I visited the fantastic city of Vienna for the first time earlier this month, and as usual when I travel, I found myself spending a lot of time online.
It’s not that I spend my holidays watching silly videos on YouTube (that’s my daughter’s job), but I tend to find I’m always looking for how to get to places, what’s nearby, what the local word for “two beers, please” is, and so on.
In a geeky way, I’m also interested in how using the web abroad, especially on a mobile, compares to using it here in the UK. For the benefit of netheads with wanderlust, I thought I would put together a quick blast of info that might be worth knowing if you have a trip to Vienna or any other part of Austria planned.
1. Austria is in the European Union
Until recently, it was more or less a given that you could use your phone in the EU in pretty much the same way you could in the UK. That changed in 2021, with O2 now the only major carrier that hasn’t brought back roaming charges post-Brexit. Personally, provided O2 doesn’t ditch this policy, I don’t think I will ever switch to another network.
Austria is surrounded by other EU countries like Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy, so no problems with any of them if you do a bit of border hopping. Neighbouring Switzerland and Liechtenstein are not in the EU, but are nonetheless included in O2’s Europe Zone.
If you don’t use O2, you’ll probably still be able to pay for some sort of bolt-on to keep the costs of data use down during your stay. Otherwise, turn data roaming off to be on the safe side and take advantage of point 2.
2. Free Wi-Fi is widely available
At least in Vienna, I found Wi-Fi is free and easy to access in most forms of transport and shops. Here in the UK, you often have to essentially fill in a form in order to use public Wi-Fi. This seems very much a tedious British thing to me, as I noticed it was also rarely the case when I went to Denmark five years ago.
3. Get the ÖBB Tickets app if you want to travel
Finally, if you want to get out and about while in Austria, there’s one app you shouldn’t be without.
The street tram (S-Bahn) and local underground system (U-Bahn) are excellent in Vienna, and transport seems good throughout the country, with studies showing Austrians are among the happiest EU citizens with their train service.
To save yourself the hassle of buying a ticket before every trip, be sure to download the ÖBB Tickets app, with ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen) being Austria’s national railway company. It’s available in English and is really easy to use. To get the best value out of your day tickets, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Vienna Core Zone.