Exploring Austria on a Shoestring: Budget-Friendly Tips for the Avid Backpacker

Exploring Austria on a Shoestring: Budget-Friendly Tips for the Avid Backpacker

Austria, nestled in the heart of Europe, is a land of stunning landscapes, historic cities, and rich cultural heritage. Known for its picturesque alpine vistas, charming villages, and baroque architecture, it’s a dream destination for many. However, exploring Austria doesn’t have to break the bank. With some careful planning and insider tips, backpackers can uncover the beauty and charm of Austria on a shoestring budget.

Getting Around on a Budget

Transportation can eat up a significant portion of your travel budget, but Austria offers cost-effective options for the savvy traveler. The country boasts an efficient and comprehensive public transportation system, including trains, buses, and trams, making it possible to explore both urban and rural areas with ease.

ÖBB Vorteilscard: Consider purchasing the ÖBB Vorteilscard, a discount card for Austria’s national railway system. It offers up to 50% off train travel, making it an excellent investment for explorers planning to cover long distances.

Regional Tickets and Passes: Look into regional travel passes and ticket offers. Many provinces offer their own travel cards that provide unlimited travel within the region and discounts on local attractions.

Biking: Austria’s well-developed cycling routes offer an eco-friendly and scenic way to get around, particularly in areas like the Danube Valley. Many places offer affordable bike rentals, giving you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Affordable Accommodation

Finding a place to stay that doesn’t drain your wallet is crucial when backpacking. Austria has a range of budget-friendly accommodation options, from hostels to camping.

Hostels: Austria has a wide network of hostels that offer dormitory-style rooms at reasonable rates. Many hostels also provide communal kitchens, allowing you to save money by cooking your own meals.

Camping: For those willing to embrace the great outdoors, camping is a wallet-friendly alternative, especially in the summer months. Austria has numerous well-maintained campsites, some even in or near major cities.

Airbnb and Private Rentals: Sometimes, renting a private room through platforms like Airbnb can be more cost-effective than hostels, especially if traveling in a small group.

Eating on a Budget

Sampling local cuisine is part of the travel experience, but dining out for every meal can quickly become expensive. Here are some tips to enjoy Austria’s culinary delights without overspending:

Street Food and Markets: Austria’s food markets and street vendors offer delicious and affordable food options. Don’t miss the chance to try a traditional sausage (Würstel) stand.

Cook Your Meals: Utilize the kitchen facilities in hostels or apartments to cook your meals. Supermarkets like Hofer and Lidl offer a range of cost-effective grocery options.

Fixed-Price Menus: Many restaurants offer a “Mittagsmenü” or lunch menu, which is a fixed-price meal that’s often more affordable than ordering à la carte.

Free and Low-Cost Attractions

Austria is full of cultural and natural attractions that don’t cost a fortune to explore.

Museums and Galleries: Look out for free entry days or discounted entry fees for students and young people. Vienna, for instance, offers free access to many of its museums on the first Sunday of each month.

Hiking and Nature: Austria’s national parks and hiking trails offer endless hours of free entertainment and the chance to immerse yourself in the country’s breathtaking natural beauty.

City Cards: Many Austrian cities offer a city card that includes free public transport and free or reduced entry to many attractions. These can be great value if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing.

Tips for Saving Money

Travel Off-Peak: Consider traveling during the shoulder season (spring and fall) when accommodations are cheaper, and attractions are less crowded.

Carry a Water Bottle: Tap water in Austria is drinkable and of excellent quality. Refill your bottle rather than buying bottled water.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts: If you have an ISIC card (International Student Identity Card), you can access a wealth of discounts on transportation, attractions, and even dining.

Recreating the Austrian Experience

Bringing a piece of Austria back home doesn’t have to cost much. Try cooking a traditional Austrian dish, like Wiener Schnitzel or Apfelstrudel, using online recipes. Create a playlist of classical Austrian music featuring composers like Mozart and Strauss to transport you back to the cobblestone streets of Vienna.


Q: Is Austria safe for backpackers?

A: Yes, Austria is generally very safe for travelers, including solo backpackers. However, it’s always wise to take standard safety precautions, especially in larger cities.

Q: Can I get by with English in Austria?

A: In major cities and tourist areas, many Austrians speak English. However, learning a few basic German phrases can enhance your experience and help in rural areas.

Q: Are there any hidden costs I should be aware of?

A: While Austria uses the Euro, ensuring your budget covers small expenses like restroom fees or local taxes in accommodations is prudent.

Q: What is the best way to meet locals and other travelers?

A: Staying in hostels, joining walking tours, and participating in local events are great ways to meet both locals and fellow travelers.

Exploring Austria on a shoestring is not only possible but can also lead to a richer and more immersive experience. With some planning and flexibility, the beauty of Austria is accessible to every avid backpacker, proving that adventure doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag.

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