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Where to stay in Austin

Exploring Austin

The capital city of oil-rich Texas, Austin lies in the state’s hilly central region and is renowned for its music, technology and food scenes as well as its embracing of alternative cultures. Home to close on a million residents, its vast choice of venues and innovative tech companies have resulting in its being nicknamed both the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ and ‘Silicon Hills’. From its downtown, high-rise CBD to its university district, North Central Chinatown quarter, entertainment-focused East Austin, lakeside Northwest Austin and riverside Austin South, its diversity and culture ensure an interesting stay.

Austin residents love a celebration, partying at local and city-wide festivals throughout the year, and eleven theatre companies entertain with everything from straight plays to alternative offerings through dance, musicals, rep and multi-media performances. Visitor infrastructure is comprehensive and includes a wide choice of accommodation set all over the city districts. Upscale favourites include the Hyatt Regency and the Renaissance Austin and, for mid-range and budget lodgings, Staybridge Suites and the Country Inn and Suites are good.

Sights nearby

A good way to see Austin’s quirky as well as mainstream sights and landmarks is via tours of specific attractions across the city. Two of the best are Ghost tours and Brewery tours, and scenic tours by horse-drawn carriage are fun. Austin lies in the heart of the Texas Wine Country, and the vineyards welcome visitors with tastings and a rundown of the winemaking process itself.

Texas State Capitol
For first-time visitors, this imposing pink granite state government building is a must-see for its stunning exterior and its interior fitted out in museum style with artworks, sculptures and elegant legislative chambers. Unusually for America’s state Capitols, total public access is available and free throughout the building seven days a week.

University of Texas at Austin
Museum buffs should head to the university campus for the Blanton Museum of Art and the Texas Memorial Museum of Science and History as well as the university’s famous tower with its breathtaking views. Strolling around the campus itself and admiring the public art installations dotted around makes for a relaxing afternoon away from the noise and bustle of the city.

Congress Avenue Bridge
The Congress Avenue Bridge spanning the Colorado River is best visited at sunset for one amazing reason – bats. The world’s largest urban bat colony has made its home under the spans of the bridge, and all 1.5 million of them emerge at dusk between March and November for their insect meal and air tour of the city. The best way to see this unique spectacle is by boat.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Over the last few decades, Austin’s restaurant scene has developed into a multinational feast both for the palate and the eye. Diverse and delicious versions of multiple world cuisines are found here at all price levels, with even fine dining affordable for a special treat. Eateries are often vegetarian-friendly, and discovering local favourites offers the best gastronomic experience, whatever your tastes. Austin is coffee-crazy, with literally thousands of coffee houses offering strong brews often accompanied by music or poetry readings. Downtown 6th Street, the Warehouse district and 4th Street are alcohol heaven, with bars, brewpubs serving boutique Texan beers and nightclubs lining the pavements. Malls, speciality boutique streets and two massive fashion factory outlets on the edge of town cater for large-scale retail therapy and bargain-hunting.

Public transport

Driving in Austin is fine for those used to big-city roads, although the city’s public transport systems make getting around straightforward and inexpensive. The Capital Metro bus network offers downtown routes, connections between the districts and express bus services as well as a weekday, limited-route commuter rail service linking the downtown core with North Austin. Night Owl buses serve the popular entertainment districts until very late.

Austin travel guides

Austin travel guides