101 Austria Vienna

Vienna 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Vienna 101: Arriving & Getting Around
Vienna still boasts much of the grandeur from its time as the capital of the Austrian Empire. Regarded as the City of Music, it’s the world capital of classical music and the birthplace of Mozart, Schubert, and Strauss. Its history goes back 2500 years and it has played a major role in European politics over the centuries.  The city center is littered with gorgeous and imposing architecture that reflects its rich history and culture.

ARRIVING in Vienna

With a privileged geography, connections to Vienna are plenty: you can arrive by flight, international train, bus or car.


Vienna is served by the Wien-Schwechat Airport (VIE). Theoretically, Bratislava Airport (BTS) is also an option, but only if you don’t treasure your time.

Why avoid BTS? As always, it’s a matter of reliability of its connections. Since you’d need to take a bus from Bratislava Central Railway or Bus Station, it adds an unnecessary layer of uncertainty to your journey. And considering there are plenty of low-cost carriers operating from VIE (except Ryanair), it’s unlikely that you won’t find a reasonable alternative.

Now back to Vienna International Airport: getting to and from this airport is marvelously easy. There’s both an express and regular rail connections to the city center and other peripheral stations:

  • City-Airport Train (CAT): runs every 30 minutes and takes 16min to Wien-Mitte, non-stop, costing €12.00*. TIP: Save €1 each way when you purchase online.
  • S-Bahn line 7 (S7): runs every 30 minutes and takes 25min to Wien-Mitte, with several stops before and after.
  • Railjet: runs every 30 minutes and takes 15min to Wien Hauptbahnhof, non-stop.

The public transportation network includes the last two routes above. That means you only need to pay the supplement fee (around €2) if you already have a time-based ticket for the city (see Arriving & Getting Around section below).

Now you may be wondering what makes the CAT competitive. The S-Bahn and Railjet are hit-or-miss with new trains, and much of the S7 still operates with the old ones. An unbelievably missing feature is space for luggage. There’s space above the seats for hand luggage but you have nowhere to store the big ones. That means you may need to hold on to your suitcase the entire journey in the corridor while sitting. None of this justifies such a price difference but there’s one thing that does:

TIP! CAT offers City Check-In, meaning you can dispatch your suitcase(s) at Wien-Mitte from 24 hours before your flight, for selected airlines. There’s no extra charge for CAT customers. So forget having to return to your hotel to collect your bags when you have a later flight, just drop them off and enjoy your time until hopping on the train to the airport.

For the Friday night flyers out there: drop your bag off on your way to work in the morning. Then at the end of the day, go straight to the gate 😉 No need to factor in time for this.

Lastly, even though the S7 and Railjet options above are the cheapest alternatives, there are regular coach services to several points spread around the city as well, operated by Vienna Airport Lines.


OeBB Train

International trains will likely arrive at Wien Hbf (de: Hauptbahnhof; en: Vienna Central Station), connected to S1-S4 and U1 (taking you to the city center in 2-3 stops), in addition to various tram and bus lines. This station is big, but it’s well signaled, so just keep your eyes open.


You would likely arrive at VIB (Vienna International Busterminal), next to Erdberg station, served by the U3. From there, you reach the city center in under 10 minutes directly or change onto any of the subway lines.

Another important hub is the Vienna Bus Terminal Stadion Center, next to Stadion station (U2), allowing you to reach the city center in roughly 15-20 minutes.


The public transport network in Vienna is excelent! It’s operated by Wiener Linien and there is only one urban zone. With the exception of the airport (actually in another municipality), your time-based transport ticket covers everywhere you’ll visit during your stay.

The network is served by S-Bahn (suburban trains), U-Bahn (underground), Straßenbahn (trams) and buses. The tickets suggested below will cover all modes of transportation and are all within the city limits. The one exception is the S-Bahn, which requires a supplement when traveling beyond the city limits.

To keep the flexibility of using the transports as you wish, buy time-based tickets. Unless you decide and can walk everywhere, the time-based tickets are also more economical.

  • Day Ticket: valid for the day of validation until 1am of the following day and costs €5.80*. Available for purchase exclusively online, as a print-at-home or mobile-ticket (Android/iOS).
  • 24h, 48h or 72h Ticket: valid from the time of validation and cost €8.00*, €14.10* and €17.10*, respectively.
  • Weekly Ticket: valid for calendar weeks, from midnight Monday until 9am the following Monday and costs €17.10*. This is the ticket if your stay lasts 3 or more days in the same week.

TIP: All tickets, except the Day Ticket, can be purchased online, at Wiener Linien’s ticket offices, at vending machines and tobacconists around the city.

Vienna Tram Line 6

For the day of arrival from and departure to the airport:

  • if you arrive late or leave early, buy a one-way ticket from the airport to the city, or vice-versa. Price will be the same €4.20* to/from any station within the city from/to the airport, even if you need additional connections. Just specify that station when you purchase your ticket online or at the vending machine.
  • if you have free time upon arrival or departure, consider that day as one for your time-based ticket and pay the €1.80* airport supplement only.

If you believe this is still too much for your needs, you can always buy the €2.40* single ticket.

*Prices as of October 2018.

TIP: Pay attention to the monitors on the S-Bahn platforms, as you can have more than one line using the same platform!

Vienna Transport Network

See also:

10 Reasons Why Vienna Makes a Terrible City Trip

Day-Trip to Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria

Day-Trip to Melk, Lower Austria

Budapest 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Prague 101: Arriving & Getting Around

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1 Comment

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