Austria is home to the music of Mozart, the art of Klimt and the incredible baroque palaces of the former Habsburg Empire. It has been a leading centre of European artistic achievement for centuries and continues this tradition today.
The best way to delve into Austria’s rich cultural heritage is through it’s truly world class collection of museums and galleries.
Here are 10 of the best:
1. THE MUSEUMSQUARTIER (VIENNA)
After trying Viennese coffee at the famous Café Central, one of the world’s largest art complexes should be your first stop. Built on top of the former royal stables, it showcases everything from modern art at the Leopold Museum to the post-modern and avant-garde at MUMOK.
2. KUNSTHISTORISCHES MUSEUM (VIENNA)
Built to house the Emperor’s own collection, Vienna’s gorgeous Art History Museum can’t be missed. It displays works by Bruegel, Caravaggio, Raphael and Rembrandt, plus the impressive Ephesus museum. The domed Cupola Hall is worth the visit alone.
3. THE ALBERTINA (VIENNA)
You could spend hours taking in the print collection, drawings, photographs, sculptures and impressionist art of the Albertina. Monet’s Water Lily Pond is a highlight, plus it’s also possible to privately tour the state rooms.
SWAROVSKI CRYSTAL WORLDS (INNSBRUCK)
Swarovski is one of Austria’s most recognisable brands and this museum was built to celebrate a century of excellence. Whether you’re keen to see the Giant’s Garden and labyrinth or are looking for a special gift, it’s a must-see from Innsbruck.
HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS (SALZBURG)
With impressive views over Salzburg and the River Salzach, the largest preserved castle in Europe is worth the hike up. The well designed exhibits offer a glimpse into medieval history from the perspective of both commoners and the prince, plus it’s one of the prettiest pictures you’ll take in Austria.
MOZART GEBURTZHAUS (SALZBURG)
Mozart’s birthplace is one of Austria’ most frequented museums and allows a glimpse into his early life via a walking tour. Musical buffs will also enjoy the nearby Mozart residence, where he later lived, and the Mozarteum’s library.
ÖTERREICHISCHE NATIONALBIBLIOTHEK (VIENNA)
The jaw-dropping perfection of the National Library’s State Hall must be seen to be believed. Every inch of its 80 metre length is ornately decorated in baroque art, with the immaculate collection of books themselves (almost) overshadowed. The fascinating Globes Museum will impress more than cartophiles too. If there is only one museum you visit in Austria make this it.
HEERESGESCHICHTLICHES MUSEUM (VIENNA)
Vienna’s most difficult museum to pronounce is one the easiest to appreciate. Its best known pieces are from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. His damaged car and bloodied uniform represent Europe’s descent into WW1 and the Habsburg Empire’s collapse.
Hallstatt’s bone house is a more macabre site. The stacked and painted skulls of the church’s ossuary are the exhumed result of a too-small cemetery overlooking one of Austria’s most picturesque villages.
SCHLOSS SCHONBRUNN (VIENNA)
The Habsburg’s iconic summer residence is a baroque masterpiece of 1,441 rooms set amongst beautiful gardens. Inside, the state rooms and private apartments can be toured. Outside is best during the warmer months but also hosts one of Europe’s best Christmas markets in December.
For more information on each museum visit the official Austrian Tourism website.
Written by Josh Cranston, a KARRYON contributor.