Upper Austria – a land of superlatives
Discover the highlights that make Upper Austria such a special place, from the longest via ferrata and the steepest adhesion railway to the deepest lake, the oldest salt mine, the biggest artificial river wave and the only Dark Sky Park.
1. The world’s biggest artificial river wave
River surfing, where surfers ride river waves, is a growing sport and Upper Austria is the place to be for fans. That’s because the waves at The.Riverwave in Ebensee are 10 metres wide and up to 1.5 metres high – ideal for perfecting your turns and satisfying your surf hunger all year round. The facility, which is the only one of its kind in the world, offers a top-notch surfing experience in landlocked Austria.
If you’re looking for a break from the water, then the Feuerkogel plateau is perfect. Easy to reach by cable car, it’s a great area for hiking and has a cool via ferrata – plus, there are a range of cosy huts to choose from.
2. The longest via ferrata in Austria
At 2,130 metres in length, the Priel via ferrata in the Pyhrn-Priel region is the longest via ferrata in Austria – and one of its most challenging.
The starting point for the via ferrata, which has been graded difficulty level D, is the Polsterlucke cave in Hinterstoder. The long, exciting route boasts cool caves, thrilling rope bridges, steep ascents, exposed traverses and overhangs. The crowning glory of the Priel via ferrata is the summit crest and the striking red summit cross of the Großer Priel (2,515 m) – the highest peak in the Totes Gebirge range. Experience, stamina and fitness are essential if you’re planning to tackle this via ferrata.
3. The oldest salt mine in the world
The Hallstatt World Heritage Site is regarded as one of the most beautiful lakeside settlements in the world, and it’s probably the most photographed location in Upper Austria. Nestled within the Salzkammergut’s landscape of mountains and lakes, the small village captivates visitors with its unique traditional charm.
Hallstatt is the location of the world’s oldest salt mine – in a mine complex bursting with superlatives: the longest miner’s slide in Europe, the oldest wooden staircase in Europe and the apparently free-floating Skywalk, which offers a “world heritage view” 360 metres above the ground. The journey of discovery takes visitors back to the earliest days of salt mining 7,000 years ago and uses state-of-the-art multimedia technology to present the history of mining in a way that’s both fascinating and realistic.
4. Austria’s first and only Dark Sky Park
Clear nights, dazzling starlit skies: Sternenpark Attersee-Traunsee is a conservation area that restricts light pollution and has set itself the goal of protecting the natural darkness of the night sky. The reason? Because dark skies, unaffected by light pollution, are rare in Europe. Sternenpark Attersee-Traunsee reveals spectacular skyscapes and is the first area in the whole of Austria to be given the “star park” designation.
In 2021, it became the first Austrian location to be accepted into the International Dark-Sky Association’s list of International Dark Sky Parks.
5. The world’s first zero-energy museum
Together with its artists in residence, the Schütz Art Museum in Engelhartszell an der Donau presents the first international ZERO-ENERGY ART MUSEUM in the world.
Classic modernist art from Austria takes centre stage in the collection, where it’s framed by other works from the 19th and 20th centuries through to the present day. The artists featured include Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Waldmüller, Schindler, Wisinger-Florian, Moll, Eisenschitz, Moser, Dobrowsky, Walde, Egger-Lienz and many other important figures from the classic modernist period.
6. Austria’s deepest lake
With waters reaching down to a maximum depth of 191 metres, Traunsee in the Salzkammergut region is the deepest lake in Austria. At 2.9 kilometres wide and 11.9 kilometres long, it extends over an area of 24.35 km².
The lake has always been a magnet for bathers and water sports enthusiasts. Traunsee’s fame rose to new heights when the locally filmed television series Schlosshotel Orth premiered in 1996. Today, it’s award-winning chefs like Lukas Nagl who are getting people talking, even far beyond Austria’s borders.
7. The steepest adhesion railway in the world
The Pöstlingbergbahn, or Pöstlingberg Railway, in Linz is reputed to be the world’s steepest adhesion railway (a railway whose propulsion is provided solely by the static friction between the wheels and rails). Opened in 1898, the line is almost 3 kilometres long.
It takes just a few minutes for the Pöstlingbergbahn to carry its passengers from Linz’s main square, Hauptplatz, up to the top of the city’s local mountain, complete with its striking pilgrimage church. From here, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views over the Upper Austrian state capital. A trip on the Grottenbahn fantasy ride on Pöstlingberg hill is a must on a visit to Linz. The tour aboard the Dragon Express passes lovingly crafted groups of dwarves, fairy-tale scenes and gingerbread witches.
8. The one and only Museum of the Future
The line between the virtual world and reality blurs at the Museum of the Future, the Ars Electronica Center in Linz. This is your opportunity not only to test and explore future-oriented technologies but also to look at them critically. See artificial intelligence “thinking”, train self-driving cars, programme robots and print 3D models. The museum is a place where visitors can get hands on, explore and discover.
With its 16- x 9-metre wall and another 16- x 9-metre projection onto the floor, laser tracking and 3D animations presenting high-resolution images, the Deep Space exhibit on the museum’s ground floor opens up a new dimension in terms of travel through time and space. Race down the Streif ski slope, explore human anatomy or travel into outer space!