Austria is a wonderfully diverse country to explore, compact, beautiful and with a capital that has many times over been cited as ‘city with the highest quality of life’. Here are a few insider tips to help make the most of your visit.
Download useful apps
If in Vienna, the public transport app qando is useful for helping you navigate the quickest routes around the city – with real time information on all the U-Bahn lines. For finding decent restaurants, Wien Isst (free for the first 30 days) gives a basic overview of around 5,000 of Vienna’s restaurants. Shopikon helps you discover lesser-known shops.
Learn basic phrases
As well as the basic words (hello, goodbye, thanks) it never hurts to have a few basic sentences up your sleeve, such as how to order a beer. German grammar is notoriously difficult, so no one will blame you if you can’t wax lyrical – however, it’ll work in your favour if you give it a go. Remember that Austrian German is different. Read our guide here.
Pack for all weather
The weather in Austria can be unpredictable, with violent thunder storms common in the summer months and light snow storms seen as early as April. Pack a variety of attire for rain, sunshine and everything in between.
Read local magazines to get underground tips
Guide books can be terribly repetitive and land you in a swarm of tourists. Get off the tedious track by exploring the lesser-known neighbourhoods. There are a few English-language magazines worth checking out for insider info, including Metropole and Vienna Würstelstand.
Tipping is more or less considered compulsory in Austria. 10% of the bill is the amount generally recommended by locals.
As a city, Vienna is very easy to navigate, with an excellent public transport system. A key thing to remember is that there are no barriers on the underground so there is a risk of forgetting to buy a ticket (which can result in being fined a hefty 100 euros). Weekly, monthly and annual tickets can be purchased for a discounted price and taxis are relatively cheap. Due to Vienna’s small size, walking and cycling are both great options if the weather is behaving itself.
A Vienna City Card provides discounted access to a number of the city’s cultural gems, as well as providing many other benefits, such as free transport and helpful tips. Innsbruck and Salzburg have similar deals.
A small fact that is worth noting: the phrase ‘half 6’ means 6.30pm to English natives, but it means 5.30 pm to German speakers. Something worth double-checking if you have dinner plans at half past the hour.
Austria’s alpine scenery will likely persuade you to wander the dramatic wilderness – but packing a resilient pair of boots when visiting the countryside is essential. Be sure to pack a swim suit if you visiting during the summer in case you come across one of the country’s beautiful lakes.
Although certainly not on as expensive as European capitals such as Paris or Copenhagen, Vienna can be costly. However, there are lots of ways to explore the capital on a budget without missing out on the highlights. From free museum entry (The MAK is free on Tuesday evenings and the Wien Museum is free on the first Sunday of every month, for example) to cut-price opera tickets (standing tickets at the Staatsoper are sold for around €3-4, sold 80 minutes before the show). Read our guide for more tips.