Eating with Austrians

When having a meal as a group, it is polite to wish one another 'Guten Appetit' or 'Mahlzeit'. Mahlzeit literally means 'mealtime' and is also used as a general greeting around midday, when one can assume that most people are about to have lunch.

At traditional restaurants, especially in the countryside, it is considered polite to greet other punters with a hearty 'Mahlzeit'. A typical Austrian meal can be a long running affair, as there are normally at least three courses and no rush to leave after the last bite. It is common to languish at the table and enjoy a drink before relinquishing the table to the next party.

© Austrian National Tourist Office / Burgstaller

© Austrian National Tourist Office / Burgstaller

Drinking with Austrians

When clinking glasses, Austrians take a moment to make eye contact and say 'Prost' to each person in the round. If you feel like showing off, you can also say 'Zum Wohl' or 'Prosit' - all three mean 'to your health'.

Skiing instructors, tour guides, bartenders and otherwise well-informed Austrians will be more than happy to teach you a variety of less formal, usually rowdy toasts that are popular throughout the country. Austria's excellent wines, beers and spirits are the pride of local restaurateurs, so make sure to sample regional beverages whenever possible.

After a meal you are likely to be offered a shot of Schnaps, Austria's favourite digestive. This is not a drink for the faint-hearted: the rule is to drink it in a single mouthful and, with most varieties containing around 40% alcohol, this is – literally – an eye-watering experience.