Just 35 miles and a few bends of the Danube River separate the two capitals of Vienna and Bratislava. That means you can gaze wide-eyed at the Neo-Classical palaces of the Habsburgs and munch on Viennese strudels come morning and then be walking the Old Town of Slovakia’s biggest city between the cheap taverns and dumpling eateries by afternoon.
This guide runs through all the ways you can make the quick hop from town to town. It’s got details on the regular trains, the bargain buses, and more. Happy travels…
|Vienna to Bratislava by train||1 h||$13||Book Online|
|Vienna to Bratislava by bus||1 h||$7||Book Online|
|Vienna to Bratislava by boat||1.5 h||$32||Book Online|
|Vienna to Bratislava by taxi||45 min||$95||Book Online|
|Vienna to Bratislava by tour||–||$80||Book Online|
Vienna to Bratislava by train
Time – 1 h 6 min
Price – $13+
Comfort – 4/5
The train is now the main choice of everyone from commuters to backpackers for doing the trip from Vienna to Bratislava cheaply and quickly. It runs every hour at 16 minutes past the hour from 5.16am onwards, reliably and regularly. Its origin station is Wien Hauptbahnhof, while arrival is at Bratislava hlavná stanica, both of which are a short onward connection by metro or trolleybus to the respective city centres. All services are operated jointly by OBB (Austrian Federal Railways) and ZSR (Railways of the Slovak Republic).
Because it’s such a short journey, don’t expect to find uber-long and luxury locomotives. In fact, most of the services are run on short, four-carriage trains with just 2nd Class seating. But that’s still relatively pleasant, with wide counter-facing seats, big windows and luggage racks. Be warned that only half the train has air conditioning – the other half relies on open windows. During the hot Central European summer, it’s always best to opt for the climate-controlled section.
The train goes hourly between Vienna and Bratislava, offering a comfy and convenient ride from town to town.
The views along the way are easy on the eye. Highlights include the crossing of the Danube on the way out of Vienna, and the approach to Bratislava itself, when you might be able to spy out the silhouette of the Little Carpathian foothills to the north. For the most part, however, you’ll be whizzing through flat farm fields where windmills and pockets of woodland mark the horizon.
When it comes to buying tickets, we’d recommend booking in advance using 12Go.co. Doing that won’t affect the price – the cost of the intercity train is always $13, no matter when you purchase – but will mean you won’t have to queue at the bustling Hauptbahnhof in Vienna, which can get packed during the summer and at peak commuting hours.
Vienna to Bratislava by bus
Time – 1 hour
Price – $7
Comfort – 3/5
It takes a little less time to go from Vienna to Bratislava by bus than it does by train. However, doing the trip around the 60-minute mark really depends on the traffic being sparse on the way out and on the way in of both cities, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re going to be traveling during rush hours in the morning or late afternoon. Still, the prices are attractive. Tickets with well-known providers like RegioJet and Flixbus sell for about $7 when bought in advance via 12Go.co, nearly half the cost of the train.
Coaches leave Vienna from several different stops. Lots will use the international bus terminal at Erdberg. Others go from the platforms immediately outside of Wien Hauptbahnhof. And there are also departures straight from Vienna Airport, allowing for quick and easy links to Slovakia for folk stepping off a plane. The trip itself is likely to follow the fast A4 and A6 motorways eastwards before crossing the border and then the Danube on Bratislava’s famous UFO bridge.
Vienna to Bratislava by boat
Time – 1 h 15 min
Price – $32 (weekdays), $38 (weekends)
Comfort – 4/5
There’s a Twin City hydrofoil that still sails up and down the Danube between Vienna and Bratislava. It’s considered a bit of a novelty way to go, because it’s not as quick as the train and costs considerably more. That said, it will let you enjoy views of the Slovakian mountains, see the wooded banks of the pretty Danube-Auen National Park, and get some down time on the deck as you move from city to city. Also be sure to keep a special lookout for Devin Castle perched on the cliffs as you approach the Slovak-Austrian border.
The boat is a fun alternative route for going between the Austrian and Slovak capitals with surprisingly good onboard dining.
During the main season (April to late-September), the boat leaves Vienna as many as three times per day. During the autumn and winter months, services are cut so that there’s either two or one departures daily. We’d recommend checking schedules ahead of time using 12Go.co to ensure you can travel at the times you want. Price wise, you’re looking at about $32 per person each way, or double that for returns.
The boat itself is a midsized, flat-hulled river cruiser. There are two classes of seating that aren’t terribly different in quality, even though the premium choices guarantee the nicest views of all. In addition to that, you can look forward to some enticing onboard catering and dining services, which include Austrian sweet cakes, coffee, and even charcuterie boards.
Vienna to Bratislava by taxi
Time – 45 to 55 minutes
Price – $95+
Comfort – 5/5
If you’ve got some cash spare, a taxi could be a way to travel in style between these two major capitals. Because they are so close – only 48 miles of motorway separates them – it shouldn’t break the bank, with base fares starting at around the $95 mark. That might sound like loads, but it’s actually for the whole car, so you could end up getting a good deal if you’re sharing the cost as a group.
The other great bonus of a taxi is that it doubles as a transfer to the lobby of your hotel in Bratislava, not to mention a pickup wherever you nominate in Vienna. That could even be the airport, which makes this a fine option for folk flying into Austria but with their heart set on the Slovakian taverns and historic squares of the city further east.
Vienna to Bratislava by tour
Time – All day
Price – $80 per person
Comfort – 4/5
If you’re just looking to hit Bratislava, tick off the sights, and then head straight back to Vienna, you might like the sound of a planned daytrip. There are a bunch of companies offering them from the Austrian capital. They come with a pickup at your hotel or at a designated meeting spot, all transfers between the cities, and guided tours of the famous Old Town over in Slovakia. Other activities and sights that might be part of the plan include the grand Grassalkovich Palace and the white-tinted castle that keeps watch over the city. Most of the transport is in shared minivans with other travelers, but you can also find packages that include boat trips up and down the Danube.
Drop your pretzels for Slavic dumplings. Swap sightings of the Hofburg for wanderings amid Slovakia’s historic capital. That’s what awaits travelers who go from Vienna to Bratislava, no matter if they take the bus, the boat, the train, or an organised tour.
Vienna to Bratislava FAQ
That’s got to be the bus. With fares as low as $7, it’s hard not to be tempted by the city-to-city hop offered by operators like Flixbus and RegioJet. To get the best bargains, you’ll have to book in advance of traveling, using a service like 12Go.co.
There’s no quicker way to go from Vienna’s grand Baroque centre to Bratislava’s atmospheric Old Town than with a private taxi transfer. They can do the whole drive in as little as 45 minutes when there’s light traffic, although it’s usually closer to an hour. They’ll also drop you off at whatever spot you nominate on the Slovak side of the border.
Probably the train. It’s used by countless Austrians and Slovaks all throughout the year, thanks to its regular departures that go hourly throughout the day. It’s also affordable, with tickets bought through 12Go.co costing in the region of just $13 per person for the whole ride.
Yes. There are loads. They leave every hour starting at just after 5am. From there, it’s a quick 1h15 minutes eastwards straight across to Bratislava, with sightings of windmills and farm fields to enjoy as you go.
The normal fare for the train between Vienna and Bratislava is $13 per person. There’s no difference in the cost of tickets bought in advance and tickets bought on the day, but we’d recommend searching for and buying yours using 12Go.co prior to heading to Austria, just in order to avoid queuing at the kiosks in the station.
Just over an hour in total, so long as there’s no traffic jams on the way. The route follows the A4 and the A6 roadways eastwards. Towards the end of the trip, you’ll cross the Slovak-Austrian border and then the Danube on your way to the main station in the Nivy district of Bratislava.
It only takes an hour to trade Vienna for Bratislava, but the trip opens up a whole new world of sightseeing, adventures, and flavours. Plan it and you can add a few days’ touring the famous Old Town at the heart of the Slovakian capital, where beer-sloshing pubs sit next to Slavic eateries. Or, you can take it as an opportunity to launch adventures into the Little Carpathians, where hiking trails snake through pine woods.