• Slovakia!

    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

    Slovakia
    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

  • Bulgaria!

    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    Bulgaria
    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

  • Italy!

    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

  • Portugal!

    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Portugal
    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

  • Denmark!

    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    Denmark
    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

  • Armenia!

    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

Food, Dining, & Drinks in Austria

Culinary Influences

Austrian Food - Apple Strudel
Apple Strudel

More traditional Austrian dishes are rooted in what Austria has always had: meats, dairy, and a number of hearty vegetables. These ingredients, like cabbage, eggs, and meat still form the basis for Austrian food today.

Austria's culinary history was greatly altered with the rise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when Vienna was the capital of one of the world's largest and most powerful kingdoms. It was during this time that different influences from all over their kingdom made their way to the capital. Influence came from Hungary, Italy, and various Slavic countries among others and these influences altered the perception of food in Vienna and Austria as a whole.

During the Hapsburg rule Austria adopted or integrated new spices into their dishes, they added new, or increased the popularity of, foods like noodles, and they began to put more energy into foods that are more pleasure than necessity as their desserts, particularly their cakes became a well-known guilty pleasure.

Today Austria continues to embrace their traditional foods, while still experimenting with new dishes entirely or adding modern twists to foods that have been popular for centuries.

Staple Foods

Bread: typically served as a side or starter
Cabbage: multiple varieties of cabbage are used as side dishes or condiments in Austria
Meat: most Austrian dishes contain a meat or are meat-focused
Potatoes: quite common everywhere, but especially near the Hungarian border
Spaetzle: these egg noodles are used as a dish's base and tend to be served in lieu of other starches like potatoes

Regional Variations & Specialties

Apple Strudel: dessert consisting of apples, sugar, flour, and sometimes raisins baked in, or topped with, a buttery crust
Wiener Schnitzel: veal, pounded thin, breaded, and fried

Dining Etiquette

Austrian Food - Wiener Schnitzel
Wiener Schnitzel

The Germanic people love their rules and, well, the Austrians are Germanic. This makes dining a more formal affair regulated by standards. Dress is more formal, arriving on time is essential, and eating habits are closely "regulated."

These stringent rules begin before you even arrive if you've been invited to a local's house. Always bring a gift, chocolate is a good choice, then once you get in the door, observe carefully and when in doubt, hesitate. Someone will show you to your seat, your napkin must be placed on your lap, your hands must remain in sight, hence on the table, don's start eating until the host says "Guten Appetit," and always eat with your knife in the right hand and fork in the left.

With all the rules it may seem like dining isn't any fun, but the food is always worth the effort. The Austrians take great pride in their food and how it's prepared, particularly their meats, which are typically cooked until extremely tender. If you can cut the meats with just your fork, it's a great compliment to the host and the chef.

Despite the good food, the table manners must continue. You must finish everything on your plate, set your knife and fork together when finished, and avoid any potentially offensive topics like politics or business. Once finished follow your host's lead as you may be asked or encouraged to give a toast; during toasts always compliment the host and make eye contact on both the giving and receiving end.

If at a restaurant, the host is expected to pay so if you initiated the invitation, be prepared to pay for everyone; if you are the guest, offer to pay, but when turned down graciously thank the host and invite them to dinner at a later date.

When eating at a sit down restaurant with a server, you should tip about 10% of the bill. It's best to give the waiter or waitress the money and tell them what you want to pay instead of leaving the tip on the table. In bars a tip of €1 per order is standard.

Drinks

Austria is well known for their alcoholic beverages, but they also enjoy their coffees, both traditional coffee as well as Italian-influenced coffee like espresso and cappuccino. Hot chocolate, particularly during the colder winter months is also popular. Other popular international drinks are also accessible, including tea, juices, soft drinks, and milk.

Austria's most popular alcohol is beer and they make their share of world renowned beers. There are numerous local breweries as well as some larger domestic breweries. Wine and schnapps are also popular as both are locally produced. Imported beers, wines, and hard liquors are also available, but local beers dominate the market and for good reason.

Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink in Austria, but check with locals for any particular regional differences. Also, many people may have troubles adjusting to the local tap water, as it will most certainly be different from what your system is used to.

This page was last updated: March, 2013