Think of the Vienna City Card as a network travel pass which also entitles you to various tourist discounts. Should you get one? Here’s my review…
- Buy one if you’re doing a mix of shopping, travelling around & sightseeing
- Go for the Vienna Pass, instead (or in addition), if you’re visiting many paid attractions like the museums
- Purchase your City Card online*
- See also:
The card benefits
The Vienna City Card offers three main benefits: free travel, 7 days of discounts, and optional add-ons that can include sightseeing buses and airport transfer.
Choose between 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour basic travel card versions. These cost, respectively, €17, €25 and €29 at the time of writing.
Purchase your card as an app or print-at-home version. Or simply buy one when you get to the city.
City card benefit: travel
(Vienna has an excellent public transport system)
The Vienna City Card allows you to go anywhere in the Vienna city network on any of the numerous municipal tram, bus, subway or train services.
The major exceptions are therefore only the likes of the airport bus lines and other private bus, tram, and rail initiatives like the hop on hop off tours, Westbahn train service or CAT airport train.
(You can book some selected exempted services as an add-on to the basic card, though.)
This travel network covers more or less the entire city. One child aged 14 or less also travels free with your validated Vienna City Card. Note that Vienna airport is outside the city network.
Your card acts as a travel pass when you activate/validate the travel function (see the website* for details).
The moment your card begins “working” as a network travel pass, the clock starts ticking: the card remains valid for travel from then on for the period you bought, i.e. the next 24, 48 or 72 hours.
So, for example, the 24-hour pass is not a day pass but a genuine 24-hour pass. If you activate it at 4pm, it stays valid until 4pm the next day.
City card benefit: discounts
(The Graben is one of Vienna’s main shopping streets)
The entitlement to discounts starts from the date of the first day for which your Vienna City Card is activated (this doesn’t have to be the same time and date as the travel portion of the card).
You can then make use of the discounts throughout your stay in Vienna (up to a maximum of seven days).
And what are the actual discounts?
In terms of tickets for sights and museums, most offer only small discounts to cardholders.
While the card gets you just €1 off at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, for example, other destinations do include more generous reductions. For example, 25% at the Naturhistorisches Museum or 30% at Madame Tussauds.
But there’s much more to the discounts than entrance tickets.
Various concert venues, tours, city center shops, restaurants, coffee houses and more also have special offers or discounts for Vienna card holders.
Some examples at the time of writing:
- 20% off the Third Man Tour
- One-time 20% off at Café Landtmann
- 20% off Windobona indoor skydiving
City card benefit: add-ons
(The Big Bus sightseeing tour bus, one of Vienna’s two hop on hop off services)
You can purchase digital add-ons for your Vienna City Card (note offers may vary seasonally). Common examples I’ve seen at times:
- Airport transfer: for seven days from the day you activate your card, free use of these means of travel between the city and airport – CAT airport train, ÖBB Railjet (first class), S-Bahn (S7) city train, the Vienna Airport Lines buses
- A 24-hour ticket for a hop on hop off bus tour (one-time only during that seven-day period).
How to buy Vienna City Cards?
You purchase them through the online store* of the Vienna tourist authority.
Alternatively, you can also buy one in the city from, for example, the tourist information offices, many hotels, and the Vienna public transport ticket offices (or online store).
Is the Vienna City Card worth it?
(One of several coffee houses offering cardholders a discount)
So the big question: should you buy one?
Here’s what I think…
- The Vienna City Card is great for low-intensity travelers. So if you’re taking in a few sights, doing some shopping, enjoying a meal or two out.
That way you get value out of the discounts on offer.
If you take away the cost of a normal network travel card, this is how much you’re paying for access to the discounts with your Vienna City Card:
- 24 hour – €9
- 48 hour – €10.90
- 72 hour – €11.90
So it really shouldn’t be too hard to get good value out of the card, especially since the discounts apply for up to seven days.
If you’re not making use of the travel element of the Vienna City Card, though, then you probably don’t need to buy one unless you have a particular set of discounts in mind.
- If you’re doing a lot of paid attractions and tours, then something like the Vienna Pass or Vienna All-Inclusive Pass might be more suitable.
The Vienna Pass (see my review) costs significantly more, but gets you one-time free entry into, frankly, all the top attractions in the city. The Vienna All-Inclusive Pass from Go City (my review) works similarly, but has more tours and activities and fewer museums.
- If you’re walking or on a strict budget (like a student backpacker), then review the sums.
If you’re just looking around, you might want to walk (many sights are very central) and buy the occasional standard public transport ticket (just over €2 per single journey) for visiting places of interest outside the city center. The Schönbrunn palace area, for example, is best reached with the subway.