The Ultimate Austin Travel Guide

This post was written by Sivan, one of our Travel Expert Contributors!

It only took about two weeks of living in Austin, Texas to create my endless bucket list of things to do. After being in the city for a year, I got to explore the best of what it has to offer.

The city of Austin is vibrant and full of energy. There is always somewhere to go, something to do, and something to TASTE! There is a reason it recently became one of the most popular destinations for millennials to move to.

Here is my ultimate Austin travel guide!

What to Expect in Austin, Texas

What to Expect in Austin, Texas

  • Climate: Austin tends to follow the seasons, but it never gets too cold. Summers are extremely hot with temperatures in August and September getting over the hundreds. Fall sets in around October when the air gets a little milder; think mid-seventies.
  • By winter, it is still sunny but with cooler mornings and nights. It does occasionally rain, and when it rains it pours; but it won’t last more than a couple of days. Spring is very comfortable with warm temps and constant sunshine.

  • Language: English. Austin is pretty cosmopolitan and has recently become a melting pot of people, so you won’t find as many heavy southern accents as you may expect.
  • Food: Of course, Austin has its typical Southern barbeque and Tex-Mex, but you will find great places for all types of food.

Getting Around Austin, Texas

Downtown Austin is very walkable, but there are a lot of fun places to visit on the outskirts of the city that require alternative transportation. Although there was a period where they didn’t, Uber and Lyft operate in Austin as well as other ride-share companies, such as Fasten.

These are typically the fastest and most convenient ways to get around.

The Capital Metro bus system operates around the city too. If you would rather hop on a bike, check out Austin B-Cycle to pick up and drop off bikes all around the city.

Zip-car is another good option with lots of available cars around the city if you would like to drive yourself or have your own car to get around.

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Where to Stay in Austin, Texas

Austin is a huge city that spans across many neighborhoods and suburbs, but the best places to stay are in the heart of downtown.

  • Airbnb: There are lots of cool Airbnb properties throughout Austin! Check out this code for $40 off your first Airbnb stay! 
  • Driskill Hotel: This is one of the oldest hotels in Austin, and it is known for its elegance and class. It’s on the far end of Sixth Street and right in the heart of downtown.
  • South Congress Hotel: This trendy, modern hotel is very popular among visitors. It is located on the famous South Congress Street, and you can’t go wrong with this urban accommodation.
  • Hotel San Jose: You will find Hotel San Jose tucked away behind South Congress. This bungalow-style hotel is not only a great boutique hotel but with its lush courtyards and gardens, it’s a great gathering place for friends and groups.
  • Hotel Ella: Located near the University of Texas (UT),  Hotel Ella is a historic part of this neighborhood. It was originally constructed in the 1900s as the Goodall Wooten House and has since been renovated into a stylish boutique hotel.

where-to-eat in austin texas

Where to Eat in Austin, Texas

Austin is such a foodie town with tons of amazing places to try. The city has every type of food ranging from barbeque to Tex-Mex to Asian fusion to Thai. Don’t forget the epic brunches and sweets!

    Avocado Toast in Austin, Texas

    Breakfast and Brunch

  • Soco Café: This retro joint is right in the heart of famous South Congress Street. It has a huge range of dishes from carrot cake French toast to the classic Texas migas. Don’t miss the classic cowboy playing his guitar out front!
  • Blue Dahlia: Located in the trendy East Austin neighborhood, this is a favorite for brunch. Start with a delicious cup of coffee or artisan tea, and be sure to try one of the tartines!
  • Josephine House: As a local favorite with very little seating, this place fills up fast. But it is one you don’t want to miss on your trip to Austin. Be sure to make a reservation so you can sit in one of the outside coves and munch on some amazing fresh-made pastries, fruit, and avocado toast.
  • Café No Sé: Part of the South Congress Hotel, Café No Sé serves up one of the best brunches in Austin. Start your day right here with a mimosa and breakfast burger (a stacked burger topped with a fried egg).
  • Hillside Farmacy: Known for its breakfast and brunch, this café is reminiscent of a little French patisserie (with an Austin twist, of course).
  • Little Barrel and Brown: This place will remind you of Sunday morning gatherings around the table with the family in your home kitchen. Grab a stack of pancakes and some Texas toast at this cozy diner.
  • Juiceland: You can’t leave Austin without trying a smoothie from Juiceland. It combines every possible variation of fruits, veggies, nut butters, and superfoods into the thickest, most amazing smoothie you will find!
  • dinner in austin texas

    Dinner

  • Swifts Attic: Tucked away upstairs in a corner of downtown, Swifts Attic offers a delicious upscale American dinner.
  • Sway: For the best Asian fusion in the South, head to Sway to discover all its unique dishes.
  • Uchi or Uchiko: Uchi and Uchiko are sister restaurants in different parts of the city. Uchi is known as slightly more upscale, but both serve creative and delicious sushi and Japanese dishes.
  • Perlas: Sip your cocktail under a string of lights on the porch at Perlas. It is known for its oysters and homemade giant poptarts!
  • Lucky Robot: Visit this place for some off-the-wall sushi rolls and other unique Asian dishes.
  • VOX Table: VOX has some of the most creative dishes and cocktails in a very trendy, modern setting. Sit down, ask your waiter to bring whatever he or she thinks is best, and leave the rest to fate.
  • barbecue in austin texas

    Barbeque

  • Salt Lick: About a twenty-five-minute drive outside the city, this is the famous sit-down barbecue restaurant in Austin. It has all the classics from ribs to chicken to beans to Texas toast. A must-have Texas experience!
  • County Line: In a perfect setting on a little river, the real “country” of Austin shines at the County Line. It serves all the typical BBQ favorites.
  • Franklin Barbecue: Going to Franklin Barbecue (known for having the number one barbecue in all of Texas—some may even argue the world) is an event. People start lining up outside the door at five a.m. and may end up waiting two to three hours for food, but it is all well worth it! The restaurant stops serving when it runs out of food (usually around noon).
  • La Barbeque: If you’re not up for the two-hour wait for Franklin, try the number two barbecue from the food truck La Barbeque. You may still wait around forty-five minutes, but at the end, you will enjoy some of the best ribs and brisket in the South.
  • dessert in austin texas

    Dessert

  • Amy’s Ice Cream: Amy’s has a few locations throughout Austin, and they are known for their variety of flavors and choices of crush-ins that they mix into your ice cream!
  • Bananarchy: A popular food truck that serves frozen bananas with your choice of dip and toppings.
  • Cow Tipping Creamery: Talk about insane ice cream combinations! This food truck will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth with all its special soft-serve goodness.
  • Gourdough’s: You have never had doughnuts like Gourdough’s. I would consider it more of a meal than a doughnut as they are stacked with endless flavors and topping combinations. I would suggest going with friends and getting one or two to split!

What to Do in Austin, Texas

What to Do in Austin, Texas

The list of things to do in Austin is endless, but here are a few highlights to get you started.

  • Shop on South Congress Street: South Congress Street is famous for its shops, restaurants, lively crowd, and hipster style. You’ll find tons of cute boutiques and fun shops to explore. Be sure to go into Allen’s Boots to see the endless rows of boots. (This is where many celebs go to get their cowboy boots!)
  • Visit Barton Springs: Take a day trip to swim in Barton Springs. This is more of a spring or summer activity, but the natural Barton Springs pool is a great place for a relaxing day of sun tanning and swimming.
  • Get Active With Water Sports: Lady Bird Lake is a great place for all sorts of watersports. The most popular are stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
  • Visit Festivals: Austin is a hub for the arts, and the yearly festivals prove it. In the fall, Austin City Limits hosts hundreds of artists over two weekends on multiple stages. In the spring, the famous South By Southwest festival comes to Austin for two weeks of innovation, presentations, and collaborations in every creative field.
  • Visit Sixth Street: You can’t leave Austin without a night out on the famous Sixth Street. There are more than eighty bars that line the street (it gets closed off to cars at night, so it’s very easy to walk around).

    Each bar has a different personality, and it’s the perfect place for a little pub crawl! Ride the mechanical bull at the Trophy Club, sip on a giant margarita at Chupacabra Cantina, and listen to some old country at San Jac Saloon.

  • Helpful Tip: At the end of the night, stop by Roppolos for the perfect late-night pizza slice!

  • Hiking: Most people don’t know that Austin is actually a very green city. It has a lot of great places to hike and witness beautiful views. Check out Walnut Creek Trail or St. Edwards Park!
  • The 360 Bridge: For a great view of all of Austin, head to the 360 Bridge, and don’t forget your camera!
  • Visit Rainey Street: Spend a Sunday bar hopping on the adorable Rainey Street. A little calmer than Sixth Street, the Rainey Street bars all look like old homes, and they each have their own personality.
  • A local favorite is Bangers, where you can order a pitcher and sit with friends or meet some locals at the big community tables.

    Bangers Food in Austin, Texas

    Food at Bangers on Rainey Street

  • See the Bats: Every evening at sunset from March to October, more than 1.5 million bats emerge from underneath the South Congress Bridge. Look up what time sunset is, and arrive there thirty to forty minutes early for a prime spot. This is truly nothing like anything you’ve ever seen before.
  • Visit the Graffiti Park: Austin’s multilevel Graffiti Park is a true haven for artists. It’s a great place for a photo shoot or just to take in the creativity. You can even bring your own spray can and add to the creations!
  • Visit Zilker Park: Zilker is one of the largest parks in Austin, and it is always full of people lounging, playing with their pups, tossing a Frisbee, or soaking up the sun. Grab some food from Whole Foods (the flagship store is located in Austin, and it is AMAZING), and head to Zilker for a picnic.
  • Attend a University of Texas Football Game (Fall Only): Football is a religion in Texas, and the University of Texas football games completely live up to the hype. Throw on some burnt orange and head over to DKR stadium for a tailgate and to cheer along with more than 100,000 fans.

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READ NEXT: Where to Find the Best Food in Austin

 

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Sivan
Student Travel Expert
Hi I'm Sivan! I will be sharing my studying abroad experiences and travel tips from around the world with you. From weekend getaways, to traveling on a student budget, here are my budget-friendly travel tips and guides!