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Austria Country Information
Landlocked in the heart of Europe, Austria runs from the Alps in the west down to Vienna and the Danube in the east. For six centuries it was the heart of the mighty Hapsburg Empire, which at its peak included what is now Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic along with much of Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans. The country's imperial inheritance is particularly striking in the grand buildings and cultural institutions of the Baroque-flavoured capital, Vienna, resplendent with palaces and captivating churches, cosy coffeehouses and inns, and grand ballrooms where Strauss waltzes still draw dancers onto the floor.

Basic Information:
Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. The Schuko plug and receptacle with side grounding contacts and European round 2-pin plugs are standard.

Money: The unit of currency is the Euro (EUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Currency can be exchanged at banks and bureaux de change available in all towns, but it may be easier to use the ATMs. Banks are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, but exchange offices at airports and major city rail terminals are open seven days a week. Major credit and debit cards are widely accepted though some small hotels and restaurants may only accept cash. Travellers cheques are also accepted.

Car Rentals - Avis, Hertz , Europcar , Alamo , Budget, Dollar , Thrifty and Sixt.

Language: The official language is German.

Travel Health: No vaccinations are necessary for business visits or general tourism. There is, however, a risk of tick-borne encephalitis for long-term visitors who expect to be visiting rural or forested areas in spring or summer. These travellers should consider vaccination and ensure they take precautions against tick infestation. Water and food are safe. Medical facilities are excellent. Medical insurance is advised unless from the UK - citizens of EU countries can get free emergency medical treatment at public hospitals in Austria on production of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Bird flu was found in dead swans in the southern province of Styria in February 2006 and stringent measures were taken to contain the outbreak. The risk is very low for travellers, but all close contact with wild, domestic and caged birds should be avoided, and all poultry and egg dishes well cooked as a precaution.

Tipping: A 10-15% service charge is normally added to hotel and restaurant bills, but it is customary to leave another 5% if satisfied with the service. It is common to give the money to the waiter rather than leave it on the table, but leaving small change for other service personnel is fine. Taxis expect a 10% tip.

Safety Information: Travel to Austria is generally trouble-free, however visitors are advised to take sensible safety precautions particularly in larger cities.

Local Customs: It is compulsory that vehicles are driven with their lights on throughout the year. Smoking is not allowed in many public places.

Communications: The international access code for Austria is +43. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). The area code for Vienna is (0)1. Public telephone boxes can be used for direct dial calls within the country and overseas. Austria's mobile network operates on the 900 and 1800 bands for GSM. Internet cafes are widely available.

Duty free: Travellers from non-EU countries over 17 years are allowed to bring in the following items without paying customs duty: 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g of smoking tobacco, or a proportional mix of these products; 2 litres wine, or 1 litre of spirits with alcohol content more than 22%, or 2 litres of alcohol volume less than 22%; 60ml perfume and 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods to a total value of €175. Restricted items include pornographic material and fresh foodstuffs such as meat and dairy products. Travellers must have a European Firearms Pass if travelling with firearms.

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Austria Entry requirements:

  • Entry requirements for Americans: US passport holders require a passport but a visa is not needed for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: A visa is required, except for holders of a British passport stating British Citizen or British National (Overseas), or endorsed British Overseas Territories Citizen or British Subject with the Right of Abode label issued by the United Kingdom.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport but a visa is not needed for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians require a passport but a visa is not needed for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South African nationals require a passport and a Schengen visa for travel to Austria.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: New Zealanders require a passport but a visa is not needed for a stay of up to three months.

Passport/Visa Note: The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

Attractions in Austria

  • Hofburg - The Hofburg Palace, or Imperial Palace, was the home of the Austrian Hapsburgs for 600 years. The first fortifications were erected by King Ottakar Premyst in the 13th century and were added to by every generation until it became the monumental structure it is today.
  • Schönbrunn Palace - The magnificent Schönbrunn Palace was used as the summer residence of the Hapsburgs from the 18th century onwards. Set amongst superb gardens this vast, symmetrical structure is everything you would imagine an imperial palace to be.
  • Giant Wheel - One of Vienna's most recognisable attractions, the Giant Wheel is located in a large wooded park and playground known as the Prater. It was built in 1897 by an English engineering firm and is the only one of its era still standing (the ferris wheels in Chicago, London, Blackpool and Paris have long since been destroyed). The wheel with its 15 gondolas takes twenty minutes to manoeuvre around and offers magnificent panoramic views of the city.
  • St Stephen's Cathedral - The Cathedral is one of the city's most recognisable symbols and the massive south tower standing at 445 feet (136m) tall is a dominant feature on the Vienna skyline. The 343 steps can be climbed for a fantastic view over the city.
  • Minopolis (City of Children) - Minopolis is Europe's first theme park featuring a city that was specifically designed for children with buildings, doors, cars, etc reduced to children's size. Children can pretend to be adults and go about their daily life in the city if Minopolis working as whatever their hearts desire - a journalist, fire-fighter, policeman, doctor or dentist. Children can discover their dream jobs in a fun and safe environment. There are over 80 professions for children to try their hand at.
  • BOGI Park - Bogi Park is Austria's largest indoor playground. Featuring a climbing volcano, quad train, a trampoline area, slides, ball pools and much more. Children will love exploring the magic cave and train rides as well as meeting other children.

Special Events in Austria

  • Vienna Festival (Festwochen) - One of Vienna’s summer highlights, the Vienna Festival is a cultural spread of art, music, dance, theatre and opera performed by top international artists at main venues around the city.
  • Austria Skate Marathon - The annual Skate Marathon is a great way to combine sightseeing with exercise and comprises a 26-mile (42km) skate race, as well as a 13-mile (21km) and six-mile (10km) run. There are open-air concerts in Prater Park to entertain participants and spectators.
  • Donau (Danube) Island Festival - The Danube Island Festival has become one of the largest youth parties in Europe and attracts millions from around the world to take part in a weekend of free entertainment, music and dancing.
  • New Year’s Day Concert - Performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the annual New Year's Day concert is seen by millions of viewers worldwide and is a traditional start to the New Year.
  • Vienna Ball Season - Vienna is the only city in the world where balls still dominate the social calendar during the winter season, and a Viennese ball is a unique opportunity to experience the sophisticated charm of the city and the famous Viennese waltz.

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Shopping in Austria
Vienna's most trendy shopping strip is the Mariahilfer Strasse, where hundreds of stores offer fashion, jewellery and accessories. In the city centre there are a variety of jewellery stores and boutiques. Local specialities include Augarten porcelain, ceramics, handmade dolls, wrought-iron work and leather goods.

Agent Provocateur is located at 14 Tuchlauben, the first outlet of the cult London underwear label in central Europe. Kiehl's started out 150 years ago in a small apothecary and is now a chic cosmetics brand; its flagship store is on Tuchlauben in Vienna. For arty T-shirts and sweaters by leading designers, visit Firis on Bauernmarkt.

On Freisingergasse, Schokoladekönig makes handmade chocolate treats, while Boehle stocks superior wines and traditional specialities (deli snacks) in Wollzeile. For spices and cookery books, visit Babette's on Schleifmühlgasse. Karlsplatz holds the Naschmarkt food market during the week and a flea market on Saturdays. Go to City Hall Square in December for the Christmas Market.

The Kaufhaus Schiepek department store at Teinfaltstraße is definitely worth visiting for its variety of outlets, and for the more eccentric, Carnaby sells vintage fashion and accessories on Neubaugasse, while magicians' accessories and gimmicks can be found at Zauberklingl on Führichgasse.

Austria Airports
Vienna International Airport (VIE)
Location: The airport is located 11 miles (18km) southeast of Vienna.

Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 between April to October).

Contacts: Tel: +43 (0)1 7007 22233 (24-hour telephone information service).

Getting to the city: Local trains and buses leave regularly for Vienna. There is also a City Airport Train, which provides a fast and direct service to the centrally located City Air Terminal that is connected to the underground, bus and tram networks. Trains depart every 30 minutes and operate between 5:38am to 12:05 costing €8 for the 16 minute ride. The S7 train also connects with Vienna every 30 minutes costing €3.40 although the ride is a bit longer with several stops. Taxis are available for €35 to the city centre from the arrivals hall (Tel: +43 7007 35910) and can be found outside the arrivals hall. A bus service takes 20 minutes to the city centre every 30 minutes between 6:20am and 12:20am and costs €6.

Airport Taxis: There are taxis available from in front of the arrivals hall, call +43 7007 35910 to arrange bookings. The taxi fare is metered and will be about €35 to the city centre, and the drive takes around 30 minutes.

Facilities: There are more than 70 shops, including duty-free, as well as various restaurants and bars in both terminals. Bureaux de change and banks are available. Other facilities include airline lounges, luggage storage, business centres, Internet cafes and wireless Internet access, and a medical centre.

Parking: Short- and long-term parking is available. The parking lots and multi-storey car parks are connected to the terminal by signposted footpaths.

Departure tax: None.

Climate in Vienna
Vienna has a temperate continental climate, with warm, sunny summers and cold winters. The average temperature range in January is between 23°F and 34°F (-4°C to 1°C), while in July temperatures range between 60°F and 76°F (15°C and 25°C). Thunderstorms occur frequently in summer and snowfall is common in winter. Spring, autumn and the beginning of summer are perhaps the best times to travel to Vienna.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
The maximum permitted level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.049 per cent. If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is between 0.05 per cent and 0.079 per cent a fine will be imposed, 0.08 per cent or more a severe fine and / or driving ban for Austria are imposed. A lower limit of 0.01 is applicable to new drivers who have held their licence under 2 years.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may use a temporarily imported car 18, motorcycle (up to 50cc) with a maximum design speed of 45 km/h (27 mp/h) 16 and motorcycle (over 50cc) 18. NOTE UK driving licences that do not incorporate a photograph are only valid when accompanied by photographic proof of identity, e.g. passport.

On-the-spot. The officer collecting the fine should issue an official receipt. For higher fines the driver will be asked to pay a deposit and remainder of the fine within two weeks. Parked vehicles that obstruct traffic may be towed away.

Unleaded petrol (95 and 98 octane) and Diesel available. No leaded petrol (lead substitute additive available) and limited LPG available. Petrol in a can permitted. Credit cards are accepted by larger filling stations; check with your card issuer for usage in Austria before travel.

Driving Distances:

3 hrs 4mins
4hrs 35mins
2hrs 4mins
2hrs 6mins
4hrs 21mins
6hrs 34mins
7hrs 55mins
11hrs 8mins

Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for more driving distances

Passing lights (dipped headlights) must be used when visibility is poor due to bad weather conditions. It is prohibited to drive with side lights (position lights only).

Wearing of crash helmets compulsory for both the driver and passenger. It is prohibited to drive with side lights (position lights only). The use of dipped headlights during the day is compulsory.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory, including trailers.

Passengers / Children in cars:
Children under 14 and less than 1.50 metres in height cannot travel as a front or rear seat passenger unless using suitable restraint system for their height / weight. Vehicles without such protection e.g. two-seater sports cars or vans / lorries may not be used at all to transport children under 14 years of age. Children under 14 years but over 1.50 metres in height must use the adult seat belt. Children 14 or over and over 1.35 metres in height are allowed to use a ‘Dreipunktgurt’ (three point seat belt) without a special child seat, if the belt does not cover the throat / neck of the child.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front and rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers. In built-up areas: up to 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built- up areas: 62 mph (100 km/h) and motorways: up to 80 mph (130 km/h). Vehicles
not capable of sustaining a minimum speed of 37 mph (60 km/h), are not permitted on motorways. Mopeds must not exceed 45 km/h. The maximum recommended speed limit for vehicles with snow chains is 24 mph (40 km/h). Vehicles equipped with spiked tyres must not exceed 100 km/h on motorways and 80 km/h on other roads.

Compulsory equipment in Austria:

  • Warning triangle – Must conform to EC regulation 27 (for vehicles with more than two wheels).
  • First-aid kit - Must be in a strong dirt proof box.
  • Reflective Jacket - Every car driver has to carry a reflectorised jacket / waistcoat (compliant with European regulation EN471) which has to be used in the case of a breakdown or accident and even when setting up a warning triangle on the road. This regulation does not apply to mopeds/motorcycles,
    however it is recommended.
  • Winter equipment – Vehicles must be fitted with either winter tyres (which must be marked M&S) or carry snow chains between the 1 November and the 15 April. Dependant upon weather conditions (if roads are covered with snow) this period may be extended. As snow chains can only be used when roads are completely covered, we recommend that winter tyres are fitted. Note: It is the drivers legal responsibility to carry the required Winter equipment; therefore, it is essential to check that it is included in any hire car.

Other rules / requirements in Austria:

All vehicles using Austrian motorways and expressways must display motorway tax sticker (vignette). The stickers, which are valid for one calendar year, two months or 10 days, may be purchased at some petrol stations located close to the border in neighbouring countries and in Austria: at the frontier, at post offices or in ÖAMTC offices. A special vignette the ‘Korridor Vignette’ is required for vehicles travelling from Hohenehms to Horbranz on the German Border if a standard vignette has not been purchased. Fines for driving without a vignette can be severe.

Tolls are also payable when passing through certain motorway tunnels.

The use of the horn is generally prohibited in Vienna and in the vicinity of hospitals.

When a school bus has stopped to let children on and off, indicated by a yellow flashing light, drivers travelling in the same direction are not permitted to overtake.

Spiked tyres may be used from the 1 October until the 31 May, special local regulations may extend this period.

It is prohibited to use radar detectors.

If a voucher is required for parking they can be obtained from most tobacconists, banks and some petrol stations.

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