Vienna is a lovely city trip for culture and architecture lovers. I visited Vienna for three days, but also managed to visit Bratislava and do a cycle tour in the Wachau valley in that time. This seems like a short time exploring Vienna, but if you decide on which sites you really want to see it is absolutely doable. I spent one full day exploring the historical city center and in one day you can get a good feel of the city, it just depends on what you want to visit. I usually set my eyes on a few specific sites that I really want to see, while I decide to skip on other parts. To be honest I could have done more research on Vienna, but I did this trip shortly after my honeymoon and was too busy relaxing… Therefore I do not have many restaurant recommendations, however I loved the Vienna sights!
Where we stayed
We had an Airbnb for € 55 per night, which was an absolute steal. The Airbnb was located just outside of the city center and was well connected to the city with the trams. However if you also want to visit other cities in the area, you should book a hotel closer to the main train station. As we were staying outside of the city center we bought a Vienna transport card for € 17 for 3 days. This card also gave us a discount on the train tickets to Krems and Bratislava as you already paid for the transport in Vienna itself. You can easily indicate that you have this card at the ticket machine.
We traveled to Vienna by night train, if you want to read about my experience with the ÖBB Nightjet click here.
When I researched Vienna I knew there were three sights I especially wanted to visit:
- The Stephansdom
- Donau cannels with street art
By exploring the city I also discovered these sights:
Stephansdom: The biggest draw of the Stephansdom are the tiles at the roof. You can enter the church for free and then take the elevator up to the North tower to see the roof (€ 6,-). Unfortunately you are trapped in a cage, but the views are lovely nonetheless. Another great way to see the roof of the Stephansdom is to visit the bar of the DO & CO Hotel which is opposite the Stephansdom. I did not love the church itself, but the outside is truly beautiful.
Hundertwasserhaus: The Hundertwasserhaus is a super colorful apartment building with a unique style, which does not represent Viennese architecture at all. You cannot enter the building, as people are actually living there, but the building is definitely worth a visit. The architect was an artist as well and created the Hundertwasserhaus as a house which is in touch with nature. You can see this from the shapes and also the gardens which is located on the roof. It reminded me of a mix of Gaudi & Klimt.
Danube canals: A great way to spend an afternoon is to wander next to the Danube cannels. The banks are completely transformed by graffiti artwork, which makes for an interesting contrast with the classic buildings in the background. This place is filled with cool bars and terraces to spend a relaxing afternoon. We saw lots of people cycling during the day, so if you have (hired) a bike, this is perfect as well. The badeschiff of Vienna is also located right in the Danube. You can enter the pool for € 6,50, but when it gets hot the beach chairs fill up quickly. Unfortunately, I did not bring my bathing suit, but otherwise I would have absolutely taken a dip in this hipster-like pool. You can also have drinks at the Badeschiff, which are quite expensive as you are in such a prime location. At night the Donau cannels get really crowded, with lots of people drinking at the banks and music blasting from the bars. So BYO and join in on the fun for a cool, local experience in between all the amazing street art.
Hofburg: You should not miss out on visiting the Hofburg when you are wandering through the old town. The Hofburg amongst others contains the royal apartments, the national library and the Spanish riding school. It is a site with typical Viennese classic architecture, where you can really feel the grandeur of the history. At night it was pretty quiet, as most of the sites were closed and it made for a cool place to walk around. If you love horses I recommend visiting the Spanish riding school where you can see the beautiful Lipizzaner horses in action in a baroque building. You can check out the website for tickets for the shows: https://www.srs.at/en/. The tickets for the Morning Exercise can be bought at the ticket center just before the training.
Volksgarten: Close to the Hofburg and the MuseumsQuartier you can find the Volksgarten. It is a nice spot for a picknick with views of the Hofburg. At the public transport stops you will find stalls that will sell you Falafel and beers, to fill you up quickly 😉 We visited in June and the rose garden was in full bloom. They have green chairs everywhere, so you can sit and relax right next to the roses.
I was a bit short of time so we did not visit all Vienna has to offer, however the following sights could be of interest as well.
- Schloss Schonbrünn
Opera: The history of Vienna is firmly connected to Opera. I checked out the interior of the Opera and twirled in front of the Opera, instead of visiting an actual show. When you sit outside during an opera, you can listen and watch along on a big screen.
Schloss Schonbrünn: I don’t love classical interiors, so we decided to skip a tour Schloss Schönbrunn. The gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn are free to visit, but are really busy, so we decided to watch pictures of the gardens instead. In the gardens there is a Palmenhaus (glasshouse), which looks super impressive from the outside but unfortunately you are not allowed to go on the spiral staircase.
MueumsQuartier: The MuseumsQuartier hosts several museums, such as the Kunsthalle Wien, Leopold museum and the Museum of modern art. The Leopold museum also hosts artworks by Gustav Klimt. If you want to see the famous “Kiss” of Klimt, you must visit the Belvedere museum (not inside the MuseumsQuartier).
Vienna has some classical threats, such as Sachertorte and Wiener Schnitzel. For Sachertorte you can visit one of the many cute tearooms. We had Wiener Schnitzel during our cycling trip in the Wachau valley, but you can eat it at pretty much every traditional restaurant in Vienna. We ate at three different restaurants in Vienna:
Han am Stadtpark: This is a Korean restaurant which we absolutely recommend. The portions were good, tasty, super fresh and not too expensive. Also, the girls from the restaurant were really nice.
Figar 1040: This is a hipster-like restaurant in a cool area in Vienna (Freihausviertel). The portions were kind of small, but most of it was of good quality, and the salad was prepared really well. Apparently it is a popular place for brunch.
Zum Basilisken in the old university quarter, we really liked this area as it felt less touristy than the restaurants close to the Stephansdom and the restaurants had a lovely, quiet terrace. However I wish we would have checked the reviews before sitting down here, as the price and quality of the food did not match up. The wine was really expensive (€ 9 for a big glass), water cost € 7 and we had to pay € 3,5 per person for the bread. The main course The Tafelspitz was good, but the sides were small and bland. We felt totally ripped off and decided to check reviews again before we sat down somewhere.