Austria Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 26, 2019

Austria in central Europe has it all – snow-capped mountains, lush green landscapes, spectacular waterfalls, mountain-top castles, palaces, underground ice caves, stunning lakes, and the beautiful cities of Innsbruck, Vienna, and Salzburg. It is one of the most scenic countries in the world, competing with neighboring Switzerland in every way. 38.6 million tourists visited Austria in 2017, up from the 37.1 million of 2016. Nature and culture lovers, skiing enthusiasts, Mozart fans, all come to the country.

Lying in the cradle of the Alps, the country is a hub of rich natural beauty, woods and the Alpine range of mountains. Alps cover around 62% of the land. About 70% of the country is at an altitude of about 500 meters above sea level. The country takes pride in its multiethnic cultural origin, which enhances the beauty of the land.

The capital city of Austria, Vienna, which was once the seat of the ancient Roman Empire, is renowned for its architectural beauty. It is the largest city with a population of 1.5 million, attracting over 35 million tourists every year. There is a lot to see and do in Vienna and Austria. The yearly music festival at Salzburg is a huge draw for tourists from around the world. Austria with 9 million people is one of the richest countries.

The Sound of Music was filmed at Palace Leopold in Salzburg, reflecting over a small lake.

Austria – Quick Facts

  1. Official Name – Republic Oesterrich or ‘The Eastern realm’. The name Austria is derived from a Germanic word ‘austro’, meaning ‘east’.
  2. Capital – Vienna. About a quarter of the people live in the capital.
  3. Official Language – Austrian German.
  4. Ethnicity – Austrian (82.3%), Germans (3.8%), Serbs, Turks, Romanians, Hungarians and 6.1% of other ethnic groups. 
  5. Religion – Roman Catholics (74%).
  6. Population – 9 million (2018)
  7. Currency – Euro
  8. Area – 32,386 square miles or 83,879 square kilometers
  9. A member of EU since 1995.
  10. Postcards - first used in Austria.
  11. Austria has the largest ice cave in the world – The Eisriesenwelt
  12. Oldest Zoo – Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna is the world’s oldest zoo.
  13. Oldest Restaurant – St. Peter Stiftskeller in Salzburg. Running for 1,200 years.

Best Places To Visit In Austria

  1. Vienna
  2. Salzburg
  3. Innsbruck
  4. Hallstatt
  5. Zell Am See
  6. Wachu
  7. Graz
  8. Linz
  9. Villach
  10. Klagenfurt

Arriving in Austria

Flight – Vienna airport is the most important. The others are mostly for domestic flights and cheaper airlines like Ryanair. For a skiing holiday, it is not necessary to first visit Vienna. The city is 4 hours by road from the closest ski area.

Airports in Austria are at Vienna, Graz, Innsbruck, Linz, Klagenfurt, and Salzburg.

Bus – They can be costly, but there are discounts if you book early. The largest operator is Eurolines Austria. There are many operators serving the cities. Bus travel is also sometimes quicker than the train. There are many buses that go to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia as well because of an influx after the Balkan crisis.

Car – There is no border control as all neighboring countries are in the Schengen zone. However, many UE countries have now reintroduced controls because of the recent migrant crisis. There can be delays at border crossing points, especially in the west and north. It is especially bad in July and August between Italy, Austria, and Germany.

Train – There are many connections. Austrian Railways (OBB) runs high-speed trains to Munich, Zurich, Frankfurt, Budapest, and Passau. There are Eurocity trains as well. Then there are the regional EURegio trains. The biggest rail hub is at Vienna. Usually, the day trains are quicker than night trains.

Getting Around

Train, Bus – Most tourists take the train. They are moderately priced, comfortable, and connect big cities and towns. Buses won’t serve the important lakes and towns. But the train and bus service is integrated and complement each other. The state owned ÖBB runs the trains. There are some private operators too that run for short distances. Tourist trains don’t compete with ÖBB. They supplement the network.

There is also WestBahn on the Vienna-Linz-Salzburg line. ÖBB tickets and rail passes don’t work on WestBahn.

Car – You will be able to reach the sparsely populated and rural areas better by car, as the buses are not very frequent. In fact, you can reach many popular mountain areas only by car or through skiing. Driving will be a pleasant experience in the country. The scenery is fantastic. Traffic regulations are the same as other European nations. You have to pay tolls while driving on Schnellstraßen or Autobahnen.

Plane – You can travel within the country, but you will miss the stunning landscape. Domestic flights are between €300 and €500 return. Austrian Airlines is cheaper, but tickets are booked months in advance. Journey time is about the same, as Austria is a small country. So fly only if you have to.

Visa

You need a Schengen Visa for Austria. Documents – 

  1. Duly filled out application form.
  2. Bank statement for the 6 months.
  3. Photocopies of passport.
  4. Invitation letter with the address and phone number of family member or tour sponsor – if applicable.
  5. 2 passport size photographs.
  6. No objection letter from the employer (if employed).
  7. Travel insurance with the minimum coverage value of 30,000 euros.
  8. Hotel reservation/accommodation in Austria.
  9. Flight tickets.
  10. Proof of adequate financial resources confirming your stay in Austria.

Travel Vaccinations

CDC and WHO recommends vaccinations for hepatitis A, B, and rabies. Routine vaccinations include,

  • TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis)
  • Chickenpox
  • Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR)
  • Shingles
  • Polio
  • Influenza
  • Pneumonia
  • Meningitis

Top Reasons For Visiting Austria

Landscapes, Sights Sunlit vineyards outside Vienna, Lake Attersee, the hills of Innsbruck, Österreichischer Skulpturen Park, picturesque Rogner Bad Blumau, hiking in Wachau, Hallstatt, the Riegersburg Castle, Zwölferkopf Mountain, Gipfelwelt 3000, Neunerkopfle, Grossglockner Alpine Road.
Parks, Nature National Parks - Hohe Tauern, Seewinkel, Gesause, Limestone. Krimmler and Gollinger Wasserfall, Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave, Hintertuxer Gletscher, Tscheppaschlucht, and more.
Architectural Wonders Beautiful castles and palaces at scenic spots – Mirabell Palace and Gardens, Salzburg Fortress and Cathedral Dom,Belvedere Museum, Haus der Musik, Imperial Palace, Melk Abbey, St. Peter’s Monastery, Schonbrunn Palace, Hohenwerfen Castle, Rathaus Hundertwasserhaus.
Museums The Josephinum, Globe Museum, Mozart’s birthplace, Museum of Perception, Ars Electronica Centre, Weltmuseum, Jewish Museum Vienna, Schnapps Museum etc.
Tours Plenty to choose from historical tours, scenic valley trips, Sound of Music tour, day-trips to Salzburg and Budapest, and visiting the historic cities.
Adventurous Sports There is something for everyone – skiing, hiking, parasailing, paragliding, biking, Alpine coaster, rafting, flying, fishing, and wakeboarding.
Shows, Concerts Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert – enjoy a classical evening with dinner, cruise, or in a church to remember these maestros.
Shopping You will find it all – local stores, shopping centers, flea markets, street vendors, and historic markets in the country.
Food and Drink Wiener Schnitzel, Viennese Apfelstrudel, the Vienna Sausage, Tafelspitz, Kasespatzle... don't miss them while you are in the country.

 

Famous citizens – Ferdinand Porsche (Porsche cars), Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, and Mozart.

Best Time To Visit

Summer between June and August is the best time to visit Austria. December to March is a good time for skiing in the Alpine areas. The Hahnenkamm ski races are in Kitzbühel every year in January. Visit during July-August for the Salzburg Festival for its operas, plays and classical-music concerts.

Climate

It is moderately cold as the country has Alpine climate. The eastern region is comparatively drier. The western region, however, has Atlantic climate and gets rain of 40 inches yearly.  Temperature varies between 20°C to 30°C in the summer.

  • Hottest Month – July with an average temperature of 19°C (66°F)
  • Coldest Month – January (-1°C), average of 9 hours sunshine.
  • Wettest Month – June (average of 74mm of rain).

Months High °C Low °C Rainfall (mm) No. of Rainy Days
January 2 -4 38 15
February 4 -2 42 14
March 9 0 41 13
April 14 4 51 13
May 20 9 61 13
June 23 13 74 14
July 24 14 63 13
August 24 14 58 13
September 19 10 45 10
October 14 6 41 13
November 7 2 50 14
December 2 -3 43 15

 

How To Stay Safe In Austria

Austria is the world’s 3rd safest country. However, there are still incidents of pick-pocketing, cybercrimes and some stray incidents. With the Alps everywhere, there can also be mountain accidents if you are not careful.

  • Leave your passport back at the hotel. Only carry a copy.
  • Beware of pickpockets at train stations, cafes, restaurants, and shopping areas.
  • Be careful when you are skiing. Watch out for overhangings. Rent to get the latest skiing equipment.
  • Be careful when climbing a glacier.
  • Make sure that your car has snow tires. The brakes should also be very efficient. Mountain roads can be slippery. The roads are not always cleared every day.
  • Watch out for avalanches, especially in the spring.