Austrian Facts

The first generally accepted piece of prehistoric art is the Venus of Willendorf, a 25,000-year old statuette found in Lower Austria. Rich findings of Illyrian and Celtic bronze and ceramic works date back to 800-400 BC. Roman ruins and other findings can bee seen at Petronell and Magdalensberg. The Romanesque period in Austria saw cathedrals and abbeys (Heiligenkreuz, Zwettl, Lilienfeld, Dom zu Gurk) as well as splendid frescoes and sculptures (Lambach, Pürgg, Gurk). Distinctive features of the Gothic style include pointed arches, ribbed ceiling vaults and elaborately carved doorway columns. Austria´s most impressive Gothic structure is Vienna´s St. Stephen´s Cathedral. A supreme example of Renaissance style can be seen at Schallaburg/Lower Austria. The Baroque is closely associated with the rebuilding in Austria after the Thirty Years´ War. Among the many outstanding examples of Baroque are Kollegienkirche in Salzburg, Karlskirche and Schloss Belvedere in Vienna, and Stift Melk in Lower Austria. Rococo was a great favorite of Empress Maria Theresia. She chose this style for most of the rooms of Schloss Schönbrunn. In the second half of the 19th century, historicism took hold. This is seen principally in Vienna´s Ringstrasse. The end of he 19th century saw the emergence of Art Nouveau. One of the leading architects in the field was Otto Wagner


Austria lies within the Central European climatic zone, though the Eastern part of the country has a Continental Pannonian climate. Following zones can be distinguished: the northern fringe of the Alps, the inner Alpine region, the northern and eastern foothills of the Alps. The northern Alpine fringe is characterized by a very humid climate. The distribution of rainfall is mainly controlled by mountain features, and the highest rainfalls occur where the mountains are exposed to westerly and northwesterly winds. Rainfall diminishes eastwards, and increases with altitude. In inner Alpine regions the annual rainfall levels out at the European mean. In autumn and winter the mountain regions receive more sunshine and clear air than the valleys, which are often covered by a layer of fog for days. A special feature of the Alpine climate is the "foehn", a hot and dry wind which sweeps down from the mountains. From the central Danube region to the east, a more continental climate predominates. The daily and yearly variations in temperature are more pronounced and there is less precipitation. In Vienna for instance, it rains half as much as in Salzburg. The eastern foothills of the Alps already show characteristics of a continental steppe climate - short springs, hot summers, dry autumns and cold winters. The highest temperatures have been measured in this region.


The Austrian fauna comprises about 260 vertebrates, thousands of invertebrates and more than 20,000 different kinds of insects. Lakes and rivers are home to over 80 species of fish. Neusiedlersee is a sanctuary for numerous species of bird (bearded reedling, penduline tit, bee eater, kingfisher, common tern, Eurasian spoonbill, herons, Eurasian bitter, warbler, pied avocet, woodcock, mallard, red-backed sandpiper, spotted crake, water rail, hoopoe, wild duck, wild goose and stork). Protected birds include golden eagle, lammergeier, bearded vulture, alpine swift, common raven, rock partridge, finch, wood grouse and wallcreeper. Huntable species include pheasant, partridge and wild duck. Snakes native to Austria include the grass snake, the dice snake, the aesculapian snake, the dder and the sand viper. The marmot is indigenous to alpine regions between 1300m and 2700 m. Common wild animals include the fox, the badger, and the marten. Less common are the European polecat, the weasel and the ermine. Before World War II, the wild boar was only indigenous to Leithagebirge mountains, but today it can be found in Ernstbrunner forest, Ellender forest and in some parts of the Wienerwald region. Typical of the Alps is the chamois, a small antelope; the ibex, once an endangered species, was successfully re-introduced. Herds of deer populate Austria´s forests and meadows.


As a result of the variety in landscapes, soil properties and climatic conditions, Austria boasts a greater floral diversity than its neighboring countries: there are Baltic elements in the North, Atlantic influences in the lower mountains, and Pannonian and Mediterranean species in the east and south-east. The Alps are home to many endemic plants. Nearly half of Austria is forested. At low altitudes oak and beech are common, at higher elevations conifers such as pine spruce and larch predominate. In the Central Alps, forests grow to an altitude of about 2000 m, in the northern and southern limestone Alps to 1,700 m. Waldviertel and Mühlviertel are dominated by spruce, beech and fir trees, the Pannonian regions by oak, European hornbeam and oak-beech forests. Western Wienerwald, the Alpine foothills, the Lower Austrian limestone Alps, Salzkammergut and Bregenzer Wald are home to sub-Alpine oak and fir forests interspersed with Wych elm, yew, acorn and others. Typical of higher altitudes and Austria´s West are larch trees; above 1,350 m altitude the Scotch pine predominates over the spruce. A great floral diversity can be found in the undergrowth. The best-known representatives of the Austrian flora belong to high alpine regions. Hardly anywhere else in Europe there is a more colorful and varied Alpine flora than in Austria.


Austria is located in the South-East of Central Europe. The Alps are a dominating feature of the country which shares borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With an area of 83,855 sq. km and a population of about eight million, Austria is one of Europe´s smaller states. Vienna accounts for 20% of the country´s population. The Republic of Austria was created on November 12, 1918. By constitution, Austria is a federal parliamentary democracy divided into nine provinces (Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tirol, Vorarlberg, Vienna). The head of state is the president, who is chosen by the electorate for a six year term. The National Assembly, the state´s legislative body, is elected every four by citizens over the age of 18 years. The majority ratio of the parties represented in the National Assembly is decisive for the composition of the Federal Government. Vienna, as well as being Austria´s capital, is a federal province in its own right. Austria is a member of the United Nations and various UN sub-organizations and has been a member of the EC since 1995. The Vienna International Center is headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).


Austria is naturally divided by its mountain ranges. The East Alps account for almost two thirds of the country and extend from Lake Constance in the West to lake Neusiedlersee in the East. Over a third of Austria is made up of flat and hilly country including the shores of the Blue Danube, the Blue Danube plains and the eastern fringes of the Alps. The Bohemian massif constitutes one tenth of the country. The crystalline basement of the Bohemian massif extends north of the Blue Danube to the Mühlviertel and Waldviertel regions. The highest elevation of this forested area reaches to 1,400 m. Austria´s oldest rock formations can be found in the Central Alps and the Bohemian massif which is covered by Mesozoic strata and tertiary basin filling of the Alpine foothills, which were largely shaped by ice-age meltwater and glacier deposits. The western Central Alps´ crystalline massifs extends up to glacial regions and includes the Silvretta mountain range, the Ötztal Alps, the Stubai Alps, Hohe Tauern, Niedere Tauern, Koralpe, Saualpe, Semmering and the Leitha range). To the East, the Alps fall away gradually and are interspaced with basins (Grazer, Klagenfurt and Vienna basins). The tertiary country of low hills in Eastern Styria borders on the eastern fringes of the Alps. Also of tertiary origin is the hilly Weinviertel region in Austria´s north-east.


In 803 Charlemagne established a territory in the Danube valley known as Ostmark. Upon his death, the Magyars overran the Ostmark. Otto I defeated the Hungarians and re-established the Ostmark in 955. In 996, the Ostmark was first referred to as Ostarrichi, a clear forerunner of the modern German word "Österreich". In 1282, the rule of one of European history´s most powerful dynasties began. The reign of Maria Theresia (1740-1780) and her son Emperor Joseph II, is generally acknowledged as a golden era in which Austria developed as a modern state. Centralized control was established, economy was reformed and a public education system was introduced. Napoleon inflicted major defeats on Austria in 1803, 1805 and 1809. The conflict dragged on until the Congress of Vienna (1814-15). Franz Joseph I became leader of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy, created in 1867. Peace was wrecked in 1914, when Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and WW I began. In March 1938, German troops marched into Austria and the country was incorporated into the German Reich on March 13. After WW II, Austria was restored to its 1937 frontiers and occupied by the victorious allies (USA, Soviet Union, UK, France). On May 15, 1955 the Austrian State Treaty was ratified. Austria proclaimed its permanent neutrality.


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Austria has a population of about 8 million. The national language is German (98%). The remaining 2% speaks Croatian, Slovene, Hungarian or Czech. About 80% of the population is Roman-Catholic, 5% Protestant and 9% non-denominational. The Austrians are a Bavarian people by origin. An exemption are Vorarlberg and a small part of Tirol (Außerfern), whose population are of Alemanic provenance. The provinces of Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg were initially populated by Rhaeto-Romans who were gradually displaced by other peoples; only in the Montafon and the Upper Inntal Valley the Rhaeto-Romans remained longer. When the Bavarians arrived in the south-east, they met with a Slav population, who, on the other hand, had come upon the relics of a Celtic-Roman settlement. Before and during Carolinian times, the typical settlement consisted of a small hamlet or cluster village with the village lands parceled out. The high medieval settlements in the eastern lowlands already featured planned villages along roads and in the countryside. The peopling of Austria´s mountainous regions took place in different phases and was characterized by isolated farmhouses. Towns founded during the Roman times include Iuvavum/Salzburg, Ovilava/Wels, Lentia/Linz, Cetium/St. Pölten, Vindobona/Vienna and Brigantium/Bregenz.


Visitor Information

The Austrian hotel classification scheme is a rating based on stars. Accommodations are awarded a rating from 1 to 5 stars, based primarily on facilities, amenities, maintenance and cleanliness.

***** International standard establishments offering superior appointments, furnishings and décor with an extensive range of first class guest services. A number and variety of room styles and/or suites available. Concierge services available as well as a dedicated business center and conference facilities.

**** Exceptionally well appointed establishments with high quality furnishings and offering a high degree of comfort. High standard of presentation and guest services provided.

*** Well appointed establishments offering a comfortable standard of accommodation, with above average furnishings and floor coverings.

** Well maintained establishments offering an average standard of accommodation with average furnishings, bedding and floor coverings

* Establishments offering a basic standard of accommodation. Simply furnished.


Austria is linked to international air traffic by Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air, Tyrolean Airways, Rheintalflug, and a great number of foreign airlines. The main air transport hub is Vienna´s airport (Wien Schwechat). Other Austrian airports which handle international flights are Innsbruck, Graz, Klagenfurt, Linz and Salzburg.
Domestic flights are operated by Tyrolean Airways. Rheintalflug flies from Vienna to Altenrhein in Switzerland, with free bus transfers to/from Bregenz.


In Austria, pilots must hold a character reference and a student pilot certificate and a medical certificate, which must be obtained from an designated medical examiner.
Age requirements: 16 years for gliders, hang gliders and paragliders; 17 years for airplanes, balloons and parachutes.
Due to the successful harmonization of Austrian and German aviation rules, all licenses and certificates are mutually accepted. The same applies for Switzerland.


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Most shops in the cities are open Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm and Sat, 9am-midday (sometimes until 5pm). Some shops close for up to two hours at noon (12pm-2pm). Many grocery stores open earlier than 8am and close at 6.30pm. On every first Sunday of the month, shops in the cities are open until 5pm.

In large tourist resorts, supermarkets are open 7 days a week.

Banks are open Mon-Fri, 8am - 12.30pm and 1.30pm - 3pm (until 5pm on Thursdays)


In January 2002, the Austrian Shilling was replaced by the Euro.

The official fixed exchange rate as set by the European Central Bank is ATS 13.7603 for Euro 1.00.


ATMs are accessible 24 hours a day. ATMs are linked up internationally and have English instructions. Daily withdrawal limit: Euro 400.

All National Bank branches:

Vorarlberg - Bregenz
Anton-Schneider-Straße 12, 6901 Bregenz. phone: ++43 (0) 55 74/49 61-0

Tirol - Innsbruck
Adamgasse 2, 6021 Innsbruck, phone: ++43 (0) 51 2/594 73-0

Salzburg - Stadt Salzburg
Franz-Josef-Straße 18, 5027 Salzburg, phone: ++43 (0) 66 2/87 12 01-0

Oberösterreich - Linz
Coulinstraße 28, 4021 Linz, phone: ++43 (0) 73 2/65 26 11-0

Niederösterreich - St. Pölten
Julius-Raab-Promenade 1, 3100 St. Pölten, phone: ++43 (0) 27 42/313 483-0

Wien - Stadt Wien
Wien 9, Otto-Wagner-Platz 3, 1011 Wien, phone: ++43 (0)1/404 20

Burgenland - Eisenstadt
Esterhazyplatz 2, 7001 Eisenstadt, phone: ++43 (0) 26 82/627 18-0

Steiermark - Graz
Brockmanngasse 84, 8018 Graz, phone: ++43 (0) 31 6/81 81 81-0

Kärnten - Klagenfurt
10.-Oktober-Straße 13, 9010 Klagenfurt, phone: ++43 (0) 46 3/576 88-0


Under the Single Market arrangements, if you are travelling to Austria directly from another EU country, you do not need to go through a Red or Green channel.

Duty free allowances on goods bought within the EU ceased on 1 July 1999.

You can buy as much as you want to bring back from Austria provided you can prove that it is for personal, rather than commercial use. Acceptable amounts for personal consumption:

Tobacco products:
800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1kg of smoking tobacco

Alcoholic drinks:
10 liters of spirits, 20 liters of fortified wine, 90 liters of wine and 110 liters of beer.

NB: Passengers under 17 are not entitled to bring in alcoholic drinks or tobacco goods.

Value Added Tax is charged on most goods bought in shops in Austria and obtaining relief from VAT can save you money.

NB: Not all shops operate the Retail Export Scheme, and those that do often set a minimum purchase level.

The appropriate form (U34) is completed in full at the time of purchase. You must present the form to Customs at the final point of departure from the EU and have your goods available for inspection.

NB: Visitors leaving Austria for a final destination within the EU are not eligible to receive VAT refunds under the scheme.

Or send the form to following address:
Global Refund Austria AG
A-1030 Wien, Trubelgasse 17-19
Fon +43 1 / 798 44 000
Fax +43 1 / 798 40 44


We warmly welcome you and wish you a pleasant stay!


We warmly welcome you and wish you a pleasant stay!


All visitors, 16 years and older, must present a valid passpor. Children up to 16 years may be registered on their parents´ passport.

Visitors may stay a maximum of three months (six months for Japanese). Visas are not required by the vast majority of nationalities, including those from the EU, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan etc.

There are no border controls between EU nationals signed up to the Schengen Agreement. Schengen Visa can be obtained from and are valid for: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.


Following gasolines are available in Austria:
Unleaded gas (91 octane)
Euro-Super (unleaded; 95 octane)
Super Plus (98 octane; unleaded gas with lead substitute for older cars)
Diesel and liquid gas (approx. 45 gas stations)


When entering Austria, dogs and cats need a veterinarian health certificate and proof of effective rabies vaccination. The vaccination certificate has to be issued at least 30 days before entry into Austria and may not be older than 1 year.

Many animal and plants species are endangered. Please see addendum A - D of the EC´s paper on the protection of endangered species. Rules and regulations on the import of endangered plants and animals vary greatly from country to country.


We warmly welcome you and wish you a pleasant stay!


Hospital Treatment

Out-patient treatment can be obtained in hospital casualty wards. For in-patient treatment, a doctor will normally refer you to a public hospital, where you must present an admission voucher provided by the doctor. In an emergency, give your passport to the hospital administration which will then confirm with the Insurance Office that the costs of standard class treatment will be met. A small daily charge will be made for each of the first 28 days in hospital.
If you are treated privately, whether at your own request or because of an emergency, you may be entitled to a refund from the Regional Health Insurance Office of special amounts which vary from hospital to hospital.

For EEA nationals, an E111 is required. If you consult a private doctor, you may receive a refund for part of the costs but not for the private fee.


Open: Mon - Fri from 8am - noon and 2pm - 6pm, Sat from 8am - noon. A notice is put up at every pharmacy about night, weekend and holiday shifts.


Speed limits for cars and motorcycles:
Country roads: 100 km/h
Autobahn: 130 km/h
Towns: 50 km/h

Speed limits for cars towing a caravan or trailer (up to 750 kg) and trucks up to a total weight of 3,5t):
Towns: 50 km/h
Autobahn and country roads: 100 km/h

Speed limits for coaches:
Towns: 50 km/h
Country roads: 80 km/h
Autobahn: 100 km/h (90 km/h from 10pm and 5am on autobahns with a ban on night time driving).

Drunk driving: The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0.05 BAC. Fines for violating this limit range from EURO 218 - - 3634 and result in the suspension of the drivers license.

Mountain roads are often single-lane, full of bends and require good driving skills. In winter, some minor mountain passes are blocked by snow. Open throughout the year are: Brennerpass, Fernpass, Reschenpass, Arlbergpass.
Carrying snow chains in winter is highly recommended and may be compulsory in some areas.


January 1: New Year´s Day

January 6: Epiphany

March/April: Easter Monday

May 1: Labour Day

May/June: Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Corpus Christi

August 15: Assumption

October 26: National Day

November 1: All Saints´ Day

December 8: Immaculate Conception

December 25: Christmas Day

December 26: St. Stephen´s Day

School holidays:

Christmas (2 weeks)

February (1 week)

Easter (1 week)

July/August/beginning of September (8-week summer holidays)

November 2: All Souls´ Day


The Austrian Federal Railways (OEBB) cover a network of 5,800km and are linked with the entire European railway network.

The type and speed of the train can be identified by its prefix. EC (EuroCity), IC (InterCity) and SC (SuperCity) are all express trains, stopping only at major stations. They usually have a dining car serving a variety of food and drinks. EN (EuroNigh) is an international night train with sleeping cars and couchette. E (Eilzug) is a fast train which stops at smaller stations. D Zug trains are medium fast. Slow, local trains have no letter prefix and stop everywhere.

Trains have smoking and non-smoking compartments; Vienna´s S-Bahn trains are non-smoking only.

Motorail trains operate between Vienna and Salzburg, Vienna and Bischofshofen, Vienna and Villach, Vienna and Innsbruck, Vienna and Lienz, Vienna and Feldkirch, Graz and Feldkirch, Feldkirch and Villach and Linz and Feldkirch.

For detailed information on tickets, time schedules and costs please call (01) 1717.


Fire department 122

Police 133

Ambulance: 144

Breakdown service:

ARBÖ 123



Post office hours: 8am - noon and 2pm - 6pm; a few main post offices in big cities are open 24 hours.

Letter postage up to 2kg:

Europe: priority: Euro 0.51 - 18.17; non-priority: 0.73 - 10.17
Worldwide: priority: Euro 1.09 - 32.70; non-priority: 1.02 - 18.17

Phone calls within Austria are graduated and cheapest between 8pm and 6am and on weekends. Public pay phones: Euro 3.60 (nominal value: Euro 3.64) and Euro 6.90 (nominal value: Euro 7.28) phone cards are available at the post offices and elsewhere.

International access number from Austria to:

Germany: 0049

Italy: 0039

Switzerland: 0041

France: 0033

Great Britain: 0044

International access number for Austria from Germany, Italy, Switzerland etc.: 0043. After Austria´s international access code, dial the relevant area code minus the initial zero.

Directory of telephone numbers:

Austria and Germany: 11811

Foreign countries (minus Germany): 11812


A general charge for using Austrian motorways was introduced in 1997 (red and black in our map).
In addition to the motorway tax, some mountain roads and tunnels levy a toll.