Is Tap Water Free in Vienna?

Free tap water has always been the way of the world. We are used to walking into a restaurant and being given complimentary tap water. This may become a thing of the past, though, it seems it is already becoming so in Vienna.

Is tap water free in Vienna? Only ten percent of restaurants in Vienna are still offering complimentary tap water. However, the city has over a thousand drinking fountains that provide fresh, free mountain spring water. Nonetheless, if you are charged for water, it is at a small price and usually only happens if you don’t order anything else to drink. 

When taking a trip to another country, many people are always worried about tap water. If their bodies will be able to handle a change in the water or if they should just order bottle water during their trip. Vienna is one of the few places in the world where you don’t have to necessarily worry about this. They have a direct line to pure mountain spring water, making it some of the highest quality water in the world.

Why Do Some Restaurants in Vienna Charge for Tap Water?

Unlike North America, in Vienna, you may run into moments when you are paying for things like bread and tap water. This doesn’t often, though, and really only happens in restaurant environments.

Vienna is proud of its tap water and offers it for free in a number of ways. The city has over one thousand water fountains readily available for passersby. There are also other stations where you can fill up your water bottle for free and even cool off with a little water spray.

Many restaurants will prefer that you order something besides tap water but will serve it to you regardless. However, you may notice at the end of your meal that you were charged a small fee for your water. This is most likely to be considered a cover charge since there are little taxes added. A small price to pay for quality food and water.

That being said, if a restaurant serves alcohol, they are required to serve tap water for free. And most coffee shops will serve you water alongside your coffee without even being asked.

Many restaurants though, consider it rude to order only tap water. Actually, there are some restaurants that will claim they don’t have any water at all. To ensure you aren’t being charged for tap water unfairly, look over the menu. All restaurants are required by law to showcase all items sold with a price listed.

Do Tourists Tend to Get Charged More Than Locals?

Vienna is a city with an extremely high tourist profitability. In fact, they make most of their money from tourists every year. It can be easy to fall into the tourist traps of souvenir shops filled with over-priced items.

When it comes to restaurants, though, this is where tourists may be treated worse than local customers. It is important to study to customs of Vienna before entering the city, otherwise, you will succumb to many mistakes that other tourists make. Not to say this is a bad thing by any means, but you could be treated differently because of it.

Believe it or not, ordering tap water at a restaurant can be considered a tourist trap. This is something that will let the waiter know you aren’t from Austria right off the bat. Many locals do not order tap water in restaurants, and this is most likely because of the abundance of other readily used outlets for tap water around the city.

Going to a restaurant is supposed to be considered more special than just walking down the street. They expect you to order something special to drink as well. This may be silly, and if you decide you would like tap water regardless, it is a good idea to check the menu for pricing. Do not be afraid to dispute the bill later on if you were charged for water, and it is not listed on the menu with a price.

Is Viennese Tap Water High Quality?

Filtered water in Vienna is not something you will see. They do have groundwater works systems, but they are only in use when one of the two spring water mains need repairs or during hot spells when water consumption increases.

That being said, there is no need for filtered water in Vienna. This city is considered one of the best cities to live in the world. Part of this has to do with their water supply. You simply aren’t going to find unfiltered water anywhere else that is of the same quality that you find in all of Austria.

Two pipelines pull naturally pure mountain spring water to the city every single day. The water comes from:

  • Schneeberg
  • Rax
  • Schneealpe
  • Hochschwab

Being the city with all of the free to use water fountains and refill stations that they have, you will not go thirsty in Vienna. And you will be drinking better tap water than even some of the bottled water that other countries offer.

Are There Any Impurities in the Water at All?

Vienna may have direct access to mountain spring water without the use of pumps at all, but the water may still be at risk for slight contamination.

There are what are called nanoparticles that are used in everyday products in today’s world. Products such as:

  • Cosmetics
  • Clothing
  • Accessories like sunglasses

The nanoparticles are used and then inevitably end up back in the environment. Making even the pure mountain springs susceptible to slight contamination. This is something that hasn’t been on the radar before the last ten years. The world has now started using nanoparticles more within the last decade, making this important research for water quality.

That being said, spring water is naturally purifying, and the risk for any dangerous contamination is almost zero. These areas are well preserved, with very little intensive farming going on. Their water is also under the protection of their constitution, making it that much more important. All in all, Vienna drinking water is still considered some of the best drinking water in the world.

What Is the History Behind Viennese Tap Water?

The Vienna Water Tower is now a famous tourist attraction in the city. This was a tower that was used before the second spring pipeline was constructed. It was built in 1898 and was meant to supply water to the higher districts. However, it is no longer connected to the water supply. It is now only meant to be looked at and appreciated for its history in the water industry in Vienna.

There is also the water tower playground, and it is the largest playground in Europe. The landscape offers things like:

  • Waterfalls
  • Streams
  • Ponds with bridges

It is a great place for individuals and families to come and relax and enjoy nature. The park is also complete with what they call a “Water Adventure Path.” This path is meant to symbolize and write out the journey of Viennese water from the mountains directly to Vienna.

It exemplifies the fact that the two pipelines serve as travel units to bring the water to Vienna without the use of a single pump. As I mentioned above, this is a city that prides itself on the quality of its tap water. They have an entire history built around it and love to showcase the quality publicly whenever they get the chance.

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