Austria Vacation Shock #1: Austria is Not Germany
Austria and Germany are not the same country, and Austrians really don’t like being lumped in with Germans. Yes, both countries speak German, but Austrian German is different than the German spoken in Germany. If you want a hot dog, you have to order a Wiener in Austria, but a Frankfurter in Germany. The culture and people of Austria are unique from German culture and people.
Austria Vacation Shock #2: The Desserts
Austrians love their desserts, and it’s immediately clear when you see all of the pastry shops around town. From cakes to tortes to streudel to pastries, you better bring your sweet tooth to Austria! The number of bakeries and cafes is shocking when you visit Austria!
Austria Vacation Shock #3: Excellent Tourist Infrastructure
The tourist infrastructure in Austria is really well developed and well run. Hotels, B&Bs, trains and public transport all make traveling in Austria very easy, even for English-speaking travelers.
Austria Vacation Shock #4: Huge Austrian Influence on European History
The Holy Roman Empire and the Hapsburg family were a key part of Austrian history, and the Hapsburgs had a huge impact on history throughout Europe. You’ll see familiar architecture in Budapest or Bratislava, where the Hapsburgs also ruled.
Austria Vacation Shock #5: Quaint Town Centers in Austria
As you travel around Austria, you might be surprised at how quaint the town centers are. Even the smallest towns are super cute, in part because of Hapsburg money that was poured into the region during their rule. The town centers are also really well preserved, so the history lives on through the buildings.
Austria Vacation Shock #6: Service in Austria
Service in Austria is not great; they aren’t friendly or helpful when you eat out in Austria. On top of that, it’s still expected that you tip around 10% for your server. They will answer any questions you have, but won’t volunteer additional information or assistance.
Austria Vacation Shock #7: Austrian Pride
Austrians love their country and culture; so much so that they are sometimes seen as nationalistic. It’s almost as if everyone is a tour guide, with a lot of historical knowledge and pride. This national pride is really evident in the quality and quantity of art museums, opera houses, and other museums.
Austria Vacation Shock #8: The Austrian Countryside
Many travelers who visit Austria will see Vienna, and perhaps Salzburg, but the countryside of Austria is really breathtaking. The Austrian Alps and lakes, whether it’s Innsbruck or Hallstatt, are stunning and well worth taking a few trips away from the cities of Austria. Outdoor adventure travelers love Austria for the endless hiking and skiing opportunities.
Austria Vacation Shock #9: The Wine is Better than Beer
Unlike neighboring Germany, beer isn’t that great in Austria. The wine is actually much better than beer, especially white wine from Austria. (Another example of how Austria is not Germany!)
Austria Vacation Shock #10: Culture in Austria
There is so much rich culture to see and experience in Austria. There are so many museums, historic sites and cultural attractions. Salzburg has several Mozart sites, and music is a large part of Austria’s culture. Even a backpacker traveling on a budget can experience culture in Austria; the Vienna Opera House offers standing room tickets for only four Euros!