STUDY IN Austria
- LIVING IN Austria
Social Conventions: Austrians
tend to be quite formal in both their social and
business dealings. They do not use first names
when being introduced, but after the initial meeting
first names are often used. Handshaking is normal
when saying hello and goodbye. It is considered
impolite to enter a restaurant or shop without
saying Guten Tag or, more usually, Grüss
Gott; similarly, to leave without saying Auf Wiedersehen
can cause offence. Social pleasantries and some
exchange of small-talk is appreciated. If invited
out to dinner, flowers should be brought for the
hostess. The Church enjoys a high and respected
position in Austrian society, which should be
kept in mind by the visitor. It is customary to
dress up for the opera or the theatre. Tipping:
Widespread, but large amounts are not expected.
On restaurant bills a service charge of 10 to
15 per cent is included, but it is usual to leave
a further 5 per cent. Attendants at theatres,
cloakrooms or petrol pumps, expect to be tipped
€0.15-0.22. Railway and airports have fixed
charges for portering. Taxi drivers expect €0.22-0.29
for a short trip and 10 per cent for a longer
Special Events: For a full list
of events celebrated in Austria, contact the Austrian
National Tourist Office. The following is a selection
of special events occurring in Austria in 2004:
Jan International Ballooning Week, Tannheim;
FIS World Cup Race (Ladies), Innsbruck; International
Hahnenkamm Race (salolm skiing race), Kitzbühel.
Jan-Feb Mozart Week, Salzburg. Jan 3 International
Four Hills Jump Tournament, Innsbruck. Jan 25
Snow Festival, Seefeld. Feb Carnival Festival,
Bad Ischl; Arlberg Open Space – Big Mountain
Freeriding, Lech in Vorarlberg. Feb 19 Vienna
Opera Ball. Mar 3rd International Nordic Night-Sprint;
Easter Bunny Party, Montafon. Mar 15- May 7 Vienna
Spring Festival. Apr The Sound of Easter, Vienna;
Easter Festival, Salzburg. May Vienna Festival;
International Gourmet Festival, Linz; Austrian
Grand Prix, Formula One, Speilberg; Whitsunday
Festival, Salzburg. May-Jun Daffodil Festival,
Bad Aussee. May 16 Vienna City Marathon. Jun Kitz
Alp Bike – Mountainbike Marathon, Kizbüehel.
Jun-Jul Styriarte, Graz; Innsbruck Dance Summer
Festival. Jun 28-Jul 11 Jazz Festival, Vienna.
Jul International Milka Chocolate Festival, Bludenz;
International Youth & Music Festival, Vienna;
Love Parade, Vienna; ‘Generali Open’,
Kitzbüehel. Jul-Aug Carinthian Summer, Ossiach/Carinthia;
Bregenzer Festival; Salzburg Festival; Innsbruck
Festival Weeks of Early Music. Aug Ledehosen Festival,
Windischgarsten; Lakefestival, St Gilgen. Sep
Montafon Pumpkin Festival, Voralberg; International
Hadyn Festival, Eisenstadt. Sep 18 20th Dumpling
Festival, Tirol. Sep 20 15th International Tirolean
Ballooning Cup, Kirchberg. Oct-Nov Styrian Autumn,
Graz. Oct 25-26 Octoberfestival (including cattle
procession), Tirol. Nov-Dec ‘Magic of Advent’
Christmas Market, Vienna; Christmas Market Schönbrunn,
Vienna. Dec Rave on Snow, Saalbach-Hinterglemm.
Dec 31 Imperial Ball, Vienna.
|Local Customs & Culture
Food: Traditional Austrian dishes
are Wiener Schnitzel, boiled beef (Tafelspitz),
calf’s liver with herbs in butter (Geröstete
Leber), Goulash, Kaiserschmarrn, Palatschinken
and Salzburger Nockerln, as well as various types
of smoked and cured pork. Viennese cuisine is
strongly influenced by southeast European cuisine,
notably that of Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Dalmatia.
Many of the simpler meals are often made with
rice, potatoes and dumplings (Knödel) with
sauces. The main meal of the day is lunch. Mehlspeisen
is the national term for cakes and puddings, all
of which are wonderfully appetising. There are
more than 57 varieties of Torte, which is often
consumed with coffee at around 1500. Open all
day, the Austrian coffee shop (Kaffeehaus) is
little short of a national institution and often
provides the social focus of a town or neighbourhood.
Spirits such as whisky and gin, together with
imported beers, tend to be on the expensive side,
but local wines (often served in open carafes)
are excellent and cheap. Most of the wines are
white (Riesling, Veltliner) but there are also
some good red wines from Baden and Burgenland,
as well as imported wines from other European
countries. Generally the strict registration laws
mean that the quality of the wine will be fully
reflected in its price. Obstler is a drink found
in most German-speaking countries, and is made
by distilling various fruits. It is usually very
strong, and widely drunk as it is cheap and well
flavoured. Most bars or coffee houses have waiter
service and bills are settled with the arrival
of drinks. All restaurants have waiter service.
Shopping: High-quality goods
such as handbags, glassware, chinaware and winter
sports equipment represent the cream of specialist
items found in Austria. A 20 to 32 per cent value-added-tax
(called MwSt) is included in the list price of
items sold. Shopping hours: Shops and stores are
generally open from Mon-Fri 0800-1800 (with a
1- or 2-hour lunch break in the smaller towns).
Some shops are open until 1930 on Thursday and
on Saturday opening hours are until 1700.
Nightlife: Viennese nightlife
offers something for every taste: opera, theatre
and cabaret as well as numerous bars and nightclubs.
There are cinemas of all types, some of them of
architectural interest, showing films in different
languages. A good way to spend a summer evening
is in one of the beer gardens found all over Austria.
The wine-growing area around Vienna features wine
gardens (Heurigen) where visitors can sample local
wines in an open-air setting.
RAIL: Österreichische Bundesbahnen
(ÖBB) (Austrian Federal Railways) runs an
efficient internal service throughout Austria.
There is a frequent intercity service from Vienna
to Salzburg, Innsbruck, Graz and Klagenfurt, and
regular motorrail services through the Tauern
Tunnel. Information and booking can be obtained
from railway stations or Austrian Federal Railways.
Local information can be obtained on (1) 1717.
For bookings from the UK, contact Deutsche Bahn
(German Rail) (tel: (0870) 243 5363); or Rail
Europe (tel: (08705) 848 848).
The most scenic
routes are Innsbruck–Brenner, Innsbruck–Buchs,
Innsbruck–Bruck an der Mur–Vienna,
Garmisch– Zugspitze, Innsbruck–Salzburg–Innsbruck,
Salzburg–Zell am See–Innsbruck, Salzburg–
Gmunden–Stainach– Salzburg, Salzburg–Vienna,
Salzburg–Villach– Salzburg, Vienna–Puchberg
am Schneeberg– Hochschneeberg–Vienna,
Vienna–Bruck an der Mur–Innsbruck,
Railways have fixed charges for portering. Tickets
can be obtained from any station ticket office
(Reisebüro am Bahnhof) or from most Austrian
travel agents. For further information consult
Austrian National Tourist Office.
Discount fares: Throughout
Austria, up to two children under 6 years who
are accompanied or require no seat travel free
and a third child qualifies for a 50 per cent
discount. Children aged 6 to 15 pay half fare.
Senior citizens (women 60 and over and men 65
and over) may buy train and bus tickets at half
price after purchasing an ID card for approximately
€25.40. This ID card can be purchased at
all Austrian railway stations. Austria offers
a number of discount rail passes including the
Vorteilscard and the Euro Domino and Euro Domino
Junior, both valid for 3 to 8 days within a 30-day
period. The Austrian Rail Pass is available to
foreigners. Reductions are also available for
groups of more than 6 people. For more information,
contact the Austrian Railways Head Office.
ROAD: Austria has an excellent
network of roads. Traffic drives on the right.
Free help is readily given by the Austrian Motoring
Association (ÖAMTC) – for emergency
breakdowns, dial 120. Tolls must be paid on all
Austrian motorways. Tourists can purchase either
10-day, 2-monthly or 1-year discs which are available
at all major border crossings and at post offices.
The weekly disc is valid for up to 10 days and
costs approximately €7.63 for cars up to
3.5 tons. The two-monthly disc, valid for two
consecutive calendar months costs €21.80
for cars below 3.5 tons. Heavy vehicles pay higher
tariffs and motorcycles pay less. Seat belts must
be worn and children under the age of 12 and under
150cm tall may not sit in the front seat unless
a special child’s seat has been fitted.
Both driver and passenger on a motorcycle must
wear helmets, and the vehicle must have lights
on at all times. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph)
in built-up areas (the speed limit in Graz is
30kph), 100kph (62mph) outside built-up areas
and 130kph (81mph) on motorways.
Bus and coach
services are run by federal and local authorities,
as well as private companies. There are over 1800
services in operation. Some 70 international coach
services travel to or through Austria and 22 routes
with timetables and prices can be found in the
Austrian bus guide which can be consulted via
the Austrian National Tourist Office. For further
information, contact Central Bus Information (tel:
(1) 794440; e-mail: email@example.com;
Coach excursions and sightseeing tours run from
most major cities.
There are car hire firms with offices in most
cities, as well as at airports and major railway
driving licences issued by EU countries, Norway,
Iceland and Liechtenstein are accepted, and enable
holders to drive in Austria for up to 1 year.
UK licenses without a photo must be accompanied
by some form of photo ID such as a passport. The
minimum legal age for driving is 18. Car registration
papers issued in the UK are also valid in Austria.
A Green Card is compulsory.
It is advisable to make enquiries and reservations
well in advance (especially for July, August,
Christmas and Easter). Room reservations are binding
for the hotel-keeper and for the guest or travel
agency. Compensation may be claimed if reserved
rooms are not occupied. Hotels, pensions and other
forms of tourist accommodation are classified
by the Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
See the Grading section below for details. For
further information contact the Austrian Hotel
Association, Piaristengasse 16/7, A-1080 Vienna
(tel: (1) 405 2584; fax: (1) 533 7071; e-mail:
HOTELS: 87 per cent of 5-star
hotels and 50 per cent of 4-star hotels
in Austria belong to the Austrian Hotel Association.
Grading: Classifications are
according to the guidelines established by the
International Hotel Association and relate to
the facilities provided: 5-star
for deluxe, 4-star for first
class, 3-star for standard,
2-star for economy and 1-star
for budget. The facilities offered are as follows:
5-star hotels: Private bathrooms
with shower or bath, hand basin and WC with all
bedrooms. Telephone, alarm bell, colour TV in
all bedrooms. Room service, day and night reception
and foreign languages spoken. Restaurant, bars,
lifts and garage space (in the cities) in all
4-star hotels: Bedrooms with
bath or shower, hand basin and WC. There is a
telephone and alarm bell in all rooms, and TV
in 50 per cent of them. Room service and day and
night reception, dining rooms, foreign languages
spoken, lifts in all hotels.
3-star hotels: All new bedrooms
and at least 70 per cent of older bedrooms with
bath or shower, handbasin and WC. Foreign languages
spoken at reception. Lifts and dining room.
2-star hotels: 20 per cent of
bedrooms should have a bath or shower and WC.
30 per cent should have at least a bath or shower.
Toilet facilities may be shared. The dining room
may serve as another public room. Some with reception
and foreign language capability.
1-star hotels: All rooms have
hand basins. Toilet facilities and showers may
be shared. The dining room may double as a general
Note: Some hotels may still
be under the old grades of A, B, C, etc. Full
information and hotel list is available from the
Austrian National Tourist Office.
SELF-CATERING: Holiday apartments
and chalets are available for rent throughout
Austria. For full details contact your local travel
agent or the the Austrian National Tourist Board.
FARM HOLIDAYS: There are approximately
29,000 farmhouses with a total of 300,000 beds
providing accommodation. Lists of farmhouses taking
paying guests for most provinces in Austria are
available from the Austrian National Tourist Office.
Listings include farms as well as pensions and
inns with an attached farming operation.
CAMPING/CARAVANNING: There are
approximately 500 camp sites in Austria, all of
which can be entered without any major formalities;
approximately 160 sites are equipped for winter
camping. Reductions for children are available,
and for members of FICC, AIT and FIA. It is advisable
to take along the camping carnet. Fees are charged
on the usual international scale for parking caravans,
motorbikes and cars. The parking of caravans without
traction vehicle on or beside the public highways
(including motorway parking areas) is prohibited.
One can park caravans with traction vehicle beside
public highways, if the parking regulations are
observed. Some mountain roads are closed to caravans.
For detailed information, contact the automobile
clubs or Austrian National Tourist Office The
address of the Camping & Caravanning Club
is Schubertring 1-3, 1010 Vienna (tel: (1) 713
6151; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Note: When camping in private
grounds, permission from the landowner, police
and municipal council is needed.
YOUTH HOSTELS: Youth hostels
can be found throughout Austria and are at the
disposal of anyone carrying a membership card
of the International Youth Hostel Association.
It is advisable to book in advance, especially
during peak periods.
For more details contact
the Österreichische Jugendherbergsverband,
Schottenring 28, 1010 Vienna (tel: (1) 533 5353;
fax: (1) 535 0861; e-mail: email@example.com;
DISABLED TRAVELLERS: There are
hotels with special facilities for disabled persons
in towns all over Austria. Hotel guides for disabled
travellers (including a special guide for Vienna)
are available from the Austrian National Tourist
For UK nationals on a temporary visit to Austria,
an E111 is not required – production of
a British passport is sufficient to obtain medical
treatment. For other EEA nationals (including
Austrians), resident in the UK, an E111 is required.
Visitors who are treated privately may receive
a refund for part of the costs, up to the amount
that would have been payable for public hospital
treatment. Such refunds are available from Regional
Health Insurance Offices (Gebietskrankenkassen)
which also provide addresses of medical and dental
practitioners. Referral to a public hospital will
require an admission voucher issued by a doctor.
In an emergency, UK nationals should show their
passport to the hospital administration which
will ascertain from the insurance office whether
the costs of treatment will be met.