1. People can still smoke indoors in some places, especially in some smaller bars and restaurants.
2. Water will usually be sparkling and bottled water is a big thing. People may look at you funny if you try to order tap water!
3. Taxes and tips are included in prices, so service is much less tip-oriented. It’s normal, however, to round up to the nearest euro.
4. You don’t have to swipe your ticket in the metro, unless you buy a single ride ticket. Public transport runs on the ‘honour system’, so anyone can get on and off without being checked. But you will spot the occasional ticket inspector, and if you do get caught, it’s a 90 euro fine!
5. Cycling is a serious business here. Look out for bike lanes wherever you go, because you won’t be forgiven for walking in them!
6. To- go coffee isn’t particularly big here. If somewhere does serve coffee to go, they will usually advertise it as it isn’t the usual custom.
7. When paying for day-to-day things, people will usually pay in cash, not on card, so carry cash around with you where possible.
8. Many of the metro trains have manual doors, so don’t stand there and wait for them to open automatically; you have to do it yourself!
9. Wine is incredibly cheap compared to the US and UK – make the most of it!
10. People can seem unwelcome or even rude at first, but that’s just a cultural difference, especially when compared to the US. People are just a little more private and it takes a while to get to know them, but once you do it’s definitely worth the work, and you can make life-long friendships. Speaking German makes a big difference!
If you need something to eat, look for bright and colorful signs on the streets. Almost at every corner you will find a branch of one of Vienna’s many supermarkets. The general opening hours are:
- Monday to Friday: from 8 AM to 8 PM
- Saturday: from 8 AMto 4 PM
Supermarkets that are near the airport or at railway stations however, are open daily (even on Sundays!) from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Be aware that there are significant price differences between different supermarkets. In the beginning it would be best to stop by various supermarkets surrounding you to find the supermarket with the best price-performance ratio for you. Usually, discount supermarkets have the cheapest offers. Apart from that, every supermarket runs special offers regularly where you can get 25-50% off on selected items. Snacks, for example, are often discounted like this.
Merkur – One of the biggest, cleanest and best-stocked supermarkets with top-quality food. It is therefore a little bit more expensive. Merkur is not as frequently found as the other supermarkets.
Billa – Owned by the same company as Merkur, but a lot easier to spot. It is probably the most common supermarket in Vienna. Usually you will get good value for your money here, but there is some variety between the stores in different locations, as some of the older stores could do well with a refurbishment. Getting a fidelity card will definitely pay off! Note that they also have an online store.
Spar – You will come across three types of Spar in Vienna, varying in size: “Interspar” is the largest, followed by “Eurospar” and “Spar” is the smallest. Additionally, there’s “Gourmet Spar”, which presents its upmarket products in a nicer way.
Hofer – owned by Germany’s Aldi and similar in style. Cheaper, but usually the shops are smaller in size and not as well stocked to cut the prices. They mainly sell their own versions of established brands, but these products are generally also of good quality.
Lidl – the main competitor of Hofer. Similarly, they have a smaller product range and a no-frills approach of displaying their products. In contrast to Hofer, there are usually more branded items.
Penny – another German discount supermarket, owned by REWE group. It is very similar to the previous two, but it additionally has an online store!
Basic Supermarket Knowledge
If you are not from Europe, it might be useful to have a look at the list below. Shopping habits in Vienna might differ from what you’re used to!
We like to recycle! If you don’t have a shopping bag with you, you can always buy one for a small fee. However, we recommend you to bring your own!
– You are required to bag the groceries yourself. Store clerks will not do that for you.
– If you purchase fruit or vegetables, you usually have to bag them and weigh them before going to the cashier. The scale is usually placed right next to the products. You have to select the right code, print the sticker and put it on your bag.
– Be aware that a lot of the smaller supermarkets exclusively sell food and drinks, so no (or only a very small range of) toiletries, cleaning supplies or first-aid items like bandages and aspirins. In the bigger ones you can usually find household goods, next to food and drinks. If you still cannot find what you need, you should probably go to a drugstore like BIPA or DM. For medicines however, you always need to go to the pharmacy (DM and BIPA have a wide range of vitamins though).
– Often you will need change (50 cents/€1/€2) to access a cart. Don’t forget to take your money out again when you put the cart back where it belongs!
– Your American/international credit card might not work, because they don’t have the right chip, so make sure that you have some money or an Austrian card with you.
You have survived your first week! Now what?
It is about time that you make Vienna your new home!
Swap your friend’s couch or your hotel room for a place that you can really call your own. We describe all of Vienna’s most popular housing options, give you tips on where to find housing and even launched a housing platform for you! In your new home, you’ll want high speed internet and TV, some new electronics and furniture, but maybe you’ll also want to make use of a moving service to transport your trusted belongings. Or can you transport your stuff by yourself by making use of a car sharing service, or even by buying your own car?
Now seems like a good time to enroll for a German course. It will be a great asset while looking for a job. Furthermore, having a chat with your neighbors might be a lot easier if you speak a few words of German, as well as ordering a bread at the bakery or a beer at the bar. While speaking of bars and restaurants, it’s high time that you visit a few of them. You can check out our recommendations or go on discovery yourself, but no place feels like home without a habitual haunt. Maybe you even want to take out a gym membership or join a sports team? It seems like you’ll have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people, so maybe you should also consider taking out a cell phone contract to maintain your new friendships at a more affordable rate.
If you have brought your family, we believe you should take great care of them. We will talk you through kindergartens, schools and school supplies, nannies, sports clubs and so on. Not only your child(ren), but also your lovely partner might need something on his/her hands, especially in the beginning. We strongly believe that they can enjoy Vienna just as much as you do!
At this point, you probably don’t want to be treated as a tourist anymore. It will take some time, but after a while you will be able to behave like a true Viennese. We will give you a whole lot of basic information about Vienna, but it would be even better if you completely emerge yourself in Viennese culture. Become part of the community, try the Austrian cuisine, discover how you like your coffee and try to be aware of the city’s cultural highlights. After all of this, you will probably not need our help anymore, but if you have any other questions, feel free to ask! Just send us an e-mail or facebook message, call us or simply stop by at the office!