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Vienna

Europe > Austria > Vienna

See: Why rent a car in Vienna ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Vienna?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Vienna?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Vienna car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Vienna with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Vienna? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Vienna, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Vienna is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Vienna? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Vienna between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 2/10

Non car score:9/10

Balance: 1

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

The Austrian capital remains one of Europe’s most impressive cities to visit, and even if you can’t easily find direct flights there, you can always travel to nearby Bratislava just across the border in Slovakia, and pop across to Vienna from there. Given that these two venues can easily make a combined dual city break, is there really any need to even consider getting a hire car?

Why? Visiting Vienna using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Vienna ?


Why should you hire a car in Vienna?

  • Flexibility — as with anywhere else, Vienna car hire will give you the flexibility to drive wherever you wish, but that goes without saying.
  • Scenic Alpine drives — of course, you can drive west towards the Alps, where the scenery is absolutely stunning, but if you want to do this, you would be much better off looking at flights to Salzburg or Innsbruck and picking up a hire car from there, especially as it is actually much easier to find flights to these cities that it is to find flights to Vienna anyway, or it is from the UK at least! However, Vienna is still the main gateway for long haul flights to Austria.
  • Drive south — if you are a fan of the architect Hundertwasser (see below) and you really want to do the complete tour, then you will need to drive south on the E autobahn towards Graz, and to include the Bad Fischau service station on the way. Considering how terribly drab most motorway service stations are, the idea that somebody can turn such a dull building type into a work of art is actually quite refreshing!
  • Hundertwasser tour – Is there any contrast more startling between the formality of Imperial Vienna’s imposing palaces and the apparent randomness of the architectural delights of Frederick? Hundertwasser? Whilst it is easy to go round a tour of his most notable buildings within Vienna, the true aficionado will also want to make an excursion to the fabulous spa at Bad Blumau.
  • Pedestrian paradise – the sheer scale and order of Vienna’s architecture make it perfect for a walking tour, which might end up taking several days to do the city justice. As ever, sturdy shoes recommended!

Why not? Visiting Vienna without a car

Why don't you need a car in Vienna ?


  • Excellent public transport – Vienna has a comprehensive network of buses, trams, underground and suburban rail. One thing I like about turning up at some of the metro stations I have used in Vienna is that the running information is displayed at the station entrance, rather than just on the platforms. This is the sort of nice little detail that always helps make a system more usable. However, it is worth familiarising yourself with a metro map of Vienna on arrival, because the lines don’t always intersect with each other in the way you might expect. Sometimes a bus or tram might be much quicker than trying to take the metro over a short distance and having to change twice.
  • Gasometer – this dramatic retail and leisure district has been built out of the interior of 2 former gasometer units. You might recognise it from the Bond excursion “the living daylights” as a place from which 007 escapes in a Harrier jump jet. As with the Hundertwasser tour, this iconic brick built structure with contrast in steel and glass adaptations makes a great contrast to the formality of the rest of the city.
  • Prater wheel – need we make any film references here?
  • Hundertwasser tour – some of the organic architect’s most impressive works are in Vienna, whilst the Bad Blumau resort mentioned above can also be reached by train.
  • Opera in the Quarry – for a truly spectacular “bucket list” experience, go to a performance of an opera in Europe’s largest outdoor stage. This is at St Margarethen, around 70km due south of Vienna, near the Austrian border. There’s no need to hire a car just to get there, as a return shuttle coach is available. Make sure you book the whole lot well in advance. Note that if you already have a hire car, you can park here for free.
  • Airport Express – Vienna International airport is easily accessible from most of the city, and like most major European airports, it has its own railway station on site. I don’t personally recommend taking the airport express, as this is a very expensive premium service that is unlikely to save you more than 5 to 10 minutes, especially as the local S-bahn services provide better connections anyway.

Ratings: How does Vienna compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Vienna? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Vienna, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Vienna? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Vienna (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Vienna? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Vienna airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Vienna car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 1

2019 - 1

2021 - 1

Average score - 1

Notes:

 

It would be easy to sum Vienna up by saying there’s just no need at all to get a hire car, but when I visited, I spent a day and a half in the city itself, and then picked up a hire car at Vienna airport and drove down to Bad Blumau. I was planning to exit via Graz anyway, and having a hire car made a lot of sense to travel between the two places.

Should I hire a car in Vienna? Naturally, a car will give you more options for excursions, but for the most scenic parts of the Austrian Alps, we would recommend taking flights to Salzburg or Innsbruck in the first place. We’ve covered a lot of Alps, including western Austria in our Zurich car hire guide.

Another option would be to pop across to Bratislava in neighbouring Slovakia, which has some of the worst driving standards in Europe. Much better to stick to trains and trams!

Although there are a few other options for excursions in a hire car from Vienna, there are plenty of options for getting out and about by rail too, made all the more easy by the new central station.

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Vienna ?

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