45 Fascina Facts About Austria You Didn’t Know.

Witty or wacky, silly or severe – I found some unique things about Austria – the land of lakes, mountains and charming towns.

1. Austria gets confused for Australia!

Austria's UNESCO Heritage old town of Salzburg from above beside Salch river.

Silly but true. These two nations are at two different ends of the planet. Google often shows you search results related to Australia when looking for something Austria. There are hundreds of tweet errors with the same confusion.

Google search result page screenshot that shows Australian related results for Austria.

People often confused me for going to Australia until they saw snow pictures of me by the green mountains by the lake and not with a kangaroo.

2. Austria appears small on the map because most of it is Vertical.

Arrial view of Austria's Innsbruck city with mountains behind it

India is 39 times, and Italy is 3.6 times bigger than Austria. I felt 15 days in Austria was ample. When I went there, I realized that the more you climb, the better the views. Upper you go, the prettier the villages. The higher you go, the better castles. So the horizontal size of Austria can fool anyone by hiding its mysterious hot springs and waterfalls across various levels of the mountains.

3. You will find many strange-looking Agricultural machines in Austria.

tractor with weird shaped elongated cylider in the truck going uphill on Austria's road.

Austria’s Agriculture and Machinery are considered one of the most modern machinery in the world. Therefore, keep your eyes open while on the highway by the countryside. You will see some agricultural vehicles that look as strange as a spaceship.

4. Organic farming is a real thing in Austria.

Food van selling organice vegetables and herbs in melk town of Austria.

Post-2000, organic food and certification for organic farming gained the limelight worldwide. But Austria has an older history dating back to 1927 when the first organic farm was established in the Carinthia region. Organically grown things are a way of life for Austrians, not a special thing.

5. Austria is more Vegan than you can imagine.

KFC food joint entrance with vegetarian burger advertisement in Austria's capital city Vienna.

Though Austrians love their meat, Austria has a considerable amount of veg food. Apart from India, I found a veg burger in KFC in Vienna. In addition, they have a brand called “Veganista” that sells vegan ice-creams.

6. Window box flowering in Austria is alluring.

Beige colour building with wooden roofing and multiple windows and flowering plants hanging from the window sil.

Austrians have that perfect sense of combining two different species or colours to bring charm to their aesthetic homes. Of course, the Tyrolean houses are the best among all. But you never will be away from a pretty-looking home with a heap of window box flowers in Austria.

7. Austria does get hot!

Hot and sunny day at Krems in Austria

Most bloggers said that “Austria never gets hot, ” which must have been true before climate change. When I went in July, I suffered from a heat wave with prickly heat and a temperature of 30+C. The mountainous region of Kirchberg had recorded its all-time high temperature of 33C. In 2013, Carinthia reached 39*C in August, the highest for Austria.

8. Air Conditioner in Austria isn’t common.

An Austrian house in the middle of huge green field surrounded by trees by the road side

In a country that hardly used to get hotter, Austrians never found the need for an AC. So you find only a few hotel rooms in Austria that provide you with AC. The traditional buildings converted to hotels won’t have a permit to retrofit. Others don’t find it necessary.

9. Austrian history is older than we have heard.

8. The Austrian Danube and alpine valley are settled in 8000 BC. Salt mining up to 450 BC was followed by Bavarians of Germany and Romans controlling the land. In the 12th century, the Hofburg empire was established. After world war 1, the Austro-Hungarian empire was dissolved, giving rise to Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, and it became a Democratic republic entirely in 1945.

10. World’s Oldest Salt Mine is In The Austrian Alps.

The word “Salary” has nothing to do with money but salt. Being so valuable, Roman soldiers were paid in salt instead of cash. The allowance was called “Salarium.” Austria’s rivers, like Inns and Salch, were the carrier of salt-loaded boats for a long time. Claimed “the most beautiful village in the world”, Hallastat takes pride in being the world’s oldest salt mine.

11. Austria’s historical monarch stories are engrossing.

statue of king Frans JOseph of HOfburg family in Austria's capital city Vienna

Many historical facts about Hofburg intrigued me. But being an admirer of diamonds and a history buff. I love the stories of queen Sisi and Frans Joseph 1. Long story cut short –

  • Frans Joseph married pretty Sisi from Bavaria when she was 16.
  • Having a carefree childhood, the Bavarian princess didn’t like the formal life of Hofburg as a queen.
  • Devastated by her traditional life, she often used to go on trips away from her husband – She is famous for taking long walks.
  • The unhappy “beauty-conscious queen” wore the tightest corset and kept her waist to 21″ size.
  • She spent most of her time dressing up, studding her “floor touching long hair”with some 20+ diamond pins.
  • After three abortions, she gave birth to a child named Rudolph in the 1850s. At the age of 30, Rudolph shot himself after killing his mistress. in 1889,
  • 60-year-old Sisi was out in Geneva’s promenade in 1898. An Italian anarchist stabbed her to her death with a needle.
  • After his arrest, the happy murderer said, “Because I am an anarchist, I am poor, I love the workers, and I desire to see the death of the rich.”
  • Frans Joseph’s brother Ludwig Viktor openly declared that he was a homosexual and refused to participate in politics – This was huge for conservative Austrians of that time.
  • Even with so many things happening in his personal life, Frans Joseph lived for 86 years and ruled the Austro-Hungarian empire for 68 years! Amen.

12. Queen Maria Teresa gave birth to 16 Children.

Statue of Maria Terese in front of Natural history museum of Austria in Vienna during sunset.

The most powerful ruler of Austria at that time, queen Maria Teresa was the great-grandmother of Frans Joseph. The lady gave birth to 16 children. She married her children to various European royal families to expand her empire. In her 40 years of rule, she spent 12 years being pregnant (16 kids x 9 months) and at least 16 years nursing her newborns. So half of her reign, she was either pregnant or a mother to a newborn!

13. Austrian monarchs are the direct reason for World War 1

In 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian-backed terrorist. This led to dramatic political development, and Austria declared war at Kaiser Villa in a small town called “Bad Ischl” against Serbia, who supported Russia. What happened later is a blood-shed history.

14. Adolf Hitler was born in Austria.

It isn’t a nice thing – but a fact. He was born in a small town in Austria near the Austria-German border.

He stood on this balcony of Hofburg palace and promised two million Austrians a bright future in 1938 and ended up bringing a massacre of Jews living there.

15. There are many inventors and scientists from Austria.

Horse ballet was an Austro-Hungarian thing.

It is crazy when a Salzburgian shows a house to you on the busy street of Makartplatz and says, “Christian Doppler, who invented science phenomena responsible for measuring speed in RADAR sensor, was born in this building”! With the list of Nobel award-winning scientists from Austria, you realise this nation is beyond mountains and palaces. The Red bull, Swarowski crystal, Porsche and the guy who distinguished blood type – The list of Austrian masterminds go on.

16. Music is part of the Austrian way of life.

The all-time legendary composer Mozart is the icon of Austria for the right reason. Knowingly or unknowingly, you would have come across one of his compositions irrespective of your nationality because the “Twinkle twinkle little star” sonata is his masterpiece. Then there is “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.” However, the love for Austrian music didn’t end with Mozart. You find dozens of street artists busking in Austrian cities. Gardens of Mirabel is a space for many music students to practice their notes in the evening. In addition, other music concerts keep happening in bigger cities.

17. Viennese waltz isn’t just a historical form of Dancing!

On my walking tour, my curator Elisabeth explained how her ballroom dancing classes went as a kid! So learning the waltz is still part of many Viennese lifestyles and didn’t end with the monarchs. Elisabeth’s kids, who are grown adults, also knew this dance form. Many Viennese consider this as their pride and won’t let it die.

18. There are only a few people in Austria!

The population density of Austria as of 2020 was 109/sqkm. ( India’s is 468/sqkm, France’s 119/sqkm.) More than moving cars, you see parked cars. 2/3rd of the population lives in Vienna. Yet some “non-tourist” places in the city look abandoned. We must have sat for 2 hours, watched the sun setting in Kirchberg, and hardly met two people.

19. Austrian younger generation comes back to farms often.

Every homestay or homerun cafe owner we met had one common thing to say. “My son/daughter is studying in Vienna. They are home for summer vacation. Usually, our kids come and help in family farming during the peak seasons. Finding domestic helpers or people to work on our farms is hard. We do our work, and our kids help us to continue.”

20. Age doesn’t matter in Austria for travelling.

20% of Austria’s population is ageing. So when I think of hiking trails and wandering in the charming streets, I assume to see more of the younger crowd. But you see people of all ages wandering and hiking, having the time of their life.

Anybody above age 65 gets excellent discounts on train, museum and other entrance tickets. Plus, Austrian buses and trains are so designed that the platform and train/Bus exits are at the same level. So it is just a slide down from the train to the platform for wheelchairs.

21. Austrian hiking trail signposts say duration and not distance.

Signposting of difficulty Levels for Hiking in Austria are labelled with duration, not distance and are most valuable to navigate even on remote trails.

  • Blue – Easy
  • Red – Medium difficult
  • Black – Difficult

The duration may be 3 hours with a blue dot, which signifies that the trail isn’t steep but longer. I wonder whose walking capacity is considered to label it with duration – With most of the Austrian population ageing, have they thought of youngsters? Senior citizens or adults like me?

22. Cyclers and pedestrians rule the road.

The thing that makes Austria hiker’s paradise isn’t just the mountain trails but also the cities and streets. Drivers and pedestrians both wait for the green signal. In side streets with no signals and zebra crossing, the vehicles give way to cyclers and pedestrians. Forget motorbikes; not even pedestrians walk on cycle lanes.

23. Public transport is crazily tremendous and “on time.”

Underground metro, Electric buses, trams, regular inter-city buses, express trains, international trains, ferries and boats on lakes – You can never find a shortage of public transport in Austria. On one of their busiest day, a city bus was delayed by two minutes, and the driver apologised to passengers at almost every stop! They always arrive on time and halt at only specified stops.

If you run and come to catch the bus, the bus drivers don’t stop for you if you are 10m ahead of the specified halt. Instead, they nod their head, saying no and drives ahead.

24. The Austrian Taxi community hate Uber.

I made a private day trip to a high alpine road by car and understood one thing. Austrians don’t prefer Uber. Uber operating in Austria has been on and off. Vienna commercial court handed down a temporary injunction banning Uber from “operating transport services without a subsidiary and business license.” as part of a case against a local taxi company. Now it is active again, while the Austrian taxi driver community wants to get them out of the country (These are words by a local taxi driver whom I met in Innsbruck)

25. The FM radio switches to announcing traffic automatically!

My longest car journey in Austria was to the Grossglockner on High Alpine Road by private car. The FM radio was off as we were talking to our driver Siva, and suddenly, the radio turned on, saying something in German. Later, Siva explained that the FM stations turn on automatically to announce traffic jams whenever there is one nearby your travelling locality! These come in handy, especially during skiing season, because small towns get jam-packed, and travellers must take a detour.

Traffic Message Channel (TMC) is a traffic information service that continuously broadcasts digitally coded traffic information via FM radio. This currently operates in a few countries, and Austria is one of them.

26. The train journey views are fantastic until the noise barrier appears.

The railway track runs through the mountains and villages and everywhere. So the views are always fantastic. But you often see the noise barrier walls by the railway side (Even by the highway roadsides.) even if one residential establishment exists – Austrians and the quality of life!

27. Working hours in Austria are strict.

Whether it is a summer slide ride, shop, or palace, Austrians don’t hesitate to end their day as per their official hours. They follow Monday to Friday 8 hours/day work. On Saturdays, shops close by 4PM, and hardly any shop opens on Sunday unless it is a weekly flea market. The regular shops request their customers to leave the shop 20 minutes before closing time.

28. You can’t rush Austrians.

They attend to one customer at a time. You can neither rush them nor get ignored by them. I can’t generalise the whole nation in half a month. But Austrians work to live and don’t live to work.

29. Is coffee grown in Austria?

The coffee house vibe in Vienna makes you wonder if they grow coffee in Austria. But, when you sip their coffee, you will be sure of it. There are apricots, grapes, wheat and many more things grown in Austria. But not coffee.

30. Austrian bachelor party on the street is fun to watch.

If you find a group of boys or girls walking with beer bottles and singing on the street, stop everything you do and watch them. That is a bachelor/bachelorette party where the groom/bride is made to wear a costume to walk on the streets. Often, the group stops at the elderly, asking them to sing along or ask the senior to give marriage suggestions to the groom/bride. The songs sound super fun, and I wish I understood the lyrics.

31. Organic food consumers smoke their lungs out.

Most Austrian co-guests and co-passengers whom I met in homestays/cafes and trains had some things in common to say: They love Austria for the standard of living, weather, mountains and organic food.

They explained how well they prefer their “chemical-free vegetables and consciously avoid meat, trying to be Vegan. Many go hiking often. And they love cycling for its convenience and health benefits. Don’t be surprised if they smoke during breakfast while talking about all this.

32. Half of Austria’s electricity comes from Hydropower.

The Danube is Austria’s lifeline. Also, there are 52 more rivers which provide Austria with water resources. The high rainfall, the alpine terrain, rivers and canals generate 60% of Austria’s power consumption.

“Hemp Shop” appears in almost every region’s capital. You find Marijuana plants growing on some balconies in many cities. Using Marijuana is not as open as it is in Amsterdam. But you get to smoke or passive smoke it in Vienna’s Museum quarter. Salzburg’s Mozart plaza air filled with hemp smell late in the evening. The Austrian law states that it can be grown and used for personal use (20gm).

34. They don’t like to be called Germans.

The name Austria comes from Österreich” which means “Eastern Germany.” With German-speaking citizens, many assume Austrians to be Germans, and Austrians hate it when you do that.

At a restaurant in Krems, I found the German beer “Hofbrau”. The servers wore Lederhosen and drindle (Which Austrians don’t tend to wear much). Also, the beer mug size was unusually big. Before getting seated, I asked a waiter if it was a German food restaurant because, in a German restaurant, I won’t get many veg food options. The annoyed Austrian waiter replied, “We just serve German beer. Our food is Austrian as much as we are.”

35. Vienna feels like a different world.

Whether it is food, lifestyle, dressing style or landscape, Vienna lives a different life than THE OTHER REGIONS. The city has a younger crowd than the other parts of the country. It is a hippie-happy place, but relaxed at the same time. You get to see dance classes by the street side. There will be a screening of movies in the open plazas. You can wear anything you want without being judged or gawked by anyone. Vienna is not a city but a different world.

36. Palace and Museum burnout is a real thing in Austria.

Austria may have more than 1000 museums. In addition, there are more than 40 castles and palaces. If you don’t do your research prior, these countless museums and palaces overwhelm you, and you stand frustrated wondering, “Which one to go for.”

37. Austria houses many zoos and museums with dinosaurs!

 I am not a zoo admirer- But the fact is that Schönbrunn Zoo boasts of being the oldest in the world. They have rare species like Pandas and Orangutans there. Many museums in Austria have the skeletons of dinosaurs which is a thrilling experience to see them from a metre away.

38. Austrian obsession over lottery!

Does Austria have a lottery?- Oh yes

Somehow I can’t believe my eyes for seeing so many “Lotto” booths in every city I went to. Wherever you see the “Tabák trafik” board, there will be a lotto booth, and you will find a line of two-three buying the lottery tickets at any point of the day(and night).

39. Austrians have a crazy sense of street art and Grafitti.

Donaukanal is Vienna’s largest and most famous legal spot for graffiti and street art. Trust me; I understand most street art as an architect and Grafitti admirer. But what I saw in many parts of Austria was beyond my aptitude.

Then you find weird sculptures in many places across Austria. Most of them will have big-breasted women in sleeping/standing positions! Sexy or Sexist?

40. Many things in Austria were under restoration in 2022 Summer.

Near every historic building, I saw a tower crane doing work. Vienna’s parliament, town hall and a few of Kirchberg’s tyrolean houses – I saw restoration/repair works. It may be due to Two years of COVID that kept the world in inactive mode. But there were too many repair works in Austria, including some railway lines. But there was hardly any noise by these.

41. Beware of bees and cows in Austria.

Salzburg was famous for bees in ancient times. In fact, throughout Austria, when you enjoy your meal, you unknowingly invite bees. Hailing from the country that produces the highest honey from bees, I was shit scared after getting stung by two bees near Melk that turned my wrists little blue in 30 minutes.

The general belief from Hindus is cows are sacred, and we often tend to touch them out of respect. Thinking the same, we got closer to a cow near High Alpine road. After it stared at us for 10 seconds, the farmer asked us to move away because the cow was furious. It is easy to forget the world of hearing the soothing bell sound in the mountains. But be attentive. Never get closer to the cows anywhere in Austria – They can be furious warriors.

42. Yodeling is part of Austrian folk culture.

The birthplace of Yodeling may be buried in history, but you can witness it in the Tirol region of Austria. Apart from that flowered balcony, yodelling is another feature the Austrian alps share with Switzerland. This type of singing aims to communicate over moderate distances by the inhabitants of mountainous regions.

43. Austria grows and consumes a lot of fine wine.

beautiful view of vineyard on either side

Austria is among the top 15 wine exporters and the Top 10 Countries that Consume the Most Wine Per Capita. The Wachau valley’s splendid riverside gives you earthy-tasty wine and fantastic views.

44. Austrians have converted a Christian Abbey into a beer garden.

Church hall converted to beer cafe in Austria's salzburg.

The Augustiner Brewery is a traditional beer garden and my favourite place in Salzburg. It was given to Augustine’s order of monks by an Archbishop of that time. There is a large hall where you find Christian religion-based motifs and statues of saints wearing Bishop robes, and outside, they fill your grey mugs from barrels of tasty beer.

45. Austrians aren’t rude but distant and direct.

I don’t think Austrians know to “sugarcoat ” things even after receiving billions of tourists. They aren’t rude, but they tell the truth to faces. For example-

  • My host had to wait for me for five minutes as we walked slowly from the train station. When I asked her sorry for five minutes delay, she said, “Yeah, I waited for five minutes, but it is ok. I am learning a new language, so I used that time to practice”
  • It was 5.30PM, 30 minutes to closing the H&M store. When I asked if they had the following size, the salesperson replied, “I am sorry, I can’t help you now; we are closing. Come tomorrow at 10 – I l give you everything you ask for.”
  • When I stopped a car near Schafberg to ask for directions, the lady STOPPED, rolled down the window and said, “If you are looking for a lift, I can’t. But how else can I help you.”
A marble statue of boy angel kissing on the cheek of girl angel in an Austria's cemetery full of rose flowers

Which Austrian things do you find unique or similar to your country? Let us know in the comment section below.

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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