Dos and Don’ts

Greeting: Say “Güß Gott!” (Good day, pronounced grius got) when entering a restaurant, shop, bank, or when meeting people. Shaking hands is also customary when greeting people.

Visiting Someone’s Home: Austrians are very casual about their dress code, so unless you are invited to an official dinner, you can wear anything you feel comfortable in. It is good to bring along a bottle of wine for your host.

Titles: Austrians love titles. In formal situations, always address people with Magister (pronounced maghister) before the surname, if your counterpart has a university degree. Use Doktor for someone with a Ph.D. If you are uncertain about the university degree of the person you are addressing, use the higher title to avoid potential embarrassment.

Coffee: When ordering coffee in a Viennese café, specify which kind you want. Typical Viennese coffees include: Melange—coffee with frothy milk, Kleiner/grosser Brauner—small/large coffee with cream, and Einspänner—coffee with whipped cream and icing sugar, served in a glass.

Paying in a Restaurant: It is common for people to pay their bills separately. So, when bringing you the bill, the waiters will ask everybody at the table how you would like to pay: Zusammen? (Together; pronounced susamen) or Getrennt? (Separately; pronounced getrenn). If you say Zusammen that usually means you want to pay the whole bill and are treating the rest of the group.

Tipping: Tips usually amount to about ten percent of the bill. Instead of leaving the tip on the table, tell the waiter, when paying, how much you would like to add as a tip.

Phrase Book

Ja: Yes. Pronounced ya.

Nein: No. Pronounced nine.

Danke: Thank you. Pronounced dun-ka.

Bitte: Depending on the context it may mean please, welcome, or here you are. Pronounced bit-ta.

Güß Gott!: Good day!/Hello! Pronounced grius got.

Auf Wiedersehen!: Good-bye! Pronounced auf vee-der-zane.

Tschüss!: Bye! (informal) Pronounced chius.

Wie geht’s?: How are you? Pronounced vee-gates.

Prost!: Cheers! Pronunced prost.

Wurst: Depending on the context, this may mean either “sausage” or the slang for “I don’t care!” Pronounced vurst or vursht.


About Vienna and Austria

  • <p>Photo: Hofburg Palace</p>


    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Vienna.

  • <p>Photo: Salzburg, Austria</p>


    Explore Austria through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

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