Given it’s the capital and way, way bigger than any other city in the country, it’s strange to find Vienna nowhere near the centre of Austria.
In fact, Vienna is so far east that the city limits are only about 30 km (17 miles) from the border with Slovakia.
- See also: Where is the Danube in Vienna?
Vienna is actually further east than the capitals of the Czech Republic (Prague) and Croatia (Zagreb), and almost as far from Austria’s western border as Paris is.
Vienna’s position in Austria is fairly new: the country we recognize today was only established in 1919. Prior to WWI, the city sat at the head of Austria-Hungary, a huge empire that stretched much further north, east and south. Vienna was actually in the western part of that empire – see the red dot on this map:
(The location of Vienna in the Austro-Hungarian Empire)
So Vienna’s position (and size) is a historical anomaly.
One advantage of this location is that it’s only a short drive to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and it takes no more than 3-4 hours to reach their respective capitals (Bratislava, Prague and Budapest).
And, although Vienna is not in the Alps, the mountains are not far away, either. The first proper ski resorts begin around an hour’s drive away to the southwest, and the alpine foothills are even closer.