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).
- If you’re not wedded to the idea of a car, then use taxis or the excellent public transport system
- Vienna has plenty of public garages if you’re not concerned about the cost
- Consider the Park & Ride car parks as an inexpensive option (see map below)
- Where you can park on the street, you need to pay using a Parkschein ticket if you’re in one of the many short-term parking zones (see below for details)
- Plans are afoot to simplify this parking zone system and extend it to more or less the entire city as of March 2022
- See also: Driving in Vienna
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.
Obviously, there are 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 subway stations 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 know 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. Check on a case-by-case basis.
Here’s a map of selected “Park and Ride” car park locations in Vienna, but check before you drive, as I can’t guarantee 24/7/365 accuracy:
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 not allowed.
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 this “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:
Tip: 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.
What about street parking?
Parking areas alongside roads are typically (but not always) marked in some way, usually with white lines. Like in this example:
Tip: be careful not to confuse cycle paths with street parking. As this photo shows, what looks like parking bays is actually a cycling path in a no parking zone:
Tip: also be careful not to park in front of access gates. In heavily-built up areas, 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.
Where you are allowed to park on the street, it’s free. Except in so-called “Kurzparkzonen” (short-term parking areas). And there are a lot of these Kurzparkzonen in Vienna.
So how do you know if you’re in a Kurzparkzone?
You don’t. That’s the difficulty.
Well, it’s not quite that bad (but close).
These zones may be marked clearly, much like the “no parking” zones. This sign indicates the start:
“Gebührenpflichtig” means you have to pay to park here during the indicated times: Monday to Friday (except on public holidays) from 8am to 6pm, and Saturdays (except on public holidays) from 8am to midday.
“Parkdauer 1,5 St.” means you are allowed to park in this zone for a maximum of 1.5 hours during these times. Outside of the given times, parking is free and not limited in duration.
You might also see a blue warning sign on the road indicating you’re entering a Kurzparkzone:
This sign marks the end of the Kurzparkzone:
If all such zones were marked like this, parking would be a bundle of joyful clarity. But…
Most districts in Vienna have introduced Kurzparkzonen across large areas or the entire district. These zones are marked at their perimeter, but the signs or blue road markings can be easy to miss or forget.
Once you’re inside one of these big zones, don’t expect further signs to indicate you’re in a Kurzparkzone. You’ll only see extra signs when different parking regulations apply, such as on busy shopping streets where the maximum parking duration may be shorter than the general rule for the area.
Fortunately, the city authorities provide clear information (including a map) in English which indicates where these broad zones are and which days and hours they apply.
If you’re anywhere halfway central, you can assume it’s a Kurzparkzone.
Tip: 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 permanent parking permits (“Parkkleber”).
For example, this sign indicates no parking except for people with a parking permit for the 8th district or those with a disabled badge:
So how do you pay if you’re in a Kurzparkzone during restricted hours?
Paying in a Kurzparkzone
Vienna does not have ticket machines or parking meters for the Kurzparkzonen. 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.
The future of street parking
Frankly, it’s only a matter of time before all of Vienna is a Kurzparkzone. The zones have reduced traffic and made it easier to find temporary parking spaces, so are pretty popular with most of the local population.
Areas adjacent to such zones, for example, have suffered from an influx of cars seeking free parking, which in turn encourages those areas to join the system.
Things have now reached a tipping point, and the authorities have announced plans for a simplified and harmonised Vienna-wide solution, where almost the entire city becomes one parking zone with one common set of rules and times.
The anticipated date of implementation is March 2022.