Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Austria? Here you will find information on working in Austria, entry visas, Austria hostels, and much more.
Table of Contents
- Facts About Austria
- Things to do in Austria
- Entry Visa Requirements for Austria
- Work Permits and Backpacker Jobs in Austria
- Austria Hostels
Facts About Austria
Austria is a diverse country, rich in culture with spectacular scenery. Its regions offer a wealth of activities and pursuits for all ages and interests. As one of the most mountainous countries in Europe (approximately 60% of the country’s surface area), Austria undoubtedly boasts one of the most impressive skiing regions in the world, with many different resorts attracting tourists from far and wide. As well as skiing there is also a large number of hiking trails, cycling and many other leisure activities on offer.
Nightlife can vary; Austria can offer anything from beer gardens, laid-back taverns and great apres-ski spots, plus many trendy bars and clubs which are open until the early hours. Austria is a popular tourist destination all year round, with both summer and winter activities.
Away from the ski slopes, the cities are well worth a visit. Vienna, the capital; renowned for having some of the most impressive architecture in Europe and is ideal for art and music enthusiasts. The city of Salzburg is the most popular among tourists. This stunning historical city was the birthplace of the great classical composer Mozart. The Salzburg festival held each summer still attracts the world’s best classical artists.
- Currency Euro
- Time GMT +1
- Language German
- Telephone Services Country Code +43
- Emergency numbers Police 133, Ambulance 144 and Fire 122.
Climate in Austria
When deciding the best time to visit Austria, weather certainly plays a role. The summers in Austria offer a comfortable heat with cool nights. However, in Vienna and other low lying cities temperatures can get uncomfortably hot between July and August.
The winters are cold, below freezing in January and February which encourage plenty of winter sports. The winter ski season runs from December to April. Outdoor sports enthusiasts should note that the sun can be intense at high altitudes it is important to slather on the sun screen.
Things to do in Austria
Austria’s capital, Vienna, is located in the northeast of the country at the foothills of the Alps, alongside the Danube River. This city boasts a rich musical tradition which is still evident today with world class museums, galleries and theatres.
It is well worth taking time to visit the Schonbrunn Palace which was the residence of the famous Hapsburgs from the 18th century onwards. A tour of the palace gives visitors the chance to see a stunning assortment of Baroque and Rococo state rooms and to view the hall of mirrors where Mozart once played. The Palace is set in vast gardens which include a zoo and a maze. At approximately £8 per person this is definitely a visit not to be missed.
Since Vienna is one of the most visited cities in the world, it is wise to book tickets to popular attractions (historical sites, museums) ahead of time to avoid the lines. GetYourGuide is a one-stop shop for the most popular and unique experiences worldwide. You can book basic entrance tickets and pay exactly what the official ticket office would charge, without having to queue up. Some popular tourist attractions also offer ‘Skip the Line‘ tickets, which are separate entrance for a slightly higher ticket price. Get your Guide offers these ticket varieties as well and it can be a worthwhile cost for popular attractions like the Schönbrunn Palace.
You can also book excursions and day trips with GetYourGuide. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and music city and is perfect for those who like baroque architecture, church bells, cafes, chocolate and mountains. The Hellbrunn Palace is home to the famous Sound of Music Tour and the Eisriesenwelt Caves at Werfen south of the city contain remarkable frozen waterfalls and striking ice formations.
Music lovers might like to go to the famous Salzburg festival: one of the world’s best and biggest classical music festivals; presents performances of drama, concerts and opera over a period of five to six weeks each summer. (www.salzburgfestival.at)
Innsbruck is located at the centre of the Austrian Alps and has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. There are limitless opportunities for biking, hiking and winter sports. Innsbruck is also popular as a summer destination and has a wide choice of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
One of the top destinations for British skiers and snowboarders is St Anton. These are the main activities St Anton has to offer, but there are some other options. In the summer an open-air heated pool on the mountainside proves very popular with tourists.
Unique Activities in Austria
Another good way to get an idea of things to do while backpacking Austria is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.
If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions in Austria ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major attractions in Eisenstadt, Graz, Innsbruck, Kaprun, Salzburg, and Vienna so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.
How to Travel Around Austria
The main domestic carrier is Tyrolean Airways and operates several flights a day between Austria’s main cities, such as Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck. However, Austria is a small country and its rail and bus networks offer an efficient and comfortable way to travel around.
If you’re flying to Austria or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Austria with them compared to the other websites out there.
Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Austria to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.
Train vs. Bus
Train and long-distance bus are the standard modes of transport for getting around the country. Buses are the more economical option, nevertheless, they are well-equipped with the usual modern conveniences that expect when travelling in Europe. Train travel, on the other hand, is the fastest way between two cities and the train stations are conveniently located right in the center of town.
It depends on your preference, and certain routes are better suited to one mode of transport than the other. To compare your options for journeys from A to B, you can try Omio. They compare trains, buses (and even flights) so you can decide for yourself the tradeoff between cost and travel time.
Train travel in Austria
Austria has excellent rail connections to all major European destinations and transport systems within Austria are very efficient and highly developed. The country is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. Eurail offers both multi-country passes and One Country Passes. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.
Bicycle travel is extremely popular among tourists in Austria. Bicycles can be hired from over 160 railway stations and returned to any other station with a rental office. The Danube cycling trail, from the Black Forest in Germany to Vienna and beyond is definitely one to consider.
Bus travel in Austria
Taking the bus can offer a cheaper alternative. The Bundesbus (federal bus) is used for local trips and for those on a tight budget, to get to the hard to reach places rather than for long distance travelling. Certain ski resorts in Voralberg and Tirol can only be reached by Bundesbus or private transport.
Driving in Austria
Roads are generally good, but some care should be taken with the difficult mountain routes. High altitude destinations can be reached by cable cars and gondolas. If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect of driving in Europe.
Though part of the fun of backpacking Austria is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling Austria alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Austria are their 9-day Rome to Budapest on a Shoestring tour through Hungary, Austria, and Italy, or their 9-day Central Europe tour in Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
Health and Safety in Austria
A reciprocal agreement between EU member states enables you to get free or reduced cost necessary treatment is available if a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is produced. This has replaced the E111 which was no longer valid as of 31 December 2005. The EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, so it is advisable to take out comprehensive travel insurance before visiting Austria. For information, and how to apply for an EHIC online, please check www.dh.gov.uk.
No vaccinations are required. Visitors to the alpine areas should protect against altitude sickness and hypothermia.
Entry visa requirements for Austria
EU, US, Canadian, EEA, Israeli, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Singaporean, Australian and New Zealand citizens do not require visas for stays of up to three months. Nationals of African and Arabic countries generally require a visa, also valid for up to three months.
Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Austria
European Union citizens can legally work in Austria, though you must register with the police station within five days of arriving in the country, this is a quick and easy process. Non-EU citizens can still find work, though the process is much more difficult. EU citizens can visit Austria without a stay permit or visa. You also don’t need a work permit, although if you stay for longer than three months you will need an ID Card (EWR-Lichtbilausweis), which does include a residence permit.
Working at ski resorts in Austria
Most travellers find work in the various ski regions especially in the Tyrol region. However, it is also possible to find work in Salzburg, particularly German speaking EU citizens.
Working as an Au Pair in Austria
Young people from abroad may work in Austria as an au pair. Au pairs are accepted as part of the host family and integrated into their everyday life.
Working in tourism in Austria
There is plenty of work available in the tourism industry. Finding a job can be as easy as turning up at a hotel and asking. Seasonal work in the large ski resorts is probably the most likely option.
Agriculture and farming jobs in Austria
If working outdoors appeals to you, WWOOF is a voluntary organisation that provides work on organic farms and includes board and accommodation for a membership of €10 per year, check their website for more information.
Hostels and Budget Accommodation in Austria
Hotels in Austria tend to be quite expensive in the smaller cities, though there are cheaper alternatives in the bigger cities. Youth hostels offer a cheaper alternative and generally offer a very high standard of accommodation.
Many hostels are independently owned and can range from large city hostels with bars to the smaller alpine lodges and chalets located in popular ski resorts. The Austrian Youth Hostel Association has over 100 hostels in various regions around the country. It is advisable to book your hostel in advance especially during peak season. For youth hostels in Austria, see our Austria hostels section
We have had good experiences finding hostels in Austria on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers you know exactly what to expect.
Another good way to find accommodation while backpacking Austria is by checking hotels.com and booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.
There are around 500 campsites in Austria, with around 160 sites equipped for winter camping. Camping grounds are exceptionally clean but are a bit more expensive than other countries in Central Europe.
Chalets, alpine huts, ski lodges and holiday apartments are all available for rent throughout Austria. For further details, contact your local travel agent or contact the Austrian National Tourist Office. Chalets and apartments can cost as little as £6 per person per night.
Useful links for Backpacking in Austria
- Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country and Multi-Country passes available
- Omio – Train, bus, and flight search for all of Europe. Offers online booking and mobile tickets
- Auto Europe – Europe’s leading rental car search engines
- Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Austria and within the country
- GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do in Austria. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
- Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions in Austria
- G Adventures – guided backpacking tours in Austria, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
- HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find a hostel in Austria. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers
- Booking.com – commonly used booking site in Austria. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
- Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers while backpacking Austria
- Austrian National Tourist Office
There you have it, the ultimate Austria backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Austria.
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