desserts, and of course, the setting of The Sound of…my embarrassed voice when I mention the classic film to my unimpressed Austrian friends.
If you’re about to go on an epic trip to the land of Edelweiss (and you should!) here are 10 things you need to know.
1. Never mention the Sound of Music
You’d think any proud Austrian would light up at the mention of this iconic film but plot twist – no Austrian has ever seen it. No seriously, they have no clue what you’re talking about and get incredibly annoyed when tourists keep bringing it up. Trust me, whatever you do, never ever sing away your farewell.
2. Don’t be late
If you’re meeting a friend in Austria, show up on time. And I mean precisely-to-the-exact-minute on time. If there’s a bigger sin than showing off your best von Trapp impression, it’s being late to do so!
3. Always say “hi!”
Austrians are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet and they love greeting everyone they pass with a smile on their face. After a few days there, you’ll soon get used to hearing the chirp of ‘Grüß Gott’ (the Austrian word for ‘hello’), which is guaranteed to brighten your day. In fact, Grüß Gott translates as ‘may God bless you and FYI: the churches in Austria are some of the most Instagram – able ones you’ll find.
4. For God’s sake, try their desserts!
The inventors of croissants (yes, the Austrians invented these pastry delicacies, not the French), Austrians know their desserts. Buchteln, Linzertorte (Linzer cake), Sachertoret (Sacher cake), Apfelstrudel (apple strudel)…you get the idea.
But my personal favorite? Austria’s version of pancakes called Palatschinken. Found in many European countries, think of these delicious treats as a slightly thicker version of crepes, usually served with ‘marille’ (apricot) jam. Cue a glorious food coma.
5. Speak their language
Austrians speak their own version of German called ‘Österreichisches Deutsch’ (Austrian German). Flex your Austrian German skills and say ‘Servus’ for hi and ‘Baba!’ instead of ‘Tschüss’ for goodbye. To wrap up your day, go to a ‘Beisl’ (Austrian version of gastro pub) and order Marille Palatschinken mit Schlag (whipped cream). Yum!
6. Swim in the lakes
One of my favourite things to do in Austria is to soak up the sun by the mirror-like lakes. Yep, you heard it. Austria can do beaches (and quite well, in fact). Think turquoise waters, action-packed water sports, and beach bars with majestic mountains in the backdrop.
7. The ski slopes and the sp-ahhh’s
Ah, the mountains. Yes, Austria is scattered with these glorious natural creations, and zipping down the slopes on some fresh powder is what the country is (rightly so) best known for.
But if you’re not a snow bunny yourself, you’re in luck! Completely and undeservedly overlooked are the incredible spas at the popular ski resorts. Kicking your feet up while soaking in soothing, steamy waters in the middle of the snow idyll? #Bliss.
8. Vienna’s nightlife
We’re nearly at the end of the list and I haven’t mentioned Vienna. Don’t despair. While everyone knows the capital as one of Europe’s main cultural hubs, this city hides its rebellious side in the shadows. The city’s prim-and-proper facade may be impressive but, trust me – even the wildest partygoers will be exhausted by morning.
9. The ski slopes and the sp-ahhh’s
Beach dance parties on an island in the sun. Yes, I’m still talking about Austria. Every summer, a large island in the middle of Vienna is transformed into a tropical paradise and hosts a giant music festival called Donauinselfest (Danube island festival). The best part? It’s 100% free! Think constant music, swimming, surfing, cycling, inline skating, bars, restaurants, BBQs and general non-stop good times. Count. Me. In.
10. The best roads in Europe
We’ve come to the end but as they say: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.” Even if you’re simply bypassing through Austria, you’re in for a trip of your life. Driving on beautifully smooth roads that are framed with stunning mountains, glistening lakes, and a rich tapestry of the idyllic countryside – that’s what I call an epic road trip.