Before you use a car in Vienna, it’s worth mentioning that the public transport system here is cheap, fast, efficient, reliable, and regular. Once you’re in the city, it often makes sense to switch to trams, buses, and subways.
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Tips for drivers
(This way to Hungary)
As a driver in a strange and foreign location, you’ll obviously want to familiarise yourself with local safety regulations, driving rules etc.
Check out the information in English provided by the Austrian government. Below are selected additional tips for car drivers – with explanatory photos – from a local (me).
And, in case you’re wondering, vehicles drive on the right in Austria.
Driving is one thing, parking your car quite another. You’re competing with locals who show no mercy and who’ve trained all their lives to sniff out spaces.
Almost all the city is covered by a single street parking zone, which has freed up spaces previously occupied by, for example, commuters. Finding a parking spot is easier now. But you pay for it.
Of course, many hotels have their own parking solution. Most tourist attractions don’t have an attached car park (medieval monarchs and bishops didn’t think that far ahead), but may be near a commercial alternative.
Learn about local speed limits (which aren’t always displayed on signs). Most roads within Vienna have either 30kmh or 50kmh limits.
Motorways always have speed limits. This fact may surprise people coming over the border from German autobahns, though the traffic police are no doubt more than happy to explain the difference between Austria and its neighbour.
The motorway toll
Discover how the motorway toll system works.
Most city roads are free to use, naturally, but Austria has a nationwide toll system for motorways/freeways. This requires a pre-paid toll sticker (or digital equivalent) for cars, for example.
Vienna is a big city with around 2 million inhabitants, so has a couple of freeways within the city limits, particular around the outskirts.
A little extra driving advice
Einbahn basically means one-way street (though these may have a cycle lane going in the opposite direction, so be careful).
You need to understand the Rettungsgasse concept if driving on Austria’s dual carriageways or motorways. It concerns the formation of a corridor free of vehicles between lanes for emergency service access if traffic is at (or coming to) a standstill.
Finally, get ten bonus tips to help make driving around Vienna a little pleasanter (and safer for everyone).