Friday, 4 May 2012 7:25 AM
If you're looking for a relaxing holiday this year where you can bask in some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet, consider looking to Austria to book self catering accommodation. It's not only natural attractions the country is home to, either.
Indeed, while it is well known Austria boasts lush Alpine countryside that is perfect for hiking and cycling, it also has numerous cities and towns that make the perfect base for a holiday. To find out about three that are particularly worth visiting, read on.
The capital and largest city in Austria, Vienna guarantees you a cosmopolitan experience when you pay it a visit. There are so many attractions to see here it can be hard to pick which you will make time for - and even taking a simple walking tour will see you discover another historic building around every corner.
One property you simply can't miss is the Imperial Palace, which was once the centre of the Habsburg Empire. Until less than 100 years ago the property was inhabited by the imperial family and while the offices of the country's president are here, it is now home to museums.
The sprawling palace you see before you has not always been so ornate though, as it was built as a castle in the 13th century before being extended into a house fit for a king.
Schonbrunn Palace is another must-visit destination and you may decide this property is even more decadent than the last. This once served as the summer home of the imperial family and today it is considered one of the best examples of the late Baroque - or rococo - style in Europe.
Not only is it a stunning building, but it is also set in beautiful grounds, where there is a park, zoo and palm house. Inside the UNESCO World Heritage palace, you can take a guided tour and see the lavish rooms for yourself. Marvel at the gold leaf decor and crystal chandeliers as you hear how Mozart gave a concert in the Hall of Mirrors when he was just six.
Zell am See
This Salzburg town could not be more different from Vienna, but what it lacks in ornate palaces it more than makes up for with beautiful surroundings. The settlement sits on the banks of Lake Zell; indeed, the name translates to Zell by the lake.
Just a century ago, this destination was little more than a village, but its beauty and economic prosperity has seen it grow over the years into the busy hub you can visit today. Thanks to its mountain location, the air and water here are pure - you can even drink the water from the lake!
This is an ideal destination for activity lovers as you can ski, hike, cycle or explore the Kitzsteinhorn glacier, where the snow never melts.
This is another great destination for combining the best of urban and rural Austria in one holiday. It is an incredibly popular resort among winter sports fans, but you will receive a warm welcome at any time of year.
The medieval town boasts a lively apres ski scene, with restaurants, cafes, bars and discos. After an enjoyable day strolling along the narrow cobbled streets, stop for a bite to eat and sample the local cuisine, with apple strudel and schnitzel among the most famous.