What are your thoughts/experience with the city tourist cards in Vienna, Salzburg or Innsbruck? Are these worth buying or just a money grab? Easy to use?
You must find the answer yourself by doing the math. How many sights offered by the card will you be able (and willing) to visit? Add the amount of saved entrance fees together and compare it to the extra costs of the tourist card.
As far as I know most tourists (including myself) visit only a fraction of all the sights offered by the card; additionally some sights you may want to see are not included. Therefore in most cases the card does not pay off, IMHO.
generally I completely agree with wmt1
I did, once, get one of those cards, it was several years ago, maybe 10 or so years ago, so make of it what you will. I don't have any idea of the current price or included list (and I just got in from a day on the English canal network Foxton staircase locks, so I'm too tired and lazy to look it up).
It was for Salzburg. The only similar card I have ever bought.
In those days it it included a river jet boat ride (liked it), a trip up to the Festung (liked it), transportation (liked it), Hellbrunn Palace with its trick fountains (loved it, loved it, loved it), both Mozart houses (loved them both but differently), several other unforgettable attractions (after many trips back to Salzburg have completely forgotten all the other unforgettable places), and the cable car with the incredibly long unsupported cable (hated it, my wife hated it, we both have ridden dozens of cable cars before and after and this is the only one we have really felt uncomfortable and worried on. The walks at the top (nice enough) were completely overshadowed by the unpleasant (but apparently safe) ride up).
So you see - work out what you want to see and then see if it is on the card, not the other way around. Then do the math.
On subsequent trips we always revisit our favs, and few if any of them are on the cards. Most are free.
Regarding Innsbruck, I wouldn't consider a tourist card there. Lots of people love Innsbruck - we don't and while we often stay in the vicinity (usually up the (very steep) hill at Seefeld in Tirol) we only use Innsbruck train station as a place to change trains.
For us, once you've seen the golden shed roof you've pretty much done the place.
As I say, others love the city.....
I have not ever researched the Austrian sightseeing cards, so my comments are general ones. But I've thought about this a lot, because I do love a bargain.
It's always a challenge to come up with an accurate calculation of how many places you'll have time to see on your first trip to a city. Evaluating the utility of big-city cards (Vienna in your case, not Salzburg or Innsbruck) is especially challenging. In a large city, a lot of card-validity time can be used traveling between sights and wandering off down picturesque streets along the way. If the card has a local-transportation component, which the big-city cards usually do, you need to realize that the more you benefit from that (i.e., the more transit you use), the less time you'll be spending actually inside sights. And it's virtually always possible to buy a separate transit pass if you really need one. You might need a transit pass for only one day of several in the city, and a daily transit pass will not be expensive (unless we're talking about a one-day vaporetto pass in Venice).
After using tourist cards in Berlin and Budapest, I've determined that you're likely to end up with a rather inefficient sightseeing plan if you try to cram all the covered sights that interest you into the day(s) the card is valid. That will likely have you walking right past other things (free or not included on the card) you want to see and then going back to see them after the card has expired. Add in the possibility that some of your sights may be open only six days a week, and that you might want or need to adjust plans due to weather challenges, and things get even more complicated. Time is a tourist's most valuable commodity; saving a few euros on tickets (even assuming that happens) but wasting hours in back-and-forth travel is not a good bargain.
I have been very happy with sightseeing cards in several smaller cities, but you still need to ask yourself what places you want to see and will have time to see, then compare their total cost to the cost of the card. And if anyone in your travel party might qualify for reduced-price entry tickets (children, students, seniors, etc.), that also needs to be taken into consideration.
For Vienna, as wmt1 has said, you have to do the math yourself. Keep in mind that there is no need at all for the Hop On Hop Off bus. Also keep in mind that you do not want to visit silly sights like Madame Toussaud's, Time Travel whatever it is, etc. I suggest looking at the tourist board website for Vienna to decide what you want to see and then price it out.