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Extensive travel and tourism guide for Austria, Europe

Austria Hotels & Reservation Guide

Do you hear a waltz? If you're in Vienna during the height of the gala ball season, you might feel like whirling around the ballroom floor to the strains of Strauss. If you'd rather hear a soprano, you might want to head to the State Opera House -- or possibly to the Chapel of the Imperial Palace, if the Vienna Boys Choir is in residence. But if you'd prefer to hear a whinny, make tracks to Vienna's Spanish Riding School, where the Royal Lipizzaner stallions perform their gravity-defying "airs above ground."

Austria is full of such rich cultural offerings and traditions, many of them left over from the time when Vienna was the seat of a powerful empire. These days, the capital's imperial buildings may seem a bit grand and oversized for this small country. But there is nothing diminished about the country's romantic streak or its passion for rituals, whether in the coffeehouse, the church or the grand ballroom. Austria seems to blend a kind of Italian romanticism with a Germanic love for order. And that orderly romanticism can be quite captivating, particularly when experienced by way of a Sacher torte, a hike through the mountains of Tirol or a stroll along Vienna's Ringstrasse.

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