For members


Wristbands, fences and 3G: How will Christmas markets look this year in Austria?

Christmas markets across Austria are set to go ahead this year, although exactly how things will look has been a bit up in the air. Here’s what you need to know.

People walk during the twilight at Vienna's famous shopping Mariahilfer street decorated with Christmas lights on December 18, 2019 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
People walk during the twilight at Vienna's famous shopping Mariahilfer street decorated with Christmas lights. Commerce will remain open as strikes were avoided. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

As it stands, the finalised regulation is still yet to be passed. However, as at October 26th, most of the important details have already been laid out. 

The following relies on hospitalisations and in particular ICU capacity staying relatively stable. 

As per the government’s new five-level Covid rules, measures can be tightened if ICU capacity dwindles. 

A spokesperson from the Vienna mayoral office told news outlet Kurier on Monday, October 26th, that they were hoping for the best. 

“We are assuming that the Advent markets will take place,” a spokesperson said. 

More information about this is available at the following link. 

UPDATED: What is Austria’s new 5-stage Covid restrictions plan?

Christmas markets all across Austria must be 3G compliant

Christmas markets are set to go ahead across the country, with a requirement for proof of 3G (vaccination, recovery from Covid-19, or a negative test) compliance in order to enter.

This is the case even though Christmas markets largely take place in outdoor areas. 

‘3G Rule’: How to prove you have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid in Austria

Christmas markets will open up in several locations on November 12th, including the Weihnachtstraum at the Vienna Rathaus, the Weihnachtsdorf at the Alten AKH university campus, along with the markets at Stephansplatz and Spittelberg. 

The Türkenschanzpark will open on November 13th, the Weihnachtsdorf on Maria-Theresien-Platz on the 17th, and the Weihnachtsdorf at Belvedere Palace on November 19th. 

Both the Altwiener Christkindlmarkt auf der Freyung and the Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Schönbrunn will open up on the 20th of November. 

When handing down the new measures, Austrian Tourism Minister Elizabeth Köstinger said there would be “virtually no restrictions for those who have been vaccinated” and encouraged anyone who wants to take part in winter sports to get the jab. 

How will this be enforced? 

By Christmas time, Austria will have had six months to get used to the 3G Rule and how it works. 

But while this is relatively easy to enforce in bars, restaurants and at other events and venues, the historic nature of Christmas markets can make things a little more difficult. 

The majority of Christmas markets may be fenced in order to ensure that everyone inside is in compliance with the 3G Rule, with a person’s 3G credentials checked upon entry. 

The government however is aware that fencing or other forms of barriers are difficult or impossible elsewhere, for instance in Graz, where the entire old town would need to be fenced off. 

In this case, markets will use a ‘wristband’ system, where people will need to visit a number of points to get a wristband showing that they are 3G compliant. 

From there, random checks will be carried out to ensure that all in attendance are compliant. 

Those in attendance who are not properly complying with the 3G Rule face on the spot fines. 

READ MORE: Austria to introduce on-the-spot fines for breaching 3G rule

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For members


Why are flights to and from Austria so expensive this summer?

Airline activity to and from Austria has almost fully recovered after Covid lockdowns and travel bans during the pandemic, but prices are soaring.

Why are flights to and from Austria so expensive this summer?

If you’ve been searching for flights to or from Austria during the summer, you may have noticed that prices are higher compared to previous years and even pre-pandemic times.

This trend of soaring prices is not limited to Austria alone; it is happening across Europe.

Ryanair Austria head Andreas Gruber added that the days of flying almost for free are over: “There will be no more 10-euro tickets”, he said in September 2022. Unfortunately, airfare inflation has continued to rise.

In March 2023, plane tickets were, on average, 20.1 percent more expensive than the same month in 2022. International flights saw a price increase of 19.8 percent in April 2023 compared to the previous year, while domestic flights cost 15.5 percent more during the same 12-month period.

READ ALSO: Ryanair to raise flight ticket prices in Austria

Rush to travel

Several factors contribute to these price hikes. The unexpected rush to travel after the pandemic caught the industry off guard and led to chaos at some European airports last summer due to staffing shortages.

Despite the return of passengers, business travellers have not returned in the same numbers as before, partly due to the newfound convenience of virtual meetings. In addition, the slow recovery has impacted the profitability of specific flights, prompting some airlines to discontinue routes altogether.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Fuel costs, which account for approximately one-third of ticket prices, are often cited as a reason for the price increase, even though the price of oil per barrel is falling. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) attributes the price hikes to the rising cost of kerosene, explaining that “high fuel prices, as well as other inflationary cost increases, can impact ticket prices if airlines are unable to absorb or avoid these costs.”

Austria’s Statistik Austria said high inflation in April (9.7 percent) was partly due to the “revived desire to travel (accompanied by rising prices for flights, accommodations and restaurants in Austria and in the most popular holiday countries”.

“The prices for package tours abroad, which are in high demand, have increased significantly compared to the previous year and are becoming an important driver of inflation for the first time in a long time”, said Statistics Austria director general Tobias Thomas.

READ ALSO: What is driving rising inflation in Austria and will the government act?

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, noted that while fuel prices have risen by 71 percent, the average rate of the low-cost airline has increased by 31 percent, equivalent to €14. He justified the increase, stating that it remains affordable for many customers.

Furthermore, the ban on overflying Russia has increased travel time by one to two hours for certain Asian destinations, adding to the costs of long-haul flights, according to airlines.

How can I avoid spending too much money on summer travelling?

Although flights may not be as cheap as before, there are still strategies to keep costs down:

– Booking flights well in advance tends to result in cheaper tickets, as prices increase closer to the flight date. Therefore, if you still need to book your flight, now is the time to do so.

– Avoiding the peak holiday season in July and August can help save money. Instead, consider taking an early summer vacation in June or a later one in late August or early September.

– Check websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights for the cheapest airline options. These platforms can also find cheaper tickets if you’re open to making stopovers instead of flying direct.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Austria this summer

– Be flexible with your travel dates. For example, look for midweek departures or consider departing from secondary airports, which may offer lower prices compared to major airports.

– If you’re travelling within Europe, consider rail travel as an alternative to flying. The Austrian train system, operated mainly by state-owned company ÖBB, is known for its efficiency and relatively affordable prices and is highly regarded in many countries.

READ ALSO: How does Austria’s Klimaticket for national public transport work?

By employing these strategies, you can still find ways to manage costs and make your travel plans more affordable despite the current trend of rising airfare prices.