Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Navigating the Major Cities of Austria: Vienna, Graz and Linz



Rich in cultural history, Vienna is the capital and primary city of Austria. Austrians call their city “Wien.” Vienna is also the economic and political center of the country, with a population of about 1.7 million. About a quarter of the country lives around Vienna’s metropolitan area. It is host to the United Nations and OPEC, two important international organizations. The city is in northeastern Austria, close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Vienna used to be capital of the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian Empire and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also used to have a higher population in its prime.

Vienna spans on both sides of the Danube River, but most of the city is located fairly far away from it. It is very rich in cultural institutions, hosting many theaters, opera houses, balls, gardens, museums and interesting architecture. Be aware that most of the historic architecture is closer to the city center, other parts of Vienna are not as aesthetic. You will find monuments of major figures and public art all around the central locations. Vienna hosts an efficient public transit line, including buses, trams and five subway lines. It is a city full of coffee shops and bars, many of which blast techno late into the night. Quality nightlife and shopping are other reasons that people relocate to modern day Vienna.



Graz is located in Styria, and is the second largest Austrian city, with a population of 291,000. Because it hosts six universities, it is a young city full of students. Its “Old Town” center is one of the best preserved city centers in all of Europe. Graz is located in southeastern Austria, on the Mur River, in a very green, forested area. This has better weather than most of Austria, with more sunshine and less rain, though it is prone to smog in the winter. There are also a great deal of museums, as well as baroque and gothic architecture. Graz has good public transit, with an extensive bus and tram network.



Linz is the third largest city of Austria, with a population around 189,000. It is located in northern Austria, on the Danube, close to the Czech border. Its history dates back to the foundation by the Romans, and then a center of trade with the Bavarians. It then became a provincial city under the Holy Roman Empire, as a trading hub. Adolf Hitler also spent most of his growing up years in Linz, and considered it his hometown. Today, it is a huge industrial city with steel and chemical production, in addition to having a major art and culture scene. Every summer, there is the Linz Fest, which is a big electronic music festival. It is also the birthplace of Pez, the candy, which Austrians introduced with a peppermint flavor.


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