A city of culture, history, music and art, with a nightlife 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 as Vienna. 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 in Vienna — whether you talk about a 10 Euro cup of coffee or a 150 Euro ballet performance — can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re travelling Europe 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. Find out how!
Vienna Budget Travel Tips
Arriving In The City
If you’re flying into Vienna, the best and the cheapest way to get to the city centre is by taking the S-Bahn connections from Euros 2.50 to Euros 4.40 (depending on how far you’re going). Find the nearest S-Bahn station in the city and walk to your hostel. You will definitely not be walking more than a kilometre.
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 its various stops in the city centre.
You may also be interested in reading my Golden Tips on How To Travel The World Without Spending Much Money
Invest In The City Card
For those who are travelling Vienna for a short time, and are intended to cover as many attractions as possible, investing in a Vienna City Card would surely help in saving more money. Moreover, unlike many other City Cards I bought in Europe (especially if we talk about Budapest and Zurich City Card, which cost around 50 Euros for 72 hours) Vienna City Card was fairly cheaper. At a cost of 24.90 Euros, it gave me unlimited free travel by public transport for 72 hours, as well as discounts in 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 Vienna For Free
By far, I’ve not found any street so beautiful and full of treats as Ringstrasse — a 5 kilometres long ring road that runs around the centre 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, however, are free.
Vienna Walking Tour
There are a few good options in Vienna to choose from when it comes to a free walking tour. You can join the daily free public walking tour at 11:30 am at Stephansplatz 8 — the one I ended up taking, or perhaps ask for one at your hostel, because many hostels run their private free walking tours for their guests. For example, the hostel I was staying at ‘Wombats City Hostel’ in Naschmarkt, offered free tours that took their guests around 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. Though in a free walking tour, you’re still expected to tip the guide (5 EUR, or something) rest assured it is still a good bargain.
Entertainment On Budget
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 House can set you back Euro 150 plus. I heard there are so many tourists who visit Bratislava (from Vienna) only to watch the opera in the Bratislava Opera House where it costs nearly half the price for what it costs in Vienna Opera House and offers a pretty similar experience. But you don’t need to do that, if only you’re willing to stand during the performance. The State Opera House in Vienna offers cheap standing tickets, which unfortunately run out of 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 practising 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 Budget
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 something else. Other budget places to eat in Vienna are Neubau and Josefstadt. You can also try some hot dogs at one of the Würstelstands that can be found at pretty much every corner around the city (especially in the city centre, where food is unbearably expensive) 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 for under 10 Euros.
Where To Stay In Vienna
Since Vienna is a tourist highlight in Europe, there’s no dearth of accommodation in the city. I stayed in Wombats City Hostel and can recommend the place for a great atmosphere. An in-house moreover bar guarantees finding a few friends.
Disclaimer: I wrote this post in ViennaTourism, under the #ViennaNow campaign. Though my tour in the city was partly hosted, all recommendations and ideas are solely personal. I only recommend what I personally experience and find worth sharing.