On my way to the Hamburg Do, I had a half a day stopover in Vienna, and, on my return, another full day to walk around and experience a little of the City. The first objective upon my arrival was figuring out the best way to get into the City.
Vienna has one of the easiest to navigate public transport systems that I have used so far when traveling in Europe. With a system of buses, trains, and an underground metro, the system is seamlessly integrated and one ticket can be used for travel on them all.
FROM THE AIRPORT
For transportation to and from the city, upon the recommendation of the flight attendant, I chose to use the CAT (City Airport Train) train, an express train from the airport to Wien Mitte (City Center) because it is only a 16 minute non-stop trip. This option also proved to be quite handy when I was dealing with my lost iPhone. The CAT ticket office and machines are located to the right as you exit Customs in Terminal 2 (Arrivals) at VIE. The trains run every 30 minutes – to the minute!
If you purchase your ticket online, the cost of a CAT ticket is €11.00 for one way and €17.00 for a return ticket. You can print them online or you can download them to your Smartphone. I wasn’t aware of this and purchased my ticket at the airport office and the cost was actually €2 more for the return ticket. Tickets on the Vienna City Train (Schnellbahn) S-7 cost €4 and the trip takes 25-30 minutes with multiple stops. Information about the CAT service and tickets may be found by clicking here.
Another benefit of using the CAT Express train is that if you are flying on one of the Star Alliance airlines (such as Austrian or Lufthansa) as well as Air Berlin/Flyniki, you can check in, drop your bags, and collect your boarding pass at the CAT station at Wien Mitte. This service is available up to 75 minutes before your flight as well as the night before. I found this to be incredibly helpful and used this service for my flight on Air Berlin to Hamburg as well as my international flight home on Austrian. There is no extra fee for this service.
Also available is a combination of a CAT (return) ticket and a 24, 48, or 72 hour Vienna Transport Ticket. These can also be purchased at the airport or ahead of time. These tickets are valid from either the time that you choose if buying online… or from the moment you validate your ticket after purchase.
When you arrive at Wien Mitte and exit the CAT Train ‘terminal’ you will find yourself in a shopping mall. As you exit the mall you will find ticket offices or machines for the S-Bahn or U-Bahn. If you are staying within the city, then you want to purchase a U-Bahn ticket. Single-journey tickets can be bought on board buses and trams, but cost a little more. Tickets may also be purchased online ahead of your visit on the Wiener Linien website. Click here (you can choose English at the top of the page).
Each ticket, whether you buy a 24 (€7.10 ), 48 (€12.40) or 72 (€15.40) hour ticket, is subject to the following terms:
- Valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours from the stated date and time
- Valid on all public transport services in Vienna
- Ticket purchase possible a maximum of 60 days before validity date
- The ticket is not transferable
Another option for tourists is the Vienna Shopping Card. This ticket costs €5.70 and is good for one day from 8a.m. until 8 p.m. and is good for use on all public transport in Vienna. And, available for seniors, is a two trip ticket for €2.60.
Tickets are also available at most Tabaks (shops selling newspapers, cigarettes etc.- easily found as each has a sign ” TABAK ” outside).
Ticket Validation and Fines:
- Tickets must be validated in the blue machines either on the platforms or on board a bus or a tram – the period of validity starts at the time stamped on the ticket. So a 24 hour ticket stamped at 10.30 on Saturday morning will be valid until 10.30 on Sunday morning, regardless of exactly when the ticket was purchased. Ticket inspections are carried out regularly, sometimes assisted by police officers. If you cannot produce a valid and correct ticket, you will have to pay a fine of €100.
- Tickets bought online are valid from the date and time you specify at the time of purchase and so don’t need validating.
Vienna also has an above ground tram system that intermingles and loops through the Ringstrasse. As I did not use it on this visit, all I can say is that I saw it, considerered it, but just decided that walking was so much more interesting.
Pretty much all of the tourist maps that you acquire either from the airport or from your hotel will have a map of the transportation system in Vienna. An online map can be found here or the Wiener Linien website will help you plot your trip options with its “Time Table Information/Route Map” tool which is found on the home page. There are also a Wiener Linein iPhone app as well as an Android app available for download to help with your travels around the City.
All in all, I found getting around Vienna to be quite easy. The first day that I was there I spent most of my time walking , but by the end of my second day I had ridden the UBahn extensively. I’ll definitely be prepared to venture out a little further on my next trip to Vienna!