It was designed by the authorities specifically for visitors to the city. So should you get one?
- Buy one if you’re a low/medium intensity visitor, doing a mix of shopping, walking, sightseeing etc. (you can purchase your card online*)
- Go for the Vienna Pass, instead (or in addition), if you’re visiting paid attractions like the museums – it gets you free entry and has a travel pass option, too
What you get
The Vienna city card offers two main benefits: free travel and discounts, and you can choose between 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour versions. These cost, respectively, €13.90, €21.90 and €24.90.
As of April 1, 2017, you also have the option to include a 24-hour pass for the Big Bus Vienna sightseeing buses and a walking tour. The price then becomes €28, €31 and €35.
The travel pass
As a travel pass, the Vienna card begins when you validate it. You simply stamp the card in one of the machines found at all train and subway stations and inside trams and buses.
The moment you stamp your card, the clock starts ticking and the card is valid for exactly the period you bought, i.e. 24, 48 or 72 hours after stamping.
(Equally, it’s not valid for travel unless you do stamp it).
Once validated, you can use the card to go anywhere in the Vienna zone (100) on any tram, bus, subway or train. The only major exceptions are airport bus lines, the Ring Tram sightseeing service, and private rail initiatives like the Westbahn or CAT.
This 100 zone covers more or less the entire city. One child aged 14 or less also travels free with your validated card. Note that Vienna airport is outside the zone.
The basic card does not cover “hop on, hop off” tour buses: you need the more expensive version that includes a single 24-hour pass for the Big Bus service, or a Vienna Pass (which includes the Vienna Sightseeing bus service).
The entitlement to discounts actually lasts longer than the travel card.
You write the date of the first day on the card and it remains valid for discounts for that day plus 1, 2 or 3 further days, according to which card you bought.
So, for example, the 24-hour Vienna card gives you 24 hours of free travel, but two days of discounts.
And what are the actual discounts (all 200+ of them)?
In terms of tickets for sights and museums, most offer small discounts to cardholders, though it’s hard to get significant reductions for the really popular destinations (e.g. the Kunsthistorisches Museum gives you just €1 off).
But there’s much more to the discounts than this. Various concert venues, tours, city center shops, restaurants, coffee houses and more also have special offers or discounts for Vienna card holders. Some examples as of the April 1, 2017 changes:
- €10-€15 off a ride in a fiakir (open-top carriage)
- €2 off the Third Man tour
- 5%/10% at Lobmeyr crystal
- €1 off the CAT train fare to the airport
How to buy Vienna City Cards?
You purchase them through the online store* of the Vienna tourist authority (see their ad below):
Alternatively, you can also buy one in the city from the tourist information offices, many hotels, and public transport ticket offices. The card comes with a booklet of instructions and information on your discount entitlements.
Is it worth it?
So the big question – should you buy one?
Here’s what I think…
The Vienna card is great if you’re a low- to medium-intensity traveler. So if you’re taking in a few sights, doing some shopping, enjoying a meal or two out.
That way you get value out of the discounts on offer. If you take away the cost of a normal network travel card, this is how much you’re paying for access to the discounts with the basic cards:
- 24 hour – €6.30 for two days
- 48 hour – €8.60 for three days
- 72 hour – €8.40 for four days
So it really shouldn’t be too hard to get good value out of the card.
If you’re doing a lot of sightseeing, then the Vienna Pass with Travel* might be more suitable. It costs more, but gets you free entry into nearly all the top attractions in the city.
If you’re on a very strict budget (like a student backpacker), then do the sums. If you’re just looking around, you might want to walk (many sights are very central) and buy the occasional standard ticket (just over €2 per single journey) for reaching places of interest outside the city center.