Note: We have not been compensated for anything in this post. Michael paid the entire costs of the Vienna Pass and his entire trip to Vienna. I just want to be clear about that, as we’ve received similar cards for free in other cities. Not here. It’s all out of pocket!
Vienna is an impressive city. I’ve been in many cities around Europe and the world, but this was the first time I’ve ever been in a city that felt truly majestic. You get a feeling of “Empire” when you are here. You know this place had an amazing history!
To take in the sights, I decided to purchase a 3-day Vienna Pass to see if the Vienna Pass is worth the cost.
The Vienna Pass is different from the Vienna Card. The Vienna Card gives you discounts in certain attractions and is much less expensive. On the other hand, the Vienna Pass is much more costly, but it gets you into all the most popular attractions and museums for free.
Just show your card and you’re in. My three-day Vienna Pass was 119 €.
What is the Vienna Pass?
The Vienna Pass is a card you buy that gets you into over 60 of Vienna’s major attractions, exhibits, museums, and more for free. Currently, the prices and validity are as follows.
The Vienna Pass is not the same as a City Pass. Unlike many City Cards and City Passes around the world (examples: Budapest Card and Bratislava Card), the Vienna Pass does not include public transportation.
You can add a Vienna travel card for an extra cost. More on whether that’s a good value later. Keep in mind, too, that the Vienna Pass is often on sale – usually at 10% off. It’s not much, but if you’re buying the two most expensive ones, it’s worth checking into.
Vienna Food Tour: While you’re in Vienna, we can’t recommend a food tour highly enough. Join a local foodie who will show you traditional and exciting food spots in Vienna while getting insider tips on restaurants and cafes.
Where to buy the Vienna Sightseeing Pass
The easiest way to purchase your Budapest Card is through Get Your Guide:
- Go to the Get Your Guide site
- Click “Book Now”
- Select the number of adults and children
- Select the date you wish to start using the card and the language you speak
- Choose the card that matches the validity you want and click “Add to Cart”
- Then, check out as you normally would.
When you get to Vienna, take your certificate to the Vienna PASS pick up point (Google Maps link), get your card, and you can start exploring and using the free hop on hop off buses.
Other ways to buy a Vienna Pass
You can also buy the Vienna Pass when you get there – either at the train station, airport, or at one of many information points throughout the city.
- Airport: Visit the AirportDriver desk in the main arrivals hall
- Train Station: Same thing – there is a tourism help office on the main floor. One of the desks if for train help. The other is for buying things like the Vienna Pass
- Vienna Hop On Hop Off Bus Stops: If you happen to be walking around Vienna and see a Hop On Hop Off bus, and if that stop has staff, they’ll sell you a pass. Look for the people wearing bright yellow shirts.
- State Opera: Pick it up at the Vienna Pass Customer Service Centre at the State Opera. You’ll find the office in the Opernpassage (underground passage). Use exitway to underground stations U1, U2 and U4.
How much is a Vienna Pass?
The following prices are current as of October, 2019 if you buy your Vienna Pass when you get to the city.
Adult Vienna Pass Prices
- 1 day: 70 €
- 2 days: 95 €
- 3 days: 125 €
- 6 days: 155 €
Child Vienna Pass Prices
- 1 day: 35.00 €
- 2 days: 47.50 €
- 3 days: 62.50 €
- 6 days: 77.50 €
What’s included with the Vienna Pass?
In addition to free access to major Vienna attractions, the Vienna Pass has a couple of other benefits.
Vienna Hop On Hop Off buses
The pass includes access to Vienna’s Hop On Hop Off buses though. Earlier, I told you that you can buy a transit card with your pass. Because you get access to these buses, you may not even need the transit option. More on that later.
I didn’t think access to the Hop On Hop Off buses would add a lot of value to the pass. I’ve seen these buses all over the world and never used them because, frankly, they just looked like tourist traps. But really, they were great – at least here.
While I was in Vienna, I was walking 20,000+ steps a day. That was exhausting enough. Using the Vienna Hop On Hop Off buses provided much needed relief for my tired feet!
They got you everywhere you wanted to go and you could just plug in your headphones and get a decent history lesson along the way. I have a new appreciation for something that I would never have considered in the past!
Vienna Pass Guidebook
Your pass also comes with a comprehensive guidebook. And the book is very good. BUT…
If you’re like me and have even mild vision issues, you won’t be able to read it. Bring your reading glasses! I went out the first day without my glasses and couldn’t read a word.
Seriously. Ants crawling on your book would complain about the small typeface!
Vienna Pass Fast Track access
Some of the attractions included with the Vienna Pass also include Fast Track access, meaning you can skip the lines (like Disney!) You get this access at the following places and more:
- Belvedere (Upper and Lower)
- Imperial Palaces Schloss Hof and Schloss Niederweiden
- Imperial Treasury Vienna
- Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna (Museum of Art History)
- Leopold Museum
- Museum of Natural History
- Schönbrunn Zoo
- Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel
The Vienna Pass App
Fortunately, halfway through my first day, I noticed someone using the Vienna Pass app – which I didn’t know about until that point. After I downloaded it, I had no more issues.
The app is well done and, if you decide to use it, you can leave your Guidebook at home.
The app has several sections that detail what you can see along each of Vienna’s Hop On Hop Off bus lines. It includes maps of each route. After an hour, you’ll get the hang of it and be a pro!
The Vienna Pass app also gives you access to the most up-to-date information, so I highly recommend you download and use it. For example, while the bus recordings told us that the Danube Tower is closed because it is undergoing renovations, the app was more current.
The renovations that closed the tower were completed a month prior!
Top Places to Use Your Vienna Pass
The Vienna Pass includes access to over 60 of Vienna’s main attractions, museums, and more. There are a few places outside the city. If you want to get to them, you’ll have to provide your own transportation.
I’m only including places here that are accessible by the Hop On Hop Off bus or city transit. Here are just a few of the top things people use the Vienna Pass to see in the city:
Palaces and Museums (many of these are BOTH)
- Schönbrunn Palace Grand Tour
- Hofburg Imperial Palace
- Imperial Burial Vault
- Imperial Treasury Vienna
- Belvedere Palace
- Leopold Museum
- Schönbrunn Zoo
- Beethoven House
- Kunsthistorisches Museum
- Johann Straus Apartment
- Museum of Natural History
- …and more
- Ferris Wheel
- Danube Tower
- Time Travel Tour
- Spanish Riding School
- UN Headquarters
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral Treasury
- …and more
How to get the most from a Vienna Pass
In order for you to get true value out of the Vienna Card, you need to plan. Look at everything that is available and see if it matches up with the things you want to do anyway.
Here’s a simple example: While I was there, I decided to go to the Vienna Ferris Wheel at Prater Amusement Park because I wanted to get a view of the city from high up and take photos.
I thought it would be a cool experience – and it was. Even if I didn’t buy a Vienna Pass, I likely would have paid the 10 € for this experience.
However, while I was at the park, I also went into Madame Tussaud’s because it was also covered by the Vienna Pass. While I was surprised to see a pretty decent Hapsburg exhibit there, I had little interest in this “museum” and I would never have paid to go in.
In other words, I don’t count Madame Tussaud’s as “value” when evaluating the value of the Vienna Pass.
But I did get a picture with mah boy Justin Bieber, so I suppose that adds about 1 € worth of value!
What did I do with the Vienna Pass?
In order for me to be satisfied that I got value out of my Vienna Pass, I needed to know that the cost of the pass was less than what it would cost me to get into all the places I wanted to see – and would have paid for anyway.
Since I paid 119 € (at the time), that’s what I needed to save.
Here’s a list of the places I visited that I was going to see anyway, along with the admission price:
- Vienna Guided Walking Tour – 15.00 €
- Schönbrunn Palace Grand Tour – 17.50 €
- Hofburg Imperial Palace – 13.90 €
- Belvedere Palace – 22.00 €
- Albertina – 12.90 €
- Danube Tower – 14.50 €
- UN Headquarters Tour – 10.00 €
- Imperial Treasury – 12.50 €
- Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel – 10.00 €
- Museum of Natural History – 10.00 €
- Sigmund Freud Museum – 12.50 €
Total – 170.80 €
That means I got about 50 € in added value from the card.
In addition to these things, I visited Madam Tussaud’s (10.00 €) and used the Hop On Hop Off buses for 72 hours, which if you just used them without the Vienna City Pass, would cost 49 €.
Again, I didn’t calculate the value of the buses and Madam Tussaud’s into the “value” because I wouldn’t have paid for them. Though in retrospect, I would do the Hop On Hop Off buses again and pay.
In the end, I got about 170 € worth of value out of a pass I paid only 119 € to buy. Adding on Madam Tussaud’s and the buses brings that to well over 200 €.
Strudel and Royalty: Yes, they have an actual Strudel Show and tasting at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. If you’re visiting, be sure to book it!
What’s it like to use the Vienna Pass?
In a word – it felt rushed.
You need to make a schedule
I felt like I needed to do as much as I could in the three days I had the pass. And to be honest, it was tiring. Add to this that it was very hot in Vienna while I was there, and it all makes for a sweaty three days!
Look at your map, figure out the Vienna Pass Hop On Hop Off buses, create a schedule, and try to stick to it. I personally didn’t do this very well and I ended up wasting quite a bit of time trying to figure out where I was.
Had I been a better planner, I could have even got more value out of the card. I probably could have visited 4-5 more places.
Plan, plan, plan!
The best way to get the most value out of your Vienna Pass is to go to a coffee shop and sit there for a couple of hours. Follow this advice for getting the most stuff done.
- Print the Vienna Hop On Hop Off bus map
- Get out your guidebook or the app and start reading
- Write down the places that are must-sees for you
- Write down the nice-to-sees
- Figure out the time fillers – places that you’ll see if you have time
- Take out your Hop On Hop Off bus map and circle the must-sees
- Get on the Hop On Hop Off bus and start doing them
Sometimes, the routes for the Hop On Hop Off buses intersect, so you can easily design routes that take you to all the places you want to go quickly.
Planning is the key to getting the most of your Vienna Pass. If you do it right, you can easily get double the value you paid!
Don’t lose your Vienna Pass
A lot of City Passes and Cards have a protection plan where you can register your card in case it is lost. This is not the case with the Vienna Pass. If you lose it, it’s gone.
I spoke with a few Vienna Pass employees and they told me that they find Vienna Passes regularly. They take them to a lost & found, but people rarely pick them up.
So treat your Vienna Pass as you would cash. Because it basically is.
Should you buy the transit card with your Vienna Pass?
That depends. As I said, the Vienna Pass includes access to the Hop On Hop Off bus system. It’s a fairly extensive network that, depending on where you are staying, can replace transit for you.
I stayed outside the Vienna Hop On Hop Off bus service area and took transit at least twice a day. So for me, it was worth it.
Most of the things to do in Vienna are very close to these buses. So if you’re staying anywhere within the Hop On Hop Off bus network, and if you don’t plan on going outside that area, you will not need a transit card.
For three days, that’s 17 €. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s the cost of a decent dinner!
Is the Vienna Pass worth the price?
It can be. Again, it depends on the planning.
I’m not much of a tourist. That’s not meant to judge tourists. I love seeing people travel. But when I travel, I tend to enjoy mingling, people watching, eating local food in local restaurants and pubs, and photographing buildings and landscapes.
I’m not an art museum person, for example. In other words, I want to go to Belvedere Palace, but I often don’t care if I go inside to see the art exhibits. I want to take photos.
So the 22 € to go to Belvedere was something I probably wouldn’t have paid, because I could walk the grounds and take all the pictures I wanted for free.
I like exploring and getting lost. Museums and attractions aren’t necessarily my thing. If you are this kind of independent traveler, the Vienna Pass may not be your best option.
You may end up paying more for the card compared to purchasing tickets individually. All you may need is a Vienna tourist map and a great travel attitude!
But if you are a museum person and want to see everything, the Vienna Pass is absolutely worth every penny. Again, I got 50 € more value out of it that I paid, and I didn’t even try that hard. You’ll get a lot more!
Just don’t lose it!
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More City Cards and Passes
In the past, we have reviewed a few other City Passes. Check out our reviews here:
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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert. Michael has traveled to over 50 countries learning how to experience more for less as he travels.