Austrians love to celebrate life: you could say that enjoying good food, savoring good wine and spending time in good company are essential for the Austrian psyche. The fact that they take these enjoyments so seriously is what makes Austrians such excellent hosts. You'll find outstanding restaurants, a vibrant wine scene and a wide variety of accommodations that offer impeccable service with Austrian charm.
Austria's culinary landscape has always been a fascinating melting-pot of many cultures and lifestyles. Hungarian, Italian and Czech influences are as much discernible as those of the Viennese Bourgeoisie and the Tirolean mountain farm.
Now, Austrians are very serious about the quality of the food that makes it onto their plates. Austria has perhaps the world's largest percentage of organic farms and the farm to table movement has long been a way of life here. This goes for quaint inns and sometimes centuries old country taverns as much as for Austria's top-ranking gourmet restaurants. It probably says much that you'll find most of the latter not in big cities but strewn across the countryside, where they have close partnerships with local producers or even source ingredients from their own gardens. Whatever you go for - high-end cuisine or traditional fare, be sure to taste some of the regional specialties that have earned Austria a reputation as Europe's gourmet shop.
A big aspect of this is the local wine culture. Family owned vineyards produce some of the finest Rieslings and Gruener Veltliners (Austria's signature grapes). Because of their quality, they can be found on the wine lists of the finest restaurants in the US. But Austrian's know a good thing when they see one, and most of the locally produced wines are consumed in the country.
A trip to the wine regions of Lower Austria, the Burgenland or even southern Styria is the perfect way to experience this aspect of Austrian life. Enjoying a delicious repast at one of the local wine taverns, sampling the latest vintage while enjoying the sun in your face and the views over the picturesque wine country is one if life's great pleasures. Ask any Austrian.
You'll also find a lively wine scene in Austria's cities, most notably Vienna, which has the largest wine growing area of any city worldwide. Explore wine bars, wine cellars and tasting rooms to sample what Austria's vineyards have to offer.
If you are looking for accommodation in Austria, you are spoiled for choice. From luxurious five star hotels, both modern and in traditional Austrian style, to charming bed and breakfasts, Austria's cities have it all. In the countryside you'll also find resort-style hotels, historic inns, mountain huts for hikers or even farms that take in guests and guarantee a wonderful local experience for families.
If you are looking for a special experience or want to celebrate a wedding or anniversary, look into staying at a castle hotel or chalet. The group Schlosshotels and Herrenhaeuser features a wide selection of properties all over Austria.
Most hotels and almost all pensions and inns are family owned, often have been for many generations. As a result, you'll find that these accommodations exude a typically Austrian charm, with your host family directly involved in the daily business and invested in making you feel welcome and at home.