My Vacation to Austria | European Trip
My girlfriend and I went on a ten day vacation to Central Europe this past July. The majority of our trip was spent in Austria. However, we did visit Prague, Budapest, Bratislava, and Berchtesgaden in southern Germany. Each country had similarities but they also all had their own unique qualities/influences. One of the similarities was that the majority of people that we encountered spoke English fluently. The majority of people I interacted with were very friendly and helpful. There are no shortages of nasty people in the world, but for the most part, the people in these countries were great!
My Vacation to Austria | European Trip Overview
We stayed the first part of our trip in Vienna. What stood out to me was that the city was very clean. There was very little garbage on the ground. The city does a nice job of making sure the roads, sidewalks, and bike lanes are always clean. I was very impressed with the pride the city has in their appearance. During the summer they have a film festival outside of the City Hall. The film festival was one of our favorite activities we did in Vienna. We found ourselves always wondering over there for food and drinks at night. They had a big projector screen with different movies and musical shows. They also had several different food tents. The selection was very diverse and very affordable. The weather was absolutely beautiful so that definitely enhanced the experience. During the summer months the film festival is a MUST visit.
The Vienna shopping district was also very nice. They had several luxury brands like Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. There is also an abundance of other local shops where you can get everything from cloths to souvenirs. Keep in mind that when you go to claim your tax refund you HAVE TO provide Austrian customs with your tax refund form and the actual item that you bought. They will not issue your tax refund without seeing the actual item you purchased.
We visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral which is located on the streets of Innere Stadt. This Cathedral was one of the nicest Cathedrals I have ever seen. The structure is massive and the roof designs are incredible. We also loved our tour of Hofburg Palace. This building is a lot bigger than it looks in pictures. It is worth committing two full days to exploring Vienna. The city is very secure! This means you can explore the city worry free. However, it is still important that you take the proper precautions that you would always take while visiting a foreign country.
Mauthausen Concentration Camp
After spending our first three days in Vienna we took our car and worked our way towards Salzburg. We stopped in several cities on the way to Salzburg. I am very interested in World War 2 history so we decided to stop and visit the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. I will say that this was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. The former concentration camp is still very intact. You can park and tour the camp for free. We decided to pay 3 Euros for the audio guide tour. This was very much worth it as the audio gives you great information about each section of the camp.
We were able to see prisoner housings, the medical wing, the ‘Stairs of Death’, and even a gas chamber. This tour really gave us insight into how deceptive, organized, disgusting, and merciless the Nazis were. This is a tour that every person should do at some point in their life. I feel it’s important for people to see how heinous the crimes against humanity were. It was a very powerful experience that I will never forget. I can honestly say anytime I think I got it bad, I’ll think back to this experience and remember what these poor people had to go through by the hands of pure evil.
On positive note, the city of Salzburg was absolutely amazing. However, I would recommend just using the public transportation around the city because the traffic there is very heavy. We ended up just keeping our car parked at our Airbnb. They have several different bus lines that will take you all over the city. They have several parks and an excellent shopping district. The Hohensalzburg Castle was absolutely stunning. The castle overlooks the city and there are some amazing photo opportunities.
The walk up to the castle is a bit challenging so make sure you are prepared. They also have a lift that can take you to the top of the castle if you aren’t able to walk up, so no worries! If you are in Salzburg it’s worth taking a day and doing a tour of the Castle (there is an entrance fee). The Mirabel Palace is also a very nice tourist attraction. The palace overlooks a beautiful garden and it is directly across from the Hohensalzburg Castle. They have several bars and great restaurants. The shopping was just as good as it was in Vienna. We did a ‘Hop on, Hop Off Bus’ and it was very much worth it. It took us to all the popular tourist destinations throughout the city. The city is very old and a must see if you are in Austria. I believe it was nearly a four hour drive from Vienna. The drive from Vienna is stunning as well. It becomes even more beautiful when you reach the Alps. Salzburg is right on the German board so you can be in Germany in roughly 15 minutes. You can also shoot up to Munich if you have time.
Austria is a beautiful country. The people were generally nice and most people are able to speak or at least understand English. Western Austria has the Alps. There are several different outdoor activities like hiking. Hiking in the Alps is something I wish we had more time to do because the scenery is stunning. If you are in Salzburg I recommend taking a trip to the Eagles Nest. It’s in a German town right on the boarder. It’s about a 25 minute or so drive from Salzburg.