One of Vienna’s hop on, hop off buses is a good option if you don’t want to get to grips with the (excellent) public transport system, or if you want a guided sightseeing tour you can leave or join as you like.
- There are two main options:
- Both take you around the main sites with multilingual audio guides
- Both include various extras (e.g. a guided walking tour)
- Routes, timetables, and offers change, so check locally
- See also: Sightseeing tips
Vienna Sightseeing Bus
Unmistakably yellow and green, the Vienna Sightseeing Bus takes four different routes inside the city (at the time of writing):
- Red: this encircles the old town, taking you to, from and past key sites like the Hofburg, natural and art history museums, Rathaus, opera house etc., but also, for example, out to the Augarten museum
This should be your first-choice route, as it gives you a broad flavor of the best of Vienna. The different stops offer easy walking access to top sights, including those in the pedestrianized center.
- Yellow: this covers part of the Ring, including the museums and opera house, but also takes you out, for example, to the two main tourist attractions away from the very center: the Belvedere and Schönbrunn palaces.
A good second choice – no trip to Vienna is complete without seeing at least one of those two palaces.
- Green: the main destinations are out into the hills, through Grinzing (a leafy, noble suburb with many wine taverns) to Kahlenberg mountain.
This is recommended for warmer seasons – the views from the mountain are excellent and Vienna’s wine taverns (German: Heuriger) are a delight on summer afternoons and evenings. Most sell their own wine and offer a buffet of local specialities, including many you won’t find in normal city restaurants.
- Blue: takes you, for example, across the Danube to the UN headquarters via the Danube tower and the Prater amusement park that includes the giant ferris wheel.
A ticket covers all routes, plus a walking tour and on-board audioguide. You choose between 24, 48, and 72 hour tickets, with add-on options (like a boat ride, trip on the Ring Tram, or airport transfer).
If you buy a Vienna Pass (see my review), this includes unlimited use of all the Vienna Sightseeing bus routes, plus a ride on the Ring Tram and a boat ride.
For current details and offers, check the official website.
The Big Bus Tour
The distinctive red buses of the Big Bus Tour follow three routes (at the time of writing):
- Red: like its namesake, this takes in the area around the old town, but also extends, for example, out to the Prater, across the Danube to the UN buildings. Kind of like a combination of the red and blue routes taken by the Vienna Sightseeing buses.
This is a great option if you’re stuck for time, since you see an awful lot of Vienna in under two hours (assuming you don’t do the “hop on, hop off” thing but stay on board).
- Blue: this is the palace route, bordering the Hofburg, then out to, for example, Belvedere and Schönbrunn.
- Green: a special tour out to Hundertwasserhaus.
Basic 24 hour tickets cover the red and blue routes and a walking tour. The 48 hour option also includes the green route and a night tour. The 72 hour option adds a further bonus – a river cruise.
Certain Vienna City Card options also include a one-off 24 hr pass for the Big Bus Tour.
For all the current details and offers, check the official website.