Wien in Austria
Grandiose Vienna was the showpiece of the all-conquering Habsburg Dynasty. Monumental edifices line the city centre, world-class museums burst with treasures, white stallions strut their way down mirrored halls, and renowned orchestras and angelic choirboys perform in lavish concert halls. Read more...
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Grandiose Vienna was the showpiece of the all-conquering Habsburg Dynasty. Monumental edifices line the city centre, world-class museums burst with treasures, white stallions strut their way down mirrored halls, and renowned orchestras and angelic choirboys perform in lavish concert halls.
The Vienna International Airport (; ) is actually located in the suburb of Schwechat. The airport Wien-Schwechat is the home base of the Flagcarrier Austrian and the budget airline Fly Niki. Most European airlines and a significant number of international airlines have direct connections to Vienna.
Nevertheless, sometimes it is cheaper to fly to a nearby city and connect by train or bus. Ryanair flies to Linz (1.5-2 hours by train), Graz (2.5 hours by train) and Brno () and Sky Europe flies to Bratislava (1.5 hours by bus and 8 euros book at Ryan airlines destinations page). By March 25, 2007, SkyEurope will also serve Vienna International Airport from which the company will operate a network of 16 European routes.
There are three options by public transport to travel to/from the city centre of Vienna.Taxi
As a point of reference, a taxi ride between the airport and the western part of the city centre (District 7) costs around EUR 40 (including extras and tip). A taxi from the Rennweg S-Bahn station (where the S-Bahn to the airport departs) to the airport costs around 25 EUR. Taxi prices are negotiable before you climb in! If your destination is north or west of the city centre a pre-booked taxi might be much cheaper. For example, Airport Service Wienhttp://www.airportservice.at/airport.htm offers a flat rate of 27 Euros (max. 3 persons in car) to/from any destination address within Vienna.City Airport Train
The City Airport Train (CAT takes you directly from the airport to the city centre in 16 minutes. The return ticket costs €16 or €9 one way. The CAT is used mainly by business travellers (or those lured by advertising into believing that there are no alternatives) and is useful if you are in a great hurry. The CAT is owned by the airport (not by the Austrian Federal Railways) and is heavily advertised in Austrian Airlines cabin announcements upon landing, in terminal transfer buses and in the airport building itself.
When you leave Vienna by plane, and if you use Star Alliance Flights, Air Berlin or Fly Niki, your baggage can be checked in at the city center, which leaves you baggage-free and more time in Vienna; the price is still high for saving 11 minutes. [Note: If you are flying to the United States, due to extra security measures, you cannot check-in your luggage at the City Center.]S-Bahn (local commuter train)
Although no longer advertised by the airport management (which prefers to ignore the S-Bahn and promote its overpriced CAT instead), the normal S-Bahn ( Schnellbahn ) (fast regional train) S7 (or S2) is also direct, merely 10 minutes slower than the CAT and costs just a third: €6, 80 return (or €3, 40 one way) if bought in advance (and only €3 if you have the Wien card), stopping at Wien Mitte, Wien Nord, and Wien Handelskai among others. If you already have a U-Bahn day pass, you only need to add a “Aussenzonen” (outer zone) ticket for 1, 70 Euro (has to be bought in advance). Do stamp the ticket to validate it before getting on the S-Bahn, as punching machines are not installed inside the train. Note that you will need to buy a 2-zone ticket (or two 1-zone tickets) to total €3, 40 each way to and from the airport.
To reach the S-Bahn at the airport, follow the CAT signs for all but the final 50 meters: the S-Bahn and the CAT leave from the same underground railway station, but from different platforms. For more information check out http://www.wien.info/article.asp?IDArticle=10263.
Once you have your 2-zone ticket, you can travel from the airport to any Viennese destination (free transfer for one hour; you don't need to buy further tickets for Viennese bus, subway or tram lines).Bus
There are two direct lines going every 30 minutes from the airport to Vienna. One bus line goes to Morzinplatz next to Schwedenplatz very close to the cemter of the city. At Schwedenplatz you have two subway lines (U4 and U1) as well as busses and trams. In about 5 minutes walk, you are at St. Stephan´s Cathedral, the very center of Vienna. The trip costs €6 and takes about 20 minutes. The other bus line goes to the main railway stations. The bus trip to Südbahnhof (Southern Rail Station) or Westbahnhof (Western Rail Station) costs €6 and takes about half an hour. Usually a bus leaves the airport or the stations every 30 minutes. Costs : Single ride-6 Euro, Round trip-11 Euro. You buy the ticket from the bus driver.
Vienna is a railroad hub, easily accessible from other major European cities. Overnight trains arrive from places like Amsterdam, Strasbourg, Bucharest, Sofia, Belgrade, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Moscow, Kiev, Milan, Warsaw, Cracow, Prague, Cheb, Rijeka, Koper, Rome and Venice. The day trains from Prague take less than 5 hours, the night train takes less than 8 hours. From Budapest, the train ride is 2.5 hours.
There are several cheap train offers to and from Vienna, mainly to destinations in Germany and Italy, but also Strasbourg and some other destinations. These all cost €29 for a one-way seater, €39 for a couchette, or €59 for a sleeper. You have to book quite a bit in advance (to Berlin and Hamburg about two months in advance, especially in summer), but it is definitely worth the effort as it takes you right to the center of a city early in the morning (unlike taking the plane)
There is a special discounted round-trip ticket you can buy if traveling from Budapest called a kirandulójegy or excursion ticket in English. For €29 you can buy a round trip ticket between Budapest and Vienna good for 4 days that will also cover all your local transportation within Zone 100. Since a 3-day transport pass usually costs €12 you're basically getting a round trip ticket for €17! This is an excellent deal especially if you're planning on going back to Budapest.
NOTE: There are 2 major train stations, Westbahnhof (West Station) and Südbahnhof (South Station). Südbahnhof does not connect directly to the metro system. The nearest metro station is outside of the station about 400m away. Look for Südtiroler Platz. Many trains from Germany arrive at the Westbahnhof. Trains to Bratislava (only an hour away) usually depart from the Südbahnhof, but occasionally from the Westbahnhof.
Most Austrian highways (Autobahn) terminate/originate in Vienna.
Unlike Germany, there is a strictly enforced speed limit of 130 km/h on highways (80 km/h on highway sections in Vienna). Within towns it is 50 km/h, and on major roads it is 100 km/h.
Also a Highway Toll Sticker (Vignette) is a must! Not having one can be really expensive. Usually they can be purchased at petrol (gas) stations.
Drivers in Austria are also required by law to carry certain safety equipment. This includes a reflective vest, first aid kit and traffic warning trianglehttp://www.aboutvienna.org/livinginvienna/getting_around.htm
Parking anywhere within the Gürtel (centre-districts 1-9) and in specially marked areas is restricted to 120 minutes (between 9 and 22 hours, Monday to Friday) and subject to a fee of €1, 20 per hour unless you have a resident permit. Payment is made by marking the time of arrival on a ticket (Parkschein) which can be bought at tobacco shops. Therefore, if you wish to leave your car in the central districts for the period of your stay, you cannot simply park it on the street. You must either book a hotel that offers parking or leave it at a commercial car park (Parkhaus, Parkgarage). These can be very expensive (for instance, €32 per day in the Parkgarage Freyung).
A cheaper alternative is park and ride, normally available at U Bahn stations in the city periphery, for example at U3 Erdberg station (€ 2, 70 per day).
Avoid the A23 Südosttangente at rush hour. Traffic jams are almost guaranteed there.
Eurolines is a relatively cheap way to reach Vienna from major European cities, however it is unlikely to be cheaper than a Discount airlines in Europe|discount airline for longer distances, such as London. Buses usually stop at the subway station Erdberg (line U3).
Riverboats on the Danube include connections with Bratislava and Budapest, but it's of little value-unless you just love going on (slow and relatively expensive) riverboats. There is a fast catamaran service to Bratislava http://www.twincityliner.com/english/index.shtml for 25 euros.
Vienna has a good public transport systemhttp://www.wien.gv.at/english/transportation/publictrans.htm, which includes commuter rail, underground, trams (trolleys), and buses. The subway system is very efficient and will take you to within a few minutes' walk of anywhere you are likely to want to visit.
Within Vienna itself, you can get a single trip ticket for any of these for €1.70 (€0.9 for children and dogs) or a 24-hour ticket for €5.70, a three days pass is €13.60. A one-person Wochenkarte (a week ticket covering all means of transport) stands at €14 for lines within zone 100 (=whole Vienna), but is fixed for the Monday to Sunday period. A one-month-pass is €49.50 and is valid from the first day of the month through the second day of the following month.
You can buy all kinds of tickets at machines or from counters in or near S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations and in the small shops selling tobacco and newspapers (Trafik). In trams and buses you can only buy single tickets, which are more expensive (€2.20 full fare, €1.10 for children). Stamp your ticket at the start of its first use (there are stamping machines on the buses and trams, and near the entrances to the stations). You can use one ticket to go in one direction on as many lines as you like, for as long as it takes you to get there. You have to buy another ticket if you stop and get out, or if you want to go back in the direction from which you came. Payment is by the honour system; normally you don't have to show the ticket or stamp it again when you board, but occasionally inspectors check for valid tickets. If you don't have one, it's an instant €60 fine (plus the fare you were supposed to have paid).
If you're staying for a few days and hope to do lots of sight-seeing or shopping, the Vienna Card (Wien Karte)http://www.wienkarte.at/EN/?l=e is a good deal. It costs €18.50 and is good for 72 hours of unlimited public transit within Vienna. The card also gets you discounts (typically €1 or €2 at the major museums and art galleries) to many attractions and shops. You can buy it at the airport, hotels, and underground stops. Other options for longer stays or multiple parties include weekly and monthly passes, and the 8 person-day card (i.e. good for 1 person for 8 days, 2 people for 4 days, or 4 people for 2 days).
The 8 person-day card (8-Tage-Karte) for €27.20 gives 8 non-consecutive days of unlimited travel on U-Bahn and trams until 1:00AM (just after midnight). There are 8 blank lines on the Karte (ticket). Fold the ticket to the desired blank line starting with blank line numbered 1. The ticket can be shared by people traveling together. Punch one line per person per day. Trams have a punch machine inside. The S-Bahn and U-Bahn have a punch machine at the entrance. You can travel to the Flughafen (airport) on the S-Bahn using this ticket with an additional €1.70 Außenzonen (outer zone) ticket.
Rail trips to the outskirts of Vienna may require additional fare. For example, a trip to or from the airport on the S7 line is a two-zone ride, requiring either a €3.40 advance purchase, or a single zone (€1.70) ticket supplement to one of the timed-use Vienna tickets.
Because Vienna is one of those cities that never sleeps, a dense network of night buses is available for those who have a rather nocturnal approach to tourism. Since 2002, regular tickets may be used on these buses. Most terminate at Kärntner Ring, Oper, which allows for easy interchange. Intervals are usually 30 minutes, with some busier lines (especially on friday and saturday night) going every 15 minutes. In weekend nights you can also use the S-Bahn between Meidling and Floridsdorf which has a 20 minute interval.
There are five U-Bahn (subway) lines – U1, U2, U3, U4 und U6. The U5 line was never built for whatever reasons.
;U1 (South-North direction) : Reumannplatz-Keplerplatz-Südtirolerplatz-Taubstummengasse-Karlsplatz-Stephansplatz-Schwedenplatz-Nestroyplatz-Praterstern-Vorgartenstraße-Donauinsel-Kaisermühlen (Vienna International Centre)-Alte Donau-Kagran-Kagraner Platz-Rennbahnweg-Aderklaaer Straße-Großfeldsiedlung-Leopoldau.
;U2 (South-North direction) : Karlsplatz-Museumsquartier-Volkstheater-Rathaus-Schottentor-Schottenring-Taborstraße-Praterstern-Messe Prater-Krieau-Stadion
;U3 (West-East direction) : Ottakring-Kendlerstraße-Hütteldorfer Straße-Johnstraße-Schweglerstraße-Westbahnhof-Zieglergasse-Neubaugasse-Volkstheater-Herrengasse-Stephansplatz-Stubentor-Landstraße (Wien Mitte)-Rochusgasse-Kardinal-Nagl-Platz-Schlachthausgasse-Erdberg-Gasometer-Zippererstraße-Enkplatz-Simmering.
;U4 (Southwest-North direction) : Hütteldorf-Ober Sankt Veit-Unter Sankt Veit-Braunschweiggasse-Hietzing (Tierpark)-Schönbrunn-Meidling Hauptstraße-Längenfeldgasse-Margaretengürtel-Pilgramgasse-Kettenbrückengasse-Karlsplatz-Stadtpark-Landstraße (Wien Mitte)-Schwedenplatz-Schottenring-Roßauer Lände-Friedensbrücke-Spittelau-Heiligenstadt.
;U6 (South-North direction) : Siebenhirten-Perfektastraße-Erlaaer Straße-Alterlaa-Am Schöpfwerk-Tscherttegasse-Meidling-Philadelphiabrücke-Niederhofstraße-Längenfeldgasse-Gumpendorfer Straße-Westbahnhof-Burgasse–Stadthalle-Thaliastraße-Josefstädter Straße-Alser Straße-Michelbeuern–Allg. Krankenhaus-Währinger Straße–Volksoper-Nußdorfer Straße-Spittelau.
Walking can also be very pleasant. The inner Ring is quite compact, with lots of pleasant cobblestoned and paved streets, and can be crossed in about 20 minutes.
Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes as this is the most common way of getting around.
Cycling is another popular option for travelling within Vienna, as there are many bicycle paths and lanes along major streets, in parks, and by the rivers. Vienna's compact size makes cycling attractive. On a bicycle you can reach most places of interest within half an hour.
If your destination is located in the outer suburbs, you may consider taking your bike on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn (except in rush hour!). A company called PedalPower offers guided bicycle tours, or bicycle rental deliveries to your hotel (or you can pick them up at the Prater for a discount).CityBike http://www.citybikewien.at: The city also offers free or low-cost short-term CityBike rentals at various fixed locations near the central city.You need a Creditcard to rent a bike or get a Touristcard for €2 a day. You can sign up to the CityBike service at any CityBike station or more conveniently online. The first hour is free, the second one costs €1, registration costs €1 but counts as credit for the first payment you have to make. If you interrupt your trip for longer than 15 minutes the following rental will be counted as a new first hour.
Avoid driving a car within the central ring if possible. While cars are allowed on many of the streets there, the streets are narrow and mostly one-way, and can be confusing for a visitor, and parking is extremely limited (and restricted during the day). Due to the comprehensiveness of the transit system, you most likely will not need a car within Vienna, except for excursions elsewhere.
Furthermore, it might be a good idea to leave your car at home during rush hours. Vienna's streets can become a little clogged in the mornings and early evenings and the drivers are not really known for being especially polite and friendly.
Pedestrians have the right of way in crossing all roads at a crosswalk where there is no pedestrian signal present. If there is such a pedestrian crossing on an otherwise straight section of the road, there will be a warning sign-you are required to yield to any pedestrian on this crossing! Austrians accustomed to experienced local drivers will step out with little thought and force you to stop, so slow down here and be careful! When driving in a neighborhood this right of way to pedestrians is an understood rule at every intersection, although pedestrians will be more careful before they step out. Again, be on the lookout for this-if you see a pedestrian waiting to cross, you should stop at the intersection for him/her.
When to go
Vienna is one of the safest cities in the world for its size. There are no slums or districts you should avoid. In general, you can visit any part of the city at any time of the day without taking many risks--just use your common sense. At night, though, it is wise to avoid parks, as well as the area within and around Karlsplatz station and Schwedenplatz station (other opinion: the underground stops there aswell as the areas around are also safe during the night. The drug scene at Karlsplatz is hanging out there also during the day and they do not care at all about tourist, just ignore them and they will ignore you). The Prater (fair grounds/amusement park area) is said by some locals to be less safe at night, though more in reference to pickpockets than anything else. As in any major city, watch out for pickpockets who grab and run when boarding the U-Bahn (subway). There are few racist assaults in Vienna, but its streets and public-transport facilities are littered with racist (anti-black) graffiti. Some areas around the Prater and around the Westbahnhof are spots for prostitutes to ply their trade, and female travellers walking around there alone might feel uncomfortable in these areas during the night.
Recently there has been some reports of fraud around Karlsplatz and Ressel Park area, also near the ring. Usual scenario as follows: someone stops you asking for direction. A couple of other guys show up claiming to be police, showing a badge (must be fake). They ask if you were getting drugs from the other guy and asks for your passport and wallet for verification. When you are busy trying to convince them that your passport is valid, one of them sneaks out some money from your wallet. Best to tell them that you want to go to the police station--there is one at Karlsplatz U-Bahnstation. Its a minor annoyance, but its better to be careful.
The Danube Valley has been inhabited for thousands of years, as evidenced in the 1906 discovery of the 25, 000-year-old fertility statuette known as the Venus of Willendorf. Celtic settlements had been established in the vicinity some 500 years before the Romans turned up around AD 9 to construct a military camp called Vindobona. The fort was built smack bang in the middle of today's Innere Stadt, within a square bordered by Graben, Tiefer Graben, Ruprechtskirche and Rotenturmstrasse. The Romans withdrew in the early 5th century, leaving the strategic east-west crossroads to be fought over by successive waves of migrating tribes and armies.
The Frankish king Charlemagne entered the picture in 803, establishing an eastern outpost in the Danube Valley west of Vienna known as the Ostmark. Vienna was first documented as a city in 1137, when it was ruled by the Bavarian Babenberg dukes. The death of the last Babenberg ruler at the hands of invading Hungarian forces ushered in a turbulent interregnum of almost 40 years before matters were settled by the new Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf of Habsburg. Rudolf granted his two sons the fiefdoms of Austria and Styria in 1282, and one of the most powerful dynasties in history was born.
A succession of energetic, empire-building Habsburgs saw the dynasty extend its dominion over Carinthia, Carniola and Tirol. Vienna became a bishopric, the Habsburgs became archdukes and a succession of politically motivated marriages turned the dynasty into an empire, adding territories like Burgundy, the Netherlands and Spain. The empire was soon too vast to be ruled by one person, and in 1521 it was split between the two princely brothers Ferdinand (who was given Austria) and Charles (who grabbed everything else).
In the 16th-and 17th-centuries, Vienna faced several external threats to its security. The biggest danger was posed by Suleiman the Magnificent and his marauding Turks, who famously besieged the city for 18 days in 1528, destroying the outer districts. However, Ferdinand I sent Vienna's prestige soaring through the roof by moving his court to the city in 1533 as a protective measure. Plague killed an estimated 80, 000 Viennese in 1679, and in 1683 the Turks returned to besiege the city once again-reputedly bringing a strange brew called coffee with them. The removal of the Turks by a combined force of German and Polish soldiers resulted in a triumphant frenzy of building in Vienna, giving the city its famous baroque face.
A string of profligate rulers culminated in the golden era of Maria Theresa and her son Joseph II, a period which saw the erection of palaces such as Schönbrunn and the Belvedere. Vienna's reputation as a centre for music was established during this time, with Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert calling the city home. The Imperial nose was severely put out of joint by the Napoleonic occupations of 1805 and 1809: the Habsburg emperor was forced to give up the German crown and title of Holy Roman Emperor, and the battle with Napoleon left Vienna precariously poised on the brink of bankruptcy. The capital regained some of its pride with the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15. The disenfranchised general populace joined in the revolutions of 1848, and when order was restored the city had a new, 18-year-old emperor, Franz Josef I.
Under Franz Josef's lengthy rule, the Ringstrasse developments went up around the Innere Stadt. The city benefited from being at the helm of the new dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy, attracting a hugely varied émigré populace. Vienna's famed coffee houses became a hotbed of wildly opposing political and creative ideas. The city was graced by the artworks of the Viennese Secession, Jugendstil and Expressionist movements, adding names like Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Moser, Mahler and the Wiener Werkstätte to the city's pantheon of big achievers.
The 20th-century brought a dimunition of Vienna's glory. The city suffered economically from the loss of empire that resulted from WWI, but entered a new era with the postwar election of the Social Democrats, whose impressive social policies were epitomised by public housing schemes like the Karl-Marx-Hof complex of 1325 apartments. Growing political tensions between the city's socialist climate and the increasingly conservative federal government culminated in the establishment of an authoritarian regime in 1933.
Allied bombing was particularly heavy in Vienna in the last two years of WWII and most major public buildings were damaged or destroyed, along with some 86, 000 homes. At war's end Vienna was divided into four zones, control alternating between the US, the Soviet Union, Britain and France on a monthly basis. The Allied forces finally withdrew in 1955 and Austria joined the United Nations. Since the walls came tumbling down in 1989, Vienna has found itself with a new sense of purpose as a gateway city to Central and Eastern Europe.
Vienna's Habsburg facade is rigorously maintained-although the last ruling Habsburg passed away in 1989-but the city is increasingly forward-looking. The 1990s were a difficult time for Austria. In 1993 Chancellor Franz Vanitsky publicly admitted that Austrians had been 'willing servants of Nazism'. The scars of WWII history were opened further in the new millenium: the federal government's move to the right has been the subject of concern for many Austrians as well as the European Union since 2000, and the government remains the subject of close international monitoring. Nevertheless, Vienna seems to be going through a time of renewal, shaking off its staid image and facing the future with zest.