Charming Villages in Austria for a Cozy Winter Vacation

A charming village in Austria.

Austria is known for its idyllic landscapes, beautiful architecture, and enchanting Christmas markets. In addition, this beautiful country is also a haven for those who like to practice winter sports in Europe. Massive snowfalls, however, transform practically all Austrian villages into fairytale settings right out of the movie Frozen from November to March. Unfortunately, most tourists visit only popular cities like Vienna, Salzburg, or Innsbruck. For this reason, we have prepared an article about those charming villages in Austria where you can go for a cozy winter vacation whether you want to practice winter sports or not. By visiting these villages, you will discover the authentic Austrian spirit and realize just how beautiful this country truly is. So let us proceed in our journey to discover the charming villages that you have to visit when in Austria.

Hallstatt

This tiny village, found on the shores of the lake with the same name, is one of the most beautiful villages in Austria. The Salzkammergut mountains surround Hallstatt and give it a picturesque view that you would never believe to be true. Moreover, this village is so unique and valuable that it became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over 2000 prehistoric graves were found near Hallstatt village, suggesting that this area might be the cradle of Austrian civilization. In addition, the many 16th century buildings around the local market square will make you take an architectural trip back in time. However, besides admiring the beautiful surroundings, you can also have some fun. For instance, you can go hiking, cycling, or cruising on the lake. And, you can have a taste of the famous Austrian pastry, Schaumrollen.

Picture of the village of Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is one of the most charming villages in Austria for a cozy winter vacation.

St. Gilgen

If you want to visit one of the most charming villages in Austria for a cozy winter vacation, you should visit St. Gilgen. This village, located 20 minutes from Salzburg, is bordered by Wolfgangsee Lake and the Zwölferhorn mountain. And, even if this village is small, there are lots of attractions to be seen here. For example, “The Sound of Music” was filmed here, so you can visit some places that appear in the film. In addition, you can take a cable cart ride to the top of the Zwölferhorn mountain or visit the Mozart house. The Mozart house is not, as one might imagine, where Mozart resided, but rather where his mother was born. Nonetheless, the Mozart house is worth a visit, as is a Wolfgangsee Lake cruise or experiencing the local food. The famous Austrian spaetzle noodles are a must when you come to St. Gilgen.

Mayrhofen

Mayrhofen is another pretty village that is close to a big city. It is located in the Zillertal Valley, just around one hour away from Innsbruck by car or train. The village becomes a ski resort during the winter, but the good part is that it is not very popular among tourists. So, if you like to practice skiing, you can do so here and avoid the crowds. In addition, you can take the cable car to the top of the mountain Ahornbahn and see the Ahorn Lake that sits at 2000m. Also, you can swim in an outdoor swimming pool or take a steam train ride to nearby Zell am Ziller, where you can slide down the alpine toboggan Arena Coaster. Or, you can explore the valley further and visit Hintertux Glacier. There, you can explore an incredible ice cave known as the Ice Palace, or you can ski some more at the local resort where skiing is possible all year round.

Sunset over a mountain in Austria.
The mountain villages in Austria offer breathtaking views.

Durnstein

This village of Lower Austria is said to be the jewel of the Wachau Valley. Durnstein is a historical village alongside the Danube river that will enchant you with its beautiful architecture. For example, the Blue Baroque tower of Durnstein Abbey. This abbey is a former Augustine monastery from the 15th-century, restored in the 18th-century in the Baroque style. In addition, you can also visit the ruins of a 10th-century castle where Richard Lionheart was imprisoned. And, if you decide to visit this beautiful Austrian village, you don’t need to pack a lot of items with you. In the narrow, cobblestoned streets, there are many modern stores where you can get anything you need. As a result, it is best to keep your valuables at home and ensure their safety by renting a storage space for them. It will help you travel lighter and more comfortably

St. Wolfgang

St. Wolfgang is another of the charming villages in Austria that you can visit for a cozy winter vacation. You can find this typical Austrian village on the banks of lake Wolfganesse, surrounded by breathtaking mountains. It has beautiful streets, flower-decorated buildings, and a magnificent 14th-century church that adds to the picturesque setting. This church is famous for being the site of a previous church built in 976 by Saint Wolfgang, Bishop of Regensburg. Also, the church serves as a destination for a pilgrimage that takes place every year from St. Wolfgang’s grave. Besides viewing historic buildings in the village, you can go on a train ride. The Schafbergbahn train will take you up the mountain for more than 1700 meters, from where you can admire the beautiful view of the village. Or, you can take a boat ride along the Wolfgangsee and admire the village from the lake.

Church tower and lake in St. Wolfgang, Austria.
The charming villages in Austria are just as beautiful in summer as they are during winter.

Final words

Austria is more than simply the birthplace of the Viennese waltz and the home of the famed Habsburg emperors. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world that becomes more and more beautiful when you take the time to explore it. And, the best way to get to the true heart and soul of Austria is to visit its little villages. There, you can meet the friendly locals, taste the delicious Austrian cuisine, and learn about the country’s history. Austria is an ideal winter holiday destination, whether you want to explore it on your own or have a memorable family trip. So make sure to visit the charming villages in Austria for a cozy winter vacation.

Ski and Snowboard All Year Round at These Destinations

If you are an avid skier (like me), wouldn’t it be great to ski and snowboard all year round at these destinations? Namely Whistler, Canada; Hintertux, Austria; Las Lenas, Argentina; Keystone, United States. (COVID-19 disclaimer: some resorts, like Las Lenas have announced that they are not opening this season due to the pandemic). What skier isn’t dreaming of that next ski vacation? Ski resorts have always focussed on safety, but this year are doing everything they can to keep you safe. Enhanced safety measures and procedures are in place to deal with COVID including mandatory face coverings, advanced reservations, lift restrictions and more. Physical distancing is a natural with ski and boards and lots of room on the hills. If you’ve pushed off your ski vacation, it’s time to start thinking ahead to ski and snowboard all year round at these destinations.  

Winter Skiing in Whistler, Canada

Every skier or snowboarder in Canada either dreams of going to Whistler or dreams of going back to Whistler. While there are other great ski destinations in Canada, (Lake Louise, Big White and Mont Tremblant come to mind), Whistler is consistently ranked as #1. You have got 2 distinct mountains with Whistler and Blackcomb side by side and connected by the memorable Peak to Peak Gondola. With over 8,100 acres of skiable terrain, you could spend days on either Blackcomb or Whistler Mountain without getting bored in the least. And with an average of 460 inches of snow each year, there’s plenty of the white stuff. The top of mountain temperature and bottom/valley temperature vary greatly as one would expect. At the peak, you can ski the glacier and stay up top for some bowl skiing. At the end of your day, make sure you leave plenty of energy to ski down the mountain. The Peak to Creek run is 7 miles long.

Spring Skiing in Austria

Hintertux Glacier Ski Resort is Austria’s only year-round ski resort (yes, 365 days per year). Hintertux is in Austria’s Tirol Region, a warm and welcoming area that is my favorite and the real heart of the Alps. In winter, one lift pass, the “Ski- und Gletscherwelt Zillertal 3000”, gets you access to interconnected resorts like Finkenberg and Mayrhofen with 60 km of terrain. 72% of Hintertux’s ski pistes are Intermediate which makes this glacier more manageable for groups and the average skier.  The mountains of Tirol have many more ski resorts available during ski season (including Kitzbhuel, St. Anton, Zugspitze and more) as well as other activities like hiking, swimming, and mountain biking. Innsbruck is nearby and offers great Austrian hospitality, food, and culture when you are finished with the ski portion of your trip to Austria.   

Skiers and snowboarders on the slopes of Austria
Pumuckel42, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons

Summer Skiing in Argentina

The highest mountain in the Andes is Las Lenas, Argentina. Las Lenas is very much about the skiing. Its projected opening date is around June 6th with closing in early October. With 30 runs (80% intermediate/advanced), it is not big by any means, but the skiable terrain and vistas draw rave reviews. It is not fancy and does not offer many alternatives for days a way from the slopes. But it’s a bucket list destination for skiers – skiing in South America and skiing in summer. After the skiing is done, it’s time to head to Buenos Aires or neighbouring Chile to experience more of South America.

A view of Las Lenas Ski Resort in Argentina

Fall Skiing in Colorado

Skiiing in the fall can be “hit and miss” due entirely to unpredictable snowfall. Keystone, Colorado is the top candidate (normally open in early November) followed by Lake Louise, Canada and Mammoth Mountain, California. Keystone Resort is a short drive from Denver and covers 7 miles across 3 mountains along the Snake River. There are 3 villages with restaurants, bars, and accommodation slope side and in the villages. Keystone is a top-rated family-friendly resort that is more about skiing than extras and wild après ski. With 130 trails, 20 lifts and night skiing, there is no shortage of terrain and time to ski. You’ll enjoy some the longest runs in the State of Colorado.

Summary – Ski and Snowboard All Year Round at These Destinations

There’s a quick list of ski areas to get too year-round. You are not restricted to skiing and boarding in traditional winter or Q1 of each year, especially this year. For the average skier, these are bucket list destinations. Get ready and prepared for some big terrain, great views and a world class ski experience. And don’t forget your travel insurance and extra insurance coverage for COVID-19. I’m ready for a ski tour of these great destinations. It is time to dream and plan that next great ski trip!

Best places to experience the true spirit of Canada

a Canadian flag and mountain ranges

The Canadian natural and urban landscapes are undeservedly neglected in many travel plans. However, if you are looking for the best places to experience the true spirit of Canada, you have stumbled upon a guide that will list and explain why the home of maple syrup (among other things) should definitely be on your travel horizon.

Essentially, this is a big country that boasts one of the most mesmerizing and impressive landscapes in the world. On the one hand, you can encounter lakes, mountains, and other natural sceneries of indescribable beauty. On the other, Canadian cities are a perfect starting and finishing point on your trip. They offer you a chance to experience incredible architectural gems in a progressive and liberal society. Read on to find out more about the most breathtaking and exciting places in Canada you should visit on your next trip to the Great White North.

Toronto

If you are looking for the perfect city to start your Canadian journey, Toronto is the place for you (and my hometown). It is one of the largest and culturally most important cities in this country. Toronto’s distinguishing landmark is the CN Tower which you must have seen if you have ever received a postcard from Toronto.

When it comes to its tourist potential, Toronto’s transportation system makes movement through the city impeccable, with a network of subways, street cars, and roads. However, if you get bored with Toronto’s bustling urban energy, you can always take the ferry across the harbour to the nearby Toronto Islands.  

a Toronto skyline with skyscrapers and CN Tower
The famous CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline

Banff

If you are looking to visit the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff is a great resort town to start your hiking, biking, or skiing journey from. It is located in the Banff National Park, the first national park established on Canadian soil. As for what it can offer to its visitors, Banff is a town that is brimful of small, local cafes, restaurants, art galleries, shops, and other tourist amenities. You can find the beautiful Mount Norquay towering over this little town and the famous Lake Louise just an hour away from Banff.

Icefields Parkway

Icefield Parkway is a world-famous 144-mile double-lane highway drive between Jasper and Lake Louise. What makes it so epic is that this road offers an incredible overview of the Canadian Rocky Mountains while taking you through orchards, waterfalls, lakes, and other intact natural scenery. This route is fantastic for those who enjoy hiking and camping in breathtakingly beautiful Canadian nature.

a big lake at the foot of mountains in Canada, symbolizing the best places to experience the true spirit of Canada
Canada is home to supreme vistas and natural sceneries.

Vancouver

Vancouver is another big Canadian city that should be on your priority list, especially if you are visiting western Canada. This city is famous for its multiculturalism and green living. Around 50% of its citizens speak languages other than English, making it a truly inspiring and eclectic city. As for what you can do besides the essential sightseeing around the city, Vancouver is a well-known stop for any serious skier given its nearby world-renowned ski resorts such as Whistler Blackcomb. The local city council continuously strive to achieve the best living standard by pioneering and incorporating green design ideas into the city’s infrastructure.

In fact, a rising number of US citizens are moving to Vancouver and other Canadian cities to pursue a cleaner, more humane way of living. If you are considering moving to Canada from NYC, be mindful that you might need to hire an international relocation company to help you get here from NYC, with the necessary vehicles and equipment.

Cape Breton

Cape Breton is a unique part of the province of Nova Scotia located on the east coast of the country. It is one of Canada’s most beloved road trip destinations because of its amazing landscapes that line the famous Cabot Trail – a 186-mile route through the Cape Breton National Park. You will be able to see fantastic nature from Cape Breton’s lookout points, picturesque fishing villages, and one of the most breathtaking scenic routes in the world. A drive through Cape Breton is one to not be missed.

Prince Edward Island

This lovely eastern province and island is famous for its green hills, red cliffs, and amazing seafood everywhere you go. Also, given that most locations in Canada are oriented towards active vacations such as walking or hiking, this island is the perfect getaway where you can relax and enjoy the island scenery. This island is also huge in the golfing world due to its many golf courses available for play. Beside these luxurious, upper-class amenities, the island is also famous for its seal population – as many as four different species of seal inhabit its shores throughout the year.

Niagara Falls

colorful waterfalls and a tree
Niagara Falls are an incredible sight any time of the year and the best place to experience the true spirit of Canada

And, last but certainly not the least, the amazing Niagara Falls. There is hardly a person who has not heard of this collection of waterfalls on the United States and Canada border. The Niagara Falls are indeed a natural wonder that merits at least a day of your attention, especially if you are staying or moving to Toronto in the future. 

The waterfalls – Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls – make up an astounding six million cubic feet of water that splash downward every minute. This makes the word wonder in the phrase “natural wonder” a literal description of what experiencing the Niagara Falls is like.

All in all, we hope this short guide has helped you visualize the best places to experience the true spirit of Canada. Of course, there are many more amazing spots which you can visit, especially if you enjoy spending your holiday in the great outdoors. Don’t forget Quebec, Newfoundland and the other provinces and territories (coming in a future post). Whatever your favorite places are, we are confident you will love every minute spent in this beautiful country. Just make sure you stay safe and healthy during your travel.