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 Karl Nehammer since December 2021.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Austria set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Austrian Embassy in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Austria.
Passport validity requirements
To travel to Austria, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
To enter Austria (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirementsRenew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
You can travel to countries in the Schengen area (including Austria) 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
- 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 travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Austrian government’s entry requirements. Check which visa or work permit you may need with the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Austrian Embassy in London for visa requirements .
If you stay in Austria with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Austria). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport is missing a stamp, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Austria.
At Austrian border control, you may need to show:
proof of your accommodation, such as hotel booking confirmation or proof of address if visiting your second home
proof of insurance for your trip – check FCDO’s travel insurance guidance
- a return or onward ticket
- proof that you have enough money for your stay
Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need on TravelHealthPro’s Austria guide.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Austria. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
Taking food into Austria
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Austria
Terrorists are likely to try and carry out attacks in Austria.
Demonstrations may occur with little or no warning in cities. Avoid any protests, political gatherings or marches. Follow the advice of local authorities.
Crime levels are generally low. However, there are higher levels of petty crime, particularly pickpocketing, in the big city centres and city parks after dark. Thieves use a variety of methods to distract people.
Protecting your belongings
Take care on public transport and in crowded areas in city centres including main stations. Be particularly careful with your belongings on international trains to and from Austria, and when taking your baggage from trains and coaches.
Drink and food spiking
Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers or leaving your drinks unattended. Victims of spiked drinks have been robbed and sometimes assaulted.
Laws and cultural differences
By law, you must have your passport easily accessible at all times. If you do not carry your passport, it must be in the same district as you and accessible within a short time. A photocopy of the data page of your passport can be helpful. A UK driving licence is not recognised as official ID.
Drug laws are similar to the UK. Possessing or trafficking drugs is dealt with severely.
It’s generally illegal to wear any clothing or object in public that covers your face. You could be fined up to 150 euro. See the See the Austrian government website information on the law and a list of exemptions.
Tickets on public transport must be validated in a ticket machine before you start a journey. Failure to do so can result in an on the spot fine of 100 to 500 euros.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Hiking, mountaineering and other adventure sports can be risky.
Check that the company is well- established in the industry and that you’ve arranged for your insurance to cover this specific activity.
For sports activities like skiing, potholing and mountaineering, and for sports classed as particularly dangerous (for example off-piste skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or BASE jumping), your insurance should include:
mountain rescue services
- helicopter costs
- repatriation to your country of residence or possible transfer to neighbouring countries for treatment
Check weather forecasts and conditions. Make sure you’re properly equipped for the worst-case scenario with items such as a map, compass, GPS and telecommunication equipment.
Risks are greater if you undertake any activity alone. You may want to hire a guide for expert advice. Always leave copies of your itinerary with someone.
Read FCDO advice about staying safe while skiing and preparing for winter sports abroad.
Take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before you travel and familiarise yourself with local skiing laws and regulations.
Off-piste skiing is very dangerous. There are dangers of avalanches in some areas. Follow all safety instructions meticulously and go with a qualified guide. For more information about the avalanche risk, visit the European Avalanche Warning Service or the Austrian Avalanche Warning Service.
There are complex driving laws in Austria, especially for caravan and motor-home drivers. If you are planning to drive in Austria, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC advice for driving in Austria.
Licences and permits
To drive in Austria, you must be 18 years or over with a full UK driving licence, and have insurance and vehicle ownership documents.
If you’re living in Austria or planning to live there check the Living in Austria guide for information on requirements for residents.
All vehicles on motorways, expressways and section toll segments in Austria are subject to tolls. If you use Austrian motorways you must display a vignette (sticker) inside your windscreen. You could be fined it you do not follow the rules. For more information visit the Austrian Official Travel Portal.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Austria guide
where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Austria. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.
Tick bites are a risk in parts of Austria. Read more about tick and insect bites on TravelHealthPro.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Austria
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Austria
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Austria.
Health insurance cards
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Austrian nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.
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. A GHIC or EHIC 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.
GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services Austria
If you need to contact the emergency services, call:
Ambulance or Rescue: 144
Single European Emergency number 112
You can also download the 112 Where Are U app, the official European emergency number app.
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Austria
- dealing with a death in Austria
- being arrested in Austria
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you are affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are in Austria and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British embassy in Vienna.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.