As a country that belongs to European Union according to localtimezone.org, Austria, with an area of 83,858 km2, is a continental state located in the southern part of Central Europe, comprising part of the Eastern Alps and the Danube basin ; it also borders the Mediterranean region. This country, located in the heart of Europe, has different types of climate, landscape and vegetation. Due to its geographical location, it has been, since time immemorial, a point of intersection of communication routes between the great economic and cultural areas of Europe.
Moderate central European climate. Due to the great topographic variety of the country and the great extension from east to west there are three important climatic zones:
- East: continental climate with hot summers and little rainfall, moderately cold winters.
- Alpine regions: Alpine climate with high rainfall (except for some central alpine valleys such as the upper part of the Inntal valley), short summers, long winters.
- Rest of the country: climate with Atlantic influences (in the west) and continental (in the southeast).
For high mountain excursions it is essential to find out before about the meteorological situation, snow conditions and the danger of avalanches. It is very important to respect and take into account the warnings of possible dangers from the residents.
Vegetation and Fauna
The variety of relief and climate gives rise to a flora of great variety in terms of species. The plains and mountains vegetation zones generally coincide with the large climatic zones. The Central European plant world, as observed in Austria, is characterized by the presence of beech and oak forests and, at more than 500 m high, by mixed pine and beech forests. From 1,200 m above sea level, the pines, as well as the larches and cembros, dominate.
Austria is one of the most heavily forested countries in Europe – they occupy approximately 47% of the total land area of the country. In the Pre-Alps region forests were often replaced by farmland. Especially on the northern slopes of the Alps, at about 600 m high, the pasture zone dominates, while in the Pannonian zone the vegetation is characterized by low mountains, mixed forests and steppe heaths. To the east of Lake Neusiedl (Burgenland) there is a specific flora of the salt steppes.
In Austria the presence of a Central European fauna dominates: roe deer, deer, deer, hares, pheasants, partridges, foxes, badgers, martens and squirrels. Typical representatives of the alpine fauna include chamois, marmots and rooks. The mountain goat has also been resettled. One of the characteristics of the Pannonian fauna is the great variety of birds that are recorded in the reed beds of Lake Neusiedl, the only steppe lake in central Europe (purple gray heron, colonies of spoonbills and avocets).
The lakes of Austria sparkle in shades of blue and green like gemstones. During sunset the colors take on golden and silver reflections. The great Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt, spent many summers on the shores of Lake Attersee. The great beauty of the Salzkammergut region inspired him to capture these colors in his most iconic works. But you don’t have to be an artist to succumb to the idyllic beauty of the Austrian lakes. Its shores are authentic natural paradises and perfect for the practice of many sports. From the loneliest, most crystalline mountain lake, surrounded by rocks to the largest lakes in the midst of elegant reeds and ideal for surfing, Austrian lakes invite you to stroll along their shores or immerse yourself in their surfaces as shiny as mirrors.. That sometimes you even want to drink. Some are so clean that they have drinking water quality.
The Lake Neusiedl is known as the Sea of the Viennese and seeing the many fans of water sports, swimmers and surfers on a hot summer day, it costs very little to imagine that we are on the edge of the sea rather than a lake. Even the waters of this steppe lake are slightly salty and it is one of the largest in Austria. However, its maximum depth does not exceed 1.8 meters. It is also the lake with the highest temperature in the country thanks to the more than 300 days of sunshine a year it receives. Lake Neusiedlersee offers optimal breeding conditions for many birds. The entire area around the lake with more than 45 salty ponds is part of the Neusiedlersee National Park, it was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The quintessential place to immerse yourself in crystal clear waters in summer is undoubtedly Carinthia, which has more than 44 controlled lakes. The northernmost state of Austria is a true paradise for water lovers. Lake Wörthersee with its 50 km2 is the largest and best known of all and on its shores we find the most elegant hotels, Lake Millstätter See is the deepest lake, the shores of Lake Ossiacher See are largely unspoiled and the lake Weissensee is situated at an altitude of 930 m. Authentic jewels of the landscape are Lake Faaker See with its idyllic island and turquoise waters, Lake Pressegger See with the impressive mountain peaks that surround it and the warm Klopeiner See
The crystal clear Lunzer See in the Mostviertel is the only natural lake in Lower Austria. Near the Styrian border is the Erlaufsee, easily accessible from Mariazell with the historic train. The twin marshes Ottensteiner and Dobra Stausee in the Waldviertel are surrounded by romantic forests and always well guarded by the ruins of Dobra.
When we think of the lakes of Upper Austria, we immediately come to the image of the beautiful lakes of the Salzkammergut, true jewels of the region’s landscape. The two largest lakes and most used by water sports enthusiasts are the Attersee and the Traunsee, this one dominated by the huge Traunstein. The lakes with the warmest waters of the Upper Austrian lakes are the Mondsee located in a paradisiacal setting and the Irrsee nature park. The Ibmer Moor’s Oberinnviertler Seenplatte swampy landscape features three prominent lakes: Holzöstersee, Höllersee and Heratingersee. Thanks to their warm waters, they invite us to swim much earlier than other larger lakes.
In the part of the Salzkammergut that belongs to Salzburg, the Wolfgangsee, the Fuschlsee with its little brother the Hintersee stand out. Situated in the middle of the mountains, the Zeller See offers exceptional views of the high peaks of the Hohe Tauern National Park. Visitors to the city of Salzburg who want to take a dip in a lake have the Grabensee, Mattsee, Obertrumer See or the warm Wallersee just a short distance from the center.
One of the most beautiful places in the Styrian landscape are the lakes located in the Styrian Salzkammergut such as the Altausseer See and the Grundlsee. Nearby we find the Toplizsee. Not far from Bruck an der Mur is the Grüner See with crystal clear water. Along the Estira Alpine Road is the very popular Stubenbergsee.
Enjoy crystal clear waters and admire towering mountain peaks at the same time – this is best done in Tyrol. For example on Lake Achensee, a glacier stronghold on lakes Heiterwangersee and Plansee in north-western Tyrol, on the picturesque Schwarzsee near Kitzbühel, on the Walchsee north of Kufstein, on the Thiersee or on the only lake in East Tyrol, the Tristachersee at the foot of the Dolomites. To protect the most valuable natural areas, Lake Vilsalpsee near Tannheim is now a protected area and the Hintersteinersee has been integrated into the Wilder Kaiser nature reserve.
Lake Constance is the third largest lake in Europe and borders three countries: Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Bregenz’s closest mountain, the Pfänder, offers stunning views of it. The smaller but very romantic Seewaldsee lake is in the Grosses Walsertal biosphere park. Despite the depth and height, 1,200 m, the waters have a pleasant temperature for bathing.