Visiting Vienna is most probably not on everyone’s bucketlist but after spending 4 days in this city I think every traveler has to travel to Vienna once. The city is rated as world’s most livable city and after my Vienna trip, where I strolled along the historic cobbled streets and famed opera houses, I am a fan of Austrian’s capital and its impressive buildings and laid-back atmosphere.
In this Vienna travel blog I show you the must visit places in Vienna as well as things to do, where to stay and many more travel tips. Let me take you around a city rich with history, music, true tales of princesses and kings! Walking through this city is like walking into a fairytale with horse carriages, palaces and Baroque architecture.
I felt it is very safe to travel to Vienna and there is a fantastic infrastructure of public transport which can take you everywhere. You will also notice how clean the city is, very well kept and tidy.
Before planning my Vienna trip, I thought it could be a bit boring compared to other city trips but I was so wrong… as 3 days is even not enough when visiting Vienna if you love history, museums, architecture, sunsets, eating and people watching. The Austrian capital is one of the most interesting places to discover, also during the autumn season!
For an adventure in the beautiful Austrian Alps have a look at my blog about the best things to do in Reutte Austria. When traveling from outside of Europe than I would recommend you buying an Austria sim card. Click on the link for the best options! Please DO NOT buy a sim card at Vienna Airport as it is a scam!
Where to stay in Vienna?
There is a wide range of Vienna hotels to choose from and offers a lot of options depending on your budget, style you are looking for and location in the city.
People who know me a bit they are aware I love hotel breakfasts… And I loved the breakfast offered at Hotel Daniel Vienna, where even the locals come in to enjoy the incredible hotel breakfast. I can recommend you stay at this hotel for its convenient location and unique design, a next time in Vienna I would fore sure stay again at Hotel Daniel Vienna. Click on the link to read the complete review.
Getting to Vienna
Vienna has its own international airport that connects Central Europe to the rest of the world so you should not have any trouble with finding flights to Vienna’s international airport. What you probably do not know is that Vienna is also a great base for road trips and there are many Vienna day trips to other landmarks in Central Europe. If you’re coming from other European countries, you can also take the train or bus which makes Vienna a convenient gateway to Central Europe. Vienna Central Train Station is the major hub connecting national and international places to Vienna.
Getting around Vienna
Getting around Vienna is easy and convenient using Vienna’s public transportation. There are tourist-friendly rates and you can enjoy unlimited access to the city’s public transportation. There are five underground lines and more than enough tram and bus lines, including night lines. You can get transportation cards from station kiosks, airport desks or online in advance.
One of the best Vienna travel tips is to buy a multiple Vienna day pass at Vienna Airport for approximately €18. This also includes the trip from Vienna Airport to the city center.
Traveling to Vienna is not cheap, and you need to be prepared to pay for entrance to almost all Vienna tourist attractions. A solution in order to save costs is to use a Vienna Pass which will ensure you save quite some money.
Personally, I did not purchase one as I decided for my fist visit to mainly experience the best places to visit in Vienna from the outside, but if you are up to experience also the inside all these things to do in Vienna then the Vienna pass is the best choice.
Vienna is such a beautiful city packed with history as the home of Mozart, Strauss, and Beethoven. The architecture of the city is a massive throwback to the past and not to forget even cakes have a history in Vienna…
The majority of the people maybe also know the era of greatness of the ‘Habsburgs Empire’. ‘Habsburgs Empire’ is an umbrella term used for the lands and kingdoms of the House of Habsburg. Let me refresh your history class to where that era started… 1155, is the year when Vienna became the residence of the dukes of the House of Babenberg, followed by the House of Habsburg which ruled for no less than 640 years.
For centuries, the Habsburgs had their main residence in the center of Vienna… Maybe “Habsburgs” doesn’t ring a bell yet but if I say the name Sisi, you hopefully can visualize more what I am talking about…
The films starring Romy Schneider made the Austrian empress world famous. No other empress is as famous as Sisi. After Empress Elisabeth of Austria, nicknamed Sisi, married Emperor Franz Joseph, Sisi moved to the capital city of Vienna, the residence of the imperial family.
Sightseeing in Vienna
The most important Vienna things to do are easily accessible by foot. If you want to follow in Sisi’s footsteps these are some must visit places in Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace, the Imperial Palace and the Sisi Museum.
Vienna City Walk Ringstrasse
If you want to take a walk around the city and indulge further in its history, I recommend you take a walk around the ring road, Ringstrasse, that runs around the centre of Vienna, past some of the most famous places to see in Vienna.
While walking here I admired the Vienna State Opera, one of the busiest in the world and opened for the first time in 1869 with a performance of Mozart. I continued my walk and passed other famous buildings as Imperial Palace, Parliament and City Hall.
Walking around the Ringstrasse is definitely one of my favorite things to do in Vienna. I’ve spent around 4-5 hours during this walk while stopping at several places, taking some detours, visiting churches, taking pictures, resting at a park, eating cake and I easily reached about 8.000 steps during that walk…
Vienna Travel Tips
- What I strongly discourage is to take a ride with a horse carriage, although I know it is part of Vienna, but I rather see these banned... sorry, not sorry!
- In addition to above suggested walk there are free guided tours around the City Hall, or Rathaus, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1pm (except on public holidays).
- In the winter there is a Christmas market and ice-skating rink out in front of the Rathaus, which is very popular… good reason to travel to Vienna in winter.
- The city parks are free like the Burggarten and Stadtpark, also the gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace.
10 Places to visit in Vienna
1. St. Stephan's Cathedral
A good starting point of the Habsburg walk is St. Stephan's Cathedral in the heart of the old city. The first buildings date back to the 12th century but only in the 14th century the cathedral received its current form in the Gothic style. This cathedral is the burial place of bishops and members of the Habsburg family.
In the north tower of the Cathedral the largest bell of Austria is a Vienna tourist attraction known as the Boomer Bell. The South Tower’s observation deck is the highest point in the city and definitely one of the most popular places to visit in Vienna. I highly recommend you pay the €5 and take the 343 steps up to the lookout platform, or take the elevator if you do not want to spill your energy…
From the observation deck you can enjoy some of the finest views in all of Vienna.
2. Market square of Graben
The market square of Graben is very close to the Cathedral. Since a long time, this area has been a market and shopping block. The uniqueness of this street it is lined with statues referring to a deadly plague that occurred in the 17th century and a must visit in Vienna. The origin of this street dates back to the old Romans. There are 5 divisions/shopping areas with the Graben and they include Stephansplatz, Kohlmarkt, Naglergasse, Tuchlauben and Petersplatz.
3. Schönbrunn Palace
This is the most visited Vienna tourist attractions, so I recommend you get up early to head to Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Hapsburgs. The palace grounds open at 8 am and by 10 am you can see lots of tourists coming in.
During Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa’s reign, the Schönbrunn Palace became the imperial summer residence. Today it is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site. The Schönbrunn is a Baroque palace and has 1,441-rooms. It is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in Austria and a must visit in Vienna.
The palace was built in the early 18th century and this gorgeous yellow colored palace reflects the changing styles and interests of the Hapsburg dynasty. The yellow color was ‘supposedly’ the favorite color of Maria Theresa. She tried to sell the yellow color as a color of royalty but in reality, yellow was economical and easily available.
One of my favorite sights at the palace complex is the Gloriette due to its unique views of the Park and Schönbrunn. The Gloriette was erected to glorify the Hapsburg rule where Sisi preferred to enjoy her breakfasts, it definitely adds romance to the entire place, and you can get amazing views of the city of Vienna from the Gloriette.
There are many more places to discover at the Schönbrunn Palace complex. Behind the palace you find the sculpted garden, and this is beautiful. There is as well a beautiful green labyrinth located at the complex which offers a relaxing walk in the baroque park.
One of the things that caught my eye at the complex was the Palm House, unfortunately I was running out of time, so I decided to skip to enter it. It is one of the most important Palm Houses in Europe. You will find an amazing array of exotic plants, beautiful blooms, trees and gigantic snails. If you are a botanic garden lover, this is an absolute must visit in Vienna.
You can easily spend 3-5 hours at the Schönbrunn Palace complex and on my next Vienna trip I will for sure visit Schönbrunn Palace again. I can easily understand why Mozart was invited to perform here at age six and I highly recommend you take enough time in your schedule for Schönbrunn Palace.
4. Naschmarkt Vienna
My visit to Naschmarkt was on a Monday morning and I was a bit disappointed to be honest as I heard many good reviews about it. I experienced the fuss about the Naschmarkt as a bit overrated but maybe it was not the best day for a visit. The market offers exotic foods and spices from all around the world, fruits and vegetables and there are several restaurants where you can enjoy brunch.
My Vienna travel tip would be to go during the weekend, it will be livelier, busier and a much more fun place to visit in Vienna. The buildings near the Naschmarkt are of Vienna's Art Nouveau architecture, so I indulged in admiring these…
5. Belvedere Museum
Visit the 18th-century Belvedere Museums, the complex is split into two Baroque palaces: Lower Belvedere and Upper Belvedere, divided by a beautiful garden. You can enter via the Lower palace and walk through the gardens to the upper to purchase tickets to enter inside and admire the royal rooms. Expect very long lines or many groups of tourists, even early in the morning and even off-peak season as the Belvedere Museum is one of the most popular things to do in Vienna.
6. Bezirk 7 Neubau
Neubau is the seventh district of Vienna and located near the center of Vienna and was established as a district in 1850. Nowadays Neubau is a heavily populated urban area, with a major shopping area and residential buildings. I liked the vibe in this area with a lot of healthy, alternative, trendy café’s, restaurants and shops. Definitely worth mentioning in my Vienna travel blog as this is something you won’t read in most Vienna travel guides.
7. Vienna Wine Hiking
End September they call it the ‘Sturm’ time in Vienna. This is not only an indication for the colder days, but as well for a new wine year. ‘Sturm’ is a grape juice, which did not yet reach the stadium of wine or they call it a young wine… it is fresh and sweet and only offered between August and December. The name ‘Sturm’, which literally translated means Storm, refers to intoxicating effect in your head and in your intestines.
End of September there are the yearly wine hiking days: ‘Sturm’ hikes. These are amazing day trips from Vienna. You explore Austrian wineries in 3 marked hikes with a total of 25 km and taste the ‘Sturm’ wine. You can also skip parts and shorten your hike but while you hike along the wine landscape there are many points at wine farms, where tastings are offered from cellar and kitchen. Sipping some outstanding wines and enjoying the breathtaking views are a must do on a Vienna trip in autumn.
8. Rooftop bars in Vienna
I already touched base on one of the best views in the city centre which is from the South Tower of St Stephen’s Cathedral. If you prefer views with a cocktail or a drink, there are several options. You can try the Sky Bar Restaurant on Kärntnerstraße, which is rooftop bar on the top floor of a department store which has a great view of the cathedral.
Several hotels also offer roof top bars, for example the roof top D-Bar at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel or the Sofitel SoVienna where you can sip your cocktail while the sun is setting down…
If you have more time or you are in for more efforts you can visit the Donaturm or Danube Tower, Austria’s tallest structure. It is located away from the city center and at the top there is an expensive rotating restaurant, but an alternative and cheaper option is the viewing platform which costs €14.50. Not cheap but still an amazing Vienna travel tip.
Some of the best free views over Vienna are probably from the hills around the city, for example Am Kahlenberg which can be reached by bus and is close to the Modul University. You can walk from there back to the city center while passing wineries and traditional restaurants. Probably one of my favorite Vienna travel tips for you.
9. Heuriger Restaurant
If you are looking for a simple meal with excellent wine, you need to visit a Heuriger restaurant in Grinzing of Dobling. The Heurige, or wine taverns, are a pleasant place to pamper yourself with regional deligths away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
10. Vienna and its cakes
Cakes and coffee are a thing in Vienna… The coffee culture in Vienna cannot be missed and the cappuccino was actually invented here. While strolling through the city you must take time to sit down in one of the many coffee houses to enjoy an original chocolate cake and coffee.
You will find lots of options in every corner of the city and they offer all the popular desserts and dishes. Sachertorte is the signature cake of Vienna; a chocolate sponge, apricot jam and a thick crust of hard dark chocolate. A coffee with Sachertorte will cost you around €10, but you are dining in style as the Vienna cafes’ interior are very beautiful.
Besides what is listed above as things to do in Vienna, there is still so much left to do in this interesting city, but I was running out of time during my 3 days in Vienna. Museums, shopping, food, architecture, music, it’s all there and as the weather was really great during my stay, I decided to enjoy these last warm days outside rather than inside in museums.
Visiting Vienna without visiting one of the museums to view more of the work of Gustva Klimt and Otto Wagner is like going to Paris and not visiting the Eifeltower… there is only one solution for that, I need to travel to Vienna again.
For me Vienna is one of the most romantic European cities and this laid-back city full of culture stole a piece of my heart. Not that I mind this at all…