What do you know about summer in Austria? We can guarantee it’s not enough! Here’s our inside guide to making the most of Austria’s warmer months.
Find peace in Austria in the summer…
Summer in Austria
Summer in Austria spills sunlight over mountain peaks and covers the snow in a carpet of glitter. In the Austrian Alps, hiking paths and ski resorts create the perfect playground for both outdoor activity and wellness and relaxation. But if your mental picture of summer in Austria stops right after images of hikers (and, let’s face it, probably yodelling) then it’s time to think again. Those warmer months open up a huge wealth of activities, both outdoor and otherwise, with regional differences to set your travel heart on fire. Plus, it’s a genuinely family friendly destination, in terms of food, activities and the welcome you’ll receive.
Here’s our inside guide to planning a trip to Austria in summertime.
Austria in Summertime Video Travel Guide
Disclosure: we travelled to the Austrian Alps with some support from Visit Austria. As ever, as always, we kept the right to write what we like. If you book or buy through some of the links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Cheers!
Alpine villages look beautiful in the summer…
Why you should go
Austria is one of the unsung heroes of travel in Europe! Seriously! While the world knows of its spiky peaks and alpine huts, almost everything else passes under the radar. UNESCO World Heritage Sites, daring design projects, traditional gastronomy and enough cheese to sink a ship if you can find one. For while Austria no longer has a coastline (losing Trieste at the end of World War One,) she still has rivers and lakes aplenty. There’s even an underground river in an ice cavern if you want to feel what it’s like to swim below zero.
From her cities to her peaks, I’ve visited several times over several years and always find something new to intrigue my mind and something beautiful to inspire my soul.
It’s impossible to cover everything this European country has to offer in this one article. So let me give you an overview of the joys of summer in Austria, with some deep dive links and resources for you to follow up on. Read more about travel in Austria here.
Four ways an Austrian summer trip will help your wellbeing
Research shows us more and more often that the key to a happy, healthy life involves mixing exercise and activity with mental stimulation, quiet time and strong, nurturing relationships.
Here’s how you can easily do all of those things in Austria in summer:
- Exercise: hiking, biking, swimming, cycling, skiing, mountain karting, snowboarding… you get the idea.
- Exercise the mind: museums, art galleries, musical concerts, craft.
- Quieten the mind and rest the body: spas, saunas, forest bathing.
- Relationships: easy solo, family and group travel options.
Things to do in Austria in Summer
You’re forgiven if, like me, your mind ran out of ideas at first when you wondered what you could do in Austria in the summer. Vienna? Yes. Hiking? Yes, yes. But after that? Shhh. It’s time to spill the beans and share the secrets. But just between you and me, right?
Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.
You will find hiking routes for all ages (and cable bars for tired legs…)
Hiking is the most entry level outdoor adventure you can find – and Austria is the place for it. You can hike through grassy meadows and moors, wild flowers tickling your feet. You can climb rugged peaks and feel your boots bounce through the moss of deep green forests where you can’t see the sky…and allow the soft spray of waterfalls refresh your face while your breath catches up. Oh, add in crossing some glacial rivers and taking shelter in cute mountain huts with locally made cheese and it’s hard to find better ground to hike on.
What’s even better is that the hotels in the Austrian Alps are fully prepared for muddy hikers. So whether you need to borrow an umbrella or soak off sore muscles or store your boots out of the way of all the rest of your kit, you will find everything you need here.
Boating through an underground Ice Palace
How does floating through a natural underground ice palace sound to you? In Austria in the summer? Well, step right up or slither right down through the snow to the Natureisplast on the Hintertux Glacier in Zillertal.
Only recently discovered and still undergoing excavation, this series of tunnels and walkways in the ice gives Elsa from Frozen a run for her money.
Children around 5-6 or older can visit with an appropriate adult but a word of warning: the floor is slippery (it’s ice!) and they’ll need to climb ladders. You need to arrange a guide and remember to wrap up warm as temperatures hover around zero degrees.
As a kind of cross between a dodgem and a downhill sled, mountain karting laughs in the face of gravity and splatters mud in the name of fun. Take, for example, the mountain karting set up in St Johann in Tirol. There, you can take the cable car half way up the mountain and then zoom right back down again. Small children can travel with their parents – and the rather less adventurous can take a look and then take the cable car back down again!
Whether long distance or short, e-powered or pedal power, lycra or baggy shorts, you’ll find the cycling route to suit your needs in Austria in summer. You will also see little carts that attach to bikes for very young children. Only for those with very strong thighs…
Looking up at the Golden Roof in Innsbruck…
With all the mountain adventures we’ve been talking about, it’s easy to forget just how many incredible sights there are to see.
Just off the top of my head, in the Austrian Alps alone, you have:
- The Schloss Ambras with its extensive collection of armour
- The Golden Roof in Innsbruck, the city surrounded by mountains.
- The Friendly Alien modern art museum in Graz. Just one of the many unique things to do in Graz, Austria’s UNESCO City of Design.
- Read more about sightseeing in Austria here.
Mountains and cheese go together like salt and vinegar, Torvill and Dean or macaroni and, well, cheese again.
Summer in Austria is a great time to make the most of the Austrian love for cheese (there is even a 100 km Cheese Road, for example!)
And in a small village near Kirchdorf, you can see how cheese is made and sample local specialties surrounded by, yes, more stunning views. And just for those who love a good word play, it’s called Wilder Käser, for the cheese right next to the Wilder Kaiser Mountains.
If there’s one surprise that came out of my visit to Austria this summer, it was to discover that, actually, I quite like schnapps.
Where I’d gone wrong before was going to the wrong place.
Once you taste the liquor at a distillery where the drinks are actually made, the fruity zest tastes fresher, the nuts nuttier. And there is even a lovely blend of strawberry and orange for little ones. They call it Schiwasser.
Fancy a taste? Head to the Aggstein Schnaps near St Johann in Tirol (that’s not a typo. The Austrian way is to use one p in Schnapps…)
Great swimming and great views at the Hotel Seetal in Zillertal
If there’s one thing that Austria does well (and there isn’t, there’s several) it’s spas and wellness techniques. So many hotels have wellness areas, ranging from a few seats on a roof terrace with calming music to an entire suite of spa facilities, from massages to steam rooms and saunas. And many have open access to the beautiful outdoors.
In particular, we loved the infinity pool at the Seetal Family Alpin Resort in Zilleral.
A word to the wise: it’s traditional for people to go into the sauna in the nude. You have been warned!
Along with general wellness facilities, many hotels also have their own pool, either inside or outside or both.
That said, nature has created plenty of swimming opportunities herself. Austrians decamp to the lakes instead of the beach when the temperature rises.
And the truly brave or crazy go ice swimming in the Hintertux glacial river…
While all families can enjoy most of the water fun, that last one is reserved for truly experienced athletes. For obvious reasons. Right?!
OK, so you may not find elephants and rhinos on the alpine slopes but you will find more than you might imagine. Birdsong fills the air from dawn til dusk and cows, horses and goats frolic through the meadows in the picturesque way that they should.
To learn more about both the flora and fauna, head to the Alpenzoo in Innsbruck. This educational centre focuses on animals that belong in the area, allowing them to be nocturnal if they are nocturnal and refusing to put on a show.
You may be surprised to learn that beavers, marmots and even lynx roam around the European alps. You may even see a bear…
Yep. You can embrace the snow in Austria in summer.
Snowball fighting in summer? Go on, you know you want to!
Take a series of three cable cars up to the top the Hintertux Glacier in Zillertal and you will find yourself rewarded with a snowscape perfect for all kinds of winter activities. Sure, the traditionalists go skiing and snowboarding.
But the real traditionalists keep things simple and play with the kids. Or like they’re kids. And start a snowball fight….
Sipping Hot chocolate amid cold snow
Another great tradition that you’ll find around the ski resorts of the Austrian alps in the summer is the concept of the mountain hut. Typically built from wood, with heart shaped carvings and lacy curtains, they also typically serve up hearty fare high up on the slopes.
Many don’t accept credit cards, though, so it’s a good idea to carry cash with you so that you can partake of this warm hospitality.
Go skiing and snowboarding. Yes, in summertime…
OK, so not everywhere has enough snow for this in summer. But the Hintertux Glacier in Zillertal does. Even in the summer. Sunbathe in the morning, ski in the afternoon. All within the Austrian Alps. It’s amazing.
And how about snowbiking?
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, they come up with something else! Snowbiking is subtly different to using a snowmobile and takes up a lot more energy (that’s energy of the rider, not the motor, by the way.)
Check out the information from Moonbikes at moonbikes.com.
Drinking beer on the Nordkette mountains that overlook Innsbruck
Taste local beer
The Austrian beer scene is lively and loved and you’ll find local beverages from Vienna to Innsbruck and beyond. To check out a really hyper local brewery, head to the Huber Brewery in St Johann in Tirol. You can also enjoy a bite to eat on the terrace with great views of the surrounding mountainside.
Austria has plenty of high ropes courses. But for little kids, head on a treasure hunt of adventure playgrounds around near the Wilder Kaiser. Mountains. Our daughter, who was five at the time, absolutely loved the zip line and the treehouse at Moor and More. The views and the hike keep it enjoyable for adults.
Step inside the whimsical world of Kristallwelten
Visit Crystal World
Head just outside of Innsbruck to meet a giant lying in the grass, a waterfall cascading from his mouth… and a soothing soundtrack filling the air. Nothing about a visit to the Swarovski Crystal World or Kristallwelten is predictable, except, perhaps for the gift shop at the end.
Far from being purely an exercise in flogging merchandise, the Kristallwelten takes you on a journey or art and bedazzlement, through entire rooms of crystals, shimmering lights and even real snow. See Gandhi come to life, watch Elton John fly through the sky and gaze at Simon Biles in her crystal costumes.
Outside, kids can play on a carousel, run through a real maze and clamber among a play tower that’s five storeys tall.
My words here don’t do the place justice. I’ll be back to write more. And in the meantime, just make sure you go!
Take a scenic drive
A visit to the Austrian Alps in summer virtually guarantees a scenic drive. Even in bad weather, the views are ridiculously, embarrassingly good. It’s slightly unfair when you come to think about it. What about all those other boring, flat countries? You know, the ones where you see nothing but the intersection and road signs for mile after mile?
Not so in Austria in summertime. Look out for jagged peaks, soaring birds of prey, breathless puffs of cloud, glacial water and the calm green sweep of the forest.
Take the Schnitzel Challenge
OK, so I may have made this up. But do you accept the challenge?!
Everyone’s heard of the Wiener Schnitzel from Vienna (rumoured to actually hail from Milan, but that’s a story for a different day…)
But did you know there’s an Innsbruck Schnitzel with ham and cheese inside? And a Styrian Schnitzel with pumpkin seeds on the outside.
Celebrate culture, tradition, travel and gastronomy in one go by trying to find out if there are any more. And then come back here and let me know, please.
Follow the Sound of Music
OK, first things first. Avoid mentioning the Sound of Music to people in Austria. While it’s not entirely offensive, most people are more than a little tired of the constant references to musical nuns and so it’s a topic best glossed over. (Although, if you want some tangible history, head to the Sound of Music World in Salzburg, where the real Trapps lived.)
No, I mean literally follow the sound of music. Austria has a rich musical heritage (Mozart anyone?) and you will find outdoor concerts galore during summer in Austria.
Since research from Oxford University shows that classical music, from Mozart in particular, calms listeners and lowers blood pressure, why not get listening in his home nation?
Three things to surprise you about Austria in Summer
I fell in love with Austria a long time ago. But she still manages to surprise me. Here are three things to surprise you about Austria in summer that I picked up on my very last trip…
- Schnapps can taste quite nice if you know where to go
- A place called Crystal World is an art extravaganza.
- You can hike through a real underground ice palace.
Why a summertime trip to the Austrian Alps with Kids makes sense
- Wholesome outdoor activities adjusted for little legs
- Frequent wooden playgrounds and hiking trails
- Friendly welcome
- Lots of chances to splash in the water
- Travel is easy! It’s easy to drive, park, order food, change babies, cross roads, the lot.
- Castles and suits of armour galore!
- Educational and tasty places to visit, from cheese tasting to non alcoholic schnapps and plenty of sausages.
- Lots of farm animals to see and, in some places, pet.
A Sample One Week Itinerary through Austria
- Three nights in St Johann in Tirol
- Two nights in Innsbruck
- Two nights in Zillertal
More details to follow. Subscribe here to hear all about it.
The river view of Innsbruck, one of Austria’s fascinating cities…
Summer in Austria’s Cities
Vienna has some of the grandest imperial buildings you’ll find on earth as part of the Habsburg legacy. Explore events from the 20th century with this guide to dark tourism in Vienna.
UNESCO World Heritage City of Design and Austria’s culinary capital. You will find so many unique things to do in Graz.
Famous for Mozart, the Sound of Music and Christmas Markets, summer in Salzburg reveals a different pretty side.
Innsbruck is one of Austria’s most popular summer cities for its easy escape to the mountains. Just 20 minutes by cable car and you can be hiking alone. Just check out these fantastic things to do in Innsbruck here.
Linz sits on the Danube with a blend of traditional old Austrian vibes and modern art centres and installations.
Bookmark this article on Austria in summer for later…
FAQS about travel in Austria in summer
Any more questions about visiting Austria in the summer? Ask away! Here are the most frequently asked questions…
When are the Austrian summer holidays?
The Austrian school summer holidays typically start in early July and run through to mid August. As you’d expect, family destinations are busier and prices higher during this time.
When is summer in Austria?
Summer occurs between May and September, with temperatures hovering in the high twenties and low thirties overall.
How hot is Austria in summer?
In short, hot. Temperatures reach 30 degrees pretty early in the season, although you’ll find it cooler on the mountain peaks. While you won’t find stifling heat here, you may find enough to cramp your style if you’re used to striding around the UK, for example. It’s much sunnier than that.
Is it worth travelling to Austria in summertime?
Yes! I’ve done it many times, with friends, family and on my own and would highly, highly recommend it. The weather is typically warm although you may find showers. But it’s not overbearingly hot like Andalusia or the Middle East.
Plus, you have so many different things to do and ways to relax in Austria in the summer. Go on. Give it a go!
Where are the best places to stay in the Austrian Alps in summer?
Austria has a wealth of high quality, family run hotels that are rich in history and atmosphere. Allow me to highlight the two beautiful places we stayed at most recently in the mountains:
- Sentido alpenhotel Kaiserfels – Located on the outskirts of St Johann in Tirol, this hotel offers easy parking, a huge spa and pool area and great views of the nearby mountains. The extensive buffet allows access to traditional Austrian food as well as more international options for any picky eaters.
- Seetal Alpin Family Resort – I fell head over heels in love with this family hotel. It’s the first hotel aimed at families that actually seemed to consider both parents and children. Children receive bathrobes in their own size, for example, as well as personal name cards and a visit from a cheery mouse called Cheesy. There’s an indoor and outdoor adventure playground, Kids Club, a petting zoo and swimming pool open to children. For adults, the place is beautiful in a grown up way, with pianists and harpists over dinner, great food and babysitting services largely included. There’s also an extensive child-free spa with saunas, massage services and steam rooms.
What’s the average Austrian summer temperature?
Vienna typically hovers around the high twenties in summer, while mountain tops are slightly cooler. It’s warmer than Britain, if that’s any help!
How easy is it to drive in Austria?
Austria is a very easy country to drive around. Roads are excellent, signposts immaculate and there’s usually plenty of parking. On the mountain roads, you will have to take in a few hairpin turns but these are usually pretty forgiving and not that tight. Driving in Vienna, as in any big city, can be a little more challenging and frustrating but it’s not too bad. Driving in the countryside is an absolute pleasure!
Do you need a car in Austria in the summer?
Austrian cities are well connected by clean and efficient public transport and a car can be a hindrance in the cities. That said, it is much easier to get around the Austrian Alps if you have your own set of wheels. You can also visit more off the beaten track places (and carry more cheese…)
What are the covid restrictions about Austria these days?
Ah, only a fool would try to predict in advance! When I last travelled in May 2022, you needed proof of vaccination or a negative test. Young children were exempt. This is clearly a summary of the proper advice and you should always check the latest government advice before you book and then again before you travel.
More Travel Articles about Austria
- Why summer in Austria is good for you
- Unique things to do in Graz, Austria’s city of design
- The 10 traditional Austrian dishes everyone should try at least once
- How to enjoy summer in Lech in Austria
- The secrets of the Cheese Road in Austria
- The best places to eat in Graz, Austria’s culinary capital
- Buschenschank Steirmark. Tricky words, great concept
- Dark tourism in Vienna: is it ethical
- Why St Johann in Tirol is Your Secret Tonic this Summer
- The best things to do in Innsbruck (plus an itinerary
- How to plan the perfect one day Graz itinerary
- The 15 most beautiful lakes in Austria