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Donau City@ WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud

A Budget Traveller’s Guide to Vienna

Picture of Kate Jackson
Kate Jackson
Updated: 18 April 2017

Austria’s capital is one of Europe’s greatest cities, popular for its charming character and rich culture. Here’s how to explore Vienna on a shoestring without missing out on all the amazing experiences that will make you fall in love.

Where to stay

Finding an inexpensive place to rest your head in Vienna can be a little tricky, however, of course not impossible. You can often find low-cost rooms during off-peak seasons or try Hostel Ruthensteiner, Guesthouse Arabella or Wombats City Hostel for a bed in a dormitory for as little as €10 per night.

Am Graben©WienTourismus/Christian Stemper

Am Graben | ©WienTourismus/Christian Stemper

Food and drink

Food and drink can be one of the biggest expenses whilst away on holiday, however, refuelling in Vienna without breaking the bank is relatively easy, provided you know where go and where to avoid.

It is often assumed that, when staying in an Airbnb or apartment, buying supermarket food and cooking your own grub is the most cost-effective option. This is true and not true. Some of Vienna’s supermarkets can be extremely expensive (BILLA and SPAR are among the main offenders) and you’ll likely find yourself spending roughly the same amount of cash as you would if you ate out in a restaurant. Hofer, one of the city’s budget stores, sells affordable food so head here if you’re planning to make your own.

Market and street food is another thrifty option. Try the Brunnenmarkt for some tasty, gratifying, carb filled food – falafel wraps and kebabs can be found for as little as €2 and will keep you satisfied for a while.

Activities

During the warmer months, travellers will have no problem whatsoever having a blast on a budget in Vienna. Lazy days spent on the banks of the River Danube with a few cans of beer or strolling through one of the city’s many parks always promises to be an enjoyable experience.

Being on a budget doesn’t mean your cultural calendar has to be sparse. Although the majority of museums charge an entrance fee, some offer free evenings or days. For example, The MAK is open free of charge on Tuesday evenings between 6 and 10pm.

Visiting the Vienna State Opera House is often on the bucket lists of visitors to Austria and there’s no reason you should miss out just because you can’t fork out a few hundred euros. The good news is tickets can be purchased for as little as €3-4, the bad news is you have to stand up throughout the entire duration of the performance. Free piano concerts in coffee houses and many outdoor summer festivals can also be found, offering incredible live music performances free of charge.

In terms of shopping on a shoestring, it is best to avoid the high street and head to one of the city’s flea markets – this market is particularly good and particularly cheap.

 

Strandbar Herrmann, Danube Canal© WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud

Danube Canal | © WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud

Museums: MAK - Museum for Applied Arts/ Contemporary Art©WienTourismus/Lois Lammerhuber

Museums: MAK – Museum for Applied Arts/ Contemporary Art | ©WienTourismus/Lois Lammerhuber

Getting around

Vienna is a relatively modest sized city, meaning that, provided you have the energy, you should make as much effort as possible to explore by foot if you are strapped for cash. Public transport tickets aren’t ludicrously expensive (a weekly ticket is around €17), but, be sure to check the distance before you take a tram or the U-Bahn because chances are, where you’re going is a lot closer than you anticipated. City bikes can also be hired for as little as €1 per hour. It is also worth noting that children, up to the age of 6, can use public transport free of charge.

Meeting Delegates outside the subway stop „Stadtpark“©WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud

Meeting Delegates outside the subway stop „Stadtpark“ | ©WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud