exploring Vienna on a budget

Visiting Vienna on a Budget: 8 Tips to Save Big & Enjoy a Trip

I was putting off my trip to Vienna for a very long time simply because I thought its high prices won’t let me enjoy the city in full and most likely I won’t even see much. But it turned out that visiting Vienna on a budget is very possible since there are a lot of cheap things to do. And if I stick to a few money-saving technics then I can even stay in the capital of Austria a bit longer.

Mark and I visited Vienna on a long getaway from a small Slovak town in Low Tatra Mountains where we were spending a few months. After traveling all over Slovakia and spending a weekend in Bratislava, the magical atmosphere of Vienna streets and comfort of its coffee houses felt like a completely different world.

We came to see the beauty and grandeur of a new city but got inspired by art, music, and picturesque old passages. And the best part? We didn’t spend much.

exploring Vienna on a tour
visiting Vienna on a budget

The entire getaway which lasted 3 full days from early morning on the first day to late night on the last day cost us €362 for two including a tour, accommodation, parking, lots of eating, evening drinks, and a climb to a viewing platform. Although we did much more.

Below, I am including all the cheap things to do in Vienna that we did and what we also saved for our next visit (returning soon!) together with tips on budget car rental, cheap places to eat and stay in Vienna, and a few money-saving tips. 

Cheap travel to Vienna is possible! I hope my tips will help you see Austria’s capital in an interesting way while not spending much. And with this quick list of free things to do in Vienna, you can save even more!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

How to Travel Around Vienna on a Budget?

Let’s start with the first step – a trip from the airport. If you fly to Vienna International airport and need to get into the city on the cheap, the most budget option for an airport transfer will be the S7 train where a ride costs around €5 per person.

Next, you will be wondering how to move around the city on a budget. And there are a few ways for that.

First – using public transport.

Having one of the most developed transport systems in Europe, Vienna is famous for its high cost. In the central zone of the city, for example, one trip in one direction by any type of transport costs €2.40. Children up to 5 years old travel free of charge. From 6 to 15 years, you have to pay half the price – €1.20.

The best way to save on public transportation when in Vienna is to purchase a transport pass that is valid for 24 hours, 48, 72 hours, or a whole week. The cost of a ticket for one day is €8 (at the moment of writing). It is valid for 24 hours from the moment of composting it through a machine at the entrance to the metro or on the tram or bus.

Vienna on a budget
free tour in Vienna

However, if you don’t plan to use public transport much, do not buy a pass. The offer looks appealing when in reality it doesn’t save you anything if you use transportation a couple of times and if you cover only short distances. 

Together with lots of walks and usage of bicycles (more on them below), it may be better to use a single ticket for public transport to move around Vienna on a budget.

Quick Money Saving Tips for Budget Travel in Vienna

If this is your first time traveling to Vienna and you want to maximize your time, it may be useful to purchase Vienna City Pass before you get to the city. With it, within a short period of time you can see top Vienna sights and visit museums, restaurants, and main attractions on a budget.

I have been on many European city breaks and in my experience, two cities where the city and museum pass was paying for itself were Vienna and Istanbul.

This city card includes free admission to over 60 of Vienna’s top attractions, unlimited rides on hop-on hop-off bus routes, and about 210 discounts for museums, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping. 

If you are traveling with a partner and want to save on food, order one meal or two smaller appetizers to share. Portions in Vienna restaurants and cafes are pretty big and one plate can be easily shared between two people. If you feel one meal is not enough, you can always order something else or simply eat a bit later in another restaurant in this way trying new traditional food.

Also, when ordering water, ask for ‘Leitungswasser’ which means tap water in German. Tap water in Austria is always free.

If you are visiting Vienna in winter and want to bring a small souvenir, you can do so at the Christmas Market at the Ice Dream ice rink food fair near the Vienna City Hall. There, in one of the kiosks, you can warm up with mulled wine or tea in a brand-new glass cup which costs 2 euros. Wine costs €6 or so but a cup is given on a deposit of 2 euros which you can return or take with you as a souvenir.

Budget Accommodation in Vienna & Things to Know 

When we made a decision to go to Vienna for the first time, I spent hours looking for the right type of accommodation not far from the center but not expensive at the same time.

I was considering 3 options. One – studio apartment Augarten in Leopoldstadt. Second – Room 55 in the Margareten neighborhood, and third – Apartment Vienna 55 in Neubau, one of the most prestigious neighborhoods for living in Vienna.

These flats were situated in three very different but vibrant neighborhoods while being equally close to all main Vienna attractions.  

Leopoldstadt neighborhood
inside old Vienna houses

Eventually, we stayed in a studio apartment Augarten (in the old Viennese apartment building) as we also wanted to go to Prater park for Halloween night and autumn evening walks. Photo of the neighborhood and hallway are above.

And we didn’t regret. From Leopoldstadt we could easily walk in many directions without using public transport and spend evenings in cool bars hidden from the eyes of tourists. 

If you decide you want to stay in Leopoldstadt or Neubau neighborhood too and you are on a budget, I have one top recommendation.

First, to save money book an apartment, so you can cook breakfast in the morning or have late night snack without eating out. Second, if you see an available flat for your dates, book it right away because it will be gone fast. Cheap apartments (€70-€80 per night is considered cheap)

Eating in Vienna on a Budget

Expenses for eating out in cafes and restaurants can take a toll on your budget. But if you know where to go to dine and if you are open to visiting different locations, you’ll be able to save.

To a popular belief that you have to wander outside the old town area to find a cheap restaurant, a central part of District 1 (around St. Stephen’s Cathedral) has actually quite a few reasonably priced dining establishments.

Here are a few places where to eat in Vienna on a budget in the old part of the city and beyond:

Cafe Votiv – Restaurant of Traditional Food in Vienna on a Budget

Get a taste of traditional Austrian cuisine without going broke in a favorite cafe for students Cafe Votiv. It is located in a beautiful location near the Town Hall and easily accessible from the old town on foot.

A lot of dishes here cost less than €10 and there is a good selection of excellent morning offers such as a Viennese breakfast set with a hot drink of your choice for around €6.

Vienna traditional food on a budget
best Kaiserschmarren dish

Esterhazykeller – Another Place for Austrian Food on a Budget

To eat hearty traditional Austrian food in a historical center without spending a fortune is possible in Vienna too.

For that, just go to Esterhazykeller traditional restaurant that opened its doors as early as 1683. You’ll find it near the Museum of Illusions open from 16:00 to 23:00 from Monday to Friday and from 11:00 to 23:00 on weekends.

Joseph Haydn, the composer of the classical period, liked to come here on occasion. The maestro knew a lot about good wine and was well-versed in schnitzels. We also tried this restaurant and loved the food! For €25 for different dishes and drinks we had enough on the table and were stuffed in the end.

Swing Kitchen – Cheap Vegan Food in Vienna

Swing Kitchen is a popular vegan fast-food chain in Vienna that is not that expensive compared to other vegan places.

On the menu – burgers with soy or pea patties, fries, salads, vegan nuggets, and a big choice of drinks. A choice of full combo meal that includes a dink costs between €11-€12 but you can get a single item which of your choice.

Würstelstand – Best Cheap Street Food in Vienna

Würstelstand is a kiosk (or stall) that sells the best (and most famous) street food in Vienna which is a sausage.

The national Viennese sausage will fill you up for a few hours and it costs between €4-€5 depending on the type and comes with a bun/bread and sauces.

You can find kiosks on every corner but the most popular one is located in front of the Albertina Museum – Bitzinger Würstelstand, although it is also a bit more pricey than in other locations.

I especially recommend you try Käsekrainer, a smoked sausage with Emmental cheese. Try it with horseradish or mustard and pickle. I paid €5.50 for this sausage with pickle and bread and it was enough to stay full until dinner. Another time, we shared it with Mark and it was also a filling snack. Just like here:

food in Vienna on a budget
famous Austrian sausage

Wiener Deewan – Cheap Pakistani Food in Vienna

Cafe Wiener Deewan nearby Sigmund Freud Museum is one of the best places where to eat on a budget in Vienna and where to get immersed in local life at the same time.

It is always full of locals who come here for lunch or dinner and you shouldn’t miss it too as reaching it from the old town is easy and quick.

This cafe offers Pakistani food for… as much as you can afford, literally. Although be fair, and still leave that amount that you really believe the place deserves. The owner is really doing a great job and offering excellent service with very good food.

Other Places Where to Eat in Vienna on a Tight Budget

Among other places, you can always go to the BILLA grocery store (there are a few of them in every district) which has a small section with hot food and a fridge section with sandwiches and salads. The choice of hot food is rather modest but still cheaper than in the restaurant and in some stores, after 8 pm the price is reduced.

Pizza Mafiozi is the cheapest pizza place in the Austrian capital with pizza prices not higher than €7. And a glass of beer will cost only €2.

Naschmarkt, the oldest market in Vienna also has many food stalls where visitors can buy street food and small dishes not spending a lot of money. We even dined in one of the restaurants there and spent less than €15 for appetizers which were enough to share and be full.

Asian restaurants in Vienna as well as doner type of eateries are considered cheap too. You can find a dish for as much as €6-7 and even share it with a partner if both of you are not very hungry. We paid that much in a small town in Slovakia where we temporarily lived at the time of the visit, so finding the same prices in Vienna was quite surprising. 

Cool & Cheap Things to Do in Vienna Under €20 for Two

Not many people know that, but while being a very expensive city in Europe, Vienna also offers a ton of cool things to do on a budget or without paying a penny at all.

Here is a quick list of my favorite cheap Vienna activities and in this post you’ll also find free things to do in Vienna on any visit. I know you’ll love them too:

Go on a Free City Tour!

Free tours are a thing no matter what the budget is as guides work for tips and apply their best knowledge to make the tour interesting.

In Vienna, with a big number of free tours, choosing the best tour is never a problem, this is why you should take an advantage of this offer and learn about the city while not spending much.

We went on this free tour through Vienna city on our first day of arrival to get acquainted with the capital of Austria before starting our own explorations. But this company we toured Vienna with offers many more free tours every day, so the choice is big.

Gerstner K.u.K. Hofzuckerbacker cafe

I also love Civitatis company as together with free tours they also have reasonably priced guided tours and day trips.

NOTE: With a free tour, you still have to leave a tip, so it is not completely free but very cheap.

Rent a Bike on the Cheap to Cruise Around

One of the ways to see Vienna on a budget (and to save on public transport) is by using a bicycle. The capital of Austria is a comfortable city for cycling with bike paths on all streets and in parks.

Overall, there are 120 bicycle stations in Vienna with good rates offered to the public by government initiative. They work around the clock all year round and offer a really awesome opportunity to rent a bike for the first hour for free and then pay for every next hour.

So the first hour is free, second hour is €1, third hour €2, 4th hour €4, and after that each additional hour costs 4 euros too.

Interestingly, the “first free hour” starts after a 15-20 minute break in use. That means that you can ride a bike for 1 hour for free, return it to an automatic rental point, take a break for 20-30 minutes and then take another bike again. And repeat as many times throughout the day as you wish.

I don’t think I’ve seen such generous offers anywhere else in Europe (just in a small town in Utah between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City), so you should really take advantage of it. 

In order to rent a bike, you need to register at the rental bike point. It costs €1.

Visit Vienna Opera House for €5-€20

Would you like to visit the famous Vienna Opera without spending too much?

Well, ticket prices there reach triple digits, but it is very possible to get to see the most popular opera shows for €5-€20. For that, you’d need to score a standing room ticket on the day of a performance. For details, check operahouse’s official website

There is also another place in Vienna where to watch opera on a budget – at the Volksoper. Tickets for performances there go for €3-€8 for standing places, but there is an opportunity to watch the opera right by the stage!

Vienna from above
on a free walking tour in Vienna

Just keep in mind one thing – tickets to the Operahouse and Volksopera sell out fast. Don’t miss the moment and book as early as sales start.

Oh, and one more thing. From April to June, the famous Vienna Operahouse Wiener Staatsoper holds live Opera performances that are broadcast on a big screen right on the street near the entrance. They even organize special seating area for spectators, so there won’t be a need to stand.

Visit a Wine Cellar – Yes, on the Budget Too!

When I check some organized tours to wineries around Vienna, prices shock, for some reason those visits are so expensive. When in reality, there are some inexpensive atmospheric wineries if you know where to look.

For example, for €11 you can visit the Schlumberger wine cellar and even taste their famous sparkling wine after the tour. In fact, this is the oldest producer of local sparkling wines, making them with a complex traditional method.

It has a fantastic location and is easily accessible by public transport. So you don’t even need to devote a separate day for this trip, just add it to one of the days in your existing Vienna itinerary and do something different while visiting the city!

Check Out the Impressive National Library

Vienna National Library

The Austrian National Library (Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek) is one of the largest book depositories in the world and one of the most impressive places in Vienna. It is an existing library that is also a popular tourist attraction.

The library was founded in 1735 by the decree of Charles VI from the collection of books of the imperial family, dating back to the Middle Ages. It is located in the former residence of the Habsburgs – the Hofburg Palace, which explains the luxurious interiors of its halls, made in the Baroque style.

The collection of the National Library contains more than 7.5 million books with many of them being single copies that have no analogs in the world. There are also collections of priceless manuscripts and early printed editions, papyri, globes and old maps, paintings and musical instruments, and sculptures.

It is really one of the very unique Vienna sights and you should take advantage of a visit.

The cost of a ticket to the National Library depends on the age of a visitor and is calculated for a separate entrance to different museums and halls. Prices start from €5 for adults.

Don’t Miss House of Music – Legendary Museum of Vienna

The House of Music is a hidden gem in Vienna that offers a unique experience by lifting the veil on the world of melody. Since Vienna is the musical center of Europe, visiting its main House of Music is a must, especially when you can do it on a budget.

It is located in the ancient palace of Archduke Charles where Otto Nicholas founded the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in 1842. Today it is a museum that occupies 4 floors and has a chic restaurant on the 5th floor.

The first floor is dedicated to the founder of the Philharmonic Otto Nicholas. It also has an entertaining dice game with which you can create your own waltz composition.

On the second floor, visitors can plunge into the magical world of sounds and learn about amazing sound effects, their new perception and new emotions created by them.

The third floor is dedicated to the Viennese classics and outstanding composers of that time such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Mahler, and others. 

In the hall dedicated fully to Ludwig van Beethoven, you can learn how the composer gradually lost his hearing and what works he wrote at each stage.

And how to visit it on a budget? The full price is €13 but you can get it at half price if visiting on any day from 20-00 to 22-00. Promotional ticket costs €6.50 for an adult. More details on the museum’s website.

main street in Vienna
cheap cafe in Leopoldstadt

Attend One of the Concerts of Classical Music on a Budget

There are 150 concert venues in Vienna where a visit to a classical music concert costs from €15-€20 per person or more. But there are cheaper options when it’s possible to save.

One of them is the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Musikverein which offers inexpensive tickets to connoisseurs of classical music.

The Golden (or Big) Musikverein Hall impresses with its luxurious interior and excellent acoustics. It is from there that a big New Year’s concert is broadcast to the whole world.

Tickets for budget travelers start from €5 but do not include seating. They allow only standing in different halls of the Musikverein. Although for this price you cannot expect much in terms of seeing, only audibility which is excellent.

Find out more details and purchase inexpensive tickets in advance on the Musikverein website.

Budget Car Rental in Vienna

If you are looking to rent a car in Vienna on a budget to go on day trips or possibly to the mountains, it is better to do it in Bratislava than Vienna.

First of all, because car rental prices are much lower in Bratislava than in Vienna and second, a border crossing fee is much lower too. In case you are ready to travel a bit around Slovakia, there will be no need to pay for a border crossing at all.

We rented our car through this company as it has a bigger car fleet and always better deals. But all other companies offer lower rates in Bratislava as well.

night view from Albertina

Where to Buy Cheap but Original Souvenirs in Vienna?

Souvenirs in Vienna are expensive. For example, prices for magnets start from €2.5-€3.5 depending on the store. We saw the most expensive souvenirs at the Naschmarkt market. And the cheapest ones were on Mariahilfer Strasse, the main shopping street in Vienna, in the Laimgrube neighborhood.

If you want to buy souvenirs not spending much, then look for them in shops at museums. Surprisingly, prices are similar or even lower compared to prices in specialized souvenir stores around Vienna.

For sweet gifts such as Austrian chocolate, Mozart sweets, Manner Viennese waffles, Lipizzaner round sweets, Viennese wines, etc., it is better to go to a regular big supermarket. In this case, you’ll be able to save significantly. 

You can also buy unusual cheap souvenirs, old-times clothes and jewelry as well as other unique items in second-hand stores. Most of these are located near the Volkstheater metro station and the Rennweg train station.

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