Austria can be roughly divided into three parts; all incredibly contrasting. There are the soaring Eastern Alps covering the majority of the country, the Danube Valley in the north east which is home to the magnificent architectural Habsburg cities of Vienna; the capital, and Salzburg; Mozart’s birthplace, and the western most part which is a narrow corridor just 32 km wide at its narrowest point between Germany and Italy.
The country is twice the size of its neighbour Switzerland but still relatively small covering an area of 83,858 square km/ 32,378 square miles. It extends from Lake Constance in the west on the German/Swiss border to Neusieder See, another lake on the Hungarian Border. As well as Germany, Switzerland and Hungary, Austria is also bordered by Liechtenstein, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia and Italy, so the area has some very different experiences for visitors with campervan hire or motorhome rental vehicles.
One of the most important features of the Austrian landscape is the River Danube. The river starts its life in Germany and meanders through the north east of Austria all the way to the Black Sea. On its way it passes villages, towns and the wonderful city of Vienna. The river was, and still is, considered very important as it connects with the Rhine and Maine Rivers making it possible for barge traffic to sail all the way from the North Sea to the Black Sea, it’s also a popular area for river cruising. This is a lowland area with farmland and pine forests and it remains relatively flat until the city of Salzburg further south. From Salzburg to the south, east and west are the Carpathian foothills and the lowlands of the Eastern Alps, from here the only way is up. This is where the scenery changes, there are small mountainside villages built in traditional chalet style and summer pastures for the high grazing livestock.
The central part of the Austrian Alps hold some of the largest mountains in the country, running from the popular Tyrol to the lower Austrian/Italian border, here some of the mountain ranges have permanent glaciers. The northern part of the Austrian Alps run along the border with Germany towards lower Austria and Vienna, and the Southern range runs along the Slovenian border. The southern range is home of the tallest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner.
Moving on from the Alps, Austria’s cities have some wonderfully austere and elaborate buildings. There are palaces and cathedrals, great parks and ornate bridges, all well preserved and immaculately decorated. Amongst the most popular are of course the capital Vienna, Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck, all with something special to offer visitors.
Austria is an incredibly beautiful and diverse country to explore, you will find good roads, excellent for driving your campervan hire or motorhome rental and some very clean and open wide spaces, ideal if you like to take your time and immerse yourself in your surroundings.