Austria is one of Europe's foremost cultural destinations, with the glorious musical heritage of Vienna and Salzburg, the contemporary art and architecture of Linz and Graz, and the varied folk traditions of the Alps and the eastern plains.

Vienna is unquestionably one of the great cultural cities of Europe: from the 18th to the early 20th centuries it was the pulsing, multicultural heart of one of the great Empires of the day, and artists, composers, musicians, architects, writers and poets from all over the Habsburg lands gravitated here like moths to a flame. The resulting cultural inheritance includes great palaces such as Schönbrunn, Belvedere and the dour Hofburg, a tradition of fine music dating back to when luminaries such as Strauss, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn were active and continuing to this day in the colour and pageantry of the Opera Ball and the New Year's Day Concert, the latter of which is televised around the world. The art galleries of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Belvedere rank among Europe's foremost collections,

A couple of hours further east is Salzburg, which again prides itself on its musical heritage, here centred around one man - Mozart. Although the man himself professed to despise the city and left as soon as he could, his birth there has inspired a great tradition of performance in the city, culminating in the prestigious Salzburg Festival (Salzburger Festspiele). And, lest you forget, you can see the man's picture applied to chocolates, liqueurs and any amount of tourist paraphernalia.

Bregenz is perhaps not the best known of Austrian destinations, but this small city on the banks of Lake Constance at the extreme western end of Austria has also developed a cultural tradition with its innovative Theatre Festival based around a giant stage floating on the lake.