Expat Essentials

Expat Essentials: Our 5-minute, 1-stop guide to Vienna’s trains, buses and subways

Trains, trams, tickets and how to get around in Vienna using public transport

When in Vienna (called Wien in German), everyone with a valid ticket for the city area can ride any one of the metro lines, trams, and buses, as well as the trains which are a part of the national railway system.

If you are traveling from the city to the airport using the trains, you need to buy a ticket that covers one zone outside of Vienna.

Vienna Transport - Central train station with metro, tram and bus lines (3)

City Airport Train – CAT

For the direct line from Wien Mitte/Landstrasse station, called CAT (City Airport Train), it will cost 11 Euros one way, or 17 for return trip. Some of the conveniences of the CAT train are free wireless on board the train, a short 15-minute ride to and from the airport, and even a possibility of checking in your luggage directly at the CAT train station in Vienna. Trains run every 30 minutes to and from the airport. For more info on the rates and possibilities, check the website here.

Cheapest Airport Transfer – Regional Trains.

If you want even cheaper transport from the airport, for a bargain of 4.40 Euros each way, you can take one of the regional trains. Line S7 will take you from the airport into the city. From there, you have to use one of the city transport lines. Or perhaps your destination is right next to one of many S7 stops in the city.

500px-U-Bahn_Wien.svg.jpegWhat you need to know – a short explanation on the modes of transportation:

• Rush hour in Vienna’s public transport is still not uncomfortably packed. You may have to stand, but most of the time, you will have enough breathing space.

• U – if you see a big blue U on the street level, that is a sign for entrance to the Metro (called U-Bahn in German).

• S – If you see an S sign, it means it is a station of the regional traffic called S-Bahn. You can use these local trains within Vienna in addition to metro, tram and bus lines. S-Bahn stands for Schnellbahn which means fast train in German. It is part of the regional railway network, but also allows the travelers within Vienna to quickly get from point A to point B within the city, in some cases faster than by using the Metro. Some of the S-Bahn stations which have connections for metro or tram (U-Bahn), tram and bus lines in Vienna are Praterstern, Westbahnhof, Hauptbahnhof, Meidling, Matzleinsdorfer Platz and Handelskai. This makes all the modes of public transport well-interconnected and provides for numerous connections within the city.

previewÖBB – This stands for Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen). S-Bahn is a part of the ÖBB network. Use the ticket machines of ÖBB to get train tickets for around the country and abroad.

Wiener Linien – This is the public transport company for the city of Vienna. It runs all the metro, tram and bus lines. When in Vienna and trying to buy a ticket for public transport, make sure you use a  Wiener Linien machine. Only that one will give you the option to buy the ticket for public transport in the city. You can, however, use the trains of ÖBB with a Wiener Linien ticket, as long as you do not leave the city limits. Beyond the city limits, you need an ÖBB ticket.

You can buy tickets for public transport in Wiener Linien shops and Tabak shops. If you board a tram or a bus without a valid ticket, you can get one from the driver, but only single trip tickets in this case. Have change ready.

The default mode on the Wiener Linien ticket machine is set so there is no date of purchase on the ticket to allow you to use the ticket when you need it. To make sure you have a valid ticket, you must validate it by putting it into the blue machine provided at the ramps going to the metro lines, or on the buses and trains. The machine will punch the date and time onto your ticket.

Vienna transport - validating machines (2)This is important! Make sure you do this step if your ticket does not have a time and date printed. Otherwise, you are illegal and can be fined 103 Euros. Posters around the metro warn you that they have heard hundreds of excuses and that one way or another, it is going to cost you 103 Euro. No, you cannot recognize the personnel checking tickets as they often come in civilian clothes. They will show you their ID and announce “Fahrschein Kontrolle” asking to see your valid ticket.

How to know which trains, trams and buses to take:

Being new to the city may make it confusing which metro, tram or bus lines you need to take to get to your destination. Wiener Linien has a tool on the website which provides detailed explanation and provides the time and transfers, if necessary.

Most of the public transport in Vienna runs until midnight Monday through Thursday. Metro lines run after midnight FridaySunday in 30-minute intervals. There are also night buses running every day of the week.

You can also use Scotty app for your phone to tell you how to get from point A to point B anywhere in the country, including within the cities, using public transport.

For city, national and international train connections and prices, click here.

Beyond using the apps, you will need to know which direction you have to travel on let’s say U1 (metro line 1). A digital display above the waiting platform shows the direction and how many minutes until the next train. So you are going to see either Reumannplatz or Leopoldau displayed as those are the two end stations between which the U1 train travels. If you are not sure which direction you have to travel in, in relation to where you are, there are signs on the walls which list all the upcoming stations for the specific line. A free city map also showing the public transport network is available both at Wiener Linien, as well as ÖBB shops.

Pay attention to the name of the end stop and choose the direction based on which is displayed for the line you want to take.

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