One of the most picturesque and historic capitals in Europe, Vienna is a relative breeze to navigate. Unlike Berlin or the megalopolis of London, the Austrian capital is a mid-level city that you will probably find manageable when trying to get around. However, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the public transportation options in Vienna before your next trip, especially if this is your first. Here is a guide for complete beginners.
1. The Tram System
The iconic red trams that wind through the old streets of Vienna are as much a part of the city’s identity as its grand palaces and graceful cafes.
Thirty different tram lines crisscross the city and its outskirts, so you can rely on this mode of transport to discover the main attractions of the city center. Some even allow you to go out to vineyards and other sites to enjoy a day trip to a nearby town. Most tram lines operate daily between 5:00 a.m. and 12:50 a.m.
Busy tram lines serving the city center include line 1, serving the central Burgring district, Rathausplatz (town hall), the opera house and the extensive “Prater” park; Line 49, serving the “Ring” area and the Volkstheater; Line 62, serving the opera house and Karlsplatz; and line 2, serving the transport nodes of Stubentor and Schwedenplatz and ending at Friedrich-Engels-Platz.
A safety note on trams: pedestrians must exercise extreme caution around trams, which cannot brake and hurtle down the city in all directions. Cross busy intersections crossed by streetcar lines only after first looking back and forth, and watch for signs to stop.
2. The U-Bahn (Underground/Subway) System
Most tourists will find the use of trams enough to get around, but sometimes you can also use the U-Bahn (underground). There are a total of 5 lines (U1, U2, U3, U4 and U6 – no one really knows why U5 is missing); these operate every day from 5.00 a.m. to 12.15 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and most of the night on weekends.
Although it may not be necessary to travel by bus, they can sometimes be useful. This is especially if you want to take a day trip to a destination that extends beyond the city’s tram lines.
There are almost 100 different lines, which may seem a little overwhelming for visitors. If you think you need to use a bus, check out the online trip planner to simplify the process.