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Austria Travel Guide - Sports & Activities


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Sports and Activities in Austria

Winter sports: Austria is one of Europe 's major destinations for winter sports, particularly skiing and, more recently, snowboarding. The Austrian Alps take up approximately 60 per cent of the country's surface area and there are more than 800 winter sports resorts, with ski runs stretching some 22,000km (13,750 miles), and a further 16,000km (10,000 miles) of cross-country skiing trails. Every year, Austria hosts a number of prestigious international ski competitions. Besides skiing, many other types of winter sports can be enjoyed, such as tobogganing, sleigh rides, curling or skating. Full details of skiing packages and tours, resort information, snow reports and winter sports events can be obtained from the Austrian National Tourist Office, which also publishes several brochures, some of which, such as the Winter Tour Finder, can be ordered directly and free of charge from the Internet.

Walking tours: During summer, when the snow has melted, the Austrian Alps offer a vast network of hiking trails through varied landscapes, ranging from forests and green slopes to glaciers and rocks. Many rivers and lakes are suitable for swimming or fishing (the latter requiring a permit available from the local authorities). Detailed walking maps can be obtained either from the Austrian National Tourist Office or from the local tourist offices. Guides can be hired locally. Footpaths are recognizable by red-white-red markings displayed on trees and rocks. Interesting routes include the Salt Road , once used by Austria 's salt merchants, from the salt mines in the Salzkammergut, through the Mühlviertel, via many historic towns and as far as the border with the Czech Republic ; and the Styrian Timber Road , giving travelers an insight into the uses of wood.

Mountaineering and climbing: Both are widely available throughout the Alps . For details of climbing associations and specialist operators, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office. Climbing tours are often combined with hang-gliding, which has recently gained in popularity and can be practiced in many locations in the mountains.

Cycling: Austria 's infrastructure for cyclists is excellent. There are clearly marked cycling routes both in the cities and throughout the countryside. Tourist offices can provide detailed touring maps and the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) offers substantial services to cyclists. Practically all local trains allow bicycles to be carried in the baggage car. For long-distance trains, cyclists should look out for a bicycle symbol next to the train number if they wish to take their bike. The ÖBB also offers a bicycle rental service (Fahrrad am Bahnhof) at 100 Austrian railway stations, where visitors can rent bicycles directly from the station at a reduced fee. Along the cycling paths, many hotels and inns have lockable bicycle racks and other facilities for cyclists. Austria 's mountains offer extensive and challenging trails for mountain biking.

Wine tours: The Austrian National Tourist Office has singled out three wine routes through Austria 's main wine-growing regions - Lower Austria , Southern Styria and the Burgenland. In Lower Austria , a whole area in the northeast is known as the Weinviertel (wine quarter), where Kellergassen (wine cellars and wine-press buildings located outside the villages in the hillsides) and Buschenschanken (small wine taverns) can be visited. The Wachau region, a section of the Danube Valley approximately 50km (32 miles) from Vienna , is reputed for its Riesling wines and the wine village of Gumpoldskirchen . Southern Styria enjoys a moist, warm climate and its token wine is the Schilcher, an onion-coloured to ruby-red wine.

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