As Austria's third largest city, savvy travellers come to Linz to get a quintessential Austrian experience while beating the crowds of Vienna. Here on the banks of the stately Danube river, pastel-coloured, Baroque buildings border the Bohemian Forest, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of over 170,000 acres. In winter, Linz comes alive with the twinkling lights and sweet aromas of Christmas markets. Add the city's creative modern culture into the mix, and it's easy to see why Linz is a top destination for those in the know.
Hostels in Linz include modern buildings with sports facilities and secure bike parking; useful if you're exploring on two wheels. Look out for communal areas where you can make friends over a game of table tennis or relax in a TV lounge. Most Linz hostels offer a free buffet-style breakfast to set you up for a day touring the city, and there are restaurants nearby to explore hearty Bavarian fare. Dorms and private rooms (singles or doubles) are available, and you can expect free Wi-Fi. Most rooms in a Linz hostel also come with an en-suite bathroom and shower.
Like many Austrian cities, Linz is centred around its historical old town. The focal point is Hauptplatz, one of the largest converted squares in Austria. The nearby creative OÖ Kulturquartier district showcases the city's cosmopolitan scene with an arthouse cinema and eclectic contemporary galleries. Moving north, the riverside Culture Mile is so-named for its collection of art museums, including the Lentos Kunstmuseum which illuminates the skyline after dark. Across the river there, Urfahr is a busy residential neighbourhood home to the large shopping centre LentiaCity.
Top sights in Linz include a look into the future with the Ars Electronica Center's technologically pioneering media art exhibits. As well as the abundance of galleries in the city, Linz Harbour is home to one of Europe's biggest graffiti displays. The Linz cultural calendar is packed, with the city playing host to innovative street art, music and seasonal festivals year-round. Take a trip on the world's second steepest railway up Pöstlingberg hill for panoramic views, and don't leave without sampling the city's speciality hazelnut treat, Linzer Torte.
Blue Danube Airport has 3-minute shuttle buses to Hörsching train station, from where trains to Linz city centre take 10 minutes (buses around 20 minutes). Linz is on a railway route between Salzburg and Vienna, making it easily accessible from either. It's a pedestrian-friendly city with a reliable bus network; pick up a Linz Card for unlimited public transport, plus free entry to various attractions.