Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Austria travel guide - Travel S helper

Austria

travel guide

Austria, formally the Republic of Austria, is a federal republic in Central Europe with a population of approximately 8.7 million people. It is bounded to the north by the Czech Republic and Germany, to the east by Hungary and Slovakia, to the south by Slovenia and Italy, and to the west by Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Austria has an area of 83,879 square kilometers (32,386 sq mi). The landscape is hilly, being within the Alps; only 32% of the nation is below 500 meters (1,640 feet), and the highest point is 3,798 meters (12,461 ft). The bulk of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, while Austrian German is the country’s official language in its standard form. Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene are the other official languages in the region.

Austria’s roots may be traced back to the Habsburg dynasty, when the overwhelming bulk of the nation was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Many Northern German rulers, resentful of the Emperor’s power, adopted Protestantism as a rebel banner from the time of the Reformation. The Thirty Years War, the influence of the Kingdoms of Sweden and France, the emergence of the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Napoleonic invasions all reduced the Emperor’s authority in the North of Germany, but the Emperor and Catholicism retained control in the South and non-German parts of the Empire. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria was able to maintain her status as one of Europe’s major powers, and the Austrian Empire was formally declared in 1804 in reaction to Napoleon’s crowning as Emperor of France. Following Napoleon’s fall, Prussia emerged as Austria’s main rival for dominance over a bigger Germany. During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Prussia defeated Austria in the Battle of Königgrätz, paving the way for Prussia to seize control of the rest of Germany. The empire was reorganized as Austria-Hungary in 1867. Following France’s loss in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, Austria was excluded from the creation of a new German Empire, but its politics and foreign policy gradually converged with those of the Prussian-led Empire in the following decades. During the 1914 July Crisis, which followed the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Germany assisted Austria in delivering the ultimatum to Serbia, which resulted in the beginning of World War I.

Following the fall of the Habsburg (Austro-Hungarian) Empire in 1918 at the conclusion of World War I, Austria adopted and used the name the Republic of German-Austria (Deutschösterreich, subsequently sterreich) in an effort to union with Germany, but was barred by the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919). In 1919, the First Austrian Republic was founded. Austria was seized by Nazi Germany at the Anschluss in 1938. This lasted until the conclusion of World War II in 1945, when the Allies invaded Germany and Austria’s previous democratic constitution was restored. The Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state in 1955, thus ending the occupation. The Austrian Parliament issued the Declaration of Neutrality the same year, declaring that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral.

Austria is now a parliamentary representative democracy with nine federal states. Vienna is the capital and biggest city, with a population of about 1.7 million people. Austria is one of the world’s wealthiest nations, with a nominal per capita GDP of $43,724. The nation has raised its quality of life and was rated 21st in the world for its Human Development Index in 2014. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, of the European Union since 1995, and of the OECD since its inception. Austria joined the Schengen Agreement in 1995 and accepted the euro in 1999.

Flights & Hotels
search and compare

We compare room prices from 120 different hotel booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), enabling you to pick the most affordable offers that are not even listed on each service separately.

100% Best Price

The price for one and the same room can differ depending on the website you are using. Price comparison enables finding the best offer. Also, sometimes the same room can have a different availability status in another system.

No charge & No Fees

We don’t charge any commissions or extra fees from our customers and we cooperate only with proven and reliable companies.

Ratings and Reviews

We use TrustYou™, the smart semantic analysis system, to gather reviews from many booking services (including Booking.com, Agoda, Hotel.com and others), and calculate ratings based on all the reviews available online.

Discounts and Offers

We search for destinations through a large booking services database. This way we find the best discounts and offer them to you.

Austria - Info Card

Population

9,027,999

Currency

Euro (€) (EUR)

Time zone

UTC+1 (CET)

Area

83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi)

Calling code

+43

Official language

Austrian German

Austria | Introduction

Weather & Climate in Austria

Austria has a moderate continental climate. Summers last from the beginning of June to the middle of September and in some years can be hot while in others rainy. During July and August, average daytime temperatures are around 25° C, but often can reach 35° C.

Winters in the lowlands tend to be very cold and in the alpine regions very harsh. Temperatures often drop below – 10 ° C (14 ° F). Winters are from December to March (longer at higher altitudes). There are large variations in temperature in the Alpine region throughout the year and the nights are cold also in midsummer.

The Northern Alps are in general a much more humid region compared to the rest of Austria. The Southeast (Styria and Carinthia) is very sunny and dry. The region around Vienna is very often exposed to heavy east winds.

Geography Of Austria

Despite common belief, Austria is not only a country of mountains. Although the Alps comprise about 3/4 of the country, which is mainly dominated by the provinces of Vorarlberg, Tyrol, Salzburg, Styria, Upper Austria and Carinthia, the provinces of Lower Austria, Burgenland and the capital Vienna are more similar to the geography of its neighbors, the Czech Republic and Hungary. This varied mixture of sceneries is packed in a relatively small territory. Austria has glaciers, meadows, alpine valleys, forested foothills, gently rolling farmland, wineyards, river gorges, plains and even semi-arid steppes.

25% of the population lives in Greater Vienna, a major European metropolis in which the Danube meets the most eastern edge of the Alps, very close to the Slovakian border and to its capital Bratislava.

Practically all governmental, economic and cultural institutions including national media and major corporations have their headquarters in Vienna, mainly due to its geography and history. Therefore the capital city is dominating the political and cultural life of Austria and is obviously a world of its own. It has very little in common with the rest of mainly rural Austria and there are really no other large cities in the country except Graz and Linz. For example, in the Vorarlberg province, a funny joke is being made about Vienna’s domination of national affairs, which says: “The people in Western Austria earn the money and Vienna is spending it”.

Demographics Of Austria

The Austrian population has been estimated by Statistik Austria in April 2016 to be 8.72 million. The population of Vienna, the country’s capital, is more than 1.8 million (2.6 million people including suburban areas), which represents approximately 1/4 of the country’s population. It is well known for its variety of cultural activities and its high living standard.

Vienna is without doubt the biggest city in the country. Graz is the 2nd most populous city with its population of 265,778, which is followed by Linz (191,501), Salzburg (145,871) and Innsbruck (122,458). All remaining cities has a population of less than 100,000.

In 2010, according to Eurostat, Austria had 1.27 million people born outside of Austria, which is 15.2% of the entire population. Of which 764,000 (9.1%) were born in countries outside the EU and 512,000 (6.1%) in some other EU member state.

Statistik Austria has estimated in 2011 that 81% or 6.75 million residents had no immigration background and more than 19% or 1.6 million people have at least one or more parents with immigrant background. There are more than 415 thousand descendants of non-Austrian-born immigrants living in Austria, the majority of which have been naturalized.

185,592 Turks ( which includes a minority of Turkish Kurds) constitute the second most numerous ethnic minority in Austria after Germans (2.5%) and make up 2.2% of the country’s total population. In the year 2003, 13,000 Turks have been naturalized and during the same period an unknown number of Turks migrated to Austria. In the same year, 2,000 Turks left Austria, 10,000 emigrated to the country, which confirmed a clear growth trend. Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Slovenes combined make up about 5.1% of the total population of Austria.

In the year 2013, the total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated at 1.42 children born per one woman, which is significantly lower than the replacement rate of 2.1. In the year 2014 about 41.7% of the births were single women. In 2013, life expectancy has been estimated to be 80.04 years (77.13 years for men, 83.1 years for women).

Ethnic groups In Austria

From a historical perspective, Austrians have been considered ethnic Germans and considered ourselves as such, despite the fact that this national identity was questioned by Austrian nationalism in the decades following the end of WWI and particularly after WWII. Until the end of 1806, Austria was an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and was a member of the German Confederation until the Austrian-Prussian War of 1866, a free association of 39 different German-speaking nations. In 1871 Germany was founded as a nation state, but Austria did not participate.

After the First World War and the break-up of the Austrian monarchy, the leaders of the newly founded republic proclaimed it to be called “German Austria” and to be an integral part of the German Republic. Unification of the German states was prohibited by the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as one of the terms that the victorious allies of World War I imposed on the conquered nation to avoid the establishment of a territorially expanded German state. In conjunction with the events of the World War II and the Nazi era, Austria as a nation has made an effort to establish its own national identity among its population, and nowadays the majority of people do not consider themselves to be German, although a minority still considers themselves to be Germans, a movement known historically as ” Großdeutsch “, which suggests that they consider the historical borders of the people of Germany to extend beyond the borders of the present countries. Nowadays it is estimated that 91.1% of the population are of Austrian descent.

With approximately 300,000 people, Serbs are one of the largest ethnic groups in Austria. From a historical perspective, Serbian immigrants migrated to Austria in the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, during which time Vojvodina has been under Austrian imperial control. After World War II the number of Serbs grew again and today there is a very large Serbian community. The Serbian-Austrian Association was established in 1936. Nowadays Austrian Serbs primarily live in Vienna, Salzburg and Graz.

It is estimated that approximately 13,000 to 40,000 Slovenians in the Austrian state of Carinthia (the Slovenes from Carinthia) as also Croats ( approximately 30,000) and Hungarians in Burgenland were recognized as minorities and were given special rights under the treaty. Slovenes in Styria ( approximately 1,600 to 5,000) is not recognized as a minority and has no particular privileges, though some consider that the State Treaty of 27 July 1955 specifies otherwise.

The legal right to use bilingual topographic signs for areas in which Slovenians and Austro-Croatians live together alongside the German-speaking population (as specified in the State Treaty of 1955) was not fully implemented, in the opinion of some people, although others consider that the treaty – the obligations arising from it – have been respected.

The right to bilingual topographic signage for regions where Slovenians and Austrian-Croatians live alongside the German-speaking population (as stipulated in the State Treaty of 1955) has not yet been fully implemented, according to some, while others believe that the treaty – the obligations arising from it – have been respected (see below). Many people in Carinthia are afraid of Slovenian territorial claims, note that Yugoslav army invaded the territory after both World Wars, and realize that some official Slovenian atlases consider parts of Carinthia to be a Slovenian cultural area. The Recently died Governor Jörg Haider in the fall of 2005 made this a point of public discussion by rejecting to expand the number of bilingual survey panels in Carinthia. A survey carried out by the Carinthian Human Institute in 2006 revealed that 65% of Carinthians do not support an increased number of bilingual topographical road signs, in their opinion the original requirements of the State Treaty of 1955 exist.

One other very interesting phenomenon is the so-called “Windisch theory”, which says that Slovenians can be classified into 2 groups: modern-day Slovenians and Windisch (a traditional German name for Slavs), which is based on linguistic distinctions among Austrian Slovenians who taught the standard Slovenian language at school and Slovenians who spoke the local Slovenian dialect but who attended German schools. The term “Windische” was used to distinguish the latter group. That politically inspired theory, which divides Slovenian Austrians into “loyal Windians” and “Slovenian citizens”, was not generally adopted and was discontinued several decades ago.

Religion In Austria

By the end of the 20th century, approximately 74% of the population of Austria was declared to be Roman Catholic, while approximately 5% declared to be Protestant. The Austrian christians are required to pay an obligatory contribution ( determined by income, about 1%) for the membership of their church; such a payment is called “Kirchenbeitrag” (“church / ecclesiastical contribution”).

Starting in the second half of the 20th century, there has been a decline in the number of believers and church members. The statistics of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria from late 2014 shows 5,265,378 members, which represents 61.4% of Austria’s total population. In 2005, the number of Sunday church attendances was 623,195 or 11.84% of the entire Austrian population. The Lutheran Church also recorded a decline of 47,904 members during the period from 2001 to 2008. The European Commission’s 2012 survey indicates that considerably over 86% of the population of Austria are Christians 77% are Roman Catholics.

Approximately 12% of the population declared that they had no religion. in 2001; this percentage rose to 20% in 2015. Among the remaining people, approximately 340,000 are members of several Muslim communities, mostly due to the migration influx from Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Some 180,000 are members of Orthodox churches ( predominantly Serbs), approximately 21,000 are registered as active Jehovah’s Witnesses and around 8,100 are Jews.

The Austrian Jewish community of 1938 – there were only more than 200,000 in Vienna – decreased to about 4,500 during WWII, with around 65,000 Austro Jews killed in the Holocaust and 130,000 emigrated. The majority of today’s Jewish population are post-war immigrants, particularly from Eastern Europe and Central Asia (including Jews from Bukhara). In 1983 Buddhism became legally recognized as a religion in Austria.

According to the most recent Eurobarometer 2010 survey:

44% of the Austrian population answered that they “believe there is a God”.

38% answered that “they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force”.

12% answered that “they do not actually believe there is any kind of spirit, God or life force”.

Although Northern and Central Germany were the source of the Reformation, Austria and Bavaria were at the very heart of the Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during which the absolute Habsburg Monarchy enforced a strict regime to re-establish the power and influence of Catholicism among the Austrians. For a very long time the Habsburgs considered itself the avant-garde of Catholicism and all other denominations and other religions have been suppressed.

In 1775 Maria Theresa allowed the Mechristliche Congregation of the Armenian Catholic Church to establish its official residence in the Habsburg Empire.

In 1781, during the Austrian Enlightenment, Emperor Joseph II approved a Patent of Tolerance for Austria, which granted other denominations limited religious freedom. Religious freedom became a constitutional right in Cisleithania after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, thus honoring the fact that the monarchy was home to many different religions in addition to Roman Catholicism, which included Greek Orthodox, Serbs, Romanians, Russians and Bulgarians. (for many centuries near the Austria of the Ottoman Empire), Calvinists, Protestant Lutherans and Jews. Following the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, Islam was given official recognition in Austria in 1912.

Austria was still strongly influenced by Catholicism. After 1918, Catholic leaders of the First Republic, such as Theodor Innitzer and Ignaz Seipel, occupied leading positions within or close to the Austrian government and strengthened their influence during the period of Austro-Fascism. Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg considered Catholicism to be the state religion.

Although Catholic (and Protestant) leadership welcomed the Germans in 1938 during the annexation of Austria to Germany, Austrian Catholicism would later break its support for Nazism and former religious prominent figures in public life were involved in the resistance during the Third Reich. Following the end of the World War II in 1945, a more strict secularism was established in Austria and the influence of religion on politics was diminished.

Language & Phrasebook in Austria

The official language of Austria is German, which in its standard national variety known as Austrian (High) German is generally identical to the German used in Germany, with some important differences in vocabulary (many of which refer to the language of the kitchen or the home) and a fairly distinct accent. Most Austrian words are borrowed from Austro-Bavarian, but the languages of neighboring countries have also had an influence. Other languages have some official status in various localities (e.g. Slovene in Carinthia, Burgenland Croatian, and Hungarian in Burgenland).

However, the first language of almost all Austrians is not German, but local dialects of Austro-Bavarian (Boarisch) (also spoken as a first language by many people in Bavaria and South Tyrol, Italy), with the exception of Vorarlberg, where it is replaced by Alemannic (also the first language of the inhabitants of German-speaking Switzerland and Liechtenstein, further of Baden-Württemberg, especially in the southern regions, and partly of Alsace, in France). These two languages belong to the Upper German language family but are only partially intelligible with each other and with German. Especially in big cities, almost everyone will also be able to communicate in German, even if only in conversation with foreigners (including northern Germans). Most Austrians can understand the dialect of another region, but in Vorarlberg, they have the greatest difficulties because it is a German-speaking region.

English is widely spoken and menu translation is the one area where most tourists have language problems. Even competent people who speak German or Austro-Bavarian may find that they are answered in English, and it is not unusual to hear Austrians speaking in English! However, in rural areas, older people sometimes do not speak English. It can therefore be useful to learn some basic phrases in German or Austro-Bavarian when you visit these places.

In the regions of Austria bordering Italy, such as Tyrol, Italian is widely spoken, although the majority language on the Italian side (except in the provincial capital of Bolzano) is still German (in practice Austro-Bavarian).

Due to the immigration to Austria after the Second World War, you will certainly meet people in the big cities whose mother tongue is Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Turkish.

In general, when speaking German, Austrians tend to pronounce the vowels longer and use a pronunciation that is regional but authentic, elegant and melodic; some even consider it the beautiful form of German. Moreover, the “ch”, “h” and “r” are not pronounced as harshly as in Germany, making the accent much softer.

Internet & Communications in Austria

The international phone number is +43.

A number that starts with area code 01 (formerly 0222) means that you are in Vienna. Omit these four digits, then dial the rest of the telephone number. Replace these four digits with a 1.

If the number doesn’t start with 01, just remove the first zero from the area code and dial the rest of the digits.

Telephones

In post offices, public phones are available. Telephone booths are becoming less and less common because people are more and more likely to use their mobile phones these days. Phone boxes usually work with pre-paid cards that can be bought at post offices and kiosks (in German: Trafik).

Telephone numbers start with an area code and then the phone number itself. In order to make a cell phone call, you need to put the prefix “0650,” “0660,” “0664,” “0676,” “0699,” “0680,” or “0681.” There are freephone numbers that start with 0800, service lines that cost the same as a local call start with 0810, and service lines that cost up to €3.63 per minute start with 0900. There is one exception: 05133 is the area code for the Austrian Federal Police. This means that the cost of calling this number will be higher than if you were to call a landline or a cell phone. 0720 is a virtual telephone number (VOIP) that is usually billed at the same rate as a landline, no matter where the person is.

To make cheap international calls from Austria, you can use low-cost services like pennyphone, austriaphone, or fuchstarife, which all charge a fee. The numbering services can be used from any fixed network connection in Austria. In this case, there is no contract or registration that needs done. Most numbering services let you call the United States, Canada, Western Europe, and many other countries for the price of a local call. This means that you can easily save money on your phone bill. This word is most relevant. They also use public phones to do work.

Mobile phones

Austria has a GSM and 3G (UMTS) network that almost all of the country is covered by. Check your phone to see if it works on 900MHz or 1800MHz or 2100MHz (3G WCDMA). In the United States, there are phones that work on 1900 MHz. Austria doesn’t support these phones, so you can’t use them. To buy a new phone with a pre-paid card from an Austrian mobile phone provider may make sense if you plan to stay there for longer. Note that some remote areas (especially mountainous areas) don’t yet have network coverage. This is the exception, not the rule, but it’s important to keep this in mind. Even the underground lines in Vienna are covered.

Even though Austria is a small country, there are a lot of mobile providers, like A1, T-Mobile, Orange, Drei (3G), Telering, Tele2, Bob, Yesss, and Vectone Mobile.

Bob, Vectone Mobile, and Yesss are three of the most cheap pre-paid cell phone providers right now. A pre-paid card costs 15 euros and comes with 100 minutes of talk time. After that, you pay 6.8 centimes per minute to all Austrian networks, and 70 centimes to all other major countries. This is how it worked in June 2008. The Yesss SIM card can only be bought at the Hofer counter. No, not only does Yesss sell cheap UMTS data cards, but it also sells them for a low price (which are different from normal SIM cards). If you want to start, you’ll get 1 GB of traffic in the starter kit for 20 euros! To keep the SIM card from going bad, you have to recharge it once a year. There is no charge for the Vectone Mobile Sim card. It doesn’t need to be preloaded. It can be bought on the website.

If you have a bank account in Austria, you can buy a registered (non-prepaid) Bob SIM card, which means you can use it. To call other Austrian networks then, the price will be only 4 cents per minute for each minute. There is no set price and no minimum charge, so there is no charge at all.

For a pre-paid SIM card, the new service provider, Eety, charges only 13 cents to send a text message to Germany and 9 cents to send a short message (SMS) anywhere in the world. It can be bought online at www.eety.eu. It can also be found in some stores in big cities.

Many times, you can buy an Austrian prepaid SIM card online before you leave, which can be convenient because you will get instructions in English and your cell phone number before you leave, which can be very helpful.

Internet

Internet cafes can be found in bigger cities. People who stay at a hotel in a city usually have internet terminals, and more expensive hotels have internet access in the rooms. They have “Gratis WLAN,” which means there are many places where you can get free WiFi (unlimited time and traffic). For example, every McDonald’s has free WiFi (unlimited time and traffic).

There are many cheap and fast mobile broadband providers in Austria. 3G coverage is very good in the most populated areas, and it’s very good in the cities. There are a lot of companies that let you pay for things as you go, even if you’re not a resident of the country. These don’t need to be registered and can be added to with vouchers that can be found in stores, at ATMs, or online.

If you want to buy a SIM card or a micro-SIM with 1 GB of data, Bob has one for sale. You pay for it as you use it. There is a “data package” that allows you to buy extra traffic for a fee of 4 euros per GB. Please be aware of the higher prices for traffic (6.8ct/MB) if you don’t book a data plan. All post offices and some supermarkets have them. “Bob Breitband Startpaket,” which costs $14.90, is what you should ask for. SIM cards come with a working cell phone number and can also be bought with a contract-free USB modem.

You can get SIM or micro SIM cards with 1 GB of traffic for €9.90 from Yesss, which is an Orange subsidiary. You’ll pay for what you use. In order to get more traffic, you can pay €20 for 2 GB of extra space. In Hofer supermarkets, you can find it (ask for the “Yesss Start Package” at the checkout). SIM cards come with a working cell phone number and can also be bought with a contract-free USB modem.

A1 has an online shop where you can buy prepaid data SIM cards for mobile internet – internet with a prepaid card – and they can send them to any address in Austria. (Hotel pick-up service) It’s possible to pay with a credit card, and the package can be tracked as well. At 10 euros for 3GB/30 days at 4/2 Mbit/s, you get a lot of space and speed.

Festivals & Holidays in Austria

Date English translation Local name
1 January New Year’s Day New Year
6 January Epiphany Epiphany
* Easter Monday Easter Monday
1 May National Day State holiday
* Ascension Day Ascension Day
* Whit Monday Whit Monday
* Fête-Dieu Corpus Christi
15 August Assumption of the Virgin Mary Assumption Day
26 October National Day National Day
1 November All Saints’ Day All Saints’ Day
8 December Immaculate Conception Immaculate Conception
25 December Christmas Day Christmas Day
Boxing Day Saint Stephen’s Day Saint Stephen’s Day

Economy Of Austria

Austria is the 12th wealthiest country in the world in per capita terms of GDP (gross domestic product), and has a well-developed social market economy and a very high standard of living. Many of Austria’s largest industrial companies had been nationalized by the 1980s; however, in recent years the process of privatization has lowered state stocks to a level that is comparable to other European economies. Trade union movements are especially prominent in Austria and have a major influence on labor policy. Together with a highly developed industry, international tourism is the most important part of the economy.

Historically, Germany was Austria’s most important trading partner and therefore Austria is vulnerable to rapid economic changes in Germany. Since becoming a member of the EU, Austria has established stronger ties with other EU economies and has decreased its economic dependence on Germany. Additionally, EU membership has attracted an inflow of foreign investments, which has been boosted by Austria’s access to the single European market and its proximity to emerging EU economies. In 2006, GDP growth reached 3.3%. A minimum of 67% of Austrian imports come from other member states of the European Union.

On November 16, 2010, Austria announced its intention to withhold the December portion of its EU rescue contribution to Greece, pointing to the significant deterioration in Greece’s debt position and the country’s obvious inability to collect on its debt. . . tax revenues which had been promised earlier.

The Eurozone crisis has affected the Austrian economy in several other ways. For example, in December 2009, due to financial difficulties, the government took over Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank for EUR 1 and wiped out the EUR 1.63 billion from BayernLB. In February 2014, the problems with HGAA were not resolved, and Chancellor Werner Faymann has warned that its collapse would be similar to the Creditanstalt event of 1931.

Since the fall of communism, Austrian companies have been very active players and consolidators in Eastern Europe. From 1995 to 2010, 4,868 mergers and acquisitions were carried out with a total value of 163 billion euros announced with the participation of Austrian companies . The most significant transactions with Austrian companies have been: the takeover of Bank Austria from Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank for 7.8 billion € in 2000, the takeover of Porsche Holding Salzburg by the Volkswagen Group for 3.6 billion € in 2009 and the takeover of Banca Comercială Română from Erste Group for 3,700 million €.

Tourism represents almost 9% of the gross domestic product of Austria. In 2007, Austria ranked 9th in the world in international tourism income with 18.9 billion US dollars. In terms of international tourist-arrivals, Austria ranked 12th with 20.8 million visitors.

Entry Requirements For Austria

Visa & Passport for Austria

Austria is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

– Normally there are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and some other countries.

– Identity checks are usually carried out before boarding international flights or ships. Sometimes there are temporary checks at land borders.

– A visa issued to a Schengen member is also valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.

– For more information on how the program works, the countries that are members of the program, and their nationality requirements, see Travel within the Schengen area.

One of the best ways to stay in the country for more than 90 days is to study on a student visa, for example by studying on a TEFL course.

How To Travel To Austria

Get In - By plane

There are 6 airports in Austria with regular flights. The main international airport is Vienna Airport (IATA: VIE), which is linked to most of the major airports in the world. Some other international airports are Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz and Salzburg, which have domestic flights and connections to several European countries. Those airports are particularly popular with low-cost airlines like Ryanair. When traveling to the western states, we suggest using the nearby Munich Airport. Although Bratislava has fewer connections than Munich or Vienna, it is just 70 km from Vienna and there is a regular bus connection.

Some of the most frequent airports visiting Vorarlberg are Altenrhein (Austrian), Friedrichshafen (Ryanair) and Zurich (Switzerland).

If you are going to Austria for ski, you should choose the airport considering the cost and duration of the whole trip (plane + transfer), not necessarily Vienna and most probably not in Austria.

In contrary to many other countries, skiing in Austria shouldn’t mean flying to the national capital first. Vienna herself is a four-hour drive away from the closest medium-sized complex and with public transport it is longer.

Get In - By bus

The bus is not necessarily the cheapest way to travel, however, large discounts are being introduced for long distance travel (to Warsaw for 1 €). Travelling by bus may also be the cheapest option if you want to travel at short notice or if you have a significant amount of luggage. For those coming from the East, travelling by bus is especially interesting as there are plenty of buses to Vienna and they tend to be faster in comparison to trains.

In addition, most of the companies that operate intercity buses in Germany also operate to the main Austrian cities.

Eurolines Austria is the biggest Austrian bus operator and tour operator, while many services are actually not included in their timetables.

Hellö a subcompany of ÖBB, operates several international routes to/from Austria.

Get In - By car

Austria as well as all of its neighboring countries are part of Schengen, which means that theoretically they have no border checks. In order to use the autobahns or highways, a vignette or tax sticker is required to be purchased and attached to the car windshield. It costs 80,60 € for a year, 24,20 € for a period of 8 weeks or approximately 8,30 € for a period of 10 days and can be purchased at most gas stations before the border and at the border. For some larger tunnels an additional fee of approximately 4 to 10 € is charged.

During some Saturdays in July and August, congestion is expected on the freeways between Germany, Austria and Italy as millions of German tourists travel south at the start of the summer school vacations. A delay of approximately 2 hrs. is not uncommon. The A10 highway connecting Salzburg and Villach is especially notorious. You should be well advised to avoid these Saturdays.

From Germany

  • Motorway A8 from Munich to Salzburg.
  • Motorway A93 from Rosenheim via Kufstein to Innsbruck, Tyrol.
  • E43 (A96) from Leutkirch via Wangen to Bregenz, Vorarlberg.
  • E56 from Regensburg via Passau to Linz, Upper Austria.

From Italy

  • Motorway A23 to Villach, Carinthia.
  • E54 via Brenner to Innsbruck, Tyrol.

From Slovenia

  • E652 to Villach, Carinthia.
  • E57 via Spielfeld to Graz, Styria.

Get In - By train

Austria has numerous daily connections to and from all its neighbors. All of its neighboring countries ( also including Liechtenstein) are served by trains to and from Austria at a minimum of hourly intervals. Many (Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland) have even more frequent connections. ÖBB operates high-speed ICE and RailJet trains from cities such as Zurich, Munich, Frankfurt, Passau, Prague and Budapest in co-operation with local railroads like Deutsche Bahn or Česke Dráhy. Eurocity trains are the second-fastest trains available, as well as trains connecting Austria’s biggest cities called Intercity. Local trains called EURegio and basic regional trains are also available from the 8 neighbors of Austria.

Vienna is the major railroad junction, although day and night trains from most of the Central European countries go to many stations in Austria. In general, day trains are a lot faster compared to night trains. You can purchase tickets at some locations in Austria through the ÖBB website. Make sure you always compare the rates of the railroads in the departure or transit countries, as there might be price differences even for the very same train. ÖBB offers discounted SparSchiene train tickets to and from countries such as Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia and Switzerland for an all-inclusive price (e.g. 29 € for a single seat, 39 € for a couchette or 59 € for a bed). Only a limited number of tickets are offered at this price. In high season advance booking is required. There are additional offers available for all Central European countries, however, many of them are not bookable online.

Information for trainspotters
In Austria, most railroads are electrically operated. Most of the electric trains receive their electricity from a single-phase alternating current network. This network utilizes its own power lines, which are run at 110 kV. In contrast to normal power lines, they use a number of conductors that is not divisible by 3 – the majority of power lines for the single-phase alternating current network of the railroad power grid have 4 conductors. Many interesting mountain railroads of all kinds and trains from all over Central Europe are available.

From Slovakia

  • South of the Austrian-Czech-Slovak trilateral border, between Hohenau an der March (Austria) and Moravský Svätý Ján (Slovakia), there is a pontoon bridge accessible only to pedestrians and cyclists. The path leads through a flat landscape, is very quiet and can be easily covered by bicycle. Its length is about 6 kilometers, of which the 4 kilometers on the Slovak side are a completely straight, unchanging landscape, which can feel a little boring.
  • The Bratislava Municipal Transport Company (DPB) operates a cross-border bus line No. 901 between Hainburg on the Danube (Austria) and Bratislava (Slovakia), with a stop also in the Austrian town of Wolfsthal. In Bratislava the final stop is Nový most.
  • There is a pontoon ferry accessible for cars and pedestrians between Angern an der March (Austria) and Záhorská Ves (Slovakia). It is open from 5 p.m. to 22 p.m.

How To Travel Around Austria

Get Around - By train and bus

Trains are the most efficient and most common form of mass-transportation in Austria. Comfortable and inexpensive trains connect bigger cities and numerous towns; buses connect less significant towns and lakes. The two forms of transport are integrated and designed to work together, and intercity buses do exist, but they do not provide the same level of intercity rail transport. The two and a half hour train journey from Vienna to Graz takes you along one of the oldest mountain railroads in the world. In order to cross the Alps, 14 tunnels and 16 viaducts were built. Trains between the major Austrian cities, Vienna and Graz, run hourly.

The Austrian trains are mostly operated by the state-owned company ÖBB [www]. The Raaberbahn (GySEV) [www] operates some trains across the Austrian-Hungarian border, and there are several short private railroads with tourist trains that complement rather than compete with ÖBB.

ÖBB’s only competitor is WestBahn on the Salzburg-Linz-Vienna route (the company shares the name of the route on which it operates). Railroad passes, ÖBB tickets and VORTEILScard are non-valid on the WestBahn; you can buy tickets online or on board. Free Wi-Fi.

ÖBB also operates buses (InterCityBus) on the route Graz-Klagenfurt-Venice, since the road between these towns is considerably shorter than the railroad.

Train types

  • S (S-Bahn/Schnellbahn) – commuter trains, which are available in several regions and suburbs
  • R (Regionalzug) – slow local trains, stops everywhere
  • REX (Regionalexpress) – fast regional trains, stop at major stations
  • IC (InterCity) – Long-distance trains that connect major cities and municipalities.
  • EC (EuroCity) – international long-distance trains
  • WB (WestBahn) – private competitor’s InterCity service, no through ticketing to other trains possible outside Upper Austria.
  • ICE (InterCityExpress) – German high-speed trains
  • RJ (Railjet) – Austria’s homemade high-speed trains – in contrast to the ICE they are locomotive-drawn and can transport bicycles

In both suburban and regional trains usually only second-class tickets are available. In ICE, IC and EC trains, you will find the second class, which has plenty of spacious soft seats, as well as the First class, that is more private and has even more comfortable leather seats. RailJet has three classes in economy class, which are similar to a second class and in which tickets are valid in second class. First class offers more comfortable leather seats and services including a welcome drink, while in the premium class you can enjoy even more services at your seat.

Tickets

ÖBB is selling domestic train tickets at a price that is based purely on the travel distance, no matter when you buy the ticket and regardless of which train you take. While the basic price is quite expensive, the Austrian railroads do offer several significant discounts. If you purchase a single ticket from Salzburg to Vienna, this same ticket is applicable to any train that takes you to Vienna, even a foreign train that makes a stop in Austria. ( Except for all trains operated by WestBahn, you can identify these trains by their white livery with light green and blue stripes.)

You can order (and pay for) tickets online, including lines via connecting trains and privately managed narrow-gauge railroads ( as in the Zillertal). For a modest fee, you can also reserve seats. We strongly recommend this if you plan to travel with any luggage. Online ordered tickets have to be printed out and shown to the conductor on request. They have to be printed as they will be scanned and provided with barcodes.

There are automatic ticket machines at all the major train stations and on boards of some regional trains. If you are getting on regional trains, you will need to have bought a ticket before boarding. Whenever possible, you should buy a ticket from the railroad office or from the vending machine at the train station from which you depart. (That includes most of the stations. Such stations are marked with SB in all ÖBB timetables). Vending machines do not indicate or print travel routes, and many train stations only display basic timetables. It would be best to search for a travel route in the Travel Planner on the website of Austrian Railways. Many stations also provide brochures with more detailed timetables. However, they presuppose that you know exactly which line you need to take to reach your final destination and you can only purchase them during normal business hours.

Discounts

  • SparSchiene offers cheap tickets between national and international cities. While these tickets are not based on distance, they are less expensive if they are booked online in advance and bound to a specific route and train time. These offers can be very tempting, particularly for people who do not have the VORTEILScard. However, be aware that they are not as flexible as normal tickets and are non-refundable or exchangeable and are frequently sold out at peak times. For instance, SparSchiene tickets from Salzburg to Klagenfurt can be purchased for 9 € for the second class, in comparison to 35 € for the normal price or 18 € with the VORTEILScard.
  • VORTEILScard offers you a discount of 45-55% on every national train ticket (depending on type of train and if you purchase it online, at a vending machine or at the counter) and a 25% discount on cross-border European trains ( also known as RailPlus discount). The VC also applies to all private railroads except rack and WestBahn. The tickets are valid for one year, initially via a temporary printed paper ticket ( which is printed and valid for the first two months). A plastic ticket is typically sent out in two weeks after the original purchase. The VC is also available at all ticket offices and counters of the ÖBB station. You will need your passport to fill up this form and purchase your VORTEILScard. A photo is not required anymore. For this reason, you should always get an identification card to verify your identity.

For one year:

  • VORTEILScard ( standard ) will cost 99 € if you are not entitled to the following. VORTEILScard Youth costs € 19 for children under 26 years.
  • VORTEILScard Senior costs € 29 for men and women from 61 years of age.
  • People with reduced physical mobility or disability (e.g. people with visual impairments) can benefit from other versions of the VORTEILScard at extremely nominal prices, although it is a challenge to obtain them with foreign papers or worse outside the EU. (However, you can waive the seat reservation fee).

A single ticket from Vienna to Salzburg (one way) normally costs 50 Euro and with the VORTEILScard 25 Euro. Therefore, if you are under 26, the card is an excellent value for a one-way ticket!

  • Group discount for 2 or more persons will receive a discount of 5 to 30%. Kids, teenagers up to 18 years and young people with VORTEILScard <26 will pay half of the reduced rate.
  • Einfach-Raus-Ticket ticket may be used by groups of 2 to 5 persons (not suitable for single passengers). For unlimited one-day train travel on all Austrian regional trains (categories S, R and REX) and on trains operated by the Raaberbahn. It is available from 9:00 am. Monday to Friday (midnight on weekends) up to 3:00 am the following day. The total cost of tickets is 35 €, online [www], or at vending machines, at stations or elsewhere ÖBB tickets are sold.
  • Einfach-Raus-Bicycle ticket – Cost: 39 €

Get Around - By car

The rural or sparsely settled regions of Austria are more easily accessible by car, since the bus connections can be limited. Many of the most famous places in the mountains are only accessible by car or by foot / ski. Renting a vehicle for a couple of days is a good approach to get off the beaten track. To drive in Austria is actually very pleasant as the roads are in good condition, not overloaded and offer a fantastic landscape. Be aware of dangerous drivers: Austrians are in general a very law-abiding crowd, however behind the steering-wheel they seem to make an exception from their caring attitude. You can buy complete maps of Austria, specific regions of Austria (including city maps) and maps as well of neighboring countries at every gas station. You can expect to pay about 7 € for a map.

Like many European cities, city parking on weekdays is expensive. Normally those parking spaces are highlighted with blue coloured lines on the street. In some cities (such as Vienna) there are zones at area levels which are not marked with blue lines. The rates vary from one city to another, as well as the fines that are charged if you do not have a valid ticket, which are usually ranging from 20 to 30 €. You can usually buy tickets at kiosks. Several cities (like Graz) provide tickets from vending machines on the city streets. A cheaper alternative is to park your car just outside the city in one of the Park and Ride parking lots and use public transportation from there. These structures can be found in every major city.

If you drive on highways or expressways, you will have to pay tolls. If your vehicle weighs less than 3,500 kg, you must purchase a toll sticker in advance, which you can buy at any gas station or at the border. Vignettes can be purchased for 10 days (€8.30), 2 months (€24.20) or 1 year (€80.60; technically valid until January of the following year) (2012). The fact that there is no sticker for one day or two weeks is not a mistake, it is a feature that most Germans who pass by on the way to and from Italy are spending two weeks there. The vignette is intended to guarantee a maximum income for the transit travelers.

If you want to cross Austria via the A14 from the German border to the Swiss border at Hohenems / Diepoldsau, you can buy a corridor vignette instead. This is valid for a single trip on this road and can be purchased at the border for €2.00 (or €4.00 return).

Vehicles weighing more than 3,500 kg must buy a GO-Box, a transponder that deducts the toll when vehicles are driving on the freeway or expressway. The GO-Box costs €5 and tolls can be paid in advance (€75 initially, followed by €50 per top-up) or can be paid by invoice afterwards. Prices vary between 0.15 € and 0.39 € / km depending on the number of axles. The surcharges depend on the time of day and for some highways.

Driving a car on the freeway without a vignette is sanctioned with the payment of a replacement toll of 120 € (65 € for motorcycles) (which allows you to drive on the freeway on this and the following day) or a fine of up to € 300, and if the fine is not paid on the spot, valuables from the vehicle and the person can be confiscated to ensure that the fine is paid. You must attach the sticker to the windshield of your vehicle, preferably in the upper center or in one of the corners on the driver’s side, otherwise it is not valid, a common mistake by foreigners in Austria. The highway police regularly checks vignettes. Driving without a valid GO-Box costs 220 € if necessary, and setting the wrong toll class results in a replacement toll of 110 €.

What not to do with a Vignette
Under no circumstances you should not share a vignette with another vehicle, as in this way the vignette is invalid (and the label should indicate whether it has been invalidated in this way). The penalty will double the replacement fee or cause a fine of up to €3,000. Payment can be secured by confiscation of valuables from your car.

On certain roads, especially on mountain passes, there are additional tolls which you must pay in banknotes (not coins) or by credit card. One example is the Brenner Pass, just before the A13 motorway enters Italy, where a toll of at least €7.95 per journey is charged.

The speed limits are 130 km / h on freeways and 100 km / h on highways and federal roads. Otherwise, expect speed limits of 50-80 km / h.

The headlights should always be switched on.

The rules on freeways are very similar to the rules in Germany. For example, you are not allowed to drive past on the right and the minimum speed is 60 km / h (vehicles that cannot drive 60 km / h are not allowed on the Autobahn). The only big and obvious difference is that there is a general speed limit of 130 km / h (as in all neighboring countries except Germany), which is enforced like any other speed limit.

Be especially careful when driving in winter, especially in the mountains (and note that winter in the higher parts of the Alps lasts from September to May and snowfall is generally possible at any time of the year). Freezy roads kill dozens of unexperienced drivers each year. Avoid accelerating and driving at night and make sure your car is in good condition. Freeway bridges are particularly vulnerable to ice. Slow down to 80 km / h when driving over them.

Winter tires are mandatory between November 1 and April 15. During the winter season most rental cars are equipped with winter tires. An additional fee may be charged. (Some rental companies use all-season tires. In this case you may be able to deduct this fee). The use of winter tires is also strongly recommended by Austrian automobile clubs. In case of snowfall, on some mountain passes and occasionally on freeways, winter tires or snow chains are required by law. This is indicated by a round traffic sign which shows a white tire or a white chain on a blue background. It is always a good idea to take a pair of snow chains and a warm blanket in the trunk. Drivers sometimes get trapped in their cars for a few hours and sometimes they suffer from hypothermia.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to rent an off-road vehicle in winter (although an off-road vehicle is helpful). In fact, small, light cars can handle narrow mountain roads better than sluggish off-road vehicles.

Nearly all public roads in Austria are either paved or at least asphalted. The problems usually encountered are ice and steepness, not bumps. If you are driving downhill, snow chains are the only means against slipping, no matter what vehicle you are in.

Gasoline is cheaper in Austria than in some neighboring countries, but still more expensive than in America.

Get Around - By plane

Although most of Austria’s breathtaking landscapes will be missing, it is possible to travel within Austria by plane.

Domestic flights usually cost between 300 and 500 euros for a return flight. Although Austrian Airlines offers limited tickets for 99 Euro (Redtickets), they must usually be booked 2 or 3 months in advance. Since the country is small, it is unlikely that the total travel time is shorter than by train or car. In other words, fly only when you are on a business trip.

These domestic airports are served by airlines such as Austrian Arrows, Niki and Welcome Air:

– Graz (Thalerhof) for eastern Styria and southern Burgenland

– Innsbruck (Kranebitten), Tyrolean Service

– Klagenfurt (Airport Wörthersee) with connection to Carinthia

– Linz (Hörsching), Upper Austrian Service

– Salzburg (Wals) for Salzburg and Berchtesgaden (Bavaria)

– Vienna (Schwechat) with connections to Vienna and Lower Austria

These are the international airports serving western Austria:

– Altenrhein Airport (Switzerland), which serves Vorarlberg, Liechtenstein, Eastern Switzerland and Lake Constance

– Friedrichshafen (Germany) for Vorarlberg, Baden-Württemberg and Lake Constance

Minimum validity of travel documents
– EU, EEA and Swiss citizens as well as visa-free non-EU citizens (e.g. New Zealand and Australia) need only present a passport valid for the entire duration of their stay in Austria.
– However, other citizens who require a visa (e.g. South Africans) must present a passport with a validity of at least 3 months, which extends beyond the duration of their stay in Austria.
– Further information on the minimum validity of travel documents can be found on the website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Destinations in Austria

Cities in Austria

  • Vienna—the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre

Vienna, city of great museums and palaces, the birthplace of opera and Beethoven, is thriving city of culture. A promenade alongside the magnificent Ringstrasse boulevard surrounded by royal palaces such as the Hofburg and countless magnificent parks is an excellent opportunity to let the magic of Vienna take effect on you. Vienna is considered to be one of the best cities in Austria. For a relaxing evening, you should also enjoy a nice coffee in one of the cafés in Vienna. The luxurious Schönbrunn and Belvedere palaces and the sumptuously decorated St. Stephen’s Cathedral are architectural masterpieces and a must-see for those interested in art and history. Be sure to enjoy the world famous Viennese coffee in some of the numerous charming coffee houses. Best for: History, Architecture, Culture When to visit: April-May, September-October

  • Bregenz—famous for the annual summer music festival of Bregenzer Festspiele

Bregenz is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Constance and has a breathtaking view of the Swiss and German Alps. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Austria. Bregenz is well known for its lake festivals and various cultural events, most notably the Bregenz Festival, which takes place annually in July and August. Performed by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and several other top musicians, this festival has a truly unique floating stage. Travelers visiting Bregenz are advised to take the time to enjoy a ride on the Pfänderbahn, which takes you to the Pfänder. From here you will be able to see the peaks of the surrounding mountains as well as visit the Alpine Wildlife Park and the famous Eagle Observatory. During winter the mountain is becoming a popular skiing area. Best for: Nature, Culture When To Visit: July-August

  • Eisenstadt—historically the seat of the Eszterházy Hungarian noble family that gave the town its aristocratic feel

Eisenstadt, the capital of the province of Burgenland, is one of Austria’s most beautiful places, known for its rich history. The city used to be the home of the famous composer Joseph Haydn during the 18th century. Its magnificent baroque castles, well-maintained gardens and its historical museums have made it a very popular tourist destination in Austria. The most popular sight of the city is the Esterházy Palace which dates back to the 14th century, once the home of the Esterházy princes. Nowadays this beautiful example of baroque and traditional style serves as a venue for several events, most notably the Haydn Festival. Best For: History When To Visit: September-November

  • Graz—known as Austria’s culinary capital and student city

Graz is Austria’s second largest city and after the takeover by the Habsburgs in the 12th century the city became an important economic center. Nowadays it carries the title of European Capital of Culture, is reminiscent of Murinsel, a steel sculpture situated on the river Mur and used for recreation and as an amphitheater. Graz is furthermore famous for being the hometown of the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it has a small museum that is dedicated to his career. Graz’s old town is a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and has impressive baroque architectural structures such as stucco facades and artistic woodcarvings. The Haus am Luegg is a especially attractive piece of architecture, while the Landhaus and the Rathaus are examples of the Renaissance style. A great example of late Gothic style architecture can be seen in the Franciscan church. There are several museums in the old town, among them the Theriak-Museum of the Mohren Pharmacy and the Stadtmuseum Graz there is also the Robert-Stoltz-Museum, which is devoted to one of the composers of  the 19th century. In Graz there are several good museums, among them the Stadtmuseum Graz and the Landeszeughaus, the world’ s largest historical armoury in the world, as also a unique pharmacy museum (Mohren Apotheke’s Theriak Museum). Those who are interested in art are also recommended to have a look at the Kunsthaus Graz, which is located in a very strange metal building which looks like an extraterrestrial capsule. Other significant tourist attractions and places of interest are the Graz Cathedral (St. Gile’s Cathedral), a late Gothic structure offering many impressive features, and also the Mariatrost Basilica, a Baroque church that is an important pilgrimage attraction. Only a few minutes away from the city, the Baroque castle from 1635, Schloss Eggenberg, is home not only to some beautiful architecture and well-preserved huts, as well as several hundred magnificent sculptures and paintings. Best For: History, Food, Education When To Visit: April-September

  • Innsbruck—the cultural and economic centre of Western Austria

This idyllic alpine town, which is surrounded by high mountains, has a lot to offer that will make your stay worthwhile. You can stroll through the Old Town and have a look at the impressive Goldenes Dachl, which is covered with more than 2,500 sparkling tiles, or you can visit the Tiroler Volkskunstmuseum , which is one of the finest museums of regional heritage in Europe. Innsbruck is a destination for all seasons of the year and is one of the most charming places you can visit at Austria in winter. It has world renowned ski resorts where you can have fun during the winter months. Fans of adventure will be able to hike through wonderful meadows, to bungee jump on the Europa Bridge and take a thrilling funicular ride through the Nordkette. Best For: Adventure, Architecture, Culture When To Visit: December-April

  • Klagenfurt—scenic town very close to the Wörthersee

Klagenfurt is a little town located near the Slovenian border in South Austria, which originated as a humble market town. The Old Square crosses through the oldest part of town is a lovely pedestrian zone with baroque architecture like the Old Town Hall and the House of the Golden Goose. It also has some of the city’s top stores and cafes and a lively open-air market, the Benedictine Market. Just behind the Old Square is the Landhaus, a magnificent 16th century building that features a 2-story arcaded courtyard and 2 onion-shaped arched towers. The New Square is the heart of the new town area, a lovely and broad square on which the Lindwurm fountains are situated. In this spectacular sculpture, the symbol of the city is shown, a giant dragon that is believed to actually have inhabited the swamp on from which the town was built. The cathedral of Klagenfurt, constructed in the end of the 16th century, was the residence of the prince-bishop of Gurk starting in 1787. In this spectacular building you will find stucco details, skilfully crafted marble details and paintings dating back to the 18th century. The building is also home to the Gurk Diocesan Museum, which contains numerous ecclesiastical findings. Klagenfurt is also the location of the Landesmuseum Kärnten, which displays a variety of local art and nature exhibitions. Best For: History When To Visit: September-November

  • Linz—a vibrant music and arts scene and a beautiful historic core

Linz is a magnificent city which is often overlooked by travellers. The city is home to many historical, cultural as well as scenic attractions and a variety of shopping opportunities. It is situated on the River Danube and is an excellent starting point for boat tours and for discovering the many surrounding villages. The most important historical attraction of the city is the Linz Castle, a fortification and royal palace, which is also home to the Castle Museum. This museum of history has a wonderful collection of archaeological artifacts from prehistory to the Middle Ages. The central part of Linz’s old town is the Hauptplatz, which used to be the central marketplace. It is surrounded by splendid decorated baroque architecture and is an excellent place to take pictures and watch people. On the nearby promenade, you will find a wide range of shopping boutiques, art galleries and street cafés. The oldest church in Linz ‘is the Martinskirche, which was built in the 8th century with its early Carolingian architectural style and several Roman elements as well as a series of frescoes dating back to the 15th century. Neuer Dom (the new cathedral) was constructed between 1862 and 1924 using yellow sandstone in neo-Gothic style. The most remarkable features include a stained-glass window representing the history of the city as well the 135 meter high tower. Best For: Sightseeing When To Visit: May- September

  • Salzburg—A city with an attractive setting and scenic Alpine backdrop

The city of Salzburg is located on the Salzach River in the north-west of Austria and is as famous for its stunning historical architecture as it is equally famous for its impressive musical heritage as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the world famous composer. The house where the Mozart was born is now open as a museum and displays a violin that he used as a child, as well as original compositions and various other artifacts. In the festival halls of the Salzburg Festival, comprising the Festspielhaus and the Mozart House, are held classical music festivals and regular concerts during the whole year. In the old part of town there are several historical monuments, among them the Residenzbrunnen fountain dating from the 17th century. You can also find the Salzburg Residenz, a 16th century royal residence, known for its baroque and neoclassical style. Other attractions include the pedestrian zone Getreidegasse with its lavishly decorated facades and a large number of boutiques as well as the old Kranzlmarkt and a number of sidewalks with porticoes which give a romantic touch to the surroundings. Located above the old town is the Hohensalzburg, a lovely late Gothic palace containing two outstanding military museums. Two of the other beautiful palaces in Salzburg are known to be the location of scenes from All Together Passionately which are among the most popular tourist attractions. The pergola and a tree-lined alleyway of Hellbrunn Palace has been used in a cult scene, and the rest of the park is also equally charming, with its gardens and make-up fountains which have been installed by the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg Markus Sittikus. The baroque style gardens of Mirabell Palace (Mirabell Palace) were also featured in The Sound of Music. A stroll through the gardens and to admire the fountains, statues and terraced sceneries is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. The Salzburg Cathedral is one of the most significant religious sites in Salzburg. This Italian Gothic building was finished in 1657 and Mozart was baptized here. There is also the Cathedral Museum, which contains a collection of important ecclesiastical artifacts. The Collegiate Church of St. Peter (St. Peter Church) features some remarkable early Gothic and Rococo ornamental features. Best For: Architecture, Photography, Music When To Visit: September-October

  • Villach—beautiful Altstadt surrounded by the Alps and various lakes

Villach is one of the largest cities in the province of Carinthia and is situated between two mountain chains in the south of Austria not far from the border between Italy and Slovenia. The central square is filled with numerous charming buildings and courtyards where you can find countless boutiques, galleries and street cafés. Villach also has several historic churches, including the ornate Heiligenkreuzkirche dating from the 18th century and the Gothic parish church of St. Jacob which dates from the 14th century. Numerous skiers and hikers in Gerlitzen, find their comfortable accommodation in Villach, which is easily accessible by car or train. Also nearby Villach is the Affenberg Zoo, a fantastic family attraction in which you can observe Japanese macaques. At the medieval castle Landskron which has a panoramic view of the city, there is a falconry program. When To Visit: December-April

Other destinations in Austria

  • Lake Constance—a large lake situated in Vorarlberg and shared with Switzerland and Germany

As one of the best places in Austria, the magical beauty of Lake Constance will leave you breathless. This lake extends across three countries; Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It is not just the third largest lake in Europe, but one of the most picturesque sights of the continent. You can have a picnic day and enjoy the magnificent view of the surrounding area. In winter this place is famous for its thermal baths. You can also take a boat trip on the lake. Therefore, if you are wondering where in Austria you should go, you should definitely consider this place.

  • Kaprun—part of the Europa Sport Region

Kaprun is well known internationally for its outstanding mountain railroads. One of these is the Glacial Aerial Tramway Kaprun III, the third section of the cable car on the Kitzsteinhorn.  It operates on a 113.6 m high supporting column, the world’ s highest supporting column of any cable car. Since 2000, Kaprun’s most modern mountain transport technology has been overshadowed by the Kaprun disaster when a funicular in the Kitzsteinhorn was caught on fire in the middle of a 3.3 km long tunnel. 155 skiers and employees have died in flames and smoke as a consequence of the disaster and since then the tunnel has been closed. There is a monument in the old funicular.

  • Pinswang — one of the most ancient settlements of the North Tyrolean Ausserfern, on the border with Bavaria and a short walk or drive to the famous castles of King Ludwig

Pinswang is a scenic ancient mountain village in the Austrian Ausserfern in the north of Tyrol. It is situated on the boundary of the Allgäu region in Bavaria. Pinswang is a peaceful, charming village in the northernmost region of the Austrian Tyrol, known as Ausserfern. With a population of about 430 inhabitants, Pinswang is situated in a lush green alpine valley between two large marketing cities. Reutte is located about 8 km to the south in Austria and Füssen approximately the same distance to the north-east in Germany. Pinswang is subdivided into two parts, Oberpinswang and Unterpinswang. The village government, school and church are all located in Unterpinswang.

  • Salzkammergut—a stunning cultural landscape among mountains and lakes

This picturesque tourist area near Salzburg offers the typical Austrian experience with sparkling blue lakes (76 lakes), stunning mountain ranges, charming villages and sophisticated health resorts. The fairytale village of Hallstatt is situated next to Lake Hallstatt and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the most charming places in Austria. Unquestionably one of the most stunning places in Austria, with the lovely pastel-colored houses of Halstatt, the underground salt lake Salzwelten and the ice cave on the Dachstein that will leave you speechless. The spa town of Bad Ischl and the romantic St. Wolfgang are two other popular destinations for tourists. Best For: Nature, Culture, Spas, Adventure When To Visit: September-October

  • Thermenland—the great spas of Styria, an easy daytrip from Graz or Vienna

(Styrian) Thermenland is in the province of Styria. To the east of the Thermenland is the Termenwelt in Burgenland. Both of them offer great spas. The hot springs of Styria are very popular and they have a long tradition. You can get anything that a beauty spa could offer. Typically, you come to this region from Graz or Vienna. There are buses and trains to all spas. However you may have to change your transport vehicle a couple of times.

  • Wörthersee—one of Austria’s warmest lakes

Canoeing, caving, beautiful churches and the hometown of Porsche are good enough reasons to visit Austria’s most popular summer destination for a couple of days. In the summer months, the lovely Worthersee lake offers numerous opportunities for swimming, boating and canoeing. You can go to the colorful Griffen Stalactite Cave to get inspired and explore. Have a look at the old Gurk Dome from the 12th century and visit Gmund, the birthplace of Porsche. Best For: Adventure, Nature When To Visit: June-August

  • Zell am See—one of the most important alpine tourist towns in Austria

The world-class ski slopes, the crystal blue water of the Zell-Am lake and the picturesque Salzburg mountains make Zell Am one of the most beautiful places in Austria for both natural beauty and relaxation. We recommend adding this place to your travel plans when you visit Austria in March. Cycling along the breathtaking lake or swimming in the spectacular blue waters of the lake are some of the most exciting experiences in this enchanting alpine town. You can admire the scenic beauty while having a coffee in one of the numerous cafes in the city center or you can enjoy some of the best panoramic views on the elevated path to St. Hippolyte’s Church. Best For: Nature When To Visit: June-August

Accommodation & Hotels in Austria

Although you can usually find hotels in smaller cities, they are quite expensive (even more expensive than in larger cities). The most affordable options in larger cities are youth hostels. In smaller cities you will often find families who rent bed & breakfast style apartments or a room ) for 15-25 €. In the countryside, many farmers rent rooms for a few nights, both officially and unofficially . To find accommodation, you can simply knock on the door of a farmhouse and ask: if you don’t have a room, you will probably have someone nearby who does.

You may also find many campsites ( some of them are open all year round), but despite being exceptionally clean and usually offering additional services, they are also slightly more expensive compared to other Central European countries.

According to Austrian law, each person must register at his or her home address, regardless of whether it is only for one night and regardless of whether it is a camp.

For this reason, hotels will usually ask you to hand over your passport or driver’s license and may also refuse to provide accommodation if you have no ID. You should not worry too much about getting your passport. In several countries this practice would raise concerns, but in Austria it is a normal procedure. You passport will be returned to you. If you stay in private accommodation for longer than approximately two weeks, you will have to obtain a Meldezettel registration document (Meldezettel) from their local registration office (Bezirksamt or Meldeamt), typically located in the town hall. This certificate must be signed by the owner or the tenant of your accommodation. Failing to present this document when you leave can cause difficulties if you are staying in the country for more than two or three months.

Things To See in Austria

Money saving tips
• Many museums and other attractions classify everyone under 19 as a child. At some attractions, such as the Hofburg and Schönbrunn palaces in Vienna, all visitors under 19 pay a significantly lower entrance fee, while at others, such as the natural history museums and Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum, entry is even free for those under 19 (they may be asked to show an official photo ID to confirm their age).
• If you are a student, make sure you have a student card or other proof of student status, as many museums and attractions offer reduced prices for students (e.g. the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palace).

Both in summer and winter, Austria’s mighty mountain landscapes attract many tourists. No less than 62% of the country lies at an altitude of 500 m or more, and it is hard not to see the magnificent snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys. Depending on the season, you will find green mountain meadows or white landscapes as far as the eye can see, but either way you will not be disappointed by the magnificent views. Highlights include the high mountain national park in the Zimmertal Alps with peaks up to 3476 m, narrow gorges and steep rock faces. The Thayatal National Park combines beautiful valley landscapes with a multitude of castle ruins and fortresses.

The highest peak in the country is called the Großglockner and is located on the border between Carinthia and East Tyrol. For a good view, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with its magnificent panorama is highly recommended. At the foot of the peaks you will find beautiful valleys, including the charming Villgratental. The Danube has created beautiful valley landscapes where you will find famous vineyards today. The Wachau and the Dunkelsteinerwald in Lower Austria are good (and protected) examples. To complete the picture, the valley and hill landscapes are dotted with countless picturesque villages.

In addition to this rustic and tranquil nature and landscape, Austria also shows a completely different side. As a former great European power, Austria is rich in majestic architecture and historic buildings. As the long centre of power of the Holy Roman Empire, you will find not only palaces and magnificent urban architecture, but also grand cathedrals, monasteries and churches. Vienna, the country’s capital and most popular tourist destination, is full of medieval and baroque structures. Schönbrunn Palace, with its 1441 rooms, is the absolute highlight and every little princess’s dream. Its zoo, the Schönbrunn Zoo, is the oldest in the world. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, dating from the 12th century, is the most important religious building. Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, combines an enchanting Alpine backdrop with a beautifully preserved historic centre. The same goes for Innsbruck, in the heart of Tyrol. The Basilica of Mariazell in Mariazell is one of the most visited attractions in the country and an important pilgrimage destination. Just like Schönbrunn Palace, Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt is located in the easternmost province. It is considered one of the most beautiful baroque castles in Austria. Lake Neusiedl, a national park, is also worth seeing in this region.

Things To Do in Austria

Cycle tourism

Austria is known for its picturesque cycle paths along its largest rivers. Although Austria is a mountainous country, the cycle paths along the rivers are flat or gently sloping and therefore suitable for casual cyclists. The most famous route is the Danube Cycle Path from Passau to Vienna, one of the most popular cycle paths in Europe, which attracts large crowds of cyclists from all over the world every summer. Other rivers with well-developed cycle paths are the Inn, the Drava, the Möll and the Mur. Most routes follow a combination of dedicated cycle paths, dirt tracks and low-traffic roads and are well suited for children.

Music

Many visitors come to discover Austria’s musical heritage. Salzburg and Vienna offer world-famous opera, classical music and jazz at moderate prices, but top performances are also widely available in the rest of the country. There are dozens of summer festivals to suit all tastes, the most famous being the Salzburg Festival (Salzburg’s avant-garde festival), but as they cater to tourists, prices can be high. Austria’s strong musical tradition is not limited to classical music. Austrian folk music is an integral part of rural Austria and is said to have influenced many of the country’s great composers. In the Alps, almost every village has its own choir or brass band, and you will often see groups of friends getting together in rural pubs and singing songs. Traditional instruments in the Alps are the accordion and the zither. In Vienna, a melancholic kind of violin music called schrammel music is often played in restaurants and Heurigen.

Films

Austria has a very special film culture that deserves to be considered by tourists. Many films feature celebrities from the cabaret, a type of comedy popular in Austria. Most of these films are characterised by their rather cynical and sometimes bizarre black humour and usually feature members of Vienna’s lower or middle classes. Josef Hader, Roland Düringer, Reinhard Nowak or Alfred Dorfer are among the outstanding actors. These include Indien (1993), Muttertag (1993), Hinterholz 8 (1998), Komm, süßer Tod (2000) and Silentium (2004). The most popular directors are Harald Sicheritz, Michael Haneke and Ulrich Seidl. Haneke received international recognition for his films The Piano Player (2001), based on the novel by the writer Elfriede Jelinek, and Caché (2005), which won a Nobel Prize. Seidl received several awards for his drama Hundstage (2001). In addition, the classic The Third Man (1949) was filmed in Vienna and is regularly shown at the Burg Kino in Vienna.

Hiking

Unguided hikes in the Austrian Alps are usually possible as there is a dense network of marked hiking trails and mountain huts. Nevertheless, a few fatal incidents occur every year due to recklessness. Hikers are strongly advised not to stray from the trails and not to hike in bad weather or without proper equipment. Always check with the local tourist office before setting out to see if the trail is suitable for your abilities.

Also check the weather forecast. Sudden thunderstorms are common and tend to occur in the afternoon. As a general rule, if you have not reached the summit by midday, it is time to give up and return to your accommodation.

Although the landscape is definitely majestic, you should not expect wild and empty nature. The Alps can be very busy for climbers, especially in high season (there are even traffic jams of climbers on some popular mountains). Littering is forbidden throughout Austria, but especially in the mountains, and you will be the envy of your fellow hikers if you are seen doing it. If you really want to show respect, pick up any litter you see on your way and throw it away at the end of your hike (it’s kind of an unwritten rule). Long-distance hiking trails are marked with the Austrian flag (horizontal red-white-red-white stripes) painted on rocks and tree trunks.

Most of the trails and mountain huts are maintained by the Austrian Alpine Club. Some are managed by other equivalent organisations, such as the German, Dutch and Italian Alpine Clubs. Mountain huts are designed as refuges and not as hotels. Although they are usually clean and well equipped, standards of food and accommodation are basic. Don’t expect a high level of customer service either. Blankets are provided, but a thin sleeping bag is mandatory for hygiene reasons. During the high season (August) it is advisable to book in advance. The mountain huts will not turn anyone away for the night, but if they are full you will have to sleep on the floor. Prices for overnight stays are usually around €10-20 (half for Alpine Club members), but food and drinks are quite expensive as everything has to be transported from the valley, often by helicopter or on foot. For the same reason, there are no rubbish bins in the huts or nearby. Electricity and gas are difficult to transport, and hot showers (if available) have to be paid for. Some huts do not even have running water, which means pit latrines. As already mentioned, mountain huts are very useful for hikers, they usually have a heated lounge and are very romantic, but there is nothing more than necessary.

Detailed hiking maps showing the location of the marked trails and huts can be purchased online from the Austrian Alpine Association [www].

Lakes

Austria has a large number of lakes. Usually they are very clean, so you can swim in them. In winter you can use them for skating. Sometimes you have to pay a little to get to the lake. You can often find a lot of information on the internet. Usually the place is very clean and often there is a campsite nearby. It is good if you bring your own towel. Near the grassy areas you will often find a small shop selling various snacks, ice cream and drinks. At the large lakes you will also find water rescue services. They can help you in case of emergencies or other problems. The lakes are a great way to spend your free time. Austrians usually spend the whole day there. The most popular lakes are Wörthersee, Wolfgangsee, Attersee and Neusiedler See.

Skiing & Snowboarding in Austria

Austria offers a high density of ski resorts, perhaps the second highest in Europe after Switzerland. However, most of them are medium-sized. Austria’s ski resorts are not as spectacular and glamorous as the mega-resorts in Switzerland and France, but they are more welcoming, less prone to mass tourism and a little cheaper (especially for beer). Because of the proximity and the common language, most winter sports tourists in Austria come from southern Germany.

Understanding

History

Winter sports tourism has become a billion-dollar industry in Austria and has brought enormous prosperity to some towns. Most Austrian ski resorts are former farming towns that have become resorts many times their original size, but they often retain some of their original charm, especially in the old town centre. A handful of ski resorts like Obertauern were built completely from scratch in the 1960s and 1970s.

Many ski resorts have responded to the warmer winters by investing heavily in artificial snowmaking. Some resorts are now so well equipped that they can offer excellent skiing conditions on most slopes, even if the natural snow cover is only 5 cm, provided it is cold at night. Of course, all this comes at a price, both environmentally and financially. Ski pass prices have risen sharply in the last decade. Austria is also home to many glacier ski areas in the high Alps.

When to go

The ski season runs from the beginning of December to the end of March. A few ski resorts keep their lifts open all year round on the glaciers, which are mainly located near the Italian border.

The best conditions for skiing are in mid-January, the coldest time of the year. The end of February is a good time for sun worshippers.

The busiest period is from 25 December to 2 January. Advanced skiers should avoid this time as the trails can be too crowded to have fun. The entire month of February is also quite busy due to school and university holidays.

The least frequented times are early December, mid-January and late March.

Directions

Package holidays are usually more convenient and often cheaper if you only want to ski for a week. Airport transfers, flights and accommodation are usually included.
However, they have the disadvantage of operating mainly from Saturday to Saturday, having few resorts outside the mainstream and no independent accommodation or rooms in private houses in most brochures. However, these types of accommodation are the most popular types of accommodation in the country.
The increase in low-cost airlines to Salzburg, Munich and Friedrichshafen has led to more and more visitors organising their own transport and accommodation.

Choose a ski resort in Austria

Price, size and location

Generally speaking, the bigger the ski resort and the higher the altitude above sea level, the higher the price. Ski passes eat up a large part of your budget. In a large ski area like the Arlberg, beginners usually cannot use most of the slopes covered by a ski pass.

The ski resorts in Carinthia and Styria tend to offer better value for money than those in Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Salzburg and are less crowded.

The big ski resorts tend towards mass tourism, while the smaller ones make more of an effort and offer a more personal service.

If you are skiing in late February or March, it may be advisable to visit resorts at higher altitudes (above 2000 m), as milder temperatures can make the snow below this altitude heavy and slushy (risk of knee injuries).

Sporting experience

You can ride more with the fast lifts (chairlifts and gondolas) than with the slower lifts or the dreaded drag lifts. You get value for your money. Some ski areas have a high percentage of black runs and are less suitable for beginners. Backcountry experiences can be found at many of the larger ski resorts in Vorarlberg and Tyrol, which offer a high-altitude powder environment.

Apres-ski

Apres-ski is all about getting together after a hard day’s skiing and chatting to people in the many bars and pubs, catching a Swedish rock band at 5pm and not thinking about dinner. Larger ski resorts nowadays also offer organised after-ski get-togethers and bar tours.

Please note that alcohol and skiing are not compatible and that alcohol can affect your reflexes more than when the sea level is higher.

Other activities

Some resorts focus exclusively on skiing and snowboarding, others on a wider range of activities or family tourism. If you’re more into relaxation than skiing and partying, staying away from the purely sporty resorts offers better value for money.

How to get in

By plane

Unlike many other countries, you don’t have to fly to the capital to ski in Austria.

Look at the following alternatives in Vienna; take into consideration when comparing the alternatives :

  • the cost and duration of the journey with a rental car
  • the cost, duration, connection time and number of connections if you take the train
  • Flight ticket
  • the final arrival time: if it allows you to prepare everything to start skiing the next morning

Only when you have considered all these factors do you decide on your interdisciplinarity.

It also reverses the usual order of travel planning when you first buy air tickets to a capital city and then start choosing your final destination.

Most Austrian ski resorts are no more than one to two hours’ drive from a major airport.

The nearest airports are:

  • for Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg: Innsbruck, Salzburg, Zurich or Munich ;
  • for the seaside resorts of CarinthiaStyria and East Tyrol: Graz, Klagenfurt, Ljubljana and Venice

It is best to avoid Vienna airport, as the nearest medium-sized seaside resort is 4 hours away by car and even further by public transport, as it is close to Slovakia and the eastern part of the country.

Many packages include flight and airport transfer. If you are travelling independently, you will need to take a taxi and/or train/bus. Some hotels offer shuttles for their guests at a good price.

By train

Some ski resorts are poorly connected to rail transport due to their remoteness. Arlberg, Bad Gastein, Kitzbühel, St. Johann im Pongau and Zell am See are large ski resorts with regular rail services and are also easily accessible by train from neighbouring countries. Most larger ski resorts that do not have a train station can be reached by train, followed by a 30-45 minute bus transfer.

There is a train from Zurich airport to the Arlberg, via Feldkirch to St. Anton.

By bus

Most stations are accessible by public transport. The ski bus networks are usually very well organised and punctual and are almost always included in the ski passes.

By car

Austrian ski resorts are compact and pedestrian-friendly. It is therefore unlikely that you will need a car during your stay at a resort. Some regions (such as Ski Amade in Salzburgerland) offer many different resorts spread over a large area, all on one ski pass. If you want to try different places to ski every day, it is therefore advisable to take a car. If you travel by your own car, remember that driving conditions can be difficult on the roads leading to some of the higher resorts, although the roads are often cleared, gritted and salted very regularly. However, it is advisable to carry snow chains and have some experience of winter driving. Instead of renting a car for a week, it is often cheaper to take a taxi to/from the train station.

Food

The food on the ski slopes is usually Austrian specialities of the indigestible variety, but is often unaffordable. Some large restaurants offer a canteen-like service where the food is mass produced and the quality can be poor compared to the rest of Austria. A vegetarian may find it difficult to eat a varied diet during their stay, as even salads are often served with chicken.

In the towns themselves, the choice and quality of food is better than on the slopes. Hotel food is usually excellent, as hotels compete for guests with their cuisine, while restaurants on the slopes compete with their location. It may therefore be advisable to book half-board instead of eating on the slopes. Guesthouses may offer traditional cuisine, but it is always easy to find a kebab or Italian pizza/restaurant.

Accommodation

Book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. The number of beds is limited at most resorts and the later you book, the less likely you are to find value for money. Be aware that the accommodation for some of the cheaper packages is not in the main ski area, but in a nearby town from which you will need to catch a bus.

Many hotels in Austria are family-run and offer personal service and surprisingly good facilities at reasonable prices, especially in smaller towns. A visit to the sauna after the slopes to warm up and relax tired muscles, as well as a good meal, is considered by many Austrians to be just as important as the skiing itself. You will miss out on much of the Austrian skiing experience if you book accommodation without a sauna.

There are also many self-catering accommodation options, but remember that the price difference between half-board in a hotel and a self-catering flat is not very great, and many skiers find they have little energy or desire to prepare a meal and clean up after a hard day on the slopes.

Practical tips

Avalanche danger

As in all ski areas, the avalanche danger is an underestimated hazard. It is possible to ski off-piste and there are often hiking trails. Some ski areas offer a “free ride” area. This is a “safe” place to ski and ride off-piste. Remember that just because there are tracks in the snow on a particular slope does not mean it is safe and a good idea to ski there. Off-piste skiing is always a great activity, but it is strongly recommended that you ski off-piste with a guide unless you know exactly what you are doing, have suitable avalanche rescue equipment with you and know how to use it.

Equipment

There are numerous ski and snowboard rentals in all larger ski resorts. The choice usually depends on the convenience of the slopes or the accommodation.

When renting equipment, it’s good to get up early, and since Austrians usually get up early, that can mean before 8:30. Standing in line for an hour to put on your ski boots can be very frustrating if you’re desperate to get on the slopes.

It is almost always best to try to arrange ski hire, ski lessons and ski passes as soon as possible after your arrival at the resort, i.e. in the afternoon of your arrival when it is unlikely that you will be skiing. Most offices are open until late Saturday afternoon (the main day of arrival and departure from the resort).

Tuition fees

In Austria, the ski and snowboard teaching profession is regulated by the state. Licensed ski instructors must pass a series of comprehensive state examinations in order to move up the hierarchy from Ski Instructor (traditional ski instructor, usually part-time), State Ski Instructor (regional ski instructor) and State Ski Instructor (national ski instructor). Courses can be taken privately or in a group (ski school). Beginners usually book a ski school for their first week.

List of ski resorts

Austria’s best and largest

  • Lech and Zürs am Arlberg – known for its royal clientele, an underrated ski resort in Vorarlberg
  • St. Anton – the most famous ski resort in Tyrol and perhaps the most extreme in Austria
  • Ischgl – a progressive holiday resort with a connection to Switzerland and the village of Samnaun
  • Sölden (Ötztal) – popular with snowboarders and après-ski fans

Other popular

  • Kitzbühel – famous for its nightlife and charm, attracting “beautiful people” from Austria and Germany. Every year it hosts the Hahnenkamm Race, arguably the most important ski race in the world.
  • Flachau/Wagrain – comfortable, good for beginners and advanced skiers
  • Obertauern – compact, very good snow conditions due to the location and altitude, but can be problematic in bad weather conditions
  • Nassfeld – popular with Italian tourists
  • Mayrhofen – a popular seaside resort, popular with foreign tourists. Has a glacier nearby.
  • Zell am See – a picturesque lakeside town that attracts visitors for skiing and hiking and has a small snow/glacier field
  • Bad Hofgastein – also known for its thermal baths.
  • SkiWelt – The largest ski area with the villages of Scheffau, Söll, Ellmau, Brixen, Hopfgarten, Westendorf

Off the beaten track

  • Heiligenblut – a spectacular landscape
  • Turracherhöhe – small and idyllic
  • Wildschonau – literally wilderness resort, includes Niederau, Oberau and Auffach

Summer ski areas

  • Hintertux – a large area for a summer ski resort near Mayrhofen in the Zillertal Valley
  • Kitzsteinhorn – the glacier above the village of Kaprun
  • Mölltal Glacier

Food & Drinks in Austria

Food in Austria

Austrian food is distinctive and delicious, and is traditionally of the tough and indigestible “meat and dumplings” variety. Wiener Schnitzel (breaded and fried veal escalopes) is something of a national dish, and Knödel is a type of dumpling that can be prepared sweet or savoury, depending on taste. In Vienna, Tafelspitz (boiled beef with potatoes and horseradish) is traditionally served on Sundays, usually accompanied by a clear broth with dumplings and herbs. Apart from that, Austria is famous for its pastries and desserts, of which the apple strudel is probably the best known.

Bread is taken seriously in Austria. Almost every village has its own bakery that offers a wide selection of freshly baked sweet and savoury rolls every day from 6 am. Rye bread (wholemeal breadfarmer’s bread) is the traditional staple of the farmers. If this bread is too heavy for you, try the regular white bread roll (Semmel). Surprisingly, it is easier to find good bread outside Vienna, where the baking industry is not yet dominated by industrial chain stores.

Some Austrians have the habit of eating sweet pastries as a main course once a week. Varieties include KaiserschmarrenMarillenknödel and Germknoedel.

The best advice is to dive into the menu and try it – there are no nasty surprises!

Restaurants

If you want to try traditional Austrian cuisine, go to an inn or guesthouse that serves traditional food at reasonable prices. They usually offer several lunch options with a set menu that includes a soup and a main course and in some cases a dessert. Their prices are usually between 5 and 7 euros (except in very touristy areas). Menus are in German, but some restaurants also offer menus in English. Remember that a tip is expected in all restaurants in Austria. Rounding up the price on the bill is usually sufficient for a tip.

Pay

In Austrian restaurants you have to ask to pay. Attract the waiter’s attention and say: “zahlen, bitte” (pay, please). He will then bring you the cheque or verbally tell you the amount of the bill. The correct way to pay in Austria is then to give your cash and say the amount you want to pay, including tip. For the tip, you should round up to the next highest number or +50 centimes or 1 euro of the price per person (which should be about 5-10% for a full meal). Waiters do not rely on tips and it is not appropriate to leave a large tip. Saying “thank you” when paying is keeping change! You can also say the amount of the bill plus your tip and you will only get the change over that amount (e.g. if you pay with a bill of 20 euros, the amount is 16.50 euros and you say “Seventeen euros”, the waiter will give you 3 euros change and keep the 0.50 euros as a tip).

Local specialities

  • If you have the opportunity to try Kletzennudeln, you should definitely do so. This is an unusual speciality from Carinthia that is rarely found elsewhere: sweet noodles filled with dried pears and soft cheese. The best Kletzennudeln are made with chopped, dried pears, as opposed to the inferior versions that use pear powder.
  • Some salads are prepared with kernel oil (green pumpkin seed oil), a Styrian speciality. Although it looks scary (dark green or dark red, depending on the light conditions), it has an interesting nutty taste. A bottle of good pure Styrian kernel oil is very expensive (about 10 to 20 euros), but it is perhaps one of the most Austrian things to take home (beware of cheap kernel oil sometimes sold under the name “salad oil”. Be sure to seal the bottle tightly, as the oil expands when slightly heated and leaves non-removable stains. But just in case, sunlight will remove them from time to time). Kernel oil or pumpkin seed oil is also available in some online shops.

Desserts

  • Strudel
  • Sachertorte is a chocolate cake with chocolate icing and filled with apricot jam. It should be served fresh with lightly sweetened, freshly whipped whipped cream, which the Austrians call “Schlagobers”. The original can be found in Vienna at Café Sacher, but similar tarts are very common in many other Viennese cafés. Also note that Cafe Sacher has several tourist traps (such as a €2 changing room that is not optional) and their cakes are not always the freshest.
  • Eszterházy Austrian Cake.
  • Malakhoff: a delicate cake
  • Manner Schnitten are a very Viennese sweet speciality, but only the square form factor and the pink packaging are really unique. You can buy them everywhere (you may have seen them as product placement in some Hollywood movies or in “Friends”, for example, and wondered what they are).
  • Milchrahmstrudel: Milk and curd strudel, served hot
  • Powidl is a kind of tasty plum jam with alcohol, another Viennese speciality. It makes a good gift because it has an exotic taste and is hard to find in the world.

Vegetarian

Vegetarianism is slowly gaining ground in Austria, especially in the big cities. Austrians are not as carnivorous as the rest of their Central European neighbours; 47% of the country say they eat a varied diet and eat very little meat. Most restaurants do not cater specifically to vegetarians, but it is almost certain that the dishes on the menu do not include meat. There are vegetarian restaurants in all major cities, as well as harder-to-find places that offer vegan or vegan-friendly dishes. Vegetarian and vegan products (e.g. tofu, soy milk, lactose-free products) can be found in almost every supermarket in the country (even in rural areas) and in many health food shops.

In more traditional or very rural restaurants, you may be seen as eccentric if you say you are vegetarian, and it is possible that no dish on the menu is without meat. This is especially true of restaurants serving traditional Austrian cuisine, which relies heavily on meat – even seemingly vegetarian dishes such as potato salad or vegetable soup often contain meat products. Sometimes food that is clearly labelled “vegetarian” also contains fish, as vegetarianism is often equated with pescetarianism. If you are unsure, ask the staff waiting on you if there are animal products in the dish you are about to order. Traditional dishes that are guaranteed vegetarian are Kaiserschmarren (soft, sweet pancake pieces with fruit compote), Germknödel (sweet dumplings with sour plum jam) and Kasnudel (similar to ravioli).

The Austrian Vegan Society maintains a list of vegetarian and vegan eateries: original and translated version.

Drinks in Austria

Vienna is famous for its coffee culture and there are cafés all over the city, many of which have outdoor terraces that are very popular in summer. Visit them for coffee (of course), hot chocolate and pastries. The most famous is the Sacher Torte.

Austria also has top wines, especially white wines, which are slightly acidic. The wine can be drunk pure or mixed with mineral water, called “G’spritzter” or “Schorle”. The best place for this is the “Heurigen” in the Viennese suburbs. Originally, the Heuriger was only open in summer, but recently you can drink your Schorle all year round with a small self-service snack.

Soft drinks: Austria also has a national soft drink called Almdudler. It is a lemonade with herbs. Other typical soft drinks in Austria are Holler or Hollunder juice. This is a soft drink made from elderflowers.

In Austria, Märzen Lager beer is widely available. The quality is generally very good but, as in many other Central European countries, varies greatly from brewery to brewery. The best options come from a modest number of remaining regional breweries that have not yet been taken over by Heiniken. Visitors used to the current range in most major cities in the US or UK run the risk of being underestimated by beer lists, even in upmarket bars. There are a small number of microbreweries around the country that also offer more exotic beers like stouts. Beer culture is not widespread in Austria. Many Austrians are very brand-loyal, but don’t know the difference between Pils and lager. So don’t be surprised if a waiter or bar owner has difficulty answering your questions.

  • Lager beers: The classic “Märzen” lagers are Stiegl, Egger and Zwettler. The quality of many others, such as Gösser, Puntigamer, Schwechater, Wieselburger and Zipfer, all of which now trade under the Heinicken brand, has declined alarmingly.
  • Pilsners: are usually rated Pils or Special, the most common being Hirter Pils.
  • Dark: is a rich, dark beer offered by most breweries.
  • Weisse: This is wheat beer. There are several breweries and many imports from neighbouring Bavaria, but it is rarely found on tap.
  • Zwickl: is an unfiltered lager and the pride of many breweries.

Schnapps is a type of fruit brandy that is usually served after a meal in many parts of Austria. The most popular flavours are pear, apricot and raspberry, although dozens of other flavours are available. There are three quality grades of brandy: distilled, infused and flavoured. The distilled variety is of the highest quality; some Austrian schnapps brands are among the best in the world, but are correspondingly expensive: a half-litre bottle can cost up to 100 euros. Real” schnapps is made from real fruit (distilled or infused). Beware of cheap products sold in large bottles in supermarkets; they are often of the “flavoured” type, i.e. they contain nothing but pure ethanol mixed with an artificial flavouring. If you want the real thing, go to an upscale deli or bar (if you’re in a big city) or a Buschenschank (if you’re in the country). But beware of schnapps, especially if you are not used to alcoholic drinks!

Ice wine is a type of dessert wine made from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. Ice wine is usually quite expensive due to the labour-intensive and risky production process. It is best to buy ice wine at the Naschmarkt for €10. 15 for 375 ml or 500 ml; it is more likely to be found at the weekend. To give you an idea of prices elsewhere, Eiswein is sold at Wein & Co near the Naschmarkt for €24-30 for a 375 ml bottle, and the duty-free shop in Vienna also sells it for €23.50.

Stroh is probably the best-known Austrian spirit. It is classified as a type of rum, although it is not made from sugar cane molasses like the “real” Caribbean rum. Available in five varieties (the strongest with an alcohol content of 80%! ), Stroh is often used as an ingredient in cocktails such as Jagertee and as a flavouring for cakes and pastries.

Money & Shopping in Austria

Currency

Austria uses the euro. It is one of the many European countries that use this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender in all countries.

Countries whose official currency is the euro:
• Official members of the euro area
o Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
• Other countries that have adopted the euro
o Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican City

One euro is divided into 100 cents.

The official symbol of the euro is € and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

  • Banknotes: The euro banknotes have the same design in all countries.
  • Standard coins: All euro area countries issue coins that have a distinctive national design on one side and a common standard design on the other. The coins can be used in any euro area country, regardless of the design used (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
  • Commemorative €2 coins: These differ from normal €2 coins only in their “national” side and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country can produce a certain amount of these coins as part of its normal coin production, and sometimes “European” 2-euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (e.g. anniversaries of important treaties).
  • Other commemorative coins: Commemorative coins with other amounts (e.g. ten euros or more) are much rarer, have very special designs and often contain significant amounts of gold, silver or platinum. Although they are technically legal tender at face value, their material or collector’s value is usually much higher and therefore you are unlikely to find them in circulation.

The best rates for exchanging money are offered by banks.

The old currency, the schilling, can still be exchanged for euros without limit, but not all banks can offer this service.

Prices

Prices are comparable to those in Western European countries and slightly higher than in the United States. General sales tax of 20 % is included in the prices, but lower sales taxes apply to certain services and especially food. A can of Coke costs about 55 cents, a good meal 15 euros. Prices in tourist areas (Tyrol, Vienna, Salzburg, Zell am See) are far above average. B&Bs and restaurants in cities and in the countryside are quite cheap.

Stores

Shops are generally open from 8am to 7pm on weekdays and 8am to 6pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays, except for (expensive) petrol station shops, train station shops and restaurants. Especially in rural areas, small shops may close around noon on Saturdays. Some may also be closed on weekdays between 12pm and 3pm. Be aware that paying by credit card is not as common as in the rest of Europe or the United States, but all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club) are accepted at almost all petrol stations and in department stores, especially in shopping centres. In small towns and villages there are usually one or two small shops or bakeries offering almost everything, called “Greißler”, although they are threatened by large shopping centres.

ATMs

In Austria, ATMs are called Bankomat. They are widespread and you can even find them in small rural villages. Many shops (and also some restaurants) offer the service of paying directly with a debit card. The majority of ATMs accept cards from abroad. All ATMs in Austria are easily recognisable by a sign with a green stripe above a blue stripe. There are usually no fees, but Euronet charges €1.90 per withdrawal.

Tipping

In Austria, tipping is common and, although not required by law, is often considered socially obligatory. It is customary to give 5-10% of the total amount; a higher figure indicates exceptionally good service. Rounding to multiples of one euro is common; small amounts are often paid in multiples of 50 cents (i.e. a bill of 7.80 may be paid as 8 or 8.50).

Tipping is not done when goods are exchanged at the counter (e.g. in fast food shops or street stalls). Traditionally, the owner of a restaurant does not receive a tip. Tipping is known in German as Trinkgeld, which literally means “money for a drink”. It is also customary to tip other service providers, such as taxi drivers or hairdressers. Attempting to tip a government employee can be construed as bribery and will get you into trouble.

Bargaining

Bargaining is not common in Austria, except at flea markets. It may be acceptable to ask for a reduction but accept a refusal as an answer.

Which gifts should be taken home?

  • Ice wine (Eiswein)
  • Apricot jam (apricot jam)
  • Pumpkin seed oil, a speciality of southern Styria
  • Manner Schnitten Popular sweets in pink packaging, available almost everywhere.
  • Salzburg Mozartkugeln Chocolate balls with marzipan in the middle

For children

  • Haba wooden toys

Traditions & Customs in Austria

Austrians (especially those over 40) take formality and etiquette seriously. Even if you are the least charismatic person in the world, good manners can get you far in a social situation. On the other hand, there are endless ways to get your foot in the door and raise your eyebrows because you broke an obscure rule.

In general, staff in most continental European countries do not show the same level of courtesy in shops and other services that people from other continents might be used to. For example, you may be insulted by a shop assistant when you want to buy something. In Vienna, a café without bad-tempered and arrogant waiters is not considered a real café.

The Austrians as a people do not “like” Germany or the Germans, at least in the sense of competition, and are quite sensitive about this. 80 million people in northern Germany and 8 million in Austria have made this rivalry even more intense. Don’t compare Austria negatively with Germany, you will quickly annoy the inhabitants, because Germans are seen as arrogant rich scoundrels who drive tourists around on bad days.

What is perhaps surprising for a more conservative nation is that Austria’s attitude to nudity is one of the most relaxed in Europe. The portrayal of full nudity in the media and in mainstream advertising can come as a shock to many visitors, especially those from outside Europe. It is not uncommon to see women swimming topless on beaches and in leisure centres in the summer. Although wearing a swimming costume is usually compulsory in public swimming pools and on beaches, it is generally allowed to take off one’s clothes when swimming “in the wild” in rivers and lakes. Nudity is compulsory on Austria’s many naturist beaches (FKK Strand), in thermal baths and hotel saunas. As in Germany, you should not wear a swimming costume in the sauna, otherwise you will attract strange looks.

Some basic rules of etiquette (of course, most of these rules are not really important if you are in a young audience)

  • When entering and leaving public places, Austrians always greet with “Guten Tag” or “Grüß Gott” and say goodbye with “Auf Wiedersehen”. When entering a small shop, say “Grüß Gott” to the shopkeeper at the entrance and “Wiedersehen” at the exit (the “Auf” is usually off). Telephone calls are usually answered by saying your name and ending with “Auf Wiederhören“.
  • Do not raise your voice or shout in public, especially on public transport. This could be interpreted as aggression. If you speak a language other than German, it is even more important to speak softly in order not to be noticed as a “loud foreigner”.
  • When you are introduced to a person, always shake their hand, do not put your other hand in your pocket, say your name and make eye contact. Failure to make eye contact, even out of shyness, is considered condescending.
  • It is customary to kiss each other twice on the cheeks when friends meet, except in Vorarlberg, where people kiss three times, as in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Fake air kisses also work. If you are not sure if it is appropriate, wait until the person you are meeting starts to greet you.
  • When drinking alcohol, don’t drink until you toast (“anstoßen”). Say “cheers” or “cheers” and above all, look them in the eye when you toast.
  • In restaurants, it is considered rude to start smoking while someone at the table is still eating. Wait until everyone has finished or ask if everyone agrees.
  • If you have drunk all your wine and still want more, you can pour some into your glass, but only after you have kindly asked everyone around you at the table if they want more.
  • If you really want to show manners while eating, let your unused hand rest on the table next to your plate and use it from time to time to hold your plate while eating, if necessary. Austrians generally use European table manners, i.e. they hold the knife in their right hand and the fork in their left and eat with both utensils. It is polite to rest your wrists or hands on the table, but not your elbows.
  • In most Austrian households it is customary to take off one’s shoes. This is a habit that is widespread in most Central European countries, perhaps because of general cleanliness, but also because gravel and melted snow from pavements can cause damage to a home in winter.
  • The Austrians (as well as other Central European nations) are very fond of using honorary titles. Many books have been written on the subject of Austria and its title mania. There are more than nine hundred titles in many categories such as professional titles, university degrees, honorary titles, official titles, etc. People who consider themselves serious always expect to be addressed by their proper title, be it Prof., Dr., Mag. (Master’s degree), Dipl.Ing., Ing. or even B.A. This is especially true for older people. Young people are generally much more relaxed in this respect. The title craze is something to be aware of, but it is also often the subject of satire and self-irony, so it should not be taken too seriously. So it should not be taken too seriously. Strangers should not understand it or care (entirely) about it.
  • In German, you should always use the Sie form when speaking to foreigners or older people. Du is mainly for friends and family. Younger people usually address others as du. Misusing these forms is considered impolite. Switching from one form to another can be very irritating for English speakers, but it is a good idea to use the right form for the right situation. However, if you make a mistake, people will excuse you by saying that you have limited language skills. In Tyrol, the du form is used more often than elsewhere.

Culture Of Austria

Music

Austria’s past as a major European power and its cultural environment have contributed greatly to various art forms, including music. Austria was the birthplace of many famous composers such as Joseph Haydn, Michael Haydn, Franz Liszt, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss Sr. and Johann Strauss Jr. as well as members of the Second Viennese School such as Arnold Schönberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, then an independent ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire, although culturally closely linked to Austria, and much of Mozart’s career took place in Vienna.

Vienna has long been an important centre of musical innovation. Composers of the 18th and 19th centuries were attracted to the city by Habsburg patronage, making Vienna the European capital of classical music. During the Baroque period, Slavic and Hungarian folk forms influenced Austrian music.

Vienna’s status as a cultural centre began to develop in the early 16th century and focused on instruments, including the lute. Ludwig van Beethoven spent most of his life in Vienna. Today’s national anthem of Austria, attributed to Mozart, was chosen after the Second World War to replace the traditional Austrian anthem by Joseph Haydn.

Austrian Herbert von Karajan was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century and was a dominant figure in European classical music from the 1960s until his death.

Art and architecture

Austrian artists and architects include the painters Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Rudolf von Alt, Hans Makart, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, Carl Moll and Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the photographers Inge Morath and Ernst Haas, and architects such as Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos and Hans Hollein (winner of the 1985 Pritzker Architecture Prize). Contemporary artist Herbert Brandl.

Cinema and theatre

Sascha Kolowrat was an Austrian film pioneer. Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Josef von Sternberg and Fred Zinnemann all came from Austria before establishing themselves as international filmmakers. Willi Forst, Ernst Marischka and Franz Antel enriched popular cinema in the German-speaking world. Michael Haneke became internationally known for his disturbing film studies before winning a Golden Globe in 2010 for his critically acclaimed film The White Ribbon.

The first Austrian director to win an Oscar is Stefan Ruzowitzky. A number of Austrian actors have been able to carve out careers that have had an impact beyond the country’s borders. Among them are Peter Lorre, Helmut Berger, Curd Jürgens, Senta Berger, Oskar Werner and Klaus Maria Brandauer. Hedy Lamarr and Arnold Schwarzenegger became stars of American and international cinema. The latter also became the 38th Governor of California. Christoph Waltz achieved international fame with his performance in “Inglourious Basterds” and won the Best Actor award at Cannes in 2009, the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2010 and two Oscars. Max Reinhardt was a master of spectacular and clever theatre productions. Otto Schenk excelled not only as a theatre actor but also as an opera director.

Science and philosophy

Austria was the birthplace of many internationally renowned scientists. Among them were Ludwig Boltzmann, Ernst Mach, Victor Franz Hess and Christian Doppler, all renowned scientists of the 19th century. In the 20th century, the contributions of Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger and Wolfgang Pauli to nuclear research and quantum mechanics were crucial to the development of these fields in the 1920s and 1930s. Today’s quantum physicist is Anton Zeilinger, who was the first scientist to demonstrate quantum teleportation.

Besides physicists, two of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century were born in Austria: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper. In addition to them, the biologists Gregor Mendel and Konrad Lorenz as well as the mathematician Kurt Gödel and engineers like Ferdinand Porsche and Siegfried Marcus were also Austrians.

Medicine and psychology have always been at the centre of Austrian science, beginning with Paracelsus in the Middle Ages. Important physicians such as Theodore Billroth, Clemens von Pirquet and Anton von Eiselsberg took up the achievements of the Viennese Medical School in the 19th century. Austria welcomed Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, Alfred Adler, the founder of individual psychology, the psychologists Paul Watzlawick and Hans Asperger, and the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

The Austrian School of Economics, recognised as one of the main competing schools of economic theory, is associated with the Austrian economists Carl Menger, Joseph Schumpeter, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Other emigrants of Austrian origin are the management thinker Peter Drucker, the sociologist Paul Felix Lazarsfeld and the natural scientist Sir Gustav Nossal.

Literature

In addition to its status as a land of artists and scientists, Austria has always been a land of poets, writers and novelists. It was the home of the novelists Arthur Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig, Thomas Bernhard and Robert Musil, the poets Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, Franz Grillparzer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Adalbert Stifter, Karl Kraus and the children’s author Eva Ibbotson.

Among the best-known contemporary playwrights and novelists are the Nobel Prize winners Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke and Daniel Kehlmann.

Food and drinks

Austrian cuisine is derived from the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Austrian cuisine is above all the tradition of royal cuisine (“court cuisine”) handed down over centuries. It is famous for its well-balanced variations of beef and pork and countless variations of vegetables. There is also the “Mehlspeisen” bakery, which has created special delicacies such as the Sachertorte, the “Krapfen”, which are usually filled with apricot jam or custard, and “Strudel” such as “Apfelstrudel” with apple filling, “Topfenstrudel” with curd filling and “Millirahmstrudel” (strudel with milk cream).

In addition to indigenous regional traditions, the cuisine has been influenced by Hungarian, Czech, Jewish, Italian, Balkan and French cuisine, from which both dishes and preparation methods have often been borrowed. Austrian cuisine is thus one of the most multicultural and cross-cultural in Europe.

Typical Austrian dishes are Wiener Schnitzel, roast pork, Kaiserschmarren, dumplings, Sachertorte and Tafelspitz. There is also Carinthian Kasnudeln, which are dumplings filled with curd cheese, potatoes, herbs and mint, cooked and served with a butter sauce. Kasnudeln are traditionally served with a salad. Egg mushroom dishes are also popular. The Pez sugar block dispenser was invented in Austria, as were Mannerschnitten. Austria is also famous for its Mozartkugeln and its coffee tradition.

The beer is sold in measures of 0.2 litres (a Pfiff), 0.3 litres (a Seidelsmall beer or glass of beer) and 0.5 litres (a Krügerl or large beer or Halbe). At festivals, one litre Maß and two litres Doppelmaß are also served in the Bavarian style. The most popular types of beer are lager (known as Märzen in Austria), naturally cloudy Zwickl beer and wheat beer. Bock beer is also available on holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

The main wine-growing areas are in Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Vienna. The Grüner Veltliner grape variety produces some of Austria’s most outstanding white wines and Zweigelt is the most widely grown red grape variety.

In Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, cider, a type of apple or pear wine is widely available.

People drink schnapps, which usually contains up to 60 % alcohol, or fruit brandy, which in Austria is made from various fruits, for example apricots and berries. The production of the small private schnapps distilleries, of which there are about 20,000 in Austria, is called self-distilled or house brandy.

Local soft drinks like Almdudler are very popular throughout the country as an alternative to alcoholic beverages. Another popular drink is “Spetzi”, a mixture of Coca-Cola and the original orange Fanta or Frucade, which is better known in this country. Red Bull, the best-selling energy drink in the world, was invented in Austria.

Sport

Due to the mountainous terrain, skiing is a very popular sport in Austria. Similar sports such as snowboarding or ski jumping are also very popular. Austrian athletes such as Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Franz Klammer, Hermann Maier, Toni Sailer, Benjamin Raich, Marlies Schild and Marcel Hirscher are considered the greatest alpine skiers of all time. Armin Kogler, Andreas Felder, Ernst Vettori, Andreas Goldberger, Andreas Widhölzl, Thomas Morgenstern and Gregor Schlierenzauer are among the greatest ski jumpers of all time. Bobsleigh, luge and skeleton are also popular events. A permanent track in Igls was the venue for the bobsleigh and luge competitions at the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. The first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 were also held in Innsbruck.

Football is a popular team sport in Austria. It is administered by the Austrian Football Association. Austria was one of the most successful football nations on the European continent. It finished 4th in the 1934 FIFA World Cup, 3rd in the 1954 FIFA World Cup and 7th in the 1978 FIFA World Cup. However, Austrian football has not enjoyed any international success in recent times. It also co-hosted the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship with Switzerland. The Austrian Football League is the Austrian Bundesliga, which includes teams such as world champions SK Rapid Wien, FK Austria Wien, Red Bull Salzburg and Sturm Graz.

Besides football, Austria also has professional national leagues for most major team sports, including the Austrian Ice Hockey League and the Austrian Basketball Bundesliga for basketball. Horse riding is also very popular; Vienna is home to the famous Spanish Riding School.

Niki Lauda is a former Formula One driver who became Formula One World Champion three times: in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He is currently the only driver to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren, the two most successful manufacturers in the sport. Other well-known Austrian F1 drivers are Gerhard Berger and Jochen Rindt. Austria also hosts Formula 1 races (Austrian Grand Prix), which are held today at the Red Bull Ring and in the past at the Österreichring and Zeltweg airfield.

Thomas Muster is a former tennis player and one of the greatest clay court players of all time. He won the French Open in 1995 and was number 1 on the ATP ranking list in 1996. Other well-known Austrian tennis players are Horst Skoff, Jürgen Melzer and Dominic Thiem.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Austria

Stay safe in Austria

Austria is one of the safest countries in the world. According to the OECD Factbook 2006, thefts, muggings and vehicle crime are among the lowest in the developed world, and a Mercer study ranks Vienna as the 6th safest city in the world out of 215. Violent crime is extremely rare and should not worry the average tourist. Small towns and uninhabited areas such as forests are very safe at any time of day.

Beware of pickpockets in busy places. Like everywhere in Europe, they are becoming more and more professional. Bicycle theft is widespread in big cities, but practically non-existent in smaller towns. Always secure your bike to a fixed object.

Racism can also be a problem and make your stay an unpleasant experience. As elsewhere in Central Europe, there can be cases of blatant hostile stares; unprovoked interrogations by the police are also not uncommon in big cities like Graz or Vienna. However, racism is almost never seen in a violent form. In the remotest parts of Austria, non-white people are rare. If you see older people there giving you strange looks, don’t feel threatened. They are probably curious or suspicious of strangers and have no intention of harming you. A short conversation can often be enough to break the ice.

Do not walk on the cycle paths (especially in Vienna) and cross them like any other road. Some cycle paths are difficult to see (e.g. on the “Ring” in Vienna) and some cyclists go quite fast. Walking on cycle paths is not only considered rude, but you may also be hit by a cyclist.

Stay healthy in Austria

Austria has an excellent health care system by Western standards. The hospitals are modern, clean and well equipped. Health care in Austria is financed by the health insurance funds, a compulsory public insurance that covers 99% of the population. Most hospitals are publicly owned or operated by the health insurance funds. There are private hospitals, but mainly for non-life threatening conditions. Most doctors’ surgeries are private practices, but most accept patients from the health insurance funds. Many Austrians opt for private supplementary health insurance. This allows them to consult doctors who do not accept health insurance and to stay in special hospital wards with fewer beds (which are often given priority).

As an EU traveller, you can get any form of urgent treatment covered by health insurance free of charge (or for a small token payment). Non-emergency treatment is not covered. All you have to do is show your European Health Insurance Card and passport at the doctor’s or hospital. If you go to a general practitioner, look out if the street sign says “All Funds” or “No Funds”, in which case your EHIC is not valid. Supplementary travel insurance is recommended if you want to see a doctor or visit a specialist department.

If you are a third-country traveller and do not have travel insurance, you must pay the full cost of treatment in advance (except in emergencies). Medical costs can be very high, but are still reasonable compared to the United States.

Austria has a dense network of rescue helicopters that can reach any point in the country within 15 minutes. Attention: Mountain rescue by helicopter is not covered by your EHIC and also not by most travel insurances. If you have a medical emergency in the mountains (e.g. if you break your leg while skiing), the helicopter will be called to rescue you whether you ask for it or not, and you will be charged from €1,000. It is therefore strongly recommended that you take out mountain sports insurance; you can get this from your health insurance fund or by becoming a member of the Austrian Alpine Club (€48.50 for one year’s membership, automatic insurance for mountain rescue costs up to €22,000).

Certain regions of Austria (Carinthia, Styria, Lower Austria) are affected by tick-borne encephalitis. Vaccination is strongly recommended for those planning outdoor activities in spring or summer. Also note that there is a small population of the endangered sand viper in the south of the country.

Tap water in Austria is of excellent and drinkable quality (except in some regions of Lower Austria, where it is advisable to find out about the quality of the water beforehand! ) The water quality in Vienna and Graz is said to be comparable to that of Evian.

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Read Next

Graz

Graz is the capital of Styria and Austria’s second-largest city after Vienna. It has a population of 310,391 on July 1, 2015. (of which...

Hintertux Glacier

The Hintertux Glacier is Austria’s only year-round ski resort, providing winter sports lovers with flawlessly groomed, snow-sure routes 365 days a year, as well...

Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol, which is located in western Austria. It is situated in the Inn valley, at the intersection of...

Ischgl

Ischgl sits on the Austrian side of one of the biggest ski regions in the world. The Pardatschgratbahn, Fimbabahn, and Silvrettabahn are the three...

Lech and Zürs am Arlberg

On the banks of the river Lech, Lech am Arlberg is a mountain community and an elite ski resort in the Bludenz region of...

Linz

Linz is Austria’s third-largest city and the capital of Upper Austria (German: Oberösterreich). It’s in Austria’s north central region, around 30 kilometers (19 miles)...

Mayrhofen

Mayrhofen, located in the magnificent Ziller Valley, has long been regarded as one of the world’s best ski and snowboard resorts, nestled in the...

Nassfeld

Nassfeld or Naßfeld is a village and ski resort in the Austrian state of Carinthia’s district Hermagor, close to the Italian and Slovenian borders. Nassfeld...

Saalbach

In the province of Salzburgerland, Saalbach is located. This spectacular ski region is known for its extensive piste network and well-maintained lift system. The...

Salzburg

Salzburg is the capital of the federal state of Salzburg and Austria’s fourth biggest city. Salzburg’s “Old Town” (Altstadt) is one of the best-preserved city...

Sankt Anton am Arlberg

Sankt Anton am Arlberg, also known as St. Anton, is a ski resort and hamlet in the Austrian state of Tyrol. St Anton lies...

Solden

Sölden is a ski resort in the Austria (Tirol), Tiroler Oberland (region), Imst (District)). There are 144.2 km of slopes and 1.9 km of...

Vienna

Vienna is Austria’s capital and biggest city, with a population of around 1.8 million (2.6 million including the metropolitan region), as well as its...