Austria is a landlocked country pretty much right in the centre of Europe. It is bordered by no fewer than seven countries – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and finally Germany. It may be far from being the biggest country in Europe but it certainly packs a lot into its fairly modest size, as you will see.
Austria now uses the euro and has done ever since the new single currency for Europe was first introduced. It has used the euro as notes and coins ever since 1st January 1999. Before this it used the Austrian schilling.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
You can tell Austrian euros from those issued by other Eurozone countries by looking at the obverse of the coins. They have a design that is unique to Austria on this side of the coin, while the other side is the same as all the other coins used throughout the Eurozone.
There are eight coins in use at present, from the one cent coin through the 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, to the one and two euro coins as well. As for the bank notes there are seven of them – there is the €5 note, followed by the €10, €20, €50, €100 and €500 notes.
From past to present – the history of the Austrian euro
The schilling is now long gone from Austrian life, having been replaced at the first opportunity by the new single currency. The euro has been in use for some years now, since 1999, and most Austrians don’t think twice about using it. The country was one of the first to use the currency as it, along with the other founding countries in this sense, was able to meet the conditions of its use.
How to get hold of the Austrian euro
The great thing to remember about the euro in general is that euros issued in any country in the European Union can be used in any other country that welcomes the euro. So if you have been to Spain before for example, and you have some euros left over, you will be able to take these and use them in Austria as well.
Of course you will probably still need some euros for your trip to Austria and these can be purchased at any bureau de change. You can do this online or in your local town. Look for the best deal though – different places charge different rates and you could save money by shopping around, especially if you are exchanging a reasonable amount of money.
While it is wise to have some cash on you before you go to Austria, you may not need lots of it. You can take traveller’s cheques if you wish but many people simply get by with a credit or debit card. Getting cash out of a cash point by using a debit card is a good way of getting more euros as and when you need them. You will get a reasonable exchange rate this way too, but you might be able to check on this prior to leaving home.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Austrian euro
Simply use your preferred currency converter to get the latest calculation. Input your own currency and then the euro as the destination currency. You can then input the amount you want to convert (or leave it set to one if you only want a rough idea of one unit to another) and convert it. You can then see how many euros you will get for your money.
If you want to know anything more about travelling to the country prior to planning a trip there, it is a good idea to check the latest information from their embassy in London. You can visit the Austrian Foreign Ministry website at http://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/embassy/london.html.
Travelling safely with the Austrian euro
Every country you visit has things you should be aware of prior to travel. Fortunately Austria is a relatively safe country to go to. You should be alert for avalanches if you are going there to ski, as these can occur in any snow covered region. Generally speaking the country is safe and you don’t have too much to be concerned about other than the usual threat of pickpockets. Even here there is less of a threat of this than there is in other countries and locations.
The normal rules should still apply though – namely to make things difficult for anyone who wants to try and pick your pocket. Don’t keep all your cash together and most importantly never carry your passport on you. Use your hotel safe to ensure you don’t have to worry about it going missing while you are in the country. Before you leave home take a photocopy of your passport and keep it with your cash so you always have a copy with you in case you are asked for it.
Where to spend your euros in Austria – and what to spend them on
Well there is one sure thing you can spend your euros on in Austria – skiing! This isn’t the only thing good about the country as you will find out, but those eager to strap on their skis or snowboard will find plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Kitzbuhel, St Anton and Mayrhofen are just three of the many ski resorts that do a roaring trade here every year. There are many ‘runs’ you can tackle and there is a resort for everyone too – from the beginner just putting on their skis for the first time, through to families with children and right through to experienced skiers too.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Austria is only good for skiers to visit though, or that it is only worth seeing in the winter. Sure, it does all look amazing covered in snow, but when you see it during the summer, with the lush greenery all around you on the mountains, you’ll see why walkers love it too. Locations such as Saalbach, Hinterglemm and Galtur are great for walking and exploring the countryside at your leisure.
You can also visit some of the country’s most famous cities. These include Vienna, which is the capital of the country, and Salzburg, perhaps most famous for being the setting of The Sound of Music. The centre of Vienna is now recognised as the Historic Centre of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Danube, the famous river, winds its way through the city and you can also visit the Schonbrunn Palace with its amazing gardens. You also have the chance to learn more about such composers as Mozart and Beethoven.
Meanwhile Salzburg is a charming city and the Old Town is one of its finest points. You may see it referred to as Altstadt and this too is a World Heritage Site – and for good reason. Mozart was born here and his memorial grave can be seen in Vienna (his original one was inexplicably lost). Salzburg has been through many changes over the years but today it is filled with charm and wows plenty of visitors every year. Don’t miss the fountain in Mirabell Gardens, which was featured in The Sound of Music. Watch for a sensational view of the Salzburg fortress from the gardens too – it makes for a wonderful photo.
As you can see there is much to see and do in Austria. However long you are in the country and wherever you decide to go, you will find plenty of activities and destinations worthy of your time. Indeed it is well worth doing some research prior to booking a holiday in Austria, just so you know the full range of places you can visit. Some holiday companies offer multi centre holidays so you can see the cities as well as the mountainous regions such as the Tyrol. This really does give you the best of all worlds so give it a try and look forward to an amazing holiday.
Austria is not the cheapest of European countries to visit, so you should be prepared to spend a few euros while you are there. However with that said you can be sure of finding the best range of attractions, things to see and do and plenty to eat and drink to provide an entertaining holiday.
As we have seen, Austria is popular among those who enjoy the outdoors, especially if they are of the sporty type. Between skiing in the winter and hiking and walking in the summer, there are some amazing activities you can do here. Of course not every activity has to be expensive. If you go prepared you can enjoy a nice hike up a mountain or through a valley with no more cost to you than the cost of a packed lunch. Exploring everything the natural world has to offer in this country is an experience that is second to none.