Posted: February 2, 2017
When I arrived back in Vienna from Paris after the Air France 787 inaugural flight last month, the airport was covered in snow, but it was sunny. As such, having recently read that the airport’s observation terrace has been expanded, I decided to visit it for the first time in hope of getting some nice photos with snow and also to review it.
Opening Hours, Location, Entrance Fee
The visitor terrace is open daily. In summer season – from May 1 until September 30 – it is open from 8AM until 10PM. The rest of the year, it is open from 10AM until 8PM.
To get to the terrace, you have to follow the observation deck signs on the departure level of Terminal 3. Then you have to take an escalator and go two floors up. There, you will have to go down a hallway towards the terrace. Next to the entrance of the hallway is a monitor showing, among other things, the number of available spaces. Along the hallway, an impressive collection of aircraft scale models is displayed.
Once you reach the end of the hallway, you will have to walk up a set of stairs to get to the terrace entrance. The wall along the stairs features interesting facts about the airport, and the steps feature yearly passenger numbers on them.
Around the entrance, there are several more display cases with scale models, as well as large map of the airport.
Before entering the terrace, you have to purchase a ticket. Adult entry costs 5EUR while a child ticket costs 2EUR. After purchasing the ticket, you have to go through a turnstile and then a security check. Between the two pairs of automatic doors, there are two chairs which are especially useful on cold winter days.
Main Part of the Terrace
The first part of the terrace – the original one – goes along the length of Terminal 3.
Unfortunately, it does not extend to the pier. The area offers distant views of some gates, as well as of movements on taxiways and aircraft departing and landing on runway 11/29. However, looking at the airport from here, you are facing the sun more or less all day. As such, it is not very useful for photography, unless you also take pictures in cloudy weather in which case the sun is not too much of a problem.
Besides the views, there are also some benches to rest on in this section, as well as information signs explaining operations at the airport and so on.
The New Extension
At the end of the original part of the terrace, you can find an open gate. From there on, it is the “new” part of the observation deck.
This part offers view of the other side of Terminal 3 pier. While it is possible to get some photos with the sun in the right position, the amount of traffic you can shoot there is limited to aircraft using the specific gates – mostly Austrian Airlines narrow bodies.
Unfortunately, with the steep entrance fee, there are not many cases in which going to the terrace can be justified. Being backlit most of the time, the observation deck is not an ideal photo spot. However, there are certain cases when it might still be worth a visit. To me, that would be during “special situation” like snow, sunset or night.
It is also a nice open-air place to spend some time at and watch traffic from during a longer layover. During a layover, even visiting the hallway leading to the terrace with hundreds of models on display is a worthwhile activity. Especially considering the fact that that part is free of charge.