A country that’s in tune with the elegance of yesteryear, Austria is striking during the winter with its varied landscapes and historic towns that give you a glimpse of what was. While Austria has great slopes and ski resorts, it offers so much more. A private flight to Austria will remind you of a winter wonderland in a snow globe as you tour its can’t-miss sites and activities.
Austrian winemakers craft outstanding vintages. Vienna alone has more than 1,500 acres of vineyards just outside the city limits, reflecting a long tradition of heurigers (wine taverns) and winemaking. The area is best known for its Wiener Gemischter Satz, a blend of quality white grapes harvested and produced in the same vineyard. Make a tasting appointment at Weingut Wieninger. Kremstal, Kamptal, and Wachau are also known for their world-class white wines.
If you prefer a spicy red, the selection in Burgenland will warm you up. When something sweet is the only thing that will satisfy your palate, try the legendary dessert wines of Rust on the western edge of Lake Neusiedl. Its Ruster Ausbruch botrytized dessert wines are made grapes properly affected by botrytis fungus, or noble rot, which concentrates the sugars. Many of the area’s tasting rooms have operated since the 15th century. Some to check out include Wenzel and Feiler-Artinger.
Ride a bike in the snow. A fatbike is a mountain bicycle with large tires that are up to 4 inches wide, perfect for touring the Tirolean Alps when you feel adventurous. The oversized tires are specially designed for unsteady, soft terrain. Because of the energy required to build up speed over the snow and the chilly air in the alpine countryside, even the most athletic individuals find themselves huffing and puffing as they take their adventures to a new level. Get a taste for yourself at the Bike Academy in Kirchberg.
If riding a bike through the snow doesn’t seem like your idea of fun, roll through the snow on a Segway in Westendorf. The vehicles are equipped with fat tires and chains, making it seem as if you’re rolling over gravel.
A longstanding tradition in Tirol since the 1700s, regional handcrafted schnapps are made using old family recipes, millions of pounds of fresh fruit, and snow-melt ice water. The area alone has 4,000 distilleries, 41 of which are open to visitors. Hire a driver to take you along the Tirol Schnapps Route to get a look at the creative science behind the spirits.
Snowshoeing and Ice Cave Exploring
Just north of the Carnic Alps, surrounded by the foothills of the Lienz Dolomites, Karitsch in the Gailtal Valley is popular for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing during the winter. Throw on a pair of snowshoes and explore the Carnic Alps High Trail, a 96-mile path with an altitude of 6,500 feet. Then grab a headlamp and some safety gear and head to Obstanser Eishöhle, a local ice cave that goes 328 feet into the earth. The longest part of the 800-meter cave system remains unexplored. There are also ice caves to explore at Dachstein with names fairytale-like Castle of the Holy Grail, King Arthur’s Dome, and Parsifal Dome.