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Esztergom Basilica

Bratislava

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Schonbrunn palace in the snow; Budapest parliament at night; Melk Abbey;
European Information

This tour visits the following countries. Please select one to view its details.

| Austria | Hungary | Slovak Republic |

Austria
To see our current selection of tours in Austria click here.
Climate
Introduction
Austria enjoys a moderate continental climate: summers are warm and pleasant with cool nights - perfect for hiking and biking in the Alps. Winters are sunny, with snow levels high enough for widespread winter sports. Ski season is from December to March.
Required Clothing
European clothes according to season. Alpine wear for mountain resorts.

Key Facts
Location
Central Europe.
Area
83,858 sq km (32,378 sq miles).
Population
8,400,000 (2011).
Population Density
100.2 per sq km.
Capital
Vienna (Wien).
Government
Federal Republic.
Geography
Mountainous Austria is a landlocked country at the heart of Europe, bordered by Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. The diverse landscape can be divided into five sections: the Eastern Alps (62.8%), the Alpine and Carpathian Foothills (11.3%), the Pannonian Lowlands (11.3%), the Vienna Basin (4.4%) and the Granite and Gneiss Highlands or Bohemian Massif (10.1%). Austria's highest mountain is Grossglockner (3,798m/12,465ft) found in the Alps' Hohe Tauern range, and, on its way from the Black Forest in southern Germany to the Black Sea, the winding River Danube flows for approximately 360km (220 miles) through the country. Nearly half of Austria is covered with forests, with the lower regions particularly densely wooded. Fir predominates above 488m (1,600ft), and gives way to larch and stone-pine beyond 1,219m (4,000ft); the Alpine foothills consist predominantly of arable land and grassland (above 610m/2,000ft); the Pannonian region is characterised by scrub and heathland.
Language
German is the official language. Regional dialects are pronounced and within the different regions of the country one will encounter marked variations from Hochdeutsch, ie 'standard' German. There are Croatian and Slovene-speaking minorities in the Burgenland and southern Carinthia respectively.
Religion
Over 70% of the population is Roman Catholic.
Time
GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from fourth Sunday in March to fourth Sunday in October).
Social Conventions
Austrians tend to be quite formal in both their social and business dealings. They do not use first names when being introduced, but after the initial meeting first names are often used. Handshaking is customary when saying hello and goodbye. It is considered impolite to enter a restaurant or shop without saying Guten Tag (good day) or, more usually, Grüss Gott (common greeting which literally means 'greet God'); similarly, to leave without saying Auf Wiedersehen (goodbye) can cause offence. If invited out to dinner, flowers should be brought for the hostess. The Church enjoys a high and respected position in Austrian society, which should be kept in mind.  
Electricity
230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin European plugs are standard.
Head of Government
Chancellor Werner Faymann since 2008.
Head of State
President Heinz Fischer since 2004.
Recent History
From the first human settlements in the Danube Valley, to the ensuing Celts, Illyrians, Romans and Bavarians, and then the noble Babenburg and the Habsburg dynasties, Austria is a land that has been ruled by many. The 640-year reign of the Habsburgs - creators of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - was ended by WWI; 20 years later, WWII saw Hitler invade and occupy Austria, persecuting the country's Jewish community. Post Holocaust, Austria's Jewish community rebuilt itself, but to this day the Jewish population remains much smaller than before WWII. After Austria's liberation by the Allies in 1944, foundations were laid for the Second Republic. Austria joined the European Union, and also signed the Schengen Agreement, in 1995.

Money
Currency
Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
Currency Exchange
Foreign currencies and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at all banks, savings banks and exchange counters at airports and railway stations at the official exchange rates.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
Major credit cards are accepted in large cities. However, some smaller hotels may require bills to be paid in cash.
Traveller's Cheques
These are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in a major currency (Euros, US Dollars, Pounds Sterling).
Currency Restrictions
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding €10,000 or equivalent must be declared if travelling from or to a country outside the European Union.
Banking Hours
Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri 0800-1230 and 1330-1500; Thurs 0800-1230 and 1330-1730. Different opening hours may be kept in the various federal provinces. The exchange counters at airports and at railway stations are generally open from the first to the last flight or train, which usually means 0800-2200 including weekends.
Exchange Rate Indicators
1.00 GBP = 1.18 EUR 1.00 USD = 0.72 EUR 1.00 CAD = 0.68 EUR Currency conversion rates as of 12 December 2013

Overview
Austria is a country of startling contrasts, from the soaring Alps to the verdant swathes of the Danube Valley. This European beauty is noted as much for its historical buildings, awe-inspiring museums and galleries, as for its world-class skiing conditions and breathtaking mountain scenery. Groundbreaking cultural figures pepper Austria's history, from the composing geniuses of Mozart and Schubert, to the great mind of psychologist Sigmund Freud. Glorious architectural riches include reminders of the once-powerful Habsburgs, who dominated central Europe for seven centuries; the capital of Austria, Vienna, is magnificent with its ornate Opera House and the imperial Hofburg, while many other cities are similarly infused with historical magic, notably Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg, with stunning baroque churches set before a backdrop of snow-covered peaks.

  





From www.worldtravelguide.net copyright Columbus Travel Publishing Ltd, December 2013.

PLEASE CALL US ON 020 7752 0000
 
 

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