Weather: Austria, Liechtenstein

The broad-brush picture of weather in Austria is fairly straightforward; it's the delicate strokes that can throw a visitor. On the large scale, Austria features a Swiss-style mountainous regime to the west and a central European lowland climate to the east. The Tyrol region of western Austria – and Liechtenstein just beyond – is crisscrossed by narrow valleys where conditions may be quite different from those at altitude. North-facing slopes and valleys tend to be cool and cloudy in winter, but every few days a strong fohn and its screaming winds drives the temperature as high as 10°C/50°F and beyond in spots. The southern Tyrol and Tauern slopes can be surprisingly bright in winter, and ski resorts experience frequent strings of sunny days as well. Meanwhile, the Danube valley is often buried under a shallow dome of persistent clouds and chill that seldom breaks from December through February. It's colder and foggier still in the southeastern lowlands; the average mid-winter lows in Graz are typically below those of even Warsaw or Stockholm. Nights across Austria tend to stay chilly into May, but the afternoons by then can be extremely pleasant outside of a shower every couple of days. Fed by the ample summer sun, thunderstorms are fairly frequent across the country, with the rainfall a bit lighter in the northeast than elsewhere. Valleys are often the sunniest, calmest spots, as storms gather by midday around the higher terrain. For the driest, most temperate weather at altitude and below, September and early October are unrivalled.