Austriaaa; the small landlocked country at the epicenter of power in old Europe. This country has had the power to change the destiny and future of Europe probably more than any other due to its rich rulers, vast empire and at time radical ideas and not to mention the source of power and most importantly, The Habsburg Family. In its current form Austria has only 8 and a half million people which is the population of London alone but the country has high standards of living and is a proud member of EU. From Vienna to Salzburg, Austria has some stunning sites, churches, palaces and museums that cannot be rivaled. The riches of Kingdom left the country with unimaginable wealth and that resulted in patronage of arts and architecture with buildings more grand than ever and artists like Mozart and Beethoven making Vienna their home base.
Austria is part of Schengen zone and uses Euro as currency and it is fairly cheap to get to Vienna and Austria in general thanks to its numerous neighbours, 8 in total but the most influence on the country comes from the Germanic roots and German which is the official language.
The Racism Factor
VIENNA IS RACIST!!! Vienna generally has been quite disappointing for me when it comes to Racism factor. While the general population was pretty neutral overall I strongly felt the rather cold and at time outright rude behaviour especially from the border police officer on the way back. The general demeanor of Austrians is slightly cold so I would advise to calibrate your expectations accordingly.
The Gay Factor
Austria is generally a tolerant society when it comes to sexuality and you will see plenty of gay bars, clubs and other establishments. The central tourist information office even has leaflets about gay venues in Vienna. You will however feel the sexual racism though which was a bit sad to see especially from an educated nation like Austrians.
Value for Money
Austria is one of the richest countries in the world and with that in mind it is not cheap but by comparison it is fairly affordable. You can easily have a good dinner with drinks for €25-30. I would classify it as a medium value country which is cheaper than London and other big cities but more expensive than its neighbours in the East or South.
I spent three days in Vienna and while I wished to travel to Salzburg as well I didn’t have enough time but you can easily see Vienna and most of its attractions in three to five days. If you want to attend Opera, theater and concerts you might need a lifetime based on how many options there are in the city and the country.
Central Vienna can be quite expensive for accommodation and advance booking is highly recommended. The area around Naschmarkt in Vienna especially Karlsplatz is the best option. Moving slightly out around Pilgramgasse metro station will provide slightly cheaper options but moving any further will be a bit too far and will add travel time to your trip. If you have a car Huteldorf is a good option with cheap parking space around.
Wiener Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel and Sachre Cake with coffeewill get you covered for your whole trip in Austria. Wiener Schnitzel is available in veal, chicken and pork and it is amazing with Potato salad or red cabbage. Apfelstruddel is the apple pastries with a crispy crust and I would suggest trying them at the christmas markets. The last one is Sachre cake which is two layers of chocolate cake with apricot jam in the middle and is amazing as a coffee side. Vienna has the honour of being the host city of first coffee house in Europe and the coffee house culture in Vienna is strong and you will find numerous coffee houses where you can relax, work or socialise.
Phone & Internet
Phone and internet in Austria were a bit of a puzzle. While phone internet is fast and quite reliable including underground in metro, internet and Wifi were pretty terrible even in the Innere stadt or Inner city as well as outside. I used my roaming so didn’t have to go through the hassle of buying a sim card but you can find more information here.
Cash & Cards
Cards are readily accepted pretty much everywhere in Vienna even at small outlets but use of contactless payments is quite limited. You will also find plenty of cash machines everywhere in case you need cash along with multiple currency exchange centres.
- Austria is a high altitude country with more than 68% of the country located avove 500m above sea levels, it gets quite cold, prepare your trip accordingly.
- Visit the Tourist information centre opposite Albertina for detailed information, they have good options which will make your trip quite useful.
- If you want to attend opera or any concerts you should book it well in advance. Last minute tickets are not only expensive they normally have bad seating options as well.
- You will see plenty of guys selling concert and Opera tickets outside, I would suggest to avoid them and book either online or the concerts counter in the Tourist information centre.
- If you want to go to Figlmuller for Schnitzel, I would suggest a booking in advance as well because it is very popular and standing outside in cold for 2 hours won’t be fun.
- Take a book with you and spend some time in a coffee house in Vienna, there’s no limit on time and it is one of the best ways to have a close look at the Austrian especially Viennese culture.
- If you are a museums and art buff, I would strongly suggest buying Vienna card which will get you discount for a lot of places, paying full price can be quite heavy for your pocket in this city.
- I would suggest booking a massage for Therme Wien in advance as well along with general booking if you plan to visit.
- Uber is generally much cheaper than official taxis, take advantage of that.
- Public Transport in Vienna is quite good a really useful app is Qando wein which is good for route planning and metro and overground trains as well as busses and trams.