Austria Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: € Euro
🕙Time Zone: +1 GMT
📞Phone Code: +43
✈️Best time to visit: March-October
🍴Eat: Wiener Schnitzel
🗺️Don't miss: A Mozart/Beethoven Concert
🗺 Menu of Contents:
Despite its small size, Austria has a long-established international reputation for being of Europe's most beautiful countries, plus the birthplace of many classical music composers, which is why most visitors choose to visit in addition to seeing Habsburg and the Alpine mountains. The views of the mountain scenery is breathtakingly real, but Austria also has a few surprises up its sleeve in the form of contemporary art, cutting-edge architecture and innovative cuisine.
Austria is frequently cited as one of the best places to live in Europe, and it is not dicult to see why. Remarkably safe and clean, it offers plenty of affordable culture, natural beauty and elegant Baroque and neoclassical architecture, as well as an efficient public transport system. You can skate across icy lakes in winter or seek out wildflower meadows on summertime hikes. You can wonder at the intricate church interiors and the ostentatious opulence of the old Habsburg palaces, or you can ride a horse through pretty wooded tracts, get an eyeful of Rubens, Raphael and Rembrandt, and marvel at Hundertwasser House in Vienna. These aren’t sights to be hurriedly ticked on a list; allow yourself plenty of time to explore.
However, be ready for the expense, the quality of life here comes at a price! Coming to Austria should be well planned if you want to keep within a budget!
Austria is well served by all means of transport. Travelling out of Europe the obvious choice is by air, the country has 3 main airports all serving international destinations. Vienna, the capital, is the major gateway and can be reached direct from a number of American and Asian destinations. Salzburg, Innsbruck and Graz are Austria's second biggest airports and can be reached domestically or by European and low cost airlines. The national airline is Austrian Airlines (Part of the Lufthansa Group), with its hub in Vienna. Other major European airlines also serve Vienna at least once a day. Additionally it's easy to reach Austria with low cost airlines such as Easyjet.
Travelling by train is also very popular, as part of touring other countries and cities nearby, getting the train is more relaxing and has the advantage of passing some amazing scenery. Direct services are possible from Budapest, Prague, Brno, Győr, Berlin, Munich and Salzburg to reach Austria and it's main city, Vienna.
Busses, specifically Eurolines, is the most popular way to travel around cities in Europe. Vienna , Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck are all well served from other capitals in Europe. It's worth checking if you are not travelling too far away.
Within the country, public transportation is very effective, comfortable, punctual and reasonable. There any numerous transportation options within the cities. You can use electronic cards to prepay your travel and even visit museums and attractions. This will also save money if you planning to keep active and visit the points of interest. Refer to the tourism information centres of each city to obtain prices and the inclusions for each tourist card.
✔️Tip: If on a budget, you will find that travelling to Vienna by air is rather expensive. The cheapest option is to travel to nearby Bratislava (Slovakia), and make your way to Vienna by coach which is much more economical. Low cost airline Ryanair serves Bratislava from many European capitals.
Austria has a continental climate, meaning it can get very hot in the summer, temperatures reaching 25C and hotter, whilst in the Winter it can be cold and snowy, with temperatures ranging about 0-10C. Summer months (July and August) are popular to travel, but it's the high season. The sun can be intense if walking outside for too long. Winter's are good option if you planning to ski in the region but not so nice for tourism as it can be very cold and often sub zero in December and January.
Therefore the best times to visit are Spring ( March to June) and Autumn (September to November). This is best for city tourism, walking and enjoying the city with not so many people as in the summer.
Viennese cuisine in influenced by it's European neighbours, most notably Hungary, Serbia and Romania. Broth-based soups, dumplings, cheese spreads, and stewed and breaded meats are all commonplace. The real star of the show is confectionery. Austria’s desserts and cakes are renowned, and the lavish patisserie window displays, piled high with towers of tortes adorned with intricate icing, are photograph-worthy. Gourmet culture is particularly evident in Vienna’s cafes and restaurants where eating and drinking is at high standards by stylish settings at quality establishments.However as the city grow's and more cultures live in Vienna it's to no surprise you can find cuisines from around the world and budget dining restaurants.
Specialities in Austria include: Wiener Schnitzel, a traditional dish of bread crumbed and fried veal escalope. Tafelspitz, boiled beef topside in broth, typically served with horseradish. Tiroler Speckknödel, a fried bacon and bread dumpling. Palatschinken, thin crêpe-like pancakes with savoury or sweet fillings. Liptauer, a paprika-infused creamy spread made from sheep’s milk cheese. Apfelstrudel, Austria’s most famous dessert consists of delicate layers of crisp pastry with an apple and raisin filling. Salzburger Nockerln, a baked vanilla soufflé designed to resemble Austria’s snow-capped peaks. Sacher Torte, a dense chocolate cake with a layer of apricot preserve, served with a compulsory dollop of whipped cream. Mehlspeisen, the national term for cakes and puddings. There are around 60 varieties of torte, which is often consumed with coffee.
As for drinks you can find: Stroh, potent spiced rum available in several variants, ranging from 40% to a whopping 80% alcohol. Glühwein, a warming mix of hot red wine blended with sugar, orange, lemon, cloves and cinnamon stick. Obstler, fruit schnapps, usually very strong and relatively cheap. Wiener Mélange, a small espresso served with steamed milk and topped with froth.
Having only been to Austria once, Vienna, it's capital is a beautiful city filled with culture,art ,history,architecture and of course everywhere you go you feel the presence of music. Vienna hosted some great Musicians from the classical era, Mozart, Beethoven are the top favourites but you can find many more.
The beauty of its history also lie in its streets, cafes and parks. It's a city for elegance and style and its reflected even in it's people. However Austria has some incredible scenery and mountain landscape worth visiting also!
Vienna Tourism Information Guide
Vienna is one of the most important capitals in Europe for its long lasting music legacy left behind by great classical music composers like Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. It's music can still be heard today in the many concert halls and theatres offering daily performances for tourists and locals alike. Vienna, known locally as Wien, is elegance personified. The city that was ruled by the mighty Hapsburg Empire for over 600 years now offers a genteel atmosphere of history, culture and architecture where beautiful buildings have been constructed and remain in perfect condition, open to the public to marble and contemplate how it was to live in those days when Austria was at its highest in the XIX Century. Vienna is capital of culture. With over 100 museums, 27 castles and 150 palace's to discover.
Today Vienna, is a modern metropolis which is very important for shopping, business and socialising. Vienna has a large number of cafes, terraces and restaurants offering outdoor tables in which to enjoy the sunny days and relax in one of the most elegant, chick and cleanest cities in Europe.
Vienna climate is quite changeable with hot summers and cold winters, in between fairly mild weather during both the spring and autumn seasons. Since summer can be such a busy time in Vienna, being the peak tourism period, some visitors choose to take advantage of the favourable spring climate and visit at this time of the year, when hotel rates are little less expensive and attractions less crowded. Also during July and August temperatures can easily reach well into 30°C or more.
The springtime climate during April sees more pleasant temperatures averaging 15°C by day, Others find autumn an appealing and rather romantic season to spend time in Vienna, although the skies can be somewhat overcast on some days.
Winters can get cold, but within the city, temperatures are now less cold than they used to be, averaging around 5°C during the day. However, a few weeks during January and February is can snow and stay below 0°C.
Vienna is very accessible by public transport, a modern and efficient system of trains, metro, trams and busses will take you to every part of the city and the outskirts. From the airport when arriving you can take several options.
The cheapest way to travel is by local train from the airport, get the S-Bahn to Wien Mitte (City Centre) Number S7 and for €4 single you can be in the city in 25 minutes. The quickest way is the The City Airport Train (Cat). when you arrive at the city, it's terminal is located (10 minutes by foot) from St. Stephan’s Cathedral at Wien Mitte station and can be reached easily by public transport. The trip is 16 min long and costs €12 single or €19 return.
In the city there are five underground lines, 29 tram and 127 bus lines, of which 24 are night lines, great for going out at night! You can buy passes for longer periods of time. Passes are available for 24 hours and 72 hours, or as weekly, monthly or annual passes.
Below you will find maps for Vienna's transport:
Vienna combines, culture, architecture, history, music, shopping and entertainment. You can still see the remnants of Austria's expansive kingdom, with not just one, but two palaces in Vienna. The Schönbrunn palace, and the Hofburg Palace. You can also visit the Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world. But once you have had enough of city walks and buildings why not travel to the calm and idyllic towns with some incredible scenery and sit back and relax the views whilst having some local made coffee.
With so much culture and history in one place it would take you many weeks to visit all that Vienna can offer, specially in the outskirts with many Castles and Palaces dotted around. Below you will find the highlights of Vienna:
- St. Stephen's Cathedral, located in Stephansplatz, right at the centre of Vienna.Construction commenced in the 12th century. Today, it is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. A climb of the 343 steps is well worth it, for €4, the view of Vienna from this 137 meters high tower is breathtaking.
- Hofburg Palace, provides an authentic view into the daily life of what was once the centre of the powerful Habsburg dynasty, a family that once ruled the Austrian-Hungary empire. The Imperial Palace, which until 1918 was inhabited by the imperial family, was originally a castle built in the thirteenth century. The palace hosts some very interesting museums that offer a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions and history of the imperial court. These days, the palace serves as the the official home of Austria’s president.To access the Palace it costs €12 per adult. To get there take Metro line U1 or U3 to Stephansplatz, or Tram D, 1 or 2, to Burgring. empire. The Imperial Palace, which until 1918 was inhabited by the imperial family, was originally a castle built in the thirteenth century. The palace hosts some very interesting museums that offer a unique opportunity to learn about the traditions and history of the imperial court. These days, the palace serves as the the official home of Austria’s president.To access the Palace it costs €12 per adult. To get there take Metro line U1 or U3 to Stephansplatz, or Tram D, 1 or 2, to Burgring.
- Schönbrunn Palace, this was Empress Sisi’s former summer residence. This baroque complex contains an enchanting park, the Palm House, the Gloriette and a zoo. You can spend an entire day at Schönbrunn. Today, the palace is part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage due to its historic importance, its unique grounds and its splendid furnishings. The rooms, shown to the public on guided tours, are mostly decorated in Rococo style. Most of the walls and ceilings are covered with white-lacquered surfaces with ornamentation covered with gold leaf.Today, the Austrian government gives state receptions there when important heads of state come to Austria for official visits. To get there take the Underground: U4 to Schönbrunn station or trams 10 and 58 to Schönbrunn stop.
- Schönbrunn Zoo, is the world’s oldest zoo still in existence. It was the first place worldwide to see the birth of an African elephant conceived in human care. Also in 2007, a panda baby that was naturally conceived in a zoo, was born in Schönbrunn. Today the Zoo at Schönbrunn is considered one of the best and most modern zoos in the world. The animal compounds have a particularly generous and natural design. More than 500 animal species - from Siberian tigers and hippos to one-horned rhinoceroses - live here. Highlights include the giant Rainforest House, the large South American Area and the Orang area, which is the home of Vienna's orang-utans. Tickets are €20 per person. To get there take the U4 (underground) and get off at Hietzing. Also by tram 10, 58, 60. Its located next to Schönbrunn Palace.
- Vienna Art Museum, the museum itself is located just across the Hofburg Palace in a magnificent building that deserves a visit even without the works of art presented inside.The museum holds an impressive collection of Egyptian and Greek art as well as a great collection of European works such as the well-known work of Pieter Bruegel's, Hunters in the Snow, or Rubens (self-portrait), Rembrandt (also a self-portrait as well as other works) and the unforgettable Albrecht Dürer collection that includes the famous Blue Madonna alongside other painting
- St. Charles Church, at 72 m with it's high green copper dome, is located on the south side of the old city of Vienna just outside the ring and is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Vienna. It was built between 1716 and 1737.There is a sculpture in the pool in front of the Church which was created by Henry Moore. You can use the elevator that will take you right into the sphere of the dome. From there you can climb to the top to get a fantastic view of Vienna. Entrance fee is €8. Also in the church there are music concerts held during the evenings.
- The Belvedere Palace, it's one of the best examples of baroque architecture in Europe. It also serves as a good museum. The place is actually made of two palaces. Walking around the Palace is great, as it's located on a small slope over the city and while climbing up you will go through some impressive gardens with a large pond in which you could see a reflection of the sky and the palace. To visit the palace is €26 per person for the entire palace. To get there take Tram D, to "Schloss Belvedere" or Tram 18 to "Quartier Belvedere".
- Vienna Opera House, opening of the opera house took place in May 1869. The Nazi regime prohibited several performances, ensemble members were chased away or sometimes murdered. A bomb hit damaged the building heavily in 1945 and the reconstruction took 10 years. At the graceful new opening Beethoven's -Fidelio- was performed. For approx. 7,50 Euro you can attend a guided tour which lasts around 1 hour. This is a cheap possibility to walk over the marble stairs and to have a look to the middle lodge. To get there go by Underground: U1, U2, U4, at Karlsplatz station or trams: 1, 2, D, 62, 71, get off at Opernring.
- Danube Tower (Donauturm), at 250 meters high, enjoy a splendid view of Vienna's old city and the Vienna Woods, as well as the outskirts of the city, weather permitting. The Danube Tower was built in 1964 on the occasion of the Vienna International Garden Show, of which the Danube Park is a lasting reminder where to relax and sit down for a picnic in the summer months. To get there take the U-BAHN (Subway) Line U1 (Red Line) to "VIC (Vienna International Center) / Kaisermühlen" and from there take the bus line 20A to the Danube Tower. Or take U-BAHN Line U6 (Brown Line) to "Neue Donau" and change to the bus line 20A and get off at the Danube Tower.
- Go to a classic music concert. The city is naturally associated with the great Composers like Mozart or Beethoven, and the whole city echo's their history. It's very recommended to go to a concert, whether you like classic music or not, not only it's music, but a history lesson as well, where you can feel how it was to attend one of those concerts back in time and enjoy the great surroundings in which these concerts are held. Often the concerts are played in majestic classical buildings of the era. Prices range from €15 right up to the €100's, depending which concert, time, sitting area and availability. It's always better to check online which concerts are available as they can sell fast during high season and weekends. Duration of the concerts generally last from 75 min to 2 hours.
- Take some time to travel out of Vienna and visit the outskirts to sample the spectacular scenery and relaxed countryside life. Trips out of Vienna include the Melk Abbey and Danube Valley, To visit you can take the Train which leave frequently from Vienna's Westbahnhof to Melk, with two brief stops en route (about 1 hr. trip time).The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you see many medieval castles, impressive monasteries and a breathtaking landscape. Activities you can do are: see the the ruins of Dürnstein castle on a nearby hill, board the boat and sail upstream to Melk, visit the Benedictine Abbey or see the wine vineyards. You can do all the activities with an organised tour as well departing from Vienna.
Vienna offers a more laid back nightlife, it's just not as frantic as that found in many other European capitals. The city's best bars tend to be in the Innere Stadt (inner city), with a range of venues spanning Irish pubs to designer bars, as well as time-capsule spots from before World War I, with Adolf Loos's American Bar is a prime example. The Copa Cagrana's beach-styled bars serve glorious fruit cocktails.
As far as nightclubs go, the Gurtel area is home to the Rhiz which attracts electronica fans and there are a couple of clubs near Nussdorfer Strasse which offer house music. For the more culturally inclined, many Viennese museums stay open late, with the Albertina and the House of Music being classic choices.
Of course, Vienna is a musical city, and operas, ballets, and classical concerts are probably the best options for after dark entertainment. You are able to book in advance online or turn up on the day for tickets for the same day. However, during the high season (Summer and Christmas) always book online one week before.
The Vienna shopping experience is both elegant and modern, but it is also quite expensive. You will find many beautiful outlets and department stores line the narrow shopping streets around the Innere Stadt (Inner City) area of Vienna, often occupying historical buildings and boasting spectacular facades.
Vienna is also home to a number of large shopping malls, both old and new, such as the rather grand Ringstrassen Galerien on the Mahlerstrasse, close to the Staatsoper. The Ringstrassen Galerien is known for its period architecture, curving glass roof and wealth of fashion boutiques, and almost resembles a Victorian railway station in its appearance.
Additionally, there are plenty of shopping opportunities along the pedestrianised street of Kärntnerstrasse and also on the Graben, leading towards St. Stephen's Cathedral.
Vienna's Mariahilferstrasse contains several excellent shopping centres and department stores, such as the Generali Centre, where around 30 different stores are spread across two floors.
For something quite different, look out for the Gasometer on Guglgasse, a striking contemporary-style shopping centre converted from four disused, cylindrical gas towers Alternatively, the markets in Vienna offer a chance to pick up some real bargains, and with more than 20 markets, there is plenty of choice.
Saturday is always a good day to pay a visit to the Vienna Naschmarkt, when the regular weekly food and clothes stalls are combined with a traditional Austrian flea market.
The city of Vienna offers accommodation at a high price for the first time traveller. It's high end status and good quality of life make prices go up and unfortunately for travellers, Hotels are really expensive if staying central. But it's not all bad news. Thanks to the good public transportation network staying further away from the city centre will bring prices down. Look out for hotels near train stations or major bus lines into the centre. A reasonable Hotel is €25-30 per room. Additionally, Airbnb is popular for private accommodation and naturally hostels can be found as well if you don't mind sharing.
Despite the price tag which Vienna is associated with, it's actually not that big to stay extra long. A comfortable stay of 3 nights is enough to sample the city and take advantage of going to at least one music concert. However there are day tours and visits that can extend your stay easily to see more of the landscape and scenery. For this up to one week would be recommended.