28 Fun Facts About Austria From A True Local

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I always tell people that if they want to time travel, visit Austria.

You can hike to an untouched glacier and walk on cobblestone streets originally laid by the Romans, all on the same day.

Travel on a bullet train that reaches 230 kilometers per hour and then take a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride past shops that were established in the 16th century.

I am constantly discovering new, fascinating facts about Austria since I moved here. If you’re planning a visit, or simply want to upstage your friends on trivia night, these fun facts are sure to surprise you!

1. You Can Visit the Largest Ice Cave in the World but No Pictures Allowed!

The Austrian city of Werfen has the largest ice cave known in the world. The cave is 26 miles long, and locals refer to it as the entrance to hell.

entrance to a cave
I can show you the outside, but the inside you’ll have to discover for yourself!

Eisriesenwelt wasn’t well known until after 1879 and it currently attracts more than 200,000 visitors annually.

Bring a warm jacket because the temperature is below freezing year-round, and leave your camera at home because no photos are allowed to be taken inside.

2. It Is Illegal to Honk

Are you frustrated waiting in traffic? Did someone do something unbelievably stupid right in front of you? Don’t reach for that horn unless you’d like a big, fat, ticket.

Honking your car horn is illegal in the capital city of Vienna. While your horn may keep your road rage in check, it is not welcome in a city with tall buildings that echo.

3. All Stores are Closed on Sunday

A sad but true fact is that all stores are closed on Sunday in Austria. If you were hoping to snag some local merch or buy a souvenir or two, don’t wait until Sunday!

Luckily, restaurants and gas stations remain operational 7 days a week and many of them will have small items you can buy.

4. Europe’s Tallest Waterfalls are in Austria

Who doesn’t like taking pictures of waterfalls? Hopefully, your camera has a panorama setting because the Krimml Waterfalls are the tallest in all of Europe.

a man standing by a waterfall

The drop from the top of the largest waterfall is 380 meters or 1,247 feet. Visitors are welcome from mid-April to October, and the entrance fee to the Krimml Waterfall Trail is only 5 euros.

5. Wasps Will Bother You but You Can’t Kill Them

Think you can enjoy a lovely meal outside undisturbed? Think again.

Austria has wasps everywhere, even in the middle of Vienna. They typically aren’t aggressive but will hover around your food and check to see if you have something they want to sample.

Viennese people ignore them, though tourists may be surprised by their presence.

Why are there so many wasps? Like bees, they are a protected species in Austria and it is illegal to kill them.

6. The Honor System is Still “A Thing”

The honor system is alive and well in Austria.

At gas stations, you pump your gas and then go inside to pay.

You can get the Sunday paper by walking down to the street corner where they are hung in a clear bag. You pay for it by putting the money in an unattended collection box.

When you buy a bus or train ticket, you are trusted to stamp your ticket at the door once you are inside using the stamping machine to validate it. This shows that the ticket has been used and is done on the honor system though occasionally plainclothes officers will perform ticket checks and hand out expensive fines to violators!

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If you visit Austria, make sure you honor the honor system.

7. Austria is Eco-Friendly

Around 63% of waste is recycled and electricity is mostly generated from water and wind sources. Residents can choose which type of energy source supplies their home.

an eco petrol station in Austria

At restaurants and throughout Austrian cities, you will see multiple trash and recycling receptacles placed next to one another that are labeled with the type of waste allowed for each.

Plastic straws are completely banned throughout the country, and grocery stores offer paper or reusable cloth bags.

8. Gas Stations in Austria are Awesome

Looking for a delicious hot meal or fresh latte? Need to find a clean, safe public restroom? Are you looking to sample a ridiculous amount of local snack foods?

Austrian gas stations have you covered. It is not uncommon for Austrians to grab lunch from the gas station near their office. Ask for a Leberkäsesemmel and thank me later.

9. Croissants Are An Austrian Pastry

Croissants come from Austria. I know these are fighting words, but before you throw the proverbial stone, croissants were invented in Vienna after the Ottoman empire attacked in the 14th century.

Originally called Kipferl which is the German word for crescent, these crescent-shaped pastries were so popular in Austria that an Austrian named August Zang opened a Viennese pastry shop in Paris and sold Kipferl and other Austrian treats to Parisians.

They proved so popular that Parisian bakers began imitating Kipferl and changed the name to the French word for crescent – croissant.

10. The Oldest European Cold Case

Found in the Oetz Valley in Tyrol, the best-preserved human specimen from the Stone Age died around 5,300 years ago and is named Ötzi though many call him “Iceman”.

The iceman from Africa

His body was discovered in 1991 near the border between Austria and Italy and was first examined by scientists at the University of Innsbruck.

The mummified remains had an arrowhead embedded in his shoulder which is the cause of his death.

Who wanted to kill poor Ötzi? The world may never know.

11. Postcards Come from Austria

The Austrian government allowed the first postcard ever to be mailed from a London writer who wanted to send one to himself while staying in Austria in 1848.

The practice became more common after 1869 when the first postcard featuring a picture was sent. This first picture postcard featured a photo of Vienna and was the beginning of the international souvenir postcard craze.

Postcards can still be found in Austria at popular tourist locations.

12. The World’s Oldest Zoo is in the Backyard of an Austrian Palace

Tiergarten Schönbrunn is located on the Schönbrunn Palace grounds and was founded in 1752. It is the oldest zoo in the world and was originally an imperial menagerie for the Habsburg family who spent summers there.

Over 700 species reside at the zoo, and they include rare specimens found throughout the world. One of the most popular exhibits is the Giant Pandas as this is the first location in the world where Giant Pandas have been successfully bred in captivity.

13. You Can Sleep in an Austrian Palace

Speaking of Schönbrunn Palace, it is now possible to book an exclusive suite at the palace so you can live it up imperial style! Up to 4 people can spend the night in the suite which is one of the 1,440 rooms that make up Schönbrunn Palace.

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The Austrian Palace

The current rate is €790 per night, but the chance to stay in such a historic setting is priceless.

14. Redbull Comes from Austria

Perhaps the most famous energy drink in the world, Redbull was a company created in Austria by the Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz. It has helped people crawl out of bed and make it to their 9am meeting on time for years.

A lesser-known fact is that the recipe for Redbull comes from the Yoovidhya family in Thailand, who partnered with Dietrich and allowed him to produce the beverage for a mere 51% of the company.

15. Working Conditions in Austria are Excellent

Having a 9 to 5 in Austria is not too shabby. Every job has a union that represents it and every Austrian worker is entitled to 5 weeks of paid vacation a year and 13 paid holidays.

While this is great for locals, this may mean that some restaurants or places you wanted to visit are closed if you travel during peak times (summer and winter). The only notice you will get is the paper one places on the door of a business so always have a plan B.

16. If You Hate Mountains Don’t Visit Austria

The Austrian Alps make up 62% of the country of Austria and there are over 50 thousand kilometers of mountain paths in Austria.

The tallest peak in Austria is Grossglockner (Großglockner) which at its peak is 3,798 meters or 12,460 feet.

Austria is known for its beautiful mountains aside from the region of Burgenland which means “mountain country” in German and ironically has the least amount of mountains in Austria.

17. Austria is a Landlocked Country

This means there is no ocean and thus no beach in Austria. Before you panic, Austria is bordered by 8 amazing countries (some of which have beaches)!

A graphic map of Austria

Austria’s European neighbors include Germany, Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland and you can reach all of them within a few hours.

This makes Austria a great centralized location if you want to see a lot of what Europe has to offer!

18. Austrians Love Music, but Not The Sound of Music

Apologies to Julie Andrews, but most Austrians either haven’t seen or haven’t heard of The Sound of Music.

That isn’t to say the country doesn’t appreciate music! Austria is known worldwide for classical music, yodeling, and underground electronica.

Vienna’s Operahouse is one of the most famous places to experience a concert anywhere in the world and Salzburg is home to famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Other famous Austrian musicians include Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Anton Bruckner, and Gustav Mahler.

19. Austria is Called Österreich by Austrians

Austrians call their home country Österreich rather than Austria. It was once the easternmost part of Bavaria and considered the “Eastern Realm”, hence the German name.

Of course, if you say Austria, they will know what you’re referring to.

20. Austria’s Danube River Flows Through 10 Countries

The main source of water supplying Austria is the Danube river. At a length of 2,880 kilometers (1,789 miles), it is the second longest river in Europe. At some points, the Danube is over 1.5km (1 mile) wide and 8m (26 feet) deep.

The dunube river with a castle

The Danube winds through ten countries – the only river in the world to do so!

21. Austria Has Hosted the Winter Olympics Twice

Austria is famous for winter sports such as skiing and has been chosen as the site of the Winter Olympics twice. Innsbruck was the city chosen to host the Olympics in both 1964 and 1976.

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22. Austrian’s Get Boozy With It

It may be difficult to drink an Austrian under the table.

The reason is that the definition of a regular alcoholic beverage in Austria means that it contains 20 grams of pure ethanol which is twice the amount required in all other European countries!

23. Austria Has One of the Largest Cemeteries in the World

The Vienna Central Cemetery is huge. It is home to more than 3 million tombs and was opened on Halloween night in 1874. It is the resting place of Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, and Brahms amongst others.

It covers over 590 acres and has become a tourist destination. It features horse-drawn carriage tours with Art Nouveau buildings.

24. Austria is Home To Several Famous Scientists

Austria is the birthplace of many important scientific minds.

Gregor Mendel is known as the father of modern genetics and was an Austrian monk who worked with pea plants to discover how traits are passed genetically.

Christian Doppler was a physicist from Salzburg known for his discovery of the “Doppler Effect”.

Ernst Mach was an Austrian physicist who figured out that air above the speed of sound acts differently. Mach numbers have been in use since 1929 and are used to describe velocities that are higher than the speed of sound.

While it is widely believed that Sigmund Freud was born in Austria, he was not. He was born in Czechia but the father of psychoanalysis worked and lived in Austria for most of his life.

25. The Terminator aka Arnold Schwarzenegger is from Austria

He is a former weightlifter, Hollywood actor, and governor of California, yet he was born in Austria.

A statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger

His childhood home is open to tours and has been turned into a museum.

26. The Oldest Restaurant in Europe is in Austria

The oldest restaurant in the world was founded in an Abbey in 803 AD.

St. Peter Stiftskulinarium is still operational today as a restaurant and inn. It is said to have served famous people such as Mozart and Christopher Columbus. Reservations are recommended.

27. Wolfgang Puck is Austrian

One of the most famous chefs on TV, Wolfgang Puck is the second highest earning chef in the world, with a net worth of approximately $120 million.

Yet he didn’t open a restaurant in Austria until 2021 when he opened Wolfgang Puck Kitchen & Bar in Vienna’s Airport. At least your next layover may be more enjoyable!

28. Austria has one of the Oldest Amusement Parks in the World

Prater first opened its doors in 1776 and is still operating today in the heart of Vienna. It was originally a hunting ground for the Imperial family and still has a shaded park area which is a nod to its natural roots.

It is a popular hangout spot for locals and tourists, offering a variety of games and restaurant options where you can try a variety of Viennese cuisine. I personally recommend The English Reiter – you can’t beat their Schnitzel!

The best part of visiting Prater – there is no entry fee! It is open to the public during operating hours and works like a carnival where you only pay for what you want to do.


Christina loves to travel and recently moved from America to Austria to experience everything Europe has to offer. Her passion for travel is rivaled only by her love of writing. Armed with her English degree, she funds her travels writing for several websites including MyCountryFacts!

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