“The streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt.” ~ Karl Kraus.
Ever wondered what the secret is to having the most enjoyable trip possible? Welcome to my “Be Invisible” series – your ultimate guide for how to avoid looking like a tourist on your next adventure and guaranteed to boost your entire travel experience.
Bursting with helpful tips and tricks, I’ve asked locals from particular cities around the world to share their insider knowledge on the best ways travellers can become “invisible” when visiting their city and enjoy it like a local. If you’re ready to challenge travel stereotypes, overcome language barriers and embrace what I like to call invisible tourism, you’ve come to the right place!
| These do’s and don’ts in Vienna were written by Lyubomira from Bulgarian On the Go. I’m very excited to share her top Vienna travel tips and advice for how to best blend in amongst locals. These insider tips also provide a great insight to values and culture in Austria.
If you’re planning a trip to Austria, these suggestions from a local’s perspective will help you have a more enjoyable experience and know what to expect before you go. Read on for more!
This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
13 Vienna travel tips from a local to NOT look like a tourist
When researching and putting together your Vienna itinerary, you will come across numerous beautiful places you can visit here. But finding out how to blend in and not look like a tourist from miles away is a completely different talk.
Vienna might be an extremely diverse city, but you can still feel the traditional Viennese atmosphere and notice its unique charm. If you’re planning a trip to the Austrian capital, here are the do’s and don’ts from the perspective of a local Viennese, which will make your stay more enjoyable and certainly unforgettable.
Do say “oida” all the time
Do you want to blend in with the locals and start speaking Viennese in an instant? This is the one word that all people here use literally all the time. “Oida” can be used for anything. You’re surprised? Oidaaaa! You’re annoyed? Oida! You’re speechless? Oida…
This word is so versatile that it can be used in any situation, as long as it’s accompanied by the correct intonation. So be sure to add it to your vocabulary right now.
Do eat some Wiener Schnitzel
Vienna is the home to the infamous Wiener Schnitzel. After all, the name says it! The Viennese Schnitzel is a type of schnitzel made of a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet. Traditionally, the schnitzel is always served with a potato salad and a dollop of berry jam on the side – so good!
Finding the best schnitzel in Vienna is not an easy task, but you will find many great restaurants around town where you can try this deliciousness. Keep in mind that the portions here are huge and if you’re not a big eater, it could be enough for two people.
Don’t be late
There is something about all German-speaking folks – they are extremely punctual. Austria is no exception to this. If you happen to have an appointment, an interview, or even a regular meet-up with friends, you’re expected to show up on time.
Do be polite
When I first moved to Vienna, I found the politeness of locals unusual and a bit annoying, to be honest. After all, I came from a southern country, where people are much more expressive and emotional. Austrians tend to keep their emotions inside and are always ready to put on a smile for you, even if they don’t feel like it.
Sometimes it comes across as being too polite, almost fake, but it’s always good to have a smiling face in front of you instead of a grumpy one.
Do learn to dance Viennese Waltz
Did you know that Viennese Balls were a thing? The ball season in Vienna happens in the first months of the year, usually between January and March. And it seems like every Austrian person knows how to dance waltz.
It turns out that children are usually taught in school how to dance these classical dances. Attending a Viennese Ball is something I recommend very much, and it would definitely help learning a few dance steps in advance, so you can enjoy the full experience.
Don’t compare Austrians with Germans
This is one of the most important travel tips for Vienna. Even though both nations are very similar, there are also many differences between them. Most times, Austrians really don’t enjoy being compared to Germans.
Both countries speak the same language, but with significant nuances (dialects). They might also share a common history that has made them friends, but in some senses it has left them worlds apart.
Do learn to classify water
Sparkling water. Still water. Mild water. And the weirdest part is that most Austrians actually prefer drinking sparkling water.
Another funny fact is that whenever you order some water in a restaurant in Vienna, you will receive sparkling water. This is unless you specifically request still water! Keep this in mind when shopping, ordering a drink etc, because there are so many types and it is quite easy to get confused and end up with the wrong type.
Don’t leave your shopping till Sunday
Just like in a lot of Western European countries, shops here are closed on Sundays. And I mean all of them – even grocery shops. Be sure not to leave your shopping till Sunday and get everything you need on Saturday at the latest.
If you need something to eat, you can always go to a restaurant or grab something to go. There are also a couple of grocery shops in Vienna that are open on Sunday, some of which at Prater, at Westbahnhof and at the Central Railway Station.
Do drink all the beer
Austria is famous for its beer culture. I mean, locals just really enjoy their beer. There are a few Viennese breweries – Ottakringer, Meld-Braeu, Maxingstuberl to name a few.
Another very famous beer is Gösser – it’s not produced in Vienna, but it’s still an Austrian beer, and you can find it pretty much everywhere. Make sure to try some of the local beers to blend in and see how you actually like them.
Do walk on the left, stand on the right
Elevators here have a strict policy – if you’re standing, you must be on the right side. This is because the left side needs to always be empty for people who are walking down or up the elevator.
If for some reason you decide to stand on the left, you will be quickly told off by a local. And they’ll notice you aren’t one.
Don’t expect the waiters to bring your bill after eating
When you go to a restaurant, be aware that you won’t automatically get the bill after having your meal. You always have to let the waiter know you’re ready to pay, after which you will be asked whether you want to pay with cash or card, and then whether you want to pay together or separately (if you’re 2 people or more). Don’t be surprised by this – it is normal here for people to split the bill.
Once the waiter comes to you with the bill, they won’t just put it on the table and leave. They will stand next to you and ask you to pay right then and there. This was a shock for me at first, as I was used to going through the whole bill, checking if everything was correct, then looking for my wallet and deciding how big of a tip to leave. In Vienna, all this needs to happen at once and immediately.
What Austrian people call vorglühen is the act of gathering together for a couple of drinks before going to the actual party/club. Vorglühen has a few purposes. One of them is that you save money on alcohol by having some at home and getting a bit tipsy beforehand.
The second one is that this way you’re getting in the mood for a party. I mean, who wouldn’t want to enter a party already tipsy?
Don’t make noise after 10 pm
It is quite strict when it comes to making noise after a certain hour in Vienna. Locals are usually very quick to call the police and alarm them if someone is disturbing their peace by playing music or being loud in general.
People here are used to following the rules and they’re certainly not happy when someone doesn’t obey them. Keep this in mind when visiting Vienna so you can avoid getting in trouble.
This Vienna travel guide covered 13 things that Viennese people do or don’t do, and I hope it helps you to blend in and feel like a local when visiting the Austrian capital.
|Lyubomira spent 5 years living in Vienna, the capital of music. She loves sharing her experiences at underrated destinations, hidden gems she discovers and more on her blog Bulgarian On The Go. Follow her adventures over on Facebook and Instagram!|
Cultural experiences to book in advance in Vienna
Here are some cultural things to do in Vienna you can book in advance to be prepared for your trip:
Ready to be invisible in Vienna?
Now you’ve discovered the best secrets for how to act like a local in Vienna Austria, perhaps you’re ready to make the trip! Why not compare hotels in Vienna? If you’d like some more travel ideas, learn how to “blend in” at more destinations around the globe.
Until next time,
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