A World of Color: Austria in White
Leah Walker March 24, 2014

My recent two-week tour of Austria with Best of the Alps and the Austrian Tourism Board began in the awe-inspiring Alps and moved on to three spectacular cities. From west to east, I thoroughly enjoyed some of the best vistas, culture, history, food, wine, and people that Austria has to offer. This was easily one of my most favorite trips.

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With the mountains covered in their winter coat, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the color, or rather non-color, white. Perhaps I’m taking the easy way out by choosing the hue of snow and clouds for the Austria installment of my World of Color series. I could simply slap up a multitude of landscape photos and call it a day. Besides, my “Malaysia in Gold” post was vibrant and required a bit of creativity. But as I perused the thousands of photos from my trip, I found that white was prominent in much more than Austria’s wintery landscapes.

Arlberg

Located in the western most part of Austria in the state of Tyrol, is tMalaysia in Goldhe Arlberg region. Known as the cradle of Alpine skiing, the Arlberg is legendary for its beauty, hospitality, and contribution to the evolution of the sport of skiing. Here, the majestic mountains fascinate with their unspoilt and idealistic beauty. For over 100 years, this area has also attracted visitors {and European royalty} for their world-class ski resorts, most notably St. Anton and Lech Zürs.

St. Anton

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Given such grandeur, it’s important to stop and take it all in.

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Being on the Arlberg is like standing on top of the world.

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When skiing, it’s nice to stop for something warm, complete with whipped cream.

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Drink in the white wine and views of the Arlberg at Hospiz Alm Chalet in St. Christoph.

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Gourmet food and this spectacular view have skiers clamoring for a table at Verwallstube.

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White gloves, white truffles, and white sauce are perfection at Verwallstube.

Lech Zürs

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The clouds tease skiers throughout the day.

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In the small, carless village of Oberlech is this even smaller church on the slopes.

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One course from the uber-luxurious, Aurelio’s–an egg atop an upside down wine glass.

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Meat marbling aside, in Austria one gets schmaltz–clarified goose fat–to spread on bread.

Innsbruck

Having hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, one would expect Innsbruck to be a outdoor-lover’s dream. With plentiful opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, bobsledding, hiking, biking, and anything else remotely active, Innsbruck is a year around draw. But there’s more to the city than sports. The capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck is well-known for its university, which brings about a certain energy. Cultural offerings such as the opera, theater, and numerous museums and historical locations, make for a well-rounded city with much to offer visitors.

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From Innsbruck, a 15-minute gondola ride takes visitors 1,900 meters high in the mountains.

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With Innsbruck below, skiers, snowboarders, bikers, and parasailers take the fun way down.

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An espresso with a spectacular view is enjoyed at Grünwalderhof.

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My guide, Elisabeth, invited me to her home for homemade biscuits and Champagne.

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The light pours in the Spanish Hall at the Ambras Castle, built by Archduke Ferdinand II.

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 An entire day could be spent looking into the Innsbruck-area churches.

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With its Baroque style, St. James’ Cathedral is stunning with its white stucco.

Salzburg

One can’t rightly say the word “Salzburg” without some sort of song coming to mind. Whether it’s Symphony No. 31 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, lovers of stage, music, and art will find Salzburg enchanting. Known as “The Stage of the World,” Salzburg, a former Roman settlement, is also seeped in history. The Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and filled with architecture styles from the Middle Ages, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance periods. Setting out on foot through the narrow alleyways and cobblestone paths is the best way to experience all Salzburg has to offer.

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Christmas & Easter in Salzburg features beautiful, hand-painted eggs throughout the year.

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A trip to Austria is incomplete without sausage, hot mustard, and horseradish.

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Modern art sits alongside historical buildings, which provides an interesting contrast.

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Sometimes looking up yields the best view, like the dome of the Salzburg Cathedral.

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Dreifaltigkeitskirche Church plays backdrop to “Caldera” by English sculptor, Anthony Cragg.

Vienna

Salzburg’s favorite son, Mozart, once proclaimed Vienna as “…the best place in the world.” Really, who am I to argue with such a great talent? Truly, Vienna is one of my favorite cities. It’s a grandiose place without the hint of arrogance. Vienna is like a gorgeous girl who is unaware of her beauty, which ultimately makes her even more alluring to others. A walk through the old city leaves visitors drenched in splendor. Hapsburg history is found around every corner, and after ruling for more than seven centuries, has left an indelible mark on Vienna.

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Art seems to adorn every square inch in Vienna. This dramatic scene is on a roof.

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The Hofburg was once the Hapsburg’s Imperial Palace.

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The Holocaust Memorial not only recognizes the murder of more than 65,000 Jewish-Austrians, but also is a visible reminder of the change from Nazi attitudes. Designed to look like shelves, each book is represents one Jewish life lost during the Holocaust.

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Before entering the Spanish Riding School, make sure to look up.

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 Fieikers, or horse-drawn carriages, still hold a prominent place within the Ringstraße.

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Pastry-lovers shall rejoice at the number of choices in Austria.

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 Demel is one of Vienna’s famous bakeries, having once provided sweets for Empress Sissi.

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The Baroque Spanish Riding School is where the famous white Lipizzan horses perform.

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The tack room at the Spanish Riding School houses both performance and practice equipment.

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Words don’t do justice to the art and skill required by both the riders and Lipizzan horses. 

Whether its the mountainous landscape after a dusting of snow, grapes growing in the hills, pristine ivory buildings, or legendary Lipizzan horses, white will always be synonymous with Austria for me.

I was a guest of The Best of the AlpsSt. Anton am ArlbergLech Zürs am Arlberg, and Austria Tourism Board. In no way was I swayed to write a favorable review based on the pure mountain air, Austrian hospitality, or obscene amount of pastries I was offered. As always, opinions are mine.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

34 Comments

  1. I went to Austria 3 times way back in the late 1990s and have thought many times about going back. It’s such a beautiful country with a fun, welcoming culture. Your photos show what a wonderful trip you had!

    1. Thank you, Jenna. I’d certainly say that a return trip for you is in order. I have to agree that the Austrians are some of the most welcoming people I’ve encountered through my travels.

    1. Probably sliding down the World Cup slope on my butt with my skis and poles in my lap because I couldn’t get them back on given the steep incline. My iPhone flew out of my pocket so I had to do a little hiking on the run. Fun stuff!

  2. Leah,

    What an amazing set of pictures. My favourites are the one in the beginning (of the snow covered slopes with the sun shining) and the one with the espresso (well, anything that involves espresso is my favourite :))

    When people look at these pictures, many of them do not understand how difficult it is to photograph “white” without any other contrasting colour in the frame. You have done it brilliantly 🙂

    You are right – Austria is full of architecture, culture, and natural beauty. We have only been to Salzburg, that too just for a day, and will definitely be going back for a longer trip.

    Nicely done !

    Cheers

    1. Thank you, Vid. I took these with a variety of cameras: GoPro, iPhone, and Nikon D7100. I’m sure you can tell which ones go to which camera. I have to say that the mountain photos are my favorites, too. Though, it’s kind of cheating since a child could take a great photo of such beauty and it would be wonderful.

  3. Leah… You are becoming an amazing photojournalist! My mom is from southern Germany so I have been to that area a lot… though I perfer the summer! (I’m not a cold weather person) So did you break out and start singing… “My Favorite Things?” 🙂

    1. WOW! Thank you, Tom. That’s an unexpected compliment. I didn’t start singing, as I try not to unduly punish innocent bystanders with my “gift” of song. 😉

  4. You’re words always draw me in this story the pictures alone did the trick, beautiful! The stunning simplicity of white definitely was the color theme of this trip.

    1. Summer is divine in Vienna, and I’m sure it’s equally as gorgeous in the Alps. I hope to find out this summer. You should too! 🙂

  5. These photos are ridiculously gorgeous. So, I’ve been to Austria, but sadly only a drive through from Germany to Croatia. I remember the beauty as we drove through and hoping to get back one day, and this is a clear reminder. I may not be the best on skis, but I need to do this one day! Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

    1. The Alps will make you want to be a better skier just so you can see more of the mountains. I could easily be a ski bum in Austria. I do hope you get back, even if it’s in the summer with no skis strapped to your feet.

    1. Austria has a very special place in my heart. I feel such a connection to the land and people. I’m not exactly sure why, however.

    1. Ted, I thought of you when I went cross country skiing. I figure I would have given you a tremendous chuckle.

    1. I might be crazy, but I LOVE snow. Like I love the snow and mountains more than the sun and beach. I just can’t describe the way the peaks make me feel.

  6. Leah: so much white, so little time! I love Vienna and Salzburg, but my eyeballs here always search for and reach skywards to the Alps! 🙂 Thanks for your photographic tour of “Österreich”!

  7. Fantastic pictures Leah. I spend many winters in the Alps when growing up in Germany! Just followed you on Twitter as well – cool site. Looking forward to connect! Torsten

  8. So much great architecture to ooh and ahh about in Vienna! One of the most effortlessly elegant cities in the world, in my opinion.. Be sure to check out Hundertwasser House — crazy and colorful, but all in all a pleasure to look at. Reminds me of Gaudi and Barcelona…

  9. amazing pictures! I had always heard that Austria is the place to go skiing in Europe. I just never realized how beautiful it was! thanks for the daily travel inspiration 🙂

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