Austria is, of course, blessed with a topography that’s conducive to exploration – atop mountains, amidst green expanses, or on lakes as clear as they come. And, it’s when you step into this space that you simply can’t help but be transformed or find retrospect, even if just for a moment. Tangibly speaking – embark on a culinary walk, book a farm holiday, or pedal on a cycle tour through vineyards as far as the eye can see – it is this natural setting that helps create the experience. In a world where everything is shared, posted and communicated in real time, the moment that is ours alone becomes all the more precious.
Nature has the power to transform. Gazing out at the majestic sweep of alpine peaks can take our breath away—and then inspire us to breathe more deeply. Consider the meditative sound of a gurgling mountain stream or the feel of warm bark on a gnarled tree. At a time when we post and tweet and overshare on social media, engaging with nature can restore us with moments of solitude. A simple day hike can lead us to live in such moments more fully, bringing us back to our senses and back to ourselves.
In Austria, nature beckons at every turn. The Alps cover more than 80% of the country and remain refreshingly pristine. Even Austrian lakes and rivers boast water clean enough to drink. From the High Alps to the Pannonian Plains, throughout six national parks and nearly 60 nature reserves and parks, an incredibly diverse landscape nurtures a wealth of indigenous plant- and wildlife.
Respect for nature is deeply rooted in Austrian culture. Fun means hitting the slopes or taking a hike, and with some 49,900 miles of alpine trails and countless rural paths, it’s no wonder Austrians are so fit. Perhaps it’s the civilised nature of the mountain hut system. Hikers can spend a morning on the trail and stop for a hearty lunch and a pilsner at an alpine hut before returning home. Even off the trail, Austria’s commitment to sustainable farming has made it a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement. A whopping 20% of all agricultural land is used for organic farming—making Austria number one in the world—and many resorts use ecologically responsible practices to protect Austria’s natural treasures. It all adds up to a destination that is the perfect combination of nature and culture.