The MotoGP World Championship returned to Austria in 2016 after a break of 18 years, with the country hosting a motorcycle Grand Prix event at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg - the last time being in 1997. Austria's first Grand Prix took place in 1971 at the Salzburgring circuit, which hosted Grand Prix racing on a total of 22 occasions, until 1994.
The Spielberg Red Bull Ring is beautifully situated in the Murtal region of Styria and was originally built in 1969, then known as the Österreichring. In 1996 it was rebuilt with the track-layout it still has today, and hosted Grand Prix events for two years as the 'A1-Ring', before being reopened as the 'Red Bull Ring' in 2011.
The landlocked mountainous Central European nation of Austria is home to around 8.7 million people and shares borders with the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The country is defined by its rich history, its rugged Alpine terrain, its marvelous capital Vienna, its picturesque mountain villages and its wonderful peaks, valleys, forests, rivers and lakes.
Visitors to Vienna are struck by the stunning Baroque architecture, the imposing imperial palaces, beautiful opera houses and the elegant restaurants and coffee-houses. This is a richly cultural capital, full of artistic and musical masterpieces, where the influences of Mozart, Beethoven, Freud, Schiele and Klimt are still highly evident.
Away from Vienna, Austria has many other fine cities, such as Innsbruck and Salzburg. Additionally, the state of Styria, located in the southeast of Austria is known for its excellent wines, its spas and its beautiful castles.
Roughly an hour’s drive from Graz, the captial of Styria, through the mountainous, forested landscape is the small city of Spielberg, which is surrounded by plush, green countryside.
Weather: MotoGP™ visits Styria in the middle of August, a very pleasant time of the year to be visiting the region with average daily highs of 24°C (76°F) and nightly lows of 11°C (52°F), meaning you will need a jacket in the evening as it gets cool once the sun goes down.
Although Styria is a popular holiday area for skiing in the winter and for mountain pursuits in the summer, this is not a densely populated place, so much of the local accommodation is quite spread out.
There are hotels in and around Spielberg itself, with most being three or four star and ranging in price from €70 to €150 (USD$75-$163) per night. Many of the hotels offer spa and wellness facilities for guests to enjoy, whilst private rental accommodation is also available in the city.Alternatively look for somewhere to stay in the direction of towns such as St. Michael in der Obersteiermark and Leoben along the S36 expressway.
The province of Styria is often called the ‘Green Heart’ of Austria, with huge forests and vast vineyards extending across much of its countryside. This is a place to be outside, enjoying a wide range of activities during the day - followed by a hearty meal and a glass of wine in a comfortable restaurant in the evening.
The holiday region of Murtal within Styria is where Spielberg is found. Here are restaurants, bars, cafes and bistros serving up Austrian delicacies, with locally produced wines and an array of beers to be enjoyed too.
The wider surrounding area of Murtal provides a wonderful natural backdrop with a range of leisure opportunities at 700 to 2,700 metres above sea level. From gentle sloping Alpine valleys to more rugged peaks, getting out into the forests and mountains is the order of the day in this awe inspiring landscape.
The cycling path along the River Mur is one of the most enjoyable in Austria, though this region is just as much fun to discover on foot, or by car or motorcycle, through winding mountain trails and roads.
Around an hour’s drive from Spielberg is the capital of Styria, Graz, a bustling university city with a permanent population of just under 300,000 people and a student population of 50,000.
Graz was the European Capital of Culture in 2003 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has less tourist traffic than Innsbruck or Salzburg, but is blessed with a wide offering of galleries and museums, such as the Schloss Eggenberg classic art centre and the remarkable looking Kunsthaus modern art museum.
The old town is an elegant and impressive place, featuring Baroque palaces, churches, houses and courtyards, with quite an Italian feel to it. And when it comes to refreshment, whether you are looking for anything from pub to sophisticated dining room, you are spoiled for choice in this culinary hotspot.
Few people visit this area of the world just to spend their time relaxing indoors. This is a vast, natural adventure-playground where there is something for everyone, whether it is cycling, walking, climbing, golf, horse riding, paragliding, fishing or kayaking.
Leisurely exploring the Austrian countryside you will find villages and towns that have existed for over a thousand years, with ancient castles and picturesque chalets dotted around the landscape.
When dining out norms and etiquette are similar to much of Western Europe, though meal times are earlier than along the Mediterranean for example. Tip as you wish, with around 10% being standard. There is typically a calm and relaxed atmosphere wherever you go in Murtal, and throughout Austria.
Try some hotdogs such as Käsekrainer (spicy cheese sausage) and Bosna (spicy, thin Balkan sausage) or a Schnitzel (tenderized meat) in a local Kaffeehäuser. Here you can have a decent bite to eat and a drink for €10, especially if you take advantage of a set menu at lunchtime (Tagesmenu). Austrians are also big fans of pastries and cakes, with many bars and cafes offer a tempting selection.
Beer and wine making are long traditions in Austria, and beer is enjoyed in the Krügerl (half-litre) by many locals, whilst the excellent local wine comes in a Viertel (large glass) or an Achterl (small glass).