Austria travel guide
Despite its small size, Austria has a long-established international reputation, which is why most visitors arrive with heads full of Habsburg, Mozart and Alpine visions. Some expectations are delightfully met – the mountain scenery is breathtakingly real, there are the omnipresent fingerprints of the old empire in Vienna, and home-grown musical icons Mozart, Schubert and Strauss are championed everywhere – but Austria also has a few surprises up its sleeve in the form of contemporary art, cutting-edge architecture and innovative cuisine.
Austria is frequently cited as one of the best places to live in Europe, and it is not difficult to see why. Remarkably safe and clean, it offers plenty of affordable culture, natural beauty and elegant Baroque and neoclassical architecture, as well as an efficient public transport system.
It’s also surprisingly varied. You can hurtle down a black run in the skiing paradises of Kitzbühel and St Anton, or cosy up with a hot drink in one of Vienna’s famous coffee houses. You can skate across icy lakes in winter or seek out wildflower meadows on summertime hikes. You can wonder at the intricate church interiors and the ostentatious opulence of the old Habsburg palaces, or indulge in a more low-key aspect of Mitteleuropa culture over a steaming goulash in a rustic country inn. Or you can ride a horse through pretty wooded tracts, get an eyeful of Rubens, Raphael and Rembrandt, and marvel at Hundertwasser House in Vienna – a fantastical housing complex characterised by its vivid patterns and mismatched colours.
Don’t try to squeeze it all in though. More than anything, Austria is a place to recline, relax and relish. Its natural beauty is the result of many millennia of natural activity and its grand art, architecture and culture was painstakingly created by many hands over many centuries. These aren’t sights to be hurriedly ticked off a list; allow yourself plenty of time to luxuriate.
83,871 sq km (32,382 sq miles).
8,741,072 (UN estimated statistic 2017)
106 per sq km.
President Alexander van der Bellen since January 2017.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz since 2020.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Austria on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Austria.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities (available in German only).
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Austria
Fabric face masks are compulsory on public transport and in taxis.
Public spaces and services
Lockdown measures are in place throughout Austria, affecting all areas of everyday life.
Restaurants, cafes and bars are currently closed to visitors. Hotels are closed to tourists.
FFP2 facemasks are compulsory in supermarkets, banks, bakeries, food shops, service station shops, cable cars, post offices, pharmacies, doctors’ offices and on public transport. Regional measures, including rules on facemasks, may vary.
People who do not live together must keep at least two metres apart from each other in public, except on public transport.
Healthcare in Austria
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Austria.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Austria
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Austria announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Austrian national vaccine programme started in December 2020 and is using a range of vaccines: Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen on the eligible population over 18 years of age, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for those aged over 12 years of age. British nationals resident in Austria are eligible for vaccination. The Austrian authorities have issued guidance on how to register your interest in being vaccinated (only available in German). The guidance provides information and links on how you can register depending on which region of Austria you live in. Individuals over 80 years of age or who are in a high risk group can use the dedicated regional email addresses for further information. This service is separate to the need to register interest in being vaccinated. The Austrian government has also published a range of key documents in English.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Austria, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Austria, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Help and support
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
There is a low rate of crime, but petty crime does occur and you should take the usual precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Do not leave valuables unattended. Be especially vigilant around major public transport hubs and city centre parks after dark. Safeguard your valuables against pick-pockets, especially in the major cities when tourists can be targeted for passports and money. If you’re travelling on international trains to or from Austria you should be especially aware of your luggage.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Hiking, mountaineering and other adventure sports are popular activities in Austria. Unfortunately, each year there are incidents with visitors getting into difficulty and needing the help of the emergency services.
If you are taking part in extreme sports, check that the company is well established in the industry and that you’ve arranged for your insurance to cover this specific activity. For sporting activities such as skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (e.g. off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or BASE jumping), your insurance should include mountain rescue services, helicopter costs and repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment.
Check weather forecasts and conditions and make sure you’re properly equipped for the worst-case scenario. A map, compass, GPS and telecommunication equipment should always be used when travelling outside urban areas. Don’t undertake any activity alone, and consider hiring a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone.
If you are planning a skiing holiday, for advice on weather and safety conditions before you travel contact the Austrian Tourist Agency by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 00800 400 200 00. Off-piste skiing is highly dangerous. You should follow all safety instructions carefully given the danger of avalanches in some areas and in particular in times of heavy snow. Always check with the local tourist offices on current snow and weather conditions on arrival. Avalanche beepers (receivers) are the most common rescue devices and when properly used provide the fastest way of locating an avalanche victim. You can get information about the risk of an avalanche occurring by email: email@example.com or by visiting the websites of the Tirol Avalanche Warning Service or the European Avalanche Warning Service. Take extra care during the spring season, as this is when avalanches most commonly occur.
Read more about how to stay safe on the slopes.
In 2019 there were 416 road deaths in Austria (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 4.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population. By comparison, the UK average was 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
Licences and documents
When driving in Austria, you should always carry your full British licence, ownership documents and insurance details. You must be at least 18 years of age to drive in Austria unless you are learning under supervision and have met the relevant legal requirements.
If you’re living in Austria, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
If you are stopped by police on the motorway the police officer will identify him or herself. Unmarked vehicles will have a flashing electronic sign in the rear window, which reads ‘Stopp’, ‘Polizei’ and ’Folgen’. If you are in any doubt, contact the police on the emergency number 133. Drivers have the right to ask to speak to uniformed patrol officers.
The legal drink driving limit in Austria is 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The limit is 10 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for coach/HGV drivers and those who have had a licence for less than two years. Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol are severe.
You must carry a high visibility warning vest and wear it when exiting the vehicle on the hard shoulder or in the event of breakdown. You must also have a first aid kit and a warning triangle inside the car. Only ‘hands free’ mobile telephones can be used whilst driving.
It is no longer compulsory for cars to be driven with headlights switched on throughout the day all year round. If you are travelling in a right-hand drive car you will need headlamp converters in the form of stickers that can be put on your headlights when you are driving on the right.
Motorists in Austria must form an emergency corridor as soon as traffic ceases to progress and congestion is imminent on motorways or dual carriageways and highways, regardless of whether emergency vehicles are already in the vicinity or not.
If you use Austrian motorways (‘Autobahn’) and ‘S’ roads you must display a motorway vignette (sticker) on the inside of the windscreen of your vehicle as you enter Austria. Failure to have one will mean a heavy, on-the-spot fine. You can get a motorway vignette at all major border crossings into Austria and at larger petrol stations.
All vehicles above 3.5 tonnes maximum permitted laden weight using motorways and expressways must have a small device - called the ‘GO-BOX ‘ - attached to the windscreen. This includes larger private vehicles like motor caravans that are above the weight limit. If your vehicle is close to the weight limit you should carry proof of the maximum permitted laden weight. If your registration documents don’t clearly state this, you will need to produce alternative certification, eg from a weighbridge
The GO-BOX uses the high frequency range to communicate with toll points, making it possible to effect an automatic toll deduction without slowing down or stopping. They can be obtained for a one-off fee of Euro 5.00 at sales centres in Austria and neighbouring countries, or online.
There is a ban on all lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight (without a trailer) or over 3.5 tonnes (with a trailer) which applies throughout the year on all motorways on Saturdays between 15:00 and 24:00 and all day on Sundays and public holidays. Lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight are also prohibited from using motorways throughout the year between 22:00 and 05:00. There is a ban on lorries over 7.5 tonnes laden weight overtaking on several motorways. Look out for special signs.
The Transport Ministry and ASFINAG (the semi-privatised motorway operator) carry out stringent checks on HGVs. All vehicles must be roadworthy and correctly documented. Vehicles found to have defects are likely to be impounded until the completion of necessary repairs.
Road travel in winter (1 November to 15 April)
All vehicles must be adapted to winter road conditions between 1 November and 15 April. Snow chains on the driving wheels will only be allowed as an alternative where the road is fully covered by snow and/or ice and the road surface will not be damaged by the chains. Chains or summer tyres will not be allowed for slush conditions. Heavy fines or temporary loss of vehicle may be imposed on those who ignore this legislation.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Austria.
The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). There is also a threat from individuals with an extreme right wing terrorist ideology. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. You should be vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
On 2 November 2020, a terrorist attack occurred in Vienna across multiple sites causing four civilian deaths and multiple injuries. The gunman was killed by the authorities.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Drug laws are similar to those in the UK. Possessing or trafficking drugs will be dealt with severely. If convicted a lengthy prison sentence is usual.
Under Austrian law, you’re required to have your passport readily accessible at all times. If you don’t carry your passport with you, your passport must be in the same district as you, and you must be able to access it within a reasonable time. A UK driving licence isn’t recognised as an official form of ID.
As of 1 October 2017, it’s illegal in Austria to wear in a public place any clothing or object which conceals the face and makes facial features unrecognisable. Failure to comply with this law is punishable by an on-the-spot fine of up to €150. You could also be required to attend a police station if you refuse to uncover your face once asked, or if your identity is impossible to determine. The law applies to both residents and visitors. See the website of the Austrian Interior Ministry for more information on the law and a list of exemptions. This does not apply to medical or fabric face masks, which are compulsory in some situations due to coronavirus. See Coronavirus for more details.
If you use an individual paper ticket on a bus, tram or train, make sure you validate it in the machine on the vehicle or in the station. If you don’t validate your ticket, you may have to pay a high, on-the-spot fine.
Taking food and drink into the EU
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Austria set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact their embassy, high commission or consulate. You may also check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are travelling to Austria for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.
Restrictions in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Austria
Entry to Austria from the United Kingdom is currently prohibited by Austrian law.
The following people are excluded from the entry ban and may enter Austria whilst following the rules set out below:
- Residents of Austria
- Austrian citizens, EU/EEA citizens, Swiss citizens and people who live with them in the same household
- people with residence or habitual abode in EU/EEA countries or Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican or Switzerland and people who live with them in the same household
- holders of a visa D issued by Austria
- people who are entitled to stay in Austria, on the basis of a residence permit or residence title, including those with a confirmation of having applied for an Article 50 residence card
- members of the staff of diplomatic missions or consular posts and people who live with them in the same household
- employees of international organisations (e.g. the UN) and people who live with them in the same household
- people who are employed by a domestic regional authority or a domestic public corporation and whose place of employment is abroad or whose service is carried out abroad, provided that the activity of this corporation abroad is in the interest of the Republic of Austria
- people who enter Austria for work purposes
- people who enter Austria to begin or continue studying or doing research
- people who enter to attend school
People permitted to enter must:
- fill out the Pre Travel Clearance form
- take a PCR test not more than 72 hours before departure (an antigen test is not sufficient) and carry proof of the negative test result with them
- quarantine for 10 days, with the option of ending quarantine early with another negative PCR test taken no earlier than on day 5 of quarantine. The day of entry counts as day 0
The following people are exempt from the quarantine requirement (but must present a negative PCR test and fill out the pre-travel clearance form):
- people entering Austria for the purpose of visiting an international organisation based in Austria (eg. United Nations, OSCE)
- people holding a Legitimationskarte (i.e. diplomats and their dependents)
- persons entering for unforeseen urgent family matters (e.g. severe illnesses, death, funerals, births, emergency support for vulnerable people – documentary proof can be required such as a death certificate or hospital letter).
Further details on exemptions (including those for transit passengers, cross-border commuters, and persons who facilitate the transport of goods and passengers) are available (in English) from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection
If you are transiting through Austria without a stopover, you do not need a medical certificate or Pre-Travel Clearance form if you can prove you are transiting.
Neighbouring countries may be restricting movement across borders, including for transit, and conducting health checks. Check the travel advice for any country you need to travel through.
Regular entry requirements
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:
- you can to travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
- if you are travelling to Austria and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
- to stay longer, to work or study, for business or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Austrian government’s entry requirements. Check with the Austrian Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need
- if you stay in Austria with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Austria or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At Austrian border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Austria. If you are resident in Austria, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see our Living in Austria guide.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.
You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
Travelling with children
If you are a single parent, or travelling with a child who is not your own, you will need documentary evidence of parental responsibility and a letter of consent. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration contact the Austrian Embassy in London.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Austria.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Austria on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Austria.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Austrian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment.
Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
If you’re living in Austria, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Austria guide.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
The currency of Austria is the Euro.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.