February 2014 | Austria. Moments of Bliss For the extraordinary traveler, an extraordinary journey awaits.
This year Vienna is celebrating the "Art of Enjoyment". Coffeehouses, local wines and Viennese cuisine are put into the spotlight.
When in Vienna, do as the Viennese do: sit back and relax with a cup of freshly brewed Melange at a coffeehouse, walk the vineyards within Vienna's city limits and try a glass of Gemischter Satz: Vienna's famed local wine, at a Heurigen wine tavern, or enjoy authentiv Viennese cuisine at a traditional Beisl. The choice is all yours!
Be sure to exlore Austria's capital city, that brims with culinary as well as cultural delights!
Let our team of experts assist you with your travel planning. Simply send us an email to email@example.com
it comes to dining well, we each have our top picks. It’s literally a
matter of taste. In Vienna, a city rich with foodie destinations, the
choices run from old school to new wave. In fact, choosing is the
challenge. Look beyond our capital city, as well, and we promise you’ll
be rewarded with a feast for the senses. Exploring the countryside,
you’ll find family-run organic farms and vineyards, meet gourmet
artisans, and dine al fresco at locavore temples.
To get you started, here are some of our top picks.
A festival for music lovers Vienna's Musikverein has been the
home of the Society of Music Lovers in Vienna for 200 years. Some of the
biggest names in the world of music will be performing at its
Modernist pioneers Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
would have celebrated his 150th birthday in 2012. This fall Vienna's
Belvedere gallery will be mounting a special show dedicated to this
world-famous artist and his contemporary, the gifted architect,
exhibition orchestrator and designer Josef Hoffmann, to mark the start
of the special Klimt anniversary year. [more >]
Best of Vienna: art nouveau Austrian art nouveau, or
Jugendstil, has pride of place in the annals of Viennese architecture
alongside the city's famous Gothic and Baroque buildings. [more >]
Design and the city During Vienna Design Week the whole of the
Austrian capital is given over to design. The festival, set to enter its
5th year in 2011, will play out at various locations throughout the
city from September 30 to October 9, 2011.
Hollywood in Vienna The Hollywood in Vienna
concert gala at the Konzerthaus on September 23 will present a series of
film music masterpieces. Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future, Forrest
Gump) will receive a Max Steiner Award.
The Art of Winter An exhibition at the
Kunsthistorisches Museum looks at the role played by winter in European
art from the late Middle Ages to the present day. [more >]
VIDEO: Advent in Vienna
From Christmas markets to delicious seasonal Vanillekipferl cookies -
Advent in Vienna never fails to get visitors in the Christmas spirit. [more >]
A Useful Guide to the Traveler in Austria - What to Expect
Anyone traveling to Austria for the first time will benefit from a
general overview of Austrian customs. Austria has been a premier tourism
country for many decades, and navigating the country is easy. But like
any foreign country, there are local customs that are useful to be aware
has similarities with Germany, to its north, and Italy, to its south.
Austrians have in common with Germans a love of order and efficiency,
but they share with Italians a profound interest in the pleasures of the
senses. Austrians are orderly and respect the importance of rules, but
above all they seek to enjoy life, whether that means art, coffee,
relaxation, opera, pastries, wine, or sports. Enjoying life at an
unhurried pace is the essence of Gemütlichkeit.
important aspect of Austria is authenticity, both historical and
geographical. History covers so much; after all, where in the world is
there not history? Perhaps the proper term is really continuity.
In Austria, connections to the past are everywhere, whether it is the
many impressive palaces in the city or the dozens of astonishing castles
and abbeys in the countryside. Additionally, virtually every Austrian
village has an authentic town center and cobblestones and charming,
narrow paths and lanes. Just outside of the villages, the unspoilt
mountains, rivers, lakes, prairies, marshes, and valleys communicate the
Austrians' deep connection to and respect for the land. Traditions die
hard here; the past is part of the present.
The combination of pleasure, culture, modernity, authenticity, and Gemütlichkeit has made Austria such a beloved destination throughout the years.
Here is some helpful information for your next trip to Austria:
Austrians speak German, but the Austrian accent is softer and less
clipped, a bit like the drawl of the American South. There are
significant differences in dialect: Austrians sometimes use different
words for the same thing (Germans call a butcher a Metzger, for example; Austrians say Fleischhauer).
It is a bit like the linguistic differences between England and the
United States. As a general matter, German features two distinct
registers, High German and Dialect; the first is a formal register, and
the second is reserved for vernacular expression. Many Austrians can
switch back and forth between the two.
is true almost anywhere, Austrians appreciate it when outsiders try to
speak the local lingo. Many Austrians speak excellent English, and they
will be quite happy for the opportunity to practice their English - or
show it off!
accents in Austria can vary even across very short distances - one
village might have a different accent than the village just a few miles
down the road - and the use of dialect provides an important connection
to the local context, whether it's Vienna or a small Tirolean village.
This is a sign of the profound authenticity and connection to the land
that one can find in Austria.
The majority of Austrians are Catholics. Austrians observe many
Catholic holidays, and Easter is almost as important a holiday as
Christmas - the entire country regards Easter Week as an occasion to
spend time with family.Another reason that Easter is
important to Austrians is their acute interest in nature and the seasons
- and Easter is a celebration of spring, after all.
are intensely interested in traditions and rituals. People celebrate
their "name days" in addition to their birthdays. Fasching and Krampus
are but two local traditions that are celebrated quite seriously in
Austria. Fasching coincides with Mardi Gras, and many people wear
amusing costumes during that week - for instance, a bank teller might
wear a clown costume. Krampus, which occurs in early December, is a
celebration of the various demons associated with St. Nikolaus, who is
the original Santa Claus.
There are other local traditions as well. In the country, many Austrians love to wear Dirndls and Lederhosen on special occasions. May Day is celebrated in some villages, complete with a towering maypole.
On New Year's Eve, Austrians exchange marzipan pigs as tokens of good luck and sometimes engage in a practice called Bleigiessen,
which involves the insertion of liqufied lead into cold water - the
resultant solid shape serves to predict how the coming year will turn
out for you.
SALUTATIONS: In public, Austrians use the greeting "Grüss Gott" (God greet you) or the more secular "Grias di,'" but the greeting "Hallo" is becoming more common among service professionals, as it circumvents the Du/Sie distinction.
For many Austrians, lunch is the primary meal of the day, especially in
the countryside. On weekends and holidays, Austrians often gather for
coffee (Kaffee) in the late afternoon. Often it is accompanied by
a generous selection of fresh pastries. This is an occasion for
pleasant chat and companionship - it may last several hours. It is an
important social custom, in its way.
lunch is substantial, Austrians are often content with cold cuts for
dinner; if you meet up with friends in the evening, you may find that a
modest plate of cheese and bread is the only food anyone orders. (If you
are counting your pennies, you can always dash outside for a quick
snack at a Würstelstand (sausage stand) - Austrians will find that strategy perfectly sensible.)
There is no such thing as a diner in Austria, but fortunately there is the Beisl, an equally charming institution that provides excellent, simple fare at very reasonable prices. Look for the Tagesmenü (prix fixe meal)
posted on the sidewalk out front for excellent values. Also,
budget-conscious travelers should know that the delicatessen sections in
all supermarkets can prepare delicious sandwiches at low cost.
Austrians draw a sharp distinction between work and play. When the
workday is over, then thoughts of work are banished as well - it is time
for the evening's pleasure, time to enjoy life with culture or cuisine
or conviviality. The hectic person who lets work concerns invade the
evenings and weekends will not meet with great approval. It is
considered healthy and proper to limit work to its own sphere, to live
life with a sense of proportion, and to enjoy the time away from the
workplace. (For the same reason, most Austrians are guaranteed generous
they set aside time for personal enjoyment, Austrians love to linger.
There is nothing more pleasant than an evening gathering in a restaurant
with friends, over wine and cheese, that stretches to midnight or
beyond.By the same token, you will hardly ever feel
pressure from the waitstaff in a café or restaurant to make room for
another patron. In a café, when you receive your coffee, it arrives on a
diminutive silver platter also bearing a small glass of water with a
spoon draped over it - that glass of water symbolizes your right to keep
your seat without ordering further coffees. You can refill the glass
This is the essence of Gemütlichkeit
- a complex and deeply felt concept that cannot be limited to mere
"coziness." It denotes an atmosphere that incorporates relaxation,
conviviality, and freedom from a stressful lifestyle. Because Austrian
restaurants are genuinely gemütlich and affordable, Austrians
prefer to gather in public settings rather than the home. In Austria,
this is generally reserved for family and close friends.
Austrians joke about the "academic fifteen minutes," but they take
punctuality seriously. In business settings, always be on time;
likewise, if you are invited to a party, you may want to reconsider the
typical American calculation that a punctual arrival would only
inconvenience the hosts - they will probably be waiting for you!
It is customary to bring a gift when invited to someone's home for a
meal or a party. A bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, or a bouquet of
flowers all make for good gifts. If you choose flowers, rely on the
florist to prepare something appropriate.
Austrians generally favor wine over beer and spirits (although an
evening of companionship may end with a round of schnapps or grappa).
Most Austrians drink white wine (Grüner Veltliner) diluted with seltzer
water (ein G'spritzter, a white wine spritzer). Austria also
produces excellent red wines, for instance Blaufränkisch. Austrian beers
are not well-known abroad, but Austria produces many fine lagers, many
of which are produced locally.
Keep a valid driver's license and the car's registration papers handy
at all times. If you intend to use the highways, you are required to
purchase a "Vignette" (sticker) and display it in the upper left-hand
corner of the windshield. Vignettes can be purchased at any Tabaktrafik or
gas station - the valid durations are 10 days, 2 months, or 1 year. If
you are pulled over for speeding, you must pay any fine on the spot (get
Thanks to the Schengen Agreement, there is no passport control at any Austrian highway border.
Austria has highly developed urban and rural public transport systems,
which make traveling almost anywhere a great pleasure. Austrian buses,
trains, streetcars, and subways are clean and pleasant. The train
network penetrates deep into the most remote corners of the map, and
buses supplement those short stretches that trains do not service.
Trains are generally punctual - a delay of even five minutes will prompt
an announced apology over the public address system.
using Vienna's public transport system, notice that unlike London and
New York, turnstiles do not block your entry, and conductors do not
collect your ticket or peruse your day pass. You must purchase a valid
ticket or day pass (there are other variations), and you must punch it
with the date and time in the blue box provided for the purpose. It
might appear that the Viennese believe in the honor system - but that is
not the case: Unidentified civil servants travel the system constantly,
and on occasion one of them will demand to see the ticket of every
passenger once the car is in motion. Obey the law - fines are steep.
If you are on a train that is running late and your connection is
threatened, make your predicament known to the conductor - he may well
radio ahead and request that the connecting train wait a few minutes.
Train conductors take great pride in their professionalism and will be
able to answer any questions about time tables and related subjects.
Austria uses the metric system. American visitors will need an adaptor
in order to use any portable appliances, including personal computers.
In addition, Austrians use the PAL system, which means that American
DVDs intended for the NTSC system will not work.
USEFUL AMENITIES: A Tabaktrafik is
a tobacconist's, and this establishment plays an important role
somewhat like an urban newsstand or corner shop. In addition to
cigarettes, you can buy stamps, public transit tickets, and newspapers
here. Similarly, most post offices (Postamt or Post P.S.K.) serve a great variety of functions, including sending faxes, selling phone cards, or exchanging currency.
Unlike in New York City, taxis in Vienna do not cruise the streets in
search of passengers; instead, they wait at designated taxi stands. It
is common to telephone for a taxi as well. The numbers are heavily
advertised, the three largest companies use the numbers 40 100 and 60 1
60 and 31 300.
When budgeting for lodgings, note that hotel prices in Austria include
all taxes and service charges. In Austria, national hotel industry
association uses a 5-star system - the German classifications are
Tourist (*), Standard (**), Comfort (***), First-Class (****) and Luxury
Bed and breakfasts, called Pensions, are ubiquitous in Austria - look for signs that read "Zimmer frei." Rooms are generally affordable. There are two kinds of Pensions: Halbpensions and Vollpensions. At a Halbpension (half-board) the guest receives breakfast and sometimes one other meal included in the price; at a Vollpension
(full board) the guest receives all meals. In any event, you can be
assured of a tidy room with a comfortable bed, as well as rolls and
marmalade for breakfast.
SCHMÄH: The national sense of world-weary fatalism lends itself to a pervasive form of light banter called Schmäh,
in which all subjects are lightly mocked and bad outcomes are taken for
granted. Austrians are fond of irony and wordplay, and will appreciate
your efforts to contribute.
the subject of conversation, most educated Austrians read several
newspapers a day - even as the Internet threatens the very existence of
American newspapers - and are quick to discuss the news of the day.
Restaurants in Austria incorporate a substantial tip in the final bill,
which means your additional tip (which is expected, for good service)
should be modest; "round up" the bill to a convenient sum, 5 to 10
Austria is situated further north than the United States, and most of
the country is at relatively high altitude - this means that
temperatures tend to be cool. No matter how warm it gets in summer, it's
always a good idea to pack a sweater or two, in case the temperature
dips in the evenings.
Austria has used the Euro since its introduction in 2002. Vienna and
Salzburg have a ritzy feel, but in truth Austria is slightly cheaper to
visit than England, France, Switzerland, Italy, or Scandinavia, while
being more expensive than Eastern European countries like Hungary or the
Austrians are very fond of dogs, and they are generally welcome in
resturants and bars. For more information on traveling with pets in
Austria, see the website of the Embassy of Austria in Washington, D.C.
Austrians have been exploring and taming the country's forests and
mountains for untold generations - wherever you go, you can be sure that
the trails will be well marked, that natural spring water drinking
stations will be plentiful, and that helpful wooden beams will be built
into the inclines for easy climbing. At higher altitudes, there is a
well-developed network of cabins and huts that offer inexpensive food
VAT: All consumer goods carry a 20% valued-added tax. In German the term is Mehrwertsteuer
and will be announced in the retail outlet with a statement like "20%
MWSt. inklusive." Anyone who is in Austria as a tourist and does not
live in an EU country is eligible to receive a refund of the VAT on all
goods costing more than 75 Euros upon departing the European Union.
you suspect that you may be claiming your VAT, inform your cashier. He
or she will give you the appropriate forms and also must fill out part
of the form and apply a stamp on appropriate refund check.
you are flying to the United States from Austria, for instance you can
present the (filled-out) forms and receipts to the VAT refund booth at
the airport in Austria - you will be expected to show the goods listed
in the form, so if possible, keep the items in your carry-on luggage, as
you may encounter the VAT refund booth after you have checked your
Austria is a very bike-friendly country. It is common for sidewalks in
busy areas to be divided between pedestrian and bicycle use - be sure to
watch where you are walking. Bicycles, like automobiles, must follow
the flow of traffic at all times, so you may be ticketed if you do not
obey one-way signs.
rental agencies are common and affordable (although you will be
required to leave a deposit). Many railway stations in the countryside
offer bicycle rental; ask the clerk when you purchase your ticket.
recently installed clerk-free bicycle rental stands (CityBike Wien) that
can be operated with an ATM card. You can acquire a bicycle in one
place and return it wherever you see a similar stand - there are more
than 50 such stands in the city.