Austria is one of those countries that simply cannot be omitted when it comes to experiencing the world in full detail. Why? Simply because its eternal homage paid to arts, its grandeur and people all serve its irresistible allure. If you dabble in German, you might want to try and speak it as best as you can for the locals greatly appreciate such efforts (this would be an Easter-egg tip). So, without further ado, let us explore six things that you should know when visiting Austria.
This is a hefty double edge depending on whether you are a smoker or not. Smokers rejoice for virtually all venues have specially-designed “smoker” sections for you to enjoy your puffs. Non-smokers, however, are a little bit cast in the background for they cannot escape the inevitable castigation of what they deem constant air pollution. Even though these smoker sections are slightly at a distance from the non-smoker ones, the smell itself often travels freely between them. Smaller venues even go as far as completely ignoring the non-smokers because most customers pertain to the other group. You will feel it even in cabs and on the streets so, the best option that you have is to dress in clothes that you plan on ditching for the night (wink) – if you do not plan on smelling like a chimney, of course.
2. Beer, wine and alcohol in general:
It wouldn’t be fair to omit the majestic presence of the legal age of drinking in Austria (16 years) for it will entice the younger audience. But here’s the catch: it only refers to wine and beer. Liquor (also known as the heavy artillery) can only be consumed if you are at least 18 years old. So, if you wish to experience the high life in Vienna, for example, you should know that indulging is not that difficult. Hell, you might even start speaking a form proto-German after a few sips (wink).
This is an interesting one: Austrians are known to respect and reinforce their etiquette every time they can. Yes, they have retained some of their 17th-18th century manners but not to the degree that you might think. They will always shake your hand while expecting a firm response and they will speak clearly and audibly with deducible formality. This will only take as long as you drag them to one of the local pubs for when that happens, they will be some of the funniest and most relaxed people that you have ever met (you can tell only by this how much the Austrians love their wine – their specialty). Taxi and bus drivers, however, can get a little bit vulgar when they run into stressful situations, so just accept their culture with a beam (wink).
Have you ever heard of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list? Well, it is like the World Heritage Site list but it discusses more “ethereal” aspects of a specific culture. So, Austria’s coffee culture has made it onto this list with their “Viennese Coffee House Culture.” What this means is that no matter how good the coffee is in your country, you are most certainly going to taste something new in Vienna (and in other cities as well). If you are not a coffee drinker, you might want to taste it still, just to get a general idea about exactly how good it is.
5. Public transport:
This is mostly a city thing but you have to be very careful when it comes to public transport. While it may appear free and safe due to the lack of barriers and of other means to halt “hitchhikers”, you might have the lousy luck of running into one of their ticket inspectors (the undercover ones, of course). You can make a scene or do whatever you want because it won’t really work. They have a strict code as to how they fine people, so the best thing to do before you hop on one their U-Bahn vehicles is best to get tickets from local ticket machines or a “Trafik.”
6. When the city rests:
Although Saturdays and Sundays are usually free in most parts of the western world, Austria has a special code when it comes to the seventh and final day of the week. Sundays are as quiet as they can get even in metropolises like Vienna and most shops and venues are closed. This is the reason why Austrian people buy their supplies prior to Sunday (preparation is key). There are bars and certain supermarkets that you will find open though, so do not fret.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Austria and how did they shape your trip? Do not hesitate to tell us all about it in the comment section below and also to check back from time to time for some exciting updates.