THE ULTIMATE TRIP THROUGH AUSTRIA'S HOTTEST CITIES
AUSTRIA'S FIRST SOCIAL FAM
Cultural Immersion in Vienna, Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck
To showcase a truly immersive experience in Austria, the Austrian Tourist Office and Travel Weekly invited four American travel advisors to experience some of Austria’s most fascinating cities first-hand. They shared their experiences in real time with their social media community as well as fellow travel advisors, making it the first ever “social FAM trip.”
“These days everyone communicates via social media,” says Marsa Kindl-Omuse, Austrian Tourist Office marketing manager. “We invited travel designers who are not only top in their craft and wanted to explore Austria, but were also savvy social media experts—travel designer meets influencer. Choosing the four best was a more difficult task than expected. But the results speak for themselves!”
The four advisors embarked on two epic 5-day adventures through Austria. Here's a look at some of the travel advisors' highlights from those social FAM trips—places, people and activities that wowed the travel advisor pros and are sure to delight your own clients.
SOCIAL FAM TRIP #1
VIENNA AND GRAZ
- Schönbrunn Palace with a professional Imperial photo shoot
- Sampling Viennese cuisine with Bianca is(s)t Food Safari tour
- Wine tasting in Vienna’s charming wine villages
- Gourmet culinary tour of Graz's Old Town
- Kunsthaus Graz, a modern art museum and futuristic landmark
- Climbing iconic Schlossberg Mountain and visiting the Clocktower
- Discovering the mathematical layout of Eggenberg Palace
Check out Alle and Paula's experiences in this video then discover their personal highlights and tips on designing and selling world-class Austrian itineraries for your clients.
VIENNA AND GRAZ INSIGHTS
by Alle Pierce and Paula Prickett
Alle Pierce, travel advisor with Scorby Travel & Cruise, and Paula Prickett, a luxury travel planner with Black Dog Luxury Travel, got off to a great start with flights straight to Vienna via Austria’s national air carrier, Austrian Airlines. Noting Austrian Airlines’ “attentive service” and “chef-prepared meals,” Paula says, “You’ll arrive at your destination ready to start your perfect vacation!”
And while the travel advisors were not on vacation, their itinerary in Vienna was jam-packed with activities and sightseeing ideal for any vacationer in the city. Well-rested, they jumped right into exploring Vienna. As Paula says, “Vienna. I had no idea. This city is clean, comfortable, easy to navigate, full of history—such GREAT history, amazing food, beauty, passion, fun people, great wineries and such fantastic love.”
A favorite for both was Schönbrunn Palace, which is “so magical,” says Alle. “It’s the former summer palace of the Hapsburgs and is one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe. The palace boasts 1,441 rooms, 45 of them are open to the public.” Paula also emphasizes that a “visit to Schönbrunn Palace is a must!” Her tip for travel advisors who want to help clients have an even more extraordinary experience: “Hire a private guide, skip the lines and enjoy a personalized tour!”
Beyond the Palace, Alle says, “Vienna has truly BLOWN me away! From the architecture to the coffee houses and all the Sacher Torte, I cannot recommend this city enough.” Just some of her other favorite experiences in Vienna include a walking tour to take in the main sites, like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Hofburg Palace, the Museum Quarter and more; a food safari through several of Vienna’s districts to sample fresh cheese, coffee, pastries and more; and paying homage to Austria’s rich musical heritage at the Beethoven Museum.
For a different perspective on Vienna city views, another favorite for both Alle and Paula was Vineyard Wieninger, where Paula says “You can see the entire city, chill out, relax—it’s just a magical experience.”
Then, for a different kind of city experience, it was on to Austria’s second largest city, Graz, which Alle notes, “moves at a much slower pace, which is a nice balance after a few days in Vienna. From the food markets and farm-to-table restaurants to the Eggenberg Palace and the endless views from the Schlossberg Hill, Graz truly has something for every type of traveler.”
Both travel advisors were amazed at Schloss Eggenberg, which Paula says, “was created to be heaven on earth. Literally. The perfectly planned palace was designed as an architectural mirror image of the universe as perceived by Prince Hans Ulrich…After spending the morning there, I have to admit, it felt like heaven on earth to me too.” A guided tour is necessary to see the rooms inside the palace—which Alle says is “1,000 percent worth it”—and provides context for the complex architecture that includes 365 windows, 31 rooms on each floor, 24 state rooms with 52 doors, and other numbers that reference the workings of time, seasons, days and other astronomical symbolism, along with notable and elegant décor.
From the quirky Kunsthaus Graz, a modern art museum built as a temporary structure to celebrate the city being named as a European Capital of Culture in 2003 and now a permanent landmark, to an Old City Center that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with colorful buildings, Graz combines old and new. For great views of the whole city, Alle and Paula enjoyed Schlossberg Hill, and its medieval clock tower perched at the top.
“Graz seems to be the hidden gem of Austria,” says Paula. “If you hate big crowds, but still want history, architecture, culture, beautiful scenery and amazing food, then Graz is the place for you!” The city is also known as the Culinary Capital of Austria. “Food is massively important in Graz,” says Alle, noting a food tour and a meal at Eckstein as two personal highlights. “At the incredible Eckstein, the food was fantastic—they have a truffle pasta that I’m still dreaming about.”
SOCIAL FAM TRIP #2
SALZBURG & INNSBRUCK
- “The Sound of Music” Fräulein Maria's Bicylce Tour
- Mozart Concert at Mirabell Palace Salzburg
- Local beer tasting at Augustiner Bräu
- Apple strudel baking at Edelweiss Cooking School
- Guided tour through historic DomQuartier Salzburg
- Innsbruck Promenade Concert with dinner at Café Sacher
- 20-minute cable car ride up to Innsbruck Nordkette mountain
- Guided tour of the historic Old Town
- Bergisel Olympic Ski Jump with ski jumpers practice
- Swarovski Crystal Worlds
Follow Justine and Theresa in this video and watch their personal highlights and tips on designing and selling world-class Austrian itineraries for your clients.
SALZBURG AND INNSBRUCK INSIGHTS
by Theresa Chu-Bermudez and Justine Sjurseth
Theresa Chu-Bermudez, owner of Get Out! Custom Travels, and Justine Sjurseth, travel consultant with Acendas Travel, flew to Austria via Austria’s national air carrier, Austrian Airlines. The fun started right at the airport, where they were personally greeted at the gate and received a special tour. “The Vienna Airport has some incredible amenities, especially for families,” says Justine of Europe's fastest growing large airport. “Kids can learn all about how an airport works in a fun, interactive way, and adults can enjoy peaceful rooftop views.”
After their customized tour, the two hopped on a high-speed Railjet train directly from the airport to Salzburg. There’s no higher praise than how Justine describes Salzburg: “Salzburg is the most gorgeous city I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit,” she says. She and Theresa had plenty of time to enjoy the city, mixing traditional sightseeing with unstructured wandering and unexpected ways to view the city.
A favorite for both of them was the Sound of Music tour with Fräulein Maria’s Bicycle Tours. “Seeing film locations is one of my favorite things and Fräulein Maria's Bicycle Tours brought it to another level with their bike tours,” says Theresa. “I was able to live out my Sound of Music fantasy while seeing some of the most beautiful scenery and learning fun facts about the movie.”
A special treat for both travel advisors was an afternoon at the Edelweiss Cooking School, where they learned to make apple strudel and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. “Being able to experience something different and make new dishes was a way to really immerse myself in the culture,” says Theresa.
After Salzburg, it was on to Innsbruck, which Justine notes is a “perfect complement to the high culture of Salzburg.” Arrival was timed perfectly to head out to a concert and dinner in the courtyard of the Imperial Palace in Old Town. “We kicked off our stay with dinner at the wonderful Cafe Sacher on the outdoor terrace while enjoying a public concert which is held every night in July," says Justine. “Dinner was delicious, but the best part was the famous Sacher torte we had for dessert.” She recommends travel advisors make advance reservations for their clients there so “they can view the concerts and feel like a complete VIP.”
Both of the travel advisors were blown away by their experience at Nordkette mountain, a 20-minute cable car ride from Innsbruck up 6,500 feet into the Alps. “Words cannot express how stunning Nordkette was,” says Theresa. “Up at the top of the mountain, you couldn’t even hear the city of Innsbruck below. Reaching the peak was a simple funicular and cable car ride, where we saw some of the most stunning views.”
In Innsbruck, the only town in the world that has been host to the Olympics three times, the travel advisors also had the chance to visit the ski jump tower and even see some of the young ski jumpers practice. “We arrived at Bergisel Olympic Ski Tower ready to just tour the facility, but were absolutely delighted with the opportunity to see these athletes up close (they are SO tall!)."
Another surprise? Swarovski Crystals, which originated in Austria, and has a theme park right next to their manufactory in Innsbruck. “The exhibits were all so unique and designed by a variety of artists around the world, and their onsite restaurant Daniels is a fantastic way to end the evening," says Theresa.