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Snow-capped mountains surrounded by tall forests in Austrian Alps

Austria Travel Guide

Austria is a fairytale come to life. Rich emerald valleys with snow-capped peaks meet glistening lakes wherever you turn. Its cities are awe-inspiring yet still approachable, filled with a variety of historical and cultural sightseeing activities. From Vienna’s classical music legacy to Salzburg’s claim to fame with the Sound of Music, Austria is bursting with musical inspiration. With just one glimpse at the stunning natural scenery, it is easy to see where the artists get their ideas from. 

Don’t let its size fool you. Whether you are dreaming of long hikes through bewitching valleys or are ready to plan the ideal skication, Austria has so much to offer - no matter how long you plan on staying. Even if you’re only stopping by in Austria as part of a multi-Europe tour, you will still be thankful you got the chance to visit. And no doubt, you will start planning when you can next return. If Happily Ever Afters exist, they will be found in Austria (in between spoonfuls of chocolate sachertorte cake!). 

Key Facts

  • With a similar culture to the UK, it’s an amazing destination for a first-time traveller!
  • The four seasons make Austria a fascinating country to discover no matter when you visit
  • Plan a skiing trip in the Austrian Alps for the ultimate winter getaway
  • Visit Austria as part of a grand tour around Europe’s top cities and destinations
  • If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll fit right in!
  • Into music? Mozart and Beethoven are the pride and joy of Austria
  • Explore beautiful cities like Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, or escape to the enchanting valleys

Vienna is Austria’s sensational capital. This gorgeous city is adorned with palaces and enchanting streets laced with musical inspiration. Between the regal architecture, the historical sightseeing and the classical legacy of Mozart and Beethoven, it is easy to lose yourself in the magic of Vienna.

  • Discover Habsburg palaces, Mozart’s musical residence and awe-inspiring libraries and galleries inside Vienna: one of the most luxurious and classical cities in Europe
  • Explore Salzburg, as seen in the Sound of Music: the lush hills are alive, and its exciting Old Town is too!
  • Escape to the Austrian Alps in Tirol where you can go hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter
  • Get to know Austrian village life in Hopfgarten im Brixental, nestled in a valley landscape
  • Make your own chocolate at a factory and indulge in your sweet tooth by trying Austrian specialities like sachertorte (chocolate cake) and custard cream cake
  • Visit the extraordinary city of Innsbruck, home to candy-coloured architecture and snow-capped mountains

Austrian cuisine uses simple ingredients for maximum flavour. The food is hearty and delicious, from Wiener Schnitzel to Tiroler Gröstl (bacon, egg and potato fry-up!). It’s all about the charcuterie boards here, as there are so many cheese variations to sample. Its Bergkäse Mountain Cheeses are especially famous, which is a hard cheese with a strong and nutty flavour. And if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll feel right at home in Austria. There is apple strudel, Kaiserschmarrn (scrambled pancake), souffle, krapfen (doughnuts), custard cream cake, and the legendary Sachertorte: the richest, most decadent chocolate cake you have ever tasted. Cafe culture thrives in Austria, so don’t miss out on all the chances to enjoy a dessert with a hot drink.

Austria is a four-season destination with little climate variety. This country has plenty of valleys and mountains, which makes it feel cool for most of the year. There is snow typically between December and March, which is when ski season tends to hit. July is the hottest month in Austria and hiking in the summer is highly recommended to soak up the natural beauty. Even when temperatures peak, you should still pack light layers for the evening!

Visas

British travellers will not require a visa to enter Austria for up to 90 days within 180 days. Your passport must be less than ten years old, and be valid for at least 3 months after your departure date.

Passports

Passports should be kept in good condition, as travellers with damaged passports and insufficient documents may denied entry. Make sure you get your passport stamped upon exit and arrival, and keep proof of onward or return travel in case a border guard asks.

German is the official language of Austria, but there are regional languages like Croatian, Slovenian and Hungarian. English is widely spoken in Austria’s most popular areas.

Austria uses a Type C and F plug type with a charge of 230V. British appliances will need a universal adaptor.

Austrian culture is quite similar to UK and German culture. People are very polite and greetings can be quite formal - typically a firm handshake. Punctuality is important here, as is being relatively quiet while in public.

Clothing is generally informal; keep in mind that it is illegal to cover your face in public and that you could be fined up to €150 for doing this. 

Austria has exciting traditions throughout the year rooted in Christianity, from the beautiful Christmas markets to Easter celebrations and a Bonfire Sunday that is unique to Western Austria. It is popular to visit a Heuriger in Eastern Austria, which are vineyards that serve different wine flavours depending on the season!

Health

Healthcare is to a high standard in Austria. British travellers should obtain a European Health Insurance Card before arriving in Austria so that they are entitled to emergency medical treatment. Always purchase travel insurance whenever you go abroad.

Safety

Austria is a very safe location to visit. Travellers should take general precautions to avoid pickpocketing and petty crime in larger cities and on public transportation. 

For adventure sports, please check that your travel insurance covers this and that you are going with a reputable company. Regarding skiing and paragliding specifically - two of Austria’s most popular outdoor activities - ensure that this insurance covers emergency mountain rescue services, helicopter costs, repatriation to your country of residence, and transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment. 

Always check weather forecasts and conditions before going out to do adventure sports. Make sure you pack essential items like a map, compass, GPS and telecommunications equipment. Consider going with a guide for expert advice and reassurance. Take particular caution if you are going off-piste skiing, as this can be very dangerous and invalidate your travel insurance. 

We do not recommend hiring motorbikes, scooters, ATV vehicles, quad bikes or other motorised vehicles while abroad. Safety and quality of vehicles can vary considerably and the traffic conditions can be more dangerous than what UK travellers are familiar with. If you wish to go against this advice, always check that you are hiring from a reputable company and that your travel insurance has comprehensive coverage for these activities.