Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

  • Publish date: Sunday، 26 December 2021 Last update: Thursday، 03 March 2022
Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Travelling to visit UNESCO world heritage sites is a trip of a lifetime, these destinations are always so different from everything you’ve seen as they’re filled with tales and history. Austria has many UNESCO world heritage sites to offer starting from the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, the historical centers of Vienna, Salzburg and Graz, the charming landscapes of the Wachau, Lake Neusiedl and the Semmering Railway.

In Austria you can find a total of 12 official UNESCO world heritage sites, each more enchanting than the other and absolutely worth the trip.

1.Historic center of Salzburg

Famous for being the hometown of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was born here in 1756. The city has an enchanting Urban appearance and nature.

The city was also called "Rome of the North" due to its Italian character, its numerous sacred buildings and the special atmosphere.

Salt international trade goes a long way in this city as it made it possible for the Prince-Archbishops to build it.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites


© Salzburg Tourismus GmbH

2.Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut cultural landscape

The historical cultural landscape with Hallstatt, Gosau, Obertraun and Bad Goisern is characterized by a cultural continuity that extends over three and a half millennia.

Until today the Salt Mines in Hallstatt can be visited and offer a rare insight into salt mining.

Salt production goes back to the Middle Bronze Age and established the wealth of the population.

The landscape is characterized by the architecture with the typical wood decorations.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites


© OEW, Cross-Media-Redaktion

3.Semmering Railway

Take a trip from Vienna to the south of Austria by train and enjoy the beautiful scenery all around.

Known as the region of the “magic mountain” the Semmering-Rax-Schneeberg region is one of the classic holiday destinations in Europe.

As early as 1841, the order for the construction of a railway line to Trieste had been placed and the railway was built from 1848 in a technical and structural masterpiece in just six years over the almost 1,000 meter high pass (at that time the highest point in the world accessible by rail).

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites


© NOE Werbung, Michael Liebert

4.Historic center of Graz and Eggenberg Palace

The streets and alleys of Graz tell of the cultural significance of a city in which art and culture are also decisive in everyday life.

Graz has been the cultural capital since 2003, and also a UNESCO City of Design since 2011.

The baroque castle Eggenberg, is located just outside of Graz and was built in 1625. It features 24 state rooms - with the large planetary hall in the center - and over 500 ceiling paintings from the 17th Century which represent symbolic images of the universe.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Graz and Schloss Eggenberg

© Graz Tourismus, Harry Schiffer

5.Wachau cultural landscape

The Wachau is a short section of the Danube - 36 km out of a total of 2,800 km. It offers natural landscapes - such as the winding Danube valley, alluvial forests, rugged rock formations - and elements designed by humans - such as the wine-growing terraces, typical villages and corridors, pens, castles, ruins.

 From Melk Abbey via Schönbühel Castle and the ruins of Aggstein, Dürnstein and Hinterhaus the Wachau valley extends to the Göttweig Abbey each perfect to visit as a day trip from Vienna being only 1 ½ hours from Austria’s capital.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites


© OEW, Cross Media Redaktion

6.Cultural landscape of Lake Neusiedl

Central Europe's largest steppe lake Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland is only one hour from Vienna.

The cross-border area between Austria and Hungary extends from the lowlands over the lake and its huge reed belt to picturesque villages, magnificent vineyards and extensive pastures where gray cattle and white donkeys graze.

Archaeological monuments, sand-lime quarries, ancient sanctuaries and castles show its impressive settlement history.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites


© Burgenland Tourismus GmbH, Birgit Machtinger

7.Schönbrunn Palace and Park

A true treat to the eyes and soul. The summer residence of the Habsburgs with the world-famous zoo is the highlight of every visit to Vienna.

The imperial palace complex of Schönbrunn is one of the most culturally, historically and artistically important baroque complexes in Europe.

See how rulers of that time used to live in the magnificent court rooms while you can enjoy a truly imperial view of the palace complex and Vienna from the Gloriette, which is located on a hill.

A must see is the architecturally fascinating palm house with its exotic plant collection.

Finally, the Schönbrunn Zoo, the oldest and one of the most magnificent zoos in Europe, is characterized on the one hand by the beautiful baroque pavilions and on the other hand by spacious animal enclosures.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Schloss Schoenbrunn

© Schloss Schoenbrunn Kultur- und BetriebsgesmbH, Severin Wurnig

8.Vienna historic city center

Vienna's historical center is one of the most beautiful city monuments in Europe due to its unity.

The former royal seat of the Habsburg emperors was shaped by three epochs: the Middle Ages with the Gothic St. Stephan’s Cathedral, the Baroque period, the most important legacy of which is the Hofburg Palace with its lush domes, and the Ringstrasse era of the late 19th century, when magnificent buildings such as the State Opera and the Art History Museum were built.

The numerous churches, palaces and parks also contribute to the imperial flair of Vienna's old town.

Enjoy Viennese cuisine, the cosiness of the coffee houses and nostalgic shopping at former k. u. k. Purveyors to the court.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Vienna Historic City Center

© OEW, Julius Silver

9.Stilt houses around the Alps

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps extends over six countries around the Alps - besides Austria, it reaches Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia.

There are important sites of pile-dwelling culture on three Austrian lakes, on the Attersee and Mondsee in Upper Austria and on the Keutschachersee in Carinthia.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Remains of Stilt houses at lake Attersee

© OEW, Reinhold Leitner

10.World natural heritage beech forests in the Kalkalpen National Park

The largest national forest park in Austria and the right place for a Forest Bathing experience. The Kalkalpen National Park extends over the wooded mountain ranges of the Reichraminger Hintergebirge and the Sengsengebirge.

With an area of 209 square kilometers, three quarters of this area is wilderness.

More than 5,000 hectares of old beech forests in the Kalkalpen National Park were placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2017.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Beech Forest

(c) Nationalpark Kalkalpen / Erich Mayrhofer

11.The Danube Limes

The Danubian Limes is a 600km long network of fortifications along the Danube river which protected the Western borders of the Roman Empire.

 It features components in Austria, Germany and Slovakia with the Austrian section stretching along 357.5 kilometers.

The Austrian part consists of 47 locations between the German border close to Passau (Bavaria) and the Slovakian border near Bratislava.

The majority of the structures are preserved below ground and include key elements from road, legionary fortresses and their associated settlements to small forts and temporary camps.

 Visible remains can be found at Mautern, Traismauer, Tulln, Zeiselmauer, and Petronell-Carnutum.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Danube Limes

© OOE Tourismus GmbH, Ralf Hochauser

12.Baden bei Wien

Lastly, a location to truly pamper yourself, named the “Great Spa Towns of Europe”, this region comprises of 11 spa towns in seven European countries where mineral waters were used for healing and therapeutic purposes before the development of industrial medication in the 19th century.

The town of Baden bei Wien is listed in Austria and is the newest addition to the UNESCO world heritage sites.

Austria’s Most Unique UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Baden bei Wien

© Tourismus der Stadtgemeinde Baden, Romana Fuernkranz

Main Image Credits


© Wien Tourismus, Christian Stemper