Hallstatt is the iconic postcard of Austria. Its lake waters mirror the lush green hillsides, rising above the picturesque quaint town identified by its quintessential church spire. Homes of varying colors line the waterfront with dormer windows that peak over one another. The cobblestoned road curves around leading up the hill, where we caught a bus to the Dachstein ice caves.
The ice cave are a winter wonderland located in the belly of the mountain that boasts brilliant ice formations that mirror classic stalactite and stalagmite arrangements, made of and created by the force of water, rather than of typical lime. The ice crystals reflect light in all directions, often hiding the true depth of the ice packs. Farther up the mountain, we walked around the summit taking in the sweeping views of the Alps.
We also spent a few days nosing around Salzburg. We took the steep cable car up to Hohensalzburg Castle where we walked the surrounding ramparts that provide 360-degree views of the city below. We also toured Hellbrunn Palace, famous for the “Sound of Music.” And as I love flowers, we made an obligatory stop at Mirabell Gardens. The dreary clouds and persistent rain during our stay in Austria didn’t break our spirits, as the rain embellished the deep emerald green of the surrounding hills.
Although I can’t pick favorites among many European countries, I find Austria to be hands down the most naturally beautiful country. Its snow capped mountain, rolling green hills, clear lakes, and dense forests devoid of overpopulation make Austria a breathtaking expanse of utter perfection.