Costs, Finance & Money
By Central European standards, the over-all cost of living in Austria is mid-range and generally you will get good value for money, although you might have to look for better deals.
A few numbers to give you a feel for typical costs in Austria: An average meal in a mid-range "Gasthaus" (pub) is about 6 to 9 Euros; half a litre of beer in a pub or bar about 2.50 to 4 Euros; a ticket in for a local bus ride (city busses) about 2 Euros; adult entrance fees to museums and alike are mostly around 5 Euros; a night in a B&B ranges between 30 and 50 Euros per person.
The most expensive places are unfortunately (like in all countries) the touristy bits of the country. This includes Salzburg, Vienna, the Salzkammergut, the Wachau and the Ski resorts of Western Austria, such as Kitzbühel in Tyrol or St. Anton in Vorarlberg. Alcoholic beverages in supermarkets are significantly cheaper than in many Northern European countries. Value Added Tax (VAT) is generally 20 percent.
Currency & Coins
As quoted above, Austria′s currency is the Euro (1 Euro is 100 cents). The Euro banknotes were designed by the Austrian Robert Kalina. They explicitly don′t depict people to avoid national rivalry, but European gates and bridges from different epochs and regions. The Euro cent coins have identical fronts in all countries, the backside of the coins are designed differently for every country in the Euro zone.
Austria′s coins follow the national consensus that the Sound-of-Music image of the country is a good thing, eventually it′s mostly tourists that bring in the money. Therefore, the copper coins display alpine flowers (Enzing, Edelweiß, Alpenschlüsselblume), the other cent coins show Viennese buildings (St. Stephan′s cathedral, the Belvedere and the Wiener Secession) and the Euro coins show Bertha von Suttner (a Nobel laureate in peace that nobody knows anymore) and - surprise - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Getting Euros: Foreign Currency Exchange
It is not necessary to change large amounts of money (or any at all) before you go to Austria. Foreign currency exchange is commonly done in all banks and credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs or cash points are available even in small villages (and of course at airports). They are called "Bankomat" in Austria and will generally accept all cards with Maestro function. For other cards you might have to go inside a bank and provide an identification document. Exchange rates are moderate at banks and post offices.
Common Banking Hours
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday
8 a.m to 12:30 p.m and
1:30 p.m to 3 p.m
8 a.m to 12:30 p.m and
1:30 p.m to 5:30 p.m
Saving money: Discounts and Bargains
Discounts are common at entrance fees for students, seniors and young people (generally 26 is the limit for the latter). Haggling is not common and might cause irritation. To save money on your maintenance budget, you might want to look for supermarkets. The biggest chains in Austria are Billa (www.billa.at) and Spar (www.spar.at) (both are of similar quality and prices), Hofer (www.hofer.at) is the Austrian equivalent of Aldi and offers more basic and more affordable deals.
To save money on transportation, you should always ask if you are eligible for a discount card at the national railways (www.oebb.at/). Tell the railway man about your travel plans and check if buying a discount card makes sense for you. If you want to buy such a card, you will need a passport picture (it will be scanned, so it doesn′t need to be of very high quality).
To save money on your souvenir budget, check markets off the touristy centres and flea markets. Probably the best venue for such things is the Naschmarkt in Vienna. Such markets vary in quality, but the best thing is probably to look for specific items and ask locals at the place where they would buy it.
Practicalities & Useful Bits
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