We are well aware that with all the money we spend on renting our Altbauwohnung in Bobo-stan, the ten speciality coffees per week, our weekend avocado toast, and all the other necessary things we absolutely(!) must have, getting enough culture out of Vienna on a budget can be tricky sometimes. Rest assured, we did our research and found out how you can get your culture fix on a budget, or for absolutely FREE!
Here’s our guide to the cultural places around town that offer free entrance, offer special free happy hours, or offer discounts on certain days. We’ve also slipped in a few tips on how to save money when consuming culture in the city:
Museums that are always free
Where: in every district of Vienna
Were you aware that every Viennese district has its own museum? Well, if you weren’t, don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for. There are also some special museums focused on niche-themes, like the one about chimney sweeps, bricks, or clowns. Opening times vary in every district, so be sure to check here for more info.
One of this city’s go-to locations for contemporary photography is the OstLicht Gallery, located in the bread factory turned cultural and social space, the Brotfabrik. Opened in 2012, this loft is an exhibition space for group and solo exhibitions of both Austrian and international creatives of ze’ camera.
Photo © Marco Pauer
If you are interested in money (not spending it, but rather the history of it), then you should be checking out the Money Museum! Yes, it’s a thing! The central bank of Austria has displays on everything money-related, including an elaborate look at the history of money, and its development since its creation (curse the day this little plastic and metal started running our lives!).
Photo © Münze Österreich AG
Meeting point: MON, WED, FRI at 1pm, not on council meeting days, or public holidays.
The Rathaus (aka. City Hall) of Vienna offers guided tours through its halls and gives visitors the possibility to take a close-up look at the rooms inside. Check out where our hard earned tax money goes and the magnificent gothic architecture that the city hall’s insides boast. The Council Chamber, the Coat of Arms Halls, the Senate Chamber and many other great halls and rooms are part of the tour’s itinerary. To add a sense of adventure to your tour, lose the tour group and hide out in the toilets until the places closes up. Then go roam the place naked and pretend you’re the mayor of the city for a night! (you don’t have to do this naked…we’re not sure why we even said that)
Museums that are sometimes free
Where: various locations, check here
Entry: free every first Sunday of the month and free every day for those under 19. The standard entry varies.
With a wide and regularly changing range of collections and exhibitions on display, the Wien Museum is a place for everyone’s taste, especially those that are curious about all things Vienna-related. It underwent major changes in recent years when the curator and manager of the museum changed, which saw it transformed from being a rather stale and dusty museum to being a space showcasing fascinating exhibitions. Check out the current exhibition on the Wien Museum website. For visitors, it is free on every first Sunday of the month.
Photo © Wien Museum
Entry: pay-as-you-wish on Sundays. Standard price is 8€ (students 2€)
For those interested in contemporary art, The Kunsthalle Wien should be on your radar already. Showing themed exhibitions (group and solo) of both local and international artists in the scene, you never know what to expect here. It has 2 locations and the MQ location offers a pay-as-you-wish entrance on Sundays.
Photo © Jorit Aust / Kunsthalle Wien
Entry: free for students on WED 5pm–7pm. Usually: 9€ (students 7€)
The Architekturzentrum Wien is a centre that explores and shines a spotlight on all-things architecture. It hosts exhibitions that show the way in which architecture and urban development influence and shape the daily life of society, and also pioneering stuff happening in the world of buildings and structures and…stuff. It’s permanent exhibition is focused on the interesting types of architecture that can be found in Vienna, and it is a worthwhile thing to check out if you’re interested in understanding the buildings you see lining Vienna’s streets.
The AzW is free for students every Wednesday from 5pm–7pm.
Photo © Architekturzentrum Wien. Sammlung Margherita Spiluttini
Entry: free every first Sunday of the month. Standard price: 6€ (students 4€)
While going to a military museum may sound like as much fun as watching somebody’s nose hair wave in and out as they breathe, The Museum of Military History is as surprisingly fascinating as watching the reaction on a person’s face when you pull out their nose hairs. This is the main museum in Austria dedicated to the topic of the country’s armed forces and navy history. And, as you can imagine, this is no light-hearted drama as when it comes to war, Austria’s seen some sh***. War, the relating technology, along with natural science, art and architecture are documented in a wide range of exhibits, including weapons, armour, tanks, and plenty of photographs etc.
The museum offers free entry every first Sunday of the month.
Theatres and Operas: Standing room & last-minute ticket tips and tricks
Entry: Standing room tickets 2€–4€ (sold 80 minutes before every performance)
For a fancy evening out, the Vienna State Opera is definitely a formidable choice. Catching quality opera for a couple of Euros may sound like an unreachable dream, but it’s actually very possible here. So you can stop with the opera singing in the shower! If you want to save a great deal of money and don’t mind standing while the fat lady (or guy) sings (Disclaimer: not all opera singers are fat, we just wanted to play with the saying), the standing tickets (ranging between 2€ and 4€) are sold 80 minutes before the start of every performance. A line will start forming around this time, so be sure to get here a little early.
Meanwhile, students have the possibility to get tickets for 9–30€ (depending on the seat) for shows that don’t sell out, and these babies are sold half an hour before the curtain rises.
If you’d rather sit at home while enjoying the opera: The State Opera also has a live broadcast of most of their shows, and this can be screened for 14€ (single), 16.90€ (monthly subscription), or 159€ (annual) on your very own television at home. This way you can sing along with without being shushed by the person sitting next to you. Opera karaoke – now there’s some that should be a thing. For more information click here.
Entry: Standard tickets can cost up to 92€, Standing room tickets will cost you 3–8€, last minute tickets for students 6–12€
The Vienna Volksoper is Vienna’s major house for operetta, opera, musicals and ballet, and it just so happens that it offers standing room tickets ranging from 3–8€ for every performance, which you can simply buy online (which is awesome as it saves you lining up with that bottle of wine you keep bringing every opera visit – even though you bring a glass as well, it’s still not ok). For non-sold out shows, students can buy tickets at the box office 20 minutes before the start for 12€ (Category A, B & D) or 10€ (C, and 6€ for V)
Photo © Georg Soulek
Entry: usually 7.50€–61€. Standing room tickets 3.50€. Students 10€
Ahhhh, the Burgtheater – this place has some history and some awesome plays on stage. Meanwhile, it also offers a standing room ticket for just 3.50€, which can be bought at the box office, online, or via phone. For Students under the age of 27, the theatre reserves a bunch of 10€ tickets, which can be bought online prior to the performances. But be sure to get them quick, as they sell out quickly. For non-sold out shows, they offer them at the box office 30 minutes before curtain. This place is magnificent – check out our experience of the unique tour happening at the theatre.
Photo © Georg Soulek/Burgtheater
Entry: students < 27 years 6€
The Volkstheater was founded to give the wider population beyond culture nerds a taste of classical and modern literature, and the theatre still stays true to this tradition. One hour before the start of a performance, the box office opens, and students have the chance to get tickets for just 6€. Yay for students!
Photo © www.lupispuma.com / Volkstheater
Entry: students 6€ up to 3 days in advance
The oldest still operating theatre in Vienna, the Theater in der Josefstadt has a special deal for students. Starting 3 days prior, and up until an hour before the performance, students (<27) can get discounted tickets for just 6€, no matter the location of the seat! A night out at the Theater in der Josefstadt, where’s there’s a mix of classic and modern interpretations on classics, is a theatre-experience to remember.
Photo © Theater in der Josefstadt
Entry: students 7–15€
The Theater an der Wien offers students under 26 the possibility to get discounted tickets 15 minutes before a performance. The price depends on the type of ticket, and the seat’s location: A concert, or opera performance at the Theater an der Wien will typically set you back 15€, while a ‘Portraitkonzert’ ticket will cost 7€. Meanwhile, an opera performance, or a concert ticket at the Kammeroper will cost 10€.