Do you love history and imperial sights and want to travel to a new cultural destination, while also having fun at the same time? Then Vienna is a great option for you! The city has a mix of a variety of travel styles and activities for any type of traveler, and to help out I will share with you some of the best things to do in Vienna below!
If you are not sure about the destination and are asking yourself what is Vienna known for – there are many different ways of answering this! You may start with their cozy coffee houses or their impressive imperial sights but don’t forget about their well-kept historical garden, their nice wine taverns and more!
Now, without further ado, let me share with you the greatest tips on where to go in Vienna and which attractions to include for the best itinerary:
- 1. Start your trip by visiting St. Stephen’s Cathedral
- 2. Take a walking tour to learn the city’s past and present life
- 3. Take a ride on the Vienna Sightseeing Bus
- 4. Get a glimpse of Hofburg Palace
- 5. Watch a live concert at the State Opera
- 6. Visit the Rathaus City Hall
- 7. Go (a bit) crazy at the Sigmund Freud Museum
- 8. Go to the outskirts and admire Schönbrunn Palace
- 9. Admire the nature at Belvedere Garden and Belvedere Palace
- 10. Feel like a local at the Fruit and Flower Market (Naschmarkt)
- 11. Enjoy some art at Albertina
- 12. Learn some history facts at Museums Quartier
- 13. Discover the history in Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt)
- BONUS 1: Unique things to do in Vienna
- BONUS 2: Things to do in Vienna with kids
- BONUS 3: 4 Day trips from Vienna
- Practical information about Vienna
- Where to stay in Vienna – Best Hotels
1. Start your trip by visiting St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a great representation of Vienna architecture and the city itself! You can find its silhouette on most souvenirs or as part of the most emblematic images of Austria.
The building is such an icon it HAS to be among your top things to do in Vienna, no question about that! It would be almost like going to Barcelona and not seeing Sagrada Familia, at least from the outside, if you skip it!
The building has been standing for more than 700 years and among its history, Mozart held his wedding there back in 1782 and Joseph Haydn, the famous Austrian composer, sang there when he was just a choir boy.
If you pay close attention to your surroundings and not stay glued to the Cathedral sights you’ll notice in front of it are modern glass buildings, and although it may sound like a clash between gothic and modern architectures, they actually blend perfectly! The result shows ancient history reflected on the modern skyscrapers.
Take the Old Town tour which also includes a cathedral visit and find hidden secrets as you descend into the catacombs and learn about the mausoleum of bishops, tombs of Habsburg family members, and more. After this underground adventure, the best idea is to climb up the 323 steps of the magnificent South Tower to the watchman’s lookout point. Trust me: the view of the city is worth the climb!
WORKING HOURS: Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 4.30 PM, Sundays and holidays from 1 PM to 4:30 PM. You can check out the updated visiting hours here.
PRICE: €6 entrance to the Cathedral and €5 to climb the South Tower. Check the updated price to climb the South Tower here.
2. Take a walking tour to learn the city’s past and present life
Are you wondering about one of the first things to do in Vienna, Austria after you arrive? Joining a free 2-hour walking tour is the #1 activity because you get to walk around the streets like any local and see the main sights!
During the tour, while stopping at the main Vienna points of interest, you will get an almost customized tour with a guide talking about the history of each attraction and sharing their version or family anecdotes about them.
You should know that although you do not need to pay for this tour, the guide expects to receive some sort of tip to show if and how much you enjoyed it!
But sometimes free tours can be a bit overcrowded so you might prefer an organized tour and here is one I can recommend. And if maybe you would rather go for a private tour that you can customize to your needs and preferences while being able to ask how ever many questions you may have, here is an exclusive private tour for you.
WORKING HOURS: Tours depart everyday at 10.30AM and 2.30 PM. Check their updated tour times here.
PRICE: from free to €44 per person
3. Take a ride on the Vienna Sightseeing Bus
There are two reasons I recommend taking a sightseeing bus instead of walking: they’re great if you are not comfortable with walking around for too long, and they’re an amazing solution if you are only going to spend one day in Vienna or if you are traveling with small kids.
These bus services are very effective at showing you the city while sharing an audio-guide that gives you historic details and other facts about the attractions.
You can choose between the different routes the bus takes; each itinerary has different tourist points but all of them are worth visiting.
But how can you manage to see it all in one day? The bus tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours, and you can change routes throughout the day.
There are a couple of companies that offer this tour service, and although I have no preference for any particular one, I do know that Big Bus Vienna shares their bus routes on the web so it is easier to know all the stops you’d go by. You might even want to add to your bus ticket a boat ride along the Danube River.
PRICE: €27 online, €30 on-street
4. Get a glimpse of Hofburg Palace
In case you are wondering what to visit in Vienna as part of your itinerary, Hofburg Palace has to be one of your top 5 places for sure!
This landmark used to be the official Imperial Palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and it served as their winter residence. Currently, the palace is the official residence and office of the President of Austria.
Just like the Schönbrunn Palace, this one also has a special décor and elegance in its furniture reflecting history in every corner of each room!
The main building was built in the 13th century and then was expanded to include residencies like Albertina, the Burgtheater, the Treasury, and more. The location of the palace is right across from Heroes’ Square (Heldenplatz), so if you find one during your walk you’ll see the other one on the opposite side.
WORKING HOURS: Open everyday from 9AM to 5:30PM. You can double check the up-to-date visiting hours here.
PRICE: €15 per adult. Check the updated prices here.
5. Watch a live concert at the State Opera
Vienna is well-known not only for its historic buildings but also for its constant display of cultural events, such as the opera – a unique combination of music and performance.
If you are interested in adding this to your list of activities on your trip, I do recommend searching online for tickets based on your dates of travel.
You can find many concert choices in the city, but here are some great options I handpicked for you:
If you don’t want to go for a local concert, I still suggest you stop by Karlskirche anyway, and visit from the outside to see its baroque church. I also recommend going on the inside as well to see its frescoed dome, wooden pulpit and other original furniture!
UPDATE: I also recommend the open air concerts, they’re simply amazing! You can check the Open-Air Concert schedule for 2020 here.
PRO TIP: Don’t worry if you did not book a spot beforehand, you can still see what shows are available by walking past the Vienna Opera building. There are a couple of ticket promoters that will explain all the choices to you.
NOTE: Make sure you have some appropriate clothing if you decide to go to the opera (read: not shorts!).
PRICE: starting at €40
6. Visit the Rathaus City Hall
The Rathaus, also known as City Hall, is one of the biggest and most monumental buildings among the Ringstraße and the historicism style. Just to mention a cultural fact, “Rat” in German means advice, counsel, or council and this reflects the concept of City Hall management.
The property was done in a neo-gothic style back in 1883 following the design of Friedrich Schmidt, and has a tower that is very similar to the ones found on gothic cathedrals.
As of this day, there are more than 2,000 people that work at City Hall! And the most fascinating thing about it are the rooms that are frequently used for various big events like press conferences, concerts, or even balls. Another great attraction for visitors is the Rathausplatz, an important plaza in Vienna for its size and the singular designs of nearby buildings. It is right in front of the Rathaus and is where many important events are held, including Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt.
If you want to visit Rathaus, you can do that if you join the free guided tours (no need to reserve your spot, just show up a bit in advance at the spot). The guided tours are in German, but you can take a free audio guide in English, French, Spanish or Italian (make sure to have your photo ID/passport with you as deposit). The guides are also open to questions in English.
NOTE: If you want to take a tour, you must go to the Tourist Info Point which is accessible from the back of the building.
GUIDED TOURS: The free guided tours take place on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays at 1 PM. Check details on the tours here.
7. Go (a bit) crazy at the Sigmund Freud Museum
IMPORTANT: The museum is currently closed but will reopen in May 2020.
Museum of Sigmund Freud used to be Freud’s house in the city before he left for England back in 1938 to escape from the National Socialists. The house was converted into a museum in 1971 with the help of Anna Freud, his daughter.
The museum now holds original furniture, which includes the waiting room and some of Freud’s own collection of antiques and first editions of his work.
During your visit you will learn about his life, his cultural surroundings and the start of psychoanalysis. With time the museum grew, and the museum now includes a library, a museum shop, and a lecture room.
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 10AM to 6PM. Check the updated times here.
PRICE: €9. Check the updated prices here.
8. Go to the outskirts and admire Schönbrunn Palace
Leaving the city center and heading off to the Schönbrunn Palace, which is one of my favorite things to see in Vienna, is entirely worth the train trip!
You have probably heard of Sissi the Empress – well, this used to be her summer residence! If you have not, I do recommend seeing part of the trilogy of movies made based on her life before and once she became the Empress so you get to know her and will be in sync with the Schönbrunn Palace audio guide or tour guide, whichever you choose.
There is also a great museum inside the Palace with rooms that hold a part of history themselves, beautiful surrounding gardens, very detailed sculpted water fountains, a fun maze, and the hills that take you to the top for a different view of the palace and the city!
Once at the Palace grounds, you will see that there are many options for the purchase of tickets, but if you want to make a worthwhile investment, I recommend the Classic Pass that includes an audio guide through the Schönbrunn Palace, a walk around the Privy Garden and the Orangery Garden, a view of the Gloriette, and some fun around the Maze as well!
If you would rather avoid the audio guides and prefer having a guided skip-the-line tour instead, I recommend opting for a guided tour around the Palace and Garden.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the U4 subway from the city center; it will take you 20 minutes plus about 8 minutes walking to the main entrance.
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 8 AM to 5 PM. You can check the updated opening hours here.
PRICE: €26.50 for the Classic Pass
9. Admire the nature at Belvedere Garden and Belvedere Palace
If you are into the idea of walking among lush nature and blooming flowers or just want to admire the flora despite the cold weather, you will definitely want to visit Belvedere Gardens!
The Gardens are some of the most significant French-style gardens in all of Europe, and are divided into 5 parts around the property. The main feature is the Palace Gardens, followed by the Privy Garden, the Sculpture Garden, the Alpine Garden, and finally the Botanical Garden.
Along the grounds there is also a largo pool that reflects the building’s façade giving it a magical touch along with the variety of flowers and sculptures that decorate the area!
And right next to the gardens is the Belvedere Palace, which can be visited inside as well. You’ll definitely be amazed by the furniture and history in every room. Even though the buildings are near each other (Upper Belvedere, Lower Belvedere, the Orangery, and Belvedere 21), each of them is different. The Upper Belvedere holds the main part of the museum (which is why it is a bit more expensive), while the Lower Belvedere and the Orangery are used for exhibitions and events.
The Lower Belvedere and the Orangery have temporary exhibits that change every 4 months or so, but you can still feel the architectural history in the window and roof designs while also having 18th century views surrounded by nothing but gardens. You might want to visit these in addition to the recommended Upper Belvedere that houses the permanent exhibitions of the palace history, some medieval masterpieces, and a great collection of art from the Baroque, Neoclassicism, and Realism periods.
WORKING HOURS: The Palace is open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM.The Gardens are open every day from 6 AM to 7 PM. Check the updated schedule here.
PRICE: Entrance is free for the Gardens, the prices for the Palace buildings are up to €16.
10. Feel like a local at the Fruit and Flower Market (Naschmarkt)
Naschmarkt is a local market ideal for top-chefs, culinary aficionados, students, antique hunters, and anyone else who just wants to enjoy some food and flowers!
The market has existed since the 16th century, and locals go there to enjoy different products from local vendors, farmers from the outside part of the city, and even from those that come from overseas by boats!
Nowadays, the market not only serves local residents but also tourists that stop by. You can find homemade fast meals like sandwiches or fresh fruit ready to eat, but also fresh ingredients to take home and cook on your own.
The variety of foods and colours will leave you amazed at the local diversity and some ingredients might even be foreign to the ones you usually find in your country!
PRO TIP: There is also a Flea Market held there every Saturday for anyone interested in doing something different from the classic window shopping at the main avenue.
WORKING HOURS: Monday to Friday 6AM to 7.30PM / Saturday from 6AM to 5PM. On Sundays it is closed.
11. Enjoy some art at Albertina
Albertina is a great art museum located inside a palace with an impressive collection of artwork! There are permanent exhibitions of French Impressionists like Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Lebasque, as well as temporary art exhibits from the Albertina collection.
The museum itself has over 1,000,000 items that range from graphic arts and photography to even architecture!
What you will get to see when you visit will depend on your luck and what they have decided to put on display as part of the permanent exhibition. The temporary exhibits are also another kind of treat, worth paying the entrance fee for!
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 10AM to 6PM. Check the updated working hours here.
PRICE: €16. Check the updated prices here.
12. Learn some history facts at Museums Quartier
How come the Museums Quartier is such a recommended location? Because you will only find the best museums in Vienna, I think that is enough to answer that question. This complex is right on the border of the Imperial Old City and it is surrounded by great buildings such as the Leopold Museum, MUMOK and Zoom’s Children Museum among others.
Right across the street from the Museums Quartier you will also find the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien – they both focus on the natural history and local art history in Vienna!
- Leopold Museum – the entrance costs €14 and it is open from Wednesday to Monday from 10AM to 6PM.
- MUMOK – the entrance costs €12 and it is open everyday from 10AM to 7PM. On Mondays it opens at 2PM.
- Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien – the entrance costs €16 and opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 6PM.
- Naturhistorisches Museum Wien – the entrance costs €12 and it is open Wednesday to Monday from 9AM to 6:30PM.
- Zoom’s Children Museum – the entrance costs €7 and is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9AM to 4PM.
13. Discover the history in Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt)
The imperial crypt, called “Kaisergruft” in German, is also known as the Capuchin Crypt because it is located under the monastery of the Order of the Capuchin Friars. What you will find there are the remains of the Habsburg Empire rulers going back about 400 years that represent about 150 dynasty personalities!
As part of the crypt walk, you will also find out that it not only holds bones, but also cremated remains of emperors and empresses. The few remaining Capuchin friar residents still keep their traditional role not only as pastors, but as guardians and caretakers of the Kaisergruft as well.
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 10AM to 6PM. Check the updated schedule here.
PRICE: €7.50. Check the updated prices here.
BONUS 1: Unique things to do in Vienna
There are so many amazing Vienna attractions and activities that I recommend you visit, but I know some trips are going to be for just a few days if not just one day. That is why I have selected some unique, different things you can do if you are spending a weekend in Vienna or just a few hours there.
My basic recommendation for short holidays is to take a free walking tour or a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour and add any of the suggested activities below:
1. Admire the décor of Hundertwasser House and Museum
Hundertwasser House is an entirely different attraction compared to the classic Imperial-styled buildings in the city!
This is a house made of different apartments, all with various designs and colors that make it magical and eye-catching. There are no such things as straight lines in this structure; it is all a combination of shapes, colors, and pillars created in the style Friedensreich Hundertwasser was known for!
Nobody can go inside, unless you are a building tenant, so its main beauty is in viewing it from the exterior. By the way, all apartment tenants in the building can decorate the façade around the windows as they please!
Because you cannot enter the building, you might still want to see some more architectural concepts – and Hundertwasser Village is perfect for this! The building is similar to a small shopping mall with shops and snack outlets right across from the Hundertwasser House. For more information on the artist and his other creations, you can visit the Hundertwasser Museum.
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 9AM to 5PM. Check the updated schedule here.
PRICE: Admission to the museum is €11 per person.
2. Stop for a bite of Sacher Torte
I will share with you more tips on what traditional and local foods to try and where to eat, but I was told to try the Sacher Torte in Vienna so many times, I put it as a top priority on my list! This is a chocolate sponge cake filled with one or two layers of apricot or cherry jam, covered in dark chocolate. It was created by a young pastry chef to impress Prince Klemens von Metternich, and all because the head court chef had been ill, who would have expected the results!
Now, the truth is I was told to go to Café Central, but the line was too long for the cold and windy weather I had that day. But you should never be discouraged by the weather, so I ended up changing directions and went into this small café chain called Café Coffee Day which had this dessert as well. The café had more products than just desserts, but sweets are a definite part of their success – not too sweet, not too mushy, the perfect combination for a pastry!
PRO TIP: If you want to go eat at Café Central, it might be better to make a reservation!
3. Go for an evening cruise along the Danube
Explore the city in a different way with this 3-hour tour in Vienna and go on an evening cruise on the Danube canal to enjoy the sunset and finish your day in a most stylish way! During the trip you will see the city center illuminated and you will go past the historic lock of Nußdorf, while enjoying the comfortable atmosphere and having a nice meal at the on-board restaurant.
PRICE: €28 per person
4. Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School is a local institution focused on preserving the dressage and training of the Lipizzaner horses; it is also among the world’s most prestigious riding schools. Following tradition, horses were mainly trained and ridden by men, but since 2008 there have been a couple of women who passed the trainer’s test and are now part of the team.
The beauty in visiting this academy is being able to see how these horses are trained and their ballet style performances.
Take this great tour and see something different and unique as the horses stretch and warm up to classical Viennese music tunes.
BONUS 2: Things to do in Vienna with kids
You might be wondering how to enjoy a trip to Vienna with kids so they’ll have fun as well, and as always I am here to help and give you a solution!
Let me share with you some fun things to do in Vienna, Austria together with your kids:
1. Have fun at Prater and the Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel
Although you might think that Prater is one of the city’s main buildings, truth is that it is actually the name of a very popular public park and base to one of the oldest amusement parks EVER!
The amusement park itself is called “Wurstelprater” and to this day it still has many of the original attractions kept in perfect condition, which adds an authentic touch to the area.
So, what can you do there with children? You can choose whichever attractions go best with their ages, from roller coasters and ghost trains to carousels or something more calm such as a walk around Madame Tussauds. Some of the main attractions are the Blumenra, Boomerang roller coaster, Hotel Psycho Ghost Train, Wildalpenbahn, Black Mamba, Liliputbahn, Prater Tower, Madame Tussauds, and the Giant Ferris Wheel.
This famous Giant Ferris Wheel has been running since 1897, weighs more than 240 tons and is about 65 meters high! It is such an important attraction that it’s one of the city’s most important landmarks!
If you want to skip the line and get on the Ferris Wheel without waiting, you can check out this €12 ticket.
NOTE: A big difference between this park and others is that you don’t pay an entrance fee, you only pay for the attractions you want to get on. This way you can go there and get onto the attractions you want or just enjoy their arcade shops, restaurants, and leisure facilities.
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 10 AM to 1 AM. Check the updated opening hours here.
2. Get crazy at the Museum of Illusions
Museum of Illusions is among the funniest museums you will run into in Vienna!
The museum has many holograms, stereograms and even optical illusions in every room. There are more than 70 exhibit sections that present a challenging view of perception, from defying gravity or seeing people shrink to losing the ground from under your feet.
NOTE: If there is a long line, usually a magician from the museum will let you go by if you are traveling with kids.
Get your tickets to the museum and let the imagination fly while having a blast with your family!
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 10AM to 8PM. See the updated opening hours here.
PRICE: €12 per person.
3. Time travel to Vienna’s past
This is a fun and interesting activity to do with the entire family – a 50-minute journey through St. Michael’s monastery into Vienna’s past! It is not only educational, but also immersive and fun. Your kids will love it (and, most probably, you will too!)
Get your senses working at their limits by going into this 5D cinema that will make you think you are living in ancient Vienna, or go through the portrait gallery to hear some Viennese history and what the city representatives have to say.
With the help of modern technology and virtual reality glasses you can be part of nobility at the ancient court and create your own impressions of how the highnesses lived their lives! You can even be part of a World War II simulation and get inside a bomb shelter, and end the journey on a simulation ride that takes you over the roofs of Vienna.
All-in-all, this is a fun experience that teaches you some history while also being entertaining! You can purchase your tickets beforehand, or at the location itself.
PRICE: €16 per person
4. Enjoy the Schönbrunn Zoo and Maze
If you thought Schönbrunn Palace was impressive, you still have to see the surrounding grounds and the magic it hides – a zoo and a maze! This is a great idea for a fun walk around the Palace with the kids.
The maze itself has a couple of difficulty levels – easy for small children, and increasingly harder for adults. If you have never been inside a maze, let me assure you… it is not as easy as it seems, I almost left a path of bread crumbs to find my way out! 🙂
Schönbrunn Zoo is the oldest one in the world and it is probably another favorite for every child that likes to see animals!
You can also go to Schönbrunn Children’s Museum where the main highlight is the kids’ chance to dress up like the Imperial children used to, and playing with the most popular toys from those times! You can even find out how meals were served and what they ate. All in all, it is a fun way to learn how life used to be at the palace.
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 9AM to 6PM. Check the updated schedules here.
PRICE: €6 adults / €3.50 children until 18 years-old. Book your tickets online here.
Schönbrunn Zoo + Maze + Children’s Museum
WORKING HOURS: Everyday from 9AM to 5PM. Check the updated schedules here.
PRICE: €28 adults / €16 children until 18 years-old. Book your tickets online here.
BONUS 3: 4 Day trips from Vienna
If you have more time during your trip and you are interested in leaving the city and discovering the beautiful landscapes and history surrounding it, here are some Vienna day trips that are definitely worth doing:
1. Vienna Woods and Mayerling
During this half-day trip you will leave the classic tourist route of the city center and go to the outskirts to find the Vienna Woods.
During the tour, you will get to visit the Mayerling hunting lodge and the Cistercian Abbey, all with an expert guide that knows his way around the woods and can give you a detailed explanation on the history of each tour stop and their importance to the royal family. End the trip by going by the Liechtenstein Castle that looks like it was pulled out of a storybook!
2. Mauthausen Concentration Camp
Visiting Mauthausen Concentration Camp might be shocking for some people, but it is filled with respect and admiration for all the people who lived at that moment. This organized tour will take you back to World War II and the horrors people went through under the rule of Hitler.
An audio guide is included so you will learn about the historical background of each area you visit. You will get to see the prisoner’s barracks, SS-quarters, gas chambers and the Mauthausen Memorial Museum, among other things.
You can also head to the Concentration Camp on your own with no tour, and pay only €3 for the audio guide once at Mauthausen.
The best benefit to taking this tour is not having to worry about the 2.5 hour transportation aspect from Vienna to Mauthausen. You also get an English speaking leader for the group, to whom you can ask as many questions as you might have.
PRICE: €3 if you go there by yourself, €155 per person if you take an organized tour
3. Wachau and Danube Valley
This 8-hour Wachau tour departs from Vienna and takes you to discover the valleys along the Danube River, such as the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley located in Lower Austria. A boat ride down the Danube will take you to Wachau, the heart of the wine-growing region in the city of Krems. Going along the river, you will see the many beautiful, ancient castles as well!
You will also stop by the Benedictine Abbey of Melk, one of the country’s most famous Baroque buildings. Once your visit is finished you can grab a nice lunch before heading back to Vienna.
PRICE: €79 per person.
4. Salzburg and the Alpine Lakes
If you have more time to explore, why not take a full day tour over to Salzburg’s Old Town and gardens? On your way, you still stop at Lake Mondsee and experience the winding drive through the Austrian Alps. The main destination is Salzburg, home of Mozart and classical music, which includes a guided walking tour so you will see what Mozart’s life was like. You can also take the funicular over to the Hohensalzburg fortress for impressive panoramic views and on your way back you will stop by the Alpine Lakes.
FUN FACT: If you have ever watched the movie “Sound of Music”, you will recognize many film locations during your trip!
PRICE: €109 per person
UPDATE: Check out our new article on best places and neighborhoods to stay in Salzburg!
Practical information about Vienna
Now that you know some of the best things to do in the city, I could not let you go without adding some useful and practical information about visiting the city!
Below you can find some info about how to get to Vienna from the airport, where to stay in the city, where to eat and more:
How to get from the airport to Vienna
Vienna is a well-organized city and their transportation system is something to be proud of! With their appropriate distribution of districts and use of train routes you will see that you can move from the airport to the city center in no time.
Here are all the options you can choose from:
By City Airport Train (CAT)
The CAT takes you from the airport to the city central main station of Wien Mitte in 16 minutes. The price is €12 for a single trip or €21 round trip and is valid for up to six months after the date of purchase.
By ÖBB Railjet
The Railjets run non-stop and make the trip from the airport over to Vienna Main Station in 15 minutes for €4.20.
You can find some taxi companies with a booth right in the arrivals hall. The ride will take about 20 minutes with modest traffic and cost €36 fixed price for up to 4 people. You can also request an Uber from the airport for between €29 and €37 depending on the traffic.
There are three Vienna Airport bus lines:
VAL1: Goes from airport to Vienna Main Station in 40 minutes.
VAL 2: Leaves the airport and gets to the Morzinplatz/Schwedenplatz in 22 minutes.
VAL3: Runs from the airport into Donauzentrum in 39 minutes.
NOTE: You can buy the tickets online, at airport ticket machines, or from the driver.
PRICE: €8 single ride / €13 round trip
Where to stay in Vienna – Best Hotels
There are many historical buildings to see and fun tours to take on your trip! Now comes the other biggest decision of any travel itinerary – the hotel booking process.
Luckily for you, I am here to help and share with you a couple of the best hotel options you will find in the city, grouped by price range so you can see which ones fit best with your budget.
UPDATE: If these options are not enough for you to choose from and you want more details on where to stay in Vienna, check out my article on the best neighbourhoods and hotels in the city.
Luxury (€140 and up):
- Schlosshotel Römischer Kaiser – This is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Vienna! Its charm starts with its façade and its elegant red carpet awaiting guests. Its stylish decorations and furniture include Gianni Versace style bath tubs in some suites. Some amenities in the rooms include a flat-screen cable TV, a laptop-sized safe, and a minibar!
- Small Luxury Hotel Altstadt Vienna – This 4-star boutique hotel in the Spittelberg quarter is found in a renovated historic building. Among room options are suites big enough to fit four people. Although it may incur an extra charge, pets are allowed in the building by request. In the evening, you can get tea and homemade cake for free while enjoying the fireplace!
Middle (from €50 to €140):
- Hotel Domizil – This hotel is in an old-style historical building along one of the main streets in the heart of Vienna. The rooms are spacious enough for two people and they even have a tea and coffee maker in every room. Plus, you’ll also have access to cable TV, a minibar and 24/7 free Wi-Fi!
- Hotel Austria – Wien – This hotel’s infrastructure is modern while having a very classic and elegant decor that completes its personality. The public areas and terrace are very quiet and great places to relax. Plus, you can even request an airport shuttle for an additional charge!
Budget (up to €50):
- Do Step Inn Central – This is one of the best cheap hostels in Vienna I can recommend to anyone traveling alone and thinking of backpacking. It has a shared lobby-kitchen area where you can have a quick snack or catch up on some emails. Most rooms are shared by at least six people, but each bed closes up like a safe so your belongings are completely safe!
- Hotel Marc Aurel – This hotel is decorated in a Mediterranean style and their rooms offer air-conditioning, a minibar, and a TV. You can ask to use the airport shuttle for an additional charge. The property is surrounded by beautiful canals and quaint bridges, and some rooms have amazing views!
Transportation inside Vienna
Something I love about Vienna and most European cities is not only their excellent transportation system but their streets and the entire division of districts. Therefore, if you are asking yourself “is Vienna easy to walk around?” my answer is an honest and affirmative YES!
On my first visit to Vienna, I had a lot to learn. I went for a 48-hour transportation ticket that could be used on all public transportation services and added my single-ride on the CAT to get straight from the airport to the city center.
Now let me share some information about all the types of transportation available in the city so you get a better idea of all the options you have to choose from:
The Vienna public transportation system includes 5 underground trains, 29 trams, and 127 bus lines. Each ticket is valid within one zone, so if you stay in the city center, that is all part of the same zone.
You can change to different lines and transportation vehicle with the same single ticket and as long as you don’t go in circles or go back to the initial stop. You can also go for my recommendation to buy at least a 24-hour ticket for €8 – this way you don’t have to worry about validating your ticket with each trip!
PRICE: €2.40 for a single ticket
They run from 5AM until midnight and on weekends they run for 24-hours, so you can move all around the city.
The night bus lines run from 12:30AM until 5 AM, when the rest of the transportation services start to run again.
You can also ride a bike around the city if you prefer. I think it is a great way to get to know the city!
Your best option, probably, is with Citybike Vienna – you can move through the streets, leave the bike at the nearest station and then take another one to go to your next stop. Once you link your credit or bank card during the online registration, you can start using it at a fee of €1 for a one-time registration. Your first hour of biking is free, and the 2nd hour means a charge of €1, then €2 for 3 hours and so on.
It is a very nice option if you are on board with reducing pollution and you enjoy biking! If the above sounded like a foreign language, go for RadStation, a tourist-friendly option – it is about €30 for the entire day and you only need to leave your credit card details as insurance.
PRO TIP: If you don’t want to cycle all day, you might want to just join a short 3-hour bike tour around Vienna, and see it through a local’s eyes.
Taxi / Uber:
You can get a ride at a Taxistandplatzes – these taxi ranks or stands are where the vehicles wait for passengers. The rides cost around €7 to €12 while you are in the city perimeter.
Vienna Tourist Passes
There are currently 2 popular city passes that, given you are going to visit many attractions, will save you quite a bit of money so let’s talk about each of them below.
1. Vienna City Pass
Vienna City Pass main features are:
- Free entry to over 60 attractions, including Belvedere Palace, Schönbrunn Palace Grand Tour, Danube Tower, Prater Museum, and the Hop On Hop Off bus.
- A guide book of Vienna
- You can purchase it to use for up to 6 days
- You can save about €40 on a single day in museums and attractions just by using the card. For the 3 day pass you are able to save more than €70!
PRICE: €70 for 1 day, €95 for 2 days, €125 for 3 days, and €155 for 6 days.
2. Vienna City Card
Vienna City Card includes:
- 24, 48, or 72 hours of continuous use of public transportation systems
- You can add your transfer to and from the airport
- You can add tickets for the Hop-on Hop-off bus
- You can save up to €45 per day because of the discounts you get at attractions such as Albertina, Haus der Musik, Haus des Meeres, and more.
PRICE: €17 for 24 hours, €25 for 48 hours, and €29 for 72 hours.
So, which one is better?
The answer is that Vienna City Pass has an exclusive sightseeing benefit, so you will get free entry to more than 60 of the main attractions, museums, and monuments in the city.
On the other hand, Vienna City Card is perfect for all transportation systems for a limited number of days, so you can forget about buying a ticket each time you get on the bus, for example!
If you are the kind of traveler that loves walking around and wants to see every local attraction there is, the Vienna City Pass is your best solution so you don’t have to worry about buying each ticket individually. On the other hand, if you would rather have your transportation needs covered including the airport tram and then purchase the attraction tickets as you go to them – of course the extra discount never hurt anyone- Vienna City Card is for you.
If you do not want to struggle with purchasing individual tickets, or if you are going for an express weekend trip, then this can be your choice to enjoy the entire city and its tourist attractions.
Must try food in Vienna
Austria is a great country not only in terms of natural beauty and its talented people, but also because of their outstanding gastronomy – there are so many amazing things to try there.
Here are just a few:
- A classic Austrian breakfast – includes a Semmel or Brötchen which is their local bread roll, butter and jam, Speck which is a smoked bacon, and coffee.
- Sacher torte – a delicious chocolate sponge cake filled with one or two layers of apricot jam and covered with dark chocolate icing. An amazing sweet kick for anyone that likes sweets.
- Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) – a traditional layered pastry filled with grated apples, sugar, cinnamon, and bread crumbs. Strudel means whirlpool in German which relates to the physical appearance of the dough layers it has.
- Wiener Schnitzel – a slice of veal covered in breadcrumbs and fried, usually served with a slice of lemon and potato salad.
- Austrian goulash – it comes from the traditional Hungarian version when they were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but it is now found on menus as “Wiener Saftgulasch” which is a rich meat stew served with dark bread or as “Fiaker Gulasch” which is the meat stew with fried egg, fried sausage and dumplings.
Where to eat in Vienna
There are many cafes and restaurants that will offer you local and international cuisine and these are the local options I recommend you try:
- Café Frauenhuber – an authentic location where you can find a very good local breakfast in Vienna and a variety of other local dishes. It is not very frequented by tourists which keeps their environment calm and relaxed to enjoy your meal.
- Café Landtmann – a unique and very classic Austrian café where you will find the best sacher torte and apfelstrudel in the realm! One of the prestigious coffee houses in the city known for their desserts.
- Wiener Wiaz Haus – your best choice to get the most famous wiener schnitzel; it is a bit pricey but you will not regret your decision. Oh! Just so you know, it is a BIG dish, so I would recommend going on an empty stomach so you can actually finish it. And because it is so famous, you might need to make a reservation before going.
- Gulaschmuseum – the best middle priced place to go for a local Wiener Saftgulasch and other traditional dishes.
- Vollpension – a fun coffee house that focuses on yummy breakfast or brunch and takes you back to Oma’s (Grandma’s) kitchen for a homemade meal.
- Brau Bar – an amazing, cozy place to find traditional and tasty food at a comfortable price. They even have a variety of vegetarian and gluten free options on their menu.
Getting a SIM card in Vienna
If Vienna is not your first European stop, you might have already been in another city and purchased a SIM card. Nowadays, most phone companies sell you the SIM card plan that includes usage in all EU countries, so
if you purchase your SIM card in any European city/country you won’t need to pay for any roaming fee!
UPDATE: Except Switzerland, as we recently figured out.
Just be sure to check the prepaid plan you are going for, but most of them include all EU destinations.
In case you are arriving in Vienna and want to get a SIM card, you can get one at a store called “Hallo Hallo”. You can get 1GB of data for €15, but my best recommendation is to use the airport Wi-Fi and, once you get to the city, then buy a card. The available operators are: T-Mobile, A1, or 3.
Most establishments and accommodations have Wi-Fi so you will pretty much be connected 24/7 but still, having a SIM card can be quite useful sometimes.
When to visit Vienna
Is now really a perfect time to plan your holidays? In this case, I believe it depends on the Vienna weather and your own preferences to decide during which season it would be better to visit. The biggest difference will be between seeing flowers in bloom or finding yourself extending a museum visit because of stormy weather.
Visiting Vienna between June and August is probably the best season because of the warm weather, open air festivals and concerts like the Vienna Jazz Festival, The Donauinselfest, or the Rathaus Film Festival. The main downside to these months is that because of the lovely warm weather all accommodation prices go up, so this may not be so budget-friendly!
If you want to visit Vienna in December, you will get to see the beauty of Christmas markets and decorations. The entire town duplicates the market’s light but not just literally because of the lighted trees but the actual holiday spirit changes your mood to perfect and constant joy! In this case, hotels are slightly expensive, just because it is around Christmas and New-Years’.
If you don’t want to freeze or walk with a zillion jackets around the city, I recommend going in April, May, or even September. These are the perfect months with delightful, consistent weather that will let you walk through the streets and see the local points of interest with natural lighting. As for the prices, the hotels are in what they consider low-season, so they are more comfortable for all budgets.
In conclusion, any season is great for Vienna, it mostly depends on when you have time to admire the city architecture and colors- it will be marvelous any time! You will always find something new in the city – an open air fair, a gastronomic event, and more.
Is Vienna expensive?
I have heard quite a lot about the idea of Vienna being expensive, but this really just depends on how you plan on spending your time and money. My main recommendation is to take the benefit of using the Vienna City Card and/or the Vienna City Pass (you can find more details about each of them above) to save money on transportation and on attraction tickets.
Here are some sample prices, so you can get a better idea of the costs:
- A regular single-ride public transport system ticket – €2.40; if you are going to move around a lot by metro or bus I suggest going for the short-term passes (24-hour).
- Accommodation for two – about €50 per night
- Museum entrance – around €12
- A well-served breakfast – €5
- Traditional meal (the famous schnitzel with fries) – €3 and up
If you have an already planned itinerary on what you want to visit, you will save yourself a lot of time and money so you don’t take an unnecessary train trip to the center when you wanted to visit Schönbrunn on the outskirts.
PRO TIP: A major note for all students is that many museums and admission tickets give you a discounted/reduced price; it is usually for students between the ages of 18 and 27 with a student card that verifies you are studying somewhere in the world.
So, all in all, is Vienna worth a visit? Definitely yes!
While you’re there, you can walk around the historical sites, enjoy the peace of the lovely and well-kept palace gardens, eat some local sweet treats in cozy cafés, and meet some new people. That was pretty much my whole experience in the city, and I hope you’ll have a great time during your own Vienna adventure!
This was my list of 13 awesome places to visit in Vienna, as well as some unique ideas and activities to do with the entire family, and even some useful information that will always come in handy.
During your Viennese holidays you will see ancient ruins, enjoy local food, get to travel along the Danube, and more! The list of amazing activities above might be more than you can fit into a weekend, but you can handpick the ones that match your traveling style and budget!
I honestly hope this information has been useful for your future travels. If you have any more questions about Vienna, I will be more than happy to help! Just leave me a note below in the comments!
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