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How to spend a summer afternoon in Austria like a local

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
How to spend a summer afternoon in Austria like a local
Typical Austrian charcuterie board. Photo by Peter Schad on Unsplash

Practice Fingerhakeln, prepare some Gurken salat, go hiking or try swimming in a lake. Here are the best ways to enjoy a hot summer afternoon like a true Austrian.


Summer is here, and while in Austria, you might want to experience a summer afternoon in true Austrian spirit.

Here, we will tell you what you should consider doing to enjoy the sunny weather like a typical Austrian.

Enjoy traditional Austrian games in parks

During hot summer days, spending time in a park can provide some shade and lower temperatures. 

It is also a perfect place for exploring some true Austrian traditions.

For example, you can enjoy practicing the traditional Austrian sport Fingerhakeln. Here, you need two participants to hook their middle fingers into a leather strap and then they need to try to pull the other competitor over a marked line. While this sport is more common at traditional events, it is also an activity that you can enjoy in a park with friends.

Nageln is the name of another traditional game that you can play in a park, although it demands higher motivation since you have to carry some heavy things to the park.

In this game, participants take turns hammering nails into a wooden log using the narrow side of a hammer. The person using the lowest number of hits wins. The game is usually played during traditional festivals but can also be a fun challenge in a park.


While not a game, the traditional Austrian folk dance Schuhplattler is still a perfect afternoon activity in a park. To perform the dance you need to rhythmically stomp your feet and slap your thighs, knees, and soles of your shoes with your hands. You can find a tutorial here.

You can often see people practicing the dance in parks during festivals or cultural events, and then you can just ask to join in.

Fingerhakeln – Finger hooking is an old alpine strength training, mainly in Bavaria and Austria. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Enjoy a picnic with Austrian delicacies 

Even though typical Austrian delicacies such as Germknödel (dough with butter and jam) and Hirn mit Ei (brain with egg) might not be the most suitable options for an afternoon picnic, other Austrian typical snacks definitely are. 

Pretzels and Schinken-Käse-Toast (toast with ham and cheese) are probably the most easily prepared ones, and both are very typical Austrian. If you instead want something healthier and fresher, it is a good idea to make a typical Gurkensalat with thinly sliced cucumbers, onions, and dill, tossed in a light vinegar dressing.

If you have a grill nearby, why not grill yourself a Käsekrainer? This Austrian sausage is filled with cheese, and if you put some mustard on top of it, you have a classic Austrian treat in your hand.

In case you want some comfort food on the picnic, Erdäpfel Salat or Käsespätzle, which is similar to macaroni and cheese, might be your best solutions. These two dishes are also perfect for sharing.

If you search for something more fancy to put on your picnic table, you can create a charcuterie board with Austrian cured meats, such as Speck (smoked ham), Landjäger (dried sausage), and Blunzen (blood sausage). Add some pickles, olives, mustard, and crusty bread, and you can feel like a true Austrian.

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READ ALSO: Seven 'weird' foods in Austria you need to try at least once

Visit a beer garden

Spending summer afternoons at traditional Austrian beer gardens is a must for many people in Austria.

Beer gardens are social hubs where people of all ages come together to relax and enjoy the warmer days. Here, you can have fun in a lively atmosphere and sometimes even listen and dance to Austrian traditional live music.

Austrian beer gardens are great places to spend time with friends and meet new people over a shared appreciation of Austrian beer and snacks such as different sausages, salads with pumpkin oil, bread, and maybe some Leberkäse.

Many beer gardens also offer opportunities to try different brews while learning about Austria's brewing traditions.


Enjoy a hike 

Hiking has a long tradition in Austrian culture, dating back centuries. It was historically a means of transportation and exploration in the rugged terrain of the Alps. 

When you live in Austria, you are likely to live close to some mountains or at least some hillier areas. This gives you a great opportunity to enjoy a sporty afternoon exploring your beautiful surroundings.

Austria is a country offering hundreds of indicated hiking tracks, even if you live in the less mountainous regions, such as in Vienna and Burgenland. 


Since the summer tends to be hot in Austria, and especially in Vienna, hiking in some forested area can provide shade and lower temperatures.

And remember, even if Austrians like their beer, they also like doing sports.

Hiking can be a good idea to avoid the summer heat. Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash

Go to a 'coffee house'

Since Austrian summers tend to be hot, it can be necessary to seek relief in cooler places during the afternoon. This gives you the perfect opportunity to experience the traditional coffee culture.

Inside most coffeehouses,  especially in Vienna, you can find a wide range of classical coffee options prepared by skilled baristas.

Whether you prefer a creamy Wiener Melange (espresso with steamed milk), an Einspänner (espresso with whipped cream), or a refreshing Eiskaffee (coffee with ice), there is usually something to suit everyone's taste.

READ NEXT: Caffeine, war and Freud: A history of Vienna's iconic coffee houses

Show your swimming skills at a nearby lake

Do not be surprised if you see sporty Austrians performing intensive freestyle (front crawl) swim training in a nearby lake.

If you cannot swim confidently, then taking up open water swimming can open doors to friendships with the locals. Watch some videos, hire a trainer, or ask someone to show you the techniques.



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