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12 Most Beautiful Towns & Villages in Austria (by a Local)

Having been born and raised, and living here for over 25 years, I can say that I’ve had the opportunity to explore many places in Austria. Certainly not as much as I would have liked, but still quite a lot.

Known for its alpine landscape, historic architecture, and cultural heritage, Austria boasts lots of interesting places to visit.

In addition to the popular Austrian landmarks and major cities such as Vienna or Salzburg, the country is dotted with numerous charming and lesser-known fairytale villages and towns.

Usually offering a more intimate and authentic experience, they provide a delightful escape from more touristy areas.

Personally, I even grew up in a small village in the middle of nature. That’s why I feel most at home in such places.

While I haven’t explored them all as there are quite many gorgeous towns and villages in Austria, I’d like to share with you my 12 personal favorites in this blog post.

These are the ones I find most beautiful and worth experiencing.

Without further ado, let’s dive into it!

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)

What Are The Most Beautiful Towns & Villages in Austria?

1. Hallstatt

While somewhat popular, the village of Hallstatt maintains a fairytale-like charm with its lakeside setting and traditional Alpine architecture.

This picturesque village is nestled in the Salzkammergut region of Austria and is often regarded as one of the most beautiful lakeside villages in the world.

Definitely one of the distinctive features of Hallstatt is its well-preserved historic architecture. The village showcases charming pastel-colored houses adorned with vibrant flower boxes, lining narrow cobblestone streets.

Most Beautiful Towns & Villages in Austria

When visiting Hallstatt, make sure to check out The Hallstatt Skywalk. This viewing platform is situated high above the village and offers a stunning panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Due to its relatively small size, a half or one day is often enough to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the charming streets, visit the key landmarks, and take a boat ride on Lake Hallstatt.

Tours you might find interesting:

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2. Gmunden

Located just an hour’s drive from Hallstatt, Gmunden is another lovely town in the Salzkammergut region. It’s most famous for its Gmunden Ceramics Factory where traditional Gmundner Keramik is meticulously crafted.

The town’s centerpiece is the enchanting Schloss Ort, a castle perched on a small island in Lake Traunsee. It gained international recognition as the filming location for the popular Austrian television series “Schlosshotel Orth”.

Schloss Ort in Gmunden

In spring and summer, Gmunden’s gorgeous lakeside promenade is adorned with vibrant flowers, providing a scenic pathway for casual strolls and breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

However, Gmunden is also worth visiting during the festive season, when the town transforms into a winter wonderland, with its Christmas markets casting a magical spell.

The stalls, set against the backdrop of the lake and mountains, create a warm and festive ambiance, making it a delightful experience for everyone.

Check out: A Perfect Day Trip to Hallstatt & Gmunden

3. Zell am See

Another gorgeous Austrian town located at a lake is Zell am See.

Zell am See is mostly renowned for its breathtaking alpine landscapes and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Zell.

The historical heart of the town is equally noteworthy though, featuring cobblestone streets winding through medieval buildings, charming boutiques, and cozy cafés.

Most Beautiful Villages in Austria

Lake Zell, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, provides a stunning setting for various water activities in the summer.

In winter, the surrounding mountains transform into a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snow enthusiasts during the colder months.

Especially The Schmittenhöhe, a prominent mountain overlooking Zell am See and one of my favorite Austrian ski resorts, offers panoramic views of the town, lake, and the Hohe Tauern National Park.

Tours you might find interesting:

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4. Rust

Located in Burgenland, one of Austria’s best wine regions, Rust can’t be missed on the list of the most beautiful towns & villages in Austria.

Rust can be considered the wine hub of Burgenland, renowned for its vibrant wine culture and hosting some of the finest vineyards in the region.

Of course, it’s therefore home to endless small, privately-owned wine taverns, that are typical for this specific region in Austria. Enjoying a glass of lovely wine in those traditional taverns is a thing you shouldn’t miss in Rust. 

Rust, Burgenland, Austria

In addition to its charming wine taverns, Rust boasts another extraordinary and distinctive attraction: storks!

During the warmer months, the skies of Rust come alive with storks flying around.

The iconic view of storks nesting on chimneys and tall church towers is not just pretty to look at, it also shows how well nature fits with the town’s really old buildings.

Rust is also located at Lake Neusiedl, Europe’s second-largest steppe lake, adding even more of a touch of natural splendor to the town.

The calm water makes a peaceful background, welcoming you to take easy walks by the lake or go on boat rides to enjoy the town’s pretty views.

Check out:
A Weekend in Burgenland – Austria’s Best Wine Region
A Boat Tour on Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland, Austria

5. Mariazell

Nestled in the picturesque Styrian Alps of Austria, Mariazell is a serene town renowned for its spiritual significance and stunning mountain surroundings.

The focal point of Mariazell is the Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, a revered pilgrimage site and a masterpiece of Austrian Baroque architecture.

Pilgrims from around the world visit the basilica to pay homage to the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary.


Besides its impressive basilica, Mariazell is also famous for Pirker Lebkuchen, a quaint bakery crafting gingerbread with time-honored recipes since 1935.

Whether indulging in the classic Lebkuchen or exploring their diverse range of confections, Pirker Lebkuchen is a haven for those with a sweet tooth – and they even have a couple of vegan options!

Surrounded by lush forests and pristine landscapes, Mariazell also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing.

Check out: Visit Mariazell – A Place of Pilgrimage in Styria, Austria

6. St. Wolfgang

Having first visited as a child and only recently revisited for Christmas markets, St. Wolfgang has become one of my favorite towns in the Salzkammergut region.

Nestled on the shores of Lake Wolfgang, the charming town offers a delightful mix of history, culture, and natural beauty.

One of St. Wolfgang’s iconic landmarks is the “Weißes Rössl” or White Horse Inn, a historic hotel with a rich heritage dating back to the 15th century. It has played a role in inspiring literature, notably being the setting for the operetta “Im Weißen Rössl” by Ralph Benatzky.

St. Wolfgang

Just like many other towns in the Salzkammergut region, St. Wolfgang welcomes you with cobblestone streets, traditional Alpine houses, quaint shops, and lovely cafés.

Enjoy a leisurely walk along the lakeside promenade for breathtaking views of the iconic Schafberg Mountain. Or embark on the Schafberg Railway for a picturesque journey leading to the summit of this mountain.

In winter, when the famous Wolfgangsee Advent takes place, the entire town turns into a magical winter wonderland with twinkling lights and seasonal decorations.

Tours you might find interesting:

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By now, you might be getting the impression that the majority of my favorite towns and villages in Austria are situated in the Salzkammergut region, with four out of the last six being highlighted there.

Rest assured, that’s not the case!

I do have a bit of a bias towards it, considering it’s my favorite region in Austria, but there’s certainly plenty more to explore and appreciate across the entire country.

Let’s have a look at other parts of Styria, for example!

7. Admont

Located in the Gesäuse National Park, which is known for its stunning natural landscapes and outdoor activities, Admont simply can’t be missed on the list of beautiful towns and villages in Austria.

A must-visit in Admont is the Admont Abbey, renowned for its extraordinary library that is considered the largest monastic library in the world. Not only is it one of the largest, but in my opinion, the most stunning as well!

The library’s stunning Baroque architecture and vast collection of priceless manuscripts and books make it a cultural gem.

Admont Abbey

Due to its location nestled in the Styrian Alps, various hiking trails cater to different skill levels, allowing you to immerse yourself in the pristine natural beauty of the region.

Probably the most popular one is the hike to the Admonter Haus mountain hut which is situated at an elevation of approximately 1,725 meters.

You can expect a moderately challenging ascent, but the effort is rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the Admont valley.

8. Grein

Situated along Austria’s most important river, the Danube River, Grein is a scenic town in Upper Austria.

At the heart of this picturesque town stands the Greinburg Castle, an enchanting landmark dating back to the 15th century. Poised atop a hill, the castle offers breathtaking views of the Danube and the scenic surroundings.

Grein is also home to the Greinburg Theater, one of Austria’s oldest theaters and where theater performances are still regularly held today.

A must-thing to do in Grein in spring and summer is embarking on a scenic Danube River boat ride. And of course, you can’t leave Grein without indulging in one or two scoops of famous Schörgi ice cream!

9. Kitzbühel

Alpine allure and a blend of tradition and modern luxury – that’s Kitzbühel!

Nestled in the embrace of the Tyrolean Alps, Kitzbühel is famous for its world-class ski slopes, including the legendary Hahnenkamm, and attracts winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe.

Beyond its snowy peaks, Kitzbühel transforms into a vibrant hub in the summer, offering hiking and mountain biking trails for every level.

The town itself boasts a well-preserved medieval center with cobblestone streets, charming boutiques, and traditional Austrian architecture.

Kitzbühel is also home to upscale hotels such as the Stanglwirt, gourmet restaurants, and lively après-ski spots.

Regardless of what season you choose to visit Kitzbühel, I assure you that you’ll undoubtedly have a fantastic experience!

10. Dürnstein

Just like Grein, Dürnstein can be found along the Danube River too. More precisely in the stunning Wachau Valley, another one of my favorite regions in Austria.

When visiting Dürnstein, you’ll probably first notice the striking blue and white Stift Dürnstein Abbey church.

Founded in the 14th century by the Augustinian Canons, it features elegant vaulted ceilings and pointed arches that are typical for the Gothic style.

Most Beautiful Towns & Villages in Austria

Perched on a rocky hill right above the town is Dürnstein Castle, the ruin of a medieval rock castle. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards and the meandering Danube.

Dürnstein castle is particularly famous for being the site where Richard the Lionheart was held captive during the 12th century.

The Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a prominent wine region in Austria. Dürnstein is therefore home to a couple of quaint taverns where you can go and indulge in local wines.

11. Heiligenblut

The gorgeous village of Heiligenblut is a beloved destination for one good reason: It’s situated right at the Grossglockner, the highest peak in Austria.

Heiligenblut serves as the starting point for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, a scenic route offering panoramic views of the alpine scenery.

The region is a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts, providing hiking trails suitable for various skill levels and opportunities for skiing and mountaineering.


In summer, a popular activity is panning for gold in the gold diggers village. This reconstructed village serves as a historical representation of the gold miners who sought gold in this area from the 14th to the 18th centuries.

Another place not to miss in Heiligenblut is the Grossglockner Pilgrimage Church. It is situated in the heart of the village and boasts a rich history, characterized by its Gothic frescoes and a medieval statue of St. Vincent.

12. Alpbach

Picture this: Traditional wooden chalets with flower-bedecked balconies nestled in an idyllic landscape. No, it’s not a scene from “The Sound of Music”, it’s the enchanting village of Alpbach!

This alpine gem is surrounded by lush meadows, dense forests, and the majestic peaks of the Tyrolean mountains, creating a captivating backdrop!

Known for its commitment to maintaining architectural authenticity, Alpbach has even earned the distinction of being one of Austria’s “Most Beautiful Villages.”

Most Beautiful Villages in Austria

Beyond its scenic beauty, Alpbach hosts the renowned European Forum Alpbach. This annual gathering brings together intellectuals, academics, and leaders for discussions on a wide range of topics.

The village also offers a myriad of outdoor activities, from hiking and skiing in the winter to exploring hiking trails and alpine meadows during the summer.

Where to Find The Most Beautiful Towns & Villages in Austria?

The following map should help you craft your ideal itinerary for exploring the most beautiful towns and villages in Austria. It features all the places mentioned in this list.

Do you need more info for your trip to Austria or have other questions?
Feel free to reach out!

Check out:
50 Interesting Facts About Austria You Didn’t Know
16 Best & Most Famous Landmarks in Austria
The 16 Coolest Day Trips From Vienna, Austria

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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:

Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!

Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, thus I book an Airbnb every now and then.

Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without one. I use the simple and flexible one from SafetyWing that protects me against unforeseen events.

Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.

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