On Tuesday, October 17th, we had the privilege of attending an insightful event hosted by the Austria Tourism Office at the charming NN Seventy Barcelona in the heart of Barcelona. This wasn’t our first rendezvous with this annual brunch, and as always, it was a delightful opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces and glean fresh insights about this remarkable country.
Upon our arrival, our dedicated contact, Blanka, immediately introduced us to one of Austria‘s best-kept secrets – the enchanting Bad Ischl Salzkammergut. In 2024, this hidden gem will ascend to the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture, with 23 towns participating to showcase a diverse tapestry of historical and contemporary art and culture, elevating it to international acclaim.
This region, famous for its snow-capped Alpine peaks, pristine lakes, awe-inspiring landscapes, and a history deeply rooted in salt mining (hence the name “Salzkammergut”), has been documented for over 7,000 years. It is a treasure trove of culture, history, and breathtaking natural beauty.
Throughout the upcoming year, Bad Ischl and the Salzkammergut have curated an impressive calendar of over 180 special events, celebrating local traditions, the arts, and various points of interest, all designed to captivate and engage travelers.
Following this discovery, our journey led us to St. Anton, one of Austria’s most picturesque ski regions. Maria enthusiastically shared the most exquisite offerings for couples and families alike.
Nestled in the heart of St. Anton, a charming Alpine village, this legendary ski region boasts 305 kilometers of slopes that attract visitors from around the globe. But St. Anton offers more than just skiing; hikers and mountaineers can relish nature and sports throughout the year, with 400 kilometers of scenic hiking trails winding through lush alpine meadows and majestic peaks. The warm hospitality of the locals creates an immediate sense of belonging, with options to stay in lively traditional inns, cozy cabins, and modern hotels. In sum, it’s a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers, regardless of the season.
This delightful discovery prompted us to add St. Anton to our ever-growing list of travel destinations.
Our next stop was the Dom Museum Wien, where Katalin unveiled an exciting new exhibition.
The Dom Museum Vienna seamlessly marries historical legacies with contemporary art. The renovated building, overlooking St. Stephen’s Cathedral, offers a captivating juxtaposition of ancient and modern. Visitors are transported to the museum’s galleries via a round glass elevator encircled by a spiral staircase. Among its treasures, the museum houses the oldest known portrait in the Western world – that of Rudolf IV of Habsburg from the 14th century.
Every year, the Dom Museum Vienna hosts a themed exhibition; last year explored the theme of food, while this year, it delves into the concept of death.
Though our visit coincided with the museum’s refurbishment, we could sense its significance and look forward to exploring its depths in the future.
Another highlight of the event was the presence of the Kunst Historisches Museum Wien, where Markus enthralled us with tales of this wondrous place.
The Vienna Museum of Art History, commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph to house the imperial collections, has earned its place as one of the world’s most important museums. It houses exclusive works by master artists such as Dürer, Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian, Vermeer, and Velázquez, along with the world’s largest Bruegel collection. The museum offers a glimpse into the insatiable passion for collecting that characterized the Habsburg emperors and archdukes. Visitors to the Kunstkammer Wien can admire a collection of 2,200 first-class artworks, including the renowned “Saltcellar of Francis I of France” by Benvenuto Cellini.
One perennial favorite among the exhibitors is Swarovski, and Viktoria once again dazzled us with her insights.
Swarovski Crystal Worlds transform the beauty of Swarovski crystal into a dynamic, ever-evolving experience. Renowned international and national artists, designers, and architects have lent their unique interpretations of crystal to the Chambers of Wonder and the extensive garden. Since its inception in 1995, Swarovski Crystal Worlds have welcomed over 16 million visitors, solidifying its status as one of Austria’s top tourist destinations.
Although time constraints limited our discussion to these exhibitors, many other marvelous places in Austria were on display:
Schönbrunn Palace – Austria’s imperial heritage shines in the Schönbrunn Group, which includes the Schönbrunn Palace, the Sisi Museum, the Vienna Furniture Museum, and the Hof Palace, providing insights into the lives of Empress Elisabeth and Emperor Francis Joseph.
Salzburg – The picturesque city, known as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for “The Sound of Music,” offers a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with historic charm, cultural events, and breathtaking alpine vistas.
Innsbruck – Innsbruck Tourism offers a dynamic urban experience nestled within a captivating alpine landscape, encompassing the capital of Tyrol and over 40 localities.
Austria, with its diverse offerings, continues to captivate and inspire travelers, making it a destination worthy of exploration time and time again.