In Austria Gemütlichkeit is a word used to convey genuine hospitality, old-world charm, cozy ambiance, and country simplicity. Awesome mountain scenery, adorable villages, charming cities, and a rich cultural heritage add to the joy of visiting. Austria accommodations offer an outstanding variety of places to stay: handsome castles tucked in the mountains, small Austria hotels hugging the shores of serene lakes, cozy chalets in fields of wildflowers, petite inns within fairy-tale walled villages, and world-class hotels in Vienna and Salzburg. The blend of the Austrians’ warmth of welcome and their love of preserving the best of their heritage produces a marvelous travel experience. Austria is a treasure just waiting to be discovered. View our list of places to stay in Austria for a selection of the best hotels, inns, castles and resorts which we have personally chosen for their charm, welcome and value creating the finest hotel travel guide for Austria Hotels and Accommodations. To assist in your Austria travel planning visit our Itineraries for Austria which take you on five different exciting excursions highlighting the best of Austria.

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Austria



General Info and Resources

Itineraries:

We have produced five popular trip itineraries throughout Austria. We have traveled and tested each of the itineraries and feel they offer the best of what Austria offers. You should be able to find an itinerary or section of an itinerary to fit your exact time frame and to suit your own particular interests. You can custom-tailor your own itinerary by combining segments of itineraries or using two back to back. The itineraries do not indicate a specific number of nights at each destination, since to do so seemed much too confining. Again, personality dictates what is best for a particular situation: some travelers like to see as much as possible in a short period of time and do not mind rising with the birds each morning to begin a new adventure, while for others, just the thought of packing and unpacking each night makes them shudder in horror and they would never stop for less than three or four nights at any one destination. A third type of tourist does not like to travel at all-the destination is the focus and he will use this guide to find the perfect spot from which he will never wander except for daytime excursions. Use this guide as a reference from which to plan your very own personalized trip. We cannot resist adding one recommendation: do not rush. Learn to travel as the Europeans do and don’t try to do too much. Pick out a place to stay that especially appeals to you and just relax, using your hotel as a hub for exploring the surrounding countryside. Allow sufficient time to enjoy and absorb the special ambiance each hotel has to offer. One proprietor commented that Americans travel so fast they do not always remember where they are, and told the story of stopping to see if she could assist an American woman studying her map in great frustration on a street corner in Vienna. She asked if she could help, only to find the poor lady was looking for St. Mark’s Square in Venice!



Airfare:

Karen Brown’s Guides have long recommended Auto Europe for their excellent car rental services. Their air travel division, Destination Europe, an airline broker working with major American and European carriers, offers deeply discounted coach- and business-class fares to over 200 European gateway cities. It also gives Karen Brown travelers an additional 5% discount off its already highly competitive prices (cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions). We recommend you make reservations by phone at (800) 835-1555. When phoning, be sure to use the Karen Brown ID number 99006187 to secure your discount.Another option is to visit Flight Reservations under the blue Travel Tools tab on all of our web pages. Here, you will find a myriad of prices from different air carriers.Europe now has several low-cost air carriers, the largest being Ryanair, offering excellent prices for air travel within Europe. If you are traveling long distances across Europe it might be advantageous to look into flying rather taking the train.



Car Rental:

For rental cars in Europe, we always use Auto Europe-a car rental broker that works with the major car rental companies to find the lowest possible price. We find Auto Europe’s committment to customer service to be unsurpassed. Auto Europe’s toll-free phone service, from every European country, connects you to their U.S.-based, 24-hour reservation center (ask for the Europe Phone Numbers Card to be mailed to you). They also offer motor homes and chauffeur services. Auto Europe offers our readers a 5% discount (cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions) and, occasionally, free upgrades. Be sure to use the Karen Brown ID number 99006187 to receive your discount and any special offers. You can make your own reservations online via our website or by phone (800-223-5555).When driving in Austria please note the following:BELTS: Seat belts must be worn by everyone in the car. Children under 12 must not sit in the front seat. DRIVER’S LICENSE: An international driver’s license is strongly recommended by the Austrian Tourist Office. This can be purchased for $10 in the USA at your local AAA office. Your own driver’s license is also acceptable. The minimum driving age is 18. DRUNK DRIVING: It is a very serious offense to drive when you have been drinking. Anyone with an alcohol blood level of 0.8% (fewer than two beers) is considered under the influence, so do not drink and drive-save your liquid refreshments for evening meals, when your driving is finished for the day. GASOLINE: Gasoline is very expensive (diesel is less expensive) so, if you are driving, budget this as part of your trip’s expense. When estimating how much money you will need, figure roughly that gas costs about three times more in Austria than it does in the United States. In addition to the expected combinations of premium and standard gasolines, many stations have another choice where you can create your own mixture to arrive at the perfect octane combination for your car by adjusting the dial on the pump. Most stations take credit cards. PARKING PERMITS: In some cities parking permits are needed for limited-time parking. Cars parked in these special zones need to display in the front window a cardboard clock, available free at gasoline stations, banks, police stations, and tobacco stores. The system is to set the hands of the clock at the time you leave the car so that if a policeman comes by, he can check that you have not overstayed your time. Many cities also have paid parking zones. Tickets are available through vending machines in the streets. ROAD PERMITS: If you plan to drive on the Autobahns in Austria it is necessary to purchase a permit that you validate by punching the start date and then display in the front window of the car. Fines are very expensive if you are caught without a permit and we have found that car rental companies do not always advise the need for the permit nor do they provide one. Permits are readily available at most gas stations where you see the sign “Hier gibt’s die Vignette” stating they sell them. The permits are available in different time increments; a ten-day permit costs just under €10. ROADS: Most of the major cities are connected by autobahns marked by signs showing a double blue line. Traffic moves fast on the autobahns where there is a speed limit of 130 kilometers per hour (kph) (1 kilometer = .6 mile). Highways are also excellent roads and complete the network. The joy of traveling on these roads is that there is relatively little traffic. Of course, the stream of cars increases as you approach major cities, but compared with other European countries, Austria�s roads are blissfully tranquil. It is rare to be delayed behind a line of cars or a stream of slow-moving trucks. Not to say, though, that you might not have to wait while lines of cows meander across the road on their way home from pasture or slow down for a few kilometers while a farmer drives his tractor back to the farm. The speed limit on highways is 100 kph, in towns 50 kph. ROAD SIGNS: Before getting on the road, prepare yourself by learning the international driving signs so that you can obey all the rules of the road and avoid the embarrassment and danger of heading the wrong way down a small street or parking in a forbidden area. There are three basic sign shapes: triangular signs warn that there is danger ahead; circular signs indicate compulsory rules and information; square signs give information concerning telephones, parking, camping, etc.



Currency:

The euro is now the official currency of most European Union countries, including Austria, having completely replaced national currencies as of February 2002. Thankfully, the money lost and time spent exchanging one currency for another when you cross borders are a thing of the past. An increasingly popular and convenient way to obtain foreign currency is simply to use your bankcard at a seemingly ubiquitous ATM machine. You pay a fixed fee for this but, depending on the amount you withdraw, it is usually less than the percentage-based fee charged to exchange currency or travelers’ checks. Be sure to check with your bank or credit card company about their fees and necessary pin numbers prior to departure.Many establishments accept one or more credit cards. If possible, pay using your credit card as the exchange rate is usually quite favorable. Paying by credit card reduces the need to carry large sums of cash and thus reduces potential loss in the case of theft. Keep a record of your credit card numbers at home as well as with you separately from your cards in case of loss or theft. Also, it is a good idea to contact your card issuer and inform them of your travel plans.



Driving:

BOATS: Most lakes have ferryboats that operate from spring to fall, and there is no lovelier way to explore Austria’s lakes than from the deck of a boat. Generally no reservations are needed and the schedule is always posted at the pier. Be sure to be on time because the boats glide in and out of the docks like clockwork and passengers who are late are left behind.A popular boat excursion is the ferryboat that plies the Danube between Passau and Vienna. If you wish to take just a segment between these two towns, you need no reservation: simply buy your ticket and climb aboard. However, if you are taking the entire trip and desire a cabin, advance reservations are necessary. These ferries are not deluxe, but lots of fun and a marvelous way to see the country.Another option is to take the hydrofoil that links Vienna with Budapest. The trip to Budapest takes four-and-a-half hours, the return trip takes five-and-a-half. Reservations should be made in advance. CARS: SEE Auto Europe Car Rental TRAINS: Austria has excellent trains and a spider web of routes linking most of the cities and small towns. For train buffs there is another wonderful option—nostalgic narrow-gauge trains (some still with steam engines) that take passengers into some of the most beautiful and remote areas of Austria. Originally these were built by the emperor so that he could keep in contact with people living in isolated mountain regions. Later, after roads were built, many of the trains remained—a reminder of a romantic past. These trains look too cute to be real. As you are driving along, you will hear a “toot toot” and winding through the valley will be a gay little engine pulling a stream of brightly painted cars loaded with passengers. On some of these trains you can even be the conductor and command the train from a perch in the engine, although your conductor’s status must usually be reserved in advance. For further information concerning when and where these “toy” trains operate, contact the Austrian Tourist Office, 120 West 45th St., 9th Floor, New York, NY, 10036, USA, tel: (212) 944-6885, fax: (212) 730-4568, or visit their website, www.austria.info.Most train stations have a desk where someone speaks English to assist you with schedules. If you are traveling a great deal of your time on trains, you might consider the option of buying a comprehensive publication, Fahrplan, available at any train station. This publication has a map and all the schedules for trains, boats, and buses.On international trains that whip between European countries you frequently need to reserve a seat in advance, and you need to pay a supplement on some express trains. However, for local trains you pay no supplement and rarely need a seat reservation—if you have a ticket, just hop aboard and find a seat. The cars are marked on the outside first or second class and within both categories there are designated smoking and non-smoking seating areas. Some of the trains have dining cars, some have a person who walks through selling snacks, and some have no food service.If you plan to travel by train in Austria or Europe, you can research schedules and fares and even purchase tickets and passes online. (Note that many special fares and passes are available only if purchased in the United States.) To check on information, fares or to book tickets click on Rail Europe under Travel Tools. Or, once you arrive in Austria, you might want to buy a bundesnetzkarte, a one-month rail pass that can be purchased only within the country. Another option is a kilometerbank card, which also can be purchased only within Austria. This is a card printed with 2,000, 3,000, or 5,000 kilometers and can be used by up to six friends or family traveling together. The conductor deducts the appropriate distance used depending upon the length of the trip. To make your journey more carefree, there are several terms you should be able to recognize when you are in the train stations. With these few terms you should be in business.BAHNHOF: Train station SCHIFFAHRT: Boat dockSTANDSEILBAHN: Cable carKABINENSEILBAHN: Gondola ABFAHRT: Time of departure NACH: Traveling toBAHNSTEIG: Platform number at the train station GLEIS: Track number



Electricity:

If you are taking any electrical appliances made for use in the United States, you will need a transformer (except for dual voltage products) plus a two-pin adapter. A voltage of 220 AC current at 50 cycles per second is almost countrywide, though in remote areas you may encounter 120V. The voltage is often displayed on the socket. Even though we recommend that you purchase appliances with dual-voltage options whenever possible, it will still be necessary to have the appropriate socket adapter. Also, be especially careful with expensive equipment such as computers- verify with the manufacturer the adapter/converter capabilities and requirements.



Shopping:

Most shops are open from 9 am to 6 pm, and closed for an hour or two in the middle of the day when the shopkeeper goes home for lunch. In resort areas, some of the shops are open seven days a week, but in most towns the stores are closed Saturday afternoons and Sundays. The shops are filled with many tantalizing items attractively and artfully displayed. Described below and on the following pages are some of the favorite items to take home. CERAMICS: Ceramics are made in Gmunden, which is in the lake district near Salzburg. You can buy anything from an entire dinner set to a beer mug. If your itinerary does not take you to Gmunden, take heart: the ceramics are also available in shops in Salzburg, Vienna, and Innsbruck. DIRNDLS: Dirndls are charming pinafores usually of provincial-print material worn with a white blouse and apron. All sizes are available from adorable tiny dresses for little girls to matching costumes for mom and grandmother. In addition to all sizes, the dresses come in all fabrics and designs from gay daytime cotton models to fabulous pure silk high-fashion designer creations. GLASSWARE: In the medieval town of Rattenburg, along the River Inn near Innsbruck, you can choose from a wonderful selection of glasses of all kinds. These are made by local craftsmen who came from Czechoslovakia as refugees and brought their craft with them. You can have your glassware engraved while you wait or have it mailed home. LEATHER GOODS: The leather in Austria is especially beautiful: not only is it soft and lovely, but also skillfully styled. The skirts and jackets are expensive, but absolutely gorgeous. LEDERHOSEN: A trip to Austria would not be complete without bringing home a pair of wonderful leather shorts for all the men and little boys in the family. They are not expensive and just do not wear out. PETITPOINT: Vienna is famous for its beautiful petitpoint needlework, which is available in handbags, eyeglass cases, belts, etc. There are many cheap imitations in the souvenir shops, but the real thing is very expensive and very exquisite. SALES TAX: If you are a non-EU resident and plan to do much shopping, be aware that there are substantial savings available on a tax credit plan. If you buy goods worth over € 75 at the same store, you can get a 13% tax refund. Not all stores participate in the program, so when shopping, ask if the store does. If it does, ask for a tax refund form, which the store will fill out. As you leave the European Union you must have this form stamped by the tax inspector at the airport or border crossing. If you are leaving by train, you must get off the train at the border and have the inspector at the customs office stamp the form and the receipts. Keep your purchases together because the customs agent will probably want to see what you have bought. If leaving from the airport, go to the airport customs office. You can receive an immediate refund in cash from the tax-free refund counter. There are also tax-free refund facilities available at some road border crossings. (Shops have information sheets explaining all the different places you can receive refunds.) If you are purchasing items in a shop displaying a “tax-free for tourists” sign, the store will give you a “tax-free shopping cheque,” which you present to customs when you leave the country or the European Union. You then take your stamped cheques to the refund service’s airport desk or border kiosk for an immediate refund, drop them in a special box, or mail them to the refund service’s nearest office after you get home (within 60 days of the date of purchase). You can have refunds credited to your Visa, MasterCard, or other credit card in your own currency. SKI EQUIPMENT: The ski equipment in Austria does not seem any great buy; however, it is fun to bring home a pair of skis or boots, if for no other reason than the memory, especially if you were on a skiing holiday. SWEATERS: There are many beautiful woolen sweaters for men, women, and children. Especially comfortable, and typically Austrian, are the sweaters that look like jackets. TEXTILES: Austria has lovely materials. The country motif designs are popular and make beautiful curtains, tablecloths, napkins, etc. TYROLEAN HATS: It is fun to bring home a jaunty Austrian felt hat. WOODEN BOXES: Wooden boxes of all sizes and styles, painted with gay Tyrolean designs of flowers and hearts, are available.



Tourism:

If you have questions not answered in this guide or need special guidance for a particular destination, the Austrian Tourist Offices can assist you. If you have access to the Internet you may want to visit their website, www.austria.info.Australia: Austrian National Tourist Office, 1st Floor, 36 Carrington St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia, tel: (2) 9299-3621, fax: (2) 9299-3808 Canada: Austrian National Tourist Office, 2 Bloor St. West, Suite 400, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3E2, Canada, tel: (416) 967-4867, fax: (416) 967-4101 Great Britain: Austrian National Tourist Office, 9-11 Richmond Building, London W1D 3HF, England, tel: (020) 7440-3842, fax: (020) 7440-3848 USA: Austrian Tourist Office, 120 West 45th St., 9th Floor, New York, NY 10036,USA, tel: (212) 944-6885, fax: (212) 730-4568 Almost all towns throughout Austria have a local tourist office, identified with an “I” (which stands for information). We strongly recommend that, during your travels, you make a beeline for the closest office. The agents gladly give advice on local events, timetables for local trains, buses, and boats, and often have maps and brochures on the region’s points of interest.



Weather:

Austria’s weather is fickle. There is rain, lots of rain. It can be pouring in the morning and be a beautiful sunny day by noon. Do not count on warm days: consider yourself lucky if it is balmy and be prepared for chilly weather with sweaters that can be pulled off as the day warms. You may be lucky and have a collection of perfect days on your entire holiday, but as you admire the incredibly green fields and splendid array of flowers, your common sense will tell you that this lush splendor is not the result of a man-made irrigation system. Be prepared with the proper clothing and enjoy Austria rain or shine, snow or sun, cold or warm.