How Austrians spend their spare time

Austrians typically like to relax in front of the TV in the evenings, but listening to the radio, reading the newspaper and surfing on the Internet are also among their favourite activities. When not consuming media, they enjoy driving, taking part in outdoor activities and meeting up with friends. The many cultural offerings are also very popular.

Newspaper in the mornings, TV in the evenings, and radio and the Internet in between — that just about sums up how the average Austrian uses the media. In a survey of 15,000 people, the Media Server Association (see also page 18) discovered that in 2015 the morning hours were mostly dedicated to print media, radio also reached its peak at this time of day but was still popular well into the evening hours, and TV attracted the most viewers, especially at prime time between 8 pm and 10 pm. In terms of their TV consumption at least, the Austrians are much like their neighbours in Germany and Switzerland. There too, most households have their TV running in the evenings. These three countries have something else in common too: Their level of TV consumption is below the European average. According to, Romania topped the league table (in 2014/2015) with 327 minutes of TV consumption per day, followed by Serbia (315) and Hungary (286). The average for Europe as a whole is 232 minutes. In Austria, people spend 161 minutes a day watching TV, compared with 223 in Germany, 144 in French-speaking Switzerland and 124 in German-speaking Switzerland.

Watching TV is how we wind down

Although TV consumption in Austria is below the EU average, it remains the Austrians’ uncontested favourite pastime. In 2015/2016, 60.6 per cent of the population stated this to be the case in surveys conducted at six-month intervals for Media-Analyse. 51.7 per cent of the population listen to the radio in their spare time, while 51.4 per cent are more likely to surf the Internet. In terms of Internet usage, however, there are significant differences between Austria and neighbouring Germany, as discovered by the Institute for Leisure and Tourism Research (Institut für Freizeit- und Tou­rismus­forschung – IFT). While 76 per cent of Germans use the Internet at least once a week in their spare time, the corresponding figure in Austria is only 56 per cent. 44 per cent of Germans access the Internet every day, compared with only 27 per cent of Austrians, according to the IFT. In the regular research newsletter Forschungstelegramm, the institute’s director, Peter Zellmann, explains the Germans’ more intensive and frequent use of the Internet as follows: “The fact that use of the Internet in general only differs slightly would suggest that the Austrian lifestyle is not as digitalised as the German one. The question whether this should be interpreted as a sign of the Austrians lagging behind or of them having a higher quality of life is likely to keep us occupied for quite some time. Interestingly, the situation was just the opposite up until a few years ago.” However, according to Österreichische Webanalyse, an alliance of online providers and advertising agencies, 94.4 per cent of 14- to 59-year-olds regularly engage in online activity. It is only in the over-60s age group that Internet use is lower — currently around the 54.9 per cent mark. 70.3 per cent of users, including a slightly higher proportion of men, access the Internet via mobile devices; only 29.7 per cent use the Internet solely on stationary devices. Mobile use is particularly common among young people: 97 per cent of 14- to 19-year-olds surf the Internet on mobile devices.
The Austrians also use the media for finding out about cultural events and recreational activities. The country has lots to offer both in and outside the capital city of Vienna, including all manner of galas, events, festivals, shows, film viewings, concerts, literature and art exhibitions, quite apart from the hugely popular tourist attractions. According to Media-Analyse, 13.5 per cent of the population use the media for finding out about books and 11.5 per cent for enquiring about new music releases. Information about events is relevant for 11.6 per cent, and cultural news for a respectable 8.9 per cent.

Austrians love cars and nature

Austrians don’t just love their media, but their motorised vehicles, friends and nature as well. According to Media-Analyse 2015/2016, the most popular pastimes include driving (45.2), going for walks (37.5), meeting friends (36.9), sporting activities (29.7), gardening (23.4), listening to music (20.2), reading non-fiction and specialist literature (16.1), D.I.Y. (15.2) and dining out (12.6). According to IFT Director Zellmann, the slightly downward trend seen over the past ten years in traditional pastimes such as dancing, weekend trips, and visiting flea markets, bazaars or theme parks can be explained by the decreasing availability of resources, such as time and money, and the emergence of increasingly diverse recreational offerings. A survey conducted by the insurance company Allianz Versicherung among 1,000 working people aged between 18 and 65 revealed that one in four Austrians found their leisure time stressful. Family responsibilities such as parenting, household chores or caring for elderly relatives were cited as major stress factors. However, the inhabitants of the “Alpine Republic” have found ways of compensating for stress — above all by participating in outdoor activities. 28 per cent of respondents said they engaged in sporting activities, while 26 per cent claimed to go walking or hiking. It was mostly women who cited handicrafts as a means of combating stress and mostly men who said gardening had this effect.

What matters on holiday

When Austrians go away, they’re most likely to book a beach or relaxation holiday (46.6 per cent according to Media-Analyse). City breaks (28.5), health spas (19.5), activity holidays (16.6) and winter sports holidays (13.2) are also popular. Only 3.1 per cent seek adventure in the form of safaris and trekking holidays; 2.2 per cent opt for cruises. 22.2 per cent claim to undertake foreign travel as a means of learning about other countries and cultures; however, 23.6 per cent go on holiday only rarely or never at all.
As far as holiday regions are concerned, the preferences of people holidaying in their own country differ slightly from those of foreign visitors. What matters most to Austrians is natural scenery (45 per cent), followed by mountains (35), peace and quiet (34), hospitality (29) and good previous experience (28). This is the conclusion reached by the holiday survey 
T-MONA 2013/14 conducted by the tourism organisation “Österreich Werbung”. Foreign visitors cite mountains as being most important (66), followed by natural scenery (47). Winter sport facilities are particularly important for 39 per cent; foreign visitors attach greater importance to peace and quiet (35) and hospitality (32) than domestic tourists. Within the local population (excluding daytrippers), the preferred pastimes are going for walks (49 per cent), hiking (48) and dining out (41). In winter, walking and skiing are the most popular activities for 41 per cent of the population; 37 per cent prefer a leisurely stroll.


Homegrown hospitality is highly rated by Austrians.



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