Vienna, Austria

At a Glance

Grandiose Vienna was the showpiece of the all-conquering Habsburg Dynasty. Monumental edifices line the city centre, world-class museums burst with treasures, white stallions strut their way down mirrored halls, and renowned orchestras and angelic choirboys perform in lavish concert halls.

Vienna has plenty of lower-brow pleasures too – walks in the woods, splish-splashing high jinks on the river, slap-up indulgent evenings in its renowned wine taverns, bar-hopping till dawn. If you can't find something to please you in this generous, opulent, open-armed city, you're ready for the grave.

When To Go

There's almost always something happening in Vienna, making it a year-round destination. Weatherwise you might want to miss January's chill, and July and August's heat – you won't be able to see the Lipizzaners and the Boys' Choir in those summer months anyway. June and September are particularly good times to visit, though you'll find that everyone else thinks so too, making things somewhat busy. As always, it's a good idea to opt for the less-crowded spring/autumn shoulder months of April-May and October-November.


 

Fast Facts

Full Name
Vienna

Area
415 sq km
160 sq miles

Population
1,600,000

GMT/UTC
+1 (Central European Time)

Daylight Saving Start
last Sunday in March

Daylight Saving End
last Sunday in October

Languages
German (official)
Turkish (other)
language spoken by an ethnic minority

Slovenian (other)
language spoken by an ethnic minority; official in Carinthia

Croatian (other)
language spoken by an ethnic minority; official in Burgenland

English (other)
young people are often fluent in English

Hungarian (other)
language spoken by an ethnic minority; official in Burgenland

Currency
Euro (€)

Electricity
230V 50HzHz

Electric Plug Details
European plug with two circular metal pins

Factoid

Dead Vienna

It is said that of all the cities in the world, Vienna is the most obsessed with death. It has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, a coffin museum, and many citizens who save all their lives for a lavish funeral.

 

 


 

Background Information

Orientation

Vienna stands imperiously in the Danube Valley, with the rolling hills of the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) undulating beyond the suburbs in the north and west. The Danube River divides the city into two, with the old city centre and most tourist sights southwest of the river. The Danube Canal (Donaukanal) branches off from the main river and wends a sinewy course south, forming one of the borders of the historic centre, known as the Innere Stadt. The rest of the old centre is encircled by the Ringstrasse, or Ring, a series of broad roads sporting sturdy public buildings. Beyond the Ring is a larger traffic artery, the Gürtel (literally meaning 'belt'), which is fed by the flow of vehicles from the outlying motorways. The city's principal landmark is the distinctively slender spire of Stephansdom in the heart of the Innere Stadt. The majority of hotels, pensions, restaurants and bars are in the Innere Stadt and west of the centre between the Gürtel and the Ringstrasse.

Time Zone

GMT/UTC +1 (Central European Time)

Daylight Saving

Start: last Sunday in March

End: last Sunday in October

Weights Measures System

Metric

Visas Overview

EU, US, Canadian, EEA, Israeli, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Singaporean, Australian and New Zealand citizens do not require visas for stays of up to three months. Nationals of African and Arabic countries generally require a visa, also valid for up to three months.

Customs Overview

Duty-free shopping within the EU was abolished in July 1999. Theoretically, if you buy duty-paid alcohol and tobacco in shops in other EU countries, there is no restriction on how much you can bring into Austria. However, to ensure these goods remain for personal use, guideline limits are 800 cigarettes, 200 cigars, 1kg tobacco, 10L of spirits, 90L of wine, 110L of beer and 20L of other alcoholic beverages. For duty-free purchases made outside the EU, anybody aged 17 or over may bring into Austria 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco, plus 2L of wine and 1L of spirits. No duty is payable on items brought in for personal use, nor on gifts or souvenirs up to the value of €175 for air passengers, or €100 if arriving by road from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Slovenia.

Government Leaders

Michael Häupl – Mayor (city leader)

Doing Business Overview

Vienna is a major conference location, hosting hundreds of international conventions each year, so it's no suprise that there is a multitude of facilities available to the business visitor.

Arriving at Vienna International Airport you will find the Airport VIP & Business Centre (tel: 7007 23300/400/406, www.viennaairport.com) which can organise events and provide room hire for up to 40. The Danube Aviator Club (tel: 01 7007 23300, wwwviennaairport.com) has five executive lounges with business facilities and a meeting room. The Vienna Airport World Trade Center (tel: 7007 36000, www.world-trade-center.at) provides office hire and facilities for functions for up to 300 guests, secretarial and interpretation services, bank branches and a chamber of commerce. The NH Vienna Airport (tel: 701 510, www.nh-hotels.com) has conference facilities also.

Before you start a business in Vienna, consult the trade office of the Austrian embassy in your home country as there can be quite a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

You can pick up free information from the Österreichische Wirtschaftswerbungs (Austrian Business Agency, tel: 588 58-0, www.aba.gv.at) or you can contact the Regus Business Centre (tel: 53 712-0, www.regus.com) as they can provide office rental and business services.

Health Overview

Austria presents no major health risks but if you're planning to visit the alps be aware of risks associated with mountain terrains such as altitude sickness, hypothermia and sunburn.


 

Dangers & Annoyances

Vienna is one of the safest cities in the world. At night it's not uncommon to see women walking home alone or elderly people walking dogs or using public transport. Tourists normally only experience petty crime, such as pickpocketing or the very rare money scam. There are, however, a few places to avoid, especially at night. Karlsplatz U-bahn Station is a well known spot for drugs and drug addicts, as is the Prater and Praterstern, and Mexikoplatz is supposedly a black-market centre. Südtirolerplatz, the S-Bahn and tram stations along Margareten- and Wieder Gürtel can be a little unnerving after dark.

Weather Overview

Austria falls within the central European climatic zone, though the eastern part of the country where Vienna is situated has a Continental Pannonian climate, characterised by a temperatures in July of above 19°C (66°F) and annual rainfall usually under 800mm.

July and August can be very hot and winter is surprisingly cold, especially in January. May and August tend to be the wettest months. Damp maritime winds sometimes sweep in from the west, and it is not uncommon for the Föhn, a warm wind from the south, to make its presence felt the entire year.

Average Annual Hi/Low Temperature

Average Annual Humidity AM/PM

Average Annual Rainfall

Average Annual Sunshine

Telephone Overview

Telekom Austria (www.telekom.at) is Austria's main telecommunications provider and maintains a plethora of public telephones throughout Vienna. These take either coins or phonecards. Every post office has a phone booth where both international and national calls can be made; rates are cheaper from 18:00 to 08:00 Monday to Friday, and on weekends. Another option is call centres, which are generally found in the outlying districts and offer very competitive phone-call rates.

Mobile Phone Overview

Austria's network works on GSM 1800, and is compatible with GSM 900 mobiles (Handy in German), but generally not with systems from the USA or Japan. Handy numbers start with 0699, 0676, 0664 and 0650. The major Handy networks – One, A-1 and T-Mobile – sell SIM cards including a certain amount of call credit. Smaller operators, such as Tele ring, may give better call credits on SIM cards. Refill cards can be purchased from supermarkets and Trafik (tobacconist shops). Before buying an Austrian SIM card confirm that your phone is unlocked; check with your home network before leaving.

Mobile phones can be rented for your visit: rental outfits include Tel-Rent, located in the arrivals hall at Schwechat.

Media Overview

Vienna has a long history in media. The Wiener Zeitung, first published in 1703, is the oldest newspaper in the world still regularly produced. With such a long and solid journalistic background, it's no surprise that Vienna receives a wide and varied view on political and social matters by its media.

Founded in 1957, ÖRF (www.orf.at) is the country's independent public broadcaster. For decades it held a monopoly on radio and TV until the government passed a law in January 2002 cancelling such rights. To date, however, ÖRF has received only minimal competition. The press media is quite another matter. Alongside a plethora of regional papers, eight national papers vie for Austria's paper-reading audience. Of these eight, two follow tabloid-style reporting and the rest stick to quality over quantity, which results in fierce competition and generally good investigative journalism.

Periodicals

Neue Kronen Zeitung (newspaper)

A magazine-size German-language daily with the largest circulation in Vienna.

www.krone.at

Die Presse (newspaper)

This German-language daily is tabloid-sized, but takes a more serious approach to content.

www.diepresse.at

Falter (newspaper)

A German-language weekly publication with entertainment listings and insightful political and social commentary.

www.falter.at

Wiener Zeitung (newspaper)

The Weiner Zeitung was begun in 1703. It has an English online edition and every Tuesday the paper is accompanied by an English-language supplement, 'The Week in Austria'.

www.wienerzeitung.at

Radio Stations

Ö1 – 87.8 & 92 FM

A state-run national radio channel broadcasting a high-brow blend of music, literature and science.

Ö3 – 99.9 FM

A state-run national station that offers pop music and topical information.

FM 4 – 103.8 FM

A music and chat station broadcasting in English and German. Most English segments are broadcast between early morning and mid-afternoon.

Radio Wien – 89.9 & 95.3 FM

A local station with a focus on Viennese life.

Television and DVD

TV systemPAL
DVD zoneZone 2: Europe, Japan, South Africa, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East

People

97% Germanic origin, 2% Slovene & Croat and 1% Turkish

Female Travellers

Overall, Vienna is a very safe city and female travellers should experience no problems. Verbal or physical harassment are less common than in many countries. However, normal caution should be exercised in unfamiliar situations.


Pre 20th Century History

The Danube Valley has been inhabited for thousands of years, as evidenced in the 1906 discovery of the 25,000-year-old fertility statuette known as the Venus of Willendorf. Celtic settlements had been established in the vicinity some 500 years before the Romans turned up around AD 9 to construct a military camp called Vindobona. The fort was built smack bang in the middle of today's Innere Stadt, within a square bordered by Graben, Tiefer Graben, Ruprechtskirche and Rotenturmstrasse. The Romans withdrew in the early 5th century, leaving the strategic east-west crossroads to be fought over by successive waves of migrating tribes and armies.

The Frankish king Charlemagne entered the picture in 803, establishing an eastern outpost in the Danube Valley west of Vienna known as the Ostmark. Vienna was first documented as a city in 1137, when it was ruled by the Bavarian Babenberg dukes. The death of the last Babenberg ruler at the hands of invading Hungarian forces ushered in a turbulent interregnum of almost 40 years before matters were settled by the new Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf of Habsburg. Rudolf granted his two sons the fiefdoms of Austria and Styria in 1282, and one of the most powerful dynasties in history was born.

A succession of energetic, empire-building Habsburgs saw the dynasty extend its dominion over Carinthia, Carniola and Tirol. Vienna became a bishopric, the Habsburgs became archdukes and a succession of politically motivated marriages turned the dynasty into an empire, adding territories like Burgundy, the Netherlands and Spain. The empire was soon too vast to be ruled by one person, and in 1521 it was split between the two princely brothers Ferdinand (who was given Austria) and Charles (who grabbed everything else).

In the 16th- and 17th-centuries, Vienna faced several external threats to its security. The biggest danger was posed by Suleiman the Magnificent and his marauding Turks, who famously besieged the city for 18 days in 1528, destroying the outer districts. However, Ferdinand I sent Vienna's prestige soaring through the roof by moving his court to the city in 1533 as a protective measure. Plague killed an estimated 80,000 Viennese in 1679, and in 1683 the Turks returned to besiege the city once again – reputedly bringing a strange brew called coffee with them. The removal of the Turks by a combined force of German and Polish soldiers resulted in a triumphant frenzy of building in Vienna, giving the city its famous baroque face.

A string of profligate rulers culminated in the golden era of Maria Theresa and her son Joseph II, a period which saw the erection of palaces such as Schönbrunn and the Belvedere. Vienna's reputation as a centre for music was established during this time, with Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert calling the city home. The Imperial nose was severely put out of joint by the Napoleonic occupations of 1805 and 1809: the Habsburg emperor was forced to give up the German crown and title of Holy Roman Emperor, and the battle with Napoleon left Vienna precariously poised on the brink of bankruptcy. The capital regained some of its pride with the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15. The disenfranchised general populace joined in the revolutions of 1848, and when order was restored the city had a new, 18-year-old emperor, Franz Josef I.

Under Franz Josef's lengthy rule, the Ringstrasse developments went up around the Innere Stadt. The city benefited from being at the helm of the new dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy, attracting a hugely varied émigré populace. Vienna's famed coffee houses became a hotbed of wildly opposing political and creative ideas. The city was graced by the artworks of the Viennese Secession, Jugendstil and Expressionist movements, adding names like Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Moser, Mahler and the Wiener Werkstätte to the city's pantheon of big achievers.

Modern History

The 20th-century brought a dimunition of Vienna's glory. The city suffered economically from the loss of empire that resulted from WWI, but entered a new era with the postwar election of the Social Democrats, whose impressive social policies were epitomised by public housing schemes like the Karl-Marx-Hof complex of 1325 apartments. Growing political tensions between the city's socialist climate and the increasingly conservative federal government culminated in the establishment of an authoritarian regime in 1933.

Allied bombing was particularly heavy in Vienna in the last two years of WWII and most major public buildings were damaged or destroyed, along with some 86,000 homes. At war's end Vienna was divided into four zones, control alternating between the US, the Soviet Union, Britain and France on a monthly basis. The Allied forces finally withdrew in 1955 and Austria joined the United Nations. Since the walls came tumbling down in 1989, Vienna has found itself with a new sense of purpose as a gateway city to Central and Eastern Europe.

Recent History

Vienna's Habsburg facade is rigorously maintained – although the last ruling Habsburg passed away in 1989 – but the city is increasingly forward-looking. The 1990s were a difficult time for Austria. In 1993 Chancellor Franz Vanitsky publicly admitted that Austrians had been 'willing servants of Nazism'. The scars of WWII history were opened further in the new millenium: the federal government's move to the right has been the subject of concern for many Austrians as well as the European Union since 2000, and the government remains the subject of close international monitoring. Nevertheless, Vienna seems to be going through a time of renewal, shaking off its staid image and facing the future with zest.


See

Most of Vienna's main sights are crammed into the Innere Stadt. The district is adorned with the outstanding Gothic heights of Stephansdom, the massive Hofburg (Imperial Palace), the cultured history of the Judenplatz (Jewish quarter) and a scattering of historic streets and squares.

Burgkapelle

religious/spiritual ; architectural highlight

Schweizerhof

The Burgkapelle (Royal Chapel) originally dates from the 13th-century and received a Gothic make-over from 1447 to 1449, but much of this disappeared during the baroque fad. The vaulted wooden statutory survived and is testament to those Gothic days. This is where the Vienna Boys Choir sings at Mass every Sunday between September and June.

Hours: Sep-Jun: Mon-Thu 11:00am-3:00pm, Fri 11:00am-1:00pm

Donauturm

 

Donauturmstrasse 4 A 1220

This is the tallest structure in Vienna. You can bungy-jump from it at heights of 150m, 170m and 160m. Two (expensive) revolving restaurants allow the more sedentary to enjoy a fine panorama; consider ascending (by lift) to watch the sunset behind the Wienerwald. The tower stands in the Donaupark.

Web: http://www.donauturm.at

Josephinum

Diagnosis: Weird
quirky ; museum

09, Währinger Strasse 25

Also known as the Museum of Medical History, the Josephinum has a bizarre but fascinating collection of 200-year-old ceroplastic and wax models of the human frame, detailing the body under the skin in gory detail. Other exhibits include arcane instruments and detailed accounts of highly unpleasant looking medical operations.

This small museum of medical history is gruesome but fascinating. The prime exhibits are the 200-year-old wax specimen models of the human frame. It'll make you feel like you've wandered onto the set of a tacky horror movie.

Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-3:00pm

Judenplatz

Ethnic Cornerstone
square

Judenplatz

The old Jewish quarter, Judenplatz, is just off the northeast corner of Am Hof. Here you'll find an attractive square underneath which are excavations of a medieval synagogue, a museum documenting the tumultuous history of Jews in Vienna, and a memorial to Austrian Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

The Jewish museum in the Judenplatz focuses on excavated remains of a medieval synagogue (1420) that once took pride of place on Judenplatz. The basic outline of the synagogue can still be seen and a small model of the building helps to complete the picture. Documents and artefacts dating from 1200 to 1400 are on display, and spacey interactive screens explain Jewish culture. On Judenplatz is Austria's first Holocaust memorial, the 'Nameless Library'. This squat, boxlike structure pays homage to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were killed during the Anschluss.

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Art Overload
art gallery

01, Burgring 5 1010

If you're an art buff don't miss the Kunsthistorisches Museum, one of the finest in Europe. The Habsburgs loved to collect, and many goodies found their way back to Vienna from their extensive territories. It's impossible to see the whole museum in one visit, so plan ahead or expect to indulge in repeat excursions.

Rubens was appointed to the service of a Habsburg governor in Brussels, so it is not surprising that the museum has one of the best collections of his works. The collection of paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder is also unrivalled.

The works by Canova, Vermeer, Dürer, Rembrandt, Raphael, Van Dyck, Cranach, Caravaggio, Canaletto and Titian aren't bad and there are extensive collections of Egyptian, Greek and Roman artefacts, and sculpture and decorative arts covering the Austrian high baroque, Renaissance, mannerist and medieval periods, including Cellini's famously over-the-top salt cellar.

The building itself has some delightful features. The murals between the arches above the stairs were created by three artists, including a young Klimt (northern wall), painted before he broke with classical tradition.

Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00am-8:00pm

Web: http://www.khm.at

Email: info@khm.at

Riesenrad

kids ; theme park/funfair

Prater 90 1020

This 65m-high Ferris Wheel (Riesenrad), featured in the film The Third Man, provides an excellent elevated view across the city. It's within the Prater funfair, where there are loads of fun things for children to do. If they like horses then take them to the carousel where they can ride 'live' horses.

The amusement park has all sorts of funfair rides, ranging from gentle merry-go-rounds to stomach-twisting big dippers. There are bumper cars, go-karts, haunted houses, games rooms, mini-golf, a mini-train and plenty of places to eat and drink.

Even if you don't like fairground rides, it's a great place just to wander and soak up the atmosphere. As you walk, you're liable to bump into one of the colourful metal sculptures depicting humans caught up in strange hallucinogenic happenings. Some are rather witty. Look for them on Rondeau and Calafattiplatz.

Hours: Nov-Feb 10:00am-8:00pm; Mar, Apr, Oct 10:00am-8:00pm; May-Sep 9:00am-12:00am

Web: http://www.wienerriesenrad.com

Schloss Schönbrunn

Beautiful Baroque
castle

Schönbrunnner Schlossstrasse 1130

This sumptuous baroque palace is one of Vienna's most popular attractions. It has 1441-rooms-worth of imperial splendour (of which 40 can be visited), complete with a classically landscaped garden. Additional attractions (with separate entrance fees) include a maze and the world's oldest zoo.

The pinnacle of finery is reached in the Great Gallery. Gilded scrolls, ceiling frescoes, chandeliers and huge crystal mirrors create the effect. Numerous sumptuous balls were held here, including one for the delegates at the Congress of Vienna (1814-15).

The Mirror Room is where Mozart (then six) played his first royal concert in the presence of Maria Theresa and the royal family in 1762. His father revealed in a letter that afterwards young Wolfgang leapt onto the lap of the empress and kissed her.

The Round Chinese Room is over the top but rather ingenious too. Maria Theresa held secret consultations here: a hidden doorway led to her adviser's apartments and a fully laden table could be drawn up through the floor so the dignitaries could dine without being disturbed by servants.

Hours: Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct 8:30am-5:00pm, Jul-Aug 8:30am-6:00pm, Nov-Mar 8:30am-4:30pm

Web: http://www.schoenbrunn.at

Email: info@schoenbrunn.at

Sigmund Freud Museum

Slip into Freud's
museum ; celebrity

Berggasse 19 1090

This museum is in the apartments where Freud lived and worked from 1891 to 1938. It contains his furniture, possessions, letters, documents, photographs and even a home movie of Freud, narrated by his daughter, Anna. Very detailed notes in English illuminate the exhibits. Students and Freud freaks could spend a while here.

There is a lot to take in and most casual observers will probably just saunter through the rooms and wonder to what extent Freud's theories were influenced by that terracotta votive offering of male genitals (exhibit 35 on the ornaments shelf in the waiting room).

Hours: Oct-Jun 9:00am-5:00pm, Jul-Sep 9:00am-6:00pm

Web: http://www.freud-museum.at

Email: office@freud-museum.at

Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule)

Hi-Ho Silver
kids

Michaelerplatz 1 1010

The prancing Lipizzaner stallions strut their stuff in the opulent surrounds of the Hofburg's Winter Riding School. The stallions perform an equine ballet to a program of classical music, part of a long-established Viennese institution that's truly reminiscent of the old Habsburg era. Pricey, but worth it for horse lovers.

The breed was first imported from Spain (hence 'Spanish') by Maximilian II in 1562, and in 1580 a stud was established at Lipizza (hence 'Lipizzaner'), now in Slovenia. The mature stallions are all snow-white (though they are born dark) and the riders wear traditional garb, from their leather boots up to their bicorn hats.

Tickets to watch them train can be bought on the day at gate No 2, Josefsplatz in the Hofburg. The stallions go on their summer holidays (seriously!) to Lainzer Tiergarten, west of the city, during July and August. They can be seen training for much of the rest of the year (except Christmas to mid-February), though they are sometimes away on tour.

Web: http://www.srs.at

Email: tickets@srs.at

Stephansdom

Austrian Gothic
religious/spiritual ; architectural highlight

01, Stephansplatz 1010

The incredible latticework spire of this Gothic masterpiece is a focal point for all visitors. The dominating feature of the church is the skeletal 136m (446ft) Südturm, or south tower; nicknamed 'Steffl', it has a cramped viewing platform but is worth an elbow or two to get a glimpse of the enchanting postcard views of Vienna.

The church was re-created in Gothic style at the behest of Habsburg Duke Rudolf IV in 1359, who laid the foundation stone and earned himself the epithet of 'The Founder' in the process.

Südturm took 75 years to build and was to be matched by a companion tower on the north side, but the imperial purse withered and the Gothic style went out of fashion, so the half-completed tower was topped off with a Renaissance cupola in 1579. Austria's largest bell, the Pummerin ('boomer bell'), was installed here in 1952.

A striking feature of the exterior is the glorious tiled roof, showing dazzling chevrons on one end and the Austrian eagle on the other; a good perspective is gained from the northeast of Stephansplatz. The cathedral suffered severe damage during a fire in 1945, but donations flowed in from all over Austria and the cathedral was completely rebuilt and reopened in just three years.

Hours: Mon-Sat 6:00am-10:00pm, Sun 7:00am-10:00pm

Web: http://www.stephansdom.at

Email: office@stephansdom.at


 

Events Overview

Naturally enough, in Vienna the cycle of music festivals is unceasing. In January, New Year concerts consist of lavish balls. February brings Fasching (Carnival), which celebrates the return of spring with masked processions and dances. Corpus Christi (the second Thursday after Whitsun) is heralded with more carnivals, some held on lakes in the Salzkammergut. The Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks, from May to mid-June) has a wide-ranging programme of arts and is considered the highlight of the year. At the end of October the Viennale, the country's biggest film festival, satisfys many a film buff with independent films from around the world.

National Day on 26 October involves lots of patriotic flag-waving. St Nicholas Day, on 6 December, marks the beginning of the Christmas season with parades. Public holidays also include Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day (26 December).


Getting There

Overview

Flughafen Wien Schwechat is Vienna's international airport and is served by over 80 airlines. Austrian Airlines is the national carrier. Bratislava's MR Štefánika Airport in Slovakia is only 60km east of Vienna, making it close enough to be an alternative to Schwechat. There is a number of options for shuttling from the airport as well as major car rental desks.

Vienna has no central bus station so if you are arriving by bus, your arrival destination will depend on which company you're travelling with. Eurolines handles most of Vienna's international bus connections and covers a plethora of destinations between England and Turkey.

Plane

Vienna's Flughafen Wien Schwechat, 19km (12mi) east of the city centre, handles over 12 million passengers a year. The state-owned Austrian Airlines and Lauda Air, another home-grown airline, are the country's main carriers, with flights to the USA, Asia, Australia and within Europe. The departure tax is factored into the price of the air ticket. The cheapest way to and from the airport is by S-bahn on line S7 (it takes about 35min) while the fastest way is with the City Airport Train (CAT; 16 min); both arrive and depart from Wien-Mitte. You can also take an airport bus from Westbahnhof (35min) Südbahnhof (25min), Schwedenplatz (20min) and the UNO City (20min). You can take a taxi, but only if you have cash to splash.

Train

Vienna is Central Europe's main rail hub, so connections to other major European destinations are good. Eurostar's London-Vienna service via Paris takes between 20 and 25 hours. Vienna has several train stations: check whether you're arriving at Westbahnhof, Südbahnhof or Franz Josefs Bahnhof.

Bus

Bus connections across Western and Eastern Europe are plentiful, but they're generally slower, cheaper and less comfortable than trains. Within Austria, buses can often be the best way of getting to more out-of-the-way places.

Car

There are numerous road entry points from Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. All major border crossings are open 24 hours and there are no controls coming from Germany, Italy – and very few from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia – thanks to the EU Schengen Agreement.

Hydrofoil

For something different, you can travel to Vienna from Amsterdam by riverboat, or from Budapest or Bratislava by hydrofoil.


Getting Around

Overview

Vienna has a comprehensive and unified public transport network that is one of the most efficient in Europe. Flat-fare tickets are valid for trains, trams, buses, the underground (U-Bahn) and the S-Bahn regional trains. Services are frequent, and you rarely have to wait more than five or 10 minutes.

A popular mode of transport in Vienna is cycling. Over 700km of cycle tracks criss-cross the city, which means you're often more concerned about running into pedestrians than being run over by cars and buses.

When it comes to thoughts of driving, you're better off using public transport. The streets are a complex system of one-way streets, the Viennese are particularly impatient drivers and parking is difficult and/or expensive in the centre.

Walking

Getting around on foot is really easy, as most 'must sees' are in the inner city (Innere Stadt), and some main streets are pedestrianised.

Rail

Vienna's enviably comprehensive public transport system is one of Europe's finest. You'll rarely have to toe-tap for longer than five or 10 minutes, and services run between 05:30 and midnight. Some S-Bahn and U-Bahn services may continue until 1am, and there are night buses. You can buy single-trip tickets from bus and tram drivers or ticket machines, and there's a range of passes available.

Horse

If money means nothing you can hire a horse-drawn carriage (fiacre) from Stephansplatz, Albertinaplatz and Heldenplatz at the Hofburg.

Taxi

Taxis cheap by Western standards, and safe, easily available and metered.

Car

Driving in Vienna is pretty hairy, especially if you haven't experienced a city with trams before, and parking is prohibitively expensive.

Bicycle

Cyclists can circle the city on the Ringstrasse bike path, or follow 700km (434mi) of bicycle tracks, including those along the banks of the Danube.


Spending

Preferred Form

While it's best to avoid carrying large amounts of cash, you should have some money on you. Credit cards are accepted in most high-end shops, restaurants and hotels but there are still quite a few places that will refuse plastic. The card inclined are still well catered for as there are plenty of Bankomats (ATMs) throughout the country.

Changing Your Money

Exchanging cash and travellers' cheques is rarely a problem in Austria. Changing cash attracts a negligible commission but the exchange rate is usually 1% to 4% lower than for cheques. American Express is the best place to change, especially if you have its cheques. Post offices have low commissions but not great exchange rates. Bankomats (ATMs) are extremely common in Austria, even in small villages: you can withdraw cash from credit and debit accounts 24 hours a day.

Tipping

Hands in pockets? Tipping is part of everyday life in Vienna; tips are generally expected at restaurants, bars and cafes, and in taxis. It's customary to add a 10% tip, or round up the bill, while taxi drivers will expect around 10% extra. Tips are handed over at the time of payment: add the bill and tip together and pass it over in one lump sum. It doesn't hurt to tip workers, hairdressers, hotel porters, cloakroom attendants, cleaning staff and tour guides a euro or two.

Money Tips

In tourist areas, budget travellers can get by on about €40 per day if camping, staying in hostels, travelling on a rail pass, sticking to student cafés, cheap lunch specials or self-catering, and only having the occasional drink. Staying in a cheap pension and dispensing with self-catering will require about €65 a day – add €10 for a room with private bathroom. To stay in a mid-range hotel, have a cheap lunch, a decent dinner, some money to spend on evening entertainment and not be too concerned about how expensive a cup of coffee is, a daily allowance of at least €130 would be needed. Off the beaten track, the main saving will be from lower accommodation prices.


Costs

WorldGuide Index Prices

Item Price
cheese sausage at a sausage stand €3.50
slice of Sacher Torte €4.00
box of Mozart Kügeln chocolates €7.50
20-minute horse and carriage ride €50.00

Average Room Prices

Low Mid High Deluxe
€50-100 €100-150 €150-250 €250+

Average Meal Prices

Low Mid High  
€5-15 €15-30 €30-60

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