Vienna is generally considered expensive, and is often passed over by budget travellers (I’ve taken some sad feelings when I learn friends are going to Europe without visiting Vienna, you know). If you can visit out of season, and be flexible with your dates, you’ll find more competitive prices. But as with many destinations, even in high season, there are cheaper ways to visit and enjoy this stunning city.
Hotels in Vienna can be dear, so choose well when it comes to booking a hotel. Or for a cheaper alternative, try one of the city’s smart hostels or many good value rental apartments. The Apartment Owner Association of Vienna has a database of over 250 properties for rent in and around Vienna, which offer a significant saving over expensive hotels.
When you are abroad, you’ll want to sample some of the local food and drink, but all those restaurant and coffee shop bills can mount up. For Viennese fast food, try one of the Wurstelstands. These stands sell traditional sausages and hot dogs. You’ll also find stands selling pizza, Turkish sandwiches, and potato fritters. For a more substantial meal, head out to the university districts of Neubau or Josefstadt for restaurant meals without the city centre price tag. You’ll also find chain restaurants and biergartens offering more wallet-friendly fare. If you’d rather self-cater, and your flat has cooking facilities, you’ll find bakeries and fresh produce in the outdoor markets or in Vienna’s supermarkets.
Getting around Vienna is made much easier with a Vienna card, which gives you 72 hours free travel by bus, tram and underground. It’s also a discount card for cafes, shops and attractions. Vienna is an easy city to walk or cycle around, with most of the sights lying within the inner ring. Citybike Vienna offers bike rental between designated rental stations. Hire of the bikes is free for the first hour, 1 Euro for the second, and 3 Euros for the third. Of course, you need to get there in the first place. Several airlines fly direct from the UK to Vienna. Try Momondo for price comparisons and the best deals to help keep the cost of your city break as low as possible.
Vienna Tourist Board in Albertinaplatz is your best source of information on places to visit and special events, including free ones. The palaces and museums can be expensive (use your Vienna card), but it’s worth noting that 20 of the city’s museums are free on Sundays. If you can spare the entrance price, the Hofburg Palace, Schönbrum Palace, and the Riesenrad– the giant ferris wheel are big tourist favourites. For music-lovers, standing tickets for concerts at the Staatsoper can be as little as 3 Euros.
There are free sights to be seen, even in Vienna. St Stephen’s Cathedral is free to visit, as are the open-air markets, and you will often find street musicians and mini orchestras entertaining the passers-by. And the historic city centre, with its quaint architecture and cobbled streets is a must-see. While you are there, pull something ala Before Sunrise‘s Celine and Jesse – splash out on a drink in one of the coffee shops and watch the world go by.