Vienna, the capital of culturally-rich Austria, is one of the best cities to visit in Europe. It is a must-visit destination for travellers interested in music, art and the grandeur of Baroque architecture.
This 2 days in Vienna itinerary will tell you all you need to know about the best ways to experience this incredible Austrian city.
Accounting for almost a third of Austria's population, Vienna is the country's most populous city. It is also home to a handful of Austria's world heritage sites including the Schönbrunn Palace, the historical centre with its Baroque-style palaces and gardens, and the Frontiers of the Roman Empire. Vienna is the perfect gateway to exploring the rest of Austria's beautiful scenery and culture.
Like many European cities, some aspects of life and travel in Vienna can get quite expensive, especially if you enjoy dining out. But don't let that discourage you. By substituting restaurants for supermarket meals, sleeping in bed and breakfasts, and enjoying tip-based free walking tours, you will be able to enjoy all of Vienna's incredible sights without turning your wallet inside out.
Difficult as it may be to condense the vibrance of this incredible city into such a short trip, two days in Vienna is just enough to make sure you experience the best of what Vienna has to offer.
To help you plan your adventure, here is my two-day Vienna guide.
In Vienna, music merges with art and architecture to create a historical melting pot of sights and experiences.
When thinking about Vienna, what typically comes to mind are it's historical sights, such as the impressive State Opera House, the Burgtheater and the Schönbrunn Palace. However, the city also offers plenty of sights and entertainment that show's off its contemporary side; it's street-style dining and coffee-house culture.
I suggest starting your two-day itinerary in Vienna with its historical sights. There is so much history to see in Vienna, choosing only one or two museums to visit can be a tough choice, but I've done my best to limit it on this first day.
In between all the museum and palace hopping, rest assured that you'll pass more than enough photo opportunities to get those Instagram-shots.
Walking tours in Vienna are available from as little as 15 euro or as a free tip-based walking tour.
I always recommend a free walking tour (that is tip-based) as they are excellent value for money. A walking tour allows you to get acquainted with your new destination in a short amount of time.
A walking tour of Vienna typically starts at the Karlsplatz and moves on to key attractions along the way, including the Albertina Art Museum, the Monument Against War and Fascism, and the Capuchin Church and typically end at St Stephan's Cathedral.
The Schönbrunn Palace is a World Heritage Site. The palace is also the most visited attraction in Vienna, and with good reason. It is beautiful!
The first buildings on the grounds date back to the 1500s and the neoclassical-style palace, as it stands today, was built in the mid-1700s during the reign of Maria Theresa.
Self-guided tours are available, taking you through the colossal interior with its staterooms and Baroque art.
I suggest buying a ticket online in advance as it can get pretty crowded during high season.
If you don't want to spend money on a tour, you can roam the grounds for free and walk up to the Gloriette from where you'll have a fantastic view of the palace below.
The Belvedere Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most interesting places to visit in Vienna. The museum consists of two palaces, Upper and Lower Belvedere, which are linked by a serene garden landscape lined with art sculptures and water features.
These buildings are some of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Vienna. The museum houses a variety of artworks from famous artists like Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet and more.
The two palaces each have an entry fee, but the gardens are free of charge. The gardens are perfect if you need to take a quick break to recharge before continuing your big day of sightseeing.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the historic sites, switch things up with a visit to Prater Park, an iconic amusement park that houses Vienna’s famous Ferris wheel. The wheel was built in the 1890s and wore the crown as the largest Ferris wheel in the world until about 25 years ago.
The Ferris wheel is the best (and most fun) way to get a view of the city in all its glory. If you’re travelling with kids, this also a fun activity to do in Vienna with kids. That being said, this is not recommended for the faint-hearted or those with a fear for heights.
Prater Park has a lot of food stalls selling all kinds of treats if you're starting to feel a bit snack-ish. The park opens at around 10 AM, so by this time, you should have ample options for breakfast.
Or, if you're looking for something out of the ordinary, you can opt for a champagne breakfast on top of the Ferris wheel.
If this is something you might be interested in, make sure it is available during your visit as the champagne breakfast is seasonal.
Vienna’s Spanish Riding School is one of its more unusual tourist attractions.
Dedicated to the preservation of Lipizzaner horse training and classic dressage, the riding school makes for an incredibly immersive experience, especially during summer months, when visitors can watch the Piber Meets Vienna show.
Winter season also has its entertainment with daily morning ‘shows’ where you can watch the horses in action. Accompanied by classical Viennese music, these performances reflect local culture and history. The production is an experience you won’t forget!
Photographers, gather around. One of the coolest spots to take photos in Vienna is the Hundertwasser House, a vibrantly colourful house designed by and named after the well-known Austrian architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
This architect is known as a rebellious artist in Austria’s design scene, famed for his unusual but striking free reign art. The unique architecture and captivating colours make this house a highly popular spot for photos.
In addition to its photogenic qualities, the Hundertwasser Museum in the Kunst Haus Wien (designed by the same architect) is open to visitors every day between 10 AM and 6 PM.
For lunch, check out the Schweizerhaus. It is located in the middle of Prater Park. The restaurant offers a delicious spread of classic Austrian cuisine. The restaurant is presented in the form of a massive beer garden which is broken into smaller sections, named after Vienna’s different city districts.
If you enjoy goulash and dumplings, you’ll have a feast here. The prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is relaxed and laid-back, making it a great pick to relax while enjoying a genuinely Viennese culinary experience.
Some of the most popular items on the menu are the pork schnitzel and the fried potato pancakes.
If your imperial palace sightseeing isn’t saturated just yet, the Hofburg Palace is another beautiful palace to add to the list. The palace is the former Imperial Palace and holds valuable information about Vienna’s imperial history.
Today, the buildings are home to three museums (one ticket allows admission to all three) as well as the incredible Albertina art gallery. This art heaven has more than one million pieces in its collection, including iconic pieces from artists like Picasso and Monet.
Among the film fanatics, Vienna is known for its prime selection of vintage cinemas. If you want to sit back for an hour or two while enjoying a film, this is a great way to recharge your batteries.
The Stadtkino im Künstlerhaus is one of these, presenting a unique and authentic old-school cinema experience in the film auditorium that has been left virtually unchanged since the 1950s. Another photo-opp, as well, since the cinema is coated in murals by famous Austrian artists like Rudolf Eisenmenger and Rudolf Holzinger.
You might not catch the latest Hollywood movie in one of these cinemas, but you’ll have an unforgettable experience nonetheless.
If you’re looking for an authentic Viennese dining experience, head to Cafe Museum for dinner. Located in the Innere Stadt of Vienna, this restaurant has a long history in the city. It opened in 1899 and soon became a popular meetup spot for creatives.
The restaurant has been redesigned a couple of times since its opening more than a century ago, but its cosy and welcoming interior has remained the same through the decades. You can try classic Viennese dishes like Wiener schnitzel, goulash and sausages (I had to skip out on these as I don’t eat meat, but enjoyed the wide variety of salad options).
This is a great spot for dinner because it’s right in the middle of all the action, and just a stone’s throw away from the alluring Naschmarkt, where I suggest you head next.
The Naschmarkt is one of the best things to do in Vienna at night. The market has been around since the 16th century, so it’s no surprise that this is such a famous and well-established market in the city.
It’s also the largest market in Vienna with over 100 food stands and small restaurants. You can best believe you’ll have an unforgettable culinary experience here (I hope you leave enough room for dessert after dinner).
The food at the Naschmarkt is considerably cheaper than what you’ll find in most restaurants, so if you’re travelling on a budget, I suggest going straight to the market rather than spending your money at a restaurant.
Elektro Gönner is a sort of ‘secret’ bar hidden away in the open in Schulhofpassage, easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
The bar is housed in what used to be an electrical supply store, and if you don’t look closely, you’ll walk by thinking this alternative watering hole is nothing more than a rusty store.
But inside, you’ll find one of the coolest bars in Vienna. Elektro Gönner is popular among the younger, arty crowd, and it’s not difficult to make friends with the locals who’ll be able to tell you where the best spots in the city are.
What better way to end your first day in the romantic city of Vienna?
Over the decades, Vienna has had a few other names such as the 'City of Music' and the 'City of Dreams'.
Vienna was also the home of Sigmund Freud, who became the first psychoanalyst in the world.
Take the second day of your trip to explore some of Vienna's music culture and history. We will visit iconic venues like the Musikverein, Staatsoper, and Konzerthaus. Along with those music venues, we will also visit the Haus der Musik Museum and learn a bit more about how music is intertwined with Vienna's history.
The Stephansplatz is located right in the centre of Vienna's Old Town; it is the perfect place to start your day.
The square is a lovely place to stroll through, with all its cafes and eateries spreading out onto the sidewalk. The Stephanplatz is a popular location for street artists and performers to set up camp for the day, adding to the enticing old district feel.
If you visit over the Christmas season, you'll find the entire square transformed into a massive Christmas market. If you plan to visit during this time, make sure you find out when the market starts.
The Stephansplatz is filled with interesting cafes and restaurants, perfect for a relaxed breakfast on your last day in the city. However, depending on the time of the morning, some of these places may still be closed.
If you can't find what you're looking for, or if you want a cheaper alternative, there is a gourmet Spar grocery store not far from here (a 5-minute walk at most), where you can grab an equally delicious breakfast on-the-go.
I opted for the latter and walked back to the square to enjoy my coffee and fresh croissant while doing some people-watching.
After breakfast, make your way to the impressive Stephansdom, the Roman Catholic mother church and seat of Vienna's Archbishop.
The cathedral forms the central point of the square and is an internationally known building as it is one of the tallest churches in the world.
The roof of the church has a distinct tiled design and features two towers, one significantly taller than the other.
Entrance to the cathedral is free, and the towers can both be climbed for a small entrance fee.
If you opt to visit only the free areas of the church, the walk-through shouldn't last more than half an hour.
Next, head to the Mozarthaus, a beautiful building that has been restored to its original 18th-century architecture. The living quarters on the first floor used to be Mozart's apartment (quite thrilling to think of all the music he composed in that house).
Beyond that, the museum is a must-visit even for those who aren't big fans of Mozart himself. Each floor has a different theme or exhibition, taking you on a trip down the centuries to show how the city and its art and music scene evolved over the years.
Sigmund Freud is one of the most famous people linked to Vienna. During my time in the city, I never got around to visiting the Sigmund Freud museum, but it’s always been on my list.
If you’re interested in psychoanalysis, you don’t want to miss out on this museum, which has been converted from Freud’s former apartment and office.
The collection in the museum includes some of his personal belongings, but it also offers a lot of information related to his field of study.
From what I’ve heard, the museum can get quite busy during high season and can only accommodate a small group of visitors at a time, so I suggest getting tickets in advance if you want to add this on your itinerary.
The Natural History Museum is another niche and interesting sight.
The museum hosts a collection of fossils and centres around the history of the earth. Even if this is not a particular interest of yours, the museum is worth a visit since it is such a beautiful and impressive building.
The building, like many of its kind in Vienna, dates back to more than a century. It has been renovated to accommodate the over 30 million historic items it houses today.
Of all the exhibitions in the museum, the solar system exhibition is especially popular and is an educational experience for kids if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary.
For lunch, try Erich, one of Vienna’s must-visit restaurants. Erich is located in the heart of the 7th district, one of my favourite parts of the city.
The menu is a bit more universal than some of the other places I’ve recommended so far. The poke bowls are incredible, and vegans can feast on vegan ice cream from Veganista, the in-house ice cream parlour.
This is a good pick for lunch if you want to grab something light, quick and healthy. Also worth mentioning is their fantastic coffee and dessert menu.
The Danube river is probably one of the first things that come to mind when you think of Vienna. The river runs across the upper part of the city, from where it continues to cross through Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade.
I thoroughly enjoyed the river cruise because it allows you to see the city from a different point of view. Depending on the type of journey you take, you should receive a pair of headphones to give you an audio tour, telling interesting stories about the city and its relation to the river as you pass by iconic buildings and structures along the way.
The cruise can be as short as 30-45 minutes, or you can choose a longer ride that includes dinner and live entertainment.
Time Travel Vienna is an interactive experience that uses multimedia exhibitions and special effects to take you on a trip down the city’s history.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of museums and historic institutions, I recommend this experience as it’s super captivating and lasts only an hour, perfectly fitting into a day packed with sightseeing and activities.
Time Travel Vienna is open until 20:00 every day with the last tour starting at 7 PM, so it’s also a good pick for an indoor night activity during winter.
The Vienna State Opera House is another experience you can’t miss out on.
The building has a fascinating history, which you can learn about in the guided tours offered through the opera house. The guided tours allow you to get a look behind the scenes of how the Vienna State Opera House runs.
I went all out and attended an opera performance, which was an enjoyable experience. If you’re not particularly interested in this kind of music, instead opt for the 40-minute tour and head on to the next destination.
Gastwirtschaft Wratschko is another highly recommended restaurant to try in Vienna. This atmospheric pub eatery is known for their fantastic take on local cuisine, also offering a range of vegetarian dishes to spice up the usual meat and potatoes.
The restaurant has a home-dining feel to it, and the low-lit, smoky vibe will make you feel right at home in Vienna’s culinary scene.
The classy Der Dachboden is a bit of a jump from the dinner location for the evening.
If you want to substitute your beer for a cocktail, this is a beautiful loft bar located in the vibrant Museum Quarter (definitely recommend strolling through these streets in the evening).
The bar’s vantage point from the rooftop of a hotel offers a magnificent view of the city lights after dark.
The neighbourhood surrounding the Museum Quarter is a lively nightlife area.
If you are not looking for a late night, you can switch things around and start your evening with a cocktail at sunset before heading out to dinner.
There you have it. This beautiful city offers something for every kind of traveller, from history enthusiasts to street photography lovers to fine diners.
A weekend in Vienna or two days in Vienna is just enough to experience some of its splendour.
I hope that by following this two day Vienna itinerary, you will be able to enjoy all that the Austrian capital has to offer by indulging in its magnificent architecture, music, food, and people.
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