Studying abroad is an expensive adventure, even after saving money for extended time overseas. Students going to Austria should be prepared to live in an expensive country, especially when studying in the capital city of Vienna. Though Vienna is a great student city, home to a major university and hundreds of cultural attractions, it is also rather pricey. When looking to get away from Vienna for a weekend, consider the following options that will not drastically affect limited student finances.
Visit Other Student-Friendly Cities in Austria
Salzburg, Graz, and Innsbruck are all within a fairly reasonable train distance. Innsbruck is a five to six hour trip, but Salzburg is only about three hours away, and Graz is only two and a half hours from the Wien Meidling station. All three cities have inexpensive youth hostels perfect for a night or two away.
For more details about train times and fares to Salzburg, Graz, or Innsbruck, see the Austrian Rail website (Österreichische Bundesbahn, or ÖBB) . There is a discount card known as a Vorteilskarte that will provide a 45-50% discount on all train ticket purchases. For anyone under 26, this card is only about twenty Euro, and will therefore pay for itself many times over.
Lesser-Known Attractions in Eastern Austria that Won’t Make a Sizable Dent in Students’ Savings
The Neusiedler See (Lake Neusiedl), is in a beautiful region of Austria known as Burgenland. Hop on bus number 566 from Vienna’s Suedtiroler Platz to get to the charming town of Rust (some times of day may require travelers to change buses in the town of Eisenstadt).
When at the Neusiedler See, rent a bike for the day for under 10 Euro. Biking is the best way to experience Lake Neusiedl, as there are bike trails and bike ferries throughout the area.
Another option is the Waldviertel (literally “Forest Quarter”), a beautiful region in the Austrian state of Niederoesterreich (Lower Austria). It is home to towns such as Zwettl and Krems, as well as the architectural gem Melk Abbey.
Areas in Upper Austria Worth Visiting from Vienna
The small city of Steyr and the Steyrtal, and Enns and the Ennstal, are beautiful hidden attractions in Austria. (Tal is German for “valley,” and in this instance refers to the valleys of the rivers Steyr and Enns.) Rolling hills, aquamarine rivers, and tiny towns such as Weyer, Garsten, and Enns are a part of what make this region worth visiting.
While accessible via bus and train, the Steyrtal and Ennstal regions are best seen by car. Go with a friend who has a car, or take advantage of a fairly inexpensive car rental. Or, if a car is absolutely not an option, take the train to Linz, where it’s possible to make several connections by bus or rail to Steyr, Enns, and Weyer.
Major Cities for Students to Visit Outside of Austria
The major cities of Munich, Germany, Budapest, Hungary, and Prague, Czech Republic are all just a few hours away by train. Bratislava, he capital of Slovakia is more of a day trip, as it is just an hour by train from Vienna, but can be turned into a weekend trip as well.
Visit Smaller Cities in the Czech Republic Just a Few Hours from Vienna
The Czech Republic is a great destination for students on a budget, as the country has not yet switched over to the Euro and, compared to Austria, is fairly inexpensive. Ceské Budejovice (Budweis in German) and Ceský Krumlov (Krummau in German) are both in the southern region of Ceské Budejovice in the Czech Republic, right near the Austrian border. Budweis is about four hours from Vienna, and is a good place to stop on the way to Krummau, which is the city most worth visiting of the two.
Budweis is the home of the original Budvar (Budweiser) beer, and the brewery is a popular attraction. Krummau is about an hour from Budweis and is a beautiful and charming medieval town home to a castle, cozy cafes, and narrow cobblestone streets.
When in Vienna for a limited amount of time, be it a semester or year, make sure to venture outside the perimeter of the city. There is so much to see in other parts of Austria and just outside the country, be it another city or a rural getaway, that will fit well into an international student’s limited budget.