What to wear in Austria -Packing and Clothing Tips

Those towering Austrian holy churches that appeared on travellers’ blogs reminded me of the mistakes I made at Meteora monasteries. Moreover, the landlocked country with no beaches was an obvious sign that I should pack modest and conservative clothes. Plus, I was confident – Austria would never get hot. I thought I knew what exactly to wear in Austria!

hofburg royal queen wearing gold embroidered long and grand white silk gown and gold jewels

That is how Hofburg queens used to dress up.

My mother loves it when I get dressed well, like how she dresses up. Moms are the bosses. When the boss is your Travelmate, you can’t upset them. So I had to drop that idea of “Underdress to escape the scammers”. I packed all the classy (in my fashion sense) clothes suitable for cold weather and only a few short dresses, thinking, what if I need it in case!

Me at my highest sense of fashion – Peace.

Guess what – I picked the right style for the lousy weather. So I ended up spending a little of my fortune on comfortable clothes in expensive Austria.

Here is your guide to what to wear in Austria and what not to, along with a complete packing checklist.

What clothes do Austrians wear?

Austria is divided into nine provinces, out of which I visited four. Trust me, Vienna is special. It felt like Vienna was living in a separate world disconnected from its neighbouring states with its distinctive lifestyle, food and tradition. The “Hipped Urban” vibe is high. So when I generalise here what Austrians generally wear, I mean the other three regions.

I have wandered in a few “non-touristy” areas of Austria. Irrespective of the time and location, I find Austrians wearing stylish yet formal clothing. Apart from youngsters, most women wore knee-length skirts with a sleeved blouse. In comparison, men stuck to their trousers. Those working on farms also wore pants and shirts. So I would put the Austrian way of dressing to be conservative. They go for more solid colours to wear with black, maroon, navy blue, white and beige shades.

Except in Vienna, I hardly saw anybody with make-up – Or they had done it so good that it looked natural. So I recommend you to keep it light instead of flashy. Even in the hot summer, I hardly saw anyone wearing hats!

You can wear any bathing suit near the lakes and bask like a croc in the sun without hesitation. Whether it is Tyrol or the Danube river bank in Vienna, you see women in bikinis and shirtless men in trunks sunbathing. But they immediately put on clothes before leaving for the city.

What is traditional Austrian clothing?

Their traditional outfits are common to Bavarians and many other German-speaking nations.

A traditional Austrian outfit for women is called “dirndl” – A close-fitting bodice and whole/knee length black/blue skirt attached to a waist bang with gorgeously patterned material layering it on top.

“Lederhosen” is supposedly an Austrian men’s traditional outfit – The same as conventional German dress. It is a short or knee-length leather breech. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any Austrian men wearing it except at the Tyrolean show and servers at a restaurant in Krems.

You find lots of women wearing Hijab in Austria.

Zell-Am-See had the highest number of Arab tourists. It is renowned as Muslim holiday hotspot.

Austria is home to various nationalities. Muslim refugees from Syria, Palestine and Afghanistan are trying to make their “home away from home: in different Austrian cities. Places like Zell-Am-See receive lots of Arab and Turkish tourists. There was news on the Austrian government banning Hijab for children below age 10. I don’t think there is a ban on Hijab for women, but covering your face totally under a burqa is prohibited, like in many European countries.

How do I not look like a tourist in Austria?

I always emphasise “how not to look like a tourist”. Honestly, Austria is so safe that it is ok to look like a tourist. But, if you want to go with the Austrian flow- Don’t wear athletic suits and night pyjamas for your city strolling (even in Vienna). Also, restrict your hiking outfits to the mountains. The baseball caps and baggy jeans with sleeveless tanks puts you in an “out of place” scenario.

If you are in your comfortable wear – like how my mom wore sarees and salwar kameez or your nation’s traditional dress, you need not worry in Austria. Because Austrians are used to multi-culture, and they aren’t racists.

I had thought we might get some unwanted racist looks for my mom in saree and salwar. But most times, my mother received a lot of good attention when she wore sarees. At least ten ladies have taken pictures with her, and one lady came running to us at Salzburg signal and asked mom if it was possible to teach her saree draping!

What should you not wear in Austria?

That shirtless guy was doing some tik-tok video in the middle of Stephen Platz!

Though there is no exact dress code to attend traditional concert shows, you would be the “odd one out: if you come in informal wear. Most people come in smart casuals and formal. So a lovely conservative dress for girls, a jacket on the T-Shirt with jeans should be good. I saw no men in shorts at the Vienna concert, so it is better to avoid it.

Keep it conservative for all the cities except for Vienna. Remember largest part of the Austrian population is senior citizens. So traditional values rule. Austrian grandmas and grandpas may not directly tell you that “Your dress is too short”, but you may receive a stern look at times. The word “conservative” doesn’t mean you need not “Dress for Grandmother”, but “Dress to Impress”.

What to wear in Austria in summer?

My biggest mistake in Austria was that I carried clothes suitable for only cold weather- Everyone suggested, “Austria never gets hot – Summers are full of cold breezes, light showers and mild temperatures.” But, apart from that three days, there was always a heat wave – Let us thank each other for contributing to climate change. So unless climate change is reversed, don’t bother to bring any clothes for cold weather in Austrian summer – especially denim and full-sleeved shirts.

What should I wear in Vienna, Austria?

That is a dance class by the streetside near Vienna city centre. The participants came in their officewear, removed jackets or pants, and danced their hearts out.

Anything and everything! Be you! Almost every homestay owner we stayed with had their teenage kid working/studying in Vienna. So the youthful and hipster vibe of Vienna lets you be free – I have never seen so many tattooed people at once as I saw in Vienna. Pierced tongue to naval ring, neon pink hair to one side shaved with long hair on the other, I saw all possible styles. Nobody judges you or teases you for your booty shorts.

That bralette is perfect for your cutoff shorts for your Viennese evening. Wicked to witty quotes on a T-Shirt on completely ripped apart jeans is the fashion I saw highest. I love Vienna for its high-spirited non-judgemental fashion.

Pack for Austria’s weather.

I don’t find hiking in a saree comfortable, but my mom does it like a pro.

The Museum Quarter in Vienna is the most proper place to observe the ongoing fashion trend among Austrian youth. I can’t skip mentioning that the sense of fashion is as high as the smell of weed in the air. Mom and I managed to crack a conversation with a beautiful girl with gorgeous green eyes. The talk continued and turned into Viennese fashion. She said the winters are so cold in Vienna that they have to cover up entirely. They do dress up colourfully with layers in winter too. But they wait for their short summers to get uncovered.

Is there a dress code for cathedrals in Austria?

Nope, and it is surprising. I saw people wearing all kinds of outfits in city cathedrals. While a church in smaller towns like Maria Plains receives people who come to pray and not tourists. You will neither be sent out nor given a wraparound to cover knees or upper body if you wear revealing clothes. But out of respect, it is better to wear covered clothing. Avoid sleeveless and short attire.

Like how tourists wear Kimonos in Japan casually, I rarely saw embracing Austrian traditional outfits. It won’t be wrong if you wear it as a foreigner, but may be odd!

What should I wear in Salzburg?

The only town in Austria where I saw church-related processions and activities in Salzburg. Plus, there is always one or other music shows happening in this town. So things you dress up quite the opposite of what you would for Vienna, which means that stylish conservative clothes are perfect for Salzburg and all the other cities during summer.

What should I wear in Innsbruck in winter?

Tirol is one of the coldest regions of Austria. It was pretty evident even in summer. The only times I wore fully covered clothes during Austrian summer was in Tirol. If summer was that cold, I can imagine how hard it would be when there is a metre height snow in areas like Kirchberg. So bring layers of woollen clothes – Icebreaker woollen wears including ski socks, leggings, thick denim and coats, beanies and everything else.

What to wear hiking in Austria?

Many hiking trails are a bus ride away from the main cities. Like me, I saw many cyclists and hikers on the bus on their way to the mountains. We all wore a sleeved T-shirt with shorts or capris on the bus. Once the heat hits, hikers remove men who went shirtless and women in sports bras. There will always be a hut at the beginning and end of every trail. Every hiker goes up to the washroom, freshens up and gets back to their city style at the end of the hike – And don’t forget to have some beer or apricot juice with olive, tomato and cheese slices later.

The most important thing to pack for Austria

My shoes taking last breaths at the end of 14 days – At Innsbruck top

I always prefer walking shoes anywhere and everywhere. And it worked for me ultimately. The exact walking shoe I carried to Austria wasn’t enough! You must wear the softest and most high-quality shoes for Austria. Whether you go up to the mountain for hiking or not, you will walk a lot. Mom and I walked almost 12km in cities daily and 15 to 16km when we went hiking. So my “so-called” best shoes reached the critical stage. I had a minor surgery with the glue I bought from Spar sitting near Residence Fountain.

What to pack for a trip to Austria?

General packing list irrespective of the season –

  • Reusable water bottle – Austrian tap water is safe for drinking, and you find spouts everywhere. You will never need a steripen unless you want to drink directly from Danube or Inn river with a water spout 100m away.
  • Sunscreen – Your life saviour. I use 40SPF Ultra Aegis sunscreen.
  • Foot cream – You will need it most because you walk in Austria the most.
  • Make-up kit and deodorants.
  • Skin and face moisturiser – Even in summer, the skin gets dry and itchy, like how it happens in summer.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hats
  • Quick-dry towels for the lakes and hiking.
  • Personal medicines – The medical shops “Apotheke” are everywhere if you need any emergency medicine. Some medications need a local doctor’s prescription, and few drugs are banned in the EU. So it is better to get your medicines from your own country.
  • Passport, Travel Insurance and some Euros in cash along with your Debit cards
  • Good Camera with its charger and memory card – The Austrian landscape needs to be captured with a camera. Even the best of the best phones won’t be able to capture Austrian mountain beauty.
  • Phone, charger and adapters.
  • Toiletries – Most hotels in Austria don’t keep single-use sachets/bars of soaps. They keep refillable bottles of good quality soaps. We even found dead sea products in some of the hotels.
  • Innerwear

Clothes to pack for Austrian Summer

  • Many classy skirts and dresses
  • Cotton tops and shirts
  • Cotton shorts
  • Hiking-friendly pants and tops
  • Thin jackets in case it rains.
  • Bikini/swimsuit for the lake baths.
  • Formal attire for music shows.
  • Good quality breathable shoes, and avoid sandals. You will hardly need flip-flops.

Did we answer your question “What to Wear in Austria” and help you pack better? Let us know in the comment section below.

That is Hofburg royal fashion for you

Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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