NextGen Trips - Austria Travel Information and Guide

Country and People

Austria Travel InformationAustria is located in southern Central Europe. Geographically, its territory encompasses both the Eastern Alps (which cover some two thirds of its surface area) and the Danube Region. Austria has a land surface of 83,858 square kilometres (32,369 square miles). Given its location, it has since time immemorial been a cross-roads of travel routes between the major European economic and cultural regions. Austria has common borders with eight other countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

This European heartland combines a wide variety of landscapes, climatic conditions and flora. Austria's landscapes range from the peaks of the Alps to hill country and plains. The foothills of the Alps and the Carpathians, the Vienna Basin and the Austrian segment of the Pannonian Plain in the East are the principal areas of settlement and economic activity. Austria's highest mountain is the Grossglockner (3,797 metres / 12,530 feet). Its longest river is the Danube, which flows through Austria for a length of some 350 kilometres (200 miles).

Austria is located within a temperate climatic zone. In the west and northwest the influence of the temperate Atlantic climate is felt more strongly, in the east the influence of the continental climate. Precipitation levels vary significantly along a west-east axis and rise with altitude. The diversity of topographical and climatic conditions accounts for the country's abundant flora and fauna. Austria is one of Europe's most heavily wooded countries (46% of its surface area).

Austria is a federal state consisting of nine independent federal states: Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, Vienna and Vorarlberg.

According to recent census data for 1998, Austria has 8.1 million inhabitants, of whom approx. 98% speak German. The six ethnic groups officially recognised in Austria are concentrated on the east and south of the country. In 1998, the average life expectancy for a new-born male stood at 74.3 years, for a new-born female at 80.7 years.

In terms of religious allegiances, 78% of Austrians are Roman Catholic, a further 5% Protestant (principally Augsburg Confession). Some 4.5% of the population belong to another faith, 9% belong to no religious group, and 3.5% did not respond.

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Austria Travel InformationA nation with an abundant cultural heritage and a rich artistic life, an undisputed intermediary and bridgehead between cultures, ranks throughout the world as a major cultural power. Its wealth of artistic achievements extends from the architectural monuments of millennia of history to a packed programme of modern-day cultural events: from concerts, drama and festivals to folk lore. Austria prides itself on its illustrious orchestras (like the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra) and choirs (Arnold-Schönberg-Chor, Vienna Boys' Choir), while its concert halls foster both the chamber music of past centuries and the music of today.


Austrian literature covers nine centuries. Its first great masterpiece was the "Nibelungenlied" ("The Lay of the Nibelungs"), dating from around 1200. The nineteenth century dramatists still performed at Vienna's Burgtheater include Franz Grillparzer and the two writers of popular comedies Ferdinand Raimund and Johann Nestroy. More recent Austrian writers of international renown are Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Stefan Zweig, Robert Musil, Ödön von Horváth, Heimoto von Doderer and Thomas Bernhard. The best-known contemporary Austrian writer is Peter Handke.


One of the great ages of Austrian music was the Vienna classical era. Vienna was the home of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms and Anton Bruckner. Gustav Mahler's symphonies broke down the tonal structure of western music.

The "Second Viennese School" was made up of Arnold Schönberg (founder of twelve-tone music), Alban Berg and Anton Webern. Vienna was also a centre of the operetta whose exponents included Johann Strauss Junior, Karl Millöcker, Karl Zeller and Franz Lehár.

Austria owes its reputation as a land of music to such institutions as the Vienna State Opera but also to its countless festivals throughout the country, from Lake Constance in the far west (Bregenz Festival) to Lake Neusiedl in the far East (Mörbisch operetta festival). Every summer Salzburg hosts this country's most prestigious arts festival (Salzburger Festspiele), founded in 1920.


The Jugendstil movement, pioneered by Gustav Klimt, flourished in Vienna around the turn of the century. Other important twentieth-century artists from Austria are Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. In the years after the second world war Albert Paris Gütersloh founded the Viennese School of Phantastic Realism. Max Weiler is one of today's foremost painters. The sculptors Fritz Wotruba, Wander Bertoni and Alfred Hrdlicka have also established international reputations.

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Visa regulations for Austria

United States Citizens
Citizens of the United States in possession of a valid U.S.-passport, are not required to obtain a visa for Austria for a period of up to three months if traveling as a tourist.

In case that a stay of more than three but less than six months is intended, a visa is required, which can be obtained by completing and duly signing the attached form and submitting an application together with the following documents :

    valid passport

    one recent photograph

    copy of roundtrip-ticket or itinerary

    proof of sufficient funds

    proof of /health/accident insurance

    notarized letter of invitation (Verpflichtungserklärung) if you are visiting friends or family in Austria. If the person you intend to visit in Austria is an Austrian citizen, a copy of his/her Austrian passport, or if the person you intend to visit is not an Austrian citizen, a copy of his/her passport, copy of his/her valid Austrian visa, and proof of sufficient funds must be submitted.

    letter of acceptance from your school or university, if you are going on a study abroad program, receipt that tuition, room & board have been paid in full.

A visa with a maximum validity of six months will be issued free of charge (FOR US CITIZENS ONLY)

For stays of more than six months, or if you intend to work or study in Austria, a residency permit is required. Please contact the Embassy or Austrian Consulate General for more details.

US citizens may enter Austria as tourists and apply for a residency permit at the competent authorities in Austria.

Non-US Citizens
If you are a resident of the U.S. but do not hold U.S. citizenship, a visa may be required. Wether you do need a visa or not please check the Pass and Visa Requirements.

If a "Schengen" visa is required, the following documents must be submitted by all applicants:

    completed and signed visa application form

    valid passport or Refugee Travel Document- must be valid at least three months beyond date of travel. Travel Documents are accepted only if you are unable to obtain a national passport.

    two recent regular size passport color photographs (must be identical)

    copy of complete round-trip ticket(s) or confirmed itinerary showing exact dates of travel
    PLEASE NOTE: Do not purchase your ticket unless you fulfill all other requirements. The embassy is not responsible for any loss or penalties incurred!

    valid U.S. visa with original form I-94 and I-20 or IAP-66 (if applicable) or original of Alien Registration Card of Form I-512

    visas of countries you intend to visit after your stay in Austria

    consular fee

In addition to the above you must submit the following items :

I). If you are traveling as a tourist or in transit (other then airport transit) :

    Proof of sufficient funds for your stay in Austria, e.g. recent Bank statement

    Letter of continued employment including income statement

    Confirmed hotel reservation or confirmation of tour

    Proof of /health/accident insurance (minimum of medical coverage EUR 25,000)

II). If you are visiting friends or family :

    Original notarized Verpflichtungserklärung*. Fax copies will not be accepted. If the person you intend to visit is an Austrian citizen, a copy of his/her Austrian passport, copy of Meldezettel and proof of sufficient income or funds must be attached. If the person you intend to visit is not an Austrian citizen, then a copy of his/her national passport containing a valid Austrian visa, Meldezettel, as well as proof of sufficient income or funds must be produced together with the Verpflichtungserklärung.
    * This form may be obtained from the local authorities in Austria or from this office.

III). If you are going on business :

    Original, notarized letter from your company or from the company in Austria you are doing business with specifying that the company will be financially responsible for you during your stay in Austria.

    proof of travel health/accident insurance (minimum medical coverage EUR25,000.00
    Please note: Visas cannot be renewed in Austria!

IV). Applicants holding a passport of one of the following countries, must apply for an airport transit visa, when changing planes in Austria. This does not apply, if you are a permanent resident in the US and are in possession of a valid "Alien Registration Card":

Please note : If you need to go through passport control to spend one night in Vienna, you must apply for a regular transit visa : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka.

V). If you wish to have your documents returned by overnight mail service, you must include one of the following items: .

    for Express Mail by the US Postal Service: a self-addressed, stamped return envelope

    for return with a private carrier: pre-paid return Airway Bill or Money Order in the exact amount for the return by overnight mail.

Processing time for the "Schengen" visa and regular transit visa is approximately one week to two weeks, but may take up to a month. Airport transit visas are usually issued within 2 days.

Visas can only be processed once all supporting documents have been received.

Please note: Do not call the Embassy to inquire about the status of your application. Your passport with the visa will be returned to you as soon as possible. Otherwise the Embassy will contact you if additional documentation is required.

VI). Schengen-Visa Fees

Airport Transit (to change planes only)


Transit (up to five days)


Short Stay - up to 30 days, single entry


Short Stay - up to 90 days, single entry


Short Stay - two or multiple entries


PLEASE NOTE: Fees are subject to change at the beginning of each month. If you have requested visa information more than a month ago, please inquire about the correct fee before submitting your application. Fees must be paid either in cash (exact change) or by Postal Money Order. Business or personal checks will not be accepted!

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Climate, Vegetation and Faunn

Austria belongs to the Central European transitional climatic zone. In much of Austria the prevailing winds are westerly and northwesterly. In western Austria temperature variations between day and night and between summer and winter are less pronounced than in the East. Throughout most of Austria adequate precipitation figures are registered, although the amount decreases continuously from West to East. Austria can be divided into three climatic zones: The east shows a Continental Pannonian climate (mean temperature for July usually above 66°F, annual rainfall often less than 800 mm), while the central Alpine region has the characteristic features of the Alpine climate (high precipitation, short summers and long winters). The remaining part of the country belongs to the transitional Central European climatic zone, which is characterized by a wet and temperate climate (mean temperature for July 52° to 66°F, annual precipitation 700 - 2.000 mm depending on location, exposure and altitude).

The variety of Austria's geography and climate has resulted in a wide diversity of vegetation, in which the main groups coincide with the different climatic regions. Austria is characterized by oak and beech forests that predominate in central Europe, while above 1600 ft these give way to a mixture of beech and fir. At altitudes higher than 4000 ft., fir dominates and in turn gives way to larch and stone pine.

Austria is one of Europe's most heavily wooded countries, with 47% of its total area being accounted for by forests. In the Alpine foreland the forests are to a great extent replaced by arable land, especially on the northern edge of the Alps, where above an altitude of 2000 ft. grassland prevails. Characteristic of the Pannonian region are scrub, mixed deciduous wood and heathland. To the east of Lake Neusiedl in the Burgenland one can find typical salt steppe flora.

Austrian wildlife is characteristic of central Europe: red deer, roe deer, hare, fox, badger, marten, squirrel, pheasant, partridge, etc. Typical Alpine fauna such as chamois, marmot and the Alpine cough are to be found in the mountainous regions, and the ibex is also breeding here again. Typical of Pannonian wildlife is the vast bird population (purple heron, spoon bill, avocet) abounding in the reed beds which surround Lake Neusiedl, central Europe's only steppe lake.

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Austria Travel InformationPopulation

According to latest national census (1991) Austria has a population of 7,795,786. According to the latest population statistics (1999) Austria has a population of 8.09 million, which represented an increase of some 300,000 since 1991.

In 1999 3.9 million (48.5%) of the population were male, 4.1 million (51.5%) female. For those born in 1999 average life expectancy for men was 75, for women 81.

98% of Austria's population is German-speaking. Members of the six ethnic groups officially recognized in Austria are found in five Austrian provinces. Burgenland is home to Croats and Hungarians, many of whom have migrated to Vienna. Slovenes are found in the Gail, Rosen and Jaun valleys of southern Carinthia and in some villages in the southern part of Styria. Many Czechs and Slovaks live in Vienna and in Lower Austria, particularly in the Marchfeld and Tullnerfeld regions. Romany and Sinti, who were recognized as ethnic groups in 1993, live above all in Burgenland and to some extent in Vienna.

The Ethnic Groups Act of 1976 only recognizes indigenous ("autochthonous") ethnic groups, which term applies to those who have lived in Austria for at least three generations and who are Austrian citizens.

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Austria Destinations: Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg, Vienna

Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine

Travel Quotes:

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen. Benjamin Disraeli

I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. Hilaire Belloc

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