Get To Know Austria's Divine Food & Wine

What to Eat and Drink in Austria

If you or a client are dreaming of a destination that possesses quintessentially European elegance, landscapes and epicurean delights while also offering the buzz & bragging rights of being a slightly less obvious choice, then you need to cast your gaze toward Austria.

Snow-capped Alps, Mozart, idyllic lakeside villages, alpine field twirling, opera and Vienna's Baroque palaces will always be synonymous with this nation located at the heart of Europe, but Austria's delectable food & wine deserves a spot on that list, too. I'm just back from a trip there and while I wasn't able to eat and drink everything this time (I assure you I tried), I've got a tasty tale to tell about some of the best things to eat and drink in Austria.

Click on the slideshow to whet your appetite for Austria.

Your Glass Is Going to Runneth Over

If you take away anything from this post, let it be this: Austria is an A-list destination for anyone who enjoys sipping wine. Viticulture is rooted deep in Austria's culture and the majority of the country's vineyards are located in bucolic stretches of the eastern and southern sections of the country-some owning dramatic settings beside the Danube-while the capital Vienna also owns scores of its own vineyards, too (more on that later). The variety you're most likely to find in your glass is the fruity, peppery white Grüner Veltliner, but a myriad of other options abound including Rieslings, sparkling Sekt and flavorful reds like Zweigelt.

Vienna is a Mouthwatering Melting Pot

Always has been, and probably always will be. When the Habsburg Empire controlled seemingly half of the continent from Vienna (called Wien in the local language), people poured in from all over their realm, bringing their food traditions with them.

This tradition can still be tasted today alongside new modern influences. Up for some zesty goulash filled with Hungarian spices? Vienna does that. Tasty little open-faced sandwiches at iconic deli Trzesniewski? Yep. Or how about some fine dining followed by a trip to the late-night sausage stand or falafel spot? Vienna has you more than covered. How about a traditional Wiener schnitzel? Oh, Vienna definitely does that and speaking of those Wiener schnitzels ...

Yes, There Will Be Schnitzels

It's not just a cliché, schnitzels are serious business here and are considered by many to be Austria's national dish. Usually made of veal (chicken and other options can be found too) that has been pounded flat-thus tenderized to perfection-breaded and fried, they are the epitome of Austrian comfort food. The schnitzel might not blow you away at first glance, but when that crispy coating and succulent meat hits your tongue, you'll swoon and immediately know why schnitzel is so adored here. They're best enjoyed in rustic bistros, but you'll find them across the spectrum of restaurants. In fact, I enjoyed a fine chicken version at the elegant cafe Demel in Vienna.

And Several Sausages

Another thing Austrians absolutely adore is sausage (wurst) and you're destined to fall head over heels for the range of great ones being served up all over the country. You can find classic frankfurters ("wiener sausages"), bratwurst, snappy, cheese-filled käsekrainers and regional offerings all over the country-but for some reason, they just taste better when eaten at one of Austria's beloved würstelstands (sausage stands). These humble food booths stay open late, and from what I've been told, there's no better authentically Austrian thing to do than to belly up after dark for a hot sausage, cold beverage and some lively conversation about the evening's proceedings.

You'll Get to Know Knodels

These dumpling-style orbs are served up all over Austria and in a range of flavors, shapes and sizes. Varieties stuffed with spinach, loaded with cheese or made of various types of meat are all popular but you'll also find sweet dessert knödels being dished up, too. Knödels come across as the kind of dish the Austrian mother you never had would have served on a Sunday afternoon and after a few, you might just be wishing you'd been brought up here.

And the Art of the Austrian Cafe

The phrase "cafe culture" gets bandied about a lot in travel dispatches, but nobody, and I mean nobody, does them like Austria. The country is filled with opulent, historic coffeehouses and inside their grand doors supping a steaming beverage while reading a newspaper or book and watching the world go by is a cherished national pastime. And I'm not just talking about any old coffees here, either: Austrian cafes typically feature an extensive menu full of unique mixes of coffee, milk and cream you just won't find anywhere else. Do they have Wifi? Maybe. Will you bother logging on? Nope.

Some of the most famous to seek out are Cafe Central, Cafe Sperl and Cafe Sacher in Vienna-the city most associated with them-but you can find them in other locales, like the lovely Cafe Central I visited in Innsbruck.

Savoring Sweets is an Austrian Pastime

From cinnamon-kissed apple strudels and the chocolate & apricot jam bliss of the Sachertorte cake to the heavenly pancake pieces of kaiserschmarren and dozens upon dozens of sweet treats and baked goods in between, this country knows how to do desserts. Best enjoyed at the aforementioned cafes or one of the nation's hundreds of top-notch bakeries.

Vienna's Vines are One-of-a-Kind

Another word about Austrian wine: Vienna is said to be the only capital city in the world with significant wine production within its city limits, and when they say significant, they're not joking. The far reaches of the city are home to a myriad of vineyards and casual, cozy wine taverns called heurigers, where you can linger over wine and snacks while enjoying a view of the city. The city also has its own famous "field blend" of white wine that you need to sample when you're here: Gemischter Satz.

Graz Is Secretly Delicious

Graz is Austria's second biggest city and the capital of the state of Styria-a forested swath of southeast Austria known for farm-fresh food and vineyards-yet visiting still feels like being let in on a secret. Dubbed the country's "Culinary Capital", Graz is the best place to sample Styria's fine wines and eat local specialties like decadent pumpkin oil, tasty runner beans and a truly special take on fried chicken. Oh, and to top things off, Graz's Old Town, hilltop clock tower and setting right on the River Mur are ridiculously romantic.

Innsbruck Overflows With Treats

From kiachl-a fried pastry delight topped with either sweet or savory toppings-to schlutzkrapfen (a pasta-like parcel stuffed with potato and topped with brown butter) and both bacon & cheese knödel varieties, alpine Innsbruck is where mouthwatering food meets the mountains. Head for the peaks and play in the snow by day, and seek out tasty treats from all over the surrounding Tyrol region each evening.

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Travelers to Europe will be happy to learn that Austria's food and wine offering is elite.

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Agent At Home

Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me