Vienna doesn’t have quite the reputation of an Amsterdam, but cycling does enjoy an elevated status in the city. Having the Green party in the city’s coalition government for most of the last decade has certainly helped.
- Over 1400km of cycling routes and an established cycling tradition
- Citybike system includes over 120 bike rental stations (first hour is free)
- New and expanded bike-sharing system due in April 2022
- Danube, Donaukanal, and Ring boulevard are popular routes
- See also: Travel in Vienna | Argus Bike Festival
On your bike
The Viennese certainly like their bicycles. In 2020, for example, locals used one for around 9% of their journeys. Bike-friendly mobility policies and continuous expansion of the cycle route network has done much to encourage this enthusiasm for two wheels.
As of early 2021, the city’s cycling network covered over 1400km of routes with more than 49,000 bicycle parking spaces.
Not all of those routes are dedicated cycle paths, of course. Some are shared with pedestrians or cycle lanes on roads, for example.
The major cycling routes appear on a free map distributed in museums and similar, but the city also provides an online map of the network. Zoom in for details:
Popular routes include:
- Along the Danube: the Austrian part of the Danube bike trail actually starts at the German border and continues all the way through Vienna and on toward Slovakia. Most of that is flat and traffic free.
- The Ringstrassen: cycle and pedestrian routes flank the giant boulevard that encircles the old town and takes you past many of Vienna’s top museums and other landmarks.
- Along the Donaukanal: the arm of the Danube that breaks off to flow close to the city centre. A dedicated bike route runs along the southern bank.
On their last visit, my cycling enthusiast friends rented bikes to go out to the outlying hills from the centre and visit the vineyards and Heuriger not so easily accessed by the tram and subway network.
On the subject of rental, Vienna has various organisations happy to loan you a bike for a small fee, and Google can help you find one. But you’ll likely soon stumble across the Citybike system, which has around 1500 bikes and over 120 bike stations throughout the city, including many in areas popular with tourists.
Citybike works particularly well for a quick cycle ride, since the first hour of a rental is always free.
How it works:
- You register either online or at any station
- If you don’t have an Austrian bank account or Austrian debit card, then you can use a credit card (or a Citybike Tourist Card available from the Hauptbahnhof main railway station). Note that you need a different credit or tourist card for each bike you hire simultaneously
- Once a card is registered, you use it to rent a bike at any of the automated Citybike stations
- Return the bike to any station to end the rental period
After the first free hour, the next hour costs (at the time of writing) €1, the third hour €2 and it’s €4 for each hour started thereafter. So a four-hour hire costs €7.
Once you return your bike to a station, you can hire it out again to take advantage of the free hour but only after a 15 minute break.
See the official website for up-to-date prices and all details.
This system will be changing in April 2022 with a new bike-sharing model where you rent via a smartphone app (or through a telephone call). Expect more stations, more bikes and new pricing. More details nearer the time.
Citybike has bike stations in many popular locations, including the main railway stations and many subway station. For example:
- Around 10 sites along the Ring boulevard mentioned above
- One just off Stephansplatz close to the cathedral in the very centre
- Two close to the main entrance to Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
- Two close to Belvedere
- Two close to the entrance to the Prater park and giant Ferris wheel
- Half a dozen close to the main route of the Danube through Vienna
- A dozen or so around the central parts of the Donaukanal
Traffic regulations and public transport
Finally, a bit of small print to ensure a safe and legal bike ride. The city and transport authorities provide information in English with the relevant regulations. Try:
- Stadt Wien (the city government): the rules of the road that apply particularly to cyclists. For example, children under 12 must wear a helmet.
- ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways): All you need to know about taking bicycles on regional and long-distance trains.
- Wiener Linien (municipal transport authority): Ditto, but for the subway. You can’t take your bike on Vienna’s trams or buses, unfortunately.