In the Vienna Schwechat Airport, near the luggage delivery bands there are several small offices, which change money and/or give tourist information.
At one of these offices I bought my Vienna card (16,90 euro) - More on this Vienna Card later on.
And I also bought a ticket for the Express bus from the Airport to the City centre (normally 6 euro - with the Vienna card 5 euro).
This Express bus brought me from the Schwechat Airport to the West Bahnhof, from where I could continue my journey with the Underground (U-Bahn).
The bus was parked just outside the airport building, and the departure was every 1/2 hour.
After a 40 minutes drive we arrived at the West Bahnhof.
From the parking just in front of the airport building one had a great view on the Airports control tower; it looked very modern, (see pictures)
Together with the underground system, the tram is a superb way of getting around Vienna. Don't worry if you've just missed the one you wanted - we found that another usually turned up within 5-10 minutes. A trip around the inner ring on a tram (Lines 1 and 2 I believe), is a spendid way of familiarising yourself with some of the sights of this wonderful city - and it's pretty cheap too! Best of all, as long as you get the right tram you'll keep going around in circles, which means dozing off wont make you miss your stop!
Some excellent value tickets covering tram, underground and bus are available if you are staying in the city for a few days...I'll sum them up in a different section soon.
There are five underground lines in Vienna, distinguished by colour and number, connecting all parts of the city. It is a fast, clean, and reliable way of getting around. A single ticket valid on bus, tram, underground, and special S-Bahn trains costs € 1.50 (or € 2.00 if you buy on board). Children, dogs, and bikes need tickets, too. You can also buy tickets valid for 24 hours (€ 12.00) or 72 hour (€ 12.00). They can be bought at underground stations and newsagents.
There are 5 metro lines in Vienna :
U1 - Reumannplatz-Kagran
U2 - Karlsplatz-Schottenring
Vienna’s first trams, which were horse-drawn, started in 1865. Since then the Viennese have feverishly expanded this network.
Trams clearly show their destinations at the front of the vehicle and tickets can be bought from machines at the front of the tram.
Ticket prices are the same as for the underground.
Vienna has a very efficient Underground-system (U-Bahn).
Most sightseeing in Vienna can be done on foot, but nevertheless, it can be handy to use the U-Bahn, to go fast to the other side of the city, or to give your feet a few moments of rest.
There are 5 Metro - lines in Vienna (U1, U2, U3, U4 and U6) - (What happened with U5?)
Each line has its own colour, like this, the underground network is easy to use:
U1 = red
U2 = violet
U3 = orange
U4 = green
U6 = brown
The U-Bahn stations are easy to recognise by the blue signboard with the letter U on it.
Near the entry of each Underground station (U-Bahn), you find ticket machines.
The use is pretty simple. The price for a single ride is 1,50 euro.
For my first ride (from West Bahnhof to Alser strasse – line U6), I did buy a ticket, for the rest of my Underground transfers I used my Vienna Card (valid for 72 hours).
After you have bought your ticket, you first need to validate it, in the blue validation machines, when you insert your ticket in such a machine, the date and time will be printed on it. And then you can proceed towards the platforms.
Fines can be high, when you are traveling without a ticket. So do not forget it
The secret to public transport in Vienna is to buy a travel pass, valid for use on the trams, buses and metro (Ubahn). The prices changed on 1 June 2007, as from then the price for a single trip ticket has become 2.2€, a “one day” pass is 5.7€, and a “one week” pass became 14€. A very quick calculation will tell you that it’s worthwhile getting the one day pass if you propose making more than two trips, and the one week pass for anything more than two days. You buy tickets from designated shops, we picked up ours from a tobacconist (ask at your hotel about the nearest outlet). NB, these tickets are for transport only, they are not the “Vienna Card” which is aimed at tourists and which has some discounts which may or may not represent value for you!
Watch out though for one little detail – the weekly tickets run from Monday to the following Sunday: get it wrong and you could be buying a weekly ticket viable for only one or two days!. The weekly tickets come with their validity dates printed on them, but the other tickets need to be validated before they become operative – this also is important! There are no difficult turnstiles as in the Paris metro, but in the metro you validate tickets with those blue boxes mounted on the red brackets (photo 2)
There are about 60 bus lines to choose from, and this is the only public transport operating in the 1st district, as well as some suburbs. Tickets are purchased on board the bus from either machines or the driver. Some buses have machines on board for you to validate your ticket with a stamp.
Once you have validated your ticket, you can proceed towards the platforms.
In order to mark the destination, they always show the end destination of the line.
There are maps in the stations, like this you can check which platform to choose.
Above the platforms there are digital signboards, which announce the destination, the time, and the difference in time that the next train will arrive. Interesting information, indeed.
Vienna has a huge network of tramlines and a fascinating mixture of trams. For an old tram enthusiast such as me, this is tramway nirvana! Time prevented us from travelling on many lines, but several times we used the busy line past our hotel (main photo): as with the Ubahn, trams are frequent.
Whether or not you’re a tram enthusiast, be sure that you take the tram trip around the old city following the Ringstrasse, on either line 1 or 2. These follow the same route, but in opposite directions(photo 2). This run (circular, so you can repeat if you wish) will take you past some of the more interesting buildings in the city and is excellent value for getting your bearings. The older trams have a quite charming ‘period’ character with wooden seating (photo 3).
The newer trams are very impressive indeed: modern, quiet, and streamlined, with an entry step which seems impossibly low but providing easy entry for all. (photos 4,5). If your interest runs to old trams, there also is an apparently excellent tramway museum – but we were unable to fit a visit into our schedule.
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