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Austria is a true year-round destination. Those seeking urban sophistication can partake of the delights of Vienna or Salzburg any time of year. Enjoy a sumptuous slice of Sachertorte or Linzertorte in the places where they originated, then waltz across the floor at an elegant ball. Visit one of hundreds of art galleries, or lose yourself in the music at a classical concert featuring works by local composers such as Mozart and Strauss. Or simply sit back and enjoy the cafe culture. When visiting Vienna for the first time, an excursion to Schonbrunn Palace is a must.
There are also plenty of options for those who would rather immerse themselves in the great outdoors. In summertime, stroll through expanses of wildflowers in alpine meadows, or go for a thrilling drive on the breathtaking Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Take a trekking or mountaineering holiday, or enjoy the view from a funicular or cable car. In winter Austria becomes one of the top sports destinations in Europe, popular with both alpine and nordic skiers, snowboarders, and ski-jumpers. The rich and famous flock to postcard-perfect Kitzbuhel to see and be seen, but there are many more ski regions, including Innsbruck, Montafon and The Arlberh, that offer equally good skiing and accommodations without the crowds and premium prices.
Direct flights to Austria from North America are scarce, but they are offered from a few cities such as New York, Toronto and Washington DC. Dozens of airlines fly to Austria including Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, BMI British Midland, Lufthansa, and United, which serve airports such as Graz (GRZ), Innsbruck (INN), Linz (LNZ), and Vienna (VIE).
Austria is equally nice in the winter as it is in the summer. Summer is the high season in Austria, with the peak occurring in July and August when there are many festivals. Winter is a great time to visit, especially if you enjoy winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Hotel and flight availability can be scarce at Christmastime, especially in Vienna.
Temperatures in Austria vary greatly depending on where you are, and especially what altitude you're at. The weather in the mountains will obviously be quite different from conditions in valleys and urban areas. Summer temperatures are similar to North America, averaging 20°C. In winter the national average ranges from a low of -13°C to a high of 9°C, with the temperature staying within a few degrees of freezing most of the time in the winter months. But freezing can be a good thing, as it leads to snow and that is good news for those travelling to Austria for winter activities. Snow typically arrives in the mountainous areas by mid-November and the rest of the country by late December. It lasts until March in the valleys and until May in the mountains. At elevations above 2,600m there is snow all year. As temperature and conditions can be varied throughout the day, especially if you are going from one elevation to another, dressing in layers is a good idea when travelling in Austria, and always consult the local forecast for the area you're visiting.