A Local's Guide to Austrian Supermarkets
At home, a trip to the grocery store can be exhausting, unnerving or even just boring. But when you're on vacation and in a different country, it can be super exciting! How are foreign supermarkets organized? What does the produce section look like? What are traditional sweets and snacks? If you belong to those people who love to browse supermarkets when traveling, this blog post is for you: We put together everything there is to know about Austrian supermarkets - opening times, differences, local specialties and much more.
Most stores in Austria are only open from Monday to Saturday. We're still a pretty catholic country, so with very few exceptions (for example at main railway stations such as Hauptbahnhof oder Westbahnhof), all stores are closed on Sundays for the whole day. And even on Saturday, they close at 6pm the latest! So make sure to go get your groceries before that if you want to have breakfast on Sunday.
You can get a decent selection of alcohol at most grocery stores, even small ones. If you want to pick up a nice bottle of Grüner Veltliner (our most popular white wine) for dinner there is no need to go to a special liquor store! Anything between 7 and 10€ should make for a perfectly fine wine.
We have various types of stores in Austria. The reasonably-priced chains for everyday purchases are BILLA and Spar (both a little on the smaller side) or Merkur, which is considerably larger and with a bigger selection (but also a little pricier). There are also discount stores such as Hofer (also known as "Aldi" outside of Austria), Lidl or Penny. If you are looking for a fancier shopping experience and pretty edible souvenirs, check out Merkur Hoher Markt, Billa Corso or the very well-known Meinl am Graben, all of them conveniently located in Vienna's first district.
When it comes to cosmetics, household or healthcare items, look for a dm Drogeriemarkt or BIPA. They carry popular international brands but also have excellent their own generic brands; Balea and Alnatura (organic!) by dm is especially great, as is the vegan & sustainable bigood brand at BIPA.
IMPORTANT: In Austria, there are NO pharmacies included at healthcare retailer locations. If you are looking for medicine (either over the counter or prescribed) you need to go to an actual pharmacy, easily recognizable by a green cross sign or a big red letter A (see an example here). Pharmacies are also not typically open on Sundays - you can check here to see which pharmacy close to you is offering emergency medical services.
What are typical Austrian groceries or authentic edible souvenirs? If you want to spend your days in Austria like the locals do, here are a few things you should try at the supermarket: An Extrawurstsemmel (which is a hand/kaiser roll filled with deli meat) with Gurkerl (sliced pickles), a bottle of Almdudler (our own popular soft drink, an herbal lemonade kind of like a less-sweet ginger ale) and a Guglhupf (our version of marble bundt cake, typically had for breakfast). To take home to loved ones, look out for Mannerschnitten (hazelnut wafers) or our famous Mozartkugeln (chocolate pralines filled with marzipan and nougat).