Austria tourist information
Tourism forms an important part of Austria's economy, accounting for almost 9% of the Austrian gross domestic product. As of 2007, the total number of tourist overnight stays is roughly the same for summer and winter season, with peaks in February and July/August.
In 2007, Austria ranked 9th worldwide in international tourism receipts, with 18.9 billion US$. In international tourist arrivals, Austria ranked 12th with 20.8 million tourists.
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Vienna attracts a major part of tourists, both in summer and winter. Salzburg receives about a fifth of tourist overnight stays compared to Vienna, which ranks it 2nd in the summer season. In the winter season, a number of winter sport resorts in western Austria overtake Salzburg in the number of tourist overnight stays: S├Âlden, Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Ischgl, Sankt Anton am Arlberg, and Obertauern.
Visits to Austria mostly include trips to Vienna with its Cathedral, its "Heurigen" (wine pubs) and romantic Waltz music events. Worth a visit are Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart, Innsbruck, capital of Tyrol surrounded by the Alps, and the Danube valley with its vineyards, for example the Wachau or Dunkelsteinerwald, which are between Melk and Krems. In the western part of the country the province Vorarlberg reaches the Lake Constance, in the eastern part Neusiedler See. The three most visited landmarks in Austria are Sch├Ânbrunn Palace (2.590.000 visitors per year), Tiergarten Sch├Ânbrunn (2.453.987 visitors) and Mariazell Basilica (1.500.000 visitors).
Of great touristic importance are the Austrian skiing, hiking and mountaineering resorts in the Alps as well as family-friendly recreation areas (e.g. the Witches's Water in Tyrol). The same applies to the numerous Austrian lakes (e.g. Wolfgangsee and other lakes in the Salzkammergut east of Salzburg or W├Ârthersee in Carinthia).
For visitors interested in Media Art, there is the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. Since 1979 this center has organized the Ars Electronica Festival and presented the Prix Ars Electronica, the worldwide highest-ranked prize for media art.
Austria is a largely mountainous country due to its location in the Alps. The Central Eastern Alps, Northern Limestone Alps and Southern Limestone Alps are all partly in Austria. Of the total area of Austria (84,000 km2 or 32,433 sq mi), only about a quarter can be considered low lying, and only 32% of the country is below 500 metres (1,640 ft). The Alps of western Austria give way somewhat into low lands and plains in the eastern part of the country.
Austria lies between latitudes 46┬░ and 49┬░ N, and longitudes 9┬░ and 18┬░ E.
It can be divided into five areas, the biggest being the Eastern Alps, which constitute 62% of nation's total area. The Austrian foothills at the base of the Alps and the Carpathians account for around 12% and the foothills in the east and areas surrounding the periphery of the Pannoni low country amount to about 12% of the total landmass. The second greater mountain area (much lower than the Alps) is situated in the north. Known as the Austrian granite plateau, it is located in the central area of the Bohemian Mass and accounts for 10% of Austria. The Austrian portion of the Vienna basin comprises the remaining 4%.
The greater part of Austria lies in the cool/temperate climate zone in which humid westerly winds predominate. With over half of the country dominated by the Alps, the alpine climate is the predominant one. In the eastÔÇöin the Pannonian Plain and along the Danube valleyÔÇöthe climate shows continental features with less rain than the alpine areas. Although Austria is cold in the winter (Ôłĺ10 ÔÇô 0 ┬░C), summer temperatures can be relatively warm, with average temperatures in the mid-20s and a highest temperature of 39.7 ┬░C (103.5 ┬░F).
Austria's past as a European power and its cultural environment have generated a broad contribution to various forms of art, most notably among them music. Austria has been the birthplace of many famous composers such as Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss, Sr. and Johann Strauss, Jr. as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, then an independent Church Principality, though one that was culturally closely connected to Austria, and much of Mozart's career was spent in Vienna.
Vienna has long been especially an important centre of musical innovation. 18th and 19th century composers were drawn to the city due to the patronage of the Habsburgs, and made Vienna the European capital of classical music. During the Baroque period, Slavic and Hungarian folk forms influenced Austrian music.
Vienna's status began its rise as a cultural center in the early 16th century, and was focused around instruments including the lute. Ludwig van Beethoven spent the better part of his life in Vienna. Austria's current national anthem, attributed to Mozart, was chosen after World War II to replace the traditional Austrian anthem by Joseph Haydn.
Austria has also produced one notable jazz musician, keyboardist Josef Zawinul, who helped pioneer electronic influences in jazz as well as being a notable composer in his own right. The pop and rock musician Falco was internationally acclaimed during the 1980s, especially for his song "Rock Me Amadeus" dedicated to Mozart. The drummer Thomas Lang was born in Vienna in 1967 and is now world renowned for his technical ability, having played with artists such as Geri Halliwell and Robbie Williams.
Arts and architecture
Among Austrian Artists and architects one can find the painters Ferdinand Georg Waldm├╝ller, Rudolf von Alt, Hans Makart, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Carl Moll, and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the photographers Inge Morath and Ernst Haas, and architects like Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos, and Hans Hollein.
Food and drink
Austria's cuisine is derived from that of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austrian cuisine is mainly the tradition of Royal-Cuisine ("Hofk├╝che") delivered over centuries. It is famous for its well-balanced variations of beef and pork and countless variations of vegetables. There is also the "Mehlspeisen" Bakery, which created particular delicacies such as Sachertorte, "Krapfen" which are doughnuts usually filled with apricot marmalade or custard, and "Strudel" such as "Apfelstrudel" filled with apple, "Topfenstrudel" filled with a type of cheese curd called "topfen", and "Millirahmstrudel" (milk-cream strudel).
In addition to native regional traditions, the cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian, Bohemia Czech, Jewish, Italian, Balkan and French cuisine, from which both dishes and methods of food preparation have often been borrowed. The Austrian cuisine is therefore one of the most multicultural and transcultural in Europe.
Typical Austrian dishes include Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Kaiserschmarren, Kn├Âdel, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There are also K├Ąrntner Kasnudeln, which are pockets of dough filled with Topfen, potatoes, herbs and peppermint which are boiled and served with a butter sauce. Kasnudeln are traditionally served with a salad. Eierschwammerl dishes are also popular. The "Eierschwammerl", also known as "Pfifferling", are native yellow, tan mushrooms. The candy Pez was invented in Austria, as well as Mannerschnitten. Austria is also famous for its Mozartkugeln and its coffee tradition.
Beer is sold in 0.2 litre (a Pfiff), 0.3 litre (a Seidel, kleines Bier or Glas Bier) and 0.5 litre (a Kr├╝gerl or gro├čes Bier or Halbe) measures. At festivals one litre Ma├č and two litre Doppelma├č in the Bavarian style are also dispensed. The most popular types of beer are lager (known as M├Ąrzen in Austria), naturally cloudy Zwicklbier and wheat beer. At holidays like Christmas and Easter bock beer is also available.
The most important wine-producing areas are in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Vienna. The Gr├╝ner Veltliner grape provides some of Austria's most notable white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely planted red wine grape.
In Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, Most, a type of cider or perry is widely produced.
Schnapps of typically up to 60 % alcohol or fruit brandy is drunk, which in Austria is made from a variety of fruits, for example apricots and rowanberries. The produce of small private schnapps distilleries, of which there are around 20,000 in Austria, is known as Selberbrennter or Hausbrand. A very high percentage schnaps is called "Umblachter" and has up to 85% Alcohol.