The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music!” Salzburg, Austria was the set location of the 1966 Academy Award winning musical: The Sound of Music as well as the birthplace of the world famous composer, Mozart. Austria is located in central Europe and it shares its borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. The country is the birthplace of California Governor and Famous Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, contains part of the Alps Mountain Range, has ostentatious palaces of the Habsburg era, has historic spa towns such as Bad Ischl, and has a ski slope with a 78% gradient called the Harakiri. Austria is a beautiful country filled with both baroque splendor and untapped beauty that will make anyone want to come back for more.
Austria is home to internationally renowned private hospitals and clinics with cutting-edge technology, comprehensive services, and specialized clinics (including holistic rehabilitation clinics that are aimed at physical and mental health), and the country has some of the best cancer survival rates in Europe. The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited one hospital, one laboratory, and two rehabilitation/resorts that offer post-procedural care. Three of the JCI accredited bodies (including the hospital) are located in Villach (112 miles (180 km) south of Salzburg) and the other is located in Kapfenberg (89 miles (144 km) southwest of Vienna, 134 miles (215 km) northeast of Villach). Also, there are many resorts that offer mineral springs, which are used to treat ailments naturally.
The official language of Austria is German, however English is understood in tourist areas.
The weather in Austria is influenced by temperate and alpine climates. The Alps have high precipitation, long winters and short summers, while the eastern part of the country has low rainfall, hot summers and mild winters. Generally, temperatures in Austrian range from the low 20’soF (≈-6oC) in January to the high 70’soF (≈25oC) and 80’soF (≈31oC) in June, July and August.
U.S. and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days, however a passport valid for at least three months beyond intended stay is required.
Austria has many airports, but the ones most pertinent to medical tourists are:
A room in a guesthouse or hostel usually costs $25 to $50 USD per person per night. A room in a 3 star hotel in Vienna starts at $69 per night for a double occupancy room (hotels in other parts of the country are a little cheaper). If you prefer luxurious accommodations, Austria has many highly rated hotels nestled between the Alps, within the bustling city of Vienna, or surrounded by the beautiful countryside. Many 5 star hotels outside of the city have complementary hiking trails and bike paths. Also, there are hotels (literally) fit for a king. Castle hotels with spectacular views are found throughout Austria, and such luxury habitations start at $180 USD per night.
The currency of Austria is the Euro (EUR).The exchange rate of U.S. dollars to Austrian Euros is $1 USD to €0.70 EUR (exchange rate subject to change).
As mentioned previously, Salzburg, Austria is where the award winning movie: The Sound of Music was filmed. After Vienna, Salzburg is the most popular tourist destination in Austria, with lively nightlife and picturesque scenery. Also, there are companies that offer Sound of Music tours in which you can see the breathtaking landscape where the opening scenes were filmed, the home of the Von Trapp family, and the convent where Maria (Julie Andrews) arrives late for Mass. Also, you can take a tour of the birthplace and residence of Mozart.
Vienna, Austria’s capital, is filled with imperial nostalgia such as Baroque churches and aristocratic mansions from the Habsburg era. Such historical edifices are juxtaposed to modernist buildings from the Freudian and Schönberg era and contemporary buildings from the late 20th century, offering an interesting and historic architectural timeline. The more popular sites in the city include the 12th century Stephansdom, which is considered one of the world’s most enchanting Gothic cathedrals. The Schönbrunner Schloβpark contains a commanding palace, the oldest zoo in the world, the biggest palm house in Europe, and a gorgeous royal park.
Food, clothing, and souvenirs (even edible ones) can be found at a variety of prices in Austria. You can even get a tasty music history lesson with the famous Mozart chocolate balls. These gourmet desserts were created by Paul Fürst in 1890 and consist of Marzipan balls rolled in a walnut-nougat creme and then dipped in chocolate. For shops that sell more than just chocolaty-goodness, head down Mariahilfer Strasse, which is a street that has the greatest number of shops and stores in Vienna.
Now it’s time to take a stroll (while munching on chocolate, of course) to one of Austria’s famous marketplaces. In Vienna, the Naschmarkt is the place to buy fruits and vegetables, but it also sells seafood, spices, homemade pasta, cheese, bread, and many different kinds of pickles. The Viktor Adler Markt offers a variety of food similar to the Naschmarkt, but it has an added benefit of international specialties such as Turkish, Greek, and Indian. In Salzburg, check out the country’s 3rd largest street market called the Schrannenmarkt, which sells leatherwear, health foods, flowers and general foodstuffs.
Do not underestimate Salzburg in terms of nightlife. The city has some of the best nighttime venues in Austria, with free concerts and theater performances, discos and beer halls, and even a striking Irish pub. Like Salzburg, Vienna offers a variety of options for nighttime fun. You have the option of sitting in a bar and listening to the soothing sounds of jazz or dancing the night away with live music and DJ’s, and everything in between. If partying and dancing is not your thing, then you will definitely enjoy sipping a cup of coffee in the many Gothic style coffee houses.
Vienna is home to many art museums including contemporary, applied, and graphic as well as a science museum and a museum of natural history. More unusual museums include a museum of undertakers, a museum of torture, a museum of chocolate, and a museum dedicated to the country’s national liquor: Schnapps. The Hofmobiliendepot-Mobel Museum Wien houses a vast collection of interiors and furniture from the royal Habsburg family and the Josephinum Sammlungen de Medizinischen Universitat has historic studies from the medical school: a must for medics.
Of course, no trip to Austria is complete without attending a classical symphony in one of the country’s many theaters, and what are just as spectacular as the performances are the theaters themselves, especially at night when they are beautifully illuminated on the exterior. In Vienna, the more popular theaters include the Burgtheater, with sumptuous decor and ceiling frescos by Fraz Matsch and Gustav Klimt; the Figurentheater, which is a puppet theater; Vienna’s English Theater, which flies in performers from England to act in mainstream productions; and the Theater-in-der-Josestraat; which has a stunning interior with ornate chandeliers.
There are a few English language print and online newspapers in Austria including Der Neue Grazer and Austrianews.com.