Youth hostels offer good value accomodation not only, but mainly for young people. The standard of Austrian youth hostels has risen during the last couple of years which often also meant a rise in room prices – but if you don't bother about sharing bedrooms and bathrooms and make use of the common cooking facilities (if available), then it's still one of the cheapest ways to spend a night in Austria.
For staying in a youth hostel you need to become a member of Hostelling International (HI) and buy an international youth hostel card. You can get one either at the HI Youth Hostel Association office in your home country or you buy it from one of the two Austrian ones. You can even purchase it directly at a youth hostel – or you choose to pay more and buy a temporary "welcome stamp" which is only valid for the duration of your stay.
HI Hostels in Austria: www.hihostels.com/dba/country-Austria-AT.en.htm
Bed and breakfasts (B&Bs)
Private bed and breakfasts (in German "Pensionen") are widespread in Austria. They are often family-run and also very popular with Austrian tourists, especially for farmhouse holidays in the countryside.
Sleeping in a tent or caravan is cheap and you can find around 500 official campsites all over Austria. Most of them are in the countryside, at lakes or in the mountains, but also big cities like Vienna have some. Unfortunately most of the city campsites are located on the outskirts and are not so easy to reach, but often the lower prices make up for the longer journey.
In general "wild camping", i.e. just putting up your tent any place you like, is not allowed in Austria. If you want to camp outside a campsite, you need the permission of the land owner.
If you're not travelling alone (single rooms!), hotels can be an affordable luxury, especially off-season. Check internet booking portals for special offers, also on hotel websites you can sometimes snatch a good price.
In addition check online hotel review sites for first impressions and customer ratings. These can only provide personal views of other, but the more reviews the more reliable the ratings.
Austrians are said to be friendly and generous hosts, so why not make use of it? Couchsurfing platforms have become quite popular in Austria as well, so check them to find someone with a free bed or couch. In addition you might even get a free breakfast and/or a free sightseeing tour with a local guide!
Source: auf & davon – Junges Reisen in Europa, Bundesnetzwerk Österreichisches Jugendinfos, March 2011
Photo: Lisi Egger