If you come to Vienna by car, keep your fingers crossed that your hotel has decent parking arrangements. Otherwise, be afraid…be very afraid (I’m joking. Mostly).
- Vienna has plenty of public garages (can be costly)
- Consider the many Park & Ride car parks (inexpensive)
- Where you can park on the street, you need to pay using a Parkschein ticket if you’re in the short-term parking zone (almost everywhere)
- If you’re not wedded to the idea of a car, then use taxis or the excellent public transport system
- See also:
For the fine print on parking regulations, requirements and options in Vienna, see the city government’s information pages. But here are some helpful local tips.
Where can’t you park?
Since the Viennese are trained from birth to sniff out street parking opportunities at 500m while blindfolded, anywhere empty of cars almost certainly means parking is forbidden.
Apart from the obvious places, like near bus and tram stops, near zebra crossings or where you’ll obstruct traffic, you also can’t park anywhere featuring the conventional “no parking” sign:
To mark the physical start of a “no parking” zone, the sign has the word “Anfang” (“start”) underneath it. The word “Ende” (“end”) underneath the sign indicates the physical end of the zone.
Often the “no parking” restriction only applies to certain times or days, which is noted on the sign (in German).
This, for example, marks the end of a “no parking” zone, but parking restrictions only apply Monday to Friday (if workdays) from 8am to 11am and from 3pm to 6pm. And lorries making deliveries are also exempt:
In some areas, a single yellow line on the kerb or roadside also indicates a no-parking area, but this warning system is not too widespread yet.
Some stretches of roadside marked as permanent no-parking zones may still be full of cars. Which might tempt you to park there. But it’s often because the area is reserved for residents with long-term parking permits.
What about street parking?
Parking areas alongside roads are typically (but not always) marked in some way, often with white lines. Like in this example:
Even so, be careful not to park in front of access gates when using leaving your car in these marked areas.
In heavily-built up locations, innocent looking doors may actually be entrances to an inner court car park or an underground garage and must be kept clear. A big clue is a small ramp at the edge of the kerb.
Do you have to pay for street parking?
Well, almost the entire city is now a declared short-term paid parking zone (Kurzparkzone), which means the following rules apply Monday to Friday (excepting on public holidays) from 9am to 10pm when parking on a public road:
- You can only park for a maximum of two hours (selected shopping streets may have a shorter allowed parking duration)
- You need to pay a street parking fee
Outside of those times, street parking is free and not limited in duration.
So how do you pay if you’re in a Kurzparkzone during restricted hours?
Paying for street parking
Vienna has no ticket machines or parking meters for the Kurzparkzone. Instead, you have two payment options:
- Buy, fill out and display a Parkschein (a prepaid ticket/voucher)
- Buy time through your mobile phone. You must first register with the Handyparken website, buy credit, and then use SMS or an app to purchase a Parkschein digitally
The second option is easy and convenient, but the website was all in German last time I checked. So the first option may be better for you as a visitor.
What about car parks?
Obviously, Vienna has many surface, multistorey and underground car parks, and these are usually well-signposted on main roads. They may be quite expensive, though.
“Park and Ride” garages attached to some subway stations, outlying railway stations, and similar offer the best value for money: you can park the whole day for as little as €3.60.
So you may want to park up the car, then take in the sights using public transport. The trams, trains, subways and buses are cheap to use, frequent, and efficient.
The P&R system works well but just be careful you get the right ticket.
For example, I heard of one example where if the car park is full, then you can get a transit ticket (Durchfahrtsticket) at the gate, which allows you to drive in and out again without paying (saving you reversing out the entrance).
BUT…if you stay inside longer than a few minutes with that Durchfahrtsticket (for example if you find a space after all and park up for the day), then you pay a penalty on leaving (an extra €26.40 in one case I heard of).
Car parks attached to shopping centres may have free parking for a limited period, and some tourist attractions away from the center have their own parking facilities (Schönbrunn palace, for example, has a dedicated car park). Check on a case-by-case basis.