With bars and restaurants closed during the pandemic, the only place to have a drink other than your house was the park, square or anywhere else in Austria.
When restaurants and bars reopened in 2021, while many of us grabbed our proof of vaccination, recovery or negative test and went straight to the pub, some of us might have gotten a little attached to drinking outside.
Fortunately, not only is drinking outside perfectly legal in Austria, but it is not frowned upon socially to the same extent it might be in other countries.
Everyone over drinking age – which is 16 for beer and wine and 18 for schnapps, cocktails and spirits – is allowed to drink in public in Austria.
In most Austrian cities, towns and villages, having a few drinks in the park or a square is very socially acceptable – provided of course you keep the noise down and don’t start singing “it’s coming home” at full volume while goose-stepping down the sidewalk.
Austria is also very fond of the ‘Wegbier’, which is the beer you drink when you are on your way somewhere.
Quite often this is on the way home from work or on the way to the pub, but it can also be the point of the activity in itself – i.e. meeting up for a Wegbier or three, just walking around the neighbourhood.
It might surprise plenty of people arriving from English-speaking countries but Austria, like neighbouring Germany, tends to have a policy of policing the conduct rather than just policing the drinking.
So drinking in public is possible everywhere?
There are some public squares and places where drinking is forbidden, but this is relatively rare.
Drinking in the Praterstern area in Vienna, including the train station, is not allowed. There are also bans in Salzburg’s main station and Südtiroler Platz, as well as Heiligengeistplatz in Klagenfurt and the main square in Graz.
Many public transport companies forbid drinking at stations, on platforms and while on the train or bus itself.
However, this tends to only be enforced where people become loud or unruly; watching people drink a Feierabendbier – a beer when you finish work – quietly and calmly while on the way home is relatively common.
During the Covid pandemic there were also some bans in alcohol consumption in public places in some parts of the country, however these were largely wound back when the lockdown measures were eased.
The official rules for alcohol consumption in Austria can be seen here (in German).