How to Travel Through Austria on a budget?

street in vienna lined with shops and urban furnitures in the evening

“Mighty mountains, pristine lakes, stunning streets for strolling, the intriguing history behind royal castles, fine wine, delightful music, lively public square – Along with these comes a threat to the pocket. “
“Mountain peaks with views are too steep to climb, too captivating to ignore & expensive to take the cable car. Your nostrils can’t escape from the coffee aroma lurking in Austrian cafes. The eyes can’t stop gawking at their charming decor. But your bank balance loses its life little by little every time you enter a cafe.”

So is “Travelling in Austria economically” is just a hallucination?
Aerial view of wachau valley by the river side with a village consisting of arched bridge, old church and red tiled gabled roof houses in Melk with vineyard behind

While wandering in charming Austrian towns and listening to cow bells on mountains for half a month, I have done some right things to save money. As a flashpacker travelling with my 58-year-old mother, I valued comfort over budget sometimes. Also, I made a few mistakes unknowingly that hit my wallet a little stronger than I expected.

This post shows you if it is possible to travel to Austria cheap. If so, how and Who can travel to Austria on a budget?

Index

Is Austria an expensive country?

Factories, tourism and agriculture, are Austrian economy’s backbone. The dairy and farming run excellent here. They export vehicles of brands like KTM, wine, papers and even therapeutic human blood! Austrian population density is low, and the landmass is spread across mountains. So Austria isn’t deficient in land, unlike Tokyo in Japan.

vontobel bank austria signboard in Salzburg's historic town's arched building and travellers walking near by.

On what budget are you on while in Austria – This is the common question among travellers who meet each other on trains

The human resources shortage and import of items like oil, iron, and steel may have caused the high inflation rate. In addition, there are not enough people to provide the service to meet consumer demand, which may have increased wages for the existing workforce. That is why Austria is expensive for travellers.

I am neither an economist Nor an Austrian resident living in the country. But, as a snoopy observant traveller, this is my observation.

How costly is Austria?

Line of traditional cafes with outdoor seating and planter boxes by the streetside in Melk on a sunny day.

How much is a cup of coffee in Austria?

  • One cup of Cappuccino in the transit hub costs 2 Euro (16O Rs)
  •  Breakfast with a croissant, eggs and juice at a budget cafe costs 4EURO(320 Rs)
  •  The basic small size room without Ac and elevator costs 80-90 EURO(6500-7200RS/NIGHT at the city centre.
  •   1 km ride by cab costs you 7 to 10 Euros (560 to 800RS)

Things to consider while drawing a budget for your Austria trip.

Answer these things to draw a rough budget.

Whom are you travelling with? – Toddlers? Pets? Adults? Senior citizens?

White samoyed dig sitting by the cliff watching the turquoise coloured lake of Wolfgangse and the town below

Mr Handsome enjoyed the view after his parents paid 10 euros for his cable car ride at Zwölferhorn.

Many museums, hotels, and transport services, including trains and buses, give discounts for seniors and kids. However, if you are travelling with pets, some places charge you for that.

Are you travelling in peak summer or winter skiing season?

Ancient tall pillar with sculptures around it at a square in Innsbruck

How many of them are talking of their budget problems in Austria?

  • June to September is Austria’s summer. The sunshine attracts most tourists during this time. Expect accommodation prices to be higher. Hence keep your Austria budget trip more in that season.
  • The next peak season is during winter skiing – November to March. So pensions by the mountains and ski resorts charge you more in winter.

Is it only mild hiking, or are you looking for some adventurous activities?

Woman surfboarding on wolfgagngse lake besidebeside beautiful window box flowered houses

Can you reduce your budget in Austria by not doing such exciting things?

Unless you pay for cable cars to ascend or eat at trail huts, your hiking experience in Austria won’t cost you anything. But, if you want to go surfing in the lake, try kayaking in the Danube or paraglide by the mountains, your budget can rise significantly.

How long are you in Austria & Where do you head next?

You get better discounts when you stay longer. For example, the city and transport cards are cheaper if you stay longer. OBB trains give you a 10% discount on your next ticket if you book 3x within three months via the OBB customer account!

Where you go next from Austria decides your transportation cost. Most international flights arriving /departing are from Vienna, especially the ones from the middle-east. So if you are heading back home from Austria, somewhere other than Vienna, it will cost you more. So look for the busiest or most commonly used airport near your last city in Austria to decrease your budget on exiting the country.

What is your idea of comfort?

Austrian hikers by the glacier side standing with their dog

Comfort and budget are subjective. You must answer the following questions –

  • Do I want to stay in a hostel sharing room? Or Go for an individual suite?
  •  Am I ok with Non-AC & No-Lift hotels, Or look for a comforting option?
  •  Do I want to cook all my meals in pensions (Austria’s BnB)/ buy bread from Spar? or munch on Austrian delicacies in reasonably priced cafes?
  •  Am I ok with paying more for rooms near the city centre where public transport is easily accessible? Or should I book a room in the outskirts which has to be walked 2km from the bus stop?
Amazing view of wolfgang lake from above in Schafberg railway station

What is your area of interest?

What attracts people to Austria and what you prefer are two different things. There is architecture, history, castles, museums, 5000+ hiking trails, dozens of public squares, vineyards, riversides and an uncountable number of food joints in Austria. A survey says that Austria hosts around 200 music festivals. Plus, one or the other music show will happen daily in cities. There are hot springs, quintessential charming villages, folk artists and rolling farms everywhere.

Serbian girl in red dress stanmding on a gian water bowl at Swarowski world

Some common Myths about saving money in Austria.

Beautiful facade of similar classical structures with various colours.
  • Buying a Eurail pass for short-term travel – Eurail passes work if only you stay in the EU region for a more extended period (like six months or so). They aren’t cheap and won’t give you unlimited travel for your 5-10 days trip. For my 15 days in Austria, I spent 258 Euros on four train journeys. The same with Eurail pass would cost me 500+ Euro. Do the math before buying.
  •  Not buying travel insurance – Austria is a clean nation. The chances you catch up with food poisoning are low. But there may be other unseen menaces. Not having travelling insurance is a poor idea when everything is so expensive in the world’s 18th richest country.
Big tourist buses parked in Hallastat

Are group tours more expensive?

  • Going on big group tours – In my personal experience, giant group tours don’t let you have quality time. Unlike other nations, most big group tours in Austria aren’t cheap. So here, you pay a big chunk for poor-quality time.
  •  Renting a car to save money on transport – The fuel prices are high. Parking fees are even higher. Most hotels grin happily when you say you didn’t arrive by a private car – because it is a headache for anyone to find a parking spot. Unless you have accommodation somewhere in the hidden jungle that can’t be reached by bus, you want to stop at every enchanting village you cross, car rental increases your budget badly.

Is Vienna City Card worth buying?-No

  •  Vienna city card saves you money – The Vienna city card isn’t your entry ticket to places. It just offers discounts to many places. Looking at the number of sites don’t think it is worth it. If you visit all museums listed there, you will be exhausted. Plus Vienna city card differs from the transport card, for which you must pay extra.
  •  Not buying an Austrian SIM – You need to walk a lot and must watch apps for train and bus schedules. Without the internet, you feel paralyzed. 

How can I travel to Austria cheap?

Lady filling her bottle with water from a historical fountain in Vienna
  • Don’t buy bottled water – Austrian tap water is fit for drinking. You find spouts and fountains in many places. Bring in a reusable bottle and never order drinking water in restaurants.
  •  Plan in advance – Last-minute booking for accommodations in Austria costs you more and won’t get you better deals. You will pay more than usual for trains if you book a day or two before departure.
  •  Use Public Transport and walk a lot – They are efficient, easy to use and super comfortable. Google maps show you the immediately available fastest options to reach from A to B. That may be a combo of Tram+bus or Metro+tram. It is easy to navigate, and the frequency of this during the day is more.
Indian woman in saree sitting inside Vienna metro train

Is Austria expensive for tourists?- Yes! And I don’t know why my mom was staring at that man!

  •  BUY A SPARSCHIENE TICKET – The meaning of this is “Discounted tickets” and available for 2nd class trains. You won’t get to choose the seat, but these limited tickets save you a big chunk.
  •  Buy the right pass – When you check the OBB website, you find many types of passes. There is hardly any pass suitable for 15 to 20 days of travelling. When you buy city cards, calculate the number of days and proceed to buy. Day 1 starts after you punch the ticket and not after you buy.
  •  Check for concessions – OBB railways offer a 40-50% discount for those above 62. Westbahn gives a discount for seniors above 60. There will be a discount for museum and cable car entries too. Kids up to 19 are eligible for free admission to Vienna’s natural history museum.
  •  Avoid “too-mainstream” places.- I never felt Austria was crowded except in Hallstatt. I don’t go hunting for offbeat places, but Hallastat was beyond tourists. They are expensive, and the “too-much” crowd won’t let you enjoy the place. Avoid rush hours, and visiting sites like Salzburg castle early in the morning is best.
Beautiful cemetery with graves adorned with flowering plants at Maria plain in Salzburg.

Maria plain from Salzburg is so serene and away from the tourists

  • Beware of hotel check-in and check-out time – Austrian hotel check-in time is 3 PM, and you must check out by 10.30 or 11. Austrians being famous for punctuality, expects you to check out on time. Hardly any hotel accepts early check-in. So plan your travel accordingly.
  •  Take free walking tours – The walking tours best understand the country’s heritage and current situation. Use the free walking tour, but don’t forget to tip as per your will.
long waiting line of people outside vienna cafe central.
  •  Buy more “Grab and go” dishes than “dining.”– You find much Turkish falafel wraps stores, sandwiches and cake shops without dine-in options. They are cheaper and save you time. I have been to fancy cafes, which I enjoyed wholly. But I equally enjoyed munching on my croissants sitting in public plazas.
  •  Avoid “famous-expensive” cafes if possible – The Central cafe in Vienna must be undoubtedly fantastic because I saw a 10m long waiting line outside. Unless you are ok with waiting, consider staying in the bar along with dining as an experience; go ahead as I do.
Museum quarter with urban furnitures and a beer mug on the counter

Is alcohol cheap in Austria? Not really

  •  Buy beer in Spar – Open container in Austria is legal. So don’t be hesitant to carry the bottle opener and sit by a fountain to sip some beer you bought from Spar.
  •  Ask your “pension” owners for guest cards to avail discounts on trains – In offbeat places like Kirchberg, you won’t find city cards as you do for Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck. The homestay owners must create a guest card in a particular online platform that can fetch them some discount on trains.
Travellers looking at collection of  saucages at Nasch market in vienna
  •  Don’t go shopping, especially for clothes – My biggest mistake was going for little shopping. Mom and I aren’t shopaholics when we travel separately. But when we are together, we ignite each other’s Compulsive buying behaviour. We are each other’s catalysts which increases the rate of shopping. I bought many things – from high-quality clothes to pretty jewellery, Austrian cheese and herbs, walnut cutlery, Austrian Baitz doll – Shopping in Austria is fun if you have a lot of money!
Swarowski green crystal huge earrings

Is it cheaper to shop in Austria? No.

We don’t regret it – This shopping therapy was much needed after being unable to travel internationally for two bloody years. But if you want to be right on the budget in Austria, don’t go shopping for anything.

  • Choose your accommodation wisely – The rooms 15-20 minutes from the city centre cost you less than those nearby. Austria is safe for all kinds of travellers. So getting back to the room by night may not be a safety concern but an accessibility concern. The frequency of buses reduces after dark. 
Young crowd sitting by the fountain at Vienna
  •  Enjoy free spaces – Public squares, some dance classes, courtyards of palaces, street side music concerts, movie screenings at night – You find a ton of free stuff happening in Austria.
  •  Buy Combo-tickets – These come in handy and are cheaper when you want to see some parts of palaces in particular or ascend+descned in a cable car.
  •  Plan ahead for Sundays – Most shops are closed on Sundays. Plus public transport frequency is lesser on Sunday. You must buy your grocery in case you are cooking your meal before Saturday 4 PM. If you don’t plan your day trips on Sunday properly, you might miss the last bus at 5 PM and pay for taxi some 200 Euro which would have cost you 10 Euro by bus!
fresco paintings on the ceilin of a lavish museum in vienna

Is Austria affordable to travel? Yes, if you research well in advance.

  •  Choose museums and palaces consciously – There are over 40 castles and hundreds of museums and libraries. You will waste time and money if you don’t know what each exhibits prior. 

Which countries are closest to Austria?

 Choose your next destination wisely – If I flew back to India from Innsbruck, it would cost me around 1250 euros per person. But I took a train to Munich, spent five days and flew back home for 630 Euros/person. So instead of spending on airfare, I had my quality five days in Munich. So choose your “flying back home” destination wisely.

sculpture of a dragon climbing the wall at munich

I went to Munich and said, “Dracarys.”- Nothing happened though.

If you are continuing your expedition further, I suggest the following foreign cities as your next destination –

  • Vienna to Budapest / Prague/ Milan / Bratislava
  • Villach to Ljubljana / Venice 
  • Salzburg to Berchtesgaden / Zurich
  • Innsbruck to Munich
Tyrolean home with wooden wallks and roof along with red window boxing flowers

The less famous places = Better the experiences, and you are safe on your Austria Travel Budget.

  •  Head to smaller cities for better prices and experiences – Kirchberg is where I enjoy most. I fell in love with the Tirol region more than other states. But Kirchberg, its quintessential Austrian countryside charm, won my heart. There are many villages like this in Austria if you take a slight detour from the main line. The prices are cheaper, and you see more Austrians than tourists in such places.
goats running at mountain top grassland in Innsbruck

Avoid visiting in peak summer if possible – This isn’t feasible for all – Some of us will have holidays in July only. Others want to experience ample sunshine. If you are flexible, I recommend September to October, when the skies are still clearer, and winter will be just a few days away.

How much money do you need to visit Austria?

view of salzburg castle from gardens

Summarizing the entire story –

  • The minimum budget to travel in Austria is 80 to 100 euros/day/per.
    By staying in a hostel, cooking at least two meals, staying in dorms or pensions outside the town centre, avoiding pricey entrance fees and using public transport strictly.
  • Midrange budget to travel in Austria as a flashpacker is 150 -200/day/per.
    Having accommodation in the city centre in comfortable NON-AC rooms mostly, having two cappuccinos and two meals in budget cafes, picking particular museums and using a city transport card to commute on public transport (I am excluding some crazy shopping I did here) 

Did we help to travel through Austria on a budget? Let us know in the comment section below.

lady in saree eatcing ice0cream grinningly in crowded stephenplatz

Mom and I are the happiest when we sip good coffee, lick tasty ice cream and do a heap of shopping.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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