Republic of Austria
Austria uses Central European Time (CET). Hence, clocks are one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).
1 Austrian schilling (öS) = 100 groschen. The schilling is pegged to the Deutschmark at a 7:1 rate, meaning that 7 öS equals 1 DM. Austria is also a member of the European Union; hence the Euro is being phased into use at a fixed rate of 13.7603 Austrian shillings per euro. Only credit cards and bank transactions make use of these figures now, but all prices are listed in both schillings and euros. The Euro currency will be introduced in 2002. One US Dollar equaled 15.15 Austrian Schillings in August of 2000.
Vienna experiences quite pleasant weather during the summer. However, winters can be cold and icy, so be prepared by bringing warm clothing and high-grip shoes.
Customs have become even easier with membership in the European Union. EU citizens need an ID card, while all others require a valid passport. Americans can stay in Austria without a visa for up to 90 days. However, arrivals from neighboring EU members (Germany, Italy) are rarely checked, regardless of citizenship.
Hungary uses 220 volts AC and the continental-style plug. If your appliance has a 120/240-volt switch, all you will need is a plug adapter. Otherwise a current converter is required. Pay attention to sockets in bathrooms and on trains marked “Shavers Only!” While these put out 110 volts, they will burn out with a more powerful appliance.
Offer a 10-15% tip to taxi drivers and attendants at theatres and cloakrooms. Restaurants and cafés are generally ‘Bedienungszuschlag inbegriffen’ (service included). Vienna service staff, however, seem to ignore this and expect something extra. 10-20 öS should be plenty, but leave more in classy restaurants. Porters and bellboys expect around 10 öS.
Austria is no different than the rest of Western Europe. Business attire, of course, consists of suits for both men and women. Outside business hours, Austrians are generally casual dressers, with young people often wearing shorts and t-shirts. A jacket and tie is usually worn to exclusive restaurants and smart clothing is definitely the norm for a night out to the theatre or opera.
Address people by their title, and offer a handshake. Take a small gift of wine or chocolates if you are invited to someone’s house.
Austrians are renowned for their law-abiding traits, and this is most evident in their polite driving habits. Roads are well-marked Drivers in Austria require their national driving license, all relevant car documents, and proof of car insurance. In addition, all vehicles require a first-aid kit. Keep in mind that all of Austria’s highways are toll roads. Tickets are available at border crossings and must be presented on demand to avoid a fine. Speed limits on motorways are 130 kph, 80 kph on highways, and 50 kph in built-up areas. The wearing of seat belts is mandatory. Maximum blood-alcohol content is 0.5. Traffic in Vienna is dense and parking can be expensive. Use your hotel’s parking lot, an underground lot, or purchase parking chits at Trafiken (kiosks) or in gas stations. It is best to come into the city on public transport, since it is cheaper and often faster than driving. Besides, most of the major sights are within walking distance.
Vienna has a terrific subway system that is very easy to understand. Buy tickets from machines in subway stations. Be sure to purchase normal tickets, and not discounted ones, even if you have an international student ID. The buses and trams use the same tickets. Large maps are near every tram stop detailing routes throughout the city. Day tickets are available, and are a good buy if you plan to see a lot of sights.
Cyclists, rejoice! Vienna’s streets are very bicycle friendly, and offer a perfect way to see the city in no time. Rent bicycles at the Westbanhof for 100 öS per day.
Taxis in Vienna are nearly impossible to hail. Try taxi ranks in front of hotels. A taxi ride from the airport to the city center should cost around 350 öS.
Austia’s rail system is right on par with neighboring Germany and Switzerland in quality. Vienna has several stations, but most people arriving from the West arrive at Westbahnhof. Trains heading east and south usually depart from Sudbahnhof. Trains from Germany generally arrive at Ostbahnhof. The major train stations offer terrific information services.
UNO-City – Vienna International Center
Wagramer Strasse 3-5
This group offers tours of the city specifically for children. Best of all, the tours are available in languages besides German.
January to February
Balls take place at many beautiful locations across Vienna, including the Wiener Opernball on the last Thursday of February at the Staatsoper. This is considered the most important social event of the year.
Late January to Early March
Viennese Dream on Ice
Watch as skaters whisk around on the square in front of the City Hall.
The city celebrates the opening of the Prater.
Vienna Spring Marathon
Feel the need for a little exercise? The Vienna Marathon runs every year, taking runners through the most beautiful streets in the city. More Info
Mid-May to Mid-June
The city celebrates its achievements as a European art and music city with expositions of music, opera, films and other exhibitions. There is free admission to the opening ceremony at the Rathausplatz.
June to September
Schönbrunn Art Open Air
Fascinating musical events in the beautiful surroundings of the Schönbrunn castle.
Europeīs largest pop-music festival takes over Vienna for an entire weekend! Listen to hundreds of bands as you wander through the carnival atmosphere. Best of all, admission is free!
Jazz Festival Vienna
The Vienna Jazz Festival is held every year at the Staatoper and on Donau Insel, drawing acts and artists from all over the world. It has become one of the leading jazz events in the world. Visit www.viennajazz.og for more information.
Rathausplatz Classical Music Film Festival
Take advantage of this free festival! Kiosks offer up a good selection of international cuisine as you watch open air classical music films.
Vienna’s film festival has beening drawing a large international crowd now for over 40 years. More Info
Mid-November to December
From the famous “Magic of Advent” and Viennese Christkindlmarkt at the Rathausplatz to the romantic Christmas markets at the Spittelberg and Schönbrunn castle.
Vienna holds an international equestrian and jumping tournament in the Wiener Stadthalle.
Experience Viennese tradition by attending the midnight Christmas Eve mass at St. Stephen’s cathedral. Devout Catholics and others pack the building for a magical ceremony. Get there early for a seat. Of course, the mass is held in German.
New Years Celebration
Vienna offers a tremendous party scene. With imperial balls, fireworks, and out-of-control street parties, New Years Eve offers something for everyone.