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MONEY

29 ways to save money in Austria (but still have fun)

In case you hadn’t realised, life in Austria has become even more expensive. Here’s how to still have fun without breaking the bank in the Alpine Republic.

29 ways to save money in Austria (but still have fun)
It is possible to have fun in Austria without spending lots of money, as this guide explains. (Photo by Eliska Trnavska / Pexels)

Inflation in Austria is almost at ten percent, energy bills are skyrocketing and the rising cost of food is showing no signs of slowing down.

But it’s not all grim and there are still ways to enjoy life in Austria without emptying your bank account.

Here’s our guide to saving money and having fun at the same time.

FOR MEMBERS: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Going out

Budgets might be tight right now but there are still ways to maintain your social life on the cheap.

One top tip is to switch from going out for dinner with going out for lunch instead. Many restaurants and cafes do special lunch menus at a set price, which are usually much cheaper than the a la carte prices.

In some places in Austria, these lunch deals are known as Aboessen (subscription food – literal translation) or Mittagsmenü (lunch menu), so keep an eye out for them.

In the mountains, another option is to hike to a mountain hut for lunch or an early dinner. Most huts have cheaper options on the menu like Kaspressknödelsuppe, which is cheese dumplings served in a broth. It’s delicious, filling and affordable.

For the evening, many bars and pubs in Austria do open mic nights that are free to enter and some even have happy hours for cheap drinks. 

If you’re in Vienna and like to stay out late, then try visiting the bars at the Stadtbahn arches under the U6 train line where some places have a happy hour until 4am.

READ MORE: Cost of living: Why are restaurants getting more expensive in Austria?

Arts and culture

Even when trying to stick to a budget, it’s still possible to enjoy Austria’s cultural offerings.

Vienna’s State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) famously has cheap standing tickets for performances, and budget prices for some seated tickets.

There are two ways to get a standing ticket: register for a free federal theatre ticket to be able to purchase tickets online up to two months before, or buy a standing ticket on the day.

For the second option, go to the Stehplätze (standing room) ticket office on Operngasse. The office opens 80 minutes before the start of a performance. Prices for these tickets range from €13 to €18, depending on the section.

Another tip for people in Vienna is to take advantage of free entry to museums on the first Sunday of every month (special exhibitions are usually exempt from this). This includes the Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Roman Museum, Collection of Clocks and Watches, Wien Museum Hermesvilla and the Museum of Military History.

Also, many museums in Austria’s capital city offer free entry for under 19s on a daily basis, or discounted annual passes for adults.

Then there is the BundesMuseenCard that allows holders one visit to eight federal museums within one year. The card costs €59, which means you save around 50 percent when compared with day ticket prices.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s ‘Tax Freedom Day’?

Sports

Taking part in sports or outdoor activities for cheap (or free) is easy in Austria.

In most towns and cities there are outdoor gyms in parks, government-funded outdoor fitness classes and groups like Open Yoga Vienna that offers free yoga outside.

Plus, there are hiking trails, lakes to swim in for free or cheap entry to public pools, and many cycle trails across the country to explore.

For winter sports fans, it is even possible to enjoy the season without spending a fortune by opting for cheaper options that don’t require a ski pass. These are cross-country skiing (Langlaufen), snowshoeing and ski touring (hiking up on skis before skiing down). 

Also, lots of gyms and fitness centres in Austria offer discounted or even free trial periods for new customers, so always ask what is available before committing to a contract.

READ MORE: When and where in Austria can you join free exercise classes

Transport

Having fun sometimes means having to travel somewhere. Thankfully, there are ways to cut transport costs in Austria.

If visting Vienna for a limited period of time, it’s worth investing in the Vienna City Card for free public transport, discounts at museums, restaurants and tourist attractions, and optional airport transfers. Prices range from €17 to €23, depending on whether you buy a 24, 48 or 72 hour ticket.

If you live in Vienna and use the train network on a regular basis, then consider buying the Wiener Linien Jahreskarte. The annual pass gives you unlimited access to city centre public transport for just €1 per day. For people aged 65 and over, the price is even cheaper at €235.

For those wanting to travel across Austria (and reduce their impact on the planet), there is the KlimaTicket. It costs €1,095 and can be used on all regular public transport services for one year. Find out more at klimaticket.at.

However, sometimes there is no other option but to drive. In this case, try using the ÖAMTC app to find the cheapest petrol station to fill up your car before setting off.

READ ALSO: The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

Wifi

Gaining access to wifi might not sound like having fun, but it can be important when trying to contact friends, find directions to a venue or check out a review for a restaurant.

In Vienna, there are around 400 free wifi hotspots in the city, with 40 in the 1st District alone.

Visitors and residents in Vienna can find free wifi at City Hall Square, Stephansplatz, the MuseumsQuartier, Naschmarkt, in the Prater and on Danube Island.

Additionally, free wifi can be found at the tourist information office on Albertinaplatz, at the wienXtra-jugendinfo office on Babenbergerstrasse and at food outlets that have a Free Wave hotspot.

You can find all locations for free public wifi in Vienna at this interactive map from the City of Vienna.

Elsewhere in Austria, most towns and cities have free wifi, as well as many bars, restaurants, cafes and venues.

READ NEXT: Digital nomads: Who can work remotely in Austria?

Events

To find free events in Austria, it’s worth checking out the Eventbrite website. 

Upcoming free events include a talk on the future of Vienna, free concerts for children and a traditional Korean orchestra at the Wiener Konzerthaus.

Other free events taking place across the country are weekly traditional music concerts in your local Dorf (village) and free food and culture events, like Lang und Klang in St Johann in Tyrol. 

Lang und Klang is a weekly summer series of late night shopping, food and live music. The last event takes place on Wednesday September 7th and entry is free.

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MONEY

What the Austrian government’s new pension package means for you

The minimum pension in Austria is set to rise by 10 percent in a move dubbed by the Austrian Federal Government as "social policy in action".

What the Austrian government's new pension package means for you

The Austrian Federal Government has announced plans to increase the minimum pension by 10.2 percent as part of anti-inflation measures worth €4 billion.

Social Affairs Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) described the increase as “socially fair” and “accurate” during a press conference with ÖVP club chairman August Wöginger on Tuesday October 4th.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How to keep energy bills down in Austria

Around 200,000 people in Austria are currently on the minimum pension and will get the full increase. The minimum pension in Austria is €1,030 a month.

Der Standard reports that two thirds of pensioners will receive an increase of 8.2 percent, and the top fifth earners (between €2,360 and €5,670) will see their pension rise by 5.8 percent.

There will also be a one-off payment in March 2023 to compensate for the current high inflation rate. For those with a pension up to €2,000 per month, this payment will be 30 percent of a monthly payment, capped at €500. 

However, those with a pension of at least €5,670 will only receive a lump sum payment of €329 and not an increase in pension payments.

Also, the direct payments will not be taken into account during pension negotiations for 2024. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

What happens next?

During the press conference, Wöginger said the proposals will be put to the National Council in mid-October.

If approved, the pension increase is expected to come into effect in January 2023.

Moving forward, the inflation level between August 2022 to July 2023 will be used to calculate the 2024 pension increase, reports the Kronen Zeitung.

Is everyone happy?

The financial package has been mostly welcomed by Austria’s political parties, although the New Austria and Liberal Forum (NEOS) has questioned how the government intends to finance it, reports Kurier.

The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) rejected the proposal as “deception” and said all pensioners should receive a 10 percent increase.

The Senior’s Association and Pensioner’s Association have also criticised the move as not going far enough. Representatives said there were no final talks after two rounds of negotiations.

The Wiener Zeitung reports that the organisations called for a 10 percent increase for all pensioners.

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