The city of Vienna, Austria’s capital, is one of the places that will charm you at the first sight and will compel you to come back to it to discover more. Elegantly seated on the banks of the river Danube, this ancient city is alive with art, music, and historical sites.
Vienna streets were once paced by geniuses such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud, and the legacy of these and many other masters are still felt and maintained throughout numerous museums and historical buildings.
Surrounded by Ring Road, the famous Innere Stadt district, hosts various government and public buildings, including Vienna State Opera, the most famous opera house in the world.
After strolling to the city’s many landmarks, you can always stop at the restaurant for a coffee and one of the famous Austrian desserts, such as Sachertorte, so you can have a complete Vienna experience!
Here is a comprehensive Vienna travel guide to help you with your Vienna visit.
When is the best time to visit Vienna?
Vienna is a city that can offer you something all year round, just look at the list of events in our other article here (and we only listed top events, there are plenty more).
However, if you consider the weather, how crowded are the main attractions, the price of airline tickets and accommodation, and other elements, decisions on when to visit might be influenced by those factors.
Here is more info and tips on when is the best time for your Vienna trip.
How many days do you need for the Vienna visit?
Ideally, you would need five days for a Vienna visit, in order to see some of the top attractions and landmarks and fully experience the city.
However, with shorter stays of two to three days, you might squeeze in quite a few important sights and have a quick Vienna experience.
Here is a recommendation of an itinerary of three days that you can use for a one, two, or three days trip to Vienna.
How much money do you need for your Vienna trip?
Vienna is not that expensive compared to other European capitals, such as Paris or London, so you should be able to spend quality time here on a reasonable budget.
Like with most other travel destinations, the majority of expenses are with tickets and lodging which amount to about half of your vacation budget.
The other half of the expenses are for the food, drinks, attraction tickets, transport, and souvenirs. We don’t count regular shopping here as this is something that can go over budget very quickly.
Here is more detailed info about how much money you would need for your Vienna trip.
What is the weather like in Vienna?
Knowing about Vienna’s weather is important, especially if you are planning some outdoor activities. Vienna and Austria fall under the oceanic type of climate (Cfb classification on the Köppen scale). This climate is characterized by warm, sometimes hot summers and cold, relatively dry winters.
Summers in Vienna are relatively hot, and the average temperature reaches close to 27 degrees in July. Weather throughout the day in summer is still very pleasant no matter the temperature can sometimes climb all the way to 35°C (95°F) degrees.
Winters can be cold with lots of snow when the temperatures are going below freezing, mostly in January. Spring is quite short as a season and can have a lot of rain, while autumn can be more with mild weather, pleasant, and relatively little rainfall.
Where to stay in Vienna – lodging tips
Finding accommodation in Vienna is easy. The city has a very developed tourism infrastructure and accommodation is available through hotels, hostels, guest houses, AirBnB, and short-term agency rentals.
As far as your lodging is concerned, you should consider your budget and your desired location in the city where you would like to stay.
Here is detailed info about where to stay in Vienna with some tips.
What to eat and where?
The rich Austrian cuisine is readily available in dozens of restaurants throughout the city and there are even more restaurants available with international cuisine, food chains, cafes, bars, sweet shops, and food stalls.
Depending on your eating habits and appetite, you can go from simple wurstel or a pancake from a food kiosk in the city center to a three-course meal in an upscale restaurant.
Here is more info about food in Vienna.
Also, here is a list of recommended restaurants.
Attractions and landmarks to see in Vienna
There are quite a few attractions and landmarks in Vienna, both within city limits and in immediate surroundings. We are listing here only the top ten. For the rest, please visit our specialized area – Vienna attractions.
Schönbrunn Palace was the Habsburg rulers‘ primary summer residence in Hietzing, Vienna. It’s one of the country’s most significant architectural, cultural and historical landmarks, built in Rococo style. It is located on the outskirt of Vienna city and it is a major tourist attraction since the 1950s.
The complex consists of the palace with many areas open to the public, museums, a large garden with statues, a zoo, and Orangerie. Usually, it takes an entire day to see all points of interest in the area.
Read more about Schönbrunn Palace.
The Hofburg is the former Habsburg dynasty rulers‘ main imperial palace and today serves as the Austrian President’s official residence and workplace. Located in the middle of Vienna, it was constructed in the 13th century and subsequently extended several times.
The name translates as “Castle of the Court,” which, when originally built during the Middle Ages, indicates its roots. The palace, originally planned as the seat of the Dukes of Austria in the 13th century, expanded over the decades as they became ever more strong and powerful.
Read more about the Hofburg.
Belvedere Palace is actually a palace complex consisting of Upper Belvedere, Lower Belvedere, Belvedere 21, which is a modern art museum, Orangerie, Palace stables, a Privy Garden, and two large gardens and a reflecting pool.
Constructions of both lower and upper Belvedere palaces started in the early 18th century.
Upper Belvedere is a large palace with three levels (ground floor and two upper floors) with art exhibits from Klimt, Schiele, Funke, Monet, and van Gogh and covering art periods such as Viennese Biedermeier, Austrian Baroque, Vienna in the 1900s, and French Impressionism.
Many visitors are flocking to the first-floor exhibition of Gustav Klimt and its world-famous piece, The Kiss. It is totally worth it.
Lower Belvedere is a former residence of Prince Eugene. The opulent lifestyle of Prince Eugene is showcased in Groteskensaal (Hall of the Grotesque), the Marble Gallery, and the Golden Room. Treasures from the Middle Ages are exhibited in the Palace Stables. Art exhibitions from various periods are showcased in the palace.
Read more about the Belvedere.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, as it is known locally (also affectionately called Steffl by Viennese), is a central landmark of Vienna, Austria, and one of the most recognizable attractions.
Originally built in the 12th century, the cathedral was destroyed, rebuilt, and renovated several times through its rich history and now it is a living monument consisting of several styles – Gothic (mostly) Romanesque and Baroque.
It was dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and church services are active to this date. The cathedral complex consists of a church, north and south towers, catacombs, and a treasury.
A popular attraction is a roof walk, where visitors can observe the great view of Vienna.
Read more about St. Stephen Cathedral.
Prater is a large public park with a famous Giant Ferris wheel (Wiener Riesenrad) that dominates the skyline together with other park entertainment attractions.
Originally, the area was a hunting ground for the Imperial family, until it was donated to the general public in 1766. Since then it went through several transformations and today it is managed by the City of Vienna. Prater is also famous as a host of the only World Exhibition held in Vienna in 1873.
Read more about Prater.
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is one of the top opera venues in the world. It offers a first-class program in opera and ballet throughout the year with over 50 productions. Famous works of Mozart, Wagner, Puccini, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and other classic masters are performed with great success in front of large audiences (1,709 seated, 567 standing) and broadcasted on the large screens in front of the opera or online via live TV channel.
The opera was opened in 1869 and it was originally not very popular with Viennese people, due to large construction works in the area they even referred to the building as a “sunken treasure chest”. However, with the tenure of Gustav Mahler from 1897, opera repertoire started attracting a steady audience.
Read more about Vienna State Opera
The Vienna City Hall (Rathaus) is the seat of the local municipal government and houses the offices of the mayor and the town council, as well as other related government institutions. Amongst them is the legislature of the States of Austria, called the Landtag.
Located on the Ringstrasse, Vienna City Hall has a large square in front of it – Rathausplatz, and it is surrounded by Rathaus park on the side and behind the building. Across the Ringstrasse is the famous Burgtheater, Vienna’s state theatre.
Read more about Rathaus.
Albertina is an important art museum in Vienna, whose extensive collection of drawings and prints was started by Duke Albert of Saxen-Teschen, who moved his personal collection to the palace. Later on, Genoese count Giacomo Durazzo gifted a collection of 1,000 various pieces of art to the Duke, and the collection was then well established.
Today, this art museum hosts about 65,000 drawings and one million master prints in its collections, together with a few collections of impressionists and early 20th-century art pieces.
The museum was transferred from Habsburgs to the Austrian state in 1919 and the name Albertina was first used in 1921. Before that, the palace was referred to officially as Palais Erzherzog Albrecht.
The building was heavily damaged at the end of WWII, in 1945, and it was finally fully refurbished and redesigned in the period of 1998-2003.
More about Albertina Museum.
The Karlskirche (“St. Charles Church”), fully named Rektoratskirche St. Karl Borromäus, is a Baroque church located on the south side of Karlsplatz in Vienna. It is considered by many to be the most outstanding baroque church in Vienna, and one of the most prominent buildings in the city. The church is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan and one of the great counter-reformers of the sixteenth century against the Protestants.
The church was the last work of famous baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, but it was finished in 1737 by his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach. It was built with the support of Emperor Charles VI who took a wow during a plague epidemic to dedicate the church to overcoming the disease.
More about Karlskirche.
Naschmarkt is Vienna’s largest and most popular open marketplace. It dates back to the 16th century when it was referred to as Aschenmarkt, due to milk bottles sold there, made out of wood from an ash tree. Starting from the late 18th century, all fruits and vegetables delivered to Vienna by farmers with carts had to be sold at Naschmarkt, which made this market even more popular.
Naschmarkt started as a produce market, where Viennese people will come and buy fresh ingredients for their meals cooked at home, but now it has expanded to many stalls selling readymade food for takeaway and many restaurants where people can sit, eat, drink, and enjoy watching passersby shoppers.
And if you still want to make your own food, Naschmarkt is the place to go and buy everything you need.
Read more about Naschmarkt.
How to move around Vienna?
Moving around Vienna is easy – central locations in the city center (Innere Stadt) are reachable on foot, and for anything else – there is comprehensive and easy-to-use public transport.
The network of buses, trams, and underground covers every corner of the city and it is fully integrated (a single day ticket covers all means of transport).
Is Vienna safe?
Everybody is concerned about their safety, especially when they visit a foreign country. It is good to know what to expect and how to protect yourself and feel safe while traveling the world.
But, worry not! Vienna is very safe and it is ranked as one of the safest cities in the world! Not only it is safe, but it is also very family and children-friendly, so you will enjoy it whether you are traveling alone or with your family and kids.
Here is some more detailed info about Vienna safety.
Top things to do in Vienna
Visiting the top attractions listed above (and many more) is a must, numerous city museums and art galleries are also recommended, although you will need more than a city break to do so as there are more than 100 museums!
From other things to do in Vienna, we recommend: touring Vienna by bike by yourself or with a guided bike tour and this is a fun activity for the entire family. If traveling with children, there is a nice zoo next to Schönbrunn Palace and also a horse riding school with elegant Lipizzaner stallions.
Here is a list of 15 things you can do in Vienna.
Festivals and events in Vienna
Vienna is famous for its festivals and events and the first one starts on the very first day of the New Year – 1st January – the World Famous New Year Concert, by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Some of the notable events include:
- 1st May celebrations in Prater;
- Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) in May-June,
- Life Ball (June-summer),
- AIDS charity event, the biggest in the world; a
- many Christmas-related events, such as Christmas markets and fairs.
Read more about Vienna events.
Interesting facts about Vienna
Here are some interesting facts about this amazing city:
- The world’s oldest carousel is located at the Prater park fairground.
- Vienna’s water supply comes straight from the mountain springs in the Alps, so inhabitants can have pure mineral drinking water straight from the taps.
- Vienna was recently ranked as a city with the highest quality of living in the world.
Vienna is a wonderful city that you will enjoy immensely, whether you come to visit by yourself, with your friends or with family. Learning about this city is essential for your holidays to be relaxing and successful. We hope our travel guide will be useful and will help you to navigate the city. Safe travels and see you soon!