Is Austria good for Shopping and what to buy there?

miniature houses with winter theme for sale in an Austrian market

Austria’s charming shopping streets never fail to invite you. Supermarkets in small towns hide that herb your pension host uses in their Käsespätzle. The musicians busking bring cheerfulness when you sit on a bench after “you happily shopped till you dropped” This legit post took birth after” two almost shopaholic women” went shopping in a foreign land post-COVID! So imagine the adrenaline. Meanwhile, as a budget flashpacker, I kept an eye on the budget.

So, here we help you buy authentic and worthy Austrian things and show you where to buy them.

Index

Is Austria good for shopping?

Lot of tourists shopping at Austria's plaza surrounded by historical building

Partially yes! The answer depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for nicer things unique to Austria – you have some options. On the other hand, if you are looking for a ‘high-end fashion brand”, you are in for a treat. If you don’t intend on buying only “made in Austria” things, you can go shopping forever. Shopping in this central European country can’t be compared to the Middle East’s bazaars regarding pricing. It is not cheap to shop in Austria.

Things to know before you go on a shopping spree in Austria

Tourists shopping at Austria's Krems on a sunny day
  • Is window shopping in Austria considered rude? – The shopkeepers are happy when you check out the price range and the things they exhibit before you enter. Local brands don’t push away window shoppers. 
  • Is it ok to haggle? – Bargaining is not frowned upon, but neither encouraged. You ask for 50% less price. Shopkeepers may agree to a 20% discount. Any further attempt to haggle will be discouraged, with the shopkeeper saying, “No, that is all. I am not the owner. Or This is the best I can do.”
Austrians shopping for bread in the streetside cart at Melk
  • Whether it is an open shop by the street or a store, greeting each other is customary while entering & exiting.
  • Customers are left in private to check things out and are expected to ask for help if needed.
  • Don’t expect the owner to be overly nice to make you buy something. Walking out without buying is absolutely ok.

What is considered rude in Austria?

Shop in Austria with advertisement of selling weed

When you go out shopping in Austria, don’t rush the shopkeepers – They hate it when you do it. They attend to one customer at a time for only one thing. For example, you asked a shopkeeper to help you choose earrings. If you interrupt them and ask them to show you neck-pieces at the same, they politely ask, “Are you done with earrings? If so, I will show you the neckpieces. Then, they will re-arrange the exhibits quietly, bring the shop back to phase zero and return to help you. This is quite the opposite of what happens in bazars or South East Asian markets.

Tell them you are an observer & not a buyer if you are there to check out the scene- When shopkeepers are free, you can ask all your questions. Austrians are nice that way.

Are shops closed in Austria on Sundays?

Austria shopping scene on an evening at a famous historical plaza

Most shops are closed on Sundays except for the weekly market if any. Shopping in Austria post 6 PM is almost impossible. All the shops and malls remain open strictly as per official hours, even during the peak summer tourist season. Even petty shops don’t wait for a minute at the end of their 9th hour. 

  • Most pension hosts have an exquisite design sense. Their decors involve a lot of pretty little things. They are more than happy to give the address to you to buy the same thing.
  • Like you do anywhere else, wander around to check your options before buying.
  • Tasting Food samples- I am not sure how food samples at your nation work. But I found Austrians to be very rigid about it. If you are buying candy, they will carefully pick only one tiny pearl with the pluckers and expects you to decide on that.

Best places for shopping in Austria.

Women with baby stroller walking on the heritage streets with classical tall buildings on both side in Vienna

Though Vienna gave me a wide range of options to shop, I found it too global and contemporary than Austrian. On the other hand, Salzburg is where nature meets the city quietly, giving an elegant street shopping experience in historic areas. Many weekly markets, farmer markets and plazas of Salzburg are shopper’s paradise.

I am a small-town addict. They are cheaper, and it feels very homely. So the best place in Austria for shopping is Melk, Krems in Wachau and Innsbruck (It is not a small town though) in the Tirol region.

Does Austria have a Christmas market?

Collection of Black and white post cards with sketches of mary and jesus at a shop in Austria

The best time to go shopping in Austria would be during Christmas. The Christmas market appears in the Castle courtyard from November to December.

Best neighbourhoods for shopping in Vienna:

Curious kid watching at bacons in a flea marke in Austria
  • The Naschmarkt-Everyday flea market is cheaper, has many cafes, and it is fun to shop here.
  • Mariahilfer Street near Westbahnof –The new Viennese street shows you the Urban Viennese shopping scene. There are no historical buildings here – But outdoor furniture, mid-range brands and a lot of cheaper cafes make strolling here fun.
  • Hundertwasser Village– Kaleidoscopic indoor shopping plaza for contemporary things.
Colourful decor inside of a strange building in Vienna
  • Gudrunstreet and Kepletplatz– Non-glamorous yet clean street of new Vienna, is the most affordable shopping street and the best way to mingle with locals than tourists.
  • Kantner near Albertina – Historical street with classical facades is famous for expensive brand stores, cafes and outdoor seating.
  • Kohlmarkt near Michaelerplatz – High-end fashion jewellery in heritage streets
  • Graben near Stephenplatz – H&M, Rolex and some 300-year-old restaurants; you find a range of shops in historic buildings here. 
Local Austria people shopping in the new city centre of Vienna

Best streets for shopping in Salzburg

Cyclers and pedestrians shopping and walking in historical old town of Slazburg
  • Getreidegasse , Kaigasse, Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse, Alter Markt and Mozartplatz in Old Town
  • Linzergasse near Hofwirt
  • Grun flea market near University Street.
  • Schwarzstreet – The road by the Danube in new Salzburg has some unique in-expensive shops.
  • Saint Gilgen – 12km away from Salzburg: Small town by wolfgangse lakeside has walking and hiking trails all around the lake and a charming town.

Where to go shopping in Innsbruck?

  • Maria Teresa street
  • Swarovski Kristallwelten in Wattens
  • Market Street.

Best towns in Wachau for shopping

  • Rathausplatz in Melk
  • Obere Landstreet in Krems.

Best things to buy in Austria

1. Austrian Wine

As an oenophile, I often hear Argentina, French, Australian, and Tuscan wines when I ask for a wine recommendation. But somehow, Wachau wine doesn’t make the headlines – Wine experts should be able to answer this. But for a common connoisseur like me, Wachau wine was one of the best.

Gruner Veltliner grapes bunch on the plant at Wachau valley

Does Austria have good wine?

Wachau region produces one of the finest wines in the world. Hence, Austria makes it one of the world’s Top 15 wine-exporting counties. The special type of grapes called Gruner Veltliner has an earthy-lemony and nectarine taste. So shopping in Austria is incomplete without buying wine.

Small town with organic winery in Austria

Where to buy? – The Gruner Veltliner wine is available throughout the country. Lower Austria is where you find many wineries of this particular grape. So I recommend you buy them in the towns of Wachau region Melk, Spitz and Krems.

2. Zaunhocker, AKA Fence sitter.

When I wandered in Melk central square, I found porcelain dolls mounted onto wooden sticks. Those were dolls of owls, chickens, and some joker- poker face and a curvy lady!

porcelain dolls mounted onto wooden sticks AS FENCE SITTERS IN aUSTRIA

While I walked in smaller villages near Krems, I saw similar things around a beautiful house. When I asked the man sitting on his easy chair enjoying the views of his front yard, he explained the purpose of it. It protects the top of the post against rain & snow! You find these in Bavaria too. Of course, not all of us have farms and nice backyards with posts, but they can be a nice souvenir -a table top for your room.

porcelain dolls OF BIRDS AND COWS mounted onto wooden sticks in Austria

Where to buy?-You won’t find these in bigger cities like Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck. Instead, you must buy them in small towns like Melk or Kirchberg countryside.

3. Drindl – The traditional Austrian outfit for women

It is a dress style with a tight bodice, short sleeves, a low neck, and flared skirt. The dresses are usually meant for festivals and celebrations, but you do find many pretty women wearing beautiful drindle.

Can foreigners wear dirndl?

Yes, you can! But make sure it is for the right event, and you wear it respectfully, not making fun of it by wearing dresses disguised to look like Drindles. Usually, the blouses are white cotton self-embroidered with different short sleeves. The bodice and skirts are generally attached. The apron is a separate piece. The knot on the apron varies with the relationship status of the wearer! Married woman’s apron knots are different from the ones who are single!

Where to shop for Drindl in Austria?

Every city’s historic centre will have at least one shop selling Drindl. The entire outfit costs you around 100 euros and can go up to even 2000 euros depending on materials and embroidery. You rarely find skirts detached from the bodice. So if you are thinking of buying the skirt and blouse and not the bodice, you will mostly be disappointed like me.

4. Swarowski Crystals

Crystal was manufactured for the first time in a small town called “Wattens” near Innsbruck in 1910. Many celebrities have worn these glittering charms, from Merilyn Monroe to Lady Gaga. But, interestingly, the world still doesn’t exactly know the exact secret behind the shine of their crystals. Swaroski says that they use quartz sand & natural minerals that give birth to artificial glass.

Is Swarovski Made in Austria? – Yes

Are Swarovski crystals cheaper to shop in Austria?

In my observation, the prices for Swarowski in Austria and other European countries remain the same. But surely, the Wattens showroom has the biggest collection.

Where to buy Swarovski crystals?

Wattens near Innsbruck is the best place to buy Swarowski loose crystals or accessories. In addition, they have a giant showroom, crazy exhibits, and a nice park with events happening for visitors. The price for a stud is 30 to 40 Euros. In contrast, you can get a nice chandelier for 150 euros.

5. Austrian Cheese

After devouring cheese strudel and Kasespatzle, I could not resist myself from not burying Austrian cheese. “Burgkase or Alpkase (translates to mountain cheese)” is the nation’s traditional cheese, and each region produces different cheese. Tyrol is the diary capital of the country, and I being a Tyrol lover, recommend “Tiroler Graukase” used in my favourite Austrian dish Kasespatzle. Before buying, check if they can be stored without refrigeration until you reach home.

Where to buy Austrian Cheese?

Head to any weekly markets in smaller towns early in the morning. As my host suggested, I found some good cheese in the Kirchberg M-pries supermarket.

6. Coffee beans

Besides its mountains and architecture, the best part of Austria is the cafe culture. Especially Vienna. Any traditional Viennese cafe uses a variety of beans depending on the type of coffee.

Where to buy coffee beans in Vienna.

Of all the cafes I tried in Austria, Cafe Hawelka won my heart the most. Their roastery gives you a wide and fine variety of beans. Another place to look for coffee beans in Wein is Julius Meinl coffee house.

7. Apricot liqueur.

The most charming countryside by the Danube again is home to Austria’s apricots. They use this “Orange gold” of Wachau and make brandy. Fruit brandies are common in Austria and are called “schnapps.” Apricot schnapps is the best of all.

Where to buy – The most famous brand for apricot products is Wieser Wachau.

The Wieser cafe and shops aren’t located throughout Austria. So it is best to buy them in Krems, Durnstein, and Melk of Wachau valley. Or your last chance to buy it would be in Salzburg.

8. Enamel accessories

The “artsy Austrians” have their way of bringing colours to enamels and creating masterpiece accessories. Having seen the Hofburg jewel collection, I expected traditional designs. But these accessories are surprisingly and charmingly modern.

Where to shop for Enamel accessories in Austria – Vienna and Salzburg old city.

The designer ones may cost You 300 Euro. But the commoner one with a bit of enamel and acrylic costs you 20 to 30 Euros.

9. Baitz dolls.

When you don’t know if wearing a drindl is your thing, but you want to have a drindl at home – Buy Baitz dolls. Baitz is an Austrian company that makes cute dolls that wear traditional Austrian attire. You may think it is for kids. But trust me, whenever these cutie pies make you smile every time you see them – So buy one when in Austria.

10. Austrian Chocolates.

When dairy products in Austria are so good, expect their chocolates to be great. I heard about many famous brands and tried a few before buying a lot for my brother and husband. In my opinion, the brand Berger makes the best Austrian chocolate. Based near Salzburg, Berger confectionary makes chocolates of various flavours. My hot pick is – Whiskey and Espresso. Weirdly, I liked the orange ones too.

Where to buy – I bought it in their headquarters near Lofer on my way to Grossglockner High Alpine road from Salzburg. Mind that they don’t have too many outlets and aren’t available in common stores. Check their website for their store location.

11. Walnut and Chestnut woodenware.

With their sustainable forest management, Austria allows cutting trees for commercial purposes in certain places, followed by afforestation in the same place. So you find quality woodenware in towns like Salzburg.

Where to buy – Flea markets like Grun Market in Salzburg.

12. Gummies and Candies.

Austria is the birthplace of many things. For example, the world-famous candy PEZ is a child of Vienna. Not only PEZ candies, but you will also find dozens of other brands all over Austria. 

Where to buy candies in Austria –Don’t forget to buy Wieser Wachau Apricot gummies. If you aren’t brand conscious, purchase the ones at weekly or open flea markets. Perhaps you want particular ones; check out the Vienna candy shop at Mariahilfer street near Westbahnof. 

13. Fruit Jams

Austrians love fruit jams with their breakfast bread. They love “Marillenmarmelade”- Apricot jam. So when you observe the hotel breakfast spread or local flea markets, you also find mango, papaya and apple jams.

Where to buy? – Any weekly organic farmers market or flea markets. Because you can directly buy it from the makers. Staud’s jam is a Viennese favourite.

14. Beer Mugs

I liked Austrian beer and enjoyed the beer garden ambience more. But I loved their mugs the most. I found the best beer in Bruges and the best beer mugs in Austria. The traditional mugs are solid porcelain ones. In contrast, you can buy the fancy Ornate glass ones in places like J&L Lobmeyer in Vienna. Many palace and museum gift shops also sell Beer Stein (Ornamental stone mugs). 

Where to buy – I recommend the solid grey porcelain mugs from the Augustiner beer garden in Salzburg.

15. Chromatic things!

This sounds weird because I am not talking about any object. Hundertwasser house and Village in Vienna is the most dramatic-chromatic place in Vienna that breaks the city’s traditional architectural style entirely. So the things you find in their museums are the most vivid on a theatrical level. Whether it is a mug or socks, the colours pop. So buying something from Hundertwasser village is a special experience, because it feels like you are shopping inside a forest and you go through the mazes of a modern bazar. The prices you pay here are for the essence and experience of the kaleidoscope.

16. Optical wear.

I can’t believe I am suggesting this- but it is true. When looking for pure Austrian brands, mom and I roamed in Lindergasse of Salzburg. We found an unusual number of optical shops in one street. They had super chic, highly stylish eyewear. More than the glasses, I loved the design of the strap. From enamel to pearls, fabric to Chains, Austria knows how to charm up the eye gears.

So later, when I asked a shopkeeper who wasn’t busy, he told me that Austria exports many medical items, and their eyewear and optics are world-famous for their quality.

Where to buy – Salzburg Old town. There are many eyewear shops in this part of the old town. Some of the shops I checked sold Enamel straps alone for 100 Euros.

17. Flower seeds!

After admiring Austrian balconies beaming with vivid flowers, my mother insisted on buying some seeds. At Kirchberg, a stable owner we met suggested we buy some seeds in Mpreis. Going with the flow, we bought two packets of mixed flower seeds. – I will update you soon if it is worth buying or not if only those flowers bloom. Suppose you stay in a place where the climate resembles Austria’s; the flower seeds are a great buy. Otherwise, wait until my next update.

18. The other souvenirs

Cowbell sound is part of your hiking trail in Austria, So it feels good to have a piece of that music back at home. Then there are always fridge magnets, Styrian Pumpkin seed oil, snowballs (Austrians invented it), Manner wafers and Kaiserschmarrn Mix.

The famous Austrian things I didn’t find worthy.

These are pure, personal opinions. However, You may find some of these items suitable for you.

  • Leather wears – I don’t promote the use of leather. But I can’t hide the fact that Austrians were fond of it. Austrian men’s traditional lederhosen is made of leather. Specifically deer. The German brand Salamander seems to be the most common brand for leather shoes & bags in Austria.
  • Mozart balls – The highest-bought souvenir may impress sweet tooth and not mine.
  • Olive oil – You will get better ones from the middle east, Italy Greece than those from Austria.
  • Ceramic wear – They were beautiful, but I did not find anything exclusive about it.

Did we encourage you to shop or avoid shopping in Austria? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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