In the heart of Europe lies Vienna, capital of Austria and historic imperial city. With a population of almost 2 million people, the city is a real melting pot of numerous nations and cultures. The city’s climate is oceanic, which means that you’ll mostly enjoy nice weather whenever you decide to visit. The official language is German and the official currency is the euro (€), so buckle up with some cool expressions and some money before the trip.
The Habsburgs, Schönbrunn, Stephansdom, Prater are just some of the things that pop up on your mind when you think of Vienna but the city has much more to offer. Thus, it can be hard creating a travel plan, but don’t worry because with this guide you will see why Vienna is said to be “The City of Dreams“.
Table of Contents
Getting to Vienna
Thanks to its geographical location, Vienna is very simple to visit whether you prefer going by plane, bus or train. The city has great connections to all parts of Europe and the world.
- Plane: Vienna has one international airport, called Vienna Airport, which is located 18 km southeast from the city center. It’s easily accessed by public transport and it takes approximately 20 minutes to reach it when traveling from the city center.
- Bus: Vienna has three central bus stations located in different parts of the city, so make sure to double check if you need to get to the Stadion center Bus terminal, VIB Terminal Bus Terminal or Wiedner Gurtel Bus terminal.
- Train: Wien Hauptbahnhof is the central railway station of Vienna, located a bit further away from the city center and very well connected with all parts of Austria and Europe.
Public Transportation in Vienna
The public transportation network (metro, local train, tram, bus) is managed by the Wiener Linien. Public transportation network offers 5 metro lines, 29 tram lines and 127 bus lines. Using public transport is the most popular way of getting around Vienna and more than 2.6 million people are using it daily. For more information about the network maps, schedules, frequencies or ticket prices check their website.
The four main means of transport are U-Bahn (subway), Schnellbahn or S-Bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (tram) and Autobus (bus).
Vienna transport system is based on ‘honesty and respect’. There are no formal ticket checks, but you still need to buy a ticket because you may find yourself standing next to the control officer asking you to see your ticket. Fines are quite high, so do not travel without it.
- The Vienna Pass with Travel: Buying the basic pass gets you free entry to more or less 60 tourist attractions. You can opt to add in a 24, 48 or 72 hour travel network card at purchase. This pass gives you unlimited number of travels using entire Vienna transport network.
- The Vienna card: This is a 24, 48 or 72-hour network card, giving you also various discounts across the city. Wherever you’re likely to visit, check for reductions with the Vienna card.
- Standard tickets are available from ticket offices in the main stations, ticket machines in stations, and from kiosks (Trafik). Single tickets are also sold by machines on trams, provided you have coins.
- Most tickets you buy must be validated in a stamping machine on board.
- A standard single ticket costs approximately €2.40.
- You can check timetables, available routes and other relevant information on Wiener Linien pages.
Parking in Vienna
Since public transport is very popular in Vienna, traveling by car is not needed to explore the city. But if you decide to wander around by car, you will need to find a parking space. The most convenient way of parking your car is in underground garages or multi-storey car parks which are almost on every corner of the city. Parking on the street will be a challenge since the large part of Vienna is in “Kurzparkzone“, a zone which means short-term parking area marked by white or blue lines. Depending on the area where you park your car, you will be able to use that space usually for a maximum of 2 hours.
Short-stay parking zones in Vienna are:
- Districts 1 to 9 and 20: Monday to Friday, except public holidays, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., max. stay 2 hours
- Districts 10, 11, 12 and 14 to 18: Monday to Friday, except public holidays, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., max. stay 3 hours
- Special scheme near the Stadthalle: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., max. stay 2 hours
- Find the parking zones on the Vienna City Map.
In all short-term parking zones, you must have a parking ticket from the first minute of parking onward, even for short stops to unload luggage. 15-minute free parking tickets are available and can be obtained from your hotel. These tickets cannot be combined with other parking tickets.
You can purchase parking tickets at following places:
- Tobacco shops
- Cigarette machines
- Filling stations
- Wiener Linien (Vienna Transport Authority) ticket offices
- Wiener Linien ticket machines
- Via Handyparken (mobile phone parking ticket service)
Price for 30 minutes: approximately 1€.
You can park your car at Vienna’s Park & Ride Garages as well. The price is about 3,60€ a day. All Park & Ride facilities are directly connected to a subway line, making it very convenient to reach the center of Vienna.
Vienna’s spectacular architecture and rich history has helped the city to become recognized on the international scene as one of the most unique cities in the world. From breathtaking castles and palaces to historical and perfectly preserved churches, the city will keep you interested and asking for more, so check out what are the must see places when you are visiting the Austrian capital.
The Hofburg – The Hofburg Palace was a winter residence of the Habsburg dynasty until 1918, but nowadays it is the official residence and workplace of the Austrian president. It is also home to the famous Imperial apartments, two imperial treasuries, National Library, six museums and renowned Spanish Riding School. Built in the 13th century, we can see 700 years of architectural history that contains different styles ranging from Gothic over Renaissance to Baroque. Due to its 18 groups of buildings, 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms and surface of 59 acres, it is often called a ‘city within a city’.
Stephansdom – St. Stephen’s Cathedral is looming high over the city. Built in 1160, with its 137 meters high tower it was the highest building in Europe for a long time. The first thing that you see while entering the cathedral is the giant late Romanesque door notable for its rich ornamentation of birds, monks, lions and dragons. After entering the cathedral you can notice many chapels like Tirna Chapel, which is the burial place of Prince Eugen conqueror of the Turks, Catherine Chapel, Eligius Chape and others. But the highlights of the Cathedral are northern and southern tower, famous for “Pummerin”, one of Europe’s largest swinging bells, and breathtaking views over the city from “Watch Room”.
Schönbrunn palace – A long time ago, the Schönbrunn Palace was a summer residence of the Habsburg dynasty, but now it is the most iconic Vienna’s tourist destination. Palace has a total of 1441 rococo-styled rooms, of which only 40 can be visited. To explore the Schönbrunn palace, you can choose between the Grand Tour or Imperial Tour. The Imperial Tour will take you to apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, whereas the Grand Tour offers to see all 40 open rooms. After you finish the tour inside the palace, take a stroll around the Schönbrunn gardens, and hike up to the Gloriette, from where you can enjoy beautiful view of the city’s panorama.
The Belvedere Palace – The Belvedere is a complex of two Baroque palaces, the Upper and the Lower Belvedere, that were built for Prince Eugene. It is the home of Austria’s most important art collections from the medieval period over baroque period to the Austrian art from the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the most notable final works of artists of Secession movement such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka can also be found here.
Naturhistorisches Museum – Vienna’s Natural History Museum was opened in 1889 to house the huge collection of the Habsburgs. Museum displays approximately 30 million objects and the number is still growing. Apart from rich anthropological exhibitions, it is home to Tissint, spectacular meteorite from Mars, as well as the world’s largest and oldest public collection of meteorites. On the museum’s 125th anniversary a new Digital planetarium has been opened, featuring technology that will give visitors the chance to embark on fascinating virtual journeys through the Milky Way galaxy or Saturn’s rings.
Kunsthistorisches Museum – Pay attention now! This building has identical exterior and was opened at the same time as Natural History Museum. It is home to numerous major artworks of European art history like Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow and Vermeer’s The Allegory of Painting. Museum’s gallery is also housing arts from notable artists like Velazquez, Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian and Tintoretto. Museum of Fine Arts also has rich Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection alongside with Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
MuseumsQuartier – One of the world’s largest complexes for modern art and culture is MuseumsQuartier. It is located in the city center with over 60 000 sq meters of exhibition space that offers a wide variety of programs, events, performing arts, architecture, music, fashion, literature and many more. MuseumsQuartier is home to popular sights like Leopold Museum, MUMOK, Kunsthalle, Architekturzentrum and Zoom.
Outdoor Activities in Vienna
It would be a waste not to try some of Vienna’s popular outdoor activities, especially if the weather is good when you’re visiting. The locals love spending time out in the fresh air, so regardless of your preferences, you’ll find something to make the most of your day in Vienna.
Prater – One of the oldest amusement parks in the world is also known as Wurstelprater. The Vienna Prater is opened in season from March to October, but the world-famous Giant Ferris Wheel and a few other attractions are open all year round. The park also features various rides, bumper cars, carousels, roller coasters, shooting galleries, ghost trains, Madame Tussaud’s waxworks cabinet and much more. Apart from the rides you can find traditional Viennese restaurants, souvenir shops and more than 250 different stands as well. There’s no entrance fee, but you need to pay the ticket for the desirable ride.
Vienna Zoo – Schönbrunn Zoo or simply Vienna Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world and a part of Schönbrunn. It was first opened as the imperial menagerie in 1752, but in later years it was opened to the public. More than 700 different animal species live on Schönbrunn’s grounds, including hippos, one-horned rhinoceros, pandas, elephants, Siberian tigers, penguins and so on. Zoo also has different sections, where you can experience almost every part of the world, from Koala House and Rainforest house to South America Park.
Donauinsel – Viennese favorite recreational and outdoor location is Donauinsel. It is a long, narrow island lying on the Danube river. Donauinsel is the perfect location for those who love to hike, cycle, jog or skate. But not only that, it is surrounded by a fine gravel beach that is full during summer days with people looking for some cooling, barbecue and picnic areas. It is also the location for a number of pubs, restaurants and bars making the life more vibrant.
Kahlenberg – Just outside Vienna is Kahlenberg, a hill lying in the Vienna Woods that offers the prime view of the entire city. It’s easily reachable by public transport but it is recommended to take a hike up the hill which will take around one hour of walk. While hiking up, enjoy the view over Vienna that will amaze you more and more with every step up.
Unlike some other large cities like Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague for which one could say that are “mecca” of European party life, Vienna has a bit calmer and elegant nightlife. But don’t worry, no matter what your musical taste is, there will be at least one location worthy of your visit.
First stop when going out are pubs and bars. The city features a variety of pubs, from Austrian style brewpubs over to typical Irish Pubs, so for those who like to explore the country they are visiting through beer, Fischer Bräu or Bermuda Bräu should be on the list of places to visit.
Some of the most popular bars in Vienna are The Stylez, Manolos and Seven Cocktails. After you are done with drinking your appetizers, it’s time to continue the night in the nightclubs. One of the oldest nightclubs in the city is Flex. It is open every day of the week and depending on the night you visit, you will hear different types of music, ranging from indie, rock, over drum’n’bass to electronic music. If you are visiting Vienna during the summer and want an ‘alternative’ club, then consider Arena Wien. It is popular among the youth and hosts open-air events on a weekly basis. The Volksgarten club is one of the most unique clubs in Vienna, because of its 1950s style interior. It is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and music played there is house, disco and 20th-century party hits. Former pedestrian underpass now became club known as Albertina Passage, and it works only on Fridays and Saturdays. It is an upscale type of club with a focus on live music, primarily jazz. Club Schwarzenberg is Ibiza-style club in Vienna, hosting international DJs and playing R’n’B, house and mainstream electronic music. Largest nightclub in Vienna is Praterdome, where you have four dance floors with the different types of music, from house, techno, trance, EDM, R’n’B over 70’s/80’s/90’s disco to salsa and latino. Close to Praterdorm is Fluc, another nightclub orientated towards electronic music with very old school rave feel and vibe.
Day Trips from Vienna
Being perfectly positioned, Vienna has developed amazing connections with all parts of Europe, but especially with its neighboring countries like Czech Republic and Slovakia. If you have had enough days in the Austrian capital and want to explore the surrounding places, check out the most popular day trips from Vienna.
Bratislava – Just one hour away from Vienna is Slovakia’s capital Bratislava. Start your tour around the city in the center, where you will find the Old Town Hall, which is now home to Bratislava City Museum, and Michael’s Gate from the original medieval fortifications, as well as many restaurants and sidewalk cafes. Another popular attraction is Grassalkovich Palace, where the president of Slovakia resides, and of course, the Bratislava Castle.
Salzburg – Home of Mozart, located in the heart of the Alps and about two hours away from Vienna. Stroll around Salzburg’s Old Town and enjoy magnificent Baroque architecture alongside Salzburg Cathedral. Other important sights are Mozart’s Birthplace, Mirabell Palace and gardens and Hohensalzburg castle.
Wachau Valley – One hour drive from Vienna is Wachau Valley which stretches for 40 km between the cities of Kems and Melk. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful parts of Austria. Whether you explore it on foot or by bike, car or cruise down the river, the valley will leave you speechless. Besides its natural beauty, the valley is home to numerous landmarks like Melk Abbey and Göttweig Abbey.
Budapest – Hungarian capital Budapest is known as “Paris of the East”. It is a bit further away from Vienna, and it will take you about 2.5 hours to get there, but the beauty of the city will make it up. Budapest is famous for its Turkish baths, magnificent Parliament building, impressive Buda Castle, Chain Bridge and many more sights definitely worth of your travel.
Prague – Another capital easily reached from Vienna! Don’t miss your chance to admire the breathtaking architecture for which Prague Old Town has become a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. From Charles Bridge and Jewish Quarter to Prague Castle and Tyn Church, the Czech capital is a long day trip, but you will not regret it.
Shopping in Vienna
Vienna may not be as large fashion capital as Paris or Milan, but nevertheless, there are more than enough places to go shopping. If you’re interested in luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Gucci etc. then visit Goldenes Quartier in the city center. Kohlmarkt is Vienna’s historic shopping street where you can find high fashion and fine jewelry. Near Kohlmarkt is Graben, one of the most popular streets in Vienna. Here you can find the mix of luxury brands, antique, beauty and souvenir stores. Another famous shopping street is Kärntnersrasse where you can find stores from most luxurious brands to the most basic ones. However, the longest and most popular shopping street is the Mariahilferstrasse, where you can find more than 200 shops of different brands and types, from furniture shops, over shoes shops to regular clothing shops. One of the largest shopping centers in Europe is Shopping City Süd (SCS) with more than 330 shops. Other popular malls are Donau Zentrum, Millennium City, Lugner Cityand theShopping Center Nord.
As in most european countries, euro (€) is the official currency in Austria as well. Fastest and most convenient option for getting euros is using ATMs for withdrawing money. The ATM machines are spread across the town, but keep in mind that you might face ATM usage fees charged from your bank. You can exchange your money in currency exchange offices or in banks as well, but these options can be more expensive because of the high exchange rates, especially in the city centre. The best way to avoid these problems is to bring euros with you and pay with credit cards in bars, restaurants and other public places.
Common EU emergency number: +43 112
Emergency ambulance: +43 144
Emergency doctor: +43 141
- AKH Wien: +43 01 404 00
- Donauspital: +43 01 288 02
- Sozialmedizinisches Zentrum Floridsdorf: +43 01 275 22
- Kaiser Franz Josef Spital: +43 01 601 91
- Krankenanstalt Rudolfstiftung: +43 01 711 65
- Wilhelminenspital: +43 01 491 50
ViennaMed doctor’s hotline for visitors: +43 01 513 95 95
Emergency Pharmacy: +43 1550
Police: +43 133
Women’s Emergency Centre: +43 01 719 19
Tourist Information Center:
- Tourist-Info Vienna: Albertinaplatz/Maysedergasse
- Tourist Info Vienna Airport: in the Arrivals hall
- Tourist Info Vienna Main Station: in the InfoPoint of ÖBB