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Eight ways to save money living in Vienna

From cut price summer camps for school age children to swimming pools and opera tickets for just a couple of euros, find out how you can save money in Vienna while enjoying all the Austrian capital has to offer.

Swimming in the Danube river is free!  (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Swimming in the Danube river is free!  (Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Vienna’s restaurants, cafes, swimming pools, sports venues, music venues and events are opening up soon after a long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can already visit its museums and world famous art galleries.

But how can you enjoy the best the city has to offer on a budget?

Public transport for just one euro a day

One thing you don’t have to worry about in Vienna is spending a lot of money on public transport.

With the yearly Wiener Linien Jahreskarte, transport all over the city costs just €1 per day. 

READ MORE: 365 Ticket: Everything you need to know about Vienna’s cheap annual metro pass

Cheap child care

Summer holidays are coming up, but you don’t need to shell out a fortune to keep your school aged children entertained or to send them to a summer camp.

The City of Vienna summer camps are ridiculously good value at just €50 a week, including lunch and snacks, dropping to €25 a week for siblings. The camps, located at various locations across the city, offer a range of activities and outings with themes such as nature, cultural experiences, creativity, science and technology.

The most popular even offer swimming courses .

Entrance to the Albertina Modern art museum is included in the Bundes Museencard (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Culture on a shoestring 

If you are living on a very low income but love culture, the Hunger auf Kunst und Kultur initiative means you can get free access to museums, art exhibitions, theatre and music performances. The card can also be used in Styria, Burgenland, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Lower Austria as well as Vienna.

If you do not meet the strict requirements for the card, there is a chance to visit many federal museums in Austria with the Bundes Museencard, currently offered for €19 instead of €59. This includes a single visit to the Albertina, Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Belvedere, Vienna’s Imperial Treasury, the Welt Museum, MAK or Museum of Applied Arts, the Mumok modern art museum, the Theatre museum, the Austrian National Library and the Imperial Wagenburg museum in Vienna.

It also includes a visit to Ambras Castle in Innsbruck. It also includes family favourites the Technisches Museum and the Natural History museum.

Mexican citizens can also currently visit the Aztec exhibition at the Welt Museum free of charge. 

Hunt out cheap food options

If your food delivery habit has got out of control during lockdown, the app ‘Too Good To Go’ can help you save money. It means restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens do not have to throw out unused (but perfectly good) food at the end of the day, but can offer it at a huge discount to paying customers, meaning you can save money and cut down on food waste. 

No need for a posh gym

Join a running, yoga or hiking group. Under the new rules when lockdown ends on 19th May, up to 10 people from different households can meet. There is no need to join an expensive gym for exercise classes, Vienna has hundreds of free exercise groups where people can motivate each other to burn off those corona calories.

Groups such as Open Yoga Vienna offer free yoga outside, or YouTube video workouts when the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor fun. Join Meetup to find more like-minded exercise nuts.

In addition, there are green outdoor workout gyms all over the city, with those along the Danube Canal and the Prater giving the perfect opportunity to flex your pecs in the sun. 

Get your biked tuned up for the summer – for free! (Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP)

Free bike tune-ups

Does your bike need a service? The Green Party in Vienna organises popup bike repairs all over the city.

Go to the Grüne Radrettung Facebook page to find out more. It’s also possible to hire a bike in Vienna for just one euro an hour from the city’s bike rental service

Swim for cheap – or even for free

Swimming in Vienna’s many public pools is very cheap, and will soon be possible again from May 19th. Marvel at the glass roof of Vienna’s oldest swimming pool Jörgerbad or enjoy views across the city from Krapfenwaldbad, set in the Vienna Woods. Swimming is free for infants (children aged under seven), while children aged between seven and 14 pay just one euro for a swim.

Even adults pay only three euros for a dip. If you don’t even want to pay that much, swimming in the Danube (Donau) is free, the water quality is good and there are lots of great places to sunbathe along the river.

You can watch a performance at Vienna’s State Opera house for just a couple of euros (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Enjoy world-class opera performances for a couple of euros

Famously, standing tickets at Vienna’s State Opera House allow even those on the tightest budgets to enjoy the city’s world famous opera performances for just €2 to €10 per ticket.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the standing area has temporarily been converted into a seating area, while the prices remain the same, meaning you can watch the performances at rock bottom prices while seated in relative comfort.

You must register first here before booking your tickets, and there are testing and mask requirements in place.

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Why does Vienna’s waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

Not every waste management department in the world gets a helicopter or military aircraft, but Austria's MA 48 isn't every waste management department. Here's why you may have seen the familiar orange colours on helicopters and military planes.

Why does Vienna's waste department have a helicopter and a military plane?

The Viennese municipal waste department, known as MA48, is undoubtedly a big part of daily life in the Austrian capital – and not only for practical reasons.

Every Viennese will be familiar with the department’s extensive public relations campaigns, from contests for choosing funny one-liners for its trash cans to weekend-long outdoor events showing kids (and grownups) the importance of the proper waste collection and circular economy.

READ ALSO: Hasta la mista, baby? How to vote for your favourite Vienna trash can joke

But some of these public relations expenses might be harder to swipe under the carpet as the City of Vienna Court of Audit shone a light on the high costs of some of these actions, according to the daily newspaper Der Standard.

Most impressively, the audit made by request of opposition party FPÖ showed high expenses, including hiring a military aircraft and a helicopter – quite uncommon for a municipal waste department.

The MA 48 justifies the expenses by saying the aircraft served to attract apprentices and for public relations.

The SPÖ party, which governs Vienna, said that the department achieved “a maximum effect with a minimum budget with its public relations work” and “the advertising measures served to educate citizens and thus protect the environment.”, according to a press release.

READ ALSO: Why Vienna is a haven for wild animals – and where you can find them

The apprentices during one of Ma 48’s events in Vienna (Copyright: Christian Houdek/PID)

Vienna’s audit court partially understands but still recommended some measures to improve transparency. The PR department of MA 48 will set up a cost centre to improve those issues, according to Der Standard.

The City Audit Office Committee will meet for its periodical review of public expenses on May 19th, when the subject should be further debated.