Imperial grandeur, Alpine hikes, villages and wine
Did you think cable cars were just for wintertime skiers and boarders? It’s a common misconception but actually many run throughout the year. It’s a fun way to travel and offers excellent access to Austria’s stunning natural landscapes, rich in flora and fauna, mountainside villages and magnificent viewpoints. Though crowded at the most popular times during the peak winter snow and summer sun seasons, April and May or October and November is a whole different ball game. Taking a chair lift in these low season months can be an other-worldly, almost eerie, experience allowing you to revel in the beautiful springtime wildflowers and the glorious russet shades of autumn in relative privacy. Sure, some will close for essential maintenance, and the weather can be more unpredictable, but take local advice and reserve some flexibility and you’ll save cash while enjoying the best of Austrian adventures.
Travelling in the low season also offers the chance to explore Austria’s charming towns and cities without the inflated price tag of peak travel. You may well be familiar with the stunning palaces and historic coffee shops of Vienna, but consider also smaller centres which have so much for the low season traveller to enjoy. Discover the old centre of Innsbruck and the fine Renaissance Ambras Castle close by. Or you might take in Salzburg and visit Mirabell Gardens, Mondsee Cathedral, and Lake Wolfgang on a ‘Sound of Music’ tour. Likewise, pretty Linz and Graz are picturesque cities full of history and beautiful Baroque architecture.
Low Season Events
With significant permanent populations of culture-loving locals, it’s no surprise that Austria enjoys year-round quality festivals and exhibitions. Wien Modern is a celebration of art and music that takes place each November since 1988. ART Innsbruck is an international art fair which also takes place in the low season with graphics, sculptures, installations, and photography exhibits at different venues around the city, while Klanglicht, organised by local theatres, transforms Graz into a city of light, music and art. If you’re after something a little more physical there are, among others, two top festivals for you. October sees the beautiful Gastein Valley transformed into a yoga paradise with 11 days of yogic events among the clear fresh air in magnificent mountain scenery. The sporty Tour de Tirol takes place around the same time and includes the renowned 75km Ultra Trail.
The Great Outdoors
Austria enjoys some wonderful, well-developed hiking and cycling trails taking in forested mountainsides, lakes and waterfalls. Many paths remain easily accessible in the low season, although you’d be wise to stick the simpler routes and keep a close eye on the weather forecast. Favourite day treks include the Lunersee Circuit in the Ratikon Alps, Stone Pine Path in the Tux Alps and Sanderee in Hohe Tauern National Park. There are also plenty of low season opportunities to give kayaking, rafting or climbing a try. Alternatively, just spending time relaxing in nature can rejuvenate even the most stressed workaholic. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that ‘forest bathing’, as the practice is known, reduces blood pressure, increases immunity and improves mental health.