[German: Der Vienna Pass – zahlt er sich aus?]
The Vienna Pass is like a golden 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
- Available online* and valid for 12 months until you first use it
- The 2 and 3 day passes are great for a weekend of 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 premium on convenience
Important: many attractions and services covered by the Vienna Pass and mentioned in this review will close temporarily in November (and until at least December 6th) due to COVID measures. Do check* before buying a pass.
What you get
(Schönbrunn Palace – one of many attractions included in the Vienna Pass)
The Vienna Pass has four 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
- Option to add a network travel card, too
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.
You can just drop into a sight or museum to grab a quick look without feeling you have to stay longer to justify money spent on an entrance ticket. So, for example, you can nip into Belvedere just to see Klimt’s The Kiss or pop into the zoo just to see the Giant Pandas.
If you’re in the city long enough, use the Vienna Pass to visit some of the less prominent attractions, such as the national library or 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, which is generous.
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 that list and I’ve spent many (un)happy hours queuing for all of those.
It’s not a huge benefit outside peak season, but you will save time in summer or when 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 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 free ride on the Vienna ring tram)
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.
The Vienna Pass also includes some one-time tours: a short cruise along the Danube canal, a guided walking tour of the old town in the city centre, and a ride on the sightseeing tram.
Vienna Pass benefit 4: travel pass add-on
More of a convenience than an exclusive benefit. When you buy your pass, you can add a standard 24, 48 or 72 hour network travel card to it.
Vienna’s public transport system (subway, trams, and buses) is excellent: clean, fast, and frequent.
Review: is it worth it?
Current prices for adult Vienna Passes at the time of writing are:
- One-day €79
- Two-day €99
- Three-day €129
- Six-day €159
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 money with a 2-day pass, plus there’s 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.
A no-brainer, if you’re here for longer. You’re paying under €27 a day in total, so you’d have to work hard not to get your money’s worth and more out of it.
This is 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 probably only makes 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 (any) 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.
Check out the official website* for the Vienna Pass for up-to-date details on prices, benefits, etc..
How to get a Vienna Pass
You can buy your pass online at the above website. It isn’t activated, though, 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, downloaded to your smartphone, or collected in person on arrival in the city. There’s a customer service centre opposite the state opera house, for example.