A city of culture, history, music and art, with a night life to rival with that of any city in the world, that’s what Vienna is, in a nutshell. Walking through its many fairytale-like streets you wonder if there can be a place so royal and majestic in its appearance. No wonder, Vienna deserves its nickname The Imperial City, fairly well.
But where on one side every experience, every sight in the city, is a total treat, the cost of travelling here — whether you talk about a 10 Euro cup of coffee, or a 150 Euro ballet performance — can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re travelling on a budget. But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to fill yourself up with the city’s history and culture, without having to spend too much. Because with my #ViennaNow budget travel guide, you can explore Vienna on cheap. And here’s how…
[Also Read: What To See And Do In Vienna]
Arriving In The City
If you’re flying into Vienna, the best and the cheapest way to get to the city center is by taking the S-bahn connections from Euros 2.50 to Euros 4.40 (depending upon how far you’re going). Find the nearest S-bahn station in the city and then walk to your hostel. You possibly won’t be walking more than a kilometer.
Alternatively, If taking a train, and haggling around with interconnections seem overwhelming on your first day, you can take Vienna AirportLines (or the Vienna airport bus), for around 8 Euros to the city center.
Invest In The City Card
For those who are travelling for a short time, and are intending to visit as many attractions as possible, investing in Vienna City Card would surely help in saving more money. Moreover, unlike many other City Cards I bought in Europe (especially if I think about Budapest and Zurich City Card, which costed around 50 Euros for 72 hours), Vienna City Card was fairly cheaper. At a cost of 24.90 Euros, it gave me free unlimited travel by public transport (for 72 hours) as well as discounts on over 200 different museums, sights, shops and restaurants. I bought my card at the Tourist Information Centre in Albertinaplatz, but you can also get it from the airport, or even online.
Walk Along Ringstrasse And See It All For Free
By far, I’ve not found any street so beautiful and full of treats as Ringstrasse — a 5 kilometers long ring road that runs around the center of Vienna, taking you to the city’s top tourist attractions including the State Opera, Imperial Palace, Parliament and City Hall, in addition to others.
It is only by walking along Ringstrasse, you can visit most of Vienna and pretty much everything that it has to offer. Though most of the places charge an entry fee to gain access inside, a few sites like St. Stephan’s Cathedral, the gardens of Schonbrunn Palace, etc are free.
Take A Free Walking Tour
There are a few good options to choose from in Vienna when it comes to free walking tours. You can join a free walking tour in Vienna at 11:30 am at Stephansplatz 8, and many hostels also run their own walking tours. I took the tour that was hosted by the hostel where I was staying in — Wombats City Hostel in Naschmarkt. The tour took us to across Naschmarkt (an open market with over 100 market stalls selling food and drink), the state Opera, and a few other places in and around Ringstrasse. Similar tours run by hostels are generally free only for their hostel guests, and you still have to tip the guide (which is not too much though!)
Entertainment In A Bargain
Vienna is a city of music and entertainment, but the entry tickets can make you go flabbergasted, for example a one time show in its famous opera can set you back Euro 150 plus. I heard there are so many tourists, who visit Bratislava and watch the opera there, because it’s almost the half price and offers a similar experience there. Thank god they didn’t know about the standing tickets for the State Opera House, which unfortunately go on sale about two hours before the performance, but cost only 4 Euros. Yes, you heard that right, only 4 Euros!
Similarly, for the popular Spanish School of Riding, the only place in the world that’s still practicing generations old riding techniques, and is surely a must-visit-place in Vienna, you can buy the morning exercise performance in under 15 Euros.
Dining In A Bargain
I’d recommend visiting the open market at Naschmarkt and eating a satisfying meal in under 5 Euros — at one of its many Falafel stalls, or at more studenty areas like Neubau or Josefstadt. You can also try some hog dogs at one of the Würstelstands that can be found pretty much across the city (especially around the city center, where food is generally very costly), to save money on food.
If however, you are heavily bitten by the idea of eating sumptuous sit-down meals use the lunchtime to do so, as many places around the town offer a cheaper mittagsmenü, where you can get a multi-course meal from a set menu in under 10 Euros.
So those are my tips for seeing Vienna on a budget. Do you know of more Vienna bargains? Spill in comments below!
I wrote this post in ViennaTourism, under #ViennaNow campaign. Though my tour in the city was partly hosted by them, all the recommendations and ideas are solely personal. And I only recommend what I personally experience or see.