Austria is a beautiful country with towering mountains, pristine lakes, historic cities, and charming villages. Austria is a popular tourist destinations and one of the top countries In the world with the best quality of life and this attracts thousands of visitors year-round. However, as with any location, there are certain times that are less ideal for travel. Here is an overview of the worst times to visit Austria and why you may want to avoid these periods.
Peak Tourist Season – July to August
The peak tourist season in Austria runs from July through August. This is when schools are out for summer holidays and families flock to popular destinations like Vienna, Salzburg, and the Austrian Alps. The crowds hit their peak in August when much of Europe is on vacation.
During these months, attractions, accommodation, and transport will be the most crowded and expensive. Key sites like Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere in Vienna can have multi-hour wait times. Hotel rates also increase dramatically. For example, a standard double room in central Vienna can run €200-300 per night during peak season, compared to €120-150 during the off season.
Shoulder Season – Late May, June, September
Late spring and early fall are considered the “shoulder seasons” in Austria. May, June, and September still draw plenty of visitors, but crowds are smaller than in peak summer. Prices also tend to be lower for hotels and flights. However, the weather can be hit or miss during this period.
While spring and fall generally have mild temperatures, colder snaps and rain are not uncommon. If you’re planning to hike in the Alps, conditions could be wintery at higher elevations. Low-lying areas like Vienna and Salzburg often fare better, but it’s wise to bring layers and be prepared for wet weather. Overall, the shoulder season offers a nice compromise between good weather, fewer tourists, and lower prices.
Winter Sports Crowds – February
For ski enthusiasts, one of the worst times to visit Austria’s alpine resorts is February. This is the peak of the ski and snowboard season when schools across Europe take a one or two week winter break. Resorts such as Kitzbühel, St. Anton, and Ischgl will be packed with families and tourists.
Lift ticket prices hit their highest point and availability for ski-in/ski-out lodging becomes scarce. Restaurants and slopes are crowded. Unless you plan to join the lively apres-ski scene, February is not ideal for a peaceful mountain getaway. However, for bargain hunters, late January and March still offer great snow conditions without the holiday crowds.
Low Season – November to April
Austria’s low season runs from November through April, excluding the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period. With the exception of ski resorts, tourist sites are the least crowded and cheapest during these months. In the major cities, top attractions may have no wait times. Hotel rates can be 25-50% lower than in summer. For example, luxury 5-star hotels in Vienna average €120-150 per night for a double room in low season.
However, the tradeoff is that the weather is cooler and rain or snow showers are common. Museum visits and strolls through historic streets may be more pleasant than hiking or boating. Also keep in mind that some smaller shops, restaurants, and tourist sites in the countryside operate on reduced hours or close entirely during low season.
It’s best to avoid Austria during major European public holidays like Easter, Christmas, and New Year’s. Locals flock to the mountains and hotels book up months in advance. Crowds swarm popular Christmas markets in Vienna, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. Getting restaurant reservations or New Year’s concert tickets in Vienna is extremely difficult if not booked well in advance.
If scheduling permits, visit Austria just before or after the holidays to take advantage of festive decorations and atmosphere without the peak crowds and prices.
Use caution when planning trips during periods of extreme weather in Austria. Mid-summer can bring stifling hot spells to the big cities. Thunderstorms and flooding are risks during this time. Winter cold snaps can cause dangerous avalanche conditions in the Alps, making mountain travel hazardous. Pay attention to local weather advisories and adjust your itinerary if need be.
While Austria offers scenic beauty and historic charm year-round, the peak tourist season from July to August is by far the worst time to visit if you wish to avoid crowds and high prices. February also brings thick crowds of winter sports enthusiasts to the ski resorts. For light sightseeing and the best hotel deals, target the low season from November to April, outside of the major holidays. Avoid extreme weather when possible and be flexible with your plans when visiting Austria. With some strategic travel planning, you can experience this country’s magic while sidestepping the peak crowds and costs.