Vienna International Airport:
Flughafen Wien Schwechat
The main (and as far as "ordinary" flights are concerned, the only) airport of Vienna is situated outside of the city limits in the town of Schwechat. It is called "Vienna International Airport" or Flughafen Wien Schwechat and can be found just south-east of the city, downstream of the Danube.
The Flughafen Wien Schwechat is the biggest airport of Austria and employs some 18,000 people. It comprises of a set of extraordinarily ugly buildings that were developed over the course of decades, after the initial airport from 1938 was bombed to the grounds and in need for modernisation at various points in history ever since it became the major civilian airport of Vienna in 1954.
Personally, I am always impressed by the degree of ugliness Austria dares to afford at the entrance to the country for millions of visitors. Even compared to other airports within Austria, Schwechat does an outstanding job in this respect. That much about my views on the building; the rest of this article shall include some practical information on the airport and its links to the city.
The airport comprises of three (soon to be four) terminals and two runways. It is well-connected to Vienna via a train and the motorway; the distance to the city centre is approximately 18 kilometres (more on this later). What many people overestimate is the distance to Bratislava: A mere 49 kilometres, also mostly linked by a highway. This makes the Flughafen Wien one of the most important airports for Western Slovakia and Hungary.
Getting there: Vienna Airport to City (or other way round)
Now a few words on transportation, since this will probably be the most important question for my readers (you). Let me start with the cheapest options: Firstly, the S-Bahn line S-7 goes from Vienna to the airport once every 30 minutes. It is part of the Verkehrverbund Ost Region, thus public transport and both reliable and cheap. The trains depart at the station Wien Mitte and take about 24 minutes.
An alternative are the busses of the ÖBB, the Austrian national railway; their advantage is that they depart from (or go to) various points in Vienna, including Westbahnhof and Südbahnhof (Central Station), the Vienna International Center, the Schwedenplatz and other spots. This is makes them more convenient for some people. These busses are called "Vienna Airport Lines" and because they belong to the ÖBB, the railway discount cards apply. Regular return tickets cost 11 Euros a person, discount cards cut this rate to 5 Euros.
Taxis can of course be found at the airport and there is a long lasting and nasty fight between taxi associations from Lower Austria (of which Schwechat is part) and Vienna. This fight, however, does not affect travellers the least. Prices vary; most companies have fixed rates, but adjust them to the number of people, sometimes the district where you go. The cost should be around 30 Euros with up to four people allowed. Vans with more seats are slightly more expensive than that.
The City Airport Train (CAT) departs from the very central station of Wien Mitte and is a new direct link to Vienna Airport. It is very fast (16 minutes) and convenient. Return tickets cost 16 Euros per person and come with the advantage that you can check in your luggage at the departure station in central Vienna (for some airlines at least), thus saving time at the airport itself. The service is linked with a taxi service that offers discount combined tickets for getting you to the terminal or from there to any spot in Vienna.
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