Travel Guide Europe Austria Vienna

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Introduction

Stefansdom, Vienna

Stefansdom, Vienna

© All Rights Reserved snowgirl

Vienna is Austria's largest city, by a stretch. With a population around the 1.9 million mark, Vienna is the nation's central hub, as well its capital. But it is also a culturally significant landmark in the heart of Europe, celebrating a rich tradition in theatre, opera and classical music. Two of Europe's best known composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss, left an indelible mark on Vienna. The same is true for the works of Gustav Klimt and his fellow jugendstill artists. A whole line of architects including father and son Fischer von Erlach, Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt and Otto Wagner, shaped the city into what it is today.

The city was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg dynasty for a long period of history. The numerous palaces that can be found in the city tell the story of a city and a country that used to be a powerhouse in Middle- and Eastern-European politics. Given its historical significance, it is of little surprise that Vienna's city centre has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its Baroque and Medieval architecture.[1]

Aside from being the capital of Austria, the city is also a standalone province (or bundesland).

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Neighbourhoods

Vienna has 23 neighbourhoods (bezirke), which have numbers from 1 to 23. These are the following:

City CentreInnere Stadt (1)
Inner EastLeopoldstadt (2), Brigettenau (20)
Outer EastFlorisdorf (21), Donaustadt (22)
Inner SouthLandstraße (3), Wieden (4), Margareten (5), Meidling (12)
Outer SouthFavoriten (10), Simmering (11), Liesing (23)
Inner WestMariahilf (6), Neubau (7), Josephstadt (8), Alsergrund (9)
Outer WestHietzing (13), Penzing (14), Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (15), Ottakring (16), Hernals (17), Währing (18) & Döbling (19)

Most of the tourist sights can be found in 1. Innere Stadt, and the surrounding neighbourhoods of 3. Landstrasse, 4. Wieden, 5. Margareten, 6. Mariahilf, 7. Neubau, 8. Josefstadt and 9. Alsergrund. Number 2 on the list of neighbourhoods is Leopoldtstad, which is the island between the Danube and the Danube Channel. This is where the Prater can be found.

The Innere Stadt is the old city centre inside the Ringstrasse. The famous Schönbrunn palace lies in the neighbourhood of 13. Hietzing. In the north of the city 19. Döbling is known for the evenings that can be spend at Heurigen.

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Sights and Activities

Hofburg

Vienna

Vienna

© All Rights Reserved xiaoya

The Hofburg was the actual residence of the Imperial family, and from 1402 until 1806 (with a short interuption between 1583 and 1612) the seat of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Constructing started ages ago. At the sight were now stands the Schweitzertrakt, an older castle was build. Because of the long duration the Hofburg buildings combine different architectural styles. The last addition to the Hofburg is the Neue Burg (New Burg), which was completed in 1916, two years before the end of the Austrian monarchy, and in the middle of the first world war. The balcony was the place were Hitler announced the 'Anschluss' of Austria into nazi-Germany in 1938. In the original plans there was a second building planned, which should be identical to the Neue Burg (mirroring the building on the other side of the square.) This building was never built as the monarchy came to and end in 1918. Inside the Hofburg it is possible to visit a number of rooms that are still decorated in the way they were during the reign of Franz Joseph. It is also possible to take a tour at the treasury rooms. In the big Redoute hall there are often classical concerts staged, which makes it a good opportunity to visit a piece of the Hofburg, and combine that with the art form of which Vienna is famous.

Schloss Schönbrunn

Schonbrunn Palace view in Vienna

Schonbrunn Palace view in Vienna

© All Rights Reserved Petra M

Schloss Schönbrunn is Vienna's most visited tourist attraction. Situated outside of the city, it used to be the summer palace of the Austrian Imperial Family. These days, it lies in the suburb of Hietzing, and it can be easily reached by Metro (U4, metrostation: Schönbrunn). There are tours in several languages taking you to a few of the rooms. Behind the palace lies a huge park in which you can spend a lot of time. From the Gloriette you have a great view over the gardens, towards the palace and the city. In the park you will also find the Zoo.

Stephansdom

The Stephansdom is the most important landmark of Vienna's inner city. The first part of the church was completed in 1147, and extended during the centuries that followed, although never really completed, as it was intended that the Cathedral would have two towers instead of one. The people of Vienna have given the church the nickname 'Der Stefl'. The church is in the centre of the old town, and a good orientation point while exploring the inner city.

Schloss Belvedere

Upper Belvedere Palace in Vienna May 2006

Upper Belvedere Palace in Vienna May 2006

© All Rights Reserved Petra M

Schloss Belvedere is in fact made up of two palaces and the garden located between them. The Lower Belvedere is the smaller palace of the two and can be easily accessed from the Rennweg. The Upper Belverdere is a big white palace, and is much more interesting than the Schonbrunn from an architectural point of view. The entrance of the Upper Belverdere is the easiest from the Prinz Eugen strasse. This palace was built by Prinz Eugen, who also lived here. Inside the Palaces you will find museums, where you can find works by Gustav Klimt and Dali. The Upper Belverdere also has a room in which you only find a table. In this room the Austrian State Treaty was signed on the 15th of May, 1955. It marked the retreat of the Russians, French, English and Americans, that ruled the city in the years after World War II, just like they did in Berlin.

Rathaus

The Rathaus (City hall), serves as the seat for the mayor of Vienna, as well as the city council. This city council also acts as the council for the Land of Vienna. As Vienna grew rapidly in the middle of the 19th century, the old city hall got too small. The new Rathaus is one of the many buildings that were build on the sight of the old city walls, along the Ringstrasse. The building was opened in 1883, and could be a slightly altered copy of the city hall of Brussels. The facade and the tower look a lot a like. On top of the tower of the Rathaus, is the statue of the Rathausman, one of the landmarks of the city. In front of the building lies the Rathauspark, which in summer turns into an open-air cinema, and in winter is the place where the Christmas market takes place.

Burgtheater

Opposite the Rathaus, on the other side of the Ringstrasse, stands the Burgtheater, which was opened in 1888. This building is the successor of an older Burgtheater. This old theater stood at the spot where the new Michaeler wing, of the Hofburg was planned. The theater moved to the new building on October 12, 1888. It is one of the most important theaters for plays in German. As many buildings in Vienna it was destroyed in the second World War, and renovated after the war. Above the entrance of the building is one of the older names of the theater: KK Hofburgtheater (Imperial Court Theather). In the two staircases, the paintings were done by Gustav Klimt, together with his brother Ernst, and colleague Franz Matsch.

Karlskirche

Jia

Jia

© All Rights Reserved mykonos

The Karlskirche lies near the Schloss Belverdere, outside of the former city walls on the Karlsplatz. The church has a beautiful dome, and two colums with bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the bible. The build of this baroque church was started in 1713 and finish in 1737, according to the designs by J.B. Fischer von Erlach, and completed by his son.

Opera

The Opera was one of the first of the big buildings erected on the Ringstrasse in the second half of the 19th century, and is in fact just one of three opera's in Vienna. (The others are the Volksoper, and the Theater an der Wien). It is regarded as one of the best operahouses in the world. Tours are given in several languages, during the daytime. Opera tickets are much cheaper than one would expect. Buy tickets at the door just before the performances for a very good deals.

Parliament

The Parliament building was build between 1874 and 1883, with some other features added at later dates. The style of the building is Greek. The reason for that is that the ancient Greeks are considered to be the inventors of the democracy. Architect Theophil Hansen was inspired by the Zappeion in Athens when he designed the building. The Pallas Athene fountain in front of the Parliament builing was added later, around the turn of the century. The building is adorned with many statues, that have all kind of symbolic meanings.

Votivkirche

The Votivkirche was build between 1856 and 1879. The reason for building the church was a failed attack on the life of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853. His brother and later emperor of Mexico Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph called upon the citizens of Vienna to spend money to build a new church, as a gift to God, that his brother survived the attack. Over 300,000 answered the call, and in 1856 contruction began on the Neo-Gothic church. The Votivkirche has two 99-metre-high towers, and is located a little bit to the side of the Ringstrasse, at the Sigmund Freud park.

Hundertwasserhaus

Hundertwasserhaus

Hundertwasserhaus

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The Hundertwasserhaus is maybe one of the most interesting buildings in Vienna, but it can unfortunately only been looked at from the outside. On the other side of the small street is a public toilet build in the style of the haus, so that you can have an impression on how it looks. The building is named after the Austrian painter, sculptor and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (real name: Ernst Strowasser), who was famous for his multicolored and curved designs. In the whole haus you will not find a 90-degree corner. In Vienna there are more buildings designed by Hundertwasser. Not too far from the Hundertwasserhaus, is the Kunsthaus Wien, and he also designed a incinerator/power plant in Spittelau.

Museum Quartier (MQ)

The Museum Quartier is a complex that unites a whole range of museums onto one location. It houses the big Leopold Museum, the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art) and the Kunsthalle Wien. The first two are build inside the courtyard of what once were the royal stables. The Leopold museum is housed inside a huge white cube, and the MUMOK in a black cube. The MQ also houses a couple of smaller museums, like the ZOOM Children's museum and the architecture center Vienna, venues, bars and restaurant. There are combination tickets on sale, for if you want to visit all the activities. These tickets also includes a 30% discount on perfomances at the Dance Center (Tanz Quartier).

Prater

Ferris Wheel, Prater Stern, Vienna

Ferris Wheel, Prater Stern, Vienna

© All Rights Reserved sapphyre

The Prater park used to be the hunting grounds of the Habsburgs. But nowadays it is a huge park stretching along the river, and bordered on the other side with the Danube Channel. The Ernst Happel football stadium is found in Prater, along with other sporting venues. The most famous part of the park is however the piece where you can find the famous Wiener Riesenrad and the rest of the funfair. In Vienna this piece of the park is often referred to as 'Würstelprater' (Sausage Prater.) The landmark of the Prater, is the giant ferris wheel which was build in 1896/1897. It featured in the films the Third Man (1949), and the James Bond movie, the Living Daylights (1987).

Maria am Gestade

The Maria am Gestade (St. Mary's on the banks), is an old gothic church and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the center of Vienna. There is talk that there was a church on this spot as early as the 9th century, but the first written evidence is from the 12th century. The church that we see now was build between 1394 and 1414, near the banks of the river Danube, which is now about 300 metres away. During the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon, the church served as a stable, but was renovated and reinstated as a church in 1812. For a funny picture, you need to go the corner of the Salvatorgasse and a street called Stoss im Himmel (Push into Heaven). At this point you can unite the streetname, and the 58-metre-high tower of the Maria am Gestade into one picture.

Secession

Secession building, Vienna

Secession building, Vienna

© All Rights Reserved Chi

Not far from the Karlsplatz stands the Wiener Secession building. It is one of the best examples of the jugendstill movement that became very influencial at the end of the 19th century. The building is completely white, with the exception of a golden ball on top of the building. The building is also special as it was completely paid for by several jugendstill artists themselves. The building was built in 1897, and decorated by several artists, including Gustav Klimt. His famous Beethoven Fries is one of the main pieces of the collection.

Postsparkasse

The Postal Savings Bank was built between 1904 and 1906 as the K.K. Postsparcassen Amt, designed by Otto Wagner, an important early work of European Moderne, built with reinforced concrete covered with square marble plates and aluminium. The building had aircondition from the beginning, the big aluminum fans in the banking hall are particularly striking.
The former owner Bawag bank did sell the building to Signa, a Real Estate and Retail conglomerat. Until late September 2018 there is an exhibition togethr with the MAK about Otto Wagner, the large banking hall will be open from Mondays to Fridays from 08:00am to 05:00pm, also the WAGNER:WERK Museum, both are free, but the connected exhibition in the MAK (museum of applied art), Stubenring 5 is not free. It is not known what Signa is planing (June 2018). Closest tram station is Julius Raab Platz with tram 1 and 2 closest underground station is Schwedenplatz U 1, U 4.

Mak

The MAK (museum of applied art) has usual several different exhibitions and a few permanent ones, a very large oriental carpet collection and Asian ceramic collection. Located at Stubenring 5, closest underground station is Stubenring U 3, also tram 1 and 2.

Otto Wagner Church am Steinhof

St. Leopold am Steinhof was built by Otto Wagner between 1904 and 1907 as part of the "Niederösterreichischen Landes-Heil- und Pflegeanstalt für Nerven- und Geisteskranke" (Lower Austrian care and treatment institution for nervous and mental ill, Vienna was at that time part of Lower Austria). The style was quit controversial when it was opened in october 1907, the leading Viennese newspaper Die Presse wrote „Und ist es nicht eine hübsche Ironie des Schicksals, dass so ziemlich das erste vernünftige sezessionistische Gebäude grossen Stils in Wien für die Irrsinnigen gebaut worden ist?“ (And is it not a pretty ironic that pretty much the first sensible secession building in Vienna a large scale has been built for the insane?). Famose are the glass mosaic windows in Tiffany style created by Koloman Moser. The figures on the bell towers of St. Leopold and the preacher Severin was created by Richard Luksch. Get there by bus 48 A from Dr. Karl Renner Ring (U 3 and U 2 at Volkstheater station U 3 also at Ottakring Station and U 6 at Thaliastrasse station), from there you have a 500-metre walk up the hill or a 2.5-kilometre taxi ride (there is a taxi stand near the bus stop) to Psychiatrisches Zentrum Baumgarnter Hoehe (if you miss it the last stop Pulmologisches Zentrum Baumgartner Hoehe is 500 metres further). Bus 47 A from U 4 Unter St.Veit station is also possible but Pulmologisches Zentrum Baumgartner Hoehe is the last stop where the bus waits some time before going to Psychiatrisches Zentrum Baumgarnter Hoehe and back to Unter St.Veit. This Church is open to the public only on Saturday 4:00 to 5:00pm and Sunday 12 noon to 4:00pm. Mass: Sundays and (church) holidays 9:30am.

Third Man at the Burgkino

The classic spy film The Third Man plays almost daily at the Burg Kino. Set in Vienna after WWII it contains Orson Welles's famous impromptu speech on the cuckoo clock. Follow your viewing up with a Third Man city tour the following day. For the people that can't get enough of this movie, there is a small private third man museum that is opened every saturday afternoon between 2:00pm and 6:00pm, and on request on tuesday at 6:00pm.

Kahlenberg

Vienna - view towards the Wienerwald from Kahlenberg

Vienna - view towards the Wienerwald from Kahlenberg

© All Rights Reserved Herr Bert

The Kahlenberg is a 484-metre-high hill just north of Vienna. It is one of the best places to get a great view over Vienna. On the top there is a restaurant, a university and the little chruch of St. Joseph. The restaurant and the Stefaniewarte (a tower), have terraces to enjoy the view over Vienna. It is also a place of historical significance, as this is the place where the Turkish invasion of Europe came to a stop in 1683. Kahlenberg can be reached by city bus 38A, that goes up along the Höhenstrasse. Kahlenberg is the last stop. From the top you can walk along the Kahleberger Strasse back to Grinzing through the vineyards and some Heurige (wine drinking places), Heuriger Sirbu or Heuriger Hirt for instance, passing one of the houses where Beethoven lived on the Grinzingerstrasse. A small detour can take you to his grave, on the local graveyard.

Parks

Vienna is a city with a lot of big and small parks:

Spring in Vienna....

Spring in Vienna....

© All Rights Reserved Kriskwan

  • Praterpark - huge park between the Danube and the Danube Channel.
  • Stadtpark - big city park at the Ringstrasse, with the famous statue of Mozart.
  • Volksgarten - next to the Hofburg and the Burgtheater, with the Theseus temple.
  • Burggarten - also next to the Hofburg, but on the other side of the Neue Burg. Houses the butterfly house.
  • Rathauspark - a park in front of the Rathaus, with statues of former majors.

Other Sights and Activities

For Kids

There is loads for kids to see and do in Vienna.

More information on the Vienna City website.

For tips on day trips outside of Vienna, check the article on Lower Austria.

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Events and Festivals

Rathaus Christmas market in vienna

Rathaus Christmas market in vienna

© All Rights Reserved ErinDriver

  • Christmas market - The first Christmas market in Vienna was held in 1294. The Christmas market or Christkindlmarkt, as it is known now, dates back to the 17th century, when it took place in front of the Stephansdom. Over the years, the market has been held at many different locations, but since 1975 the market is held in front of the Rathaus. The Rathaus's Christkindlmarkt is the largest in Austria. There are also a couple of other Christmas markets in Vienna, there are markets at Freyung, Spittelberg, at Schönbrunn Palace, at Belvedere and at the Karlsplatz. Visitors to this market will be filled with the Christmas spirit, and can purchase all kinds of holiday goodies. Local festive food and warm drinks will also be served.
  • Rathaus Film Festival - An open air music film festival where visitors can watch movies for free on the Rathausplatz. This event is held every July and August, and is worth a visit if you're in the area and enjoy movies.
  • Vienna Marathon - An annual marathon attracting over 30,000 participants since its inception in 1984. Aside from the main marathon event, there is also a fun run, half marathon, team relay and a variety of parties held around the city. The marathon finishes at the Heldenplatz, right in front of the Hofburg.
  • Donauinselfest - This is one of Europe's largest music festivals. The festival is free and hosts a variety of musical artists from many different types of styles and genres; every musical taste is represented at this festival. Drawing crowds of over 3 million from all across Europe, this festival is hosted on Danube Island and occurs every June.
  • Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) - This is a highly celebrated culture festival that lasts for about 5 weeks and occurs every year in May/June. This festival acts as a platform for showcasing Vienna's rich culture and history. Visitors can expect to see well-produced plays, talented musical reviews, stunning dance performances, and a variety of film presentations - all saluting Austria's great cultural heritage.

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Weather

Located in the centre of Europe, Vienna has a moderate continental climate with average maximum temperatures of around 24 °C from June to early September and winter temperatures slightly above 0 °C during the day and a few degrees below at night (December-February). Rainfall (or some snow in winter) is quite evenly throughout the year but is somewhat higher from May to September.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max2.9 °C5.1 °C10.3 °C15.2 °C20.5 °C23.4 °C25.6 °C25.4 °C20.3 °C14.2 °C7.5 °C4 °C
Avg Min-2 °C-0.9 °C2.4 °C5.8 °C10.5 °C13.5 °C15.4 °C15.3 °C11.7 °C7 °C2.4 °C-0.5 °C
Rainfall37.2 mm39.4 mm46.1 mm51.7 mm61.8 mm70.2 mm68.2 mm57.8 mm53.5 mm40 mm50 mm44.4 mm
Rain Days7.37.68.37.58.59.198768.38.2

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Getting There

By Plane

International
Vienna International Airport (VIE) also known as Schwegat, is the busiest airport in Austria. It is the main hub of Austrian Airlines and services flights from Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Dozens of airlines use the airport. Some of the main places served include Moscow, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Athens, Istanbul, Dublin, Riga, Berlin, Malta, Montreal, Toronto, Amman, Astana, Cairo, Bangkok, Beijing, New York, Washington, D.C., Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Taipei, Dubai, Seoul, Doha, Jeddah and Kiev.

Many budget airlines advertising "Vienna" fly into neighbouring Bratislava airport with a shuttle bus running to a U-bahn station on the outskirts of Vienna. Check your destination during booking and expect another hour to two hours to arrive in central Vienna after disembarking.

Domestic
Austrian Airlines flies between Vienna and Graz, Klagenfurt, Linz and Salzburg.

To/from the airport

  • The Vienna S-Bahn S7-line (stopping at all stations from Floridsdorf Station until Rennweg Station, and usually all intermediate stops on the airport branch) also stops at the airport. To reach the centre, you can best go until Wien Mitte, and change to the U-bahn if needed.
  • The more expensive CAT (City Airport Train) connects the airport directly to the Vienna Central station close to the city centre, where S-Bahn trains also stop but take a slightly longer time because of the 7 intermediate stops.
  • There are also many buses from the airport to various places in Vienna (including UNO City and Westbahnhof) and to other cities.

By Train

Vienna is well served by national and international connections. Check ÖBB (Österreiche Bundesbahn) for schedules, connections and prices to and from Vienna.

The city's main railway stations include:

  • Wien Hauptbahnhof (abbreviated Wien Hbf) the city's main train station, where most international and long-distance domestic services call. Like Paris or London Vienna had inherited several rail terminals from the 19th century unlike the former and similar to Berlin the situation was addressed in the 21st century with most trains now serving Hauptbahnhof which is as impressive as you'd think if a newer building. All ÖBB long-distance services have been moved to this station. Westbahn trains to Salzburg also leave from Wien Hauptbahnhof and tickets can be bought in the train or online. Regiojet goes to Brno and Praha. You can get tickets online or at some travel agencies.
  • Wien Meidling. Where all services stop arriving from the west and the south towards the Hauptbahnhof. If your final destination is in the west or northwest of the city, you can save significant time if you alight in Meidling instead of Hauptbahnhof and continue with the Metro U6.
  • Wien Westbahnhof. The services from Salzburg run by the private company Westbahn terminate here. Apart from it, only regional trains serve the Westbahnhof. Westbahn also serves Wien Hbf and a few other otherwise regional stations such as Wien Mitte and Wien Praterstern.

All of those stations are also served by the Wiener S-Bahn and are connected to U-Bahn stations.

There are very frequent trains for all neighboring regions and countries. Night trains and quicker Euro-City trains arrive from virtually every city in Central Europe. High-speed ICE and RailJet trains arrive from places like Munich, Budapest and Zurich. There are frequent (at least hourly) regional trains to Czech, Slovak and Hungarian border regions. The special fare is named Sparschiene and must be booked quite in advance. It is available for high-speed trains.

When buying tickets, consider two domestic tickets instead of one international one, as it is often cheaper. Tickets can normally still be purchased to the border and from there to your destination in another country. In combination, they will have you covered for the entire international route without the need to change trains. Sometimes you can buy both tickets before departure, otherwise see with the ticket agents if the conductor will be able to issue you with a domestic ticket once you cross the border to Austria.

If you are travelling in Austria for some time, a Vorteilskarte (discount card) is a worthwhile purchase. Costing around €20 for youths and €100 for adults, it gives significant discounts on train travel. Discounts are greater if you buy from touch-screen ticket machines rather than the manned kiosks. Discounts are also available for groups travelling together within Austria. Simply add more people to a single ticket purchase and it will be calculated automatically.

By Car

Vienna can be reached by a number of highways, a much travelled way is the one coming from Munich via Linz, but there are almost as much roads leading to Vienna, as there are ways to get to Rome. Other main roads include the routes towards Budapest (via Gyor) and to Ljubljana (via Graz and Maribor.

By Bus

Bus terminals in Vienna include:

  • VIB-Vienna International Bus terminal located in Erdbergerstrasse 200A, get there with the U3, station Erdberg. Eurolines and Flixbus are bus companies which connect Vienna with other major European cities. Also some smaller southeast European bus companies.
  • Stadion Center Bus terminal, Engerthstrasse 269-267, get there with the U2, station Stadion. Regiojet goes go to Brno, Praha, Bratislava and Budapest. Also some smaller southeast European bus companies.
  • Wien Hbf. Bus terminal Wiedner Gürtel, between the Wiedner Gürtel 46 and the train line, west of the Südtiroler Platz, get there with the U1, station Südtiroler Platz. Slovak Lines Bus goes to Bratislava and Bratislava airport. Also some smaller southeast European bus companies.
  • Wien Hbf. Busbahnhof Südtiroler Platz -This is under the railway bridge between the Südtiroler Platz and the train station, get there with U1, station Südtiroler Platz. Buses from here include VOR (Verkehrsverbund Ost) buses, mostly run by the Postbus.

There are a few private domestic inter-city bus lines in Austria. Several regional services to Vienna operated by a mix of the federal government, the states of Lower Austria and Burgenland, local governments and coach operators. Sometimes the cash-price for these is marginally lower than the train, otherwise the normal VOR public transport rates apply. They are most useful for traveling to the countryside, though timing and different departure locations in Vienna can make them attractive for inter-city travel in certain cases. All routes are operated with high-quality coaches and regional buses.

By Boat

It is possible to go to Vienna by boat from Slovakia. The Twin city liner, connects Bratislava and Vienna. The trip takes about 75 minutes. There are three daily departures from April to October with extra Friday and Saturday evening departures from May onwards. Also DDSG runs daily hydrofoils to and from Budapest from mid-April to late October, taking around 5.5 hours each way.

Regular services also exist to Passau and all of the important tourist destinations along the Danube. Most services carry bicycles.

By Bicycle

Vienna is one of the major cities along the Danube bike pathway. The stretch from Passau to Vienna and on to Bratislava is easily the most popular long-distance cycling route in Europe, mainly because natural incline, main wind direction and numerous facilities catering to cycle tourists make everything very easy. There are plenty of companies renting out bicyles as well as offering pre-arranged packages with hotels and pensions already booked. Most people need about 5-8 days to cycle from Passau to Vienna at a slow pace, very fit cyclists have been known to do it in 2 days.

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Getting Around

By Car

Getting around by car is possible but you have to find you way not getting lost by the many one-way streets in the center of Vienna. If you ever get lost it's likely that you will find yourself again on the Ringstrasse, so you have time to orientate yourself again. If you bring your car and want to leave it on the street for the duration of your stay, ask the place where you are staying if they can help you to obtain an all day parking permit. Short parking zones in the old city of Vienna and surrounding districts 1 - 9 and 20 (= Innere Stad, and the surrounding neighbourhoods, and Leopoldtstad) the costs are €4.60 a day.

By Public Transport

Vienna has an excellent and accessible Metro service called the U-bahn and S-bahn. Trams and busses also service routes throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. €2.00 for a single ticket (bought at stations, it's €2.20 in trams and buses) will get you almost anywhere you want to go using the U-bahn or S-bahn, but most of the inner-city attractions are within walking distance. There are also tickets for multiple days, that work out cheaper if you intent to use the public transport a lot. These tickets can be bought at machines at any metro station and also in tabacco shops. There are also tickets valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours and these cost €6.70, €11.70 and €14.50 respectively. Weekly and monthly rates are available as well, but the first one is only valid from Monday to Sunday while the second one starts at the first of the month, so both add little value for travellers.

Check the Vienna Rail Map , Vienna Tranportation Map or check for the best connection online.

By Foot

If you stick to the city centre, you can walk to most of the sights there, but if you want to get to sights that are a bit further away, like Schloss Schönbrunn, Kahlenberg, Hundertwasserhaus or the Zentralfriedhof, it is better to go by public transport.

By Bike

Cycling is another option for travelling within Vienna, although it is still seen more as a leisure activity. Vienna's compact size makes cycling attractive. On a bicycle you can reach most places of interest within half an hour. There are many bicycle paths and lanes along major streets, in parks, and by the rivers. However, it can be complicated to cross town because the lanes follow illogical routes. One major complaint is that bicycle facilities were an afterthought and this is very apparent, many stop lights and intersections are dangerously or annoyingly set for bicyclists and paths are very illogical: they are sometimes on-street sometimes off, sometimes shared with pedestrians, sometimes not, and can vary or end out of nowhere. You are required by law to use a bike lane or path if there is one, unless it is blocked, otherwise regular traffic laws apply. Lights are required at night as are independently functioning brakes.

If your destination is in the outer suburbs, or you want to take a relaxed ride to the countryside, you may consider taking your bike on the U-Bahn (prohibited at rush hour, and always in buses and trams) or on a train. You need a ticket for your bike in trains. On the U-Bahn (metro) it is free to transport your bike on workdays from 09:00-15:00 and after 18:30 and for the whole day on weekends.

You can rent bikes at a few places in the city, which is a good way to see the city if you want to avoid walking everything. Check possibilities to rent bikes online, for example with City Bike Wien. There are also guided tours with Pedal Power for example.

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Eat

Viennese restaurant menus offer a bewildering variety of terms for dishes, most of which the visitor will never have heard of and many of which aren't in the brief lists of menu terms included in phrase books. However restaurants that have any foreign patrons at all usually have an English menu, though you may have to ask for it: the phrase "English menu" usually will be understood even by wait staff who don't speak English. A small bilingual dictionary will be useful for trying to decipher menu listings: at least it will enable you usually to determine what sort of food (chicken, beef, potato, etc.) is concerned, even if you can't tell how it's prepared. Not only savoury but also sweet main dishes are common in Austria.

Classic Viennese dishes to try are the famous Wiener schnitzel, a thin veal cutlet lightly breaded and fried, and the perhaps less well known Tafelspitz, where a beef roast is simmered in a broth with root vegetables and herbs. As is common in much of eastern and central Europe, mushrooms are very popular, and when they're in season, you'll find a plethora of varieties on restaurant menus and for sale in markets, often for surprisingly low prices, at least if you're from North America. Chanterelles for €10/kg, anyone?

Viennese restaurant portions tend to be large. Many restaurants now include vegetarian options. Most restaurants have daily specials listed on a chalk board or sometimes on a printed insert in the regular menu. These are usually the best bet, though they may not be on the English menu, so you may have to ask to have them explained or try to translate them yourself.

Bread in Viennese restaurants is usually charged as an extra; if there is a basket of it on the table, you'll usually be charged by the piece only if you take some.

Vienna being a fairly cosmopolitan city, there is a wide variety of international cuisine available.
Tipping customs are similar to those in Europe and America though tips are slightly smaller; ten percent is usually sufficient in restaurants. Traditionally the way to tip a waiter is to mention the amount of the bill plus tip when you pay; for instance, if the bill is €15.50 you could give the waiter a €20 note and say "siebzehn (seventeen)," meaning he is to take out €15.50 for the bill, €1.50 for the tip, and so give you only €3 change. In this situation English numbers will usually be understood. Sometimes in less formal restaurants you can alternatively drop the tip into the money pouch the waiter usually carries. Credit cards aren't quite as commonly used in restaurants in Vienna as in Northern European countries, so ask if it's important to know beforehand.

The traditional Viennese fast food is sausage in all shapes and sizes. You can buy hot sausages and hot dogs at snack bars called "Würstlstand" all over the town. The famous Wiener Würstel is known as "Frankfurter" in Vienna, but many inhabitants prefer Bosna (with onions and curry), Burenwurst, and Käsekrainer or "Eitrige" (with melted cheese inside). A würstlstand will typically give a choice of sausages served as a "hot dog" (not a North American hot dog, it just means any kind of sausage served in a bun) or "mit brot" ("with bread," i.e. cut into bite size chunks and served with a small disposable fork, with a roll on the side). You typically get a choice of mustard or ketchup and (rarely) other condiments, which the server will put on for you.

In addition to this, the local snack culture also includes more ex-Yugoslavian and Turkish varieties of fast food, such as the Döner Kebap, sandwiches of Greek and Turkish origin with roasted meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and yogurt and/or hot sauce. Places that sell kebap often sell takeaway slices of pizza too. Good kebaps can be bought at the Naschmarkt. The lower end of the Naschmarkt (further away from Karlsplatz or city centre) is cheaper than the upper end (closer to Karlsplatz), and the right lane (facing away from the city centre) is reserved for mostly sit-down eateries. Another good place to find snacks (especially while going out) is Schwedenplatz.

By far the cheapest way to get a fast food meal in Austria (and probably the only meal available for just over €1) is buying an Austrian sandwich (sliced brown bread + ham/cheese + gherkin) from a supermarket. Supermarkets with a deli counter (Feinkostabteilung) will prepare sandwiches to take away at no extra charge. You only pay for the ingredients. There is usually a large selection of meat products, cheese, and bread rolls available here, too. You point at the combination you want, can also mention the max total you can pay, and then pay at the cash register. One of the favorites is the "Leberkäsesemmel", which is lightly spiced, very finely ground meat baked in a pan, sliced, and served on a roll. If you know a bit of German, you'll note that "Leberkäse" literally translates to "liver cheese," but it contains no cheese and the Viennese version contains no liver. Freshness and quality at the grocery stores are normally better than at a sandwich stand on the street.

Another great way to eat on a budget is at one of Vienna's hundreds of bakeries. They sell anything from cinnamon rolls to pizza for a good price. It's also a great breakfast-on-the-run alternative because they also have coffee/espresso to go. However, most places do have a couple of tables and chairs where you can enjoy your food.

Sacher-Torte

Sacher torte

Sacher torte

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Sacher-Torte is one of the best things to come out of Vienna. This chocolate cake was first created by Franz Sacher in 1832. If you want the original cake Hotel Sacher is the place to go, but also an expensive place to go. There are a lot of other places where you can get a very good Sachertorte (notice the difference in Sacher-Torte and Sachertorte, only the original from Hotel Sacher will be written like Sacher-Torte, all others should be written as Sachertorte), and when you keep walking around the city visiting the many sights, you are going to burn all these calories again, right?

Wiener Schitzel

Where else can you go to taste a Wiener Schnitzel? You can get a schnitzel at almost any restaurant. There is even one (Restaurant Figglmüller) that advertises having the largest schnitzel in town. But be warned, these are also the flattest schnitzels you have ever seen, resulting in eating more crust than actual meat.

Restaurants

  • Restaurant Gutenberg is located near the Stephansdom, on a little square called Lugeck. It's a good place to taste some local dishes. Prices are reasonable, keeping in mind that you are in the city centre.

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Drink

Vienna's Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses) are world famous for their grandness and the lively coffee house culture. Skipping the Kaffeehauskultur is missing out a big part of Viennese culture. You should at least visit one of the countless traditional baroque 19th- or funky 20th-century coffee houses where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy refreshments.

Most cafés also serve beer, wine and liqueurs. Many serve meals, especially at lunch, and these are often cheaper than in restaurants. Most have a fine selection of Torten (tortes or cakes), some offer other baked goods. In general some are more restaurant-like, some more café-like and some more bar-like.

Coffee is obviously an important part of the coffeehouse culture. Vienna was not only the center of the Austrian Empire but also the center of a much larger coffee empire, and the local roasts were sold across Europe. Today many people are still familiar with the term Vienna roast.

Vienna prides itself of its dozens of varieties of different coffees, although the Italian style and names are better known by many youth than the Viennese, the cafés are keeping the traditions alive.

Rather unusually it is necessary to say some words about Vienna's drinking water.

The majority of Vienna's water comes from the three "Hochquellwasserleitungen." Meaning "high-(as in mountain) spring waterlines (as in aqueducts). Indeed the city's water flows through aqueducts from the mountains around 100 km south of Vienna (Schneeberg and Hochschwab). These were built during the reign of Emperor Franz Josef and supply Vienna with unchlorinated high-quality drinking water, with a considerably higher quality than many bottled waters.

So if you visit this city, it is not necessary to buy water. You can simply drink tap water here unless you prefer sparkling water.

Another speciality is that at typical coffeehouses a coffee is often accompanied by a glass of cold clear water. In most restaurants, you can get a glass of drinking water for free with any order, just specify tap water ("Leitungswasser").

New wine is usually enjoyed at a Heurigen (family-run vineyard bars allowed to the new vintage). Austria in general, but especially the area around Vienna, produces quite a large amount of wine each year. There are even many vineyards within the city in Döbling (19th District). The wine is not often exported and white is more common than red. Grüner Veltliner is a common tart and fresh white wine served almost everywhere. Officially the new wine season begins on November 11 (St Martin's Day), but as early as September, some partially-fermented new wine (called Sturm which is cloudy, because it has not been strained) is available around town at stands and in 2L green bottles (try the Naschmarkt – sometimes the vendors will have samples of this drink, which at about 4% alcohol is less strong than wine). Taverns can call themselves Heurigens whether the wine they serve is their own or not – for genuine in-house product look for a Buschenschank. This is a particularly Viennese Heuriger which can only be open 300 days per year or until their supply of house-made wine runs out. Heurigen can be found e.g. in Grinzing, Sievering (19th district) and Mauer & Rodaun (23rd district) areas, but also in almost every suburban area in Vienna. Even in the center, there are some Stadtheurigen. While the Heurigen of Grinzing are bigger and more famous with tourists, they are often a rip-off. If any of the year’s vintage lasts until next year, it officially becomes Alte (old) wine on the next Saint Martin's Day. The Heurigen in the South of Vienna or in Perchtoldsdorf are much cheaper and serve the same quality as the Heurigen in Grinzing. Also in the Northern suburbs, you can find cheap and somewhat authentic Heurigen. Try the areas of Stammersdorf or Hagenbrunn, for example Karl Matzka, hard to reach by public transport.

After a long day, the perfect place to relax among Viennese are the Heurigen in the suburbs. Somewhat akin to a beer garden, except with wine, these tiny treasures are the only places authorized to serve new wine. New wine is made from the first pressing of the grape and can appear a little cloudy. Be careful, it's stronger than you might think! This is why it's served in very small glasses, 0.25L and up. Some Heurigen serve food, either elaborate Viennese specialties or very simple bread and cheese platters. No matter which one you choose, you're guaranteed to enjoy yourself. Just hop on a convenient outbound tram line, take it to the very last stop, and look for buildings with large, evergreen foliage hung over the doors. Each one is unique, but all are a good bargain. Locals invariably have a favorite: ask around.

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Sleep

Some budget travellers opt to stay in one of the city's 3 camping sites. For more information check out the Vienna Campings website.

  • The camping site Wien West - The camping site Wien West rents out bungalows in summer. If you come and go by car on West-Autobahn A1 it is the most convenient camping site for you. It is open year-round and is connected to Vienna by public transport.

    View our map of accommodation in Vienna or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

    Booking.com
  • Camping site Wien Süd - Camping site Wien Süd is about 8 kilometres away from the city centre, but with good public transport options. It is relatively quiet in an old castle's garden. It is only open during easter and during summer.
  • Camping site Neue Donau - Camping site Neue Donau is the most central of all and the best choice for cyclists since the Danube cycling path passes right at the entrance. However it is directly next to a train line and a motorway, so it gets considerably noisy. It is only open during easter and during summer.

Vienna is a major tourist hotspot and offers a complete range of accommodation options. Prices are relatively higher than in neighboring countries, or even in the rest of Austria. Many of the Viennese hotels, hostels and pensions, especially its centre, are housed in historic buildings dating from before the Second World War, most from the 19th-century Gründerzeit. This means that quite many offer relatively small rooms with sometimes compromised views, and rooms within the same property can vary widely, even at the same price.

You will probably find that Viennese hotels usually offer very traditional decor, bathrooms with bathtubs and, again, relatively space-limited quarters. There are very few "modern design" hotels, and those looking for American-style over 30m² rooms should do good research before booking and make sure their booked room matches the expectations. On balance, breakfasts in Vienna are usually relatively good, with a good variety of products, even at the less pricey establishments. Moreover, you can count on many local cafes to offer you breakfast should your booking not include one. A typical Viennese hotel breakfast is buffet-style and fairly substantial, and consists of bread and rolls (usually very good quality), a variety of cold cuts, and fruit, as well as meusli and other cold cereals, and juice and coffee.

In choosing an accommodation it is important to know which part of the city you want to spend time in. Most accommodations claim to be centrally located, which for the Viennese would mean they should be in or next to the 1st District, few actually are. Many are even outside the core districts 2-9. Still, from the ones located within a 5-minute walk of an underground or at least a rail or tram station, you should be able to get to the center within 20 minutes or less on public transportation.

Smoking rooms are relatively common. Non-smoking rooms are in limited supply, and hotels with non-smoking floors are less common. Sensitive non-smokers may be bothered that public areas of the hotel, including the hallways, are often heavy with tobacco smoke.

During summer there can be several days where the temperature is over 30 °C. There are very few hotels that have air conditioning. People who are used to sleeping in a cool environment should seek out hotels that have air conditioning or schedule their trips during those times of the year when the temperature will be cooler.

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Learn

Vienna has some good international universities. [2]

These include:

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes are common in bigger cities. Hotels in cities do normally have internet terminals, more expensive hotels provide internet access directly in the rooms. There are many free WiFi Hotspots and quite a few restaurants, cafes and other places offers free wifie. McDonald's has free Wifi, as does Starbucks. Note that some places might charge a fee or includes just limited amounts of time. Be sure that your smartphone is not roaming data, as this will mean a huge bill, especially if you are from outside the EU.

Internet cafes dot the city. Several are located past the Westbahnhof on Mariahilferstrasse.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency number is 112.The country calling code to Austria is: 43. To make an international call from Austria, the code is: 00.

Austria has a perfect GSM and 3G (UMTS) network coverage of nearly 100%. If you bring your own cell phone with you assure yourself that it operates on 900 MHz / 1800 MHz (GSM) or 2100Mhz (3G WCDMA). There are cell phones that operate at 1900 MHz (e.g. networks in the United States) which are not supported in Austria. If you plan a longer visit in Austria it might be useful to buy a new mobile with a prepaid card from a local cell phone network provider. Be aware that some remote areas (especially mountainous areas) do not have network coverage yet, though this rather the exception than the rule.Austria has a large number of cell network providers including A1, T-Mobile, Drei, Telering, Bob, Hot and Yesss. Bob, and Yesss have the lowest prices. Prepaid card costs €15 including 100 minutes talking time.

Post

For more information, it is best to check the Austrian Postal Service. They have more information about posting letters, postcards and packages to places both in Austria and to other countries in Europe and intercontinental destinations. The standard price for sending domestic letters/postcards is €0.55. Within Europe the price is €0.65, other places in the world are €0.90 to €1.40 for standard letters and postcards. Post offices typically are open between 8:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Friday, though the main ones are sometimes open a few hours longer and on Saturdays (sometimes only mornings) as well. If you want to send parcels internationally, you might consider using an international company like DHL, TNT, UPS or FedEx, as they offer fast and reliable services at relatively affordable rates.

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Quick Facts

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Population
1,691,468
Local name
Wien
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 48.209206
  • Longitude: 16.372778

Accommodation in Vienna

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