Traveling to Austria

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dukebound85, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #1
    So I have a conference in Austria at the end of may. I have NEVER been out of the US before. My advisor thinks I should totally stay after the conference for a week or so and explore

    A few questions
    - what things should I see?
    - do credit cards work? What about American money? Fees?
    - I assume I need plugs for electronic stuff right?
    - does wifi work the same as it does here in the US?
    - how can I travel/stay on a budget? I don't fancy spending near 100 a night for a hotel like you almost have to here
    - general advice? Is there a train pass or anything?
    - is my drivers license recognized if I want to rent a car? Or is that almost cost prohibitive? Or are cars even needed like there are over here?


    I am going alone so it's a bit intimidating. sorry for the maybe really naive questions but I have NO idea what to expect
     
  2. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Location:
    The Far Horizon
    #2
    Austria is lovely, but rather expensive, so factor that into your planning.

    If you are a classical music lover,- or even a music lover - you will be in Heaven as there are superb concerts in stunning settings (i.e. 17-18th century palaces) daily, or nightly; all classical music tastes are catered for, opera, operetta, easy listening classical, jazz are all widely available.

    Likewise, if you are into history, Vienna is a wonderful place to explore, especially on foot, (again, the palaces and parks, churches and streets are all terrific). It is very evident that it is an old imperial capital, in a shrunken country where the empire was dissolved around a century ago.

    Rural Austria - especially in the western part of the country- has stunning mountain scenery, well worth a look, especially if you like hiking, or mountain walks.

    Plusses - the coffee and cakes are fantastic. Restaurants often have two menus - one for the food and a second, equally large one for desserts/cakes.

    Minuses, it is expensive, with a high standard of living, so bear that in mind.

    Bring - or buy - adaptors; the European standard is different to that of the US, (and different also, to that of the UK). You'll get them in electrical outlets, or airports.

    Credit cards work; this is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. However, I'm not sure which cards are used more; I don't use AmEx - but do use Visa and MasterCard, both of which are used quite widely in Europe.

    Wifi should be no problem at all - although it is a decade since I was last in Vienna. Public transport is excellent, reliable and safe.

    I've never hired a car in Austria, but when I did so in Italy, passport, driver's licence and obviously, credit card were all necessary. As car hire can be quite expensive, it makes sense to hire a smallish car when touring or travelling around in European countries.

    You'll have a great time; enjoy your trip.
     
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #3
    Credit cards will (generally) work, but you'll be charged a conversion fee unless your credit card specifically waives it. Usually it's 1-2% of the purchase price. US dollars in cash will not be accepted anywhere except the airport and maybe your hotel. You should ask ahead of time if they take cards. ATMs will also charge you a usage fee plus a conversion fee unless your bank waives it.
    Yes, they're $3 at RadioShack.
    Yes.
    Err... 100 dollars in Austria is dirt cheap. 100 Euros ($135) would be a steal for a hotel in the center of the city.
    You could get an Austria pass if you wanted to from Eurail, but it wouldn't be economical unless you spent a LOT of time on the train.
    Your license would be fine, but gas is prohibitively expensive.
     
  4. ergdegdeg Moderator emeritus

    ergdegdeg

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2007
    #4
    I'm from Austria so hopefully my advice will be useful :)

    Do you know where your conference is going to be? In any case, I would recommend going to Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna. That's what I did when I took my boyfriend to visit. It's a good mix between Alps/scenery and beautiful cities. It's also enough to keep you busy for a week, but not too much to make it hectic.

    In Innsbruck, you can look at the old town, which is some 800 years old (like the old towns in most other cities). They also have a cable railway that will take you from the center of the city right to the top of a mountain, which is fantastic: http://www.nordkette.com/en/cable-railways.html

    As for Salzburg, explore the old town. There's also a hill close to the center which will give you some nice views: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mönchsberg

    There's a ton of stuff to do in Vienna, as it's the capital. You can look at the Imperial Palace: http://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/sights/imperial/imperial-palace and many other palaces such as http://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/sights/imperial/schoenbrunn-palace. That whole wien.info website has some good info.

    The only other thing I'd like to add is that in my experiences, you'll have a hard time paying with your card in restaurants and anywhere where you'd typically pay less than maybe 20 euros.

    As for lodging, if you want to go that route, hostels can be pretty cheap and not too bad. I've stayed at http://www.hostels.com/hostels/salzburg/jufa-salzburg/5670 in Salzburg and it wasn't too bad.

    We only used public transportation for our whole trip and it was perfectly fine. I don't think there's a need to rent a car. You might be interested in getting a ÖBB VorteilsCard if you're under 26. It's 20 euros and will get you 50% off all train rides, and discounts on some bus systems: http://www.oebb.at/de/Ermaessigungskarten/VORTEILScard/VORTEILScard_26/index.jsp You will need a passport picture and an address in Austria, but that doesn't really matter, since they'll give you a printout you can use for your time there.
     
  5. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #5
    If you ride, it's May, rent a small motorcycle and enjoy. :D
     
  6. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #6
    you'll love the mountains and scenery.

    learn to recognize several words in german; so you can tell which door is for the mens toilets for example......"exit" and "entrance" are useful too.

    Be attentive to the transaction fees for credit cards and ATM cards, usually these are a % of the purchase OR a minimum fee, whichever is greater. That extra $3 to $5 for each transaction can add up pretty fast if you're using your card for small purchases.

    take the train so you can enjoy the scenery instead of having to pay attention to your driving
     
  7. acidfast7, Apr 3, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012

    acidfast7 macrumors 65816

    acidfast7

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    EU
    #7
    you've got some excellent advice

    1. don't drive, AT has excellent public transport
    2. don't drive, then you have to watch what you drink (one beer can be an issue)
    3. train is extremely timely and extremely scenic
    4. if you're alone stay in a reasonably nice hostel in the city center in a dorm room (should be 20-30€/night) then you'll be some other travelers and won't feel alone
    5. I recommend Salzburg, Innsbruck and Vienna as absolute must see places and the area in between them is stunning.

    However, depending on time (you can easy survive on 50€/day if you keep your evening budget under 20€/night), I would get over to Budapest (from Vienna)

    You'll get the whole communist perspective in a stunning city.

    ÖBB (Austrian railaways) started a new train service from Munich to Buapest and it's really high quality.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railjet

    Personally, maybe fly into Munich (cheaper), take care of your business, then take the train to Salzburg, Innsbruck and Vienna. At the end spend 1-2 days in Buda, 1-2 days in Pest and fly back to the states from there.

    The contrast between Germany/Austria and Hungary is worth the trip alone.

    http://wikitravel.org/en/Budapest
     
  8. acidfast7 macrumors 65816

    acidfast7

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    Location:
    EU
    #8
    2h40m by high-speed (100-120mph or so) train from Vienna to Budapest for 29€ (second class) and 39€ (first class) ... second class is more than nice enough.

    Let me know if you need any help.
     

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  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Location Location Location
    #9
    Funny, because I'm going to Prague for work purposes in mid-June! I'll travel for the 1st week, and work for the last 5 days. ;-) I was also planning to go to Vienna during my free week. Well, either Vienna or Berlin!

    Not to hijack the thread, but I'm certain you will be fine.

    Don't bring US dollars and assume you can use it. Bring Euros for small purchases, and use credit for larger ones.

    If you want to travel cheaply, you can't beat staying at hostels. That's what I plan on doing while I stay in Vienna or Berlin.
     

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