Whisper it, but there’s a way to experience Austria that’s much more holistic and all-encompassing than the usual skiing holidays, or a stolen long weekend in Vienna. It’s by embracing the motto known all over Austria as Gemütlichkeit.
This motto encourages you to enjoy the good things in life, surround yourself with nature and, most importantly, take the time to slow down and look after yourself. It’s what makes Austria the perfect self-care destination.
A breath of fresh air
Austria’s alpine landscape clearly lends itself to outdoor adventures of the mind. Mountainous regions such as the Arlberg make perfect places to explore.
The air is clean, fresh and, significantly, alpine. There’s science behind it, too. Because of the high altitude, your body creates more red blood cells, decreasing the risk of many different illnesses.
One of the most rewarding ways to breathe in this air is a hike to Formarinsee lake, west of the mountain villages of Lech Zürs am Arlberg in Vorarlberg and St. Anton am Arlberg in Tirol, as it fills with crystal-clear melt water from the peaks every spring. You can also bask in the summer sun outside one of many mountain huts in the region.
While hiking, stop by the Sennhütte, which leads you to the world’s largest Edelweiss field, made up of 2,000 individual Edelweiss blossoms. There are many festivals throughout the region, including the Lech Classic Festival, celebrating classical music from Austria and beyond, as well as the more contemporary Arlberg Music Festival, with its diverse mix of swing, jazz, rock ‘n‘ roll, Latin and soul.
One of the best times to plan a wellness trip to the Arlberg is late August, as this is when the Mountain Yoga Festival takes place in its blissed-out villages. This festival, which celebrated its third birthday in 2018, is a must for yoga lovers who like to spend time outdoors.
Against the magnificent backdrop of the Arlberg’s mountains you get to practice yoga with acclaimed teachers from around the world. The Alps become your studio for the duration of the event and you have a chance to intersperse sessions with hikes and other restorative mountain adventures. It’s the ultimate way to recharge mind, body and soul.
Food for the soul
Contrary to what you might think, Austria boasts several destinations that cater to plant-based diets. The Hochkönig region in SalzburgerLand is certified vegan, where the menus in many places have been completely rewritten.
Whether breakfast, a snack at a hut, or dinner, vegans and vegetarians can sample delicious dishes in hotels, restaurants, inns, cafés, alpine huts, and ski huts all over the region.
Hochkönig also offers a calming, enjoyable range of herb hikes. You’ll learn so much about the local plants, as well as how to prepare them, including delicacies such as herb dumplings and spreads, juices and ointments, herbal schnapps and liquors.
This motto is one of work, good food, good wine and taking the time to slow down and look after yourself
The herb hill farms are all beautiful in their own way, and really help you capture the essence of what Gemütlichkeit means in this part of the world.
You can also come for the Culinary Pathway for Organic Connoisseurs, in SalzburgerLand – one of nine pathways in the Via Culinaria.
Organic food is part of the DNA here, and the pathway brings together some 17 addresses across the region – including hotels, restaurants, country inns and farm shops – that celebrate organic and sustainable produce. You can find award-winning cheeses, as well as vinegars, oils, cakes, pastries and breads.
Wherever you choose to visit, you’ll be surrounded by delicious produce, breathtaking countryside and landscapes and the sound of birdsong. It’s time to look after yourself and sample a great big slice of Gemütlichkeit.