Linz is a beautiful and sometimes underrated city located in the northern part of Austria on the River Danube. As the third largest city in Austria it as actually of major importance and also a great tourist destination with many interesting sights and activities.
The great combination of historical buildings, stunning architecture, vast areas of green space, and modern innovations mean that Linz has as much to offer as such high-ranking Austrian cities as Vienna and Salzburg.
Since 2014 Linz has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network and this is apparent with the brilliant array of museums you can visit here.
1. The Ars Electronica Centre
If you are a technology nerd then the Ars Electronica Centre or Museum of the Future as it is also known will be like heaven.
This is one of the most fascinating places you could visit and the different types of technology and interactive features are so much fun to use and learn about.
The centre is split up into different rooms and sections that contain various items such as a virtual ping pong game, a huge 8k resolution screen that displays different parts of the world in stunning high definition, interactive screens that show satellite images of earth, new technologies such as robots that respond to their name being called and even an information system you can access using a special touch pen that displays an amazing amount of detail about the world’s population and cities.
Even if you are not a fan of new technologies, the Arts Electronica Centre is a fabulous place to visit.
2. The Old Cathedral (Church of Ignatius)
This Baroque church has an impressive set of domed towers in the typical onion style for the period and stands proudly near the Hauptplatz square.
Serving as the diocese of Linz, the Cathedral was dedicated to Saint Ignatius and was originally constructed by Jesuits in 1669. Although the exterior is not as lavish as some other European Cathedrals, the towers are still eye-catching and the interior of the church is simply wonderful.
The features of the lavish interior include an ornately decorated wooden pulpit and choir stalls, many pink marble columns and a high altar complete with religious paintings.
The Old Cathedral is a must visit, and is also an interesting building to compare with the New Cathedral streets away.
3. Lentos Art Museum
Linz is a city that boasts several modern museums and the Lentos Art museum is one of such with a dazzling exterior that lights up in bright neon colours at night.
Aside from the enticing exterior of this building, the museum hosts a staggering array of artwork and is one of Austria’s most prominent artwork repositories.
With over 1500 pieces of work, ranging from classical modernist, to modern 19th century and expressionist pieces from the 1920’s there is something for all art lovers.
Not only is the artwork extensive, there is also a selection of sculptures and photography to feast your eyes upon.
4. The New Cathedral (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception)
In comparison to the fairly plain design of the Church of Ignatius, the New Cathedral boasts an elaborate and detailed exterior with many windows, turrets and beautiful stained glass windows.
With space for approximately 20,000 people, The New Cathedral (or Neuer Dom) is spacious and the largest by size in Austria.
The most famous of the many stained glass windows is the “Linz” window which depicts the history of the founding of Linz in great detail and colour.
Due to all the windows in the cathedral, the interior has an abundance of light and the whole area has a lovely warm glow in the sunshine – The rays of light fall through the windows and cast amazing shadows on the columns.
5. Ride the Pöstlingbergbahn
The Pöstlingbergbahn is a narrow-gauge railway that climbs up the steep incline of the Postlingberg hill in the northern part of Linz.
Starting from the centre of Linz in one of the main squares, the sublime old railway winds its way steadily (But steeply – it is one of the steepest in the world) to the top of Postlingberg and during the trip you can see the cityscape of Linz and plenty of beautiful scenery.
The carriages are all old and stylish and typical of what you would expect from a tram system in a city centre, but have been retrofitted and upgraded with modern electrics etc for safety purposes.
Not only is the ride fun and enjoyable in itself, but the scenery and things to do at the top of the Postlingberg are well worth the journey.
This small hill (almost a mountain) is located in the northern part of Linz and is accessible by the wonderful Pöstlingbergbahn railway.
On-top of this quiet area of Linz is the Pilgrimage Basilica church, the Grottenbahn attraction and several restaurants and cafés.
Once off of the railway, you can see the amazing views of Linz below in sweeping panoramas.
The Pilgrimage Basilica stands out with its twin towers, while the Grottenbahn is an entertaining ride that takes you through a fairy-tale landscape lit up in beautiful colours full of trolls and fairies.
Postlingberg is a fine part of Linz to visit and you could easily spend half a day here.
7. Boat ride on the Danube/Linz Harbour
The Danube river is one of the finest (and longest) in Europe and has a great list of high importance cities on its banks – Budapest, Vienna, Linz, Belgrade and Bratislava to name a few.
In any city that this river runs through it is worth taking a boat trip to admire the city from a different perspective and enjoy the relaxing feeling of floating along with maybe a glass of wine in hand.
In Linz there are several different boat tour options ranging from shorter one and a half hour trips down the river and through the magnificent harbour, to longer half day trips to Vienna.
The main companies that run boat tours include Wurm & Kock and the steamboat company DFS Schönbrunn.
8. Enjoy a piece of delicious Linz Cake
Many famous cities boast their own traditional dishes and delicacies and Linz proudly produces the scrumptious Linz Cake.
This cake is heralded by the population of Linz as the oldest cake in the world and consists of a short crumbly pastry containing things like nuts and cinnamon, usually with some form of Jam filling and then topped with a decorative lattice work on top.
What perfect way to enjoy the city of Linz and to sample some of its traditional food by tucking into a piece in one of the many cafes or bakeries you can find.
The main square in Linz is an impressive open space that stretches from Klosterstrabe to pretty much the banks of the river Danube and is a central part of the down-town area.
Central to this square is the dominating Trinity Column which stands at 20m high and is dedicated to various disasters and times of hardship over the years.
In the past, the square brought great economic success to Linz as markets were held here, today however it is a place to admire the stylish architecture or sit in one of the cafes and people watch.
10. Mauthausen Memorial
In several parts of Europe there are unfortunately the remnants of concentration camps and labour camps that the Nazi’s constructed during the Second World War – Everyone knows what happened at these places so no details are needed, but several still stand today as grim and poignant reminders of the past and suffering.
East of Linz is the Mauthausen memorial and museum and the remains of the camp.
An extremely touching and meaningful sight, there are day trips available to the site and self-guided audio tours can be brought on arrival.
While not everyone’s cup of tea, Mauthausen is still an important historical site and a great deal can be taken in from what transpired here.
11. Linz Botanical Gardens
Also known as the Gugl, these Botanical Gardens are among the finest and most stunning in Europe.
With over 40,000 square metres of space and 10,000 types of plants you could spend hours admiring the wonders of nature here.
There is an outdoor section with different themed gardens such as a Japanese garden and an area with a pond full of water lilies.
Alongside the gardens stand an impressive arboretum with around 700 varieties of trees, and five greenhouses with a mind-boggling display of beautiful plants, cactus and flowers.
These gardens really are a relaxing and enjoyable experience and a great way to do something different other than sight-seeing.
12. Wilhering Abbey
While not strictly in Linz, Wilhering Abbey is only a 20 minute drive and is worth the trip.
In the grounds are several buildings including the main Abbey which was constructed in 1146 and has a charming white exterior dashed with pale orange stripes and crowned with an onion dome on the tower.
The interior of the Abbey has been designed using the “Rococo” style and is one of the finest remaining examples of this in the German-speaking world.
The abundance of colour, the sheer amount of detail and the interconnecting nature of the different elements create a feast for the eyes in a relatively small space.
A meandering stretch of open parkland on the river Danube and conveniently next to the Lentos Museum, the Donaupark is enjoyed by all and a lovely place to chill out in.
The grass plains are segmented and crossed by footpaths, with a promenade running parallel to the Danube.
Everything you would find in a typical public park can be found including scattered trees, benches, fountains and also some modernist sculptures.
The locals use this park for recreational purposes and you will often see joggers and cyclists together with people relaxing or playing sports on the lawns.
14. Schlossmuseum Linz
This old castle turned museum dominates the skyline of Linz and stands proudly as one of the greatest museums in Austria, there is also a nice restaurant with a view across the Danube.
The building this museum is housed in was constructed pre 800’s and was primarily an imperial palace.
The exhibits inside this museum range in subject and include a biology centre with displays on things like Woodpeckers, a geological section with information on different forms of landslide and even a section about modern and future photography.
The museum also has a vast range of cultural, scientific and archaeological artefacts and is truly an interesting place to spend a couple of hours in.
15. Voestalpine Steelworks
The world of steel and construction has never been so fascinating and this is apparent at the Voestalpine steelworks.
The company who are a large contributor to the Austrian steel industry have created this exhibition to show just how important this material is in our day to day lives.
The exhibition section has several displays including interactive elements where you can mix your own steel formula.
Together with the exhibitions and walk through areas, a guided tour is also available of the steel plant and you can see exactly how this gigantic site operates.