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Austria Travel Guide

“Lord, if there is a heartache Vienna cannot cure I hope never to feel it. I came home cured of everything except Vienna.” 

Storm Jameson

Top Six Destinations In Austria

  • Vienna is the largest city in Austria and the heart of this magnificent country. It is the national capital, and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna’s imperial grandeur is the legacy of the powerful Habsburg monarchy. Their home for more than six centuries, the Hofburg palace complex, incorporates the Burgkapelle (Imperial Chapel), where the Vienna Boys’ Choir sings Sunday Mass and the famed Spanish Riding School. Many consider Vienna the creative and cultural hub of Europe
  • Hallstatt’s magnificent beauty of this mountainous city captures the heart. It is the archaeological heart of the World Heritage Region and is home to the world’s oldest salt mines. Skiing, mountaineering, hiking, biking, and riding cable cars are everyday activities.
  • Wachau Valley and wine tasting Snuggled between the towns of Melk and Krems, Wachau Valley or Danube Valley in Lower Austria is one of Austria’s oldest cultural landscapes. It is a 22 miles narrow stretch along the Danube River lined with stunning vineyards and orchards, charming little towns, hills, forests (Dunkelsteiner Wald and Waldviertel), impressive castles, monasteries, and medieval ruins.
  • Salzburg and the Lake region. Stunning Salzburg is the city where W. A. Mozart was born and the shooting location for “The Sound of Music”. The narrow lanes and broad squares of this baroque city have taken their deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Graz is Austria’s second-largest city – and one of its hidden secrets. This impressive historic city in the southern region of Styria has plenty to flaunt, especially for foodies, history lovers, and people passionate about nature.
  • Innsbruck is the provincial capital of Tyrol and the fifth largest city in Austria. It has twice hosted the Winter Olympics. This beautiful alpine destination, with its historical buildings, breathtaking scenery, and snow-capped mountains will captivate you.

Did you know?

Austria Stats

  • Population: 9.1 million (2020)
  • Capital City: Vienna
  • Currency: Euro
  • Government type: Federal parliamentary republic
  • Ethnic populations: German 88.5%, indigenous minorities 1.5% (includes Croatians, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Roma), recent immigrant groups 10% (includes Turks, Bosnians, Serbians, Croatians) (2018)
  • Languages: Austrian German (official), Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 55%, Orthodoxy 5.1 Other Christina 3.8 No religion 26%, Muslim 8.3%, other 1.2%,
  • US State Department Risk Level: Level 1 (August 2022)
  • Terrorist groups: ISIS
  • President Alexander Van der Bellen
  • Austria is a landlocked nation. Italy, Slovenia, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland are their border neighbors.
  • Together with Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden, Austria is one of six EU members that are not also a member of NATO.
  • Only about 30% of the country is found anywhere below 1,640 feet. Most of it is very tall. The highest peak is 12,461 feet above sea level. The mountains naturally affect the culture of the country and how people live.
  • Austria was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • October 26, is celebrated as the country’s National Day each year. On that date in 1955, the Austrian Parliament passed a law of “permanent neutrality.”
  • 19% Of Austria’s Population Are Foreign-Born
  • The Austrian flag is one of the oldest in the world.
  • Austria was a free and independent nation prior to being incorporated into Nazi Germany in 1938. Austria regained its independence in 1955.
  • Half of Austria’s electricity comes from hydropower
  • During the 19th century, Vienna was involved in nine major Wars
  • The main waterway in Austria, the Danube River, is the second longest river in Europe at 1,800 miles.
  • Military service is compulsory for men in Austria.
  • Based on the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, Austria is one of the 14 wealthiest countries in the world.
  • Well known for its Alps, Austria boasts 13 peaks that are in excess of 9,000 feet and 34 peaks that exceed 6,000 feet.
  • Major industries in Austria are construction and building, tourism, electronics, logistics, and transportation,
  • Life expectancy is 82 years old. Austria’s Median age is 43.2
  • Literacy rate of 99%

Fun Facts

  • The family unit is generally small and, due to lack of migration, generally closely knit within a certain town or village.
  • Austria is known for its famous composers such as Franz Liszt, Mozart, Strauss (both junior and senior), Schoenburg, Josef Haydn, and Franz Schubert were all from Austria.
  • In the annual list of most liveable cities, Vienna is nearly always at the top.
  • Austria is home to the oldest restaurant in Europe. Founded in 803 AD in the walls of an abbey, St. Peter Stiftskulinarium is a super old restaurant and inn. It’s the oldest still in existence. Mozart and Christopher Colombus are said to have eaten at the restaurant.
  • The oldest known natural human mummy in Europe was found in Austria
  • Coffee is culturally important to the Austrian people
  • Organic farming has been established in Austria for a long time. Starting from around 1927 to 1935, the Carinthian region of Austria began seeing the emergence of organic farms. As of 2010, 21,800 farmers were managing 545,000 hectares of organic farmland.
  • In the Austrian equivalent to elementary school, kids will have classes by one teacher for four years. 
  • Sigmund Freud was an Austrian Jew.
  • Red Bull came from Austria.
  • Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace has 1,441 Rooms.
  • Workers in Austria are well taken care of with 5 weeks of paid vacation per year in addition to 13 legal holidays
  • Going to school is compulsory in Austria with all children between the ages of 6 and 10 years attending an elementary school. 
  • Austria has 20 Nobel Prize-winning laureates, with five of them in chemistry, three of them in physics, seven in medicine, and one in economics.
  • Austria has the largest ice cave in the world.
  • Located in Vienna, the Austrian National Library is one of the world’s major libraries. It has works dating back to the 14th century and is currently home to more than 2 million books.
  • Founded in 1752, Austria’s zoo is recognized as the oldest zoo in the world.
  • The waltz was born in Austria. Specifically in the 17th-century suburbs of Vienna.
  • Vienna, the capital of Austria, is home to almost one-quarter of the entire population of the country.
  • The Austrian Flag Is One Of The Oldest In The World
  • A postcard from Vienna with an image on it became known as the first postcard as a souvenir: the picture postcard.
  • Austria is big in environmental protection and conservation and has declared roughly one-third of its forested lands as protected areas.

Austria Map

Good to know before you go

  • Tipping is customary in Austria. The average is around 10% but it can commonly go to 15%. Always check the bill as sometimes it is included in the charge. Simply say “Danke” (thank you) when paying the bill and servers will know to keep the change. Don’t leave money on the table. Servers sometimes don’t receive tips included on a credit card, so always try to tip in cash whenever possible. For bars, the norm is to round up to the nearest euro.
    Housekeeping and bellmen are often included in the bill but it is still nice to leave 1-2 euros per night on top of that for housekeepers. Taxis round up to the nearest euro or 10%. Credit cards are used but many restaurants and cafes in Austria still only allow cash payment. Carry cash, or be prepared to walk the streets cranky as you look for an ATM
  • Clothing historically is conservative and stylish. Appearance does matter. Presentation and dressing well are important to Austrians. Even when dressed informally, they are neat and conservative; their clothes are never ostentatious. There is sometimes a strict protocol for dressing appropriately in different situations: formal wear for the theatre or a concert and semiformal wear for better restaurants. During high-level events may have a dress code and will turn away patrons who are not dressed properly. Most Austrian women dress up to go shopping.
  • Driving in Austria was relatively easy, even in the Alps. The roads are excellent and well maintained. We did not travel in the winter, but we expect roads to be well cleared. Wearing a seatbelt is compulsory. Using your mobile phone while driving is strictly prohibited. People seemed respectful drivers and not aggressive. An international driver’s permit (IDP) is mandatory at all times. Austrian motorways are toll roads without toll gates. Instead, you buy a vignette that comes in the form of a windscreen sticker or a digital pass. Check with your rental car company if it comes with the rental, if not get one at the local gas station. Lights are optional during daylight. Like most other countries in Europe, it’s compulsory to carry a warning triangle in the vehicle at all times, and it can not be in the trunk.
  • Parking meters are pretty standard across, in big cities and small towns. We found some that only take coins. That can be problematic if you only have paper bills. Buy some snacks upon your arrival at the airport to get some loose change. Most parking was reasonable but, as expected, pricey in the big cities.
  • They take their road rules seriously in Austria including at crosswalks. Wait for the green man, just like the locals do.
  • Austria is home to cities with a high quality of life. This is a clean, safe, and respectful country of its environment. It is a rarity to see garbage anywhere; in the cities, roads, and even the bathrooms. There is a strong sense of pride in this country.
  • Public restrooms are easy to find, kept in good condition, and very clean. There were only a couple of times there was any cost.
  • If there is something that Austrians take quite seriously is punctuality. It shows disrespect if you are late. This carries to the trains too, which are the epitome of punctuality; they’re always on time.
  • The Austrians hold themselves to high standards in almost every aspect of life. They are very hard workers. In social situations, they place importance on good manners and polite behavior.
  • Greetings are formal. A quick, firm handshake is the traditional greeting. Maintain eye contact during the greeting. Some Austrian men, particularly those who are older, may kiss the hand of a female. A male from another country should not kiss an Austrian woman’s hand. Women may also kiss men, but men never kiss other men.
  • Titles are very important and denote respect. Use a person’s title and surname until invited to use their first name.
  • When entering a room, shake hands with everyone individually, including children.
  • Compromise is a key ingredient in the Austrian lifestyle. This is why their practice of Social Partnership is so successful. It is basically a cooperative arrangement between employers and their employees. Trade unions and business leaders work together to create policies and practices which will benefit both sides.
  • Dogs can literally go everywhere where. Dogs are an intricate part of their lives and are welcome in most places in this country – on the subway, at the office, at the airport, and most definitely in restaurants and cafes.
  • Austrian customs are based on family values and traditions. Family is the foundation of the social system in Austria. At the end of the week, all the family members gather to spend time together and do outdoor activities. Moreover, Sundays are for visiting relatives and family. Austria gives great importance to the family. Eating dinner together in the evening is very much the norm.
  • In Vienna’s golden age, there were tons of different coffee shops. Old coffee shops still exist, like 19th-century establishments Café Central and Café Landtmann. They were the places where intellectuals created, met, drank coffee, and exchanged ideas. There’s is a famous Viennese blend – Wiener mélange, a must to try once while visiting. Around 90% of Austrian people drink coffee. There’s even a name for a 3 pm coffee break – jause.
  • If Austrians ‘invite’ you to their birthday get-together. “I invite you,” in Austrian means that you’re treating them. 
  • Favorite outdoor sports among Austrians include skiing, soccer, hiking, water-skiing, and sailing.
  • Austrians are super friendly people, however, you’ve got to get to know them first. Strangers are strangers, and social etiquette calls for more reserved social exchanges in public between two people that don’t know each other. Once you break down the friendship barrier, they are some of the warmest people you will meet.
  • When you enter somebody’s home, don’t be surprised if you are politely handed a pair of slippers during your visit. Shoes are not acceptable in the home and it is considered rude to wear them.
  • Table manners are Continental which is the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating. Put your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down. Do not begin eating until the hostess says ‘mahlzeit’ or ‘Guten Appetit’. Cut as much of your food with your fork as possible, since this compliments the cook by saying the food is very tender. Finish everything on your plate. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate with the handles facing to the right.
  • The host gives the first toast. Everyone lifts and clinks glasses. Make sure to look the person making the toast in the eye, and says, ‘Prost!’. A guest offers a toast of thanks to the host at the end of the meal.
  • Austrians are generally conservative people. They are prudent and moderate in their behavior. They are regimented and compartmentalized are useful ways of describing how they organize their lives.
  • The people of Austria take much pride in their homes, keeping them neat and tidy. Only close friends and relatives are invited into the house, so it is a place where more informal communication may occur. Neighborly etiquette also has rules that must be observed. It is imperative that common areas such as sidewalks, pavements, corridors, and steps be kept clean at all times by all associated with them.
  • It is customary to bring flowers or a small gift, such as chocolate, books, wine, or candy when visiting someone in their home.
  • Austrians have a deep appreciation of art, music, and history, which can be seen in the number of museums and classical music venues. Whether it’s art galleries, opera houses, art galleries, or museums—they enjoy making and displaying art.
  • The cultural norm is for wealth to remain discreet. To manifest a demonstration of wealth is negatively valued.
  • Traditional Austrian foods also include Wienerchnitzel, Brettljause, Grostl, Klobe dumplings, Goulash soup, Kaiserschmarrn, Kkasedrainer, Kasespatzle, Viennese Einspanner, and Strudel
  • It is a safe country with low crime.

Austria Essential Info

U.S. Consular Emergency
The 24-hour number from a U.S. Phone 1-888-407-4747
Outside of U.S. 011-202-501-4444

U.S. Embassy Vienna
U.S. Consular Section
Parkring 12A
1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone +43-(0)1-31339-7535
Emergency +43-(0)1-31339
Fax +43-(0)1-5125835
Email: ConsulateVienna@state.gov
Website for Austrian Embassy

Emergency Numbers
GENERAL 112
Medical and Fire 122 Police 133

Country Code
+43

Time Zone
UTC+1

Adaptors for Belgium
“Standard” Euro plug
Type C or F

Driving
Right side

Official online travel guide Vienna

Official Austrian Tourism Office


When to go to Austria

This is a country where there is no bad time to go. Just dress accordingly. The climate in Austria is temperate; continental, and cloudy; cold winters with frequent rain and some snow in lowlands and snow in mountains; moderate summers with occasional showers

Our Favorite Austria Resources

This resource section contains some Amazon affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Travel Books/Guides

Moon Guide Prague, Vienna & Budapest (Travel Guide) Paperback – March 15, 2022 This is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip and what hidden discoveries await you in Vienna (as well as thwo other cities). We love their guides! Let this beautifully illustrated guide be your travel partner. Great photography and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this fantastic travel guide here.

Rick Steves Vienna Full disclosure, we are huge Rick Steve fans; it will be rare not to recommend one of his wonderful guides. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint and are an excellent resource. This great travel companion is full of expert advice and independent reviews on what to see and do, plus detailed itineraries and suggestions for exploring this fascinating country. He offers a pocket guide to Vienna as well. Find this guide here.

Our favorite websites

1. Official Austrian Tourism Office

2. U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs Austria Country Info

We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. The U.S. Federal Government addresses the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency U.S. and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, exceptional circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in Switzerland. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this critical info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.

3. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Austria Travelers Health Resource

This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for Malta.

Our favorite maps

Austria (National Geographic Adventure Map, 3319) Easy to read maps with practical road and travel information. These maps are meant for the adventure traveler and are very durable. Detailed highlights and weather info. Significant sites and landmarks are well marked. Great for planning your route before your trip. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here.

Our favorite apps

Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer Enter any address, landmark, or city in the app will instantly display all your travel options, booking info, along with accommodation providers, and things to do. Find it on your local app store.

Duolingo-Language Lesson Audio lessons that help improve your listening and speaking skills. Find it on your local app store.

Rick Steves Audio Europe This app includes Rick Steve’s audio content library. Get cultural and travel info. Includes self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. A must-have. Find it on your local app store.

Google Translate We use this often to practice proper pronunciations of the three languages you will encounter in Switzerland. Most Swiss speak excellent English as it is their official language. In encounters with older residents, though, their English was rough. As we always encourage, it is essential to learn the basics of greeting and thanking people in the local language. Google translate was an easy app to use. If needed, you can enter text in English, and it will speak back in the language you need to aid in communicating with locals.

Do you have a favorite Austrian travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or

© 2022 Wanderers Compass All Rights Reserved

Squaremouth.com

Our favorite travel insurance site!

If you are booking a trip, don’t forget to get travel insurance within 14 days of your first booking. We could not be stronger advocates of being well insured. Not for the little stuff but the big stuff like medical emergencies. We never leave home without it. Over the years, we have used many sites but have now found our go-to place. Squaremouth.com does a fantastic job; it has a user-friendly interface, they use top-rated and reputable insurance carriers, and most policies cover Covid medical issues and cancellations. They also mediate on your behalf if you have problems with your policy.

MedjetAssist

Medical transport back home from anywhere in the world

They are the premier global air medical transport. One caveat to travel insurance is that medical evacuation usually gets you to the closest facility to care for you. Medjet gets you back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice once you are stable enough to fly. They cover Covid-related transports as well.

Medjet carries its own policies. The policy is only for transport and no other aspects of travel insurance. They have individual trip policies starting at $99 and annual policies for $295. Most of their policies limit the age to 74 and younger. Prices are not based on age below that.

Expedia.com 

Hotels, home rentals, BNBs, flights, and other transportation & tours 

Expedia is a US-based company whose mission is to power global travel for everyone and everywhere. Whether planning a family vacation, booking for business, or organizing the trip of a lifetime, they are a fantastic resource. Wanderers Compass focuses on independent travel, and using sites like Expedia makes that possible. Every aspect of travel you would need, from airfare, accommodations, rental car, cruises, to activities to do at your destination, can be booked on Expedia.  

Booking.com

Hotels, Home rentals, BNBs, Flights, and other Transportation & Tours 

Booking.com connects millions of travelers to memorable experiences, various transportation options, and incredible places to stay – from homes to hotels and much more. It is one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces for established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes.

We always start with Expedia to check prices, but it sometimes says it is sold out. We then try Booking.com, and we find it lists plenty of rooms. It could be they are a Europe-based company. Try both before booking accommodations.

Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO)

Are you traveling with a family or having an extended stay at your destination?

With over 2 million bookable vacation rentals, VRBO connects homeowners with families and vacationers looking for something more than a hotel for their trip. The VRBO community offers families or groups various rental property types such as condos, cabins, lake rentals, beach houses, etc.

VRBO is under the Expedia group ownership now, which many were worried about, but it hasn’t panned out to be a concern. It is a massive network that also has access to all forms of lodging should issues arise. Joelle has used VRBO for many years with her family, with no problems to date.

Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel guidance platform, helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travelers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travelers around the world use the Tripadvisor site and App to discover where to stay, what to do, and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before.

With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions from nearly 8 million businesses, travelers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places to see nearby. We use them for guidance and research on every trip, it is a valuable app for the independent traveler.

Rail Europe

Discover Europe by Train

Rail Europe sells train and bus tickets for travel across Europe. They cover 24 countries, 105 rail operations, and 20,000 stations. They are the official rail and bus operations agents in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. Rail Europe continues to add coverage all the time.

It is a fast, easy and economical way to purchase train and bus tickets for Europe. Eurail passes are also available to buy through their site.

Amazon.com

An excellent source for travel essentials and guides

Amazon is one of the most extensive shopping online sources in the world. On behalf of their customers, teams worldwide provide lower prices, better selection, and rapid delivery. They offer a vast inventory, and it is their 1.7 million small and medium businesses worldwide selling on Amazon.com that provide extensive options for customers.

We buy most of our travel books, accessories, and luggage from Amazon. We have ordered up to two days before travel and get what we need.

Travelpro Luggage

Thoughtfully Designed | Meticulously Constructed | Quality Guaranteed.

We have used this luggage for years, left briefly to try others, and returned to Travelpro. Travelpro luggage is carried by crews from over 90 airlines worldwide.

Travelpro takes the time to learn what travelers want and need, then builds it. The key factor for us is that it must be lightweight upfront and very resistant to rough handling. Their luggage is the best, and we could not recommend it enough. It is our go-to luggage.

iVisa

Travel documentation made more accessible

iVisa.com is dedicated to providing customers with a simple, fast, and reliable way to get travel documentation for their journey. Their online application process makes getting visas, health declarations, or passport photos a breeze, all from your home’s comfort. As a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry, they take pride in making global travel more accessible for everyone. In the end, it is a simple and affordable travel resource to get the necessary entry documents complete for your international travel.

This section contains affiliate links. If you use these links (the ads with photos are NOT affiliate links) to buy something, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

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