On appearances, Vienna, the capital of Austria, seems to be an expensive city. It can be, especially if you attend the classical concerts put on for tourists, take a ride in a horse and carriage, or enjoy some of the original Sacher-Torte cake at the place where it was invented, Café Sacher. However, there are also many cheaper options to be found. Here are five cheap or free things to do in Vienna, that will still allow you to enjoy this city’s finest delights, whether your visit Vienna in winter or summer.
1. Standing Tickets to the Opera
Tickets to the opera at the grand Wiener Staatsoper can cost up to a stupendous €240. However, if you’re fine with standing for the duration, there are standing room tickets available on the day for only €3 or €4. They go on sale 80 minutes before the curtain rises at the Standing Room Box Office on Operngasse. Although it you want the best position, it is advisable to arrive far earlier. For more detailed instructions on how to snap up cheap Vienna opera standing tickets, see this TripAdvisor post.
2. Tour of the Opera House
If you still want to see inside the Wiener Staatsoper but aren’t excited by the prospect of standing up for an opera, a 40 minute tour may be a better option. The tours visit the various halls and foyers plus enter the auditorium (and if you’re lucky take you up on the stage). Tickets for adults are just €9. Available in multiple languages, the upcoming times are listed on the Wiener Staatsoper website. Make sure you check in advance, as some days there are no tours.
3. Mass with the Vienna Boys Choir
Vienna is synonymous with this world-famous choir. And when they aren’t touring overseas, they usually take part in the Sunday mass held at the historic Hofburg Chapel, held each week at 9:15am. To attend the mass and hear the choir, it’s possible line up onsite for a free standing room ticket from 8:30am on the day. Note that these tickets offer no view inside the chapel.
Alternatively, the cheapest sitting tickets to the Vienna Boys Choir Mass are only €11 and can be booked online, in advance. These tickets generally offer no view of the actual service (except for on TV monitors), but may have a view of the choir singing up the back in their gallery. For the program and to book tickets in advance, click here.
Special Tip: Visiting Vienna for Christmas? Attend the special mass held on Christmas morning!
4. Visit St Stephen’s Cathedral
The imposing St Stephen’s Cathedral is a must to see, even if you have already seen countless other cathedrals in Europe. Surrounded by the pedestrian streets of the Old Town, it is a grand sight to see once it appears above the surrounding rooftops or you exit from the adjacent metro station. Whilst guided tours and some parts charge an entrance free, it is free to visit most of the interior.
5. Cycle around the Ringstrasse
The 5.3km Ringstrasse boulevard surrounds the Old Town of Vienna and is lined with many of its grandest buildings, including the Rathaus, Parliament Building, Burgtheater and Staatsoper. Whilst you could take a tram or house drawn carriage around, one of the best options is to hire a free bicycle from one of the many rental stations, such as outside the Staatsoper. Registration is €1 (and be patient for the many screens, or use your mobile phone), but it is then free for journeys of up to one hour. Full details are listed here.
🐾 Dog-friendly: If you’re travelling with your dog, the Ringstrasse or part of it makes for a great dog walk route. Read my guide on visiting Austria with your dog
BONUS: Cheap Eats Vienna
Looking for something cheap to eat in Vienna? Consider one of these options:
- Sausage stands: Look out for the frequent sausage (or “wurst”) stands on the streets of the Old Town, for your cheapest dining option in the city centre. Dine standing up, with the choice between your choice of sausage on a roll or cut up on a plate.
- Kebabs: There’s no shortage of kebab shops scattered throughout Vienna, particularly on busy roads and near metro stations. Choose from a kebab or falafel roll, typically for around €3-4.
- Schnitzel: Schnitzel is a common option on the menu in Vienna, whether a traditional Wiener schnitzel (thin and made from veal) or the cheaper pork or chicken schnitzel. For the latter, there’s many fast-food style restaurants scattered throughout the city, where a meal including chips and drink will set you back about €7.