Just to make sure we are all on the same page here, we are talking about Austria, you know, the small alpine country in the heart of Europe? If you are looking for the big Island with the many kangaroos you have come to the wrong place. There are no kangaroos in Austria. That’s Australia mate!
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to our list!
1. Sunday is a Day of Rest
Austrians really take their day of rest seriously and the majority of businesses are closed on Sundays. So please, try to forget about the consumer lifestyle for this ONE day and enjoy a day without shopping.
2. Austrians Are Not Germans
It’s like comparing cats with dogs, or Canadians with Americans. They might have some similarities but they are not the same. Austrians are a proud bunch and put a lot of value on their own heritage. So for your own sake, refrain from calling them Germans or you won’t hear the last of it. You have been warned!
3. Sound of Music, What is That?
Most Austrians have never seen the Sound of Music nor do they give a rat’s ass about it. The Sound of Music is just a Hollywood movie that distorted the story of the Von Trapp Family. Sorry to burst your happy bubble.
4. You Can Drink the Water Straight From the Toilet
Okay that is kind of gross, but that is how good the quality of water is there (please don’t drink from the toilet). Austria’s water is rated among the top 5 best drinking water in the world. So yes, if you are thirsty you can walk into a bathroom and drink from the SINK, unless of course you see a sign that reads “Kein Trinkwasser” (no drinking water).
5. It’s Totally OK to Eat Dessert As a Main Dish
Austrians love their sweet stuff just like the next person. So mommy’s rule, of no sweets before dinner, can go kick rocks when you are in Austria. Here are a few dessert we have eaten as a main dish: Mohnnudeln, Palatschinken, Germknödel, Apfelstrudel and Kaiserschmarren.
6. No Hidden Fees
Unlike in the USA, taxes are included in the displayed price. That includes restaurant menus, stores, supermarkets and so forth. What you see is what you pay.
7. Get Your Buzz On
Soft Alcohol (beer and wine) is legal at 16 and it is legal to drink in public. So if you really want a Sweet Sixteen birthday come to Austria ;). Oh and hard liquor is legal at 18.
8. Don’t Speak German? No Worries!
Most Austrians speak basic English as it is taught in school. But that is not to say that you shouldn’t put in a little effort to learn some basic words in German, such as Thank You (Danke), Please (Bitte) or Hello (Hallo! / Grüss Gott)
9. Wow, Free Public Transport! Think Again!
You might think Austrians’ public transportation is free since it seems as though everyone gets on and doesn’t pay but it is actually operated on an honor system. So yes, you have to pay! If you are caught without a ticket you might pay a fine of around 80 Euros. Not worth it buddy!
Insider Tip: If you want to save a few bucks, buy your transportation pass ahead of time at a “Trafik” or at a ticket machine where tickets usually cost less than on the bus or train.
10. Austrians Eat More Than Just Schnitzel
If you think Schnitzel is the best or only good dish in Austria you have a lot to learn my friend. There are over a 100 must try dishes in Austria. To name a few: Käsespatzle, Tafelspitz, Gulasch, Speckknödel, and Schweinsbraten.
11. Smokers Heaven – Non-Smokers Nightmare
Don’t inhale too much of the Austrian air or you might get second hand smoke (just kidding, but they do love to smoke). Unfortunately, many Austrians like to smoke and though restaurants and bars have designated smoking areas called “Raucherbereiche” it’s impossible to really be in a smoke free zone.
12. 20% Gratuity is a Thing of the Past
Tipping in the service industry is by no means compulsory (we are looking at you, USA) as waiters here actually get paid well and not below minimum wage. Most Austrians just round up to the nearest Euro.
13. If You Eat the Dough You Pay With Dough
Speaking of restaurants, sometimes bread is placed on the table while you wait for your meal. And if you are a foreigner like myself you will eat it thinking it is a complimentary snack before the meal, but it’s not. You pay for every piece you eat. Of course this is not at all restaurants but you should ask before chowing down.
14. Obey the Green Man
Austrians strictly observe traffic regulations which means no jaywalking even if there are no cars in sight. Follow the traffic regulations (I am looking at you New Yorkers) or you might end up paying a pretty hefty fine if a cop sees you.
Have you ever been to Austria? What were some things that stood out to you the most?
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Gary C Small says
I Lived in Germany for two years and visited Austria a couple of times. Your right about the food very much like Germany, but very good.
Gary Small I lived in Frankfurt
No smoking rules in every bar, restaurant, night club.. Very nice
My husband and I will be visiting Austria within a few days. I appreciate the info.
Im traveling next year from mexico to attend a metal festival in deutschland. I have studied deutsch around a year but it is still very poor. I hope next year it will be better, because, i think that it is important to speak the native language of a country that you are visiting since people there doesn’t need to speak your language. Anyway, im going to Austria too, i have a friend in Salzburg and, to be honest, im more excited about traveling around Austria than any other country i can go to. I really like literature, that’s the main reason why i started learning Deutsch, Bernhard und Trakl sind meine lieblinschrifteller!
I was in Austria in February this year. I loved it! Salzburg and the Mozart museums were wonderful. I live Salzburg. Great scenery. Vienna was wonderful. So much to see. It’s true that far too many people do smoke over there. In Australia were I live ( and we do have kangaroos here in the countryside and not in the cities) but people don’t smoke here as much. Walking through the malls in Vienna I noticed EVERYONE was smoking. Don’t they know it will kill them?
Otherwise I adore Austria!
Loved to read this. I am traveling the first time to Austria today and looking forward to it.
A fun list to read.
There is one thing that might helpful to append to “2. Austrians Are Not Germans”. If you happen to recall that period of history when the two nations were, figuratively, grown together at-the-hip, it’s best to avoid making casual reference (e.g. comments, jokes, salutes, etc.) to anything that might be perceived as associated with national socialism, i.e. “nazi” ideology. Not merely in extremely bad taste, it’s strictly forbidden by law, and could result in a heap of trouble.
As a real Austrian I agree with everything but the jaywalking. I do that on daily basis and the worst thing that happened was a police car honking at me 😊 I live in Vienna
Daniel Wallerberger says
Funny to read as an Austrian :)
But the thing with the “smoking areas” is now much better, also in Clubs.
Happy Holidays :)
As an Austrian who has been traveling to many countries I agree with you, Ben. It’s a matter of perspective and compared to many other countries we still so smoke a lot, most jobs are fair paid and we do eat dessert for dinner. Thanks for your list. I had to laugh, some things are just so normal to me, I wouldn’t even recognize those as typical Austrian ;-)
Yeah, sometimes you just have to leave a country and visit others (i.e. travel) to see how yours compare.
Thanks for your comment Klara :)
Well I dont know where you get your Information from but we dont love to smoke and its even illegal to smoke in bars and Restaurants. Furthermore tgere aren’t so many smokers, many smoke weed but normal cigarettes? Not really.
So i am a waitress (besides university) and no we do not earn much. I earn minimum wage but the costs here are very high and every austrian knows that and because of this we give at least 10% gratuity.
Hey Jenny, we are getting our information from me since I am Austrian and have lived in Austria for over 20 years. Having traveled all around the world I can tell you that Austria does in fact smoke a lot. You can’t stand anywhere in public without a smoker next to you lighting one up, something that doesn’t even happen in a big city like New York. Just look at how many of your coworkers are smokers… I bet it’s more than half.
As a waitress you are paid a living wage in Austria, something you can’t say about the USA for example. There you really depend on tips. Besides, nobody said that you gonna get rich from being a waitress.
Anyways, thanks for stopping by :D
Great little list. I’ve only been to Austria once and only for a day :( But it was beautiful, and obvi, I had apple strudel. I got the impression that it has a similar vibe and culture to Switzerland (where I have spend more time) do you think that’s accurate?
By any means, no, no, no, you can’t say Austria and Switzerland are similar. The only common things both countries share is that both are amongst the neatest and tidiest places in the world and both share the Alps. But that is about it. Mentality, humour and “speed” for example differ 100 %.
Cheers Philipp from Vienna