Most people have visited the Alps for skiing and famous cities like Vienna and Salzburg; however, if you are looking for and up-and-coming hidden gem in the centre of the country, then book your flights to the city of Linz. It is the third largest city in Austria, founded around 799 A.D. It has one of the largest steel industries in Europe, but this is no Sheffield; it’s high-quality steel is much in-demand by the car industries of Germany and they've reinvested this wealth to create a vibrant city of culture and gastronomy.
Leading the way in terms of the culinary delights is the world-famous Linzer Torte which has two delicious layers of rich and buttery, nut-flavoured pastry sandwiched together with preserves. This classic recipe has stood the test of time and is still one of the most popular gifts from the city.
Food standards are universally high whether you opt for a casual sautéed king prawn pasta at the famous Pianino to fine dining on top of Europe's most modern opera house, the MusikTheater, which opened in April 2013. There, restaurant, Das Anton will dazzle you with the latest from Austria's food scene including mouth-watering dishes like duck breast in lavender honey with purple haze carrot, cashew and plum jus. For sheer business ingenuity, you should head to Eisdieler and devour plenty of their anti-ageing ice cream – if you want to maintain your youthful, good looks.
Linz is the birthplace of Anton Bruckner, so music is unsurprisingly a vital part of their resident's lives. It is compulsory for all children to learn a musical instrument and Brucknerhaus is a venue all aspiring musicians would like to perform in. In addition, nowadays, they have the MusikTheater which hosts performances as varied as classical operas to modern day musicals like Ghost.
The city is still developing as a tourist destination so five-star hotels are a rarity, but a perfectly acceptable hotel to stay in is the Arcotel in Linz. The exterior might not be the most glamorous, but it is on the banks of the Danube and enjoys spectacular views of the city along with its close proximity to Austria's world famous biking trail.
For another good vantage point of the city take a short ride on Europe's steepest adhesion railway up to Pöstlingberg. The twin basilica towers majestically overlook Linz with uninterrupted views. Back downtown, you can observe the largest church in Austria, Mariendom. Each stained glass window has a story to tell including the history of the city from the Linz window and a fascinating juxtaposition with more modern day interpretations.
When Linz became the European capital of culture in 2009, it revitalised the city with numerous exciting cultural projects. One of the must-visit places is the Ars Electronica Center, which is a museum that focuses on the future and technology and celebrates the arts electronica movement which started in the city in 1979. Visitors can illuminate the facade to match their mood with the touch of a button, whilst the 8K screening room shows some of the most detailed images of deep space you can imagine along with post-modern interactive art displays.
If you want to explore the rich history of the surrounding areas, a short drive away will take you to numerous castles. Clam Castle is one of the best-preserved, still-functioning, homely castles in Austria. The owner, Carl Clam will happily welcome you to his beloved home either for a tour or a stay over in one of his stately homes.
What could quite easily be classified as a wonder of the world is the St. Florian Monastery Library. The late-Baroque design of the main hall along with the colourful ceiling fresco makes this one of the most fascinating libraries to visit in the world.
You should make one final detour via Grein, where you can visit their nostalgic town theatre which opened in 1791 and is still in use today; its many quirks include a barred area where prisoners could watch the shows and a Napoleon loge. There is also the historic castle Greinburg which was first constructed in 1493 and includes the bewildering Sala Terrena which is decorated with mosaics created from countless small Danube pebbles.