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The official page says

Single tickets (Einzelfahrscheine) can be used to travel once in one direction and are valid from the time they are punched in a validating machine. You may change between tram, bus and underground as often as you like, but without interrupting travel.

What does that even mean?

  1. What is "one direction"? This is a big city with complex transit with many modes of transportation and for example it might make sense to cut a lot of tram stops via the underground and then take the tram a few stops what I would guess could be considered backwards.
  2. How long is an interruption which matters here? Can I stop to buy a sandwich? What if I get lost and miss a train coming only say every 15 or even more minutes?
  • Probably means A to B versus A to B to A or A to B to C with a stop off at B. – user13044 Sep 25 '17 at 8:23
  • How long is a "stop"? That's not explaining anything. – chx Sep 25 '17 at 8:25
  • A "stop" is any time off the transit system greater than 1885362034099 nanoseconds 😜 – user13044 Sep 25 '17 at 8:47
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    That was sarcasm. If you get off the transit go to a store or cafe, you have interrupted your travel. If you are simply waiting for the next tram which doesn't come for 15 minutes you haven't interrupted your travel. – user13044 Sep 25 '17 at 8:54
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    The german version of the tariff conditions (wienerlinien.at/media/download/2017/…) define, what an interruption is: Every interruption except for the purpose of changing trains or busses is not covered within the ticket. Basically if you leave the station to do something else, your travel is interrupted. Unfortunately i couldn't find an english version of that. – dunni Sep 25 '17 at 11:25
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  1. It means any sensible route to your single destination. Realistically you will get away with most things except obvious there-and-back journeys.
  2. If you stop travelling in order to do another activity (shopping, eating, etc.) that is an interruption. If you buy something while waiting for your next train that is not an interruption. If you miss a train then you get the next one.

It is deliberately flexible enough to allow you to travel easily. If something feels reasonable to you in the context of a single journey then it is almost certainly fine.

Could you get away with a more complicated route (using the flexibility as a loophole)? Almost certainly. Unless you are really pushing the boundaries then it is down to what your conscience can justify.

Similar European cities have rules like the last leg must start within one hour of the first stamp. This is probably a reasonable guide. If your journey is much longer than this then you may be doing it wrong.

  • I hate flexible rules. Things like this should be objective and clear cut. – chx Sep 25 '17 at 10:48
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    In the UK, we tend to a more objective system where if you need to change buses, you need a new ticket. (And usually better value to buy an all-day ticket if you are also returning.) I prefer the European system of one journey - one ticket. – Mark Perryman Sep 25 '17 at 12:59
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Edit on November 7, 2017: Note that Wiener Linien decided to discontinue the 90-minute-ticket which this answer is about. The 90-minute-ticket won't be available anymore on and after January 1st, 2018. End of Edit

This is not a direct answer to the question, but per the request of the OP I'll expand my comment into an answer: Besides the normal single ticket there are also 90 minute tickets. These are only available via the app which is available for Android and iOS. It costs 2,80€ (so it's slightly more expensive than the normal single ticket which costs 2,20€) but allows you to travel freely in whatever direction you want for 90 minutes (so you could even go back and forth).

To buy these tickets you need a mobile device with Android or iOS and data (maybe it's even enough if you're connected to the internet at the time of buying the ticket but the validity of the ticket starts when you buy it). They also ask for an address but you don't need a local one (you should even use your home address as they use it also as the billing address). You can pay with paybox, paypal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.

Note that for 5,50€ you can already get a day ticket, so if you know beforehand that you want to make several trips in a day, get a day ticket.

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