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Things to know about Austria


Capital: Vienna

 

Religion: Roman Catholic Christianity is predominant in the country. About three quarters of the population in Austria are Catholics. Among other religions Lutherans is the second largest religious group followed by Muslims and Orthodox. Religion in Austria is quite tolerant to tourists. In tourist cities, many monasteries and churches are open on a daily basis, though in the country they are mostly open for services. Booking a tour is recommended to those who want to have a close look at a church.

 

Language: German is the national language. Slovenian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Romany are the Regional languages. More than half of Austrians are fluent in English, and many of them speak French.

 

Climate: The climate is temperate. The influence of Atlantic waters is noticeable in the western part of the country. The climate in the east and in the mountains is more continental. The lowest temperature has been recorded here in January. The warmest month is August. Annual precipitation is 2.000 mm in the west and about 600 mm in the east of Austria. The most precipitation occurs in July and August. The high mountains are almost always covered with snow all year. During the hot summer months, the water temperature in lakes and small reservoirs achieves +25 – +27 ° C.

 

Temperature:
October +10 °С
November +4 °С
December +1 °С
January −2 °С
February −1 °С
March +5 °С
April +9 °С
May +15 °С
June +18 °С
July +20 °С
August +22 °С
September +16 °С

 

Currency. The official currency in Austria is the Euro, which equals to 100 euro cents. The euro-banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 denominations are in circulation, as well as coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.

 

Currency exchange. In Austria currency can be exchanged at authorized currency exchange outlets or banks, as well as at a number of tourist organizations, travel agencies and hotels with commission charged on currency exchange herewith. In big cities, these services are also available at the main post offices. If you have the banknotes in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 U.S. dollars, the currency exchange can be processed through ATM machines.

 

Main payment methods in the Federal Republic of Austria. Big hotels and stores accept credit cards VISA, Master Card, American Express and others. You can also pay for services or products with a credit card at gas stations, cafes, restaurants and shopping malls.

 

Banks hours. Banks are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 15:00. On Thursday, they close at 17:30. Banks lunch hours are from 12:30 to 13:30.

 

Calling Austria from abroad: To call from abroad to a number in Austria from a land phone, dial + 43 (area code) X-XXX-XXX. Calling to Austria from a cell phone, the dialling procedure is: 0 – 043 (area code) X-XXX-XXX. Some area codes for Austria are: Vienna – 1; Brand – 5559; Baden – 2252; Innsbruck – 512; Salzburg – 662; Linz – 732.

 

Calling to other countries from Austria: the discount of 33% is applicable on all intercity and international calls placed on working days from с 18:00 to 8:00 as well as on weekends and public holidays. Placing international calls to any country in the world is also possible from any phone booth using calling or credit cards. Calling cards can be purchased at call centres. To call from Austria to any other country, dial: 00 (country code) + (area code) + (telephone number).
The main mobile network operators are: A1, T-Mobile, Orange, Hutchison 3G Austria GmbH, Bob, Tele.Ring.


Useful numbers in Austria:
Ambulance – 144
Police – 133

Fire brigade – 122 
Euro-Emergency number – 112
Emergency breakdown service – 120 (ОАМТС), 123 (ARBO)
Mountain rescue – 140
Pharmacy background – 15-50
Across Austria – 1611
Vienna railway referral – (222) 17 17

 

Austria Time: UTC (CEST) +1 hour (Greenwich Time)
Time Zone (summer time): UTC+2
Daylight Saving Time Start Date: 01.00, last Sunday in March.
Daylight Saving Time End Date: 01.00, last Sunday in October.

 

Customs: For travelers arriving from outside the European Union countries the importation of goods is often not limited, but the import quantities must be proportionate to the duration and nature of travel.

 

Duty Free Allowances:

 

- 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars and 250 g of tobacco;
- 1 l of alcoholic beverages if more than 22 % proof;
- 2 l of alcoholic beverages, champagne or sparkling wine and liqueurs of maximum 22 % proof; and 2 l of non-sparkling wine or 3 l of beer in addition;
- 50 g of perfume, 0. 25 l of toilet water;
- 500 g of coffee or 200 g of coffee extract and 100 g of tea or 40 g of tea extract;
- goods up to a maximum value of Euro 175. This duty free allowance amount drops down to Euro 100 if goods are transported by road from Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

 

When leaving or entering the country travellers are allowed to carry the cash of not exceeding Euro 10.000. The cash of 10,000 Euro or more must be declared.

 

Shops: Shops in Austria are open from 6:00 to 19:30, and on Saturdays they close at 17:00. Resort shops close on weekdays at 21:00 and on weekends at 18:00. Shops at railway stations and airports sell goods until 23:00.

 

Public Transport

 

a) City:
1. Metro/Underground The underground system in the country is open from 05:00 to 23:00. Tickets can be purchased at ticket vending machines at underground stations or tobacco shops and must be validated before travel. Traveling without a ticket is subject to penalties.

 

2. Buses run strictly by the timetable from 05:00 to 23:00. Tickets can be bought at tobacco shops or on board the bus directly from the bus driver, who would accept coins but not bank notes. Public buses in Austria do not always open their doors at bus stations, so if you want to board a bus when it stops, push the button by the door of the bus.
When you want to get off the bus, press a button above the door to light up the indicating sign and the door will open automatically when the bus stops at the station.

 

Tram, bus and metro tickets can be bought in advance at ticket kiosks "Vorverkaufsscheine", tobacco shops "Tabak-Trafik", as well as at ticket vending machines. 1 to 3 days discounted tickets are available for tourists. Night buses run from 00:00 to 04:00, though tickets are not sold at night.

 

3. Tram. This city public transport mode can be used from 5:00 to 23:00 too. Tram tickets can be bought at specialized bureaus, tobacco shops, ticket vending machines at underground stations or directly from the driver. Purchasing a ticket on board the tram is more expensive than at ticket and newspaper kiosks. The ticket is valid for one hour, and a single journey ticket permits a journey break for one transfer. There are several ticket and passes types available – valid for one day, three days, a week and a month.
Single journey tickets must be validated by stamping. It is better to buy passes valid on all public transport. The “Vienna Card pass is valid for a free travel on all public transport routes throughout Vienna within 72 hours. The card also offers discounts at many museums.

 

4. Taxi. Taxis mainly work on the phone call system, although in areas of a big concentration of tourists taxis are available at the exit of the airport, railway station or a hotel. Almost all vehicles use taxi-meters. In Austria, it’s almost useless to try to hail a taxi with lifting a hand, taxis do not pick up passengers off the streets. It is easier and faster to make a phone booking with one of the taxi companies, find a taxi stand or just ask a receptionist at your hotel or restaurant to call a taxi for you. In smaller towns, the taxi meters fares tend to be stable and depend on distance. Therefore, in this case, it’s better to negotiate a price with a taxi driver in advance.

 

b) Intercity Transit:
1. Railway. In Austria, there is a convenient and effective system of rail transit and therefore, it is used by most of the Austrians. Rail tickets can be bought at railway station kiosks, tobacco shops, street vending ticket machines, underground stations or directly from the driver. Though, it is more expensive to buy a ticket on board the train. Prices of railway tickets do not depend on the type of train, speed or a wagon class.

 

Tickets are valid within one hour upon purchase and one-way tickets permit one transfer. Tickets and passes are available for one day, three days, a week or a month. One-way tickets must be validated by stamping. It is better to buy the "Vienna Card" pass. It is valid for a free travel on all public transport routes in Vienna within 72 hours. The Card also includes discounts in Vienna’s museums. During first-time use it must be named and validated (stamped), otherwise, it is not valid.
One-way ticket second class for the three-hour travel from Vienna to Salzburg would cost about Euro 35 and one-way ticket first class would be approximately Euro 57. Cross country travel would cost about Euro 55 for the second class pass and approximately Euro 86 for the first class pass.

 

2. Buses. Bus transport in Austria can’t compete with the railway and the routes are not duplicated. Buses are mainly used for the travel between townships or settlements in the mountains or in distant from the railway areas. Tickets can be purchased for several euros, though if the budget is tight, a combined ticket can be bought to include a train travel and a journey on a specific bus route. In big cities, buses usually make two-three stops within the city, which is convenient as knowing the schedule, a bus can be taken at the hotel instead of going to the bus station through the city.

 

3. Airlines. Vienna, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Linz are the largest, modern and multi-functional airports in Austria. The ticket cost for mini-flights, the duration of which does not exceed 30 minutes is almost the same as the cost of train tickets.

 

4. Autostop travel in Austria is easy and convenient and is very popular among youth. It should be remembered that it is better to stop cars before a highway entrance ramp and with an indicating plate as stopping a car on autobahns and highways is strictly prohibited.

 

Car Rent: There is no problem to rent a car in Austria if you have the international driver’s licence and a credit card. One of the conditions to drive a high class vehicle is the driver must be 25 years old. The vehicle rental price may vary and depends on the class and type of the vehicle.

 

Driving regulations: The country has right side traffic and a special tax for driving on high-speed roads or highways. Some roads and mountain passes may be closed in winter due to the avalanche danger. City car parking on weekdays from 9:00 to 19:00 and on Saturdays from 9:00 to 13:00 is not free and must be paid. Street parking downtown is limited to one hour and a half, though parking hours underground are unlimited.
- The maximum allowed speed: in settlements – 50 km/h, on highways – 100 km/h, on autobahns – 130 km/h during the day and 110 km/h at night.
- The minimum penalty for speeding is Euro 20. The penalty can be high if the speeding offence is significantly in excess of the speed limit.
- Driving while drunk is subject to penalties from Euro 218 to Euro 5813, as well as driver’s licence revocation.
- The traffic rules and regulations prohibit overtaking 80 m before a railroad crossing. Heavy penalties exist for overtaking a school bus, loading or unloading.
- The rules require keeping the dimmed headlights turned on while driving during the day.
Hotels in Austria: One of the distinctive features of Austria is that five-star hotels are not the best ones in the country, but those, which are located close to big highways and motorways. Rooms can be booked in advance by different ways. Many travellers also prefer to stay at numerous local guest-houses and private lodges. Spa-resort accommodation should be arranged as early as possible as local spa-resorts are extremely popular. The approximate hotel room rate in Austria is between Euro 40 and Euro 190 a day.

 

Tipping: A service charge is automatically added to a hotel or a restaurant bill. A service included in the bill is 5% to 10% of the bill. Besides, guests usually leave a tip of 40 cents to Euro 5 above that depending on a restaurant status and the order size. At small cafes tips are usually small and often consist of the small change. Help with luggage at a railway station or a hotel is tipped 50 cents to 75 cents per piece. A taxi driver is usually tipped 10% on top of the trip cost if it is a long way drive and with a little rounding up for a short trip.

 

Public holidays:
January 1 – New Year
January 6 – Epiphany
April 2-25] – Easter
May 1 – Labour Day, National holiday.
May - June (6th Thursday after the Easter) – Ascension
May - June (6th Monday after the Easter) – Pentecost
June (Thursday after the Trinity) – Corpus-Christi
August 15 – Assumption of Mary
October 26 – National Holiday Austria
November 1 – All Saints Day
December 8 – Immaculate Conception
December 25 – Christmas
December 26 – St Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day (2nd Day of Christmas)
All the days above are holidays. If December 8th falls on a day between Monday and Saturday, merchants are permitted to work.

 

Electricity: Outlets in Austria are of the European standard. The used sockets are of Type C or Europlug. The European socket is unearthed, with two round pins.

Other used sockets are of Type F or Schuko, or grounded European socket with two round pins as of Type C and contact plates for grounding.

 

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz.

 

Water quality. Throughout Austria water is safe to drink without boiling. Drinking fountains also provide clean drinking water in city parks. If water from a source is not safe to drink, there is a safety sign "Kein Trinkwasser" ("Do Not Drink") or photo image of water glass crossed by black line.

 

Traditions and Customs in Austria: There is a waste separation practice in Austria. Waste is sorted out and disposed separately: paper, bio waste, glass, metal, residual trash, bulky waste. Hazardous waste should be disposed in a separate container.
If you are invited for a visit, don’t be surprised when upon arrival you will be requested to change your shoes for soft fabric slippers. This way the Austrians save their interior from damages.
Austria has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. Here, a bicycle can be left unattended in the street and fragile locks on entry doors are used just to show that the hosts are not at home.

 

Visa: Citizens of CIS countries require a visa to cross the Austrian border. Citizens of Schengen countries enjoy visa-free travel.

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