The capital city of Austria is Vienna and has a population of around 1.7 million. Vienna is steeped in history. Yet it’s also at the cutting edge of design, architecture, contemporary art, and new directions in drinking and dining. From modern cities to medievil towns this is a gorgeous place to visit. Austria has a very high standard of living and is one of the richest countries in the world. The majority of the population speak local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and Austrian German in its standard form is the country’s official language. Long the powerhouse of the Habsburg Empire, Austria underwent decades of change and uncertainty in the early twentieth century. Racked by economic difficulties, the state fell prey to the promises of Nazi Germany. Only with the end of the Cold War did Austria return to the heart of Europe, joining the EU in 1995.
Politics aside, Austria is primarily known for two contrasting attractions – the fading imperial glories of the capital, and the stunning beauty of its Alpine hinterland. Vienna is the gateway to much of central Europe and a good place to soak up the culture of Mitteleuropa. Less renowned provincial capitals such as Graz and Linz are surprising pockets of culture, innovation and vitality. Salzburg, between Innsbruck and Vienna, represents urban Austria at its most picturesque, an intoxicating Baroque city within easy striking distance of the mountains and lakes of the Salzkammergut, while the most dramatic of Austria’s Alpine scenery is west of here, in and around Tyrol, whose capital, Innsbruck, provides the best base for exploration.
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Getting around Austria is not a problem as the local transport infrastructure is very good and inexpensive. Taxi drivers usually expect a 10% tip. Austria is located in the Alps and is a largely mountainous country. For skiers Austria now represents better value for money than the French Alps, everything from basic holiday costs to lift pass, ski school, eating out and partying usually costs less. Modern Austria boasts some of Europe’s most varied museums and contemporary architecture not to mention attractive and sophisticated cities whose bars, cafes and clubs combine contemporary cool with elegant tradition.
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