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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

Ten ways to save money on your trip to Austria this summer

Austria is not a cheap country to visit, but there are ways to make those precious euros go further. Here's our guide to saving money in Austria this summer.

Kölnbreinspeicher, Austria hiking alps
Summer is a great time to visit Austria. (Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash)

Most people think about travelling to Austria in the winter to go skiing in the Alps, but the summer is (arguably) an even better time with visit with warm weather, lots of sunshine and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

The only problem is exploring Austria can put a dent in your bank balance with the cost of accommodation, food and petrol all increasing in recent months.

There are ways to save money though and still have fun.

Here’s how.

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

1. Book ahead to get the best deals

The summer season in Austria is growing in popularity, especially for hiking and biking.

For this reason, it’s always a good idea to book accommodation and car rental in advance – if you can.

This way you can avoid disappointment or having to pay last-minute expensive prices because the only room left available is in a five-star hotel.

2. Consider alternative accommodation options

Hotels aren’t the only accommodation option in Austria.

Instead, try saving money by camping in a tent or travelling in a campervan. Just be sure to secure a camp ground spot in advance as they can fill up quickly in popular areas.

Alternatively, you can book accommodation via Airbnb or scour platforms like Booking.com to find last minute deals.

A word of warning though: key cities like Salzburg book up fast during the summer months – especially at weekends and on public holidays. So always book in advance.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are Austria’s rules for Airbnb rentals?

3. Travel by bike

Biking is booming right now and Austria is the perfect country to jump on the cycling bandwagon with its beautiful scenery and networks of cycle paths. 

E-bike rental centres are also popping up across the country, making it even more accessible for those without a bike or with fitness levels that could do with a boost.

Travelling by bike is a great way to explore the country and reduce travel costs, leaving more cash to spend on a nice hotel or a fancy dinner.

4. Use public transport

Austria has an excellent public transport system with frequent services and affordable prices.

If visiting Vienna, consider purchasing the Vienna City Card for 24, 48 or 72-hour access to subway, tram and bus connections across the city, as well as discounts on some tourist activities and restaurants. 

Cards are available from €17 (including public transport) up to €61 (for public transport, access to Hop-on, Hop-off tours and airport transfers).

Nationally, the train operator is ÖBB. Cheap tickets (known as Sparschiene) are available on selected routes and usually when booked in advance.

There are also seasonal bus services available in tourist areas, such as in the Alps at the start and end points of popular hiking routes.

However, public transport can be harder to access in more rural places so always do some research before planning to travel by bus or train in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

5. Use the ÖAMTC app to find cheap petrol

The Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC) is a traffic club and non-profit association with the aim to support and represent drivers and cyclists in Austria.

The ÖAMTC also has a useful app to help motorists find the cheapest fuel prices in their area, or wherever they are travelling in Austria.

In the app, users can search by petrol or diesel (depending on their vehicle) to view details of current prices at petrol stations in the selected area.

In these high inflation times, this is a money-saving opportunity not to be missed.

6. Know the local laws and regulations

The best way to avoid unexpected fines eating into your travel budget this summer is to be aware of the local laws and regulations.

For example, the default speed limit for driving in towns and cities is 50 kmh, unless stated otherwise. Outside of towns and cities, it’s usually 100 kmh or 130 kmh on motorways.

If caught speeding in Austria you could be fined between €30 and €150, depending on how fast you were going.

In Austria, cyclists also have to follow traffic regulations – just like any other road user. This means stopping at red lights and giving way at junctions. 

Find out more about traffic rules and regulations for cyclists in The Local’s guide to cycling in Austria.

And for anyone planning to camp – whether in a tent or campervan – be aware that wild camping in Austria is illegal and can result in a fine.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about camping in Austria

7. Avoid August if you can

Like most European countries, August is the peak summer month for tourism in Austria, so it’s best to avoid it if you can.

During August, lakes and beauty spots are packed with families enjoying the school holidays, restaurants are busy and hotels are either booked out or very expensive.

If you have to travel at this time, there’s not a lot you can do apart from pay the high prices and jostle for space at the lake. 

However, summer weather usually stretches into September in Austria, and sometimes even to early October. So don’t be afraid to be flexible with your Austrian travel plans, if possible.

8. Enjoy free lakes and beauty spots

In the peak summer months, there is often an entry fee at popular lakes, beauty spots and outdoor pools – but there are alternative options to save money.

There are plenty of free mountain lakes to enjoy, as long as you don’t mind hiking or cycling up to find them.

Then there are plenty of river banks in towns and cities across the country that are free to sit beside and enjoy a picnic.

READ MORE: Discover Austria: Six off-the-beaten-track towns to visit

9. Venture off-the-beaten-track 

Visiting the main cities and tourist spots in Austria during the summer will always be the most expensive option, so instead venture off the beaten track for a cheaper alternative.

Smaller towns – or those not as famous as places like Hallstatt, Salzburg and Kitzbühel – often have more affordable accommodation and dining options. As well as cheaper parking, shops and petrol stations.

To get started, try visiting St. Johann in Tirol, Eisenstadt in Burgenland or the Nockberge region in Carinthia for some off-the-beaten-track gems.

10. Take a water bottle

Austria is home to some of the highest quality drinking water in the world.

To save money – and the planet – carry a reusable drinking bottle with you and simply fill it up at drinking water taps instead of buying bottled water.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Austria’s world-class drinking water

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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

With its mountain peaks and crystal-clear lakes, Austria has more than its fair share of stunning scenery to fall in love with. And travelling by train can give you the chance to take the views in properly without any distractions. Here are Austria's most scenic train routes.

The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

Semmering rail line in winter

You’ll get epic views whether you travel in summer or winter, but the snow adds to the romanticism. Photo by Miroslav Volek on flickr.

Semmering Railway
Built between 1848 and 1854, the 41-kilometre-long Semmerling line was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1998 and it’s easy to see why: it runs through some jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery between the mountain towns of Semmering and Gloggnitz. It was a huge technical achievement for its time, not least because of the hefty gradient of the line. It was also the first European mountain railway to have a standard gauge track.

You’ll see glorious mountains, obviously, plus huge viaducts – 16 of them, if you’re counting – and 15 tunnels, including one whopping 1,430-metre-long one, and over 100 bridges, as well as plenty of lush forests and deep valleys.

semmeringbahn.at

Mariazeller Bahn

Clear skies are made for scenic train rides. Photo by flightlog on Flickr

Mariazell Railway
Remember we mentioned gauges above? Well, the Mariazell Railway is a narrow-gauge route – built like that because it was a difficult terrain for trains to cross. Running from St Pölten in Lower Austria to Mariazell in Styria, at 84km-long, it’s Austria’s longest narrow-gauge line.

The mountain section (Bergstrecke) of the line is the most picturesque. Get on at Laubenbachmühle where this starts and enjoy the train’s climb to its peak of 892m above sea level in Gösing where you’ll have gorgeous panoramic views and a glimpse of the 1,893-metre-high Ötscher mountain. Stay on board to see viaducts, reservoirs and deep gorges, in particular glimpses of the wild Erlauf gorge.

Want to really make the most of those views? Book a panorama carriage, which gives you super-comfy seats and unobstructed views of the scenery unfolding as the train trundles along. 

mariazellerbahn.at

Perfect peaks and lush valleys await. Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr

Arlberg Railway

The Arlberg raiway is one of Europe’s highest – it climbs to 1,310 metres above sea level at its highest point. It goes up at a fair tilt, too and is one of the steepest passenger lines out there.

Connecting Innsbruck and Bludenz (on the Swiss border), it’s the only east-west mountain line in Austria. Visual delights include the Tyrolean Trisanna Bridge near the hilltop castle Wiesberg, snow-peaked mountains, the 6.6-mile-long Arlberg tunnel, and verdant valleys and forests at the Arlsberg pass  – go at sunset/sunrise and look to your right for the best views.

arlbergbahn.at

Schafberg Railway

There are – unsurprisingly – a lot of steep railways in Austria and this one is no exception. This is the steepest steam cog-railway in the country and has been running between St Wolfgang in Salzkammergut up to the 1,783-metre Schafberg mountain since 1893.  

It’s a gorgeous journey up the mountain with the views getting better and better the higher you go. At the top, you’ll have (weather-permitting) clear views over Salzkammergut’s glittering lakes, as well as the soaring peaks of neighbouring mountain ranges, such as the Höllengebirge.

schafbergbahn.at/

Tauern Railway
If you’re heading to Venice by train, then this is the most scenic route to take and it’s worth the trip in its own right, too. You’ll pass stunning valleys and gorges as the line winds its way up the High Tauern mountain range of the Central Eastern Alps.

The best views are on the right-hand side of the train when you’re heading in this direction, so try to get a window seat if you can.

oebb.at

Are you even in Austria if your train doesn’t pass a field of cows? Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr.

Zillertal Railway
There’s always something rather romantic about travelling by steam train and the traditional Zillertal locomotive with its wooden carriages is no exception. It putters gently by the side of the Ziller river along the 32-kilometre stretch between the towns of Jenbach and Mayrhofen, giving you ample opportunity to take in the views as you pass picture-perfect villages and gorgeous valleys surrounded by mountains. 

If you’ve got your heart set on the romanticism of steam trains, make sure you check which train you’re getting as the steam-powered engine doesn’t run as frequently as the faster diesel one. If you haven’t pre-booked, get there early to make sure you get a seat as it can get very busy.
zillerbahn.at

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