Reasons to like Austria – and 30 exclusive pictures

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

Ten reasons to like Austria, ranging from flak towers in Vienna to food, lakes, mountains, statues, counterculture, art, traditions and ancient mysteries.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, I’m writing upbeat posts to celebrate countries I’ve lived in.

Here are ten reasons to like Austria, where I lived from 1984-87 and have again since 2016.  I’ve tried to pick some non-obvious things as well as favourites – comments welcome.  Here we go.

Flak towers

1.  Vienna has more flak towers than – I think – anywhere on earth.  Did you know that “flak”, as in a “flak jacket”, stands for Flug Abwehr Kanone or anti-aircraft gun?  They were built during the Second World War and mostly stand empty, although one is occupied by a climbing wall and an aquarium.

Flak tower, Vienna

Flak tower in the Augarten, Vienna (all photos RP). Never again, indeed.

Flak tower, Vienna

Flak tower, climbing wall and aquarium

Counterculture

2.  Austria has a lively counterculture.  If your taste is for a dog-basket, a T-shirt of Karl Marx or a public toilet with opera music (sadly now closed) you can find it here.

Wer rasiert verliert

“Who shaves, loses”

Jesuitenwiese, Prater, Vienna

Happy dogs in the Prater

Art

3.  Austria is full of art of every kind.  I had to be selective here but feast your eyes on this lot:

Man on the Ball, Salzburg

This “Man on the Ball” by Stephan Balkenhol is in Salzburg.  The ball is 5 metres in diameter and weighs two tons

Man on the Ball, Salzburg

He is gazing up at the fortress on the hill

Klimt, Vienna

These decorations by Klimt are on the ceiling of the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Messerschmidt head, Vienna

I am a big fan of the bizarre Messerschmidt heads at the Belvedere in Vienna, and even wrote a short story about them, The Three Heads.

Traditions

4.  Austria has maintained some charming traditions which have died out elsewhere, such as a full-blown ball season and the only Spanish riding school in the world.

Lippizaners, Vienna

My mum with the Lippizaner horses at the Spanish riding school

Fitting for White Tie, Vienna (Frack)

Being fitted for a “Frack” (white tie outfit) for the Opera Ball

Opera Ball, Vienna

The Opera Ball is spectacular

Opera Ball, Vienna

The main staircase at the Opera Ball

Mysteries

5.  Austria is full of ancient mysteries.  Amongst the most ancient are the tunnels of Styria, whose purpose and history no-one fully understands.

prehistoric tunnel, Styria, Austria

Going through one of the ancient tunnels of Styria

Food

6.  Austria features some mouth-watering food, both traditional and less traditional.  Let the drooling begin!

Surstelze, Salm Bräu, Vienna

Traditional pork dish at the Salm Bräu in Vienna

Steirereck

The Steirereck is one of the finest restaurants in Vienna

Käsekrainer

I immensely enjoy a late-night Käsekrainer (cheesy Bratwurst)

Scenery

7.  The country is full of beautiful mountains and lakes.  Again, I have had to be selective, but here are a few:

Dachstein, Austria

This is the Dachstein, viewed from the north

Wörthersee, Carinthia

The Wörthersee is in Carinthia

Robert Pimm, Mitersill, Austria

Above Mittersill, in Salzburg province

Robert Pimm, Bodensee, Austria

The Bodensee (Lake Constance) in winter

Public statues

8.  Austrians seem to appreciate public statues:

Austrian Naval Power

This fountain at the Hofburg in Vienna, dating from the 1890s, represents Austrian naval power

Canova: Theseus slaying the centaur

Canova’s “Theseus defeating the centaur” is from 1819

Municipal statues, Third District, Vienna

Vienna’s public housing projects feature fine decorative art

Wine culture

9.  Austria’s Heurigen are open-air taverns – some located right in the vineyards.  In few places does a glass of local wine and a snack taste better.

Heuriger overlooking Vienna

This Heuriger overlooks Vienna

Vineyard near Vienna

You won’t get closer to a vineyard than this

Architecture

10.  Austria has many spectacular ancient and modern buildings.  Again I have been selective.

U-Bahn station in Vienna

A U-Bahn (underground) station in Vienna

Ski lift by Zaha Hadid, Innsbruck, Austria

A ski lift station in Innsbruck designed by British architect Zaha Hadid

Austrian National Library, Vienna

The Austrian National Library dates from the 18thC

Villa Loos, Vienna

This villa by Adolf Loos dates from 1928

Kirche am Steinhof, Vienna

Otto Wagner’s Kirche am Steinhof was completed in 1907

I hope you enjoyed these ten reasons to like Austria.  If you have enjoyed this piece, take a look at my Ten reasons to like Lesotho and Ten reasons to like Turkey.

If you would like to have a look at my other writing, my most recent books are: Seven Hotel Stories, Blood Summit and Corona Crime.

 Blood Summit cover Corona Crime cover

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5 Responses

  1. In de einen Flakturm gibt es ein Restaurant mit einem spektakulären Blick über die Wiener Dachlandschaft. IM übrigen hast du wirklich auch meine östrreichischen favorits genannt.

  2. Was ist die beste Jahreszeit, um Österreich zu besuchen? Bitte sagen Sie mir die Vor- und Nachteile jeder Saison. Wann gibt es am wenigsten Touristen? Was ist der beste Sommermonat für einen Besuch? Gibt es einen Sommermonat, der etwas weniger touristisch ist als die anderen?

    1. Hallo Zoey! Mein Tip: Wien kann man zu jeder Jahreszeit besuchen. In Juli und August gibt es meistens nicht zu viele Touristen – vor allem unter jetzigen Bedingungen. Für mehr Empfehlungen, siehe meine “Vienna Cafe Reviews” unter den “Pleasure Paths”.

      Robert Pimm

  3. You describe everything so warmly, with relish and affectionately that you can be seen as a really big fan / friend of Austria.

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