The 6 Top Historical Landmarks to Explore Austria’s Rich History

A large white castle on top of a hill

Posted by on 14 Mar 2024

From the picturesque beauty of Salzburg to the vibrant capital city of Vienna, Austria is home to some of the world's most breathtaking landmarks steeped in culture.

Whether you're drawn to awe-inspiring cathedrals adorned with majestic Gothic architecture or enchanted by romantic palaces immortalised in iconic films, many historical landmarks in Austria will captivate and astonish you.

Here are six must-see landmarks to include in your bucket list on your next Austrian holiday.

6 Must-Visit Landmarks to Explore in Austria

Hofburg Palace, Vienna

Few historical landmarks in Austria are quite as iconic as the Hofburg. This former home of the imperial family smack in the middle of Vienna is now the official residence of the president of Austria. Aside from its historic ties to the nation’s wealthy nobles and prominent political figures, the palace is also an important landmark for its Baroque and Classicist façade, which creates a sense of timelessness that always draws travellers in.

Past the Hofburg’s imposing gates lie vast courtyards, grand halls and imperial apartments that are available for tours. It’s also home to plenty of the city’s exciting cultural attractions, such as the Austrian National Library and Sisi Museum, one of the best cultural museums to see in Vienna.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna

Another of the most famous Austria landmarks is St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known as Stephansdom. This majestic Gothic structure is the official seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, making it one of the most important churches in all of Austria and a symbol of Habsburg history.

From its towering spires to the intricate details in its interiors, the cathedral is a sight to behold both outside and inside the church. One of its most distinctive features is the colourful roof tiles on the ceiling.

But its most defining feature is the 136-metre-high tower, which was used in the Middle Ages as a command post to protect the city as it is the highest point in Vienna. Today, visitors from all around the world head to the top of the tower to see a panoramic view of Austria’s capital. It’s no doubt one of the best things to do in Vienna.

Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

While Hofburg was home to the Habsburgs during the winter, Schönbrunn Palace was for warm summers. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most beautiful places in Austria thanks to its decadent Rococo interiors and lush, spacious gardens perfect for frolicking and picnicking. Without a doubt, it’s one of the landmarks that have become a symbol of Vienna’s time-old grandeur and rich Habsburg history.

The palace has over 1,400 rooms filled with stucco interiors, paintings and sculptures for travellers to take in. Perhaps the most iconic spot inside the palace is the Hall of Mirrors, which shines and glimmers bright thanks to its white walls plastered with mirrors. Other must-sees on the palace grounds include the Chinese Cabinets within the building and the Schönbrunn Zoo in the garden area.

Fortress Hohensalzburg, Salzburg

When you think of where to go in Austria, your mind likely goes to Vienna. But it’s not the only area of Austria worth a visit if you want to see historical landmarks. Salzburg also has its fair share of breathtaking historic buildings—many of which with a view. This includes the 250-metre-wide Fortress Hohensalzburg, one of the biggest fully preserved mediaeval castles in all of Central Europe.

This fortress sits on top of Festungsberg Mountain. To get to the fortress, visitors can walk up the hill or ride a vintage funicular. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Salzburg when you get to the top.

Inside the fortress, you can explore its many wings and even see the Prince-Bishop’s apartments and bed chamber. One of the most popular rooms in the fortress is the Golden Chamber, named so for its ornate interiors and what used to be gold-embossed walls.

Mirabell Palace, Salzburg

Mirabell Palace is a must-visit for fans of The Sound of Music. This UNESCO World Heritage Site’s gorgeous gardens (which are famous nowadays for weddings because of their ethereal views and lush greenery) were the backdrop of the Von Trapp children singing the iconic “Do-Re-Mi.”

But aside from being a famous location for one of the biggest movie musicals of all time, Mirabell Palace is in and of itself a stunning palace any romantic needs to see. After all, it was built in 1606 by a romantic prince-archbishop for his mistress and their family. The next owner then named it “Mirabell” or “admirable beauty” in Italian.

The palace’s Baroque and Renaissance architectural styles and vast gardens make it comparable to the picturesque, storybook-like chateaux in Loire Valley. There are so many stunning areas to marvel at in Mirabell Palace, including the Marble Hall, one of the most beautiful banquet halls in Europe. There’s also the Angel Staircase dotted with cherubs and the Grand Fountain in the gardens.

Hallstatt Old Town, Gmunden

Last but not least, we have Hallstatt Old Town, a gorgeous, charming village with cobblestone streets, quaint shops and a stunning view of the Austrian Alps. Its most defining feature is the rows of colourful cottages and houses, similar to those in the quiet yet enchanting fishing villages in Canada’s coastal towns.

Hallstatt is an amazing place to explore if you want to see what life was like back in the mediaeval age in Upper Austria. The tiny town is linked with Celtic culture, so it’s terrific for experiencing and understanding this unique way of life. Some must-sees in town include the Market Square, where there are plenty of colourful buildings and cafés, and the eerie yet poignant Charnel House—a small chapel that is home to hundreds of painted bones and skulls.

Immerse Yourself in Culture at These Historical Landmarks in Austria

There’s no better way to connect with the rich history and roots of Austria than by visiting its stunning, poignant historical landmarks.

From mediaeval fortresses in Salzburg to imperial palaces in Vienna, Austria’s timeless buildings and attractions are not to be missed when visiting the heart of Europe.

Do you want to explore as much of Austria as possible on your next European holiday? Check out all of Entire Travel Group’s Austria Holiday Packages.

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