For art and music lovers, Vienna and Paris top the lists of many European bucket lists. However, the cities are not very close together geographically with over 700 miles (about 1,100 kilometers) between them. Unless you choose to fly, any trip you take from Vienna to Paris will probably call for an overnight stop in Germany or Switzerland along the way.
If you need to get to Paris as quickly as possible, flying is your best option. However, if you have some time and would like to see a bit of the Austrian, German, French, or Swiss countrysides, you can also drive yourself or take a train. The bus is also a cheap option, but you will have less control over where you stop and it's a long ride. It will take you almost a whole day to get there, so you will probably have to break up your route.
|Train||12 hours||from $204||Seeing the countryside|
|Flight||2 hours||from $22||Quickest route|
|Bus||17 hours||from $71||Budget travel|
|Car||12 hours, 30 minutes||768 miles (1,236 kilometers)||An adventurous road trip|
Even when using Europe's high-speed trains, it will still take you anywhere between 11 and 13 hours to reach Paris by train from Vienna. There are no direct trains between the two cities, so you'll most likely be transferring in Munich or Frankfurt in Germany or Zurich, Switzerland. Vienna and Paris both have multiple train stations, but all trains running the westward route toward Paris will leave Vienna from the Wien-Meidling Train Station and arrive in Paris at the Gare de l'Est station. When searching for tickets online, keep in mind that the German name for Vienna is spelled "Wien" and pronounced like "vee-en."
Some people suggest completing the trip overnight, but it may be difficult to find a ticket that leaves Vienna at night and arrives in Paris in the morning or early afternoon. Most train itineraries available online leave Vienna between 5 and 10 a.m. and arrive in Paris between 5 and 10 p.m. If you have the time, consider breaking up your trip by stopping somewhere else along the way. This involves booking two separate tickets, which will give you a little more control over when you can leave or arrive. It will also give you a chance to see a piece of Germany or Switzerland along the way. For example, the train from Munich to Paris takes about seven hours and the train from Zurich to Paris takes as little as four hours, 30 minutes.
There are many airlines that offer direct flights to Paris from Vienna, which can get you from the City of Dreams to the City of Light in as little as two hours. Even when factoring in the time spent traveling to and from Vienna International Airport (VIE) and Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) or Paris Beauvais Airport (BVA), flying is still the quickest way to get between the two cities.
Budget airlines like Laudamotion and Level offer nonstop flights for as little as €20 sometimes, but tickets usually range between €50 and €100 one-way, especially on the major airlines like Air France and Austrian Air.
It's a long way from Vienna to Paris if you're taking the bus, but it can be a much cheaper way to travel than the train. The quickest way to get there by bus will take you about 18 hours, but be careful and keep your eye on travel times and layovers when booking your trip. For example, you can take Flixbus to Paris from Vienna, but the whole journey will take you about 33 hours and requires a two-hour layover in Genoa, Italy. That means you'd be going about 400 miles (700 kilometers) out of your way and adding about seven hours to your trip.
A slightly faster option is the Bulgarian bus company Union Ivkoni, which offers a 22-hour route from Vienna to Paris for about €66 that leaves at midnight and arrives around 10 p.m. the next day. The travel conditions of taking the bus are less than ideal, but if you're determined to travel this way, you can make the experience slightly easier on yourself by breaking up the trip and seeing some other cities along the way.
Under normal traffic conditions, it will take you about 13 hours to drive to Paris from Vienna, not including any stops you make along the way. Unless you are driving in shifts, you will probably have to stop and spend the night in a hotel at some point. It's a big trip, but it is a nice opportunity to see stretches of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and eastern France. You should expect to pay some tolls at several points throughout the trip—so be sure to have euros with you—and because the route has a lot of complicated merges and exits, it's recommended that you use GPS for navigating.
From Vienna, the quickest route to Paris requires two border crossings and multiple highway changes. First, you'll get on A1/E60 highway and drive west, eventually continuing onto A25, which will merge into A8. From A8, you'll take Exit 65 to E552 and the exit to B148 at the roundabout. After you cross over the border into Germany, you'll continue onto B12/E552 and then onto A94 until you reach Munich, which may be a good place to stop for the night.
From Munich, get onto A8 for 162 miles (260 kilometers) and eventually merge onto A5, where you'll stay for another 94 miles (151 kilometers) until you cross into France near Mulhouse and get on A36. After passing Belfort, take the exit to get on E54. From here, merge onto D438 and then get on N19, which will turn into D64, and then D417. Eventually, you'll take the exit to A31 near Val-de-Meuse, which will connect you to the A5. The A5 north will take you all the way to Paris.
What to See in Paris
There are many things to see in Paris, but if you're coming from Vienna, you may be interested in approaching the city through a musical lens. Book your tickets ahead of time if you want to catch a performance at the Paris Philharmonic. There are also many opera houses in the city, so check the schedules of the Opera de Paris, a modern building near the Bastille, or the Opera Garnier, a more historic building from the 19th century. After the opera, a traditional cabaret show in Paris, perhaps at a classic venue like the Moulin Rouge, should not be missed. If you visit Paris in the summer, you might also be interested in one of the city's annual music festivals like the Rock en Seine or the Paris Jazz Festival.