Vienna Travel Guide

Essential Tips

  • Currency is the Euro.
  • Electrical voltage is the same as Germany, which is 230 volts and 50 Hertz. They also use C and F plug types. Bring an adapter if you are using a different electrical voltage type. This is the one I recommend.
  • The most common language spoken is a mix of Austro-Bavarian (a German dialect group) and Standard German. Most locals are able to speak English enough to get by.

Do You Need a Visa to Visit Austria?

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Find more info at: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/

If you hold a US passport you can visit Austria visa-free for 90 days. You should also know that your passport must be valid for up to 3 months after your last day in Austria and you may have to show proof of date of departure upon entry. A plane or train ticket will suffice.

The same visa rules apply (90 days stay) for citizens holding valid passports from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Venezuela, Vatican, and many more.

Is Austria Part Of The Schengen Area?

Yes. For those who don't know, the Schengen Area is comprised of 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. 

Climate In Vienna

  • Winter in Vienna is cold and wet for many days with temperatures just above 0°C (32°F). If it does snow, it melts away quickly.
  • Spring begins in late March but is extremely brief.
  • Summer weather (which is extremely pleasant) begins before the trees even grow their leaves back. June is typically sunny with a light windy breeze, while July and August are hot and humid with days reaching 35°C (95°F).
  • Autumn begins around September with warm and sunny days that get colder closer to November. Autumn tends to be not very agreeable with wind and overcast days.
 Weather in Vienna

How To Get To Vienna

By Plane...

Vienna International Airport (Code: VIE) is located in Austria’s capital and is the main international airport for flying into Austria. The airport is the hub for Austrian Airlines and budget airline Niki.

You can also try flying into the Salzburg Airport (Code: SZG) which is the second biggest airport in Austria and sometimes has cheap flights from the states. 

Tip: To save money on a flight to Austria consider flying into a nearby city in a border country (like Munich Germany) and then taking a train to your final destination.

By Train...

Due to the numerous mountains and winding roads rail travel is the recommended way to get around the country. The rail system in Austria is incredibly efficient and well maintained. You'll rarely find delays and be able to enjoy the scenery at the same time. 

The main train station is the Vienna Central Train Station. It's the most modern and almost every train stops here since it's the largest international transportation hub in Austria. There is also Vienna's Westbahnhof, this station has trains arriving from Western Europe and Western Austria. Since there are many stations in Vienna I suggest talking to the railway agents at the stations. They will give you the best answers for train travel, especially tickets for a more complex route.

By Car...

Although I just recommended train travel in Austria, if you want to drive from city to city you've made a great choice. Despite the challenging terrain car travel is very easy in Austria. Just make sure you have the sticker on your car to drive the roads. Those cost anywhere from 8 Euros for a 10-day pass to 80 Euros for a 12-month pass. 

If you do choose to drive around Vienna I would suggest not even looking for a parking space in the central districts. Open spots are rare to find and parking fees are steep. Your best bet is to leave your car parked outside the city and then use the city's subway or tram system to travel into the city. 

How to get from the Vienna Airport to the City Center

S-Bahn trains run on the S7 line to Vienna from the airport. This is the cheapest (only €4.00 for a single fare) and most convenient connection to the city center.

Best Way To Get Around Vienna

By Foot

Seeing Vienna on foot is popular so make sure you pack some comfortable shoes. The inner ring is full of cobblestone with pleasant views.

By Public Transport

Vienna has an excellent public transport system with everything from rail, undergrounds, 27 tram lines, trolleys, and numerous buses. The underground, in particular, is very efficient and has the second highest per capita ridership in the world! 

Tip: Google Maps works with almost all of Vienna's public transport lines, including the sometimes confusing underground (U-Bahn).

By Bike

Cycling is a great option for a leisurely day in Vienna. There are many bike paths along major streets and parks. A popular bike path is along the river. Since Vienna is pretty compact you can reach most points of interest in about 30 minutes. 

By Taxi

You'll find tons in the city and you can either hail them yourself or head to a taxi stand. Although there is a meter you can negotiate a fare. You should ALWAYS negotiate when traveling to the airport or anywhere outside the city limits. 

Other Things

Pedicabs, horse-drawn coaches and the like are also available.

Best Things To Do In Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace

The Schönbrunn Palace is a  decadent castle in Vienna that is a must see! You'll feel like true royalty walking around the gorgeous grounds and touring the sometimes overwhelming museum. 

The grand palace was used as an imperial summer residence but today is maintained as one of the best historical and cultural attraction in the country. Built in the 18th century, you'll find lavish rococo centennial rooms, a grand garden with a confusing maze(!) and charming fountains, and even (fake) Roman ruins. 

Museumsquartier

Known as the largest cultural area in the world this 60,000 square meter land area is open to the public and holds many major art and cultural exhibits every year.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Located within the packed historical center of Vienna is the utterly impressive Roman Catholic Cathedral. Housed inside are intricate catacombs, a treasury room, and an iconic ornate spire. The cathedral was designed by architect Anton Pilgram.

Vienna City Hall

Built from 1872 to 1883 by architect Friedrich von Schmidt with a Gothic architectural style. This building served as the official seat of the government in Vienna.

Vienna State Opera

One of the most popular tourist attractions is this world-famous opera house that first opened in 1869! It's huge with a capacity of over 1,700 people and features Renaissance Revival architecture. Even if you can't see a show the house itself is an attraction you should see. 

Belvedere Palace

A historic Baroque complex made up of two palaces: the Palace Stables and Orangery. You can find amazing art from the middle ages inside as well as stunning architecture. 

Hofburg Palace

Another palace, but another stunning place you should visit. First built in the 13th century and later expanded it served as the former Imperial Palace and was the seat of power for the Habsburg rulers. More recently it has served as the winter residence of the President of Austria. 

 Melk Abbey is one of the best things to see in Vienna
 One of the most unique things to do in Vienna is see the  Lipizzaner Stallions

Melk Abbey

Outside of Vienna but a do not miss attraction. 

Lipizzaner Stallions

Even if you aren't exactly into horses this riding school is so incredibly impressive and not at all dull to watch. Located in Vienna you'll see riders dressed in royal attire performing amazing tricks and choreography that is mind-blowing. Just be sure to book in advance. 

Is Prostitution Legal In Vienna?

Yes, prostitution is legal, even on the street. It is actually even common around the area of the Prater. You should be careful because many of the prostitutes in this area are not registered and a high number are known to be trafficked. Your best bet and the most ethical thing to do is simply visit a brothel. By the way, there is no male prostitution in Vienna.

Can You Drink The Tap Water In Vienna?

I usually address the tap water issues in countries where you shouldn't drink it. But in Vienna, it is exactly the opposite. Vienna's water is really unique and is considered higher quality than bottled water so definitely drink it! In most restaurants, you can get a glass of drinking water for free with any order, just specify tap water by (attempting to say) leitungswasser.

If you want the history, Vienna's drinking water comes from the three "Hochquellwasserleitungen" (that's a mouthful). The water travels from the mountains through aqueducts that were built during the reign of Emperor Franz Josef.  

Best Restaurants & Food in Vienna

Vienna is the center of a large coffee empire and local roasts are sold all across Europe. It is safe to say cafe culture is a very important part of a true Vienna experience. 

Types of coffee in Vienna:

  • Kleiner Schwarzer (also known simply as a Schwarzer or as a Mokka) - Espresso.
  • Großer Schwarzer - double espresso
  • Kleiner Brauner - espresso with cream often served on the side
  • Großer Brauner - double espresso with cream
  • Melange - most typical Viennese coffee and similar to cappuccino but with the Viennese style espresso and more foamy milk in equal parts.
  • Verlängerter -  espresso with extra hot water that is similar to a small Americano
  • Kapuziner - espresso with a dollop of whipped cream on top
  • Kaffee Verkehrt (or known as Kaffee Latte) - the local version of a latte

Read on: All the Austrian dishes you have to try

How Much Should You Tip In Austria?

Servers and Bartenders: Restaurants will typically add service charges into their bills. It is customary, however, to round up when paying the total. If you are tipping more than, be sure to hand it to the waiter instead of leaving it on the table.

Taxi Drivers: Most will round up to the nearest euro to pay the fare. It isn't uncommon to tip up to 10 percent of the final fare for exceptional service.

Other workers to tip in Austria:

  • Tour Guides should be tipped €1 to €2 for exceptional service
  • Airport Shuttle Drivers do not expect to be tipped. But, if they do help with your luggage give €1 per bag
  • House Keepers in hotels usually don't except a tip. Everything is typically included in the hotel bill. If you feel the service went above and beyond leave €1 per night on the bed.
  • Porters should be tipped €1 per bag.

Final Thoughts

One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing a guidebook along with you.

Rick Steves Pocket Guides are some of my absolute favorite because, as the name suggests, they are tiny enough to fit in a pocket or a small bag while still giving you a ton of information. But, here are some other books I recommend as well...

Also, a super common question I get is: What camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D3300 and I use the kit lens and a Sigma wide-angle lens which I am genuinely obsessed with.

My full list of travel gear, that I take on every trip can be found here.

And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette@gmail.com). 

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