Vienna, Hallstatt, and Salzburg are some of Europe's greatest highlights and, luckily for us, are all in close proximity within Austria.
There is so much history and culture deeply routed in Austria so it won't surprise you to find gothic churches and neoclassical architecture all around. The modern cities provide a wide array of cuisines like any other but traditional Austrian food is still commonly found. Generations of locals specialize in beer and wine making so some self control will have to be practiced here! Although Vienna has some great healthy restaurants if you need a break (like I did).
Austria is a small country with incredible sights that you simply cannot miss. Salzburg, Vienna, and Hallstatt are short drives or train rides away so give yourself enough time to see all three. I stayed 3 days in Vienna, 2 in Hallstatt, and 2 in Salzburg - which was perfect.
You will likely fly into Vienna's highly trafficked airport. Although taxi's are reasonably priced, the train system is incredibly easy and cheap to get from the airport to the city center. There are several options for trains so no need to plan in advance. Just head to the station upon arrival.
Vienna has the most perfectly groomed gardens and historic architecture everywhere with horse drawn carriages galloping through the streets. I recommend staying at the Park Hyatt's new property on points in the heart of Vienna. The central location is steps from the most famous gardens, shopping, and all the best restaurants. The hotel's extravagant, yet elegantly designed new property was built from an old bank vault.
Rent a car in Vienna when you are ready to drive to Hallstatt. I would wait until the day you leave as opposed to the day you arrive just to save on the extra costs of the car. You could splurge on a BMW or just rent a standard vehicle at the lower rate. We chose the cheapest option with Enterprise but they gave us a beamer anyways! I guess it will do ;)
If you do book a car, you can reserve it online through their website. The office location is a bit hard to find on the third floor of an outdoor shopping center in Vienna. Be sure to get insurance if you don't already have a Chase Sapphire card, which automatically has car insurance as an added benefit. The card also has zero foreign transaction fees so it is a good option for this trip.
The scenery along the speedlimitless highways in Austria is beautiful and you can cruise as fast as you want. The drive to Hallstatt was one of my favorite parts of this trip.
Maybe Europe's most charming town, Hallstatt is located in the mountains overlooking a massive crater lake. It takes about two and a half hours to get here from Vienna. The colorful little town sits over a 2000 year old salt mine. 2 nights are enough here to see the adorable Austrian chalets, paddle board on the glassy blue lake, and hike up mountains for a panoramic view.
Just a quick hour from Hallstatt, Salzburg is often preferred over Vienna by visitors. Check out Mozart's childhood home or explore the natural outskirts like Untersburg mountain. We stayed at a cozy B&B just outside the city that was sitting on a huge farmland. It was beautiful!
After a few nights here, you can make your way back to Vienna for your flight out.