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Easter holidays: What to expect if you are coming to Austria

After a few seasons of closed hotels and lockdowns, Austria is reopening and ready to resume tourism activities. Here's what you need to know before coming to the alpine country.

Easter holidays: What to expect if you are coming to Austria

The pandemic is certainly not over, but as many countries bring reopening steps, travellers are getting ready to resume trips.

With its natural beauty, Easter markets, stunning architecture and a great variety of touristic offers, Austria is certainly a great destination for those looking to satiate their wanderlust. 

But what are the rules currently in place, what has changed with the pandemic and, most importantly, what should you be aware of when coming to Austria?

Entry rules to Austria

First of all, are you even allowed to travel to Austria? 

The country last month changed its entry rules regarding Covid restrictions, making it significantly easier for visitors to come. 

Travellers need to prove that they are fully vaccinated against the disease, have recently recovered from it, or show a negative Covid-19 test. Either of these, the so-called 3G rule, is enough for entry. 

Austria accepts several different vaccines as proof of vaccination for entry into the territory, including the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac. However, they are not recognised for 2G proof inside the country (i.e. for entry to bars and restaurants). 

There is no need to quarantine or fill in any online forms for those who comply with the 3G rules. In addition, children under the age of 12 don’t need to show any of these confirmations.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are Austria’s current entry and Covid rules?

What rules are in place inside of Austria?

Austria used to have a strict mask mandate, but recently dropped the requirements for most places, including bars, restaurants, and leisure or culture establishments. 

FFP2 masks are still mandatory in indoor “essential” public places (such as pharmacies, supermarkets, and banks) and in public transport and taxis. 

Most of the country has removed the main Covid restrictions, including person limits for events, entry rules for certain establishments, curfews and contact restrictions.

As a result, all areas of life can open again, even nightclubs, which were closed for several months longer than any other type of establishment.

READ ALSO: A maskless Easter: The latest coronavirus restrictions in Austria

The capital Vienna has also dropped most of its Covid restrictions, including requirements that people be either vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19 to enter bars and restaurants. 

The so-called 2G rules have also been dropped for nightclubs.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in Austria

What counts as proof of vaccination?

Vaccination, recovery, or a negative test are still requirements for a few places, including hospital settings and for entry in the country from abroad.

A standard EU pass (also known as green, sanitary, Covid or health pass in other countries) is a valid proof of vaccination or recovery. In addition, an official immunisation or health certificate in German or English can also be presented. 

The rules are laid out by the government here

Can I get tested in Austria?

Austria is changing its Covid tests policy starting April 1st, with a limit of five PCR tests and five antigen tests per month per person. 

So far, there has been no need to present proof of residence or social security number to take tests in Austria, meaning that tourists could also benefit from the free offer. There are no indications that this will change. 

We will update this article if there is news regarding Covid-19 tests in Austria for tourists.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Austria’s new Covid-19 testing rules

What else has changed?

Two years of the pandemic have certainly changed Austria in many ways. 

One thing that may affect the lives of tourists is that Austria’s love for cold hard cash has (if only slightly) waned with the health measures and digital payments needed with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, cash is still the preferred method accounting for 66 per cent of all transactions in Austria, according to the Austrian Bank.

READ ALSO: Seven ways the Covid-19 pandemic has changed Austria

So, it is worth it to keep some euros in your wallet unless you want to go searching for a Bankomat to draw some cash and pay for lunch.

Besides that, kissing used to be a standard greeting, with men and women amicably giving one kiss on each cheek as a way to say hello. 

That is no longer as common, and things can get awkward until you figure out if the person you are greeting is a kisser, a hugger, a fist pump sort of person or someone who will greet you with just a nod.

The pandemic is not over, and proof of that is that there are still high numbers of new coronavirus infections, though they have slowly declined from the record-breaking numbers in mid-March.

This has its effects, as people who test positive need to self-isolate for at least five days before resuming activities, including work. You might see the repercussions in certain areas, including transport, as public transport companies have already announced changes in schedules to accommodate the staff shortages.

It’s also important to keep in mind basic health measures to avoid contracting the virus yourself.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: What to do if you test positive in Austria

Plan ahead

If you plan on coming for the Easter holidays, plan ahead. Tourism is picking up again, and hotels have been close to capacity in many regions, including Vienna. 

You should also be aware that, even if businesses have suffered during lockdowns, Austria still closes stores (and supermarkets!) on Sundays. Furthermore, Easter Monday is a holiday too, with everything also closed for that day.

There may be a few options open throughout cities, and convenience stores in gas stations also stay open (so do tourist attractions, bars, and restaurants), but most supermarkets and stores will have their doors closed.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in April 2022

If you are heading to the capital, it’s worth checking out the best things to do in spring in Vienna – all of which open even on Sundays and holidays.

Or just skip town (and country) altogether

In Austria and looking to get away for the long weekend?

Here are five spring destinations popular among Austrians and the Covid rules in place for each of them.

Five spring destinations from Austria – and the Covid rules in place

Useful vocabulary

Einreiseregeln – entry rules

Veranstaltungen – events

Nachweis – proof, certificate

​​Ferienfahrplan – holiday schedule

Testergebnis – test result

This article was updated with the current Covid-19 restrictions on April 17th.

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TRAIN TRAVEL

EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train

Austrian trains have been overly crowded recently, with some people who had valid tickets having to be removed for "safety reasons". Here's how to make sure you get to your destination.

EXPLAINED: How to not be 'bumped' from an overcrowded Austrian train

Train travel is a safe and relatively comfortable way to get around Austria, but there is still much to do to make these journeys better for travellers, especially for commuters.

In Austria, a combination of high fuel prices, the adoption of the subsidised Klimaticket, and Vienna’s new short-term parking system, combined with other factors including a green surge and nice weather, has led to an increase in the search for train travel.

The operator ÖBB expects an even higher surge in the next few days, as warm weather meets holidays in Austria. This has led to several journeys being overcrowded, with people travelling standing up or being removed from trains when they reach capacity and the number of people compromises safety.

READ ALSO: Half-price Europe train tickets on offer in Interrail flash sale

“Safety is the top priority. If the train is too full to be guided safely, passengers must be asked to get off. If they don’t do it voluntarily, we have no choice but to get the police. This happens very rarely,” Bernhard Rieder from ÖBB told broadcaster ORF during an Ö1 interview.

Why are trains overcrowded?

There are several reasons for the surge in train travel, but they boil down to two things: rising costs for other means of transportation and environmental worries.

With galloping inflation, Austrians have seen prices of fuel climbing, and as the war in Ukraine continues, there is no likelihood of lower petrol prices any time soon.

At the same time, since March, Vienna (the destination for many domestic tourists and commuters) has instituted a new short-term parking system, basically removing free parking in the streets of the capital.

Driving has become more expensive when everything else seems to be costly, and many Austrians turn to train travel. Particularly for those who are holders of the Klimaticket, a yearly subsidised card that allows for unlimited travel for just over €1,000 – early buyers could get a hold of the ticket for under €900.

READ ALSO: Nine German expressions that perfectly sum up spring in Austria

The ticket allows travellers to “hop on and hop off” as they wish, making occupancy more unpredictable. However, it is possible to reserve seats even if you have them, and there are low-budget bundles for commuters.

The Klimaticket was created in an effort with the Environmental Ministry, looking to increase the use of greener transport alternatives in Austria.

The environmental concern is also one of the reasons why train travel is on the rise globally – travelling by train is also more convenient in many cases, with comfortable seats, free wifi, a dining area and the fact that you can start and end your journey in central stations instead of far-away airports.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Trains are in fashion so why is rail travel across Europe still so difficult?

Why won’t ÖBB only sell as many tickets as there are train seats?

A reasonable question, but that is not possible with the way train journeys operate in Austria – and in most countries.

Some tickets are “open” and flexible, meaning that people can board any train from a specific time. These are particularly useful for commuters who might be late leaving work, for example.

Additionally, holders of the Klimaticket and other regional yearly offers don’t need to buy tickets. They only need to show their Klimaticket card with an ID once checked.

READ ALSO: Austria’s nationwide public transport ‘climate ticket’ now available

What is ÖBB doing to avoid overcrowding?

After the several incidents of overcrowding when people even had to leave their trains despite having valid tickets, ÖBB announced it would bring additional trains for the peak season around the holidays (May 26th, June 5th and 6th and June 16th), increasing the number of seats by “thousands”, according to a press statement.

What can I do to guarantee my journey?

Despite the increase in offer, the operator still warns that “on certain trains, demand can still exceed capacity”.

The best way to try and guarantee your journey, according to ÖBB, is by reserving a seat.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

“A seat reservation is the best way to use the most popular train connections. Starting at €3, you can reserve a seat in ÖBB trains in Austria”.

Reservations are available online at tickets.oebb.at the ÖBB app, at the ÖBB ticket counter, and at the ÖBB customer service at 05-1717.

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