Austria is a beautiful country in the centre of Europe with an amazing landscape, interesting culture, and kind of special people. There are a few things you should be aware of when going to Austria. So if you are planning a trip there keep the following list in mind.
DO leave tips:
In Austria, it is usual to leave a tip if you are happy with the service you received in a restaurant or café. A 15-20% tip is the typical amount but there is never a limit upwards. If you were not pleased with the service you can either give less or no tip. So if someone is being very friendly and forthcoming while serving you, help them out by giving a little extra.
DO take off your shoes:
When entering the home of a private person like a friend or family member please take off your shoes. Most people will provide a place to put your shoes and often slippers to wear in the house. Snow and rain are not unusual in Austria so taking off your shoes means keeping the house clean. So if a friend invites you over for a Schnitzel make sure you remember this. It is seen as rude if you don’t. Some people, however, might offer you to keep them on and then it is perfectly fine to do so.
In Austria recycling is something that people learn how to do from at a very young age. Don’t just throw your garbage away on the street or in a park. There are bins everywhere so please use them. Also, if you are hiking or walking through one of the beautiful woods and you can’t find a place to put your garbage take it back with you. If you can bring it with you, you can also take it back. Littering can even result in a fine in certain places so be safe and recycle.
DO shake hands:
When being introduced to someone or when meeting up with a friend shaking hands is the most common way to greet the other person. Some people might go in for a hug but this is usually for people who you consider close friends or friends of close friends or family. Also if a man is introduced to a woman a kiss on each cheek is completely normal. This is also a common way for women to great/introduce each other. Anyways, you can never go wrong with a handshake.
DON’T overuse your jokes:
Jokes about Austria and kangaroos are never creative. We have literally heard them all several times. So try to keep them to yourself or at least don’t overuse them. The same goes for jokes about anything sensitive like Nazis, Hitler and Jews. Yes, we Austrians have a very dark humor and some might drop a joke like that every once in a while. But not everyone is okay with that and some people might be very offended.
DON’T assume Austria is basically the same as Germany:
Yes, we do share our language in some way (even though the dialects play a very big role in Austria and are a big part of our identity) and we have similarities in our culture. We also share some historical background but that doesn’t make it the same. Austrians are Austrians and Germans are Germans.
DON’T think people are unfriendly for not talking:
This might be relevant for the people who come from a generally extroverted society. Austrians are polite and friendly people in general but it is not usual for them to just start a random conversation in a random place. So if that dude sitting next to you on the bus doesn’t talk to you it’s not because he doesn’t like you. It is just not common to start a conversation like that. In a pub or bar, this is different. People expect to meet new people there so they will be more open to conversations with strangers. This is also a great chance to taste one of the many Austrian craft beers.
DON’T wish a happy birthday to people before their actual birthday:
This might sound a little funny and weird but wishing someone a happy birthday before their actual birthday is believed to bring bad luck. On their birthday or afterward, it is perfectly fine to congratulate them.
DON’T talk about money on the first meeting:
Talking about money and how much a person earns is something very private that should not be discussed at a first meeting (except for business meetings). You can ask what they do and what position they are in but not how much money they make.
So what are your experiences? Do you agree with this list or did we miss something important? Please feel free to tell us in the comments below!