Updated on the 4/4/2020
Vienna – even the name itself sparks joy. Literally every turn you make, you will have a perfect Instagram moment presented in front of you. Being such an expensive city, it’s not travel in Vienna on a budget.
However, travelling in Vienna on a budget is not hard if you know how! Read on to learn how I spent only €25 per day in Vienna and how you can do it too!
Fancy staying in Vienna for free and meet locals at the same time? Couchsurfing it is! I have been telling people about how incredible this platform is in bring people from different cultures together. The bonus is: Couchsurfing is totally free so sign up now!
Not cool with the idea of Couchsurfing? That’s okay. Vienna has a lot of hostels to choose from. The cheapest dorm bed in Vienna starts from €11. Remember not to stay too far from the city centre as the public transport in Vienna is not cheap.
I have also written about other accommodation options like house sharing, house sitting, home stay and other accommodation options here!
Stay with one of the cheapest hostels in Vienna – Zum Goldenen Kegel.
Food and Beverage
This is a really generalised budget of how much you will spend on food per day.
Hostels offer free breakfast most of the time. So make full use of that. If you are using Couchsurfing, buy something from the supermarkets. Some hosts will prepare breakfast for you (at least that’s my experience), but do not rely on this.
Lunch: €5. There are some street food stalls (wurst, gyros, kebab, pizza) that you can get food as cheap as €5. You can also go to takeaway shops. Ethnic restaurants (think: Thai, Vietnamese, Surinamese, Greek, Turkish) are normally cheaper.
Dinner: €6-€8. Tips for lunch also apply here.
Eating out: Generally, food in Vienna is not cheap. To keep your wallet in shape, these are the places that you can go to if you are eating out.
Wiener Deewan: I swear this Pakistani restaurant is known by most students in Vienna. They offer an all-you-can-eat buffet. The real deal? You can pay as you wish, which means you can also walk away without paying if you don’t wish to. I suggest giving a small amount of money that you are happy giving as they need that money to run this restaurant for the good of the community.
Pizzeria Mafiosi: This place has a really modern (or creepy) decor and pizzas with strange toppings. It has a lovely outdoor area for you to hang out when the weather is nice. The cheapest pizza (Margherita) starts at €3.90.
Visit one of the markets. Naschmarkt, Brunnenmarkt, and Carmelitemarkt offer cheap lunch. When you are there, make sure you visit one of the ubiquitous street food stalls. This is also a good place for you to get your groceries if you are cooking your own meals.
Kent Restaurant: Not all cheap restaurants are shabby and rundown. This Turkish restaurant is clean and chic. It even features a garden. Mains start at €6.90 (white bean goulash with lamb).
Bier and Bierli: This restaurant is strategically located right opposite the opera house, which is a good idea if you are feeling hungry after watching the Opera or something. Viennese food is normally not cheap but it is pretty affordable here. You can get a large Viennese Pork Schnitzel for €12.90 and Veal Schnitzel for €19.90.
Tunnel: Don’t know to see if a restaurant is inexpensive? Look at the crowd. In Tunnel, almost everyone dining there is a student. A plate of pasta is around €5 and a large pizza is around €7. Also, there’s live music most of the time.
Esterházykeller: This place has been around since 1683. You can basically breathe in the history when you’re dining in there. The mains here are pretty affordable. A pork roast and caraway with dumplings and sauerkraut is only €12.90. Note that during summer, Esterhazykeller is closed and Esterhazystüberl replaces it. Esterhazystüberl has an outdoor dining area and it is located directly above Esterhazykeller.
Walk as much as you can: This will keep both you and your wallet in shape.
Borrow a CityBike for free: You can use the Viennese CityBike for free for an hour if you are tired from all your walking.
Public transportation: Public transport in Vienna is not cheap but it’s efficient. Prices are as follow:
- Single ticket: €2.20
- 24-hour ticket: €7.60
- 48-hour ticket: €13.30
- 72-hour ticket: €16.50
For more info, check the official website here.
Free (or almost free) Things to Do in Vienna!
1. Stroll around the garden complex at Schonbrunn Palace!
Although you need a ticket to enter the palaces, you can visit the gorgeous gardens out there for free! You can do a short hike up the hill to earn yourself a perfect view of the Schonbrunn Palace and the surrounding gardens. The hike is highly recommended and it takes around 20-30 minutes.
2. Watch one of the best operas in the world for free!
Yes, you heard me right! It’s free! In April, May, June and September, there will be a big screen set up right outside the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) showing selected operas. There are only 180 seats available so get there early. Rain or shine, the show will be on regardless. If you are planning to go, check the available dates and the weather.
Even if you are not going during those months, you can also get a standing ticket to watch an opera in the Vienna State Opera building. Prices are €3, €4 and €6.
Seriously they are not much of a difference so just get whichever available. Ticket sale starts 80 minutes before the show. You have to line up early to get the cheap standing ticket! I have written more about how to get those tickets here!
3. Join one of the best free music festivals in Europe!
Who said that awesome music festivals have to be expensive? Sometimes, it’s free, just like Donauinselfest (Danube Island Festival) in Vienna! It happens on the last weekend of June. With 200 live acts and 11 stages across 16 islands, you should not miss this awesome incredible music festival!
Danube Island Festival is Europe’s largest open air festival and it offers so much more other than music! This mega party has a water slide, a ten-meter jump into a gigantic air cushion and a full obstacle course! And you get all of these for free!
Check out their official website for the festival in 2020 here!
4. Indulge yourself in a free classical music concert!
Don’t worry if you are not a big fan of music festivals and drunk people! In summer, there are many free classical concerts going on.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs in Schonbrunn Palace Park for free in early summer (end of May). This event attracts more than 100,000 people annually and is even broadcasted worldwide.
If you’re not there in May, you can check the official websites of the churches in Vienna to see if they offer free classical concerts. It’s very common for churches to offer free lunch concerts on weekdays.
Besides, the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna also offer free concerts and performances. Not all of their concerts are free though so check them out. It would be nice to wear something more decent when you are watching a classical concert.
5. Go to Kahlenberg!
Kahlenberg is a hill located at the outskirt of Vienna which offers an awesome view of the city. There is a bus connection to Kahlenberg and it costs €2.
If you are going from the city centre, go to Schottentor station. Take bus 38 to Grinzing and after that, take bus 38A to Kahlenberg. The signages are pretty clear so don’t you worry.
If the weather is permitting, you can also choose to take an hour long walk to Kahlenberg and watch the scenery unfolds bits by bits.
PS: Kahlenberg is eerily beautiful in the snow!
6. Explore the Ringstrasse!
Ringstrasse is a circular road (or a grand boulevard) that features all the main sights in Vienna. At Ringstrasse, you can find Imperial Palace, the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum, the Vienna State Opera and Parliament and expansive parks!
You can start from Vienna State Opera and go anticlockwise, stopping at the Fine Arts Museum, Natural History Museum, Rathaus Platz, Burgtheatre, University of Vienna and so on.
7. Visit museums for free!
Vienna is a city of free music, and also free museums! If you are a museum buff, just choose one and go. All museums in Vienna are free on the 26th of October, which is the Austrian National Day.
A few museums in Vienna are always free. These are:
- Geldmuseum (Money museum)
- Kunsthalle am Karlsplatz (Contemporary art)
- Bezirksmuseen (Regional museum)
- MUSA (Contemporary art)
Some museums are free on the first Sunday of every month. These are:
- Uhrenmuseum (Clock museum)
- Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (Military museum)
- Otto-Wagner Pavillion
- Wienmuseum Hermesvilla (a palace located near a hunting ground)
- Wien Museum am Karlsplatz
- Römermuseum (Roman Museum)
- Haydnhaus (Haydn House – must go if you are a die-hard classical music fan)
If you are under 19, these are free:
- Liechtenstein museum
- Albertina (65000 drawings)
- MAK (Museum of Applied Arts)
- Technisches Museum (Technical Museum)
- Natural History Museum
- Belvedere (a Baroque palace complex)
- Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art history)
8. Watch a free movie at Rathaus Platz!
Again, if you are in Vienna in summer, then watch a free movie at the outdoor cinema at Rathaus Platz! They mainly show English and German movies.
Just pack up some groceries and have a picnic there.
If you are not visiting in summer, you can also join the free tour at Rathaus every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1 pm. The tour is offered in English, Italian, Spanish and German.
9. Stroll along one of the city markets!
Visiting a market (especially food market) is one of my favourite activity when I’m in a new city. I think this is a fantastic way to get closer to the life of a local (though city markets can be a little fabricated because of the tourists).
Naschmarkt, Brunnenmarkt or Carmelitemarkt are located in the city. Just choose one and buy away.
10. Visit one of the best Christmas markets in the world!
While free stuff tends to happen in summer, don’t you worry if you are going to Vienna in winter! Visit one of the best Christmas markets in the world! Have a mug of mulled wine (or hot chocolate if you don’t drink alcohol) and kiss under the mistletoe (if you have someone to kiss)!
Travelling in Europe: The Essentials
- The official website for public transport in Vienna is https://www.wien.gv.at/english/transportation-urbanplanning/public-transport/. It contains a lot of useful information.
- I don’t normally use the official website to navigate around. Just use Moovit when using the public transport.
- An alternative is City Mapper, which was named as the best map app in Europe. Its map in Austria is very up to date.
- There are a few websites to check out if you are travelling to another city from Vienna:
- Railjet: To and from Germany, mainly to Munich
- Student Agency: This is a Czech bus company that is not only for students despite the name. In fact, they have really cheap tickets as the price is fixed.
- FlixBus: A German bus company that operates in 29 countries in Europe. Now has Flixtrain too!
- Rome2Rio: A website that allows you to see potential routes between cities.
- BlaBlaCar: If you are on a budget, try out this carsharing platform which gets you to many places!
- Intercity Express: Predominantly runs in Germany but it runs to Vienna too!
From 2017 onwards, the European Union finally came up with an incredible idea – abolishing roaming charges across its member countries. That means you can use a sim card that you bought in Greece when you are travelling in Germany.
However, the prepaid deals differ SO MUCH in different countries.
For example, the data plan that comes with a Polish sim card is often not usable in other countries (written in the fine print). Slovak data plan is expensive and slow. Italian telecommunication companies have different rules and they are not present everywhere. French data plan is hard to terminate.
If you want to save the hassle, just get a sim card before leaving for Europe. I always use SimOptions because they deliver fast and the telecommunication companies offered are actually based in major European countries.
I recommend the company “3” because it is present in many European countries and data plans are great:
- If you are in Europe for less than 30 days – Smart Gold plan by 3
- If you are in Europe for a few months – Smart Platinum plan by 3
Alternatively, you could opt for a pocket wifi which allows you to connect to multiple devices. This is perfect if you travel in a group or if you have a few devices that needs internet connection concurrently.
I always opt for TEP wireless because they are fast and reliable. Superb customer service too!
If you are not on AirBnB yet, you need to be! AirBnB is a great alternative to conventional accommodation. Often, you get more bangs for your bucks too!
I always found amazing condominiums and apartments on AirBnB. It’s like a cherry on top of my trip most of the time!
Sign up to AirBnB with this link and get $25 instantly!
I swear by travel insurance these days. So many things could go wrong and the trip of your lifetime can end up horribly wrong.
When it comes to travel insurance, I just go with World Nomads. It’s quick and claims are processed pretty quickly.
Please buy it if you can. Hopefully you don’t have to use it. However, in the unfortunate circumstances that you have to use it, you will thank me for a long time.
You are welcome.
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