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Best time to go to Austria

Best time to go to Austria

Austria is definitely a four season destination and, even though half of its landscapes are made up of mountains, we have natural adventures there for ten months of the year. So, when working out the best time to go to Austria you may want to think seasonally, and also whether you want to hit those high trails or the luscious lower lakes. We also have a wide array of holidays in Austria, not just hiking and cycling, but also cross-country skiing and ones for wine lovers. And, if you would like to hear the sound of music on your travels, we have picked out some world-class festivals that you can combine with a cycling or hiking holiday. See our top seasonal tips below on the best time to go to Austria. 

Austria in spring

As the snows start to melt in spring, our hearts do too for the array of natural adventures ready for the taking. In particular, cycling ones. The Danube Cycle Path, between Passau and Vienna is ready to host visitors as early as March, which is also perfect timing for Easter holidays, when our Linz to Vienna section and Lake Constance cycling holiday are particularly popular with families. Another family favourite is cycling the Alpe Adria Trail between Villach and Trieste in Italy, available from the end of April, so also perfect for the May school holidays, and perfect for releasing some pre-exam stress. Adults who have passed their life exams may, however, like to swot up on sommelier skills as our Danube Cycle Path, Linz to Vienna Winery tour is also available from March. 

The majority of our cycling holidays in Austria open up in April with plenty of opportunities to blow off the winter cobwebs along the likes of the Alpe Adria Cycle Route between Salzburg and Grado, or the epic Salzburg to Vienna trail. Our Salzburg to Lake Bled in Slovenia tour is ready for cyclists by the end of April, with May seeing their doors open fully onto the Slovenian Alps in all their splendour. 

Taking the family to Austria in spring is full of surprises.

Austria in summer

Although our holidays in the Salzkammergut Lake District, just under 50km from Salzburg, are ready for rambling as early as the end of April, they really do come into their own in summer, especially early June when temperatures average 19C. It’s also when the swimming season kicks off and, with a plethora of mountain lakes, wild swimming is not new to Austrians. As a visitor, it’s always important to check with local people where the best places are to swim. Never swim alone and, ideally, choose a spot that has lifeguards. Here is a list of the tourist board’s favourite swimming lakes in Austria

You can also head higher into the Austrian Alps in summer when trekking trails such as the Grande Traverse across the Alps and the Dolomites, which takes you through Austria’s Hohe Tauern, open between mid-June and the end of September. Or check out the Dachstein Alpine Circuit, also open from the end of June, a 121km trail through the three Austrian provinces of Salzburg, Styria and Upper Austria, including a trek up to Hofpürglhütte (1,705m) one of the country’s top treks. There are many more top treks on the first Austrian stage of the famous Alpe Adria Trail, between Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain (3,798m) and Mallnitz, with the hills open for hikers between mid-June and mid-October. And if you would like to take on the colossal Kitzbühel Alps, our walking holidays there are available from the end of May until mid-September, so you have the whole summer and some early autumn ahead of you. 

Less elevated, but with plenty of summer family highs, the Lechradweg along the Lech River is a perfect school holiday cycling sojourn in both Austria and Germany, available from mid-June to the end of September. This tour, along with so many of our Austria tour, is also reachable by rail

Zell am See is a summer idyll on our Kitzbühel Alps walking holidays.

Austria in autumn

Although many of the above-mentioned tours are adventure central in both spring and summer, there are a few regions that really come into their own in autumn. The Wachau Wine Region, for example, which you can walk or cycle through, takes on splendid autumn colours of golden yellow and chestnut brown, making this UNESCO Cultural Landscape even more tasty than usual in autumn. On this five day cycling holiday, you can enjoy the vineyards and tree-lined, misty Danube as late as the end of September, although our Wachau Wine Region walking holiday stretches its season as late as mid-October. 

We’ve already given the Salzkammergut a glowing review for summer, however the region’s beech, birch, maple, oak and conifers also provide a panoply of green, gold, yellow, orange and fiery red in autumn. The lakes of Wolfgangsee, Hallstättersee and Mondsee mirror their arborial guardians while the local vineyards add even more flavour to the autumnal display. It’s also a great time of year to drink Glühmos, or warm apple cider, and to tuck into the region’s hearty seasonal cuisine. 

The town of Durnstein in the Wachau Valley in autumn.

Austria in winter 

This winter treat of a cross-country skiing holiday also delves into Italy’s Dolomites but then continues along a borderland trail into Austrian Tyrol, with three days and nights spent in each country. Available during January and February, you start off in the sublime shadow of the Drei Zinnen, explore the white plains of Monguelfo and Valle di Casies, then slide your way into Austria and base yourself in the Sillian for three nights. 

Tranquil treks and cross-country skiing in Austria’s Tyrol region in winter.

Best time to go to for music festivals in Austria 

Austria comes alive with the sound of music throughout the year, but there are so many classical festivals it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. The Salzburg Festival takes place every summer throughout July and August and the whole city is transformed into a stage. If you want to mix music with a walking break, our Salzkammergut Lake District tours are also classics, they run throughout the summer and are also just under 50km from Salzburg. The Lehár Festival in Bad Ischl takes place in July and August, and is the largest operetta festival in Austria. Bad Ischl also takes centre stage on our walking holidays in the Salzkammergut region. 

Vienna Festival Weeks, or Wiener Fest Wochen, take place in May and June, perfect for our walking holiday in the Vienna Alps, about an hour and a half from the capital city, and we can orchestrate a travel itinerary for you from the beginning of June. You could also time your cycling holiday from Salzburg to Vienna to coincide with the festival’s opening and bring your trip to a close with a fanfare or two. You can time a cycling holiday around Lake Constance to see the curtain rise on the summer Bregenz FestSpiele, which takes place literally on the water, or combine ancient and Baroque music in Innsbruck each summer with either our Tyrolean trekking holiday or cycling holiday along the Inn Cycle Path, which start and finish in Innsbruck respectively. 

The Carinthian Summer music festival, throughout July and August, started in 1969 on the shores of Ossiachersee, a virtuosic location that is in perfect harmony with our Carinthian Lakes cycling holiday. The Donau Festival in Krems takes you off the classical beaten path a little, with more avant-garde programming throughout April, and former artists including Rufus Wainwright and John Kale. Our walking holiday there begins at the end of March, so it times perfectly. 

The Bregenz FestSpiele has summer sets that always steal the show.

Catching the transhumance trail in Austria 

One of the most spectacular local events in Austria at the end of the summer is the Almabtrieb, the word given to bringing cattle down from high pastures to lower ones for the autumn and winter, also known as the transhumance tradition. If you are on a hike and lucky enough to see cattle descending in large numbers, it’s a joy to behold. The Austrian Tourist Board gives more details of the Almabtrieb in each region here. For example, in Maishofen in the Kitzbühel region, the Almabtrieb takes place in mid-September, so you may be lucky enough to catch it on this walking holiday, which starts in Maishofen. Another favourite spot is the Lechtal Valley, which you walk through on the Lechweg Trail walking holidays and, if you catch the procession in Steeg, which is on the trail, be prepared for hundreds of decorated cows, bells and beer. 

We hope that we have given you a generous sprinkling of Austria throughout the seasons. If you would like some more Alpine blog inspiration, check out our blogs on Our six best hikes in Austria, Cross-country skiing holidays, Winter walking holidays and Our five best hikes in Switzerland. As well as our guide to the Tour du Mont Blanc. For any more information, please don’t hesitate to contact our adventure specialists.