Punctuality in Vienna, Austria — Be on time if you want to be respected and liked

Heading to Prater to meet a friend? Do try to be on time

Punctuality in Vienna is the norm

One of the things I have loved about Vienna, Austria since I moved here is how punctual most Austrians tend to be.

If they say they will meet you at a café at 4 pm (usually mentioned as 16:00 by Austrians), in most cases they will arrive exactly on time or even five or 10 minutes early.

In fact, in my over five years living in Vienna, I have only ever had Austrians arrive more than a few minutes late two or three times. Every time they had extenuating circumstances as to why.

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Punctuality in Vienna is expected by most people and, if you can arrive on time, you will find yourself more respected and more liked by most Austrians rather than if you have a habit of showing up half an hour late.

For me, someone who lived in Bangkok, Thailand for 15 years where the average Thai was always 15 minutes late and often even longer, experiencing punctuality in Vienna has been wonderful.

Punctuality in Vienna in business

If you plan on engaging in business in Vienna, it will benefit you to be punctual at all times.

Austrians tend to organize their business schedules quite tightly and so, if a meeting is set to begin at 10 am, that is the time it will begin. Arriving when the meeting has started will not help you win friends or influence people.

In some cases, it will offend business contacts that may be important to you.

Punctuality on Vienna’s public transportation

The same punctuality goes for Vienna’s public transportation system, which is superb in just about every way.

Trains, buses and trams tend to be on time, with electronic boards at most public transportation stops telling you when the next train, bus or tram will arrive. In almost all cases, it arrives within seconds of its stated time. They depart on time as well.

Not only is public transportation punctual, it rarely seems to break down either. When it does, that is one of the few times a train, bus or tram will not arrive when it should.

Get used to punctuality on Vienna’s public transportation system at your own risk, however, as it can be extremely disappointing when you are elsewhere and realize much of the rest of the world doesn’t run like this.

Oh, and if you plan on flying with Austrian Airlines (one of my favorite ways to fly), don’t be late to the airport either.

The airline is consistently named one of the most punctual airlines in Europe. Arrive late, you won’t be allowed to board and your flight will leave without you.

Punctuality in shop opening and closing times

You can also count on shops in Vienna opening and closing at stated times.

That means don’t leave your much-needed grocery shopping until a couple of minutes before closing time on a Saturday evening, or you will discover quite quickly that bread and milk you had to have won’t be available to you until Monday.

Not unless you don’t mind trekking halfway across the city to one of the few supermarkets allowed to stay open on Sundays.

In other words, when in Vienna, should you be late for any reason, be sure to apologize.

Austrians are not ogres and will usually politely accept your apology. Just try not to make a habit of it or you may find their acceptance quickly disappears.

Michelle Topham