10 Hints for Saving Money
as a Tourist in Austria - Part I
Over-all, I think that Austria still offers a very good value for money - however, I speak as a local who knows that the touristy regions of the country are also the most expensive ones. Beyond that, the Austrian tourism mafia knows very well how to rip off international visitors and over-priced goods and services can often be found especially in crowded places.
Basic information on the Euro as a currency, bank opening hours and exchange rates can be found in my article on "Costs, Finance & Money". In this article, I try to provide some general and some very specific hints that should help you to make ends meet on your trip to Austria. Some of them will be particularly suitable for young, independent travellers (backpackers, interrailers and alike), others for all sorts of tourists.
In any case, I hope these hints will help you to make more out of your vacation. On a practical note: This website also contains a currency conversion tool and conversion tables, which could be handy for planning your trip.
Value for Money: Travelling in Austria for Less
1.) If you are in Rome, do it like the Romans. If you are in Austria, make lunch your main meal of the day. Since Austrians take long lunch breaks and have only sandwiches or a small snack for dinner (lunch and dinner are somewhat switched compared to the Anglo-American culture), most restaurants offer cheap set menus around noon. The cheapest are usually Chinese ones, but if you are more into eating Austrian (which I would recommend), you should find set menus at lunchtime almost anywhere.
2.) Buy where the locals buy: Getting your groceries shouldn′t occupy too much of your valuable vacation time, but it is worth looking into what kind of supermarkets there are in Austria. The cheapest ones are Hofer (Austria′s Aldi) and Zielpunkt. Further up the market you find the two big players, Spar and Billa.
For fresh food (bread, spreads, cold cuts, freshly cut cheese, fruit and vegetables), I recommend Spar or Billa. Almost anything else is cheaper at Hofer, but usually of comparable quality. Both Spar and Billa have "gourmet" sub-chains, which sell up-market delicatessen.
3.) Compare organised trips and tours: In many touristy places, sightseeing companies offer organised excursions: The Tyrolian Alps, the "Three Lakes Tour" of the Salzkammergut, Vienna city walks, Sound-of-Music-tours in Salzburg and god knows what. Some of these tours will be quite handy for seeing much without any hassle of organising a trip, so might be a good option if you have little time to spend.
However, many of these tours can be self-administered - using public means of transport and a bit of good will. This will also expose you to "real" people and not only fellow tourists that share a bus with you. If you opt for an organised trip, compare the different companies that do them - you might even be able to haggle for group discounts or so.
4.) Accommodation: Always a big aspect of travel budgets. To stay cheaply, try to find hostels. There are different categories, some of them are private, some of them are acknowledged by international hostelling associations. In the summer months, you might be able to stay in student′s accommodation - these do not belong to universities in Austria, but to various unions, organisations, churches, private investors and so on.
Therefore, I suggest to simply ask at the local tourist information centre if such facilities exist. In my own experience, camping lots are usually clean in Austria - note that wild camping on public land is not permitted. Booking you hotel online and well ahead of your travel time will also maximize your chances of getting a bargain. For more on accommodation, read my article "Finding a Hotel Room in Austria".
Continue with "Hints on Saving Money - Part II"
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