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Summary: Austria is in central Europe, north of Italy and Slovenia, and its land in the west and south is mostly mountains from the Alps, although along the eastern and northern margins it is mostly flat or gently sloping. Once the center of power for the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, it is now a prosperous, democratic country, with a diverse industrial market economy and a focus on knowledge-based sectors to increase cmopetition with newer EU member states.

Capital: Vienna
Time Zone: DST +0200 UTC
Population: 8,174,762
Languages: German, Slovene, Croatian, Hungarian
Power: 230 V, 50 Hz
Currency: Euro - Currently 1 EUR € = 1.4607 USD $
Climate: A mostly temperate climate with moderate summers with occasional showers and cold winters, with frequent rain and some snow in the lowlands and snow in the mountains.

Vienna: The Vienna Woods surround the city that was home to the Habsburgs, but can't hide the cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Hofburg Palace is a must see, to see how a Holy Roman Emperor lived, or Schoenbrunn Palace, for an Emperess. The gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral is a nice diversion, as is the Kunsthistorisches Museum; play a game of chess like Trotsky in the Cafe Central, or just drive along the Ringstrasse, the boulevard that goes along beside the old city walls.

Salzburg: Set against the Hohen Tauern Mountains and the Alps, Salzburg is a beautiful, quintessentially Austrian city with both medieval and baroque buildings to attract the eye. Mozart was born here, so as a result, there are many Mozarteums - museums filled with memorabilia. The Hohensalzburg fortress offers a wonderful view of both Salzburg and the Alps to the south. Hidden treasures like St. Gilgen and the Wolfgangsee are only 15 minutes away by car. Not too far from Salzburg, you can take a 75 minute tour of the Eisriesenwelt Caves - they are the largest accessible ice caves in the world and make for a worthwhile afternoon.

Kufstein: Next to the German border and halfway in between Innsbruck and Salzburg, Kufstein sits on top of the Tirol river. Its prime attraction is the 13th century Kufstein Castle, which has breathtaking views of the valley and mountains beyond. Such a small village can make an afternoon disappear with a tea or coffee sitting and enjoying the view, otherwise, head south to the Hohe Tauern National Park for a forest and mountain landscape including the 12,454 foot high Grossglockner.

Kitzb?el: Only 80 kilometers from Salzburg, an afternoon could be spent taking a cable car up to Kitzb?el Horn, seeing the museum at the top, and then exploring the alpine paths and scenery. Any avid hiker will consider this a must in summer, and skiers will love it during the winter. The nearby Eisriesenwelt Caves are open throughout summer and have over 25 miles of explored underground paths along with guided tours that will take a full afternoon to really enjoy.

Innsbruck: Rich in the history of the Habsburgs, and rich in local fossil finds, Innsbruck is often overlooked. With ice caves, hot springs and glaciers so close to valleys and traditional Baroque squares, Innsbruck makes a great destination. Innsbruck also has the Goldenes Dachl, a 14th century mansion with a great view of the city now home to the Olympic Museum, and Schloss Ambras, a renovated 11th century castle nearby.


Austrian Breaks: Like the Austrians themselves, you should stop at about 3pm for coffee and a pastry or piece of cake.

Germans & Austrians: Don't confuse Austria with Germany. Austrians speak German, and the two nations are friends, but both are very proud of their own culture and values.

Conservation: Water can be expensive, so you will please your host by taking a short shower. Also note that recycling is taken quite seriously.

When To Visit: Salzburg celebrates Mozart's birth in January 27, 1756, and the museums help to fuel the specials on display.

Food: Specialties include schnitzel, goulash, dumplings, and smoked pork. The best course is often dessert with dense, rich cakes, including the celebrated Sachertorte.

Phrases: Ja - Yes, Nein - No, Bitte - Please, Danke - Thank you, Gruss Gott - Hello, Auf Wiedersehen - Goodbye

Tipping: A service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills, however, serving staff typically expect 5% on top. Taxi drivers generally expect a tip of 10% of the fare.

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