Best time to go: Year-round
Best for: Winter wonderland, Religious Sites
Austria is a country of wonderful contrasts, from the soaring Alps to the verdant swathes of the Danube Valley. This European beauty is noted as much for its historical buildings, awe-inspiring museums and galleries, as for its world-class skiing conditions and breath-taking mountain scenery.
Once the snow has melted, walk and hike through the Alps` varied landscapes, ranging from forests and green slopes to glaciers and rocks. The Vorarlberg`s alpine pastures provide gentle walks, while the Hohe Tauern National Park has more demanding trekking.
Go to the Opera in style; besides the many opera performances in Austria`s major towns and cities, for one with a difference, journey to Bregenz and the Upper City with its St Martinstrum (St Martin`s Tower), the world`s largest floating stage for summer opera productions.
Admire traditional Austrian attire at the annual Lederhosen Festival in Windischgarsten, where the wearing of the aforementioned costume is optional, but drinking good beer and chuckling at the election of Miss Lederhose is compulsory.
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Capital: Vienna (VIE)
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Dialling code from SA: +43
Time Zone: UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)
Side of the Road: Right.
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin European plugs are standard.
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink.
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended.
Customs: Normal social courtesies. It is considered polite to say “Guten Tag” or “Grüss Gott” when entering a restaurant or shop, and “Auf Wiedersehen” when leaving.
Local Offences / Laws: Vehicles should always be driven with the lights on. Smoking is not allowed in public places.
Duty Free: Austria is within the European Union. If you are travelling from the UK, you are entitled to buy fragrance, skincare, cosmetics, Champagne, wine, selected spirits, fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs – all at tax-free equivalent prices. There are no allowance restrictions on these tax-free items. If arriving from within the EU, you must prove your goods are for personal use if you bring in more than the following quantities:
• 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.
• 10L of spirits over 22% or 20L of fortified wine or spirits up to 22%.
• 90L of wine (including up to 60L of sparkling wine).
• 110L of beer.
However, if you enter Austria from Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia or Lithuania, the tax-exempt allowance for cigarettes is 300; any cigarettes in excess of this quantity are subject to tobacco duty.
If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into Austria by travellers over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco or a proportional mix of these products.
• 1L of spirits over 22% or 2L of fortified wine or spirits up to 22% or a proportional mix of these products.
• 4L of non-sparkling wine.
• 16L of beer.
• Medicinal products sufficient for your visit.
• Other goods up to a value of €430 for airline travellers or €300 for other travellers per calendar day (reduced to €150 for children under 15).
Prohibited Imports: Restricted imports include plant and animal products and endangered species. Travellers may not import medicines other than prescribed drugs for personal use. If bringing a weapon and ammunition into Austria, you must hold a European Firearms Pass. The import of certain weapons, such as knuckle dusters or pump-action guns, is banned.