VIENNA FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then the fastest option is the double-decker City Airport Train, which links the Schwechat Airport to the city center. Trains operate daily every 20 minutes between 5:30am and midnight. The journey takes 16 minutes and costs €9 one way and €16 roundtrip. However, the cheapest option is the S7 train, called the Schnellbahn, which travels twice every hour between the station beneath the airport and the Wien-Mitte/Landstrasse station. The roundtrip fare is €3.60 and takes approximately 35 minutes. Your ticket is also good for an immediate transfer to your destination within the city on streetcar, bus or U-Bahn.

Another cheap option is Vienna Airport Lines, which has separate routes to the city center at Schwedenplatz (20 minutes) and to the Westbahnhof (45 minutes). These buses operate every 30 minutes between 5am and 12:30am with a one way fare of €7. Alternately, metered taxis between the airport and the city center charge between €33 and €37.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Vienna's railway system is undergoing an extensive overhaul. By 2015, the former Südbahnhof station will have been converted into the city's main railway station, Hauptbahnhof, for national and international travel. In the meantime, the modernized and expanded Meidling station, located in the 12th district at the end of Meidlinger Hauptstraße, temporarily replaces Vienna's Südbahnhof. All local trains that used to arrive at or depart from the Südbahnhof will now arrive at or depart from this station. The long-distance trains (from the Czech Republic or Poland) will also end or start at Vienna-Meidling. Connections to the city center transport network are provided by underground line 6 - Philadelphiabrücke station, tram line 62, various bus lines, express trains and the local Vienna-Baden railway. Trains from Germany, Switzerland, and western Austria arrive at the Westbahnhof (West Station).

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

Whether you want to visit the historic buildings of the Innere Stadt or the outlying Vienna Woods, Vienna's public transportation can take you there. Its vast transit network, including the U-Bahn (subway), streetcar and bus, is safe, clean and efficient. If you plan on taking full advantage of it, pay the 1€ for a map that outlines the U-Bahn, buses, streetcars and local trains (Schnellbahn or S-Bahn). Maps are sold at the Vienna Public Transport Information Center (Informationdienst der Wiener Verkehrsbetriebe), which has five locations.

Vienna maintains a flat rate that applies to all forms of public transport. A ticket for the bus, subway or tram costs 1.70€ if you buy it in advance at a tabac-trafiks (a store selling tobacco products and newspapers) or 2€ if you buy it onboard. But, the Vienna Card is the best ticket to use when traveling by public transportation within the city limits. It allows unlimited travel plus various discounts at city museums, restaurants and shops. You can purchase a Vienna Card for 19€ ($30) at tourist information offices, public transport centers and some hotels. Children under six travel free on public transit and children under 15 travel free on Sunday and public holidays.

No matter what mode of transportation you decide to ride within Vienna, you'll need to validate your ticket (before entering the boarding area at U-Bahn stops or on board buses and trams). Remember that once a ticket has been stamped (validated) by either a machine or a railway attendant, it's valid for one trip in one direction, anywhere in the city, including transfers. If you're caught without a ticket you'll pay a hefty fine.

U-Bahn (Subway): The U-Bahn runs daily from 6am to midnight and is the fastest way to get across town or into the suburbs. It consists of five lines labeled U1 (red), U2 (purple), U3 (orange), U4 (green) and U6 (brown) - there is no U5. Stations are prominently marked with blue 'U' signs. Karlsplatz, in the heart of Innere Stadt, is the most important underground station for visitors: lines U4, U2, and U1 converge here. The U2 traces part of the Ringstrasse, the U4 goes to Schönbrunn, and the U1 stops in Stephansplatz. The U3 also stops in Stephansplatz and connects with the Westbahnhof station.

Tram (Streetcar): Riding the red and white trams (strassenbahn) is a practical way to get around as well as a great way to see the city. Tram stops are well marked and each line bears a number or letter. Lines 1 and 2 will bring you to all the major sights on the Ringstrasse. Line D skirts the outer Ring and goes to the Südbahnhof, and line 18 goes between the Westbahnhof and the Südbahnhof. Trams run daily.

Bus: Buses crisscross Vienna in all directions and operate daily, including at night (but with more limited service). Night buses (marked 'N') leave every 10 to 30 minutes from Schwedenplatz. Normal tickets, which can be purchased from the driver, are valid aboard these late night buses (no extra charge).

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis are easy to find within the city center (taxi stands are marked by signs), but be warned that fares can quickly add up. The basic fare is 2.50€ plus 1.20€ per kilometer. There are extra charges of 1€ for luggage in the trunk. For night rides after 11pm and for trips on Sunday and holidays, there is a surcharge of 1€. There is an additional charge of 2€ for taxis ordered by phone. For trips outside the Vienna area, the fare should be agreed upon with the driver in advance and a 10% tip is the norm.

I will have a car in Vienna, where can I park?

We do not recommend driving a car in Vienna. The city is a maze of congested one-way streets, parking is extremely limited - almost to the point of being nonexistent; and public transportation is too convenient to endure the hassle of driving. If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

If you must have a car while in the city then your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee), but your best bet is one of the public garages. Parking garages are scattered throughout the city and most of them charge between 3.60€ and 6€ per hour. Some convenient 24 hour garages within the 1st District include Garage Am Hof, Parkgarage Freyung and Tiefgarage Kärntnerstrasse.

When curbside parking is available at all, it's within one of the city's 'blue zones' and is usually restricted to 90 minutes or less from 8am to 6pm. If you find an available spot within a blue zone, you'll need to display a kurzpark scheine (short-term parking voucher) on the dashboard of your car. They're sold at branch offices of Vienna Public Transport Information Center and within tobacco/news shops. Be warned that honking car horns is forbidden everywhere in the city and towing of illegally parked cars is not an uncommon sight here.

Is Vienna a walking city?

Vienna is a city to explore and discover on foot. The Innere Stadt or1st District (bounded by the Ringstrasse) is the heart of Vienna and holds the vast majority of sightseeing attractions. Visitors spend most of their time here, and many of Vienna's hotels and restaurants are conveniently located in or just outside the 1st District. Furthermore, many of the streets in this revered area are pedestrian malls, where cars have been prohibited. Above all, look up as you explore Vienna as some of the most fascinating architectural and ornamental details are on upper levels or atop the city's buildings.

Is Vienna a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Austria is a very safe country in which to travel. No particular caution is needed other than what a careful person would maintain anywhere. If anything, be careful of petty crime like pickpockets, who tend to target tourists.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Austria is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

I don't speak German. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-German dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When and where can I see the Vienna Boys Choir?

A foundation charter issued by Maximilian I in 1498 called the first dozen boys to the imperial court as members of the newly formed court music band. Regarded as Austria's 'singing ambassadors,' the Vienna Boys' Choir is one of the oldest boys' choirs in the world. For nearly 500 years it has been an enduring symbol of Austria. A number of famous musicians have emerged from its ranks, including Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert.

Every Sunday the Vienna Boys' Choir sings solemn mass in Vienna's Hofburg chapel, continuing a tradition unbroken since 1498. They also present their latest repertoire during the 'Friday Afternoons' at MuTh - their new concert hall in the Augarten.

When and where can I see an opera or attend a Viennese ball?

Music is at the heart of Vienna's cultural life. Vienna is the home of four major symphony orchestras, including the world-acclaimed Vienna Symphony and the Vienna Philharmonic. Reservations and information for the Weiner Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera), Volksoper, Burgtheater (National Theater) and Akademietheater can be obtained by contacting Österreichische Bundestheater (Austrian Federal Theaters), the office that coordinates reservations and information for all four state theaters (tel. 01/5144-42959). The major season is September to June, with more limited presentations in summer.

The biggest complaint among music lovers in Vienna is about the lack of available tickets to many highly desirable musical performances since many tickets are issued to subscribers before the box office opens. For all four theaters, box-office sales are made only 1 month before each performance at the Bundestheaterkasse, Goethegasse 1 (tel. 01/51-44-40). Alternatively, you can consult a reputable ticket broker (surcharges will apply) such as Liener Brünn (tel. 01/533-09-61), which might make tickets available months in advance or as little as a few hours before the anticipated event. As a final resort, remember that the concierges of virtually every upscale hotel in Vienna have sophisticated tricks for acquiring hard-to-come-by tickets. (A gratuity of at least 10€ will work wonders and will be expected anyway for the effort this task will entail. You'll pay a hefty surcharge as well).

Special Note: Many people dress well for concerts and theaters. For especially festive occasions such as opera premieres, receptions and balls, tails or dinner jackets and evening dresses still prevail. Younger people and visitors, however, no longer adhere to these customs. If you want to dress up, you can rent evening wear (as well as carnival costumes) from several places. Consult the telephone directory classified section under 'Kleiderleihanstalten.'

I want to visit Vienna during the Holidays. When are the Christmas Markets open?

From mid-November to Christmas, Vienna's prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets (Christkindlmarkt). The aromas of candied fruits, Christmas baked goods and other delicacies like Christmas punch and roasted chestnuts wafting around creates an atmosphere of nostalgia and romance along with concerts, nativity displays, festively adorned trees and pony rides.

The Christmas Markets in Vienna are truly an age-old tradition; the forerunners of the present day events date back to the Middle Ages. Nowadays, over 20 official Advent Markets sell a vast array of seasonal gifts, handcrafted goods and mouth-watering treats from small wooden market stalls. Classics include the Christmas market in front of City Hall, the traditional Viennese Christmas market on Freyung (more popular with locals rather than tourists), and the markets at Spittelberg, Am Hof and in front of the church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche). There are also popular Christmas markets in front of the Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere Palace.

Where can I rent a bicycle in Vienna?

Vienna has more than 155 miles of marked bicycle paths within the city limits. You can take bicycles on specially marked U-Bahn cars for free, Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm and 6:30pm to midnight, during which time you'll pay half the full ticket price to transport a bike. On weekends in July and August, bicycles are carried free from 9am to midnight.

Rental stores are plentiful at the Prater park and along the banks of the Danube Canal, which is the favorite bike route for most Viennese. One of the best bike rental shops is Pedal Power, Ausstellungsstrasse 3 (tel. 01/729-7234), which is open March through October from 8am to 7pm. The Vienna Tourist Board can also supply a list of rental shops and more information about bike paths. Bike rentals begin at about 27€ per day.