7 health and wellness reasons to travel to Austria
The Austrians eat mindfully, tobogganing and skiing are part of their lifestyles and they warm up in thermal pools on frosty days. Just some of the reasons why we should all go on a winter break to fairytale Austria. Now, where did we put those snow shoes?
1 Coffee house culture is a huge part of the Austrian identity – great minds gather to practice the art of productive idleness over an Apfelstrudel or a large slice of Linzer torte. And that’s not being lazy, heck no – it’s long been a favourite pastime of intellectuals, artists and philosophers, to focus on being rather than doing, and giving yourself a creativity boost in the process. The ultimate mindful experience, right? So hunker down in a Viennese institution this winter, or explore the cafe cultures of other Austrian cities, like the legendary Cafe Bazar in Salzburg, frequented by Marlene Dietrich no less. Café Sacher in Vienna, meanwhile, was a favourite of artist Gustav Klimt, and there are also branches in Graz, Innsbruck and Salzburg. They claim to make the original recipe for their namesake Sacher torte, Austria’s famous chocolate cake with apricot jam, served with unsweetened cream.
2 Austria frequently tops the list at being one of the happiest places to live Vienna was ranked the number one city to call home in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey for ten years running, and this year’s UN World Happiness Report saw Austria come tenth in the whole world. So they clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to contentment.
3 The Austrians have a very mindful approach to eating No pre-packed sarnies on the run for them, a typical Austrian meal can be a long-running affair, as there are usually at least three hearty courses and no rush to leave after the last mouthful. Just the tonic on a cold winter evening. We’re pleased to hear it is also common to languish at the table and enjoy a drink and a chance to put the world to rights. Sounds like our kind of night.
4 … and Austria is way more vegan-friendly than you might imagine It’s not all pork knuckle and Wienerschnitzel, y’know. Treat yourself to a winter city break and hit Viennese vegan deli Pepper and Ginny for a foodie fest featuring carrot lox, truffle caviar, Austrian vegan wine, raw choc, speciality vegan cheese and the brilliantly named faux gras paté. The city also has a great chain of vegan cafes called Swing Kitchen where you can warm up over a vegan schnitzel burger with garlic sauce. But you don’t have to be in the metropolitan capital for plant-based delights – the Hochkönig region has a variety of ski huts offering tasty vegan dishes.
5 Tobogganing is a way of life, and a part of every Austrian childhood And any country that adopts such exhilarating activity as an everyday winter pursuit is all good with us (swimming lessons were as exotic as it got in our world). The Tirol is stacked with tobogganing (we think tobogganing might be one of our favourite ever words, just an aside there) opportunities. Try hiking up for an active start to your toboggan run – the longest is the Bergkastel Toboggan Run in Nauders, and involves a 2.5 hour trek to the top.
6 They don’t let the cold stop them from bathing al fresco Because that’s what thermal pools are for. Try the famous Rogner Bad Blumau spa hotel in Styria, the surreal and wonderfully bonkers work of renowned Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. His patchwork-style multi-coloured curved buildings are complimented by a host of outdoor thermal pools, good for body and soul in even the chilliest of weather. Don’t forget the iconic Aqua Dome, too, where you can lounge in a thermal spa with a glorious mountain backdrop.
7 While we hit the sweaty gym or go for a drizzly walk in the woods, many Austrians get their winter exercise by cross-country skiing It might not get the adrenalin pumping quite like hurtling down the slopes, but it’s a far better cardiovascular and strength training hit. Cross-country – also known as Nordic skiing – is a serious full body workout, strengthening all the major muscle groups in your tummy, legs, arms, chest and back. And it’s done in the cold, naturally and, thus, is every bit as good for your mind. Find out the cross country skiing hot spots here.