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LIVING IN AUSTRIA

What you need to know about parking in Austria

Parking in Austria can be challenging and, especially if you live in Vienna, expensive or time-consuming. So what key words do you need to know if navigating Austria and trying to find somewhere to park? 

A view of Innsbruck
Sometimes you get to park in a street with a view in Austria. Photo: Patrick Robert Doyle/Unsplash

The first thing you need to know about parking in Austria is the different German terms for stopping, loading and parking. 

Confusingly there are two words for ‘stopping’: halten and anhalten.

Halten is a temporary stop of up to ten minutes or while loading the car, while anhalten is a forced stop due to traffic conditions or other important circumstances. While halten can be forbidden in some areas, anhalten cannot be forbidden. 

Useful vocabulary 

Halten/anhalten – stopping
Parken – parking
Ladetätigkeit – loading
Halteverbote – stopping forbidden
Parkverbote – parking forbidden
Parkpickerl Zonen – residents’ parking zones.

General parking 

If parking outside a car park, the car should be parked as close as possible to the edge of the road so that passing vehicles are not obstructed. Diagonal parking is only permitted if there are diagonal parking regulations, which is shown by road markings or traffic signs. 

Stopping and parking in bus stops, and in the area of ​​15 metres in front of and after bus stops is also forbidden during public transport operating hours. Stopping and parking is prohibited in narrow areas of the roadway, on blind bends, as well as on bridges, in underpasses and in road tunnels.

Useful vocabulary

Fahrbahnrand – roadside
Schrägparken – angled/diagonal parking
Haltestellen – bus stops
Haltestellenbereich – bus stop area

Electric cars

Purely electric cars (E-Autos) benefit from free parking in many cities and towns in Austria. However, it’s not a rule that is universally applied, so it’s always worth checking before you park up. 

Disabled parking spaces

Only people displaying a parking permit to show they are disabled on their windshield can park in disabled parking spaces. Otherwise you risk fines or being towed. 

Useful vocabulary

Behindertenparkplatz – disabled parking space
Behinderte – disabled 
Parkausweis für Behinderte – disabled parking permit

Parking in driveways

Parking in front of house and property entrances is prohibited, unless you are the only person authorised to use the entrance. According to Administrative Court case law, this right cannot be transferred to third parties, such as friends or family. However, if the entrance to your house is situated in a short term parking zone, you should still pay any short term parking fee, even if you are parking in front of your own house. You are allowed to stop in front of entrances, as long as you stay in your vehicle and can move if the entrance needs to be kept clear. 

Useful vocabulary

Einfahrten – driveways
Kurzparkzone – short term parking
Kurzparkgebühr – short term parking fee 

Shopping centres and private car parks

If you are parking at a shopping centres or a private car park, the regulations of the company managing the car park must always be complied with. You should park your car within the specified floor markings, buy a ticket and ensure you are allowed to park there, or face penalties. According to the motorists’ association ÖAMTC, only minimum signage is required by the courts to designate a parking lot as “private”.

However, the towing of cars by private companies is rarely permitted. The ÖAMTC offers legal advice for motorists who believe they have been tricked into paying large fines for parking illegally — you can call them at 01 711 9921530.

Useful vocabulary
Abschleppung/Abschleppen – towing (of cars).
Private Parkplätze – private parking.

Parking in Vienna can be challenging Photo by Arno Senoner/Unsplash

Parking in Vienna

Many car parks in Vienna’s city centre are expensive. Free on-street parking can be hard to find, especially large zones are given over just to residents’ parking (Anwohnerparken), which cannot be used by visitors even at weekends. However, there are short-term parking zones (Kurzparkzonen) throughout the city.. 

If you live in Vienna and have a car, it’s worth getting a parking permit (Pickerl) which will allow you to park for as long as you want in your district in the comprehensive short-term parking zone.

If you do not have a residents’ permit you have to buy a parking ticket to stop in any short-term parking zones in the city, even if you are just stopping to unload your suitcase. Many hotels offer 15-minute parking vouchers for this purpose.

Parking tickets for use in short-term parking zones are available from

  • Tobacco shops
  • Cigarette machines
  • Gas stations
  • Wiener Linien advance booking offices
  • Wiener Linien ticket machines
  • By mobile phone

The cheapest way to park in Vienna if you don’t have a resident’s parking permit is to park at Vienna’s Park and Ride garages which are listed here. It costs around €3.60 per day, and the garages are all close to underground line (U-Bahn) connections.

Useful vocabulary 

Anwohnerparken – Residents’ parking
Kurzparkzonen – short-term parking zones
Parkpickerl  – residents’ parking permit

Shopping streets

Even people with residents’ parking permits are not allowed to park for long periods in Vienna’s shopping streets (Geschäftsstraßen). With a residents’ parking permit, you can park in shopping streets for a maximum 1.5 hours free of charge if you display a parking disc, with the black dial set to the nearest quarter of the hour from when you park.

You can only get one parking permit for your primary residence in Vienna. An exception is made for people with their secondary residence in an allotment garden in Vienna, who can apply for a seasonal second residents’ parking permit. However, this only applies to people with their main residence in Vienna.

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Camping in Austria can be a lot of fun, but what are the rules? Here’s everything you need to know about setting up camp in the Alpine republic.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

Waking up beside a lake or surrounded by mountains is a dream Austrian holiday for many, but it’s important to know the rules about camping before heading off with a tent or campervan.

As the summer season approaches, here’s everything you need to know about camping in Austria.

Is wild camping legal in Austria?

Wild camping – setting up camp outside of a designated campsite – is generally illegal in Austria. This applies to both camping in a tent or sleeping in a van on the side of the road.

Exceptions to this rule do exist but usually only if the municipal authority grants a temporary exception, for example for a school trip or a youth club activity.

A bivouac (temporary camp without cover) is allowed in the event of bad weather or injury, but planned wild camping in the mountains is illegal. 

FOR MEMBERS: What are the rules for wild camping in Austria?

There are some regional differences though.

In the states of Salzburg, Vorarlberg and Styria there are no laws strictly forbidding camping outside of campsites, but local authorities can prohibit it and take action if necessary.

The strictest rules apply in national parks, nature reserves and special protection areas across Austria, so check before you plan your camping trip that your spot is not located in one of these areas.  

In most cases, if someone is caught camping illegally in Austria it is considered as an administrative offence and a fine can be issued, ranging from €5 to €500, depending on the location.

Camping in the forest

Camping in the forest is prohibited everywhere in Austria by law (specifically Section 33 of the Forest Act). The only exception is when you have the consent of the landowner.

Camping above the tree line

In Upper Austria and Styria you are allowed to camp in the mountains above the tree line, as long as you are outside of pasture areas.

In Vorarlberg this is also permitted, although the mayor of a municipality can prohibit the setting up of tents outside approved campsites if the interests of safety, health, agriculture or the protection of the natural balance as well as the landscape and townscape are “grossly violated”.

In Salzburg, camping above the tree line is in theory permitted, but the Alpine Association recommends groups wishing to camp should contact the nature conservation department of the responsible district administration before setting up. 

READ ALSO: How to explore the Austrian mountains in the summer like a local

Camping in a tent

Camping in a tent is the most common way of camping in the summer and most people pitch up on a dedicated campsite.

Many campgrounds have water and electricity facilities, as well as showers, cooking areas, recreation spaces and even kids clubs. Others have luxury elements like year-round heated pools, saunas, beach volleyball and restaurants.

Campsites are also often located near a lake or at the base of mountains, which means you can wake up to beautiful scenery every morning .

Some of Austria’s top camping associations include Camping Wien, Camping Steiermark and Top Camping Austria.

Camping in a van

Camping in a motorhome is only allowed at campsites in Austria and if someone is caught sleeping in a van in a prohibited area they can be fined.

The only exception is if a driver has to stop and recuperate before continuing driving.

Top camping tips

Austria is packed with stunning natural landscapes, so camping during the summer months is a popular activity – both for Austrian residents and tourists.

For this reason, it’s recommended to book ahead during the peak summer holiday months of July and August, whether planning to camp in a motorhome or tent.

Camping in motorhomes is also becoming more popular at some winter campsites during the ski season, so it’s always a good idea to book in advance.

Additionally, it’s advised to take bug spray when camping in Austria in the summer as insects like mosquitoes and ticks are common in countryside areas.

In fact, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) – a viral infection transmitted by the bite of infected ticks – is endemic in Austria and it’s recommended to get vaccinated before going on a hiking or camping trip in the country.

The main affected areas for TBE are Tyrol and Upper Austria.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘tick vaccine’ and should you take it

Useful vocabulary

Campsite – Campingplätze

Tent – Zelt

Campervan – Reisemobil

Electricity – Strom

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