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Last updated : Nov 2009
Austria Social Profile
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Traditional Austrian dishes are Wiener Schnitzel, boiled beef (Tafelspitz), calf’s liver with herbs in butter (Geröstete Leber), Goulash, Kaiserschmarrn, Palatschinken and Salzburger Nockerln, as well as various types of smoked and cured pork. Viennese cuisine is strongly influenced by southeast European cuisine, notably that of Hungary, Serbia, Dalmatia and Romania. Many of the simpler meals are often made with rice, potatoes and dumplings (Knödel) with sauces. The main meal of the day is lunch.

is the national term for cakes and puddings, all of which are wonderfully appetising. There are more than 57 varieties of Torte, which is often consumed with coffee at around 1500 hrs. Open all day, the Austrian coffee shop (Kaffeehaus) is little short of a national institution and often provides the social focus of a town or neighbourhood.

Spirits such as whisky and gin, together with imported beers, tend to be rather expensive, but local wines are excellent and cheap. Most of the wines are white and include Riesling, Veltliner, but there are also some good red wines from Baden and Burgenland, as well as imported wines from other European countries. Generally the strict registration laws mean that the quality of the wine will be fully reflected in its price. Obstler is a drink found in most German-speaking countries, and is made by distilling various fruits. It is usually very strong, and widely drunk as it is cheap and well flavoured. Most bars or coffee houses have waiter service and bills are settled with the arrival of the drinks and the restaurants have waiter service.


There are no national licensing laws in Austria, but each region has local police closing hours. Most coffee houses and bars serve wine and beers as well as soft drinks.


High-quality goods such as handbags, chinaware, glassware and winter sports equipment represent the cream of specialist items found in Austria. A 20-32 % value-added-tax (called MwSt) is included in the list price of items sold.

Shopping opening hours

Shops and stores are generally open from Monday-Friday 0800-1800 hrs (with a 1 or 2 -hour lunch break in the smaller towns). Some shops are open until 1930 hrs on Thursday and on Saturday opening hours are until 1700 hrs.


Viennese nightlife offers something for every taste including: opera, theatre and cabaret as well as numerous discos, bars and nightclubs. There are cinemas of all types, some of them of architectural interest, showing films in different languages. A good way to spend a summer evening is in one of the beer gardens found all over the country. The wine-growing area around Vienna features wine gardens (Heurigen) where visitors can sample local wines in an open-air setting.

Special Events

Dec ‘Magic of Advent’ Christmas Market, Vienna.

Special Events

For a full list of events celebrated in Austria, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office (see Contact section).

The following is a selection of special events occurring in Austria in 2005:
January Johann Strauss Ball.
January 1st New Near Day's Concert in Vienna.
January 5th-6th FIS Snowboarding World Cup Race.
January 8th-15th International Ballooning Week, Filzmoos.
January 14th-16th Snow Arena Polo, Kitzbühel
January 21st-30th Mozart Week, Salzburg
January 22th-30th Resonanzen Festival, Vienna
January 29th Rainbow Ball, Gay and Lesbian ball, Vienna.
March Formula 1: Austrian Grand Prix.
March-May Vienna Spring Festival.
March 12th-21st Swingin' Kitzbühel, jazz festival.
March 15-19 th Davidoff Gourmet Festival
May 22th Vienna City Marathon.
June 27-July Jazz Festival, Vienna.
July International Milka Chocolate Festival, Bludenz
July-August Lederhosen Festival
July 9-12th International Youth & Music Festival, Vienna.
July 12th Styriarte Festival, Graz.
July 25-Aug 31st Salzburg Festival
November-December Christmas Market Schönbrunn, Vienna.
December ‘Magic of Advent’ Christmas Market, Vienna
Social Conventions

Austrians tend to be quite formal in both their social and their business dealings. They do not use first names when being introduced, but after the initial meeting first names are often used. Handshaking is normal when saying hello and goodbye. It is considered impolite to enter a restaurant or shop without saying Guten Tag or, more usually, Grüss Gott, similarly, to leave without saying Auf Wiedersehen can cause offence. Social pleasantries and some exchange of small-talk is appreciated. If invited out to dinner, flowers should be brought for the hostess.

The Church enjoys a high and respected position in Austrian society, which should be kept in mind by the visitor. It is customary to dress up for the opera or the theatre.


Widespread, but large amounts are not expected. On restaurant bills a service charge of 10 to 15% is included, but it is usual to leave a further 5 %. Attendants at theatres, cloakrooms or petrol pumps, expect to be tipped €0.15-0.25. Railway and airports have fixed charges for portering. Taxi drivers expect €0.25-0.50 for a short trip and 10% for a longer one.
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