No country waltzes so effortlessly between the urban and the outdoors as Austria. One day you’re cresting alpine summits, the next you’re swanning around imperial Vienna.
Austria looks small on the map, but most of it is vertical, so there’s always another hairpin-riddled lane, off-the-radar village or knockout alpine view to discover. As a hiker, I’m never happier than when dangling off a 2000m precipice on a trail in Tyrol or Salzburgerland – watching the springtime eruption of wildflowers, say, or the last light creep down immense peaks of limestone. Alpenglühen, they call it. Then there are Vienna’s fabulous coffee houses and phenomenal art, the romance of the vine-laced Wachau, the crystal-clear lakes of Salzkammergut and Carinthia’s medieval villages, not to mention the castles, abbeys and cakes everywhere. What’s not to love?