How to Save on Airfare to Vienna, Austria
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We were fortunate enough to be asked to house sit a home, a dog (Mono), and two cats (Tigris and Bella) in the center of Vienna, Austria. So, as the date of our scheduled house sit approached, we started to look for transportation from our current location, Cluj-Napoca, Romania to Vienna, Austria. For context, we keep in mind these things when looking for transportation from destination to destination:
Duration (not too long please!)
Cost (let’s keep it reasonable!)
Comfort (it’s the type of seating, proximity to others, ability to sleep or rest, etc.)
Time (not to early and not too late)
Amenities (Wi-Fi, restrooms, working table or space)
Ultimately, it’s a balancing act. We’ll pay more to get a shorter, more comfortable trip with additional amenities. However, we’ll also sacrifice these things if it means a significant drop in price. After all, it's an adventure, right?!
Airfare to Vienna, Austria
Maybe it’s the time of year we were visiting (summer) and maybe it was that we were looking only about 3-4 weeks in advance, but airfare to Vienna seemed to be a bit pricey. For some background, so far on our European travels, we’ve rarely spent more than $100 per plane ticket, and generally get deals between $40 and $70 a ticket. So, when our searches for Vienna International Airport (VIE) returned results that were nearly $300, we knew we needed to see if there were other options.
At the time we were searching for airfare, we were in Bucharest, Romania, with the closest international Airport being Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP). We had extra time and were already considering exploring other parts of Romania before leaving, so flying out of a different airport was an option that we were open to considering. Unfortunately, flying out of other airports in the area (basically all of Romania) were still in the $200-$300 per ticket range.
Travel Alternatives to Get to Vienna
We weren’t taking Vienna off the table, it was a must visit, especially since we’d given our word that we’d be there to house sit. Ultimately, we either had to pay the high ticket price, or consider at alternative transport options. As you may know, we’re huge proponents of traveling by train. It’s generally reasonably priced travel, with high levels of comfort and amenities. Another alternative is traveling by bus, and it's really not a bad option. There are great bus services all around Europe, some even offering sleeper buses, where you drive through the night, waking up the next morning at your destination.
We switched gears and started to look at what a train or bus ticket to Vienna would look like. Again, keeping in mind our list of travel preferences, we didn’t find a reasonable bus or train ride from Romania; the available routes were complicated by several connections and the trip duration was a bit longer than we preferred. So, we put on our thinking caps and came up with a hybrid approach. Was there a way we could get inexpensive plane tickets to a nearby city and then take a bus or a train the rest of the way, or vice versa?
After a bit of research we found a great work around! If we flew out of Cluj-Napoca, Romania and landed in Bratislava, Slovakia, our tickets would be $20.01 per person. It was less than an hour flight, well priced, and even though the only flight on this route left at 7:15 am, it was worth waking up before dawn to save over $500. We then found a bus from Bratislava to Vienna that ran every couple of hours and was only a 90 minute trip. And, get this, the regular price for a ticket on the bus is only €5. Not bad right? However, we booked far enough in advance that we scored a couple of the tickets they sell first, at only €1 (seriously, not a typo)! The bus wasn’t only extremely inexpensive, it also offered Wi-Fi and power sockets for our laptops.
There were several bus companies with a regular route from Bratislava to Vienna. We purchased tickets from EuroLines who were partnered with Slovak Lines. Overall, we were very happy with the bus and the trip!
Bratislava to Vienna by Bus
It turns out that Bratislava to Vienna is a fairly common route. Our hosts from the house sit said that it’s not unheard of for people to live in Bratislava and commute to Vienna for work. We can also see that, because of their proximity, residents of each city probably make trips to the other city for leisure, shopping, and sightseeing. Ultimately, whatever the reason, we came up big time! Instead of spending nearly $300 apiece for plane tickets directly into Vienna. We saved over 90% by making a small detour and taking a bus part way. The best part was that we not only got to explore Vienna, but we planned two days in Bratislava to sightsee there as well!
If you’re traveling to Vienna, Austria, it’s well worth the couple of minutes to see if there are savings in flying into Bratislava, Slovakia and then taking a bus to Vienna. Frankly, regardless of the city, this is a good technique to explore when your faced with flying into a city that has expensive airfare. We use Rome2Rio to find what travel options are available, and we use GoEuro to find the cost of a train or a bus. When we're looking for airfare, we use Google Flights, which has a helpful feature that will sometimes show nearby airports that are less expensive to fly in and out of. The key is to be flexible in travel, both with dates and methods of transportation. If you are, you can score some fantastic deals!