Vienna – The basics

When to Go to Vienna

Vienna is lovely any time of year, though summers can be humid and winters quite cold and snowy. The summer season brings a number of concerts and musical festivals to Vienna, as well as larger crowds. September and October might be the best months to visit: it is cooler and mostly dry, and there are shorter lines for museums and attractions. Skiers should wait until midwinter, however. The Christmas markets (late Nov-late Dec) and the annual ball season (late Dec-early March) are worth braving the winter cold and snow.

 

Addresses in Vienna

An address in Vienna usually looks like the following:

Veronikagasse 25 / 17

1160 Wien

The first item is the street name, followed by the building number and the appartment number usually separated by a /. Sometimes you might see more numbers like 25 / 3 / 1 / 7 – then the second number (Stiege) usually refers to the number of the building inside a larger building complex and the last number before the appartment number denotes the floor level. Keep in mind that in Vienna floors are counted from 0 up. The Erdgeschoß (ground floor) is the lowest level, 1. Stock is the first floor above it. In some buildings you will also encounter a Halbgeschoß or Mezzanin, which is a level between ground floor and first floor and which is usually not counted.

The number in the second line is the postal code (zip). For Vienna, this always starts with a 1. The next two digits are the number of the district (16th district in our example). And the last digit is an internal postal code used by the mail system.

Building numbers increase outwards from the city center, with even and odd numbers on the opposite side of the street. Street signs usually have the number of the district prefixed as a Roman numeral.

 

Time Difference

1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+1 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is observed from the end of March to the end of October.

Passport & Visa Requirements

Passports (valid for at least six months) and proof of onward passage are required of travelers from Canada and the U.S.

 

Money Matters

Currency

Austria’s currency is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, and €200. Coins come in 1c, 2c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2.

Currency Converter

Changing Money

The best way to get cash is at an ATM. If you need to exchange foreign currency, you can do so at exchange offices located at the airport, at post offices or at train stations; the best way to convert foreign money, however, is to go to a bank.

Tipping

The standard tip is 10% but can increase for larger groups or excellent service. Check your bill first, because a gratuity may already be included in the bill. If tipping, be sure to hand the tip to the server, rather than leaving it on the table.

 

Geography

Vienna is divided into 23 districts (Bezirke). The Innere Stadt is the First district (known also as the Alt Stadt, or “Old City”), which all other districts encircle in a clockwise sequence. Districts 2-9, immediately outside the Ring, are the inner suburbs, and districts 10-23, beyond the Gurtel ring-road and the Danube Canal, are the outer suburbs. Address listings (in a phone book for instance) will begin with the district number, followed by the street name and number. When you see 19 Probusgasse 6, it means house number 6 on Probusgasse in the 19th district. In these pages, the district number is listed in parentheses after the street address.

 

Personal Security

For the most part, Vienna is a safe city, and most visitors shouldn’t encounter problems. There have, however, been some reports of pickpocketing in high season near the two main train stations, so do take care when in those areas. It is never advisable to carry large amounts of cash and other valuables, or to leave bags or luggage unattended.

The center of Vienna is generally considered safe even at night – however, it is advisable not to walk through the parks at night. The Gurtel is Vienna’s red-light district, where most of the city’s strip clubs and prostitutes are found. This area is changing, as new trendy cafes and bars push the red-light business into the background. Still, women venturing out there alone might feel uneasy, but it’s not really unsafe. We recommend visiting the Prater area outside of the amusement park only during the day.

 

Health Matters

Medical care in Austria may be expensive, depending on the medical procedure performed, and you may be asked to pay in cash for any medical services. Prior to your trip, it is recommended that you consult with a specialist about travel insurance options.

Prescription and nonprescription medications, including aspirin, antacids and cold tablets, can be obtained from an apotheke (pharmacy), Monday-Friday 8 am-noon and 2-6 pm, Saturday 8 am-noon. A drogerie sells over-the-counter health-care products such as bandages and toothpaste, as well as cosmetics and beauty supplies.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are required for Austria, although those spending time walking in the forests may want to get a “tick shot.” This is protection against the zecken, a tick that lives in the trees and can transfer encephalitis.

 

Internet

There are lots of free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city, with almost every café or bar offering some sort of connection, free or not. Vienna has a number of touch-screen terminals with free Internet access scattered around thecity. The MuseumsQuartier offers free wireless internet access, too.

 

Telephone

Country code for Austria is 43
City code for Vienna is 1
When calling from US or Canada, dial 011 + 43 + 1 + number.

When calling from Europe, dial 00 + 43 + 1 +number
To call Vienna from another area within Austria, dial 01 followed by the local number. Local Vienna phone numbers have a varying number of digits.
International directory enquiries: 0900-118-877
Police: 133

Public Phones

Pay phones are available at the post offices and around the city. Most operate with phone cards, which are available at post offices and the tabaktrafiken (kiosks that sell newspapers and cigarettes).

Mobile Phones

GSM900/1800 mobile phones work in Vienna. You can use a roaming service or buy prepaid SIM cards. Some cheap options are even available in supermarkets. Mobile phone numbers start with 664, 676, 699, 650, 660 or 699.

 

Electrical

220 volts/50 Hz

 

Etiquette and customs

Austrians are usually not physically expressive, and they observe a wide personal space. Gesturing is minimal. Posture is important, so do not act too casual.

It is considered rude to “get down to business” before pleasantries have been exchanged. Follow your Austrian counterpart’s lead in small talk. Firm handshakes are the common greeting for both men and women, though a woman should make the practice clear by offering her hand. Make eye contact, but not too intensely, and give a brief nod upon introduction. Titles and qualifications are considered very important in Vienna. Use the German form of title: Herr for men and Frau for most women (fraulein is usually only used for women younger than age 18). Continue using the person’s title and last name until instructed otherwise. The English titles “Mr.” and “Ms.” are also acceptable. Don’t correct a Viennese when he addresses you as “Herr Professor” or “Frau Doktor.” Viennese love to liberally bestow titles on people who just look like they might qualify for one.

Remember that the Viennese speak a very distinct dialect from Germans, so even if you speak German, communications still may be difficult. Don’t feel bad: Many Germans share the problem. And don’t mind too much if the locals sound unfriendly on occasion. The Viennese love to grumble a bit at all times, a pastime that is called raunzen.

 

Opening Hours

The typical opening hours of Austrian shops are 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Malls usually stay open longer. On Sundays, the shops are closed with only a few exceptions – those related to tourism, train stations and airports. Banks and offices usually open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. but lunch breaks need to be taken into account. The majority of shops close on holidays. Only shops associated with gas stations and train stations remain open. The majority of museums open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only a few close on Mondays or Tuesdays – make sure to check the individual opening times in advance. Albertina has extended opening hours till 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and The MuseumsQuartier stays open until 9 p.m. every Thursday. Also on Thursdays, the Museum für angewandte Kunst doesn’t close until midnight.

 

What to Wear

Dress for the climate: Vienna’s weather runs from warm (and sometimes humid) summers to cold, blustery winters that blanket the city in snow. Even in summer, you may want to take along a raincoat and warm sweater. If you’re traveling into the countryside, especially, you’ll want to have a warm sweater for occasional cool evenings. If you plan to go hiking in the spring or summer, be sure to pack long pants to protect your legs from ticks.

Most Viennese dress up to attend the opera, concerts and theater. Ties for men are not mandatory on these occasions but are appropriate. Upscale restaurants and bars may require a jacket and a tie. At any of the Viennese balls during the mid-January to mid-February season, men typically wear tuxedos and women wear long gowns. Also, traditional Austrian clothing (Trachten) is worn at hunters’ balls known as Jagerballe.

 

Public Transportation

Vienna has one of Europe’s best public transport networks, which includes underground, trams (trolleys), buses and commuter rail. The subway system will take you to within a few minutes walk of anywhere you are likely to want to visit. The public transportation system is very compact and easy to use. It consists of five underground lines and multiple trams and buses. The tickets are valid across all means of transport.

U-Bahn – The most common way to get around the city.

S-Bahn – An extensive suburban network which also connects the city with Schwechat airport.

Tram – You can take the tourist Vienna Ring-Tram around the ring. It runs daily, every 30 minutes between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Bus – if you get lost beyond the city center, getting on a bus is the right thing to do as they always connect with various U-Bahn stops.

Night service – The U-Bahn operates all night on Fridays, Saturdays and nights before holidays.

During the weekdays, the NightLiner buses operate every night from 0.30 a.m. to 5 a.m. The system is pretty comprehensible; all lines meet at Kärntner Ring, Oper – so it’s very easy to interchange. Tickets can be bought at machines at most underground stations and at tobacconists and newspaper stands. A single ticket costs €2 (or €2.20 when purchased on board) and is valid for traveling one way, in one zone – you can change lines but not interrupt your journey. The historical core of Vienna is one zone. Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding the U-Bahn (or on board buses and trams). It is also possible to purchase 24 Hours (€ 6.70), 48 Hours (€ 11.70) or 72 Hours- (€ 14.50) worth of travel. You might also consider getting a Vienna Card which includes 72 hours of unlimited travel with one child up to 15 years (who travels free) and includes discounts for museums, sights, cultural events and shops.

 

Driving

Minimum driving age is 17. Seatbelts are mandatory (including in the backseats). No children under 12yrs can sit in the front seats. Speed limits: cities 50 km/h, open road 100 km/h, motorways 130 km/h.

Drink-driving limit: 0.05 per cent.

International driver’s license is required.

Between November 1st and April 15th, the use of four winter tires or snow chains on at least two tires is mandatory.

Drivers are required to carry a Reflective Safety Vest in their car at all times.

Austrian motorways are subject to road toll. It is necessary to purchase a toll sticker (Vignette); available at post offices and gas stations. A ten-day sticker for vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tons is €8.00, a two-month sticker is €23.40 and a one-year Vignette costs €77.80 (or €31 for motorcycles). Rental cars may not be equipped with the sticker – check this with your agency beforehand. If possible, avoid driving in the historical center of Vienna. The streets are narrow, often one-way and parking is very limited. Congestion is very common, too. Moreover, the pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street – you need to be careful.

 

Walkability

Vienna is well known for its walkability. The city center (inner ring) is compact and everything is within walking distance. The state of streets corresponds; the pavements are wide and pedestrian zones are not uncommon. Exploring Vienna on foot is definitely worth it! Another great thing to do is to rent a bike from the self-serving City- Bike stations (www.citybikewien.at) which can be found all around the city. Vienna has an outstanding cycle lane system which can be matched to the one in Amsterdam.