Austria’s third largest city is situated in the north of the country on the Danube River, and cruises along that historic waterway often include Linz as a half-day experience, with nearby Passau in Germany often explored in the other half of the day. Linz has a long and fascinating history, having been founded by the Romans under the name Lentia, though the first references to the name Linz date back to AD 799. The city was heavily industrialised during the Second World War, but in modern times, its industrial legacy is beginning to fade, with tourism coming more to the forefront of trade and commerce. The city is made up of several splendid districts, home to an extensive old town with beautiful buildings, numerous museums and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The Danube River and the surrounding hills give Linz a pleasant ambience which is always popular with visiting river cruisers.
Linz has its own castle, which was first built sometime before 799, after which it was rebuilt in the 15th century. Better known as the Schlossmuseum, it’s huge structure overlooking the city and certainly doesn’t resemble the medieval castles of old. Inside you’ll find a wealth of rooms with art and antiques dating back to the Middle Ages as well as a restaurant, which is a great place to sit and take in the views. The city is home to numerous other museums, including some which you’d perhaps expect such as the Landesgalerie which is home to a wealth of artworks to a number of more unusual ones, such as the Museum of the History of Dentistry in Upper Austria. Lovers of Modern Art meanwhile, should certainly head to the Lentos Kunstmuseum. As you might expect, the striking blue-lit building is like a piece of modern art in itself. Speaking of buildings with lights, you won’t fail to miss the Ars Electronica. With its illuminated green façade, it’s the perfect choice if you’re in search of an alternative from the archaic and a tribute to all things modern and of course, electronic.
The city’s two cathedrals are also natural landmarks to visit. The gothic Mariendom boasts some incredible ceiling architecture and works of stained glass, while the Alter Dom dates back to the 17th century and is the city’s largest baroque church, famed for its famous pink marble columns. Linz also has a number of nature-based attractions, such as its Botanical Gardens and its Zoo. One of the more thought-provoking activities you can undertake during your visit is a trip to the nearby Mauthausen-Grusen concentration camp, which now houses a museum and memorials telling the story of the war and those that died during their imprisonment at the camp.
Having been awarded the European Capital of Culture award in 2009, Linz hosts numerous concerts and during the summer you can expect regular concerts and performances, including many taking place in the public places such as the town squares, meaning you may have the chance to take in a performance or two as you explore the city, with no need to buy a ticket.