When we planned our trip to Vienna we thought for a long, long time about what kind of transportation to choose. It was to be comfortable and fast, preferably at night. Our choices were a train/plane from Warsaw or a car from Lodz. What did we choose and why? How much does each option cost? Are vignettes needed?
Lodz, our hometown, has a potentially very good location in central Poland. We have good highways or expressways to the north, west and at least east to Warsaw. To the south there is no longer a tragedy either, the ride is usually fairly smooth. The downside, however, is that we are a little further to the “good” airport.
And if it weren’t for this fact, we probably would have immediately chosen a connection by plane or train, because that’s the fastest way to Vienna. However, due to our good/bad (delete as appropriate ;-)) location, this choice is no longer so easy and obvious.
Since we have been figuring this out for a long time we want to share our calculations with you. Of course, for each city in Poland the situation looks a little different, and if you are planning a trip to Vienna you need to take into account several factors, but we hope this post will help you make a decision.
Table of contents
By plane to Vienna
Let’s start with potentially the fastest option. We are considering flying out of Warsaw.
Wizz Air unfortunately does not fly from Warsaw to Vienna. It will only offer connections from Gdansk in the summer schedule, which overall is a very good option for residents of northern Poland.
Ryanair similarly, does not fly to Vienna at all.
That leaves us with only LOT. Our national carrier offers up to 5 connections a day. So there is plenty to choose from.
Looking now, about a month ahead, when we choose to depart on Thursday (at 7:20 a.m., at 8:45 a.m. on site) and return on Sunday (departure at 9:25 a.m. or 7:35 p.m.) at a promotional fare without checked baggage, we can have a ticket for one person for as little as zł 449 round trip. The price is quite decent. The flight takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes one way.
That is, for about zł,000 (two adults, baby almost free) and a trip that will take us a minimum of 4 hours we are in the center of Vienna. Here we count 1h30min for the flight + 30 minutes for the transfer from the Vienna airport to the center (by bus) and about 1h30min for the time at the Warsaw airport and 30 minutes to get to the Warsaw airport.
Add to that the cost of getting to the airport in both cities.
In our case, we had to add the cost of getting to Warsaw and a minimum of 2 hours of commuting time (with a spare, which is always good to have), so in the end, in our calculation, wezłwith a minimum of 6 hours + an oversleeping night (we would have to leave home around 3 am).
By train to Vienna
Despite appearances, the option promised to be quite decent. There are two options to choose from:
- EIC daily train, which takes about 7 hours (6:50-13:49 or 14:45-21:49)
- Or a night IC train going about 11 hours (19:50-07:00)
The first option costs (seats) from as low as EUR 29 per person one way, the second option (same seats) also costs from EUR 29 (at promotional fares). That is, with good winds, we can have a ticket for 2 people at the price of 500 zł round trip.
For the month ahead we will calmly buy a ticket at this price. But be warned, you can’t buy them online. At least through the PKP IC website. With the Austrian carrier it is already possible :)
That is, for half the price on the trip we spend about 3 hours more (during the day) or 7 hours (!!!) more in the case of an overnight connection, although here you can at least get some sleep.
Well, speaking of sleeping, for an extra 20 EUR you can buy a couchette or for 35 EUR a seat in a comfortable compartment with breakfast and toilet. That is, in truth, for an overnight train ride, you can count a ticket with a couchette, which brings us up to 49 EUR one way per person. In total, for two people, two-way 823 zł. Still cheaper than by plane, the question is whether more comfortable?
In our case, we also have to count about 2 hours to get to Warsaw by train and time to change trains, so the time differences are about the same.
By car to Vienna
And this is where the stairs already begin. Because there are several routes to choose from, no matter where you leave from.
Road vignettes in the Czech Republic and Austria
The main issue, however, is vignettes. A road vignette (i.e., a fee for using the roads) is needed in the Czech Republic and Austria (and/or Slovakia, if your route will pass through that country).
Of course, you can try to avoid at least partially toll road sections (only certain sections are tolled, not the entire road network, both in the Czech Republic and Austria), but this misses the point if you want to get there quickly, comfortably and safely.
The cost of such a vignette in the Czech Republic is currently EUR 12.5 for a 10-day vignette (the cheapest option) and EUR 9 in Austria (also for a 10-day vignette).
Route by car from Poland to Vienna
But back to the route itself. For us, the optimal route follows the A1 and National One via Pyrzowice, then Ostrava, Brno, through the border crossing near Mikulov and straight to Vienna.
Currently, Google Maps shows that this route can be traveled in 6 hours and 2 minutes. The route is mostly on two-lane roads, but surprisingly quite a bit on the Czech-Austrian border is single-lane where you drive much slower and have to be more careful.
6 hours looks optimistic, but you have to add to it a few stops (especially with a small bean) and possible difficulties on the roads. In the end, our trip took us 7 hours + a 1-hour nap in the parking lot at the gas station.
We chose the night option, i.e. traveling at night, to avoid possible traffic jams or congestion and to make it easier for Olive to endure the trip.
Is it worth going to Vienna by car?
To answer the above question, it is essential to add the cost of fuel. These can be quite different depending on the type of fuel, car and driving style. Certainly driving at night allows for smoother, that is, more economical driving.
So for the sake of generalization, we will use mileage. One way comes out to about 590 kilometers. That is, according to current rates, it comes out to exactly zł.24 round trip. Adding the cost of the vignette, we close more or less in the neighborhood of zł 1,000.
So the price comes out as for a plane (without luggage) or an overnight train with a couchette, but more expensive than the daytime option.
To sum up the whole thing: the differences in cost are there, but not so great that it’s easy to choose one particular option, which is why we took into account other aspects besides time and finances.
One was comfort, so important when traveling with a small child, and as a result, the car wins with us because we can pack a lot of luggage and are independent of departure/departure times. For this, “as if something”, we can return earlier, as well as on the spot we have a means of transport, of course, not after the center of Vienna, but to, for example, to get already to the outskirts can be useful.
We also recommend all our posts about Vienna, what to see there.