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Austria regularly delights visitors with its quaint towns and villages, snow-capped mountains and natural surroundings. After soaking up the sights along the Danube River or skiing in the Alps, visitors can head to one of the major cities such as Vienna or Salzburg and be dazzled by Baroque architecture and famous palaces.
Below we have provided useful information and tips on hiring and driving a car in Austria. These should ensure that you have a hassle free trip and help you make the most of your time here.
Driving licences: UK drivers can drive here with just a UK photo licence. An International Driving Permit or alternative photo ID is necessary for drivers who do not have an accompanying photo on their licence.
Which side does Austria drive on: the right.
Motorways: 80mph (130kph)
Open road: 62mph (100kph)
Towns: 31mph (50kph)
Compulsory items: a toll sticker must be displayed if travelling on the motorway. Hire cars should come with these but if not a 10 day sticker can be purchased for around 8 Euros from post offices or petrol stations. Reflective safety vests must be carried in the vehicle at all times.
Alcohol limits: 0.5 mg/ml (0.05 per cent) compared with the UK limit of 0.08 per cent. Measurements over this limit may result in severe penalties.
Driving age: 18.
Seatbelts: compulsory for front and rear seat occupants, if fitted. A suitable child seat or restraint is necessary for children under 12 years, weighting less than 5.6 stone (36kgs) and under 4.9 feet (1.5m) tall.
Mobile phones and GPS: mobile phone use while driving is prohibited unless using a hands-free device. Using GPS is allowed.
Cost of fuel in Austria: the price of petrol is slightly cheaper compared to the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit and debit cards are widely accepted though foreign-issued cards may not work at automatic pumps. Cardholders should notify their card supplier of their travel plans prior to departure.
Insurance: third-party insurance is included with car hire but excess insurance is recommended.
Traffic and parking: parking on the street can be tricky due to strict parking laws. Drivers should follow parking signs and always park on the right with the car facing the flow of traffic. Do not park on white, yellow or red lines, or within three metres of a fire hydrant.
Train options from the UK include the Eurostar from London to Paris then a sleeper train to Munich. From here there are connections to major Austrian cities such as Vienna. For those without time constraints, there is a scenic train that travels to Austria through Zurich. This route generally requires an overnight stay in Zurich. There is a robust network of OBB railways connecting towns throughout Austria at reasonable prices. These trains are modern, comfortable and run efficiently with respect to timetables. Typical cost of a journey would be around £7.00 for the Salzburg to Klagenfurt route. Vienna’s subway and tram network has starting fares of around £1.50, with 24-hour tickets priced at around £5.50.
Taxis are easy to procure in Austria and are an efficient way to travel throughout cities, especially when arriving from or going to airports and for travel at night. Taxis in Vienna are metered and are normally either prearranged or available at taxi stands. When arranging a taxi by phone, there is a surcharge added to the fare. The start rate in Vienna is around £2.00, with £1.00 added to the fare for every kilometre travelled.
There are buses that offer travel throughout Europe, including travel to and from Austria, such as Eurolines Austria. Sometimes buses offer a slightly quicker trip into Austria than trains. Most people within Austria use the extensive railway as opposed to the bus network. However, buses connect destinations which are not serviced by train routes. Bus routes in the major cities are efficient and usually include both bus and tram routes.
Vienna is the main gateway, followed by Graz and Innsbruck, but the airport at Salzburg is popular with UK travellers who are heading to the nearby ski slopes of Tyrol. Vienna International Airport is served by both full-service and low-cost carriers plying the London-Heathrow and London-Gatwick routes. Domestic air fares typically range from £250 to £400 return, but can be had for as little as £80 if booked in advance.
There are a number of sights and activities available for travellers to Austria. Baroque architecture can be found throughout the country. The Hohensalzburg fortress in Salzburg is a must-see and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
While travelling in Vienna, travellers should take a ride on the Ferris wheel in Prater amusement park. This 212ft wheel is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
What is a trip to Austria without visiting the birthplace of famous musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? Set on Salzburg’s Getreidegasse shopping street, this house is now open to the public as a museum.
Buried deep beneath the mountains flanking the valley south of Salzburg are majestic ice caves. A cable car takes visitors to the entrance of the caves, which rank among the world’s largest ice caves.
Travelling in the lower region of Austria presents travellers with an opportunity to tour Austria’s wine region, which is famous for its Riesling wine. The Alps is one of Europe’s number one destinations for winter sports and where vacationers flock to partake in skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, curling and ice skating.
Temperatures in Austria largely depend on elevation. At higher regions, the temperatures are cooler and there is more precipitation, and the weather can change dramatically at short notice. The lowland regions in the north and east have cold winters that see temperatures hover below freezing and hot summers with temperatures of between 25 and 39°C. The southeastern areas of Austria experience Mediterranean-like weather featuring long, warm summers.