The Vienna Pass is the city’s equivalent of the London and New York sightseeing passes you may be familiar with.
It’s like a golden ticket that gets you free entry to numerous attractions, plus other benefits. But is it worth the price? Here’s my review…
- Available online* and valid for 12 months until you first use it
- The 2/3 day passes are great for a weekend of sightseeing
- The 6-day pass is a no-brainer
- The 1-day pass only makes sense for very high-intensity sightseers
What you get
The pass has three main benefits for visitors:
- Free entry to the major tourist attractions
- Free use of the Vienna Sightseeing hop on, hop off bus
- Fast-track entry into some attractions
There are one, two, three and six-day passes, costing respectively €59, €89, €119, and €154 for adults at the time of writing. You can also add a network travel card to your pass.
Check out the official website* for up-to-date details on prices, benefits, concessions, etc..
They also come with a guidebook (you can download* a free digital version without buying the pass).
How to get a Vienna Pass
You can buy them online at the website. The pass isn’t activated until you first use it, so you don’t need to know your precise travel dates when purchasing (you have 12 months time to use your purchased pass).
Important: Day 1 is the day of activation, so don’t use it for the first time late at night – you’ll waste a day. Activate it in the morning, so you can make the most of the whole first day.
Passes purchased online can be sent to you by post or you can collect them on arrival in the city. There are two collection points: at the airport or at the service office near the state opera house. You can also buy a pass at selected outlets in Vienna (see their website for details).
This is the primary benefit – free one-time entry to dozens of city attractions.
You probably won’t have to pay for any other entrance tickets during your stay, since all the main attractions and museums are included: a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Palace, Belvedere, the Albertina, the zoo, the natural and art history museums etc.
If you’re in the city long enough, you can also use the pass to visit some of the less prominent attractions, such as the national library or two of Beethoven’s residences: the pass covers over 60 attractions in total.
What’s very nice is that the qualifying free tour of Schönbrunn Palace is actually the best and most expensive of the two tours available, which is generous. The pass also covers a short cruise along the Danube canal and a guided walking tour of the old town in the city center.
N.B. Be aware that basic entry into St.Stephan’s cathedral is free anyway – the Vienna Pass gets you into the treasury area.
Free bus tours
The Vienna Sightseeing buses run along the main sightseeing routes (surprise!) and will take you to most of the main sights that the city has to offer. Unlike with the entrance tickets, you can use the bus as often as you like.
Not every attraction lets you jump the queue with a Vienna Pass, but some of the more popular sights do. The Albertina Museum and Schönbrunn zoo are, for example, on that list and I’ve spent many (un)happy hours queuing for both of those.
It’s not a huge benefit outside peak season, but you may save time in summer or when a particularly popular exhibition is on at, for example, the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
So, is it worth it?
At €59, this is a choice only if you pick your activities very carefully. You can make it worthwhile buying one, but you would probably need to use the hop on, hop off buses and pack in several major attractions through the day.
If you are concerned about getting your money’s worth, you might prefer the cheaper 24-hour Vienna City Card: it doesn’t get you free entry to anywhere, but it’s a 24-hour network travel card with small discounts for selected entrance tickets, shops, restaurants etc.
Two and three-day passes
If you’re on a sightseeing weekend or short city break, these are very convenient. An intensive two-day itinerary might take in:
- Hop on, hop off, guided bus tour
- Schönbrunn Palace tour and zoo, plus the Giant Ferris wheel
- Hofburg Palace, Spanish Riding School and the Albertina
That’s over €110 already in ticket costs, so you’re saving more than €20 even without the convenience.
If, however, you’re likely to spend more of your time admiring buildings from the outside only, then this is probably not for you.
This is a no brainer if you’re here for longer. You’re paying under €26 a day in total, so you’d have to work quite hard not to get your money’s worth and more out of it.