Austria

Some consider Vienna the cultural capital of Europe. The city has been synonymous with the music of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss, to name a few, as well as painters like Klimpt. Elegant balls, nights at the Vienna State Opera (one of the world’s best), and hours spent in coffeehouses are quintessential Vienna. The 640-year legacy of the Habsburg dynasty, which officially ended in 2011 with the death of Otto von Habsburg, can be found throughout the city. Oh, and let’s not forget the Boys Choir. Austria has nine inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, the Historic Center of Vienna, Wachau Cultural Landscape, Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps, Historic Center of Salzburg, Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape, Graz Historic Center and Eggenberg Palace, Fertö/Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape, and the Semmering Railway.

The year waltzes in with Vienna’s Ball Season in January and February, during which time “Fasching,” Austrian Carnival, also begins. The world famous Salzburg Festival takes place July–August, culminating with a performance of Hugo von Hoffmannsthal’s Everyman. Summer sees a variety of music festivals, from classical to rock (Nova Festival) to avant-garde (Styrian Fall), as well as wine festivals extending into the fall. Austria’s Christmas markets round out the year. Vienna alone lights up with 20 official Christmas markets selling seasonal gifts, decorations, and sweets.