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Few places in Europe are more beau­ti­ful than Aus­tria in the sum­mer. Leave the hus­tle and bus­tle of city life be­hind and syn­chro­nise watches to #Aus­tri­anTime

Wan­der the foothills of the Alps and you’ll find it hard to be­lieve that Vi­enna’s baroque palaces and the hum of Salzburg’s in­die cafés are a train ride away. Mead­ows of hare­bells blow in the warm breeze, lakes glim­mer in the sun­shine and ea­gles swoop low over snowy moun­tain peaks. In the age of self­ies, so­cial me­dia and smart­phones, these rare mo­ments of peace are pre­cious and nowhere does them bet­ter than Aus­tria.

Switch off and let na­ture take charge. There’s al­ways another slope to scale or moun­tain gorge to marvel at. Many of the most im­pres­sive can be seen by hik­ing sec­tions of the Alpe-Adri­aTrail, an epic jour­ney of 750km from Aus­tria’s high­est moun­tain, the Gross­glock­ner, to the sparkling blue of the Adri­atic Sea. We par­tic­u­larly rec­om­mend the Carinthian leg for re­fresh­ing your­self at glassy moun­tain streams and stay­ing in me­dieval vil­lages, where you’ll en­joy the leg­endary hospi­tal­ity of the lo­cals.

Another route not to be missed is the Wachau World Her­itage Trail, a Unesco-recog­nised land­scape. Nowhere is the Danube more beau­ti­ful than along these 180km. Stock up on fragrant Mar­ille (apri­cots) from the farm­ers’ mar­ket in the cen­tre of Maria Laach and strike out along the riverbank. The ru­ins of cas­tles along the way hint at the re­gion’s past, but now peace is only bro­ken by the rus­tle of grass and squeak­ing of river ot­ters.

If all that clean air leaves you feel­ing thirsty, the vine­yards of Styria aren’t far away. Ex­plore them on two wheels, fill­ing your bas­ket with Styr­ian spe­cial­i­ties such as fresh gin­ger­bread, and pic­nic among the wine routes. At the end of the day, re­lax tired mus­cles in the re­gion’s nine nat­u­ral hot springs, then head to one of the tav­erns where the wines are fresh and el­e­gant.

Linger on the shores of Lake Neusiedl in Na­tion­al­park Neusiedler See and you’ll feel a lit­tle like you’re in Africa. The dry reed beds are home to more than 300 species of na­tive birds, more than any­where else in main­land Europe. It’s the per­fect place to switch off your emails and give bird watch­ing a go.

If you want to learn a new skill, why not en­rol at Wan­der­ho­tels’ School of Wild Herbs? You’ll forage for rowan­ber­ries in pine forests and ram­ble through mead­ows har­vest­ing black­berry leaves, be­fore learn­ing how to use your haul in the kitchen.

How­ever you spend your hol­i­day, you’ll re­alise that the jour­ney really is the des­ti­na­tion in this unique coun­try. Lo­cals call it be­ing on Aus­trian time. We call it pure re­lax­ation. aus­

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