I visited Austria for the first time 3 years ago, it was a great trip and I fell in love with this country so much that I decided definitely to return back not just as a tourist, but as a student and plunge into this life entirely. So it really happened! A year later, I entered an international master’s program and now I am here again.
Austria impressed me from the very beginning, but as a traveler I could only observe it from the “outside”. The second time I came here to study and live, of course, I discovered a lot of new things, something that you probably will not find out in just a couple of days of vacation. I would like to share my insides with you. In my opinion, when you know these cultural features in advance you will be able to manage your plans easier and to make the first few days of your stay more pleasant and feel more confident in this foreign country. Here is my list of “3 things you should know before coming to Austria”:
1. “Magic Sunday” and unusual opening hours
Sunday is a magic day. ;-) All shops, shopping centers, banks, administrative buildings and organizations are closed. As I have been travelling a lot in Europe since my childhood, I heard about this fact but actually, I have never paid too much attention to it, as I did not have to deal with practical everyday issues as a tourist. It was a little bit unusual for me that you need to exclude Sunday from shopping days.
Where does this tradition come from?
It is supposed, that any family should spend Sunday together meeting with relatives and friends. All purchases and trips to the stores should be made in advance. Likewise, many Austrians I know are very passionate about a healthy and active lifestyle, on Sundays you can often see whole families go hiking or do other outdoor activities.
Moreover, limited opening hours are present even during work days. For example, all food stores, shopping centers and supermarkets close around 7-8 p.m., pharmacies around 5-6 p.m., banks
at around 3 p.m. However, all the places open at 7-8 a.m. These working hours were a real discovery for me because in my country all shops work every day from the morning till late evening. So here, it is crucial to plan your errands ahead. When I moved to Austria, I experienced it myself and I learnt to plan everything a little different.