History of Austria

From the first human settlements in the Danube Valley, to the ensuing Celts, Illyrians, Romans and Bavarians, and then the noble Babenburg and the Habsburg dynasties, Austria is a land that has been ruled by many.

The 640-year reign of the Habsburgs - creators of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - was ended by WWI; 20 years later, WWII saw Hitler invade and occupy Austria, persecuting the country's Jewish community. Post Holocaust, Austria's Jewish community rebuilt itself, but to this day the Jewish population remains much smaller than before WWII. After Austria's liberation by the Allies in 1944, foundations were laid for the Second Republic. Austria joined the European Union, and also signed the Schengen Agreement, in 1995.



Approximately 64% of the population is Roman Catholic.


Weather & climate

Austria enjoys a moderate continental climate: summers are warm and pleasant with cool nights - perfect for hiking and biking in the Alps. Winters are sunny, with snow levels high enough for widespread winter sports. Ski season is from December to March.

Best time to visit: 

The best time to visit Austria is June to September for those seeking sunshine and low rainfull, whilst November to March are ideal for those seeking winter sports.

Required clothing: 

European clothes according to season. Alpine wear for mountain resorts.



Mountainous Austria is a landlocked country at the heart of Europe bordered by Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. The diverse landscape can be divided into five sections: the Eastern Alps (62.8%), the Alpine and Carpathian Foothills (11.3%), the Pannonian Lowlands (11.3%), the Vienna Basin (4.4%) and the Granite and Gneiss Highlands or Bohemian Massif (10.1%).

Austria's highest mountain is Grossglockner (3,798m/12,465ft) found in the Alps' Hohe Tauern range, and, on its way from the Black Forest in southern Germany to the Black Sea, the winding River Danube flows for approximately 360km (220 miles) through the country.

Nearly half of Austria is covered with forests, with the lower regions particularly densely wooded. Fir predominates above 488m (1,600ft), and gives way to larch and stone-pine beyond 1,219m (4,000ft); the Alpine foothills consist predominantly of arable land and grassland (above 610m/2,000ft); the Pannonian region is characterised by scrub and heathland.

Money & duty free for Austria

Exchange rates:

C$1 = €0.75
L1 = €1.39
US$1 = €0.92

Currency & Money

Currency information: 

Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Credit cards: 

Major credit cards are accepted in large cities. However, some smaller hotels may require bills to be paid in cash.


ATMs are available throughout Austria, especially in the major towns and cities. Most accept all of the major bank cards, including Visa and American Express. In Austria ATMs are called Bankomats and can be identified by a sign with a green stripe above a blue stripe.

Travellers cheques: 

These are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in a major currency (Euros, US Dollars, Pounds Sterling).

Banking hours: 

Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri 0800-1230 and 1330-1500; Thurs 0800-1230 and 1330-1730. Different opening hours may be kept in the various federal provinces. The exchange counters at airports and at railway stations are generally open from the first to the last flight or train, which usually means 0800-2200 including weekends.


Schönnbrunn Palace