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Austria - Country Profile

Summary

Austria is a country rich in cultural heritage and spectacular scenery making it a year round destination. There's alpine sports in the winter, while the summer opens up some of Europe's most spectacular hiking trails. Vienna's history as capital of the Habsburg Empire has left the city with a legacy of museums and architectural treasures that is unrivalled anywhere in Europe.

Highlights

Weather and times to visit

Austria has cold winters with lots of snow in the mountains and moderately hot summers. Even in the summer it can be very cool at higher altitudes. The country is generally busy all year although May, June and November can be relatively quiet. The busiest months are July and August as well as Christmas to February in the ski resorts.

Language

German is the official language of Austria. English is widely understood in cities and major sights, especially by people in the tourist sector.

Currency and Money Matters

Austria uses the Euro. There is a good network of ATMs around the country connected to the Cirrus and Plus networks so most international cards are easy to use. Visa and Mastercard are most widely accepted in larger places, AMEX and Diner's Club less so.

When changing travellers cheques or currency it is worth shopping around as commissions tend to vary between banks and exchange booths.

Austria's prices are average for Western Europe.

Visas and Entry Conditions

Not generally required. Austria is a member of the Schengen area so there are no border controls with Italy or Germany.

Business Hours

Most shops open from 8-6 weekdays, closing for lunch, and from 1-5 on Saturdays. Most are close on Sundays except for supermarkets and tourist shops.

General Campsite Conditions

There are many family run campsites in Austria, providing a friendly place to stay. Most are clean and efficiently run but lacking the extra facilities and entertainment of larger sites.

Opening months do vary, but most are open from Easter/May to the end of October with many sites open all year in ski resorts.

People and Society

Austrians are generally orderly and open with strong environmental concerns. Traditions still play a strong part in rural life with ancient festivals celebrated. 'Gruss Gott' should be used in greeting.

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