Austrian Summer Highs
A day of fresh air in the mountains, an afternoon lost in modern art and architecture, an hour or two of relaxing in the style of emperors, a moment of wonder at opera in the most surprising of settings.? And, with plenty of time for unexpected discoveries and experiences, this is one summer holiday hotspot that you?d return to in a second.
Walking holidays are soaring in popularity with British holidaymakers enticed by the ease of experiencing Austria?s unofficial national pastime. There?s opportunity at every alpine turn, as well sign-posted trails web across valleys and mountaintops, woodlands and meadows. One of the best ways to capture the spirit of Carinthia is to walk along a piece of its natural paradise ? the Alpe-Adria-Trail. The 43-stage Alpe-Adria-Trail connects the three regions of Carinthia, Slovenia and Friuli Venezia Giulia. This long-distance hiking trail leads from the foot of Austria?s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, along the most beautiful mountains and bathing lakes in Carinthia, to where the three countries of Austria, Italy and Slovenia intersect at the Dreil?ndereck, and then on towards Trieste and the Adriatic.
And, moving from the south of Austria to its westernmost province, Vorarlberg, active holidaymakers in the Bregenzerwald head for mountain summits and dazzling lookouts in their walking boots, or in a more leisurely mode by cable car. A string of award-winning inns and restaurants serve regional cuisine with a creative twist. What better way to start the day than with a hearty mountain breakfast? Colour, form, weather: a mountainous world that presents itself as lovely and dramatic as a piece of art. A number of hiking trails offer a closer look at nature, fauna or the traits of alpine farming. Some combine the enjoyment of nature with artistic impressions such as the Green Ring in Lech Z?rs am Arlberg.
From two feet to two wheels ? experience biking in the Zillertal, one of Austria?s best cycling regions with over 800km of trails, from leisurely routes along the valley up to the mountain pastures, to scenic trails that lead to the peaks of some of Austria?s most stunning summits. 8 mountain lifts with easy accessible bike transport take you to heights from which you have access to glorious panoramic biking routes and over 140 mountain huts. Or, why not try a guided e-bike tour and conquer your first summit?
Doorstep hiking and biking, and a combination of glaciers, mountains and lakes are the popular draws of Zell am See-Kaprun. Whether water sports on the crystal clear waters of Zeller lake, golf at one of the Alps? most picturesque courses, paragliding or hang-gliding within reach of summits over 3000m at National Park Hohe Tauern, or a guided tour of the national park with a qualified ranger, Zell am See-Kaprun is an adventure hot spot.
Art & Architecture: A+
The word ?charming? is often used to describe Austria?s ?look? ? wooden chalets with colourfully adorned flower balconies, mountainside lodges that beckon with their solid presence, and attractively laid out towns and villages tucked away in the prettiest of sceneries. Certainly, while these time-honoured architectural and design traditions are celebrated and respected, there is a very contemporary Austria that exists alongside. One of the most striking examples of this is in Austria?s westernmost province, Vorarlberg. Here, a very unique style of modern architecture co-exists with alpine style, and, while many times proving to be one of those unexpected, and delightful holiday discoveries to travellers, it has already garnered the attention of those in the architectural ?know?. Wallpaper magazine has even impressively hailed Vorarlberg as ?the most progressive part of the planet when it comes to new architecture.? Amazingly, most of these new designs are still ones of timber build, but minimalistic in nature with clean lines and the clever use of large glass surfaces. There is a strong emphasis on sustainability throughout the building process ? from planning, to ecological land use, to the favouring of natural building materials, to an adherence to stringent energy-efficient regulations.
And, while the modern constructs of Vorarlberg blend in almost seamlessly within a largely rural Austrian landscape, visitors to the very urban centres of Linz and Graz will be hard-pressed to miss several eye-catching architectural highlights. Following a very well-received selection as European Capital of Culture in 2009 and, over the last decade, the debut of a variety of unique venues for technology, music and culture, Linz has quietly been building itself a niche on the arts scene. Linz?s Lentos Art Museum is considered one of central Europe?s most important centres for contemporary art. With its transparent glass exterior, lit in a variety of colours at night, and strikingly reflected back in the waters of the Danube, the Lentos is just one shining example of the transformation that this former industrial steel city has undergone. And, it may be fair to say that something a little out of this world is going on in Austria?s second largest city. The Kunsthaus Graz (Graz Art Museum) has firmly enamoured itself amongst locals as the city?s resident ?friendly alien? due to its bluish, bulbous shape with tube-like appendages jutting out the top. With an exclusive focus on modern art, it interestingly houses no permanent collections or exhibitions of its own, rather acting as a display venue for international projects and works. Taking its place between the historic houses of Graz?s old town, it?s fair to say that contemporary cool has definitely made a very solid landing here.
Another city which offers a great mixture of traditional and modern architecture is Innsbruck. What makes this provincial capital such a great discovery? Strolling through the streets in search of its special character, you find a treasure trove of unique and stunning facets. The first thing you notice, however, are the mountains that protect and surround the city, an almost loving embrace from Mother Nature?s giant arms. The second noticeable feature is the old town full of wonderful historical highlights and yet still in use every day.
A modern turn: music & museums
Despite remaining rife in tradition, Austria is also unreserved when it comes to showcasing a very burgeoning contemporary cultural scene. For example, the stage at the annual Bregenz Festival may very well be the epitome of cool ? imagine opera under a starry sky, open-air seating in view of an absolutely mesmerising stage that is actually floating on Lake Constance, and famous aria of Mozart?s ?The Magic Flute? wafting musically all around. Even James Bond himself couldn?t resist an impromptu appearance on stage in 2008?s Quantum of Solace.
Also bound to make an impression with visitors is a rich art scene at museums across the country, housing brazen new works alongside impressive collections of classical masterpieces. In fact, some of the museums themselves are quite noteworthy for their own structures. Salzburg?s Museum of Modern Art is perched atop the cliff face of the M?nchsberg, with a bird?s eye view of Salzburg?s historic old town. Back in Bregenz, the Kunsthaus Bregenz with its glass facade and lantern-like shape absorbs both the natural changing light and diffused light from Lake Constance. High-calibre exhibitions featuring modern genres showcase painting, photography, new media and the performing arts.
For more information, or if interested in a press trip, please contact Martina Jamnig at the Austrian National Tourist Office (firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 020-7440-3840, www.austria.info, newsroom-uk.austria.info),
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