Ahh Vienna, the city of music! A city brimming with museums, elegant palaces and coffee houses on every corner. On my three week trip home to the UK, I managed to squeeze in a weekend to Vienna and it is by far one of the most beautiful cities I have been to. It’s also much larger than you might expect.
I’d always heard how beautiful Vienna was – but when thinking about the city I could never name any of its landmarks. Paris is famous for it’s Eiffel tower, New York for the Statue of Liberty – But what about Vienna? I must admit I had little idea about the culture of Vienna or what it had to offer. Assuming that it would be a small city with not much to do. And I feel a lot of traveler’s might have this misconception. Well – we are all wrong. There was more than enough to do in this amazing city, my only regret is that I didn’t do more.
But everyone was right, Vienna is stunning, it’s beauty is unparalleled. Every street corner and building were just wonderful to look at, and the city is well kept which makes it even better. The locals definitely seem proud of their city – and no wonder, it has been continuously ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.
I felt instantly comfortable in Vienna, even despite my lack of German, I managed to find my way easily without a map, remember directions and use the public transport with ease. I must’ve looked like a local because I was asked several times for directions even though it was my first time in the country. Surprisingly I actually knew the answers!
How To Spend 2 Or 3 Days In Vienna
This itinerary will document what I did in the city, how long to spend at each attraction and the prices. It’s also good to note day 1 and day 3 will be travel days for most people, so they are more like half days rather than full days. You have to take into account traveling time to/from the airport and any jet lag depending on where you are traveling from. This guide can totally be done in 2 days but would be squeezing a lot into each day.
Vienna is a big city with many attractions. I’ve seen a lot of Vienna travel itineraries online and in my opinion a lot of them are very adventurous. It also depends on how long you like to spend in places, some people only go to a museum to see specific things, others will want to linger for hours.
How To Get To Vienna
Vienna international airport is a 25 minute drive from the city centre. A taxi will cost you between €45 and €50. A cheap and efficient option is to take the CAT train, which connects the airport with the city centre. It is a direct train with a journey time of 16 minutes. The CAT train is €12 one way or €21 return per person.
The Vienna metro is very easy to use – a 24 hour pass will set you back €8 and starts from the time you buy/validate it. So if you buy your pass at 3pm, it will be valid until 3pm the next day. A 48 hour pass will cost approximately €14. If you’ve ever used a metro system, the same rules apply. Being used to the London undergound has given me the benefit of being able to work out metro systems around the world (even the New York subway eugh)
Tickets are available from every station (that I went to anyway) and can be purchased via the ticket booths which accept both cash and cards.
Where To Stay
The hotel I stayed at during my visit to Vienna was the Safestay Vienna. Located in the Margraten neighbourhood, this hotel has good connections to the inner city by bus and train. The inner city and karlsplatz is a 20 minute walk. The Naschmarket is a 10 minute walk and there are some really good restaurants within walking distance.
One of the reasons I booked this hotel was because it was one of the only hotels left within my budget when I booked, but I have to say, I’m really glad I did. Originally I looked for hotels in the Inner Stadt but staying just outside of the inner city really did have it’s benefits. The safestay was in a great area filled with little local cafes and supermarkets, making it easy to grab water/snacks for the day or to bring back to the hotel room.
Vienna Opera House
Steeped in tradition and history, the Vienna Opera House is one of the grandest buildings in the city. The Opera House opened it’s doors in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s Don Juan, among the attendees were Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth.
From our hotel the Opera House was around a 15-minute walk and is great to see during the day time and night time. Tours are available for the Vienna Opera house which you will need to book online via the official website and cost €9 per adult.
Duration: 20 minutes (we only took photos, so no tour) 40 minutes if doing tour
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephens Cathedral completed it’s construction in 1160, it’s ornate spires and rich multicoloured roof make it an easily recognisable icon of Vienna. The interior of the church is just as stunning and well worth a visit.
It was undergoing renovations during my trip and as a result part of the exterior was covered in scaffolding (a theme that carried on into my day trip to Bratislava) But the church was beautiful all the same. Entry to the church is free but if you’d like to venture to the top for some incredible views of Vienna, the entry fee is €6.
The Cathedral is located at Stephansplatz, which you can access via Kartner Stasse, one of the main shopping areas in Vienna.
Duration: 30 minutes
The Hofburg Palace is centrally located at Michaelerplatz and is an easy walk from many of the cities main attractions. This was my favourite building in all of Vienna – just look at how beautiful it is! I could not stop photographing this elegant Palace.
The Hofburg is an important part of Austrian history. It was the Imperial Palace of the Habsburg Dynasty who ruled from the 13th century until 1918. Today it serves as the official residence of the Austrian President.
The palace houses a museum dedicated to Empress Elisabeth, the Sisi Museum, and displays over 300 objects including her personal possessions.
Entry to the Sisi Museum is €15 with an audio guide included.
Duration: 1 – 2 hours
Shopping In The Graben District
The Graben district is where you’ll want to head if you’re interested in doing any shopping. Brands from Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, along with high street brands such as H&M can be found here.
The only shopping I did while in Vienna was for souvenirs, prices are comparable to anywhere else in Europe.
Duration: I can shop for days so this all depends on you!
Dinner At Trattoria Margareta
As this was my first day in Vienna and I’d been up since 3am to get our flight at 7am – we went and took a nap in the hotel! We decided to look for a restaurant close to our hotel and found one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve been to – and it was super affordable too! A 5 minute walk behind our hotel is the restaurant Trattoria Margareta. I stuffed my face with soup and garlic breadsticks to start, followed by a hand-made porcini mushroom ravioli.
Prices were as follows:
Garlic Breadsticks: €2.50
Mushroom Ravioli: €12.90
Kunst Haus Hundertwasser Museum
The Kunst Haus features the weird and wonderful artwork of Viennese artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. I’d seen the Kunst house many times in photographs and always thought it looked… weird? I’ve since come to appreciate it’s weirdness (as I have my own!) and actually quite enjoy the exterior or this museum.
Despite seeing this house many times over, I’d never truly heard of or seen the artwork of Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It was really nice to go into a museum with zero expectations. Everything past the front doors was a mystery to us. I ended up falling in love with some of the pieces in the museum, it really is full of character, even the staircase was a tad wacky.
I made the mistake of thinking the “Kunst Haus” and “hundertwasser House” were the same thing! So unfortunately I didn’t get to see the Hundertwasser house. If visiting the Kunst Haus, the Hundertwasser House is just a short walk away – make sure you don’t miss it!
Entry into the museum is €12
Duration: 1 hour
Austrian National Library
The Austrian National Library is the largest library in Austria. Founded by the Habsburgs the library was originally called the Imperial court Library and has a collection of over 12 million items. The state hall of the library was probably one of the most impressive rooms I’ve ever stepped foot in.
I nerded out a little upon entering, exclaiming it was just like Hogwarts. The paintings on the ceiling dominate the room while a statue of Emperor Charles VI sits in the middle of the room surrounded by over 200,000 books dating between 1501 and 1850.
Entry to the State Hall is €8. Lines get quite long for this attraction so the earlier in the day you go the better!
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes (including time to get tickets)
The Beethoven Pasqualatihaus Museum
Being the city of music I had to check out one of the many museums dedicated to the great composers. I’d have loved to see the Mozart museum, but unfortunately was closed on the day we chose to visit. The Johann Strauss apartment was too hard to find, so we opted to check out a small museum dedicated to Beethoven.
The Beethoven Pasqualatihaus is a small museum dedicated to Beethoven, who lived here several times between 1804 and 1815. The museum displays several original sheets of music by Beethoven. It was here he composed several symphonies, Fidelio and the famous Fur Elise.
While it was nice to see somewhere dedicated to Beethoven, I wouldn’t say this museum is a must. There is another museum dedicated to Beethoven a little further out from the inner city, which is why we opted for this one.
Entrance to the museum is €5
Duration: 20 minutes
Vienna Rathaus/Town Hall
What’s that you say? More scaffolding? Why yes!
Duration: 30 minutes
I was very excited to see the grandeur or the Vienna Rathaus for myself, but alas, it was also under renovation. It seems to be a theme of my trips like the Trevi Fountain, Maximilian Fountain, the Washington Monument… I realise that this is a big first world problem, but just once I’d love to see a landmark not closed/covered for renovation.
Still, the back of the Rathaus was very lovely and I’m sure it needed the renovation, as old buildings often do. It was just slightly disappointing when I’d built up the hype of the building in my head. I guess like always – there is next time!
Dinner At Mullerbeisl
No trip to Vienna would be complete without having wienershnitzel at least once! There are many places in Vienna that get good reviews for their wienerschitzel, but most need reservations. We were very lucky when we stumbled into the Mullerbeisl as they seated us right away. I’d had wienerschnitzel in Germany a few years back and fell in love.
The wienerschnitzel was €17.90
Schonbrunn Palace was the big highlight of my trip to Vienna. I specifically left this one til last so I could spend more time here and enjoy it with bright blue skies.. I love learning about Royal families, and visiting a Palace when visiting European cities is always a must. Schonbrunn glowed in the sunshine, it was full of character and unlike any Palace I’d been to before.
There are several options for your tour to Schonbrunn that range in price. As I am unlikely to visit again anytime soon, I opted for the Classic Pass option, this was €26.50.
What does the Classic Pass include? The Classic Pass will give you access to the Palace with the Grand tour included. This takes you through 40 rooms in the Palace with an audio guide included. As well as; access to the Privy Garden, Maze & Labyrinth, Orangery Garden and Gloriette.
In total we spent about 4.5 hours at Schonbrunn Palace. It’s an attraction you’ll want to get to early in the day as by 9am when we arrived there were plenty of people.
How To Get There:
Schonbrunn palace is easily accessible by train. The U4 (green) line on the U-Bahn will take you directly to Schonbrunn station. From the station exit the palace is a ten minute walk. If in doubt, follow the crowd!
Duration: 4-5 hours
Apple Strudel Show
After a few hours wandering through the Palace gardens, treat yourself to some coffee and strudel. The Palaces confectioners demonstrate how to make the perfect apple strudel, including how they get the dough so thin, and which fine spices to add to your mix. Shows are every hour and last around 20 minutes.
Walk Through One Of Vienna’s Many Parks
Vienna is home to some stunning urban parks, and after a day of non-stop sight seeing, it’s nice to take a step back and enjoy a leisurely stroll through one of it’s parks. The Burggarten is a great place to chill out away from the city crowds, and features a must-see monument to Mozart!
Duration: 30 minutes
The Nasch Market is Vienna’s biggest and most popular market, with 120 market stands selling everything from fruit, shellfish, cured meats and chocolates. You’ll also find many cafes and restaurants here making it a great place to have breakfast or lunch.
The Nasch Market was conveniently located mid-way between our hotel and the Inner Stadt, making it easy for us to pick up fruit/souvenirs on the walk back to the hotel.
Dinner At Cafe Amacord
One of my favourite dishes in Vienna was at a small Cafe called Amacord and situated right next to the Naschmarkt. I chose the Viennese fried chicken with traditional Austrian potato salad – amazing! This dish was featured on the menu of several restaurants we visited, and a must try!
I don’t remember the exact price but I think it was around €15
In between all of this we would stumble into one of Vienna’s many coffee houses. They are scattered all over the city so really easy to squeeze in between attractions.
A few things to note that might help you prepare for your trip:
Restaurants in Vienna will not put ice in your drinks unless requested. All sodas will come in either a bottle or can. They do not use the soda fountain system and drinks are non-refillable.
Tipping is not customary in Europe. While it is not expected it is still very much appreciated. When paying for your meal it’s okay to round up to an even number. For example, if the bill is €27 we would leave €30.
Air con isn’t very common is most places. Even on our last day when temperatures rose to 15-18 degrees the heating still seemed to be on in many places.
Most restaurants in Vienna will require you to seat yourself at any available table, unless stated otherwise. (We’d picked this up after day 1 and were mistaken for Austrian!)
Service in Austria is very different to that of North America. You are usually left alone for the most part, and unlike North America, most of the time you will need to ask for your check. The service isn’t rushed and you are free to enjoy your surroundings for as long as you like.
How Expensive is Vienna?
Before visiting Vienna all I heard was how expensive the city was. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there to find out how – not expensive it was? I suppose “expensive” is an arbitrary term. What one person may consider expensive another might not. But when comparing major capital cities, I often compare it to the likes of London or New York. New York was probably the most expensive city I’ve ever been to. Vienna? Well that was substantially cheaper. By no means am I saying Vienna was a cheap place, but it potentially could be and at the very least affordable.
The most expensive part of my trip was my hotel. I think this is because I left booking till very late and it seemed to be quite busy/close to Easter. Had I booked further in advance and maybe a different time of year I might have gotten a cheaper hotel. Having said that, I was very happy with my hotel of choice. And although I questioned the neighbourhood it was in, I found that I loved the Margraten area far more.
Being close to small supermarkets like Hofer (aldi), Billa and SPAR meant that we could buy water for €0.60 instead of €3. The trains were cheaper than London at €8 a day across the whole U-Bahn. Food was on average around €14 for a meal plus cost of drinks. The average entry fee was around €15 which I really don’t think is too bad for historical buildings. In comparison Top of the Rock is $45 and I’d much rather pay to learn about a building that is hundreds of years old!
Walking is also really easy in most parts of the city, the Inner Stadt was a 20 minute walk from our hotel, and we would pass several places of interest on the way. The Hauptbahnhof was also a 20 minute walk. If you plan your trip with a budget in mind, I think you could enjoy Vienna without breaking the bank.
Have you ever been to Vienna? What were your favourite attractions?
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