Austria is a magnificent country to visit in Europe, culturally-rich and brimming with natural beauty, hearty food, and historical gems. Here’s all you’ll need to know before planning your trip to Austria.
Getting to Austria
Austria, similar to its neighbor Germany, is one of the leading international business hubs in Europe. It’s easily accessible from within Europe and from other continents. If flying, you’ll likely arrive into Vienna (VIE), but there are other international airports in Austria as well.
Coming from within Europe, Wien Hbf is the busiest and best-connected rail station in the country. It connects with many destinations around the continent, including overnight trains, making for an easy and time-efficient trip. For example, even take an overnight train from Rome to Vienna! If you’re heading elsewhere in Austria, there are stations in many other Austrian cities as well that serve international lines.
When to go
Personally, I think Austria is most beautiful in the winter and late spring. Austria has some of the most magical Christmas markets in all of Europe, but prices at this time are also quite high. During the summer prices are high and crowds are dense.
In spring and fall, you’ll find less crowds and somewhat lower prices. During these months (the ‘shoulder season’), Austria offers scenic hiking, off-season skiing and snow sports, as well as jaw-dropping castles and palaces to explore.
What to see
|Imperial Capital, Klimt, Opera, Schonbrunn, Christmas Markets
|Alpine City, Baroque Old Town, Hohensalzburg Fortress
|Hofburg Imperial Palace, Skiing, Alps
|Medieval Old Town, Eggenberg Palace
|Alpine Lakes, Idyllic Country Setting, Echern Valley
|Zell am See
|Lake Zell, Skiing, Kitzsteinhorn Glacier
|Saint Anton am Arlberg
|Tyrolean Alps, Skiing, Museum St. Anton
|Hahnenkamm Ski Race, Museum Kitzbuhel
|Baroque Old Town, Linz Modern Art, Ars Electronica Center
|Kaprun Castle, Alpine Town, Sigmund-Thun Gorge
|Mountain-Lined Lake with Quaint Lakeside Towns
|Skiing, Sledding, Chalets, Ski Resorts
|Thermal Baths, Carinthian Lakes
Traveling within Austria
Traveling by rail is undoubtedly the best way to travel within Austria – there’s so much magnificent scenery to take in, and flying within a country so small is unnecessary. If you want to stop at more obscure places and experience life as the Austrians do, renting a car is a great option as well. Be sure to check whether or not you need an IDP (International Driving Permit).
Detailed Austria Articles
Money-saving tip: Don’t input any dates to scan the best available times to go OR simply input ‘Italy’ instead of a specific airport – you may get a much cheaper flight!
When I travel, I prefer to use VRBO. I book an entire apartment, giving me my privacy and the comfort of home amenities, such as a kitchen and washing machine.
If you’re traveling long-term, VRBO usually offers discounts for stays of a month or more – the discounts are significant, sometimes 50-60%! It winds up being cheaper than what I would have paid for my apartment rent back in the USA.
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler and not traveling long-term, hostels are a great option and are abundant in Austria.
For standard hotel stays, Booking.com usually offers the best deals.
Austria is among the safest countries in the world to visit. That being said, always trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in a situation, remove yourself.
In major cities, some common travel scams may be prevalent, but if you already are aware of the most common scams in Austria, you’ll know what to look out for.
Money Saving Tips
Austria is definitely not a cheap country to visit. That being said, there are a few key ways you can travel to Austria with a budget-conscious mindset.
Most importantly is the accommodations. Most cities in Austria have compact city centers, so if you want to stay central, book your room as far in advance as possible. Waiting until the last minute will leave you with fewer options and higher rates.
Accommodations will also be more costly if you’re visiting during summer or winter, or if there’s an event going on in whichever city you’ll be staying in.
If you don’t already have one, create a Pinterest account! Pinterest is an invaluable resource for travelers. Simply input ‘Free things to do in….’ and see all the great options that come up. There are plenty of free things to do in the major cities.
Speaking of cities, get yourself a city pass if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing – museums, tours, public transport, etc. are usually highly discounted with the purchase of a city pass.
Austria Travel FAQs
Do I need a visa to visit Austria?
- Most travelers from the United States and many other countries within the Schengen area do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Check with your local Austrian embassy or consulate for the latest visa requirements based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit.
What’s the best time to visit Austria?
- Austria is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. Summer (June to August) is perfect for outdoor activities, while winter (December to February) offers excellent skiing. Spring and autumn provide milder weather and fewer crowds.
What’s the currency in Austria, and can I use credit cards?
- The currency in Austria is the Euro (EUR). Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
What language is spoken in Austria?
- The official language is German, and most Austrians speak it. English is widely understood in tourist areas, but learning a few basic German phrases can be helpful.
Is tap water safe to drink in Austria?
- Yes, tap water is safe to drink throughout Austria. You can refill your water bottle from public fountains and taps in many locations.
How do I get around Austria?
- Austria has an excellent public transportation system. You can use trains, trams, buses, and the Vienna U-Bahn for easy and efficient travel within cities. For longer distances, consider the Austrian Railways (ÖBB) network or rental cars.
What are some must-visit places in Austria?
- Austria boasts many stunning attractions, including Vienna (the capital), Salzburg (the birthplace of Mozart), Innsbruck (the Alpine city), and the Austrian Alps for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore historic castles, charming villages, and picturesque lakes.
What’s the cuisine like in Austria, and are there vegetarian/vegan options?
- Austrian cuisine features hearty dishes like Wiener Schnitzel and Sachertorte. There are vegetarian and vegan options available in most restaurants, but it’s a good idea to inform the staff about your dietary preferences.
Is it customary to tip in Austria?
- Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. A common practice is to round up the bill or leave a 5-10% tip for excellent service. In some restaurants, a service charge may already be included.
Is it safe to travel in Austria?
- Austria is generally considered a safe country for travelers. Exercise common-sense precautions such as safeguarding your belongings, and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded tourist areas.
What should I pack for my trip to Austria?
- Pack according to the season and activities you have planned. Layers, comfortable walking shoes, and waterproof gear are useful for both urban exploration and outdoor adventures.
Do I need travel insurance for my trip to Austria?
- It’s strongly recommended to have travel insurance that covers unexpected emergencies, medical expenses, and trip cancellations. Check with your insurance provider for the specific coverage you need.
- What is the legal drinking age in Austria?
- The legal drinking age for purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages, including beer and wine, is 16 years old in Austria. However, the legal drinking age for distilled spirits (e.g., schnapps) is 18 years old. Please be aware of these age restrictions when ordering alcoholic drinks in bars, restaurants, and shops. It’s essential to drink responsibly and in accordance with Austrian laws.