Several services will help young travelers stretch their budgets in Austria this summer. These include special youth guides to three cities, youth passes for unlimited transportation, free guided hiking programs and economical short tours to neighboring countries.
Most Austrian resort areas offer a hiking program but Innsbruck's free program is considered special because the route is determined by the type of hikers who sign up each day. The guides speak English, free bus transportation is provided and rucksacks and hiking boots are available on loan.
From the first Sunday in June to the last Saturday in September daily hikes are organized, in any weather, by the Innsbruck Tourist Office. The guided hikes are free for members of Club Innsbruck. Anyone who stays in Innsbruck for three nights can become a club member free; hotels and hostels issue membership cards.
A reservation to join a hike must be made by 4 p.m. the day before. This can be done at hotels, at the Innsbruck Tourist office, Burgraben 3, or at the central railway station.
Guide Decides Route
Participants meet at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Convention Center. The guide decides which of about 30 different routes would be best suited to the group. Boots and rucksacks can be borrowed and free bus transportation is provided to and from the trail head.
You have to worry only about paying for cable cars or chairlifts and any food you choose to buy from restaurants en route.
The Innsbruck Club membership card also gets discounts on some cable cars, sightseeing flights, tennis fees, golf green fees and admission fees to museums and the Alpine Zoo.
Innsbruck also offers young visitors their own lounge in the central railroad station and information services such as the free publication "Innsbruck for Young People."
The 16-page publication will tell you where to find budget accommodations, camping, medical services, a notice board, Laundromat, post office, youth travel agency, currency exchange, inexpensive restaurants and public transportation. It's a 1985 edition, so expect prices to be slightly low.
Write to the Austrian National Tourist Office before you leave home. They will provide you with "Innsbruck for Young People" and other similar free publications such as "Vienna for Young People," "Vienna Camping and Youth Hostels 1987" and "Salzburg Youth Info."
Visitors to Austria between 6 and 26 years old are eligible for the youth version of the Austria Ticket. This pass is valid for unlimited second-class travel on Austrian Federal Railways, Austrian Postal Service buses and selected cable-car and boat services. The cost for nine days is 950 Austrian schillings ($78) or 16 days at 1,350 AS ($110). You can buy it at all Austrian railroad stations.
Many museums will honor international student identity cards for discounts or free admission.
The student/youth travel agency Okista can arrange for young visitors to join economic tour programs including ski holidays and tours to neighboring countries.
For example, a two-day trip to Budapest is offered two to seven times a week throughout the year. For 1,280 AS (about $105 U.S.) per person, you get a bus tour from Vienna, sightseeing, full board and accommodation in twin rooms. The visa fee is not included.
A similar two-day trip to Prague from Vienna is offered every Saturday year-round. For 1,395 AS ($114) per person, you get sightseeing, half-board and twin accommodation. The visa fee is extra.
Okista has offices in Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz, Kalgenfurt, Graz, Bregenz and in Vienna at Turkenstrasse 4, A-1090 Vienna.
For additional information on Austria or for free youth brochures, contact the Austrian National Tourist Office, 11601 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2480, Los Angeles, Calif. 90025; phone (213) 477-3332.