[German: Der Vienna Pass – zahlt er sich aus?]
The Vienna Pass is an all-in ticket that gets you free entry into numerous attractions, plus other benefits. But is it worth the cost? Here’s my review…
- Main advantages are saving money and jumping many queues
- The 2 and 3 day passes are great for a weekend of heavy sightseeing
- The 6 day pass is an easy choice
- The 1 day pass only really makes sense for very high-intensity sightseers or those who place a big premium on convenience
- See also: Overview of city passes
What you get
(Schönbrunn Palace – one of many attractions included in the Vienna Pass)
The Vienna Pass has three main benefits for visitors:
- Free one-time entry to the major tourist attractions
- Fast-track entry into some attractions
- Free use of the Vienna Sightseeing hop on, hop off bus
There are one, two, three and six-day Vienna Passes and each also comes with a guidebook.
Vienna Pass benefit 1: Free entry
(Browse centuries of art at the Kunsthistorisches Museum)
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 nearly all the main attractions and museums are included: for example, a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Palace, the Albertina, the zoo, etc.
This means potential savings over buying individual tickets, but the other bonus is flexibility.
You can just drop into a sight or museum to grab a quick look without feeling you have to stay longer to justify the entrance fee. And you can change plans without worrying about wasting money already spent on advanced tickets.
So, for example, you might nip into Belvedere just to see Klimt’s The Kiss or pop into the zoo just to see the Giant Pandas (they’re close to the main entrance, if you were wondering).
If you’re in the city long enough, use the Vienna Pass to visit some of the less prominent attractions, such as one of Beethoven’s residences: the pass covers over 60 attractions in total.
What’s particularly nice is that the qualifying free tour of Schönbrunn Palace is actually the best and most expensive of the two tours available. And the pass also covers numerous other paid attractions within the Schönbrunn complex.
Vienna Pass benefit 2: Fast-track entry
(Skip the queues for Vienna’s world-famous zoo)
Not every attraction lets you jump the queue with a Vienna Pass, but some of the more popular sights do.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum, Belvedere, the Albertina and Schönbrunn Zoo are, for example, on the list and I’ve spent many (un)happy hours queuing for all of those.
It’s not a huge benefit outside peak season, to be honest, but you’ll save time in summer or when, say, a particularly popular exhibition is on.
At Belvedere, for example, you don’t need to worry about getting a time slot for the Upper Belvedere galleries (where Klimt’s The Kiss is), as a Vienna Pass lets you go in at a time of your own choosing.
Vienna Pass benefit 3: Free tours
(Take a boat ride along the Donaukanal)
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 one-time-only entrance tickets, you can use the bus as often as you like.
The Vienna Pass also usually includes some one-time tours, like a short cruise along the Danube canal or a tour of the UN.
Review: is it worth it?
Two and three-day passes
If you’re on a sightseeing weekend or short city break, these are very convenient. An intensive 2-day itinerary might take in:
- One trip on the hop on, hop off, guided bus tour out to Schönbrunn Palace for a tour and the zoo, plus an early-evening twirl on the Giant Ferris wheel
- A trip around the Hofburg Palace after watching a training at the Spanish Riding School, plus a visit to the Albertina art gallery
That’s over €130 already in ticket costs, so you’re saving around 25% with a 2-day pass, plus there’s the convenience.
If, however, you’re likely to spend more of your time admiring the sights from the outside only, then this is probably not for you. Or if you only want to go into one or two places, then individual tickets* make more financial sense.
A no-brainer, if you’re here for longer. You’d have to work hard not to get your money’s worth and more out of it.
Only a choice 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.
So a one-day pass might only make sense if you value convenience highly or if you’re going to do a whistle stop tour of the city’s highlights, without spending much time in any one place.
If you’re concerned about getting your money’s worth on a day trip, 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.
How to get a Vienna Pass
You can buy your pass online, for example from an online ticket agency*. Or in person when you get to Vienna (the pass has a customer centre opposite the state opera house, for example).
The pass isn’t activated until you first use it.
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.