If you come to Vienna by car, keep your fingers crossed that your hotel has decent parking arrangements. Otherwise, be afraid…be very afraid (I’m joking. Well, half-joking).
For the fine print on parking regulations, requirements and options in Vienna, see the city government’s information pages. But here are some helpful tips.
Obviously, there are many surface, multistorey and underground car parks, and these are usually well-signposted on main roads. They are often quite expensive, though.
“Park and Ride” garages attached to subway stations are the best value for money – you can park the whole day for as little as €3.40. Parking facilities attached to shopping centres may have free parking for a limited period, and some attractions away from the center have their own parking facilities. Check on a case-by-case basis.
Here’s a map of various “Park and Ride” car park locations:
Incidentally, perhaps it’s a good time to point out that the public transport system is fast, cheap, and efficient.
Where can’t you park?
Since the Viennese are trained from birth to sniff out street parking opportunities at 500m while blindfolded, anywhere empty of cars almost certainly means parking is not allowed.
Apart from the obvious places, like near bus and tram stops, near zebra crossings or where you will obstruct traffic, you also can’t park anywhere featuring this sign:
To mark the physical start of a “no parking” zone, the sign has the word “Anfang” (“start”) underneath it. The word “Ende” (“end”) underneath the sign indicates the physical end of the zone.
Often the “no parking” restriction only applies to certain times or days, which is noted on the sign (in German).
This, for example, marks the end of a “no parking” zone, but parking restrictions only apply Monday to Friday (if workdays) from 8am to 11am and from 3pm to 6pm. And lorries making deliveries are also exempt:
Tip: in some areas, a single yellow line on the kerb or roadside also indicates a no-parking area, but this warning system is not too widespread yet.
What about street parking?
Parking areas alongside roads are typically (but not always) marked in some way, usually with white lines. Like in this example:
Tip: be careful not to confuse cycle paths with street parking. As this photo shows, what looks like parking bays is actually a cycling path in a no parking zone:
Tip: also be careful not to park in front of access gates. In heavily-built up areas, innocent looking doors may actually be entrances to an inner court car park or an underground garage and must be kept clear. A big clue is a small ramp at the edge of the kerb.
Where you are allowed to park on the street, it’s free. Except in so-called “Kurzparkzonen” (short-term parking areas). And there are a lot of these Kurzparkzonen.
So how do you know you’re in a Kurzparkzone?
You don’t. That’s the difficulty.
Well, it’s not quite that bad (but close).
Normally these zones are marked clearly, much like the “no parking” zones. This sign indicates the start:
“Gebührenpflichtig” means you have to pay to park here during the indicated times: Monday to Friday (except on public holidays) from 8am to 6pm, and Saturdays (except on public holidays) from 8am to midday.
“Parkdauer 1,5 St.” means you are allowed to park in this zone for a maximum of 1.5 hours during these times. Outside of the given times, parking is free and not limited.
You might also see a blue warning sign on the road:
This sign marks the end of the Kurzparkzone:
If all zones were marked like this, parking would be a bundle of joyful clarity. But…
Various districts in Vienna have also introduced Kurzparkzones across large areas or even the entire district. These zones are marked at their perimeter, but the signs or blue road markings are very easy to miss or forget.
Once you’re inside one of these big zones, there are no further signs to indicate you’re in a Kurzparkzone. You’ll only see extra signs when different parking regulations apply, such as on busy shopping streets where the maximum parking duration may be shorter than the general rule for the area.
Fortunately, the city authorities provide clear information (including a map) in English which indicates where these broad zones are and which days and hours they apply. If you’re anywhere near the city centre, you can assume it’s a Kurzparkzone. Frankly, it’s only a matter of time before the entire city is a Kurzparkzone.
For example, districts 1 through 9 are Kurzparkzones, but only Monday to Friday, 9am to 10pm, with a maximum allowable parking duration of 2 hours.
Tip: some stretches of roadside marked as permanent no-parking zones may still be full of cars. Which might tempt you to park there. But it’s often because the area is reserved for residents with permanent parking permits (“Parkkleber”).
For example, this sign indicates no parking except for people with a parking permit for the 8th district or those with a disabled badge:
So how do you pay if you’re in a Kurzparkzone during restricted hours?
Paying – the Parkschein
Your main option is to buy, fill out and display a Parkschein (a prepaid ticket/voucher).
Paying – using your phone
You can also buy time through your mobile phone. However, you must first register with the “Handyparken” website, buy credit and then use SMS or an app to purchase a Parkschein digitally. It’s easy and convenient, but the website was all in German last time I checked.