With an area of 83.858 sq km Austria consists of 9 independent federal states
(Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria,
Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna) with their own provincial governments.
The federal legislation is exercised by the national council
(Nationalrat) together with the Upper House of Parliament (Bundesrat) –
the two chambers of Parliament.
Austria is a member of the European Union, the United Nations as well as most UN organizations.
Of the approximately 8 million inhabitants of Austria, 98%
speak German. The six ethnic groups officially recognized in Austria
(Burgenlandic Croatians, Roma, Slovaks, Slovenians, Czechs and
Hungarians) are concentrated in the east and south of the country.
Approximately 74 % of Austrians are Roman Catholic, 5 % are Protestant, the rest belongs to other faiths.
is located in a temperate climatic zone with a Central European climate
influenced by the Atlantic climate. The four seasons (Spring, Summer,
Autumn and Winter) each have typical temperature and climatic
to the topographical diversity and the relatively large West-East
expanse, there are three differentiating climatic regions:
East: Pannonian climate with a continental influence – low precipitation, hot summers but only moderately cold winters.
Alpine Regions: Alpine climate - high precipitation ( except
inner alpine valley regions such as the upper Inntal), short summers,
Remainder of the country: transient climate influenced by the Atlantic (in the West) and a continental influence in the South-east.
Fauna and Flora
In Austria there is a predominantly Central European fauna: deer, stag, rabbit, pheasant, fox, badger, marten, partridge.
Native to the alpine regions are the chamois, groundhog, eagle and
mountain jackdaw. Characteristic of the Pannonian fauna is the vast
bird population in the reed beds of Lake Neusiedl (heron, spoonbill,
scooper, wild goose, and many more).
In recent years, Austria is home again to a small bear population,
which can mainly be found in the heavily wooded southern and central
The diversity of topographical and climatic conditions accounts for the country's species-rich flora.
Austria is one of Europe's most heavily wooded countries.
Characteristic are the deciduous forest (oak, beech) and the mixed
forest (beech, fir) and in the higher altitude regions fir, larch and
Especially diverse and colorful is the alpine flora: edelweiss, gentian, alpine carnation, arnica, alpine rose, heather and much more.
The northern edge of the Alps is especially dominated by grassland;
typical in the Pannonian region are the scrub forest, mixed deciduous
forest and the steppe moors. East of Lake Neusiedl one finds a specific
salt steppe flora.
Austria's nature parks, that stretch across 3 percent of the
country, document the diversity of the landscape with its in part
unique natural landscapes, such as the rain and virgin forests.
Shopping in Austria
Legally permitted opening hours for stores: Monday to Friday 5:00 a.m to 21:00 p.m, Saturday to 18:00 p.m.
The actual opening hours for stores may vary, usually from 09.00 a.m –
18.00 p.m (Grocery stores from 08.00 a.m), Saturdays to 13.00 or 17.00
Exceptional regulations with longer opening hours exist in tourist
areas; shops at railway stations and at airports are open during the
travel timeschedules (in part until 23:00 p.m).
is available at tobacconists' shops (Tabaktrafiken) at original prices,
and at hotels, restaurants, coffee houses and inns with a surcharge.
Craftmanship is a popular souvenir – i.e. ceramic, woodcarving,
artistic iron welding – traditional dress, Augarten-Porcellan, enamel
jewelry and glass creations.
Refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT):
Foreign tourists with residence outside the EU may obtain a refund on
the VAT they pay on single purchases totalling over € 75.-, by
completing certain customs formalities when taking the goods out of the
country. The relevant form is issued directly at the store, and the
goods must be taken out of the country within 3 months and must receive
a stamp from the EU border customs office as confirmation.
The VAT refund voucher, with which you receive a tax refund upon
leaving the EU internal market is available at all stores displaying
the signs “Global Refund TAX FREE SHOPPING” and “Premier TAX FREE”.
Attention: For tourists with residence within the European Union obtaining refunds on VAT is unfortunately no longer possible!
100 youth hostels in all of Austria are open to everybody. Groups and
those travelling alone are advised to book in advance.
Each guest must present a valid International Youth Hostel membership card which can be purchased at any national Youth Hostel Association office.
Lists of youth hostels and detailed information can be found:
- at the Austrian Youth Hostel Association
- at the Österreichisches Jugendherbergswerk
Persons without an International Youth Hostel membership card
need a guest card with a ”Welcome Stamp” at € 3,50 per night. Once the
card has been stamped with 6 Welcome-Stamps, it automatically counts as
a Youth Hostel membership card.