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Car Rentals in Austria

Renting a car in Austria is something you might want to think twice about.  In general, unless your plans involve touring the countryside or trying to squeeze in as much of Austria as possible in a limited number of days, or if physical limitations do not easily permit otherwise, there are alternative options than car rentals for Austria.  First, most all Austrian cities, and in particular Vienna and Salzburg boast exceptional public transportation and are small enough that renting a car is almost a hindrance.  Most buses do stop at Midnight but there are some night lines available as well. You can also grab a taxi if necessary, but keep in mind that they are fairly expensive.  Taxis in Austria are plentiful and you can flag them down or call to be picked up.  If possible, go directly to a taxi stand as you won’t have to pay any surcharge as opposed to calling or flagging down a taxi. Another alternative to renting a car is to rent a bike.  This is a valid alternative, at least in the fair weathered seasons, and is a great way to see the city.  Austria is bicycle friendly, as the many bike lanes can attest, and rentals are readily available.

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If you feel you must rent a car for your trip to Austria, please be aware of a few points.  Gas in Austria is expensive, ranking as the third expensive in Europe.  If possible, rent a diesel.  Many car rental agencies in Austria have manual transmission so if that is an issue for you, be sure to request an automatic transmission vehicle.  Unlike the United States, making a right turn at a red light is illegal.  This regulation goes for most of the rest of Europe as well.  You must wait until the light turns green.  Be careful of trolley cars, especially in curbs, as they have a tendency to cut you off.  Also, be aware if the trolley stops to let passengers in or out as these passengers will step into the middle of the street to board or exit the trolley.  Therefore, if a trolley stops, do not pass it!

Parking is towns and cities is frustrating and expensive and unfortunately, parking enforcement is very efficient in Austria. Austria offers terrific beer and nothing washes down kraut or weinerschnizel better than a cold draft. But, don’t even think about drinking and driving in Austria as their drinking laws are unforgiving. You may easily ruin your vacation if you get a hefty fine to pay on the spot.

In sum, while Austria offers many car rental agencies such as Hertz, Alamo and National, as well as smaller Austrian agencies, you really need to evaluate your travel plans to see if renting a car in Austria is more useful than obstructive.

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