One of the first steps in embarking on an adventure to a new place is successfully navigating your way from the airport to town. Preparedness can make all the difference.
A hundred thousand years ago, while backpacking through India, I visited the government tourist agency in Delhi to inquire about the level of safety in the infamously beautiful but conflict-ridden region of Kashmir. “No worries,” the good lady told me, “perfectly safe.”
Well, welcome to Srinagar! Soldiers brandishing machine guns lined the queue to the obligatory tourist registration desk directly situated beside the arrival ramp. But far more menacing than the questions about next-of-kin to contact in case of kidnapping or death, was the hungry mob of taxi drivers waiting to pounce on the rare clueless backpacker still traveling to the region. Punches were thrown, noses bled and one (un)fortunate driver only barely escaped forced captivity in the trunk of his own taxi.
And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, lo and behold.
Naturally when we located what seemed to be a trustworthy driver who claimed to be willing to take us to the houseboat we wanted without the old “Oh, that burned down, but I know a good place!” or “You come with me. I know a better deal”, we thought the worst was behind us.
And just when I was about to breathe a sigh of relief, the back door of our taxi flung open and a random German traveler resmbling a Ken doll gone safari dive-bombed himself into our backseat, nearly landing in my lap in the process.
“I’m coming with you!” he declared while wrestling the door shut with both hands as a raving mob of drivers outside tried to yank it back open. They wanted him, he wanted us and we wanted neither him nor them. Our uninvited German had apparently violated some kind of lottery system for passengers. Who knew?
What possessed us to take pity on the intruder and convince our driver that he was indeed with us and could stay? I don’t know. I just know that days later, after he also strong-armed his way onto our house boat, I’d be asking myself that very same question, over and over again.
Our taxi driver, though no doubt skeptical of his own judgment in agreeing to transport us to the Dal Lake given the German-induced ruckus, proved good to his word. We arrived at the St. James houseboat safe, sound but a bit rattled.
Given that and other interesting experiences I’ve had making my way from airports to towns, I’ve come to appreciate any advice locals can offer about the safest, most reliable means to successfully arrive at the preferred destination. For this reason, I dedicate this week’s post to all of you, trying to make it the 16 km from Vienna airport in Schwechat to the city.
Safe, reliable and more expensive than the alternatives are the taxis. However, if you are three people or more, the price difference might not be so great so you might want to opt for the taxi. When you exit customs, go straight out of the airport and there you will see a line of taxis ready and waiting for you. Cost will probably range between 30 and 40 Euros. You can also plan ahead and order a taxi online to pick you up at the airport or hotel. Here are some of the options (Prices as of day of posting this – subject to change so be sure to check):
Airport Driver: 33 Euros (Aug 2014) from Vienna to airport. Book online.
Fluxi: taxi for a set price in a vehicle with free wireless, mineral water and tray. They also offer free car sears for the kids and cars can be booked over their website, Whats app, FB Messenger, Viber or phone. Airport service starts at 28 €.
Red Cab: From Austrian Airlines. 29 Euros to Vienna inner districts for up to 3 passengers and 40 Euros for up to 8 passengers. Book online. Great option for other towns as well.
Blacklane Limousines: Go in style with a BMW, Mercedes or Lincoln Town Car for 34 Euros (Aug 2014).
Airport Taxi: Order online or per SMS. Every 8th service free.
Total Taxi: Starting at 29 Euros (Aug 2014). Book online.
BUS – Vienna Airport Lines
The bus is definitely my preferred option. Easy, cheap and fast. When you get to the bus, put your luggage in to the bottom and wait for the driver. When driver arrives, board, and let him/her know one way or return, buy your tickets and then find yourself a seat.
At the airport, you will find the buses lined up beyond the lines of taxis as you exit directly out the doors when you go through customs. Just make sure you board the bus that will take you to the stop you want to end up at. They leave about every half hour.
Wien Morzinplatz/ Schwedenplatz (U4 & U1)
Wien Donauzentrum (über VIC) (U1)
Wien Westbahnhof (über Meidling Hbf.) (U3)
Rates of the Vienna Airport Lines (as of August 2014)
One way: €8
Vienna-Card holders: €7
Children up to 15 years: €4
Children up to 6 years: free
You can purchase tickets from tourist information at the airport and on-board the buses directly from the driver
1. City center – Morzinplatz/Schwedenplatz (Subway U1 and U4)
- Travel time: 20 minutes
- Operating hours:
Morzinplatz/Schwedenplatz – Airport
Daily 0.30 am; 2.00 am; from 4.00 am to 11.30 pm – every 30 minutes
Airport – Morzinplatz/Schwedenplatz
Daily 1.20 am; 2.50 am; every 30 minutes from 4.50 am to 0.20 am
2. Westbahnhof – Vienna Meidling Station (Subway U3)
- Stops: Vienna Meidling Station/Dörflerstraße and Westbahnhof
- Travel time:
Westbahnhof: 45 minutes
Vienna Meidling Station/Dörflerstraße: 30 minutes
- Operating hours:
Westbahnhof – Airport
Daily every 30 minutes from 5.10 am – 11.10 pm
Vienna Meidling Station – Airport
Daily every 30 minutes from 5.25 am – 11.25 pm
Airport – Vienna Meidling Station – Westbahnhof
Daily every 30 minutes from 6.05 am – 0.04 pm
3. Kaisermühlen Vienna International Centre VIC – Kagran (Subway U1 and U2)
- Stops: Donaumarina, Hotel Hilton Danube, Kaisermühlen Vienna Int. Centre, Julius-Payer-Gasse, Donauzentrum, Kagraner Brücke
- Travel time: about 17 to 42 minutes
- Operating hours:
Kagran – Airport
Daily, hourly from 5.58 am – 6.58 pm
Airport – Kagran
Daily, hourly from 7.10 am – 8.10 pm
CAT – City Airport Train (fancy double-decker train option)
TICKETS: You can buy your CAT ticket or from ticket machines and from tourist information at the airport.
Kids will love this double decker train. The station is directly at the airport, just follow the neon green CAT signs. Trains leave about every half hour and will take you directly into Vienna to the U4 and U1 station Wien Mitte, which also has a mall and grocery store and is next the shopping street, Landstrasse. But another reason you might want to opt for CAT is the cool option that if you buy your tickets online, and then go to the station the evening before your flight, you can actually check in for many airlines at the CAT station the evening before. This will help you bypass all the annoying summer queues at the airport. Check out their website to see which airlines will allow you to check in at the CAT station the night before and when check in times are. Just give them your luggage, get your boarding pass and then the only thing you have to worry about on the next day when you fly is catching the CAT train to the airport and getting to your gate on time. Very cool. But don’t try to check in without a CAT ticket. They are very strict and won’t let you (not that I would know).
- runs between the airport and Wien Mitte/Landstraße
- Travel time: 16 minutes
- Operating hours:
- Wien Mitte/Landstraße – Airport
Daily from 5.30 am – 11.00 pm
Airport – Wien Mitte/Landstraße
Daily from 6.00 am – 11.30 pm
- Frequency: every 30 minutes
One way: €11.00
- CityAirport Train for less with the Vienna-Card
One way: €10.00
Children up to 14 years travel on the CAT free of charge.
EXPRESS TRAIN S7 (public train option) – Subway Station U4 – Wien Mitte
Cheap and reliable, the train will take you directly to the airport.
Runs between the airport and Wien Mitte/Landstrasse
- Other stops in Vienna: Kaiserebersdorf, Zentralfriedhof S-Bahn, Geiselbergstraße, St. Marx, Rennweg, Praterstern, Traisengasse, Handelskai, Floridsdorf
- Travel time from/to Wien Mitte/Landstrasse: 26 minutes
- Operating hours:
Wien Mitte/Landstrasse – Airport
Daily from 4.31 am – 11.46 pm
Airport – Wien Mitte/Landstrasse:
Daily from 4.54 am to 0.18 am
Timetables for all stations are available at www.oebb.at
Frequency: mostly every 30 minutes
You only need to buy one additional ticket for €2,20 in advance. Please validate before boarding. All holders of a multi-day network card of the Vienna Lines (e.g. 24-hour ticket, 72-hour ticket, weekly ticket, etc.) will also need just one additional ticket.
One way tickets: €4,40 in advance and at ticket machines. Each passenger needs two tickets of €2,20 each. Validate both tickets before boarding.The one way tickets can be purchased from the tourist information desk at the airport and from ticket machines in Vienna and at the airport.
Other good sites about Vienna Airport Transportation
Vienna Now or Never