Austrian Facts

Romanesque buildings are rather rare in Tirol, as most of them have generally been extended and modified using later architectural styles. The purest Gothic structures in Tirol are "Stubenhaus" in Hall and "Fuggerhaus" in Schwaz. Gothic carving climaxed in elaborate winged altarpieces.

In Tirol, few but precious works of art remain from the Renaissance period. A master piece of fresco painting can be found in the cloisters of the Franciscan monastery in Schwaz, depicting Christ´s passion. The finest surviving example of Renaissance sculpture is Emperor Maximilian´s sarcophagus in Innsbruck´s Hofkirche. The tomb is flanked by over 28 giant bronze figures. Other representatives of Renaissance art include the castles of Ambras, Tratzberg and Kufstein.

Austrian Baroque mirrors Italian and German Baroque. Among the outstanding examples of Baroque in Tirol are Landhaus, Dom zu St. Jakob and the Wilten basilica, a classic example of Rococo. Most important painters of the 19th century in Tirol are the historical painter Josef Anton Koch, the landscape painters Franz von Defregger and Theodor von Hörmann (Vienna Secession Movement). Leading Tirolean painters of the 20th century include Albin Egger-Lienz, Leo Putz, Paul Flora, Gerhild Diesner, Max Weiler, Eduard Thöny and Alfons Walde.


Tirol lies within the Central European climatic zone and is characterized by a very humid climate. The summers are short and relatively cool, the intensity of the sun increases with altitude. Hikers and mountaineers should always be prepared for sudden changes in weather.

The upper Inntal valley has the lowest precipitation (in some places less than 600 mm of rainfall/year). With 1940 hours per year, Hochserfaus gets the most sunshine. 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, mainly in early spring and autumn. Innsbruck is infamous for its average of 64 foehn days per year.


The mountainous region of Tirol has been dominated by many influential personalities.

Tirol is a sporty region. Legends of alpine skiing such as Karl Schranz and Stefan Eberharter are examples of the long and successful tradition that skiing has in Tirol. More recently, snowboard greats such as Martin Freinademetz or Gitti Köck introduced a young and dynamic trend sport to the region. Racing fans will be familiar with the name of Gerhard Berger, former Formula One star, and Pitztal’s Angela Eiter has recently been elected sport climbing world champion. Former skiing star Hansi Hinterseer is today known for his successful singing career.

Tirol has also seen the rise of successful artists such as Peter Kogler, Hans Weigand or Heinz Gappmayr. Felix Mitterer is a well-known writer and poet. Dietmar Schönherr’s voice is known for the dubbing of James Dean and he also presented TV shows. Tobias Moretti went to achieve international fame as the main protagonist of the Kommissar Rex crime series, while Hans Platzgumer is a world-renowned musician and DJ.


Alpine waters are home to trout, char, grayling, tench and common whitefish. Alpine newts can be found in ponds.

Many insects are protected and include rosalia alpine (a blue longhorn beetle), stag beetle and rhinoceros beetle. Among the protected butterflies are swallowtail, death´s head hawk-moth and mourning cloak.

The Alpine salamander prefers dusk and rain. Green lizards love sun-warmed rocks and sunny wayside places. Among the poisonous snakes is the adder whose habitat are moors and higher alpine regions. Birds typical of the Alps can only be found in remote valleys and mountain regions. Protected birds include golden eagle, lammergeier, bearded vulture, alpine swift, common raven, rock partridge, finch and wood grouse.

Likewise protected are some mammals including bats and insect-eaters (hedgehog, mole, shrew). The forest is the natural habitat of rodents like dormouse, edible dormouse and squirrel; the marmot, a rodent related to the squirrel, is indigenous to alpine regions between 1300m and 2700 m. Common predators are fox, badger and marten, rarer are European polecat, ermine and weasel. 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. Red deer can be spotted occasionally in high alpine forests.


Different vegetation zones can be discerned according to altitude.

600 - 1,600 m: in the lower regions spruce, beech, pine and larch predominate; common are Ericaceae (heaths and heathers), maple and juniper. A natural landmark is "Ahornboden" in the Karwendel mountains consisting of luxuriant pastures for mowing and colorful flower meadows. The higher regions are characterized by spruce, larch, stone pine and mountain pine (limestone plateaus).

1,500 - 2,300 m: alpine meadows at this altitude boast a great variety of flowers of which many are protected including alpine aster, alpine toadflax, arnica, gentian and globe-flower. Isolated trees include Swiss pine, dwarf pine, larch and mountain pine (up to 2,400 m). Alpine heathlands can also be found at these altitudes.

2,300 - 2,700 m: the rocky terrain is home to mosses, lichens and some floriferous plants including gentian and alpine auricula (protected!); the rare glacier buttercup grows at altitudes between 2,000 - 4,000 m.

Alpine terraces are characterized by moorlands. Typical plants are cotton grass, heather, certain sedges and dwarf birches.


With 12,648 sq. km and 675,000 inhabitants, Tirol is Austria´s third largest province. Only 13 % of the entire country are habitable. About 20 % of Tirol´s landscape was declared nature preserve. Provincial capital is Innsbruck.

Tirol shares borders with Germany (Bavaria), Italy (South Tirol) and Switzerland as well as the provinces of Vorarlberg, Salzburg and Carinthia. When South Tirol was ceded to Italy in 1919, East Tirol was isolated from the rest of Tirol and is now only accessible via Salzburg (Felbertauern tunnel) or Italy (Pustertal valley).

Großglockner, with 3,797 m Austria´s highest mountain, is shared between East Tirol, Carinthia and Salzburg. Wildspitze (3770 m) is North Tirol´s highest mountain. Gepatschferner is Tirol´s largest glacier covering 17 km2 . With 1,370 m the Brenner is the Alps lowest pass, making Tirol one of the most important transit routes for goods transport and passenger traffic.


Tirol belongs to all the important geological zones of the East Alps. The Northern Limestone Alps form an approx. 50 km2 wide chain, divided into six mountain ranges from west to east: Allgäu Alps, Lechtal Alps, Wetterstein mountain range, Mieminger mountain range, Karwendel range and Kaisergebirge range.

The crystalline Central Alps, which consist largely of a granite base, are the largest and highest ranges in Austria. The Central Alps run from Tirol to approximately the Styria-Lower Austria border and include areas that are permanently glaciated in the Ötzal Alps on the Tirolean-Italian border and the High Tauern in eastern Tirol and Carinthia. With 3772 m the Wildspitze is Tirol´s highest mountain. The Lienz Dolomites, between Drautal and Gailtal, form part of the Southern Limestone Alps. The hardrock Central Alps are separated from the Limestone Alps by the longitudinal river Inn.


In the 6th century the Bavarians advanced from the north and in 1027 Tirol became a part of the Duchy of Bavaria. The German emperors took the strategically important "land in the mountains" away from the Dukes of Bavaria and gave it to the Bishops of Brixen and Trient.

The bishops enfeoffed various counties with Tirolean valleys. In 1286 Count Meinhard II of Görz-Tirol united the territories into the County of Tirol. In 1363 Countess Maultasch handed over Tirol to the Habsburg Duke Rudolf IV of Austria. In 1420 Duke Friedrich IV transferred the royal seat from Meran to Innsbruck. In 1490, his son, Duke Sigmund, abdicated in favor of his cousin, who later became Emperor Maximilian I. Under Maximilian´s rule Innsbruck became an administrative capital and artistic and cultural center.

In 1703 the Bavarians attempted to capture the whole of Tirol. In alliance with the French they reached as far as the Brenner Pass before beating back. Another Franco-Bavarian alliance during the Napoleonic Wars saw Tirol incorporated into Bavaria. In 1809 Andreas Hofer led a successful fight for independence, only to have Vienna return Tirol to Bavaria under a treaty later that year. A further blow was dealt to Tirol by the Treaty of St. Germain in 1919: prosperous South Tirol was ceded to Italy and East Tirol was isolated from the rest of the province.


Native Tiroleans are mainly of Bavarian origin, with the exception of the Außerfern region, whose population are of Alemanic provenance. Tirol was initially populated by Rhaeto-Romans who were gradually displaced by other peoples;

From the 6th century AD the Rhaeto-Romans were infiltrated by the Germanic Bavarians. Only in some valleys - the Montafon and the Upper Inntal Valley namely - the Rhaeto-Romans remained longer. The peopling of Tirol´s mountainous regions took place in different phases and was characterized by isolated farmhouses. The most important centers developed along traffic junctions and transit routes (Innsbruck, Kufstein, Landeck) or near mining sites like Hall in Tirol (salt), Schwaz (silver), Rattenberg (silver) and Kitzbühel (copper).

The Inntal valley forms Tirol´s main axis and is the province´s most populated area. Beautiful villages developed on cones of scree and flat terraces. The central Inntal valley between Zirl and Zillertal owes its position of pre-eminence to its settlement area and proximity to the Brenner pass. In East Tirol, the Lienz basin is the main settlement area. Self-contained rural settlements can be found in the Lechtal and Drautal valley.


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.


Innsbruck-Kranebitten airport is serviced regularly by two main carriers.

Austrian Airlines (A-6020 Innsbruck, Adamgasse 7a, phone: 0 512/58 29 85)

Tyrolean Airways (Innsbruck-Kranebitten airport, Fürstenweg 180, phone: 0512/ 22 22-0)


Mountain rescue emergency number: 140


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.


ARBÖ: Tirolean headquarters: A-6020 Innsbruck, Stadlweg 7, phone: 0 512/34 51 23

ARBÖ breakdown service: 123, travel emergency call: 0 222/78 25 28

ÖAMTC: Tirolean headquarters: A-6020 Innbruck, Andechsstraße 81, phone: 0 512/33 20

ÖAMTC breakdown service: 120, Europe-wide emergency call: 0 222/982 13 04


Most shops are open Monday to Friday from 8am - between 6 and 7.30pm, and on Saturday from 8am to between 1 and 5pm. Some shops close for up to two hours at noon (except in big cities). Shops are open until 5pm on the first Saturday of the month. In large tourist resorts, supermarkets are open 7 days a week.
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8am - noo.30 and from 13.30 to 3pm (until 5pm on Thursdays).


The official campsite usually feature modern and comfortable facilities. Reduced rates are often available for members of camping associations.

Wild camping is prohibited in Tirol. Please note, that some roads are not suitable for or open to caravans.

Information: Camping and Caravaning Club Austria, Mariahilfer Straße 180, A-1150 Vienna.


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.

The new currency is the Euro (€). There are 100 cent to the Euro. Banknotes come in denomination of € 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500. There are coins to the value of 1 and 2 Euro, then 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.

EuroCheques are no longer accepted in Austria. All major travelers cheques are equally widely accepted.

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

Currency exchange
If you still have some Austrian Shillings left from your last vacation, you can exchange them for an unlimited period and free of charge at the National Bank.

National bank:
Adamgasse 2, 6021 Innsbruck, phone: 0 51 2/594 73-0


Austria is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement.

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

Although there are now no limits imposed on importing tobacco and alcohol products from one EU country to another, (with the exceptions of Denmark, Finland and Sweden, where limits are imposed), travellers should note that they may be required to prove at customs that the goods purchased are for personal use only.

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.

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 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:
Global Refund Austria AG
A-1030 Wien, Trubelgasse 17-19
Fon +43 1 / 798 44 000
Fax +43 1 / 798 40 44


Restaurants serve an enticing variety of dishes for every taste and pocketbook. Menus include everything from traditional Tirolean meals to international dishes and lean cuisine.

Typical Tirolean specialties include: "Speckknödel" (dumplings with cured ham, served in beef stock or with coleslaw), "Gröstel" (sliced pan fried onions and potatoes with meat, cured ham and eggs), "Tiroler Leber" (veal or beef liver with onions, cured ham, lemon juice and wine).
Favorite wines include South Tirolean red wines, Lower Austrian white wines and of course beer. Austria produces several types of excellent schnapps made from apples, pears, rowanberry, gentian or juniper.


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 types of gasolin 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)


Tirol is accessible by car, train or plane. Arterial roads are the A 12 Inntal autobahn and the A 13 Brenner autobahn.

Information for motorists is available at automobile clubs (see there). Tirol is well covered by the state railway network. Fast trains operate in two-hour intervals between Bregenz/Feldkirch - Innsbruck - Salzburg - Linz - Vienna.

For information on train times call: 0512/17 17.

Cars and motorcycles can be transported by motorail trains.

Innsbruck-Kranebitten airport is serviced regularly by two main carriers:
Austrian Airlines (A-6020 Innsbruck, Adamgasse 7a, phone: 0 512/58 29 85)
Tyrolean Airways (Innsbruck-Kranebitten airport, Fürstenweg 180, phone: 0512/ 22 22-0)


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.


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)
March 19: St. Joseph
Easter (1 week)
July/August/beginning of September (8 weeks summer holidays)
November 2: All Souls´ Day


Mountain rescue: 140

Ambulance: 144

Fire department: 122

Police: 133

ARBÖ: 123

ÖAMTC: 120


Local crafts such as textiles, pottery, woodcarvings, wrought iron work and painted glassware and pottery make popular souvenirs. Heimatwerk in Innsbruck is the official retail outlet for goods adhering to certain standards.

Traditional crafts include woodcarving (figures of saints and nativity figures), glass blowing, candle making. Popular culinary include Speck(cured ham) and homemade schnapps.


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:

Within Austria: Euro 0.51 - 3.27

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

Postcards: 0.51

Parcels up to 31.5kg:

Within Austria: Euro 3.56 - 12.72

Worldwide: basic price is Euro 10.90 per kg. Surcharges per kg vary according to zones and range from Euro 0.73 - 6.54.

Phone calls within Austria are graduated and cheapest between 8pm and 6am and on weekends. Public pay phones accept coins of 10, 20 and 50 Cent and 1 and 2 Euro.

Euro 3.60 and Euro 6.90 phone cards are available at post office.

International access number from Austria to: Netherlands: 0031, Italy: 0039, Switzerland: 0041, France: 0033, Great Britain: 0044

International access number for Austria from Germany, Italy, Switzerland etc.: 0043

To direct-dial abroad, first telephone the overseas access code (00), then the appropriate country code, then the relevant area code minus the initial zero, and finally the subscriber number.

Directory of telephone numbers:

Austria and Germany: 11811

Foreign countries (minus Germany): 11812


Walking is popular with Tiroleans and visitors alike. Thousands of kilometers of trails allow you to explore the beauty of the Alps. Hikers of all abilities can find a satisfying trek here. Tirol has more opportunities than anywhere else in Austria for mountain climbing.

Mountain and ski guides as well as climbing instruction are available in all resorts.

Tips: Be sure to consult local information phone numbers about weather conditions and avalanche warnings before you set out, and prepare yourself adequately. In mountain regions weather patterns change dramatically so take appropriate clothing and good walking shoes. .

Alpine distress signal: a series of 6 short signals evenly spaced apart (about 10 sec.), repeat this after a pause of 1 minute.
The answer is given by three continuous short signals (about 20 sec. apart).

Information on hiking paths, (ski) mountaineering tours and Alpine Schools: Tirol Info, phone: 0 512/72 72-2 (Monday - Friday 9am - noon)

Alpine weather report: phone: 0 512/29 16 00 (Monday - Saturday 1pm - 6pm).


Tirol has a great variety of top-notch ski resorts. There are gentle nursery slopes in picturesque surroundings to inspire any first time skier, a well as world-class serious terrain to satisfy even the extreme skiers´ heart.
Some of the best resorts include Innsbruck and environs, Wipptal, Stubaital, Seefeld plateau, Mieming plateau, Ötztal Alps, Arlberg - Silvretta - Oberinntal area, Außerfern, Unterinntal and its side valleys, Kaiser mountains, Kitzbühel Alps and East Tirol.

Cross-country skiing is also extremely popular in Tirol. Beautiful tracks are offered in Seefeld, Mieming, Leutaschtal, Außerfern, Zillertal, Tuxertal, around the Kitzbühel Alps and the Kaiser mountain range. Skating and tobogganing are available in many resorts. Year-round glacier skiing is available in Zillertal, Stubaital, Ötztal, Kaunertal and Pitztal.


Toll information


Tirol´s lakes offer equally good sporting facilities as its mountains. Water-skiing, sialing and windsurfing are common on most lakes and courses are usually readily available.

Sailing: Achensee, Haldensee, Plansee, Durlassboden reservoir (boat rental).
Prior knowledge of the general rules is required and the usual rescue equipment has to be brought along (yellow or red life jacket).

Windsurfing: Achensee, Plansee (board rental), Heiterwanger See, Haldensee, Pillersee (board rental), Hintersteiner See, Thiersee, Walchsee (board rental) and Durlassboden reservoir (board rental).

Canoeing: Inn, Ziller and Lech. Motorboats - with the exception of electric boats - are prohibited in Tirol.