1. Go hiking in a lake. Situated at the base of the Hochschwab Mountains in the Styrian region, Grüner See, or Green Lake, is unlike any other park in the world. During the colder months, it's a hiker's paradise, famous for its endless trails through the mountains. But in spring, melted snow rushes down the hills and floods the whole area creating a lake about 15 metres deep so that a scuba mask and flippers become more appropriate than a pair of hiking boots.
2. The very simple Austrian flag is said to have been established in 1191 when Duke Leopold V got his white suit covered in blood during battle. He removed his sash to reveal a white band running through the blood red cloth.
3. Beware of the Schnapps. Austria is famous for its Schnapps liqueur but in 1788, a drinking session among Hussars led to a battle between different parts of the same army resulting in the death of some 10,000 Austrians.
4. The central cemetery in Vienna has over 2.5 million graves. That is almost twice the city's present living population!
5. Austria has the fourth highest number of Nobel Prize winners per capita, at 19.
6. Vienna's Tiergarten Schoenbrunn is believed to be the world's oldest zoo, founded in 1752 as an imperial menagerie.
7. Niki Lauda is the only Austrian to have won his home race. He did so in 1984, on the way to his third world championship crown.
8. Timewise, a lap of the Red Bull Ring is the shortest one of the year, with the record currently standing at 1:08.337 set by Michael Schumacher in 2003.
9. Oh deer – 1987 was the year of all dramas at the Oesterreichring, when the race featured two re-starts following huge crashes immediately after the lights went out. It was also the year that McLaren's Stefan Johansson completely destroyed his car and killed a deer than ran into his path during practice. Despite breaking some ribs, the Swede took part in the race, finishing 7th.
10. We don't know what happened to the dead deer, but deer skin is typically used to make Lederhosen, the leather shorts with braces typical of the Tyrol region of Austria (and Bavaria in Germany.) Now worn as a traditional costume, they were originally used as workwear, because of their hardwearing properties. The longer shorts are known as Bundhosen or Kniebundhosen.
11. Stiftskeller St. Peter in Salzburg is probably the oldest restaurant in the world and undoubtedly the oldest in Europe. It opened in 803 AD. Christopher Columbus, Johann Georg Faust, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are said to have been served at the restaurant.
12. When in Austria, drinks and Hüttengaudi! Never heard of it? Well, you should know that up in the Austrian mountains they know how to have some fun: all you need is a log, some hammers, nails and... plenty of booze! This traditional way of having fun (Nageln is the name of the game itself) then consists of being the quickest to get the nail into the log, with the only help of the thin part of the hammer; the slowest pays the next round of drinks or any other form of punishment can be thought of ... And then everyone has to try again – so avoiding getting drunk definitely helps! We even created our own version of the game two years ago with Carlos and Max; check it out!