For a small country, Austria offers a wealth of things to do and sights to see, from catching a musical performance in Vienna to hiking in the Alps. If you are planning a trip to this central European nation, here are some important things to know.
If you are coming from the United States or Canada, you will not require a visa and will be granted a stay up to 90 days. If you wish to stay longer, you can simply leave the country and re-enter for a new stamp.
As far as costs in the capital city of Vienna, things are generally cheaper when compared to major European cities such as London or Rome, and more costly than eastern European cities such as Prague or Budapest. A mid-range hotel will probably run between 50 and 60 euros while a dinner and a glass of beer or wine will average about 15 to 20 euros.
When to Go
The best time to go to Austria really depends on what you want to do. The peak time to travel is January through March. Going to Austrian ski resorts and hiking are good during this time if you want lower prices. Christmas and summer is also peak season though it can be uncomfortably hot during the latter. If you enjoy music festivals, they mainly take place during May through October.
The weather can vary greatly depending on the region. In the Alps, summers are short and winters are long. Other parts of the country experience more temperate weather. June through August can be quite hot with lots of rainfall. December, January and February bring the coldest weather. The spring and autumn have the most comfortable temperatures but can be unpredictable at times.
Credit Card Considerations
ATM machines are widely available. European credit cards are more readily accepted than American cards but you should be able to use them in most places that accept this type of payment. Unlike other European countries, credit cards are not as widely accepted in many shops and restaurants so having some cash on hand is a good idea, especially if you are in areas where ATMs may not be as readily accessible.
Tipping is customary in Austria when in restaurants, bars, cafes and taxis—the going rate is about 10 percent. When paying for anything, add the tip in and give in one lump sum. If you need change, take the tip into account when asking for change.
Austria is one of the safest countries in the world and Vienna is one of the safest big cities. Violent crime is rare. But, like any area that serves lots of tourists, you need to be aware of pickpockets; bicycle thieves can also be a problem so make sure to lock up any bike you get.
Austria is well-served with public transportation options such as buses and trains. When traveling longer distances, buses will be a much more economical options; booking trains well in advance can help save money. Bicycle travel is very common local form of transportation, and many towns and cities will have dedicated lanes for cyclists.
Austria has a very high standard of health care and excellent facilities. EU travelers do not have to pay for any urgent treatment that is covered by the country’s public health insurance system. If you are from outside of the EU and do not have health insurance, payment will be expected upfront, except for emergency treatment. Costs are considered reasonable compared to the United States but it is probably a good idea to have health insurance before you go.
Much of the country lies at a higher altitude and if you are unaccustomed to this, you may experience a number of unpleasant symptoms upon arrival, such as dizziness, headache, nausea. Stay well-hydrated and take basic pain medications for headache. There is also medicine that can reduce symptoms—talk to your doctor before leaving to see if you should get a prescription.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who loves discussing anything travel; check out www.goski.co.uk/resorts/austria/index.htm for more information on Austrian ski vacations.