Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
Here’s how long it takes to travel from Vienna to other cities using only trains and your comfortable walking shoes.
Wondering how much sightseeing you can squeeze into a brief trip to Europe—without running to and from airports? Check out this isochrone map that charts estimated travel times around the continent.
Isochrone maps use gradients and contour lines to visualize the time it takes to travel from one location to another. This version, made by Vienna-based graduate student Peter Kerpedjiev, takes the Austrian city as its starting point. Using data from Open Street Maps, the cartographer measured projected travel time via rail services or walking at a brisk pace of 5 minutes/kilometer (which translates to about 7 ½ miles/hour).
Here’s the key, denoting the relationship between map colors and travel times:
On his blog, Empty Pipes, Kerpedijev notes that some countries—including much of Spain, Portugal, and Ireland—are excluded due to limited data.
Zooming in to get a closer look could help travelers plot out day trips. For instance, per Kerpedijev’s estimation, you can travel by rail from Vienna to Prague or Munich within six hours—meaning that you could spend the morning in a kaffeehaus and be in a German beer hall by dinner.
And while you’re planning your jaunts, it’s useful to consider this comparison of where 30 minutes can take you on various subway lines. (Hint: In London, you can cross the Thames and hop from one park to another. In Madrid, you won’t get very far.)
Of course, older iterations of isochrone maps use different time scales—instead of hours, they might chronicle travel over the course of, say, days or weeks.
Francis Galton’s 1881 version, above (via Alternative Transport), charted the time it took to reach various parts of the globe, with London as the starting point. Can’t set aside 40 days to trek to Australia? These days, a flight from London will have you Down Under in less than 24 hours.
Correction: Kerpedjiev’s map assumes a walking pace of 5 minutes/kilometer, not 5 kilometers/hour, as originally stated. This post has been updated.