The powers that be generally designate national recreation areas or areas of significance for good reasons, and this certainly holds true in Austria. The country’s parks are great places to enjoy the outdoors and revel in the splendors of the natural world. The following should help the uninitiated begin to familiarize themselves with some of the better scenic areas in the country.
1) Hohe Tauern
Hohe Tauern National Park covers an area of nearly 700 square miles, making it far and away the largest of its kind in central Europe. The region features pristine evergreen forests, alpine meadows, striking rock faces, cliffs, peaks, and glacial ice fields and floes. On the northern edge of the park is the spa town of Bad Gastein, which dates back to the 15th century, and recently played host to the snowboarding and boarder-cross world cup.
2) Donau Auen
One of the last large river meadow landscapes in Central Europe, Donau Auen (or “Danube River Meadows”) stretches from edge of Vienna along both sides of the Danube roughly 20 miles to the border of Slovakia. The park is home to hundreds of species of plants, 30 species of mammals, 100 species of birds, 8 species of reptiles (including the country′s only native turtle), 13 species of amphibians, and 60 species of fish.
Not exactly a large park by national standards, National Park Kalkalpen in Upper Austria is nonetheless perfectly situated for visitors to take in views of the Sengsengebirge Mountains and Reichraminger Hintergebirge Mountains, as well as parts of the Northern Alps.