Difference between revisions of "Vienna"
Revision as of 15:27, 17 October 2012
Vienna  (German: Wien, Austro-Bavarian: Wean) is the capital of the Republic of Austria. It is by far the largest city in Austria (pop. 1.7m), as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre. As the former home of the Habsburg court and its various empires, the city still has the trappings of the imperial capital it once was, and the historic city centre is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The low-lying Danube plain in and around what is now Vienna has had a human population since at least the late Paleolithic: one of the city's most famous artifacts, the 24,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf, now in Vienna's Natural History Museum, was found nearby. Vienna's own recorded history began with the Romans, who founded it in the 1st Century CE as Vindobona, one of a line of Roman defensive outposts against Germanic tribes. Vindobona's central garrison was on the site of what is now the Hoher Markt (the "High Market" due to its relative height over the Danube), and you can still see the excavations of its foundations there today.
Vienna hosted the Habsburg court for several centuries, first as the Imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire, then the capital of the Austrian Empire, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which finally fell in 1918 with the abdication of the last Emperor Karl I. The court tremendously influenced the culture that exists here even today: Vienna's residents are often overly formal, with small doses of courtliness, polite forms of address, and formal dress attire. One of the many paradoxes of the quirky city is that its residents can be equally modern and progressive as they are extremely old-fashioned.
The empires also served to make Vienna a very metropolitan city at an early time, and especially so through the years of industrialization and fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the turn of the 20th century. Imperial Austria and Austro-Hungary were multi-lingual, multi-ethnic empires and although the German-speakers normally played the dominant role in Vienna there has long been ethnic and lingual diversity in the city. Proof of Jews in the city dates back to 10th century . After World War Two many of the city's minorities had been exiled or killed and much of the city lay in ruin. When Austria was given sovereignty after the post World War Two occupation, it was eventually established that Austria was going the way of the West and not that of the Eastern Block. So the city became more isolated from its previous ties to its Slavic and Hungarian neighbors; the east of Austria was surrounded by the Iron Curtain. Vienna had gone from being the well established metropolitan city of Central Europe to the capital of a small, predominately German-speaking nation of states with strong regional identities.
Since the formation of the first Austrian Republic and the first mayoral election 1919 the Social-Democratic Party of Austria has had the majority of representatives on the common council and controlled the mayoral seat. During the early years, the socialist Red Vienna ("Rote Wien")  revolutionized the city, improving the extreme conditions that the industrial revolution and rapid urbanization had created. Most famously the city built many housing projects (housing estates or "Gemeindebauten"), and they also began to offer many social services and made improvements across the board in quality of life. The public housing that was built at that time is now famous for its distinctive style. To this day the city continues to build public housing and about a third of the city's residents live in it, some 600,000 people! Obviously through this high percentage, the quality, and the integration of public housing across the city have kept it from becoming as stigmatized as in most cities. The Viennese are used to having the city government in their lives, and of course have a love-hate relationship with it. Vienna functions on its own as a federal state in the Austrian system (along with 8 other states) and the sense of local pride and home is more of being Viennese than being Austrian, many say.
Traditional Vienna is but one of the many façades of this city; the historic center, a UNESCO world heritage site, is sometimes begrudgingly compared to an open-air museum. But Vienna is also a dynamic young city, famous for its (electronic) music scene with independent labels, cult-status underground record stores, a vibrant Monday through Sunday club scene, multitudes of street performers, and a government that seems overly obsessed with complicated paperwork. However, people are willing to go out of their way or bend the rules a little if they feel they can do someone a favor.
The Viennese have a singular fascination with death, hence the popularity of the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery), where there are more graves than living residents in Vienna, as a strolling location and of Schrammelmusik - highly sentimental music with lyrics pertaining to death. Old-fashioned Sterbevereine (funeral insurance societies-literally translated "death clubs") provide members with the opportunity to save up for a nice funeral throughout the course of their lives. This service does not exist solely to save their children the hassle and expense - it is considered absolutely mandatory to provide for an adequate burial. Vienna even has the "Bestattungsmuseum", a museum devoted to coffins and mortuary science. The country’s morbid obsession may be correlated with its higher suicide rate when compared with the rest of Europe. Here too, the socialist Vienna has its hand, the city also offers a socialized undertaking service , with hearses branded in the same department of public works logo as the subway cars, and a link to the transit-planner on their website.
Vienna is also famous for its coffee culture. "Let's have a coffee" is a very commonly heard phrase, because despite incursions by Starbucks and Italian-style espresso bars, the Kaffeehauskultur is still the traditional way to drink a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, meet friends, or fall in love.
Addresses in this article are written with the district number preceding the street name, the same as street signs in Vienna. So 9., Badgasse 26 is Badgasse #26 in the 9th district. Hence you can also always tell what district you are in by the first number on street signs. Districts can also be made into a postal code by substituting the XX in A-1XX0 Vienna (0X for districts below 10), for instance A-1090 Vienna for the 9th district and A-1200 the 20th, and are sometimes referred to as such.
Common points of reference are often used in Vienna in addition to districts, most noteablly public transportation stops. Reference to U1/U4 Schwedenplatz or Schwedenplatz (U1, U4) means that something is near to the Schwedenplatz stop on the underground lines 1 and 4. Normally if the place is not directly at the subway stop you can ask around and find it easily.
The Vienna Tourist Board  operates information and booking booths at the airport Arrival Hall, 7AM-11PM and in the center at 1., Albertinaplatz/Maysedergasse. Information and free maps are also avialible from the ÖBB InfoPoints and offices at train stations.
Vienna has 23 districts or wards know singularly as Bezirk in Austrian German. These function subordinatly to the city as decentralized adminstrative branches of the commune, as well as making local decisions. They vary immensely in size and each has its own flair.
The city has a very centralized layout radiating from the historic first district, or Inner-City with the Stephansdom and Stephansplatz at the centre of a bullseye. It is encircled by the Ringstraße (Ring Road), a grand boulevard constructed along the old city walls, which were torn down at the end of the 19th century. Along the Ringstraße are many famous and grand buildings, including the Rathaus [City Hall], the Austrian Parliament, the Hofburg Palace, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum), and the State Opera House.
Districts 2-9 are considered the core districts and are gathered within the Gürtel (Belt Road), which encircles the core districts as an outer ring concentric to the Ring around the first district, with the noteable exception of Leopoldstart (District 2).
Leopoldstadt (the 2nd District) is the southern half of the island that is formed between the Danube and the Danube Canal. It streches from the more wild forests of the Prater in the south up through the point where the Prater becomes a more formal park and amusement park where the transportation hub Praterstern is located. Going onward to the North are several neighborhoods from the Gründerzeit with dense housing including impressive Neo-Baroque buildings. Towards the north of the district along the Danube Canal across from Schwedenplatz is the Karmeliterviertel (Karmeliter Quarter) which was once a Jewish ghetto and today is the hub of Jewish life in Vienna. This area is indeed quite diverse across the board and is becomming gentrified. At the edge of that area is the Augarten. The area past that has been hand-picked for an intense development project that will turn several former freight yards into entire new neighborhoods. Along the Danube are numerous massive housing projects from the twenties onward.
Landstraße (District 3) is a rather large district to the southeast of the center separated more or less by the Wien River (which is partially underground and otherwise chanellized. Streching from the station Wien Mitte and the surrounding business and financial district where the lively Landerstraßer Haupstraße shopping street begins, over quiet residential areas where the Hundertwasser Haus is located, all the way to the industrial hinterlands and the bus station at Erdberg in southeast, through neighborhoods countaining examples of public housing like the Rabenhof and many embassies to the Belvedere Palace and the Soviet Memorial at Schwarzenbergplatz.
Wieden (District 4) and Margareten (District 5) run from the area around the Opera south to where a the gigantic new central station is being built, with energetic pockets of businesses and squares to be discovered from the University of Technology to artsy galleries to a cluster of hair-cutting salons to even Vienna's miniture version of a Chinatown. These districts are bordered by the Wien River to the north.
Mariahilf (Distric 6) contrasts between the more raw areas around the Wien River where the Naschmarkt is. The district covers neighborhoods of bars and other popular bohemian and queer haunts along the Gumpfendorfer Straße, and it borders Neubau along Vienna's most popular shopping street the Mariahilferstraße up the the hill from the Gumpfendorfer Straße.
Neubau (District 7) starts with the aclaimed MuseumsQuartier next to the center and spreads across popular hip areas to the Westbahnhof (Western Railway Station).
Josefstadt (District 8) is the smallest district. Alsergrund (District 9) is known to be more affluent and also includes much of the University of Vienna several cozy business districts.
The outer 14 districts are largely less urban but are equally as diverse streching from Floridsdorf (21st District) which radiates from its own town center in the northeast on the eastern bank of the Danube and Donaustadt (22nd District) which includes a mix of farms, suburbia, soviet-style housing blocks, villages, the United Nations Headquarters and the Donauturm (Danube Tower) and includes the largest development project in Central Europe at Aspern, through tarditional worker-oriented districts like Simmering (11th District) and Favoriten (10th District) in the south to more mixed urban areas with much immigrant culture like Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (15th District) and Ottakring (16th District) in the West and Brigittenau (20th District) in the northeast and Döbling (19th District) on the adjacent side of the Danube famous for its vineyards, working class history and architecture, as well as its upper class neighbourhoods. Don't miss Schönbrunn Palace to the West along the Wien River in Hietzing (13th district).
Spring starts sometime in late March, normally it is very brief and summer-like weather sets in before the trees have had time to grow back their leaves.
Summer in Vienna is usually warm. Weather in June is moderate and sunny with a light summer windy breeze. In July and August, there are some hot and humid days where it reaches 35°C (95°F), but overall, summer in Vienna is pleasant.
Autumn starts around September, although an "Indian Summer" with warm and sunny days often occurs that month and it gets colder as it approaches November. A main disadvantage of the Viennese climate is that it is rather windy and usually overcast during these months.
Winter in Vienna can be just above 0°C (32°F) and drizzling for days on end, or just below with dustings of snow that manage to melt again quickly. There is the occasional cold-snap where it will stay below freezing for a week or two at a time. Due to Vienna's relative easterly position in the Central European Time Zone its daylight hours (if it's not too gray outside entirely) are relatively early during the winter.
Vienna International Airport
Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat) (ICAO: LOWW, IATA: VIE)  is located just outside the city limits of Vienna on the far side of the City of Schwechat. The airport is the home base of Austrian Airlines  and Niki .
Most European airlines and a significant number of intercontinental airlines have direct connections to Vienna. However, only Austrian Airlines fly to the Americas (New York, Toronto, Washington and Punta Cana), and there is no direct service to Northern England and Africa (aside from Egypt, Libiya and Tunisia).
Just past customs, there are numerous companies offering ground transportation. Here you can look for two very small monitors displaying all the next trains and the buses departing, to the right and left respectivly (at the back of the space where people receive travellers).
Refer to the brochure for locations and tips. Your best bet for receiving tax refund is to find a refund office in the city. Otherwise, indicate that you need to receive tax refund at check-in. You then take any checked luggage containing tax-free purchases to a customs office (right in the check-in area) to get a stamp and drop off the checked luggage; then visit a nearby refund office.
Customs officers don't normally ask you to actually unpack and show your purchases. You will be asked if any applicable purchases are in your hand luggage. Although it is illegal, you may be encouraged to lie to agents, saying that everything is in your checked luggage even if it isn't. This is due to an otherwise tedious process; you have to visit yet another office by the gates. (Especially at the C Gates--there you will have to ring for an officer, wait to be picked up by bus and taken to the a refund office and back to your departure, allow 1 hour for the whole procedure.) Alternatively, you can visit a refund office on arrival in your home country--provided that you visited customs and had your receipts stamped in Vienna. Additional commission or unfavourable exchange rate can apply if refunding in other country.
Bratislava Milan Rastislav Štefánik Airport
Another option if you're flying to Vienna is Bratislava Airport (ICAO: LZIB, IATA: BTS)  which is located ca. 54 km (34 miles) from Vienna International Airport across the Slovak border and is the largest in the Slovak Republic. The budget airline Ryanair  has the most flights. Additional carriers are Danube Wings  flying to Kosice, Rijeka, Split and Zadar; Norwegian Air Shuttle  to Oslo and Copenhagen; UTair  to Moscow and Sun d'Or  to Tel Aviv (seasonal flights). Transfer options:
Budapest and Munich Airports are at least 3 and 5 hour journeys respectively but can mean substantial savings and direct flights on intercontinental trips. There is a thrice daily direct albeit not so speedy shuttle van from Budapest Ferihegy Airport to Vienna Schwechat Airport , €36. It is cheaper and quicker to transfer via bus or train from Budapest city which can be reached easily from Ferihegy Airport. From Munich International Airport you should take the commuter train into the city and transfer to a high-speed RailJet train to Vienna at Munich's main station. The ÖBB (Austrian Railways)  sell tickets directly from that airport to Vienna from €29.
The station names of all stops in Vienna start with its German name "Wien". This is internationally recognized and helpful for buying tickets. The railways are managed by the ÖBB (Austrian Federal Railways). Read more about train travel within Austria and reaching Austria by train.
Ticket offices are normally open during all departure hours at Wien Meidling and Wien West (around 5AM-11PM). It has come to light that with more trains leaving from stations like Wien Praterstern, trains depart outside of ticket office hours. If this is the case you can buy the ticket on-board from the conductor, they are only able to sell regular as well as certain discounted tickets (cash only), so it is best to buy ahead if possible.
There are very frequent trains for all neighboring regions and countries. Night trains and quicker Euro-City trains arrive from virtually every city in Central Europe. High-speed ICE and RailJet trains arrive from places like Munich, Budapest and Zurich. There are frequent (at least hourly) regional trains to Czech, Slovak and Hungarian border regions.
From Czech Republic
From Czech border towns and as far as Brno you can buy "Wien Spezial" discount ticket. Consider buying it conjunction with a domestic ticket if coming from elsewhere like Prague, they should be able to sell you both tickets.
The ÖBB sell one-way 'SparScheine' to Brno(€12) and Prague(€29). Its cheaper to just get this to Brno and buy an onward domest ticket to Prague(€5-10), and there is better availabilty than with the single Prague ticket.
EURegio tickets are valid from Vienna to cities near to the border and tourist towns, including the return ticket with-in four days; Znojmo €15, Mikulov €18, České Budějovice (Budweis) €27 or Český Krumlov €27, and Plzeň €29 (children half-price, weekly and monthy tickets available).
From Budapest Keleti pu (Eastern Station) buy a discounted round-trip ticket, "kirándulójegy" (excursion or 4-day ticket) for €31. It includes the return with-in 4 days and is valid for all public transportation in Vienna for 2 days. So its a deal even if you don't need a return ticket to Budapest. There are limited amount of SparSchiene tickets each day for €13. All tickets are valid in all trains (including the high-speed RailJet). Trains confusingly depart Budapest East (Keleti pu), most stop at Wien Meidling and then arrive at Vienna West Station (Wien West). Direct trains run every two hours. Otherwise transfer at Győr.
To Hungary the ÖBB offers tickets from €19 to Budapest as well as the EURegio ticket (Vienna to Hungary and return with 4 days); Mosonmagyaróvár €12, Győr €19, Tatabánya €25, Fertöszentmiklós €19, and Szombathely € 22 (children half-price, weekly and monthy tickets available).
From Bratislava the cheapest ticket is €11 (return), or €14 including a one day public transportation ticket for all of Vienna. A one-way ticket is availible to Rail-Plus cardholders for €10.
To Bratislava the ÖBB offers an EURegio ticket for €14 valid for return (in 4 days) and for travel on public transportation in Bratislava on the day of arrival. Its also free to take a bike along.
A one-way ticket leaving from Vienna also costs €14 but doesn't include public transportation in Bratislava, so get the EURegio ticket and maybe you can give it to someone else who's headed for Vienna once you get to Bratislava.
From the East of Europe
Each railway has an independent partnership with others, so tickets can be much cheaper to (or from) neighboring countries. A common type is the so called CityStar ticket that is valid for return and can be sold any station in both of the participating countries. Sopron in Hungary is near to Vienna (€14, hourly trains) for tickets on MÁV Hungarian Railways  at that train station (operated by the Raaberbahn Railway ). Hungarian prices . Bratislava in Slovakia is another nearby alternative. Most tickets need to be purchased 3 days in advance, possibly meaning an extra trip to the border to buy the ticket in advance.
Car ownership is common in Vienna and about 1/3 of the trips taken within the city are by car. However, since parking space is scarce in the central districts and parking fees are steep, it's usually a good idea for visitors to leave their car parked somewhere in the periphery and use the city's excellent subway & tram system to get to the center.
For using the Austrian highway system, you will need a toll sticker ("Autobahnvignette"), which you can buy at gas stations and rest stops. There are stickers for 10 days (€8), 2 months (€23,40) and 1 year (€77,80).
In Vienna, avoid the A23 Südosttangente at rush hour. Traffic jams are almost guaranteed there as well as throughout the city streets at rush hour.
Parking anywhere within districts 1-9, 20, and in specially marked areas is restricted to 120 minutes (from 9:00 and 22:00, M-F) and subject to a fee of €2 per hour unless you have a resident permit. The municipality provides detailed information on parking on their website in English . If you're unsure whether fees apply to the place you're in there's a free Android app that can help you . Payment is made by marking the time of arrival on a ticket ("Parkschein"), which can be bought at tobacco shops. If you have an Austrian cell number, you can pay by text or using a smartphone app 
A much cheaper and often more convenient alternative is Park and Ride, available at some subway stations in the city periphery  for €3 per day. The weekly rates come with a discount if you add a subway/tram ticket. Commercial car parks ("Parkhaus", "Parkgarage") are available throughout the city, but these can be very expensive (for instance, €32 per day in the Parkgarage Freyung). Another option is to leave the car in the street in one of the outer districts. However, since the option is rather popular, parking space has become rather scarce there, too.
There is a slew of international bus services comming into Vienna daily. It is safe to assume that discounts are avialible (about 10% from Eurolines affiliates, about 15% on independent carriers) for those under 26 and over 60 on walk-up fares but not on discounted advanced purchase ("promo") tickets.
Eurolines Austria, is the largest operator. Euroline's own vehicles have assured quality, but this is not the case of all of their international partners. Confusingly Eurolines Austria is doesn't always cooperate with an inbound Eurolines affliate from an other country, for instance there are two competing Eurolines services (Slovak and Austria) to Bratislava departing from seperate stops. Always check the webpages of both the arrival and departure countries' Eurolines affiliated operator for the best price as well as checking for non-affliated carriers.
There are two main bus stations in Vienna, as well as other locations where national and international services deposite passengers.
There are few private domestic inter-city bus lines in Austria. Several regional services to Vienna operated by a mix of the federal government, the states of Lower Austria and Burgenland, local governments and coach operators. Sometimes the cash-price for these is marginally lower than the train, otherwise the normal VOR public transport rates apply. They are most useful for traveling to the countryside, though timing and different departure locations in Vienna can make them attractive for inter-city travel in certain cases. All routes are operated with high-quality coaches and regional buses.
If you are traveling from the Balkans there are plenty of buses daily. Some may not be advertised and tickets are often not for sale at the ticket counter, rather from the bus driver or attendant. Ask around the bus stations, most of them leave in the afternoon. Buses from non-EU countries may be subject to higher scrutiny at the border. Sometimes operators smuggle or transport goods to supplement their low fares and the Hungarian border guards are not afraid to accept bribes from non-EU operators. You will likely never be asked to participate monetarily, although a bus driver may ask to put a carton of cigarettes above your seat or in your luggage. Legally, you're transporting "your own" one-carton cigarette allowance across the border, so you will not get in any trouble for that. It is also okay to decline cooperation.
Most buses from Serbia go to VIB Erdberg (U3) whie most buses from the Kosova and Albania go to Südtirolerplatz (U1). Bus lines from Bosnia and Croatia are split between the two bus stations.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Minibuses, or shuttle vans to Český Krumlov and surrounds are common, but more expensive that EURegio train tickets, especially for round-trips. Buses take around 3 hours, while trains take upwards of 4 hours and often require two easy train changes. Minibuses may match their times to passengers needs.
There are Eurolines connections to across Germany. The most popular is the connection to Dresden and Berlin:
It can be cheaper, faster and the buses can be more frequent if you change buses in Budapest, for instance on Eurolines HU/Volanzbus or Orangeways, depending upon your destination in Romania.
Vienna has a good public transport system , which includes rail, commuter rail, underground, trams (trolleys), and buses. The underground is very efficient and will take you to within a few minutes walk of anywhere you are likely to want to visit. The subway alone has the second highest per-capita ridership in the world, and that is not accounting for the 27 tram lines, dozens of train lines or numerous buses.
Public transportation with-in the city proper, including most everywhere you are likely to visit (the entire subway and tram network) is a single zone (Kernzone 100). Any transportation can be used: subway, any train--even high-speed ones--as long as you are traveling between two Vienna stations, trams, buses, night buses, and an inter-urban railway (the Wiener Lokalbahn) with-in the city limits.
You must validate (stamp) your ticket if the time and date is not printed on it before entering the subway platform or train or as soon as you get on a bus or tram. You do not need to show your ticket to the bus or tram operator. Although there are not many spot checks, the fee for traveling without a ticket is €100.
Tickets are available at machines (Visa, MC accepted) and from counters at subway and rail stations as well as at tabacco shops (Tabak "Trafik").
Children up to 14 do not need a ticket on Sundays, holidays and during Austrian school vacations. Children 15-19 are also exempt if they are enrolled in school in Austria.
If you are staying for a few days and hope to do tons of sightseeing and/or shopping, the Vienna Card (Wien Karte)  is a good deal. It costs €19.90 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.
See the airport section for details on transfer to/from the airport.
The best rail (heavy rail and underground) transport map  is displayed at all ÖBB stations. There are so many lines that maps are normally very simplified, and there are no maps of the tram network. It can pay to ask or check the best connection ahead of time . Major stations are well signed and connections are scheduled to match-up if service isn't frequent.
Vienna's suburban rail network is often overlooked by tourists. It comprises three types of trains: S-Bahn, which mostly serve inner suburbs and stop at all stations with few exceptions, Regionalbahn, which are generally more long-distant than the S-Bahn and make limited stops on parallell S-Bahn routes, but otherwise all stops, and RegionalExpress, which mostly serve the outermost suburbs and make very limited stops in the inner suburbs (although not all RegionalExpress trains are suburban trains). The network also stretches over the borders of the neighbouring countries.
The most important rail streches:
Rail trips to the suburbs of Vienna (in Vienna city all rail stations start with "Wien") require an extra ticket. These are avaible as zones in VOR (Austria's Eastern Transit Region) or as point to point tickets from the railways. It is easiest to buy extra zones from the edge of the city. If you have a Vorteilscard a railway ticket will be cheaper; if you are planning to transfer to a bus the VOR-ticket is also valid for it, with-in the same zone.
The five U-bahn lines (i.e. U1) are the most common way of getting around Vienna. These underground, metro or subway lines have trains every 2-7 minutes and cover most of the important parts of the city and sights.
Tram(Bim, Straßenbahn) lines have just a plain number or letter (O,1). There are 27 lines which stop locally, useful for taking things a bit slower and seing more of the city.
The famous Ring lines were recently changed: there is a tourist tram around the ring, or you can take tram 1 (bound for Prater-Hauptalle) from Oper to Schwedenplatz and take tram 2 (bound for Ottakring) from Schwedenplatz back to Oper.
The Wiener Lokalbahn (WLB) also referred to as the Badner-Bahn is an interurban railway traveling from the Opera running as a tram on-street southwest through Vienna to Meidling station where it becomes a railway continuing onwards through the 23rd District and through suburbs and the rolling wine hills in Lower Austria to Baden.
Bus lines are denoted by a number that ends in letter (i.e. 3A, 80B). You are unlikely to need to take a bus, but it is safe to assume if you see one that you can get on and it will take you to some higher form of transportation like the U-Bahn. Cheaper tickets (€1) are available for most 'B' buses; regular tickets and passes are also valid.
The regular trams, trains and buses run until about 00:30 (just past midnight). Most of the commuter rail is shut between 1 AM and 4 AM. On Friday and Saturday (as well as on nights before holidays), the entire U-Bahn network runs all night. Additionally, a dense network of night buses, called "NightLiners" is available every night of the year. Regular tickets are valid. Most buses terminate at "Kärntner Ring, Oper", which allows for easy interchange. Intervals are every 15-30 min. Daytime service resumes at 5 AM.
Taxis are plentiful and can normally be hailed on the street or found at a taxi stand. Fares are set to a meter price, but if you prefer, you can always negotiate a fare. Always negotiate when traveling to the airport or outside of the city limits as fares are not set to those places. Pedicabs, horse-drawn coaches and the like are also available.
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. They 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 or her.
Cycling is another option for travelling within Vienna, although it is still seen more as a leisure activity in Vienna.  Vienna's compact size makes cycling attractive. On a bicycle you can reach most places of interest within half an hour. There are many bicycle paths and lanes along major streets, in parks, and by the rivers. However, it can be complicated to cross town because the lanes follow illogical routes. One major complaint is that bicycle facilites were an afterthought and this is very appearant, many stop lights and intersections are dangerously or annoyingly set for bicyclists and paths are very illogical: they are sometimes on-street sometimes off, sometimes shared with pedestrians, sometimes not, and can vary or end out of nowhere. You are required by law to use a bike lane or path if there is one, unless it is blocked, otherwise regular traffic laws apply. Lights are required at night as are independently functioning brakes.
If your destination is in the outer suburbs, or you want to take a relaxed ride to the countryside, you may consider taking your bike on the U-Bahn (prohibited at rush hour, and always in buses and trams) or on a train. You need a reduced (children's) ticket for your bike.
Walking can also be very pleasant. The inner ring is quite compact with lots of pleasant cobblestoned and paved streets. It can be crossed in about 20 min.
Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes as this is the most common way of getting around.
Most Viennese speak a range and mix of Viennese German (an Austro-Bavarian dialect) and Standard German ("Hochdeutsch") as their mother tongue, unlike in most other parts of Austria where pure Austro-Bavarian is much more prevalent. However, basically everyone is able to speak Standard German as well, though the Austrian variety of Standard German does differ in accent and somewhat in vocabulary maybe with a local accent variety which does differ in accent and some vocabulary. However, these differences are small enough so that most German taught abroad will be understood. Should someone be so proud as to continue speaking in dialect and you don't understand, just ask the person to speak "Hochdeutsch" (standard German, literally "high German") and he/she generally will.
Standard German is the sole official language and thus the main recognized written language.
People in jobs dealing with foreign visitors are usually fluent in English, though English is not as universally spoken as in northern European countries, and signs (including descriptive signs in museums) don't as often include English translations as in some other European countries, so those who don't speak German or Austro-Bavarian may find a traveler's phrase book or bilingual dictionary useful in some situations.
Minority languages are wide spread as well, such as Serbo-Croatian, Turkish and Romanian.
For a more serious program, other concerts at the Musikverein and the Staatsoper can be attended for as low as 3 to 4 Euros (standing room). They feature some of the best musicians in the world, including of course, the Vienna Philharmonic. With concerts starting at almost the price of a cup of coffee, Vienna boasts a frequent and outstanding roster that is financially accessible to all. Unfortunately, much of the musical scene in Vienna is absent during the summer months, with the exception of the ensembles that cater to tourists. The solution would be to travel to Salzburg, where the Vienna Philharmonic resides during the summer.
Store hours are generally 8 or 9AM-6 or 7PM Monday-Friday, 9AM-6PM Saturday, Closed Sunday. There are slightly longer hours at some malls. Credit cards are normally accepted at large and at high-end stores. All chains that you can find in the malls also have stores on the city's shopping streets, which tend to be more accessible and tourist-friendly.
Vienna airport has a duty free shopping area with 70 shops. Plan around one hour if you're going to visit every other shop. The shopping area is just after ticket control counters, so you only need to checkin before getting to shops, not pass security check nor passport control.
There are 21 markets  with stands and small characteristically Viennese hut-like shops that are open daily (except Sunday). Additionally many of these have true farmers' markets, often on Saturday mornings. There is a large variety of sellers and markets, from the upscale to the dirt cheap. Each has several shops of different kinds (butcher, bakery, produce, coffee, etc.). There is another handful of weekly farmers markets  around the city as well as seasonal markets like the christmas markets.
Open from Nov 15s or 20s to Dec 23th or 24th, most Viennese Christmas Markets ("Christkindlmarkt", "Adventmarkt" or simply "Weihnachtsmarkt") are not so much for shopping as for eating and drinking. From midday until the late hours of the night, people gather at Christmas markets to drink mulled wine, punch, and chat to one another and the occasional stranger. Entry to all of these markets is free.
Further afield a famous and overly bustling Christmas market may be found at Grafenegg castle . Entry is €7, children under the age of 12 are free.
Charity auctions are common in Vienna. Some stores give their proceeds to social programmes (often second-hand store back-to-work programs similar to Goodwill, or other charity shops).
Viennese supermarkets are not very large, especially compared with the hypermarkets covering the rest of Central Europe. However, there is practically one on every corner. They are open about 7 AM to 7 PM M-F and 7 AM to 6 PM on Saturday. Only three stores in train stations (Westbahnhof, Praterstern and Franz-Josef-Bahnhof), one at the General Hospital (Allgemeines Krankenhaus, AKH) and three at the airport are open later (Praterstern and Franz-Josef until 9 PM, Westbahnhof and the airport to 11 PM), on Sunday and on public holidays. Hofer , Penny , and Lidl  strive to be discount stores, whereas Billa , Spar  and Zielpunkt  as well as the larger Merkur  tout selection and quality. There is not a major difference in prices. Most regular stores have a deli where the clerks make sandwiches for the cost of the ingredients you select. Although many products are Austrian none of the chains are actually Austrian-owned. If you want to support the local economy more you can do so by frequenting independent shops or visiting actual markets.
Upscale grocers are not common in Vienna.
Viennese restaurant portions tend to be large. Recently many restaurants are including more vegetarian options. Most restaurants have daily specials listed on a chalk board or sometimes on a printed insert in the regular menu. These are usually the best bet, though they may not be on the English menu, so you may have to ask to have them explained or try to translate them yourself.
Tipping customs are similar to those in Europe and America though tips are slightly smaller; ten percent is usually sufficient in restaurants. Traditionally the way to tip a waiter is to mention the amount of the bill plus tip when you pay; for instance, if the bill is €15.50 you could give the waiter a €20 note and say "siebzehn (seventeen)," meaning he is to take out €15.50 for the bill, €1.50 for the tip, and so give you only €3 change. In this situation English numbers will usually be understood. Sometimes in less formal restaurants you can alternatively drop the tip into the money pouch the waiter usually carries.
Credit cards aren't quite as commonly used in restaurants in Vienna as in Northern European countries, so ask if it's important to know before hand.
The traditional Viennese fast food is sausage in all shapes and sizes. You can buy hot sausages and hot dogs at snack bars called "Würstlstand" all over the town. The famous Wiener Würstel is known as "Frankfurter" in Vienna, but many inhabitants prefer Bosna (with onions and curry), Burenwurst, and Käsekrainer or "Eitrige" (with melted cheese inside).
In addition to this, the local snack culture also includes more ex-Yugoslavian and Turkish varieties of fast food, such as the Döner Kebap, sandwiches of Greek and Turkish origin with roasted meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and yogurt and/or hot sauce. Places that sell kebap often sell take-away slices of pizza too.
Good kebaps can be bought at the Naschmarkt. The lower end of the Naschmarkt (further away from Karlsplatz or city centre) is cheaper than the upper end (closer to Karlsplatz), and the right lane (facing away from the city centre) is reserved for mostly sit-down eateries. Another good place to find snacks (especially while going out) is Schwedenplatz, also on the U4 and U1 line.
By far the cheapest way to get a fast food meal in Austria (and probably the only meal available for just over €1) is buying an Austrian sandwich (sliced brown bread + ham/cheese + gherkin) from a supermarket. Supermarkets with a deli counter (Feinkostabteilung) will prepare sandwiches to take away at no extra charge. You only pay for the ingredients. There is usually a large selection of meat products, cheese, and bread rolls available here, too. You point at the combination you want, can also mention the max total you can pay, and then pay at the cash register. One of the favorites is the "Leberkässemel", which is like a bigger but less dense version of a high quality hot dog on a bun. There is a nice supermarket,"Spar", that caters towards this idea, with WiFi, off of the U2's MuseumsQuartier train stop. Freshness and quality at the grocery stores are normally better than at a sandwich stand on the street.
Another great way to eat on a budget is at one of Vienna's hundreds of bakeries. They sell anything from cinnamon rolls to pizza for a good price. It's also a great breakfast-on-the-run alternative because they also have coffee/espresso to go. However, most places do have a couple of tables and chairs where you can enjoy your food.
If you want to eat fast but healthy you can do so at UP! grade your food at Mahlerstr.11, which is beside the opera at U1 Karlsplatz metro stop. In that lovely decorated small restaurant they offer beef, chicken, shrimp, feta, tofu or salmon wraps. All ingredients are high quality and healthy, which gives you energy to continue your Vienna sightseeing tour.
If you're staying inside the Ring or to its south, your best bet for dinner is to walk to the Naschmarkt: there are 15-20 restaurants there ignoring the city's imperial interiors, and most are absolutely mid-range (i.e. with mains averaging €8-15). Most of them are smoker-friendly and packed-and-loud in the evening.
The restaurant Weinbotschaft offers a very special culinary experience. Unique among gourmet restaurants in Europe, Weinbotschaft cooks 100% biological [organic] for almost four years now. It is situated in the Annagasse 12, which is one of the most beautiful streets in Vienna’s city center and close to the famous “Kärntner Strasse”. In the Weinbotschaft you always have a menu with freshly cooked biological [organic] ingredients – from the classical “Wiener Schnitzel” to Chocolate-Almond-Cake without flour and Bio-Fruit-Ice-Cream.
You can buy excellent ice cream (Eis) at a number of places.
Vienna's Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses) are world famous for their grandness and the lively coffee house culture. Skipping the Kaffeehauskultur is missing out a big part of Viennese culture. You should at least visit one of the countless traditional baroque 19th or funky 20th century coffee houses where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy refreshments.
Most cafés also serve beer, wine and liqueurs. Many serve meals, especially at lunch, and these are often cheaper than in restaurants. Most have a fine selection of Torten (tortes or cakes), some offer other baked goods. In general some are more restaurant-like, some more café-like and some more bar-like.
Vienna prides itself of its dozens of varieties of different coffees, although the Italian style and names are better known by many youth than the Viennese, the cafés are keeping the traditions alive. Most commonly:
Also consider specialties like the Kaisermelange (coffee, milk, egg yolk and cognac) on the menu. Most cafés have a house specialty (for instance, "Kaffee Central" at Café Central).
Finding a café is not hard in Vienna; Finding a particular café you are looking for is another story. Most of the baroque "top" coffee houses are on the Ring and main streets of the Innere Stadt (District 1), mostly cozier and often less formal 1970s or 80s modern style coffee houses are hidden away on the Innere Stadt's backstreets, and distributed across the rest of the city.
Rather unusually it is necessary to say some words about Vienna's drinking water which is really unique in Europe. The majority of Vienna's water comes from the three "Hochquellwasserleitungen." Meaning "high-(as in mountain) spring waterlines (as in aqueducts). Indeed the city's water flows through aqueducts from the mountains around 100 kilometres south of Vienna (Schneeberg and Hochschwab). These were built during the reign of Emperor Franz Josef and supply Vienna with nearly unchlorinated high-quality drinking water, with a considerably higher quality than many bottled waters. So if you visit this city, it is not necessary to buy water, you can simply drink tap water here - unless you prefer sparkling water.
Another speciality is that at typical coffeehouses a coffee is always accompanied by a glass of cold clear water. In most restaurants, you can get a glass of drinking water for free with any order, just specify tap water ("Leitungswasser").
New wine is usually enjoyed at a Heurigen (family-run vineyard bars allowed to the the new vintage). Austria in general, but especially the area around Vienna, produces quite a large amount of wine each year. There are even many vineyards within the city in Döbling (19th District). The wine is not often exported and white is more common than red. Grüner Veltliner is a common tart and fresh white wine served almost everywhere. Officially the new wine season begins on November 11 (St Martin's Day), but as early as September, some partially-fermented new wine (called Sturm which is cloudy, because it has not been strained) is available around town at stands and in 2L green bottles (try the Naschmarkt – sometimes the vendors will have samples, it is less strong than wine, about 4 percent alcohol ). Taverns can call themselves Heurigens whether the wine they serve is their own or not – for genuine in-house product look for a Buschenschank. This is a particularly Viennese Heuriger which can only be open 300 days per year or until their supply of house-made wine runs out. Heurigen can be found e.g. in Grinzing, Sievering (19th district) and Mauer & Rodaun (23rd district) areas, but also in almost every suburban area in Vienna. Even in the center, there are some Stadtheurigen. While the Heurigen of Grinzing are bigger and more famous with tourists, they are often a rip-off. If any of the year’s vintage lasts until next year, it officially becomes Alte (old) wine on the next Saint Martin's Day. The Heurigen in the South of Vienna or in Perchtoldsdorf are much cheaper and serve the same quality as the Heurigen in Grinzing. Also in the Northern suburbs, you can find cheap and somewhat authentic Heurigen. Try the towns of Stammersdorf or Hagenbrunn, for example Karl Matzka , hard to reach by public transport.
After a long day, the perfect place to relax among Viennese are the Heurigen in the suburbs. Somewhat akin to a beer garden, except with wine, these tiny treasures are the only places authorized to serve new wine. New wine is made from the first pressing of the grape and can appear a little cloudy. Be careful, it's stronger than you might think! This is why it's served in very small glasses, .25L and up. Some Heurigen serve food, either elaborate Viennese specialties or very simple bread and cheese platters. No matter which one you choose, you're guaranteed to enjoy yourself. Just hop on a convenient outbound tram line, take it to the very last stop, and look for buildings with large, evergreen foliage hung over the doors. Each one is unique, but all are a good bargain. Locals invariably have a favorite: ask around.
Bars and beerhouses
Despite Vienna's stuck-up reputation don't be led to believe it is a quiet city. There are diverse cafés, bars, clubs, parties and festivilles as well as thriving noctornal prostitution and casino scenes.
Cafés and bars
The café scene often continues into the early hours, during the week and on weekends. Additionally there are many traditional neighborhood bars some which also have Viennese food. Most popular though, are bars (some with a nominal cover fee) with a dj and small dance floor. These are quite comfortable and there are plenty to meet anyones musical taste, many are open all night.
Although "mainstream" is hardly a majority of people in Vienna it is still refered to as such. Even here there is quite a bit of variance between places the conservative working class goes out and the conservative upper class tends to go.
Although gay nightlife in Vienna is not concentrated in one area, it's blossoming. It can be difficult to keep up with what's on offer, but luckily Vienna is fairly accepting and you can go out and meet other gay people in most venues. Austria is, however, a very conservative Catholic country, and during the day gay and lesbian couples might get some stares - especially from older people - but at night a younger, less conservative crowd heads out.
Brothels are legal in Vienna, as is street prostitution. There are male and female prostitutes, many from Austria's neighboring countries (few from Austria), but also from Africa, Latin America and Asia offering their services. Brothels differ greatly from small to the point one-room operations to hokey grad parlors. There is no true red-light district, but there are many 'bars' located on the 'Gürtel' as well as in the 2nd District, but they can be found everywhere. Street prostitution areas exist but should be avoided due to the low-regulation and high amount of trafficked and unregistered workers. There are plenty of go-go clubs as well though, that are not brothels. Some of these have male and female dancers dancing together and are frequented by men and women together.
Casinos are plentiful in Vienna. Also a spectrum hole-in-the-wall places with machines to the hokey Eastern-European style with pumping music and strobes on the facade to grand elite places.
Vienna offers a complete range of hotels. Prices are relatively higher than in neighboring countries, or in the neighboring countryside, but quality is also often better.
In choosing an accommodation it is important to know which part of the city you want to spend time in. Most accommodations claim to be centrally located, which for the Viennese would mean they should be in or next to the 1st District, few actually are. Many are even outside the core districts 2-9. Still, all of them are located within about a 5-minute walk to an underground or at least a rail or tram station, you can get to the center within 20 minutes or less on public transportation form anywhere in the city.
A quick reminder about addresses and districts: the number preceding the street name is the district. So 9., Badgasse 26 is Badgasse #26 in the 9th district. These can also be made into a postal code by substituting it the XX: A-1XX0 Vienna (0X for districts below 10), for instance A-1090 Vienna for the 9th district.
Smoking rooms are relatively common. Non-smoking rooms are in limited supply, and hotels with non-smoking floors are less common. Senstive non-smokers may be bothered that public areas of the hotel (often the hallway outside your room) are often heavy with tobacco smoke.
Vienna has a large number of mostly free wireless hotspots in bars, restaurants, and cafés (see drink section). Wifi is known locally as WLAN ('VEE-lahn') or Wireless LAN. Those that are on the Freewave Wi-Fi network freewave.at can be found here: . MuseumsQuartier has free wireless internet. There are plenty of internet cafes except for in the first district. Touch-screen media terminals are avaible (including internet) in many phone booths, much of the content about Vienna is free. If you plan to visit also places outside from the city and you don't want to stay without internet it's recommended to buy a prepaid 3G-simcard (all providers offers fast 3G service, also in rural and remote areas of Austria) and put it in your smartphone or internet usb stick. Download is mostly around 5-6 Mbit/sec and upload 2-3 Mbit. (for HSDPA). The monthly cost for mobile internet is between 4 euro (1GB) until 15 euro (unlimited) (August 2011). The best 3G coverage in rural areas is from Three drei.at and A1 a1.at. Vienna is covered very well by HSDPA, HSPA+ and LTE as well.
If you're a European student you can make use of the eduroam service. The University of Vienna, the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, the University of Technology, the Medical University of Vienna, the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the University of Music and Performing Arts as well as the Austrian Academy of Sciences are part of this programme in Vienna.
The local public radio aimed towards youth, FM4 used to be an English-language channel and still has much programming in English including the news. 103.8 FM or 91.0 FM.
Television in Austria is almost exclusivly in German. The national public media ORF offer limited programming in several Slavonic languages and Hungarian. There are plenty of international English-language channels avaible.
Austrian news is printed in English in a newspaper called the Austrian Times . The Vienna Review  offers a more indepth examination of local issues. International papers are widely avaible. There is a New York Times insert in the Monday edition of the local newspaper Der Standard  which can be found quickly in coffee houses and elsewhere due to its tan color.
Vienna is potentially 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. The drug scene at Karlsplatz (underneath the Opera) hangs out there during the day, but they do not care at all about tourists. 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 (['uːbaːn] subway). Petty crimes (like jackets 'going missing') are more common and normally go unreported and won't get much sympathy. There have been a very few racist assaults in Vienna (even some by the police themselves). Many streets and public-transport facilities are littered with racist and nazi graffiti. One runs the risk of being pickpocketed. Schwedenplatz, along the Ring, is sleazy in the evenings, but basically harmless; the Stadtpark, along the Ring, to the East, is a bit deserted at night and therefore best avoided.
Prostitution is legal, even on the street, and is common around the area of the Prater. Ironically, some of the areas are stones thrown from the UNODC Headquarters (the UN agency responsible for combating human trafficking) and are human trafficking hubs for all of Europe. Many of these prostitutes are not registered and a high number are known to be trafficked, so take care if seeking their services. It is safer for everyone involved to visit a brothel. Women dressed in a certain manner walking around these areas alone at night might feel uncomfortable being checked-out in a certain way but there is no real danger. (There is no male street-prostitution to speak of in Vienna.)
Austria has one of the highest rates of missing people (per-capita) in the Western world. It is similar to that of the USA despite Austria's small size and the fact that everyone is required to register their address with the state.
Recently, there have been some reports of fraud around Karlsplatz and the Ring. The usual scenario is that someone will stop you and ask for directions. 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 then will ask 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. It's a minor annoyance, but it's better to be careful. In a different case of fraud they try to convince you that your money is counterfeit money and that they have to inspect it. As always use common sense: police are ought to approach you in a very distinctive way (you will notice if they do so), the badge must have Polizei ([ˌpɔlɪˈʦaɪ̯] police) and the Austrian coat of arms and/or the Austrian flag located somewhere on it, and they will be willing to bring you to the police station or a properly uniformed officer.
Do not walk on the bike lanes and cross them like you would cross any other road. Some bike lanes are hard to recognize (e.g. on the "Ring" in Vienna) and some cyclists bike rather fast. Walking on bike lines is not only considered impolite but it is illegal and you run the danger of getting hit.
If you see people gambling on the streets (usually in popular tourists' destinations like Stephenplatz or Mariahilferstrasse), stay away! The modus operandi usually involves a guy playing the classic game of "hiding the ball". This involves covering the ball (or small trinket) with either a bottle cap or a match box and swirling it around with two other bottle caps asking people to guess the position of the ball. The game is set in a way that you can easily see the ball's position. This is done to lure the unsuspecting person into placing a wager. There are usually two main players and, between them, they will lose and win money back and forth to give the appearance that it is a fair game - do not be tricked! They are from the same gang. Once you get greedy and get lured in, you will surely lose your money! The person in control of the bottle caps will remove the ball from their position through sleight of hand and you will never see your money back. Besides the two or three other players involved, there are usually at least two lookouts - one on each side of 'stage'. Vienna has plenty of legal casinos if you care to try your luck.
In addition, it is common for suspicious persons to approach you in the city centers if you are standing still for a while (particularly if eating at outdoor tables). They will be holding magazines for sale, and will ask you if you are interested in looking at one for free. They are typically very aggressive in their demeanor. Do not be fooled by them! It is not free. If you look at the magazine for free, they will refuse to take the magazine back and demand payment for it at a high cost (typically 2 euros, which is the price of local homeless' magazines in Austria like "Augustin", but they are in German anyways and it indeed has become a trend amongst non-related people to abuse the idea). The best response in this situation is, when they first approach, to simply wave your hands demonstratively to say no while shaking your head and repeat the phrase "Nein danke" ([naɪ̯n ˈdaŋkə] no thank you) to them repeatedly until they leave. If police are nearby, these people may accuse you of stealing the magazine, but many police know of their trickery so stand your ground. However, the best response in all cases is simply to dismiss these beggars by saying "Nein danke" and refusing to take the magazine. They will often look for tourists or people who look as though they are visiting hoping to make a sale; therefore, be prepared to tell them "Nein danke" as necessary so that they will leave you alone. They are not violent and just trying to get money from you, so do not be afraid that they will hurt you if you tell them no.
Vienna's metropolitan area is large, and its suburban rail takes you to suburbs so large that they are worth a visit in their own right. All of the following places except Bratislava are within the metropolitan area and reachable on an all-zone Vienna travelcard (and yes, this also applies to Sopron).