|The hills are alive: The picturesque Hallstatt Town in Austria attracts millions of tourists every year. — Photo courtesy of Austrian National Tourist Office
(VNS) Situated in the heart of Eu-rope, Austria offers a rich cultural heritage, many culinary specialties and, even though it is not a big country, a large variety of beautiful landscapes: quiet forests, stunning mountainous areas and a great number of crystal clear lakes, often embedded in picturesque scenery.
The abundance of architectural gems bears witness to Austria's long and changeful history, ranging from ancient ruins, to fascinating buildings from the Baroque, Romanesque or Gothic area, to award winning modern architecture.
Austria has also been the centre for classical music. Many famous composers such as W Mozart, J Haydn or F Schubert were native to Austria. And even though classical music still holds a special place in Austrian culture, Austria is now also home to many promising musical talents in various other styles as well. Visitors to our country will be able to choose between a wide variety of concerts, music festivals, musicals, operas and ballet performances. The cultural tradition in Austria furthermore includes visual arts, with several world-renowned Austrian painters, for example Gustav Klimt or Egon Schiele, and a huge literary wealth, with the works of writers like Franz Kafka, Stefan Zweig and many more.
In 2004 the Austrian playwright and novelist Elfriede Jelinek was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. And last, but certainly not least, there are a lot of great minds who developed their ideas in Austria, e.g. philosophers Friedrich Hayek, Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein or Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis.
Another important and distinctive part of Austrian culture is the domestic cuisine, for which Austria is known all over the world.
Visitors can try a typical Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten or Tafelspitz or indulge in desserts like Apfelstrudel, Kaiserschmarrn or Germknodel. To accompany these tasty dishes Austria offers more than 1,000 different beers from 174 local breweries and a variety of locally produced white and red wines. The latter ones should be tried out at a "Heurigen" – little taverns where wine growers serve small meals together with their homegrown products. Not to be missed is a visit in a traditional Viennese "Kaffeehaus", to enjoy a delicious coffee – the typical "Wiener Melange" or a "Verlangerter", together with sumptuous pastries and cakes.
Nature lovers and sports enthusiasts will find a large number of activities on offer, both in winter and in summer: downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking are just a few examples of your possibilities in Austria. There are also numerous spas to relax and unwind.
Beside touristic reasons, Austria is visited by a lot of business people and politicians each year while participating in international conferences, seminars and meetings. Many multinational companies have headquarters or branches in Austria and the Austrian capital of Vienna is also host to a large number of international organisations, like the United Nations, IAEA, OPEC and many others.
Millions of people seize the chance every year to see the natural beauties, experience the great cultural heritage, taste the culinary highlights and benefit from the Austrian expertise in tourism and hosting events. Maybe it is time for you to do the same! — VNS