By Zahra Rahman

Austria is a beautiful country, with stunning scenery, amazing food and an amazing mixture of Eastern and Western cultures. I have had a drive-through visit, but I didn’t get the chance to explore the lovely country properly. So, I spoke to a class friend of mine who is from Austria and asked the top 5 facts about his home land. Here’s what he had to say:

  • Must-see cities in Austria

Vienna and Graz are the top two cities recommended to visit. With Graz being the second most popular city in Austria, you are bound to get some of the best bits of the country. There are also so many cool and unusual things to do in Graz, such as riding on the Fairy-tale Grotto Line, a sci-fi island in the middle of a river and, to spin you out even more, a double spiral staircase!

  • Vienna

Being the capital of Austria, there is tons to see and do in Vienna. Schönbrunn Palace looks truly amazing and it’s definitely somewhere I’d love to go back and explore.

Vienna has many cultural and traditional events to enjoy, so you won’t be bored here. There is also a slight eastern feel to Vienna as there are a lot of Turkish people who have settled in the city. I have had a Turkish meal in Vienna and I must say, it was better than some of the ones I had in Turkey!
Vienna was ranked the city with the highest quality of life in the world in 2017, also making it one of the safest places. Why would you not visit (or live in) this place?

  • Be culturally sensitive

It’s common sense, but it’s also worth knowing that in Austria you can be prosecuted for any anti-Semitic or pro-Nazi actions; drawing the Swastika or mimicking the Nazi salute can get you into big trouble. Be sure to read up on the laws and customs before you set off, and remind your drunk friend of the possible consequences, no matter how ‘funny’ it could be at the time.

  • Food list

I’ve been told off for not trying the Sachertorte whilst in Vienna and, unbelievably, I also didn’t manage to try Austria’s national dish: Wienerschnitzel. I will definitely have to try both, but I’m particularly interested in the Sachertorte, which is a Viennese invention.

  • Skiing

You must go for a skiing session in either Salzburg or Innsbruck. I have been told there is phenomenal scenery and it’s so much fun. Be sure to double check your travel insurance if you are going skiing (or taking part in any other sports) to ensure that it covers you for the activity. Mountain rescues and medical bills can be extremely expensive – you don’t want to end up paying for it out of your own pocket!

Before going on any holiday and planning your adventures, it is always worthwhile to check the safety aspect of travelling. Are you up to date with your immunisations? Have you checked if you need a visa? Be sure to use reliable sources, such as the FCO Travel Aware website