With the perfect balance between baroque urban centers and dramatic natural backdrops, Austria is a country that strives to impress all of its visitors and provide a wide variety of entertainment to make your trip unforgettable. But amongst the natural beauty, Austria’s unique culture also shines bright.
With art and music, a big part of Austria’s high culture, the most famous icons from this country include Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. Austria was also the birthplace of Marie Antoinette who was France’s last queen and Sigmund Freud who founded psychoanalysis.
Herzlich Willkommen – Welcome to Austria
But between the relics of history and its events, present day in Austria is also filled with treasures. There are plenty of museums to explore, which honor Austria’s past or you can enjoy the comfort of music in one of its ornate concert halls. Out in the streets, fresh food awaits, and Austria’s culinary scene is constantly expanding. With flavors that change by season, Austria will enchant you all year long.
Vienna is a masterpiece and it is Austria’s capital. This famous city is most well-known for its architectural grandeur, which showcases the history of the country’s monarchy. The palaces, halls, and chapels have all been preserved for future generations to enjoy. Some of the palaces have even been converted into world’ famous museums. But amongst the beauty and history of the city, the people of the city are constantly seeking out new innovations. With plenty of options for fine dining, Vienna has also become a hotspot on the culinary map.
Culture and Language
Austria, like many European countries, has a long past with artifacts found that date back to the Paleolithic Age. The most famous group to bring early influence on the region was the Celtics, who were centered around Hallsatt. But by 200BC, the Romans controlled the country until German tribes like the Bavarians and Badenbergs began to invade. These smaller tribes eventually expanded and led to Austria’s famous monarchy, the Habsburgs.
For 650 years, the Habsburgs ruled Austria from hard times like the Turkish Wars to the periods of Baroque and Art Nouveau. However, the monarchy was defeated during the first World War and today, the royals retain no special powers. However, the family line is still alive in the present day and the current head of the dynasty is involved in Austrian politics.
While Austria today is currently a republic, the long rule of the Habsburgs had immense influence on the culture and society of the country. Even today, visitors can experience the power of the monarchy in the museums, palaces, and music of the past. Austria is proud of their culture and country. Many Austrian’s are deeply invested into classical music and strive to appreciate the masterpieces of Mozart and Strauss.
But another part of their culture is the natural beauty of the country. With rivers that run deep and mountains that stand tall, Austria is a very physically active country that promotes visitors to explore the land by hiking, biking, skiing, or boating. With outdoor activities present during all four seasons, Austria is a popular destination throughout the year.
Another part of Austria’s culture is the language. German is the official language in Austria, but Austro-Bavarian is the most popular native language. However, German is the most common language spoken and understood by Austrians because it is the language used by the government, education, and in the media.
In larger urban centers, English is also very popular due to the country’s position with international business and tourism. While most Austrian’s will prefer to speak their country’s own language, many people do understand and can converse in English, if needed.
An important part of planning to take a trip abroad is ensuring that you have all your legal documents ready for travel. Austria is a part of the Schengen Area, which means that US citizens must meet the requirements of the Schengen Agreement in order to enter and exit Austria. The Schengen Agreement does not require that you obtain a tourist visa, prior to your arrival to Austria, but you will need to meet a few other requirements to guarantee legal entry into the country.
For US citizens, you won’t need to apply for a tourist visa for stays that are under 90 days, but you do need to have a valid US passport. Your passport must have a remaining validity that extends 6 months past your intended date of departure from the Schengen Area. Visitors also need to have one blank page in their passport for their entry stamp. Austria has no restrictions on vaccinations prior to entry, but travelers are only allowed to carry €10,000 Euros maximum upon entry or exit from Austria.
While you may dream of a high-class vacation amidst Austria’s beautiful landscapes and sophisticated culture, it is important that you have an idea of how much a trip to Austria will cost. While Europe is known for being an expensive continent to visit, Austria can still be an attainable destination for travelers on a budget. But you should consider the cost of a flight, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation before you set out on your journey.
One of the biggest portions of your budget will be the cost of getting to Austria. Most travelers will spend an average of $1,000 US dollars on a plane ticket to Austria. But you may be able to find lower prices and deals often lower the cost to about $650 US dollars. The time of year that you travel to Austria can also affect the cost of a flight to Austria.
Summertime is the high tourist season in Austria and airline tickets will be more expensive during the warmer months. Travelers who are looking to stay on budget can travel during the shoulder seasons in the spring and fall to lower the cost of a flight.
After you have made your flight reservations, the next most important thing to book is your accommodation for the duration of your trip. Austria has plenty of accommodation options and you should be able to find somewhere to sleep that suits your budget. Hostels, hotels, and Airbnb are some of the most popular accommodation options amongst tourists in Austria.
Hostel dorm rooms are the most affordable option for budget travelers, and you should expect to spend about $15 US dollars per night. Many hostels also offer private rooms, which are more expensive but can be affordable if you split the cost with another person. Private rooms in a hostel will normally cost about $55 US dollars per night.
But if the hostel settings aren’t to your preference, there are quite a few budget hotels offering their services in Austria too. Most budget hotels will cost about $60 US dollars per night. Boutique hotels will cost a lot more than budget hotels and you should expect to pay more than $150 US dollars each night.
For people who like to travel in groups, Airbnb is a great option because it is easy to split the cost of a home or apartment. There are a lot of listing all over Austria and nightly prices start as low as $20 US dollars per night for a private room. Apartments and homes can be found for as little as $40 US dollars per night, but most people will spend an average of $80 US dollars per night.
While accommodation is always important so that you have a safe place to rest up, the adventure is out on the streets. When you aren’t relaxing, travelers are often eager to grab a bite to eat. Austrian cuisine changes by region, but overall the country is known for having very fresh ingredients that are locally sourced.
The national dish of Austria is Viennese apfelstrudel, which is an apple filled pastry with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. The strudels are often served as small snacks and are a popular dish amongst street vendors. For a true meal, wiener schnitzel is another dish that is a national favorite and is often served with a side of potatoes and sour cream. Restaurants all over the country serve this dish and you can find it in street vendors or even Michelin star establishments.
Vienna sausage is another dish that Austria has made famous and it is often served on top of a bun. Austria’s version of dumplings is called knödel and are often served like meatballs would be served in soup. One main course that is packed with flavor is tafelspitz, which is a boiled beef served with vegetables. Finally, for the sweet toothed travelers, kaiserschmarrn is a pancake like dish that was once served to kings. The small pancakes are served shredded and topped with fruit jams and compotes.
With meals fit for kings, travelers need to budget the cost of food into their vacation. Food can be very affordable in Austria and you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get a delicious dish. Budget meals will normally cost about $12 US dollars in local restaurants, while a mid-range establishment would cost about $30 US dollars for a meal.
But many places in Austria are also very high class and there are Michelin star restaurants in Vienna. For travelers who want to experience fine dining in Austria, you should expect to pay more than $100 US dollars per meal. Meals will also be more expensive if you plan on having an alcoholic drink while you dine.
Alcohol in Austria is moderately priced and costs about the same as in the United States. A pint of beer normally costs $4-$5 US dollars, while mixed drinks or cocktails will usually cost up to $8 US dollars. However, there are always some places that may charge more or less for your drinks, so you should plan your budget accordingly.
Overall, Austria’s daily budget can be broken down into a couple different categories to make it easier to plan your trip. Budget travelers should expect to spend less than $100 US dollars per day with the average cost sitting at about $75 US dollars per day. However, by looking for budgets and cooking for yourself, you may be able to lower your daily average to about $50 US dollars.
A traveler with a mid-range budget should expect to spend about $160-$220 US dollars each day in Austria. This price would include more opportunities to dine out and stay in hotels instead of hostels. Luxury vacations in Austria can easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but most high-end vacations meant that you will spend more than $250 US dollars each day of your trip.
How to Get Around
While Vienna is Austria’s most popular place to visits, there are a lot of other places to see in the country too. This means that travelers will often need to rely on various forms of transportation to get them from place to place while they adventure throughout the country. The most popular ways to get around Austria include domestic flights, trains, buses, public transportation, and car rentals.
Domestic flights are the fastest way to travel around the country, but they aren’t the friendliest option for budget travelers. Vienna has a couple different domestic flights offered by different airline companies. While the price of tickets can be extremely low on the site, travelers should remember that all bags will carry extra costs. Most bags will cost about $45 US dollars to take with you, each leg of your flight. But domestic flights can be as low as $10 US dollars, if you take the time to search for bargains and make your reservations further in advance of your intended travel date.
Trains are another form of travel that are efficient and, for the most part, they are affordable. The tracks run rather extensively throughout most of Austria and you should expect to pay no more than $40 US dollars for a one-way ticket. Similar to flights, booking a train ticket in advance can lower the cost and some tickets may be priced as low as $15 US dollars.
For travelers on a budget and with more time, buses are a great way to explore more of Austria. Flixbus is the most popular company that services Austria and tickets can be purchased for about $12 US dollars for shorter rides. However, longer bus rides will cost more and you could spend up to $40 US dollars for a ticket.
Finally, travelers who wish to road trip on their own can bring an International Driving Permit and rent a car in Austria. Your permit will need to be obtained before you travel to Austria, as it is offered by your home country. Car rentals will normally cost about $35 US dollars per day and gas costs a little less than $2 US dollars per liter.
When you aren’t looking to travel far, local transportation is a great way to explore the city. Most single ride tickets will cost less than $3 US dollars, but in some cities, they offer special 24 or 72-hour passes. In Vienna, a 24-hour pass costs about $10 US dollars and for 72 hours, you will spend about $20 US dollars for unlimited rides.
Top Cities to Visit
Of course, most travelers know Austria for its capital, Vienna, but there are many more cities to explore too. Visitors can hop around the country and see everything that Austria has to offer. With dozens of beautiful places, these are the top city destinations in Austria.
Most famous for the numerous palaces, Vienna is Austria’s most visited city and biggest tourist hotspot. The capital provides plenty of entertainment and you can take tour of the Imperial Hofburg Palace, Schönbrunn Palace, and Belvedere Palace. But the nickname of this urban icon is also the “City of Music” and many visitors will come to enjoy live classical music being played in special venues or concert halls. Other big attractions include the local museums and the crowded restuarants, which give a lively atmosphere to the Viennese streets.
Innsbruck is most famous for its past events like when it hosted the Winter Olympics in both 1964 and 1976, but this small city is popular all throughout the year. With historical areas like old cathedrals, the tomb of the Emperor Maximilian I, the Bell Museum, and the Schloss Ambras. Tourists can wander the crowded but colorful streets and enjoy everything that Innsbruck has to offer.
Wachau is a very historic city, which is located in Southern Austria. With local delights such as wine and fruit, tourists often come here to experience Austrian cuisine. But the area all around Wachau is impressive and there are over 500 historical monuments scattered throughout the entire valley.
Zell am See
Zell am See has an incredible beauty, which is nestled amongst the famous Austrian mountains and lakes. This beautiful town is stunning in both the winter and summer months. With winter being popular for skiing, the summer months are used to explore the walkways and local trails. St. Hippolyte’s Church is a big attraction for Zell am See due to its elevated walkway.
Filled with 6 different universities. Graz is home to a student population of more than 44,000. While the city is historic, is has been preserved and renovated to become one of Europe’s best intact historical towns. There are a lot of museums that focus on the local crafts like art or armory, as well as plenty of options to explore local and international cuisine.
Salzburg is a famous city to visit because it was the birthplace of Mozart. But beyond the musical icon, this city is also well-known for being a true beauty. A medieval fortress sits on top of Salzburg and the historic town is built beneath. Mozart’s birthplace has been reconstructed and the town is famous for having been in some of the sets of The Sound of Music.
Points of Interest
While each city has its own list of attractions, there may be a specific Austrian point of interest that you would like to see on your trip. Here are the top points of interest in Austria, which are consistently ranked as favorites amongst tourists.
The Salzkammergut Region is most famous for the towns of Hallstatt and the local cave system. Hallstatt is one of Austria’s most photographed places and it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The small town, which sits on the lakeside is stunning in its beauty and a favorite amongst tourists. But for a bigger adventure, the nearby Dachstein Cave system has become famous for the Giant Ice Cave, Mammoth Cave, and viewing platform. With sheer drops, you can get up close and personal with the Austrian Alps.
Melk Benedictine Abbey
With seven courtyards, the Melk Benedictine Abbey is a huge complex that sits on the rocks above the town of Melk. The Abbey has long been an important figure in Austria’s history and for its monarchy, as some of the Badenburg royals are buried here. But also, within its halls are statues and portraits of past Austrian rulers.
The Kitzbüheler Horn is the most famous place in Austria where skiers hit the slopes. There are plenty of slopes to explore and off-piste areas, which are also home to small huts where you can stop for a rest and enjoy some snacks. But as a resort area, people don’t come here just to ski and many of the nearby houses are used for mini vacations and time away from the big cities.
The Grossglockner Road
Once an old Roman road, the Grossglockner Road is commonly ranked and named as being one of “Europe’s Most Magnificent Roads”. The Grossglockner was fully constructed by 1935 and since then it has become a popular tourist point of interest and people looked to drive the numerous curves or look out over the area from the visitor center. Either way, the beauty of the area is breathtaking and truly a sight to behold.
Get Out and Go
With the country showcasing so much of the finer side of life, Austria has become a top European destination for all traveler’s bucket lists. With plenty to do, no matter the season, Austria is a favorite place for people to explore history, innovation, and nature. Plus, as a smaller country, visitors can pack more into their trip and see more of Austria. Or you can always book a return trip too.