Vienna was called the most livable city in the world in 2018 and is one of the prettiest cities in Europe to visit.
Being the capital of Austria, the city is not too big, so you can explore Vienna during a 2-3-day weekend or even in 24 hours if you try really hard.
Here, I will explain how to visit all the best places in Vienna in just 1-3 days with local tips and a weekend itinerary to help you plan a perfect trip to this gorgeous city!
When I visit new places (or the ones I’ve already visited), I try to find some less touristic attractions that are also worth visiting. I did this also in Vienna, so my itinerary will include some cool spots you won’t find in any travel guide.
First, let’s start from the details to have a perfect trip to Vienna…
Disclaimer: This is an independent travel blog, where I publish stories of my trips and help you to plan yours. I might get a small commission if you book your trip using some of the links in this article at no cost for you. All opinions and recommendations are unbiased and only reflect my opinion (or opinion of a guest writer).
How to Plan a Weekend Trip to Vienna
In this section, you will find all necessary information on planning your weekend in Vienna: airports, public transportation, getting around Vienna, as well as hotels and hostels to stay in.
Airports near Vienna
In Vienna, there is one active airport, while Ryanair often flies to Bratislava airport, which is about one hour away from Vienna, so check your airport of arrival before purchasing tickets. The main airport of Vienna is located outside of the city center, but not far from it.
Best website to find convenient and cheap plane tickets is Skyscanner.
Transfer from the Airport
From there, you can get by one of the three airport busses to the West and Central train stations or the Morzinplatz for 8 Euro one-way or 13 euro for the return trip. The trip will take you about half an hour. You can also take a train, which will get you to Landstraße in central Vienna in just 15 minutes.
A more convenient way to get to the city center is by taxi transfer, which can take you directly to your hotel, so you won’t have to carry all the heavy bags around the city. You can book a good transfer in advance here.
Also, check my 2-day guide to nearby Budapest
Where to Stay in Vienna
There are many nice areas to stay in Vienna. Most of the historical buildings are located in the old town in the city center within a walking distance from each other.
Other nice places to stay are an area to the south from the city center, close to the buildings of famous local architect Hundertwasser (you definitely need to see them).
You can also stay close to Prater entertainment park with a green city park next to it, but in this case, you will definitely need to use public transportation. You can also stay in a quiet area near Augarten Park, which is also not very far from the city center.
Best Hostels and Hotels in Vienna
There is a number of nice hotels and hostels in Vienna that I can recommend. I place links to the pages, where you can learn more about them and book a room for your stay at the lowest price.
If you already have accommodation booked, skip this part and check the best attractions in Vienna with the weekend itinerary.
- Meininger Vienna Downtown Franz – hostel located in Leopoldstadt, Vienna’s second district, which is a very popular area among locals with many food stalls, cafes, and restaurants with international food. The hostel has a very sociable atmosphere, convenient kitchen, and a bike rental. Book a bed
- Hostel Ruthensteiner Vienna – this hostel is located between the city center and Schonbrunn Palace. It has a bigger area than most of the hostels have and even has a garden. The hostel is perfect for relaxing and meeting people. They organize bike tours, have a big room for bike storage, computers for guest use, free lockers, and a self-service laundromat. Book a bed
- Wombats City Hostel Vienna Naschmarkt –a very social hostel with a central location. They offer a free welcome drink, organize free walking tours and have a possibility to rent a bike. The hostel has a bar with inexpensive drinks and food where they also organize a pub quiz. Guests also note the well-equipped kitchen, board games and a pool table in the common area. Book a bed
If you pick one of these three hostels, you definitely won’t regret. Each of them is suitable for different kinds of budget travelers depending on your likes (more relax, more meeting people, possibility to travel by bike, most central location and so on).
- Das Capri (3 stars) – this hotel is located close to Prater Entertainment Park and has extremely high ratings (9.3/10 on booking.com). The hotel has very spacious rooms, a rich breakfast buffet and many small and nice details that the visitors especially note. Book a room
- Hotel Fabrik Wien (3 stars) – a very unusual hotel located in the building of a former linen factory. The owners decided to leave the exterior untouched and left the features of the factory in interior design. The rooms are relatively simple, but a good breakfast is included in the price of your stay. Location is very central but still quiet. Book a room
- NH Vienna Airport Conference Center (4 stars) – a very nice hotel if you come to Vienna on a business trip or if you arrive in the late evening or depart from Vienna in the early morning. Despite the far location, there are high-speed trains that can deliver you to the city center in just 15 minutes. The hotel has a modern design, comfortable rooms, a gym, and a spa. Of course, it also offers rooms for celebrations and business meetings. Check availability for your dates
- NH Wien City (4 stars) – another hotel of the famous NH hotel chain. NH Wien City is located on Mariahilferstrasse, Europe’s longest shopping street. The hotel also offers a gym. Prices for a room start at just 67 euro. Book a room now
- Hotel Am Stephansplatz (4 stars) – the location of this hotel is probably the best you can have in Vienna. As you can guess from the name, it is located on Stephansplatz with the famous cathedral, the main attraction of Vienna, so you can sit in your balcony sipping coffee and looking at the St. Stephen's Church just in front of you. The hotel also has a nice design and various facilities. Check prices here
- Hotel Sans Souci Wien (5 stars) – a pure luxury with an excellent location and lots of facilities like a large spa with 2 saunas, fitness center, indoor pool, and an amazing design. Also, a very rich breakfast is included in the price. Book a room here
- Hotel Imperial (5 stars) – this hotel on Ringstraße boulevard in the heart of Vienna will take you back to the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with its old-style design and a large number of antiques. There is also a business center equipped with state-of-the-art technology, as well as a restaurant and a café, where you can try local dishes and desserts. Check availability for your dates
Getting around Vienna & Exploring the City
If you live in a hotel with central location, you can simply walk to most of the sights of Vienna, but you might need to take a metro to Schonbrunn Palace, Hundertwasser buildings, flak towers, the Prater Entertainment Center and maybe some other places. You can check the Vienna metro map here.
Metro tickets cost 2,4 euro each (as for November 2018), but you can get them cheaper if you buy a 2- or 3-day Vienna City Card. It gives you free public transportation access for the time while it's valid as well as discounts in different attractions. Another option for getting around the city in a more convenient way is hop-on hop-off busses.
These two options are especially convenient if you have only a 2- or 3-day weekend in Vienna.
Now, check the best places to visit in Vienna in such a short term.
Best Places to Visit in Vienna over a Weekend
Below, you can check the list of the best attractions to visit in Vienna during your weekend trip.
Pick the ones that you like, and book tickets cheaper in advance using the links in the description.
Instead of paying for each ticket separately, you can purchase a 3-day Vienna city pass.
- Schonbrunn Palace – this palace used to be the summer residence of Austrian Habsburgs. To go there, you’ll need to take a metro or a taxi. Apart from the palace itself, there is a large park behind the building. Schonbrunn entrance fees - starting at 14 euro. If you want to save lots of time and skip the line, the Schönbrunn Palace Guided Tour with skipping the line ticket costs 34 euro. You can also attend an opera concert in the palace for just 45 euro.
- Schonbrunn Zoo – on the territory of the palace, there is also a zoo, another popular attraction of Vienna. Zoo entry tickets cost 20 euro.
- Hofburg Palace – beautiful winter residence of Austrian Habsburgs located in the city center. It has about 2600 rooms, some of which you can visit yourself. Entrance tickets to Hofburg Palace cost between 8 (children ticket with audio guide) and 17 euro (adult ticket with guided tour). Imperial Treasury entrance fee is 9 euro.
- Belvedere Palace – like two palaces in Vienna wasn’t enough, there is also a baroque Belvedere palace not far from Vienna city center. It was a residence of Prince and Commander Eugene of Savoy. Next to the palace, there is a nice garden and the Belvedere Museum. Belvedere entrance ticket cost between 13 and 15 euro and is free until the age of 18.
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral – one of the main attractions of Vienna. This cathedral is constantly under restoration to maintain the beauty of this building opened almost 900 years ago. Entrance – free, visiting panoramic platforms on the top of the cathedral costs about 5-6 euro but you can also visit its catacombs and towers with an audioguide for 19 euro
- Opera House - huge opera house building is not only popular among people who like visiting opera performances but also among tourists who simply want to see the grandeur and elegance of the Vienna Opera House interior. You can book a 2,5-hour tour around the building for 28 euro, or visit a show with ticket prices starting at 50 euro.
- MuseumsQuartier - quarter with a large number of museums including Leopold Museum (modern Austrian art), Natural History Museum, Mumok (contemporary art), Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (art and antiques), Architekturzentrum Wien (architecture) and some others. To visit all of them cheaper, purchase a 3-day Vienna pass.
- City hall - a large building in a Neo-Gothic style close to the Austrian Parliament building. Learn more about visiting the Vienna City Hall here.
- Austrian Parliament - a huge Roman-style building not far next to the Museumsquartier and Vienna City Hall. Last time I saw it (November 2018), it was under restoration, but you could still see its beauty. Learn more about visiting the parliament building here.
- Anker Clock - unusual clock in Art Nouveau style, where twelve historical figures move across the bridge every 12 hours. Find out more about Anker Clock here. Free to visit
- Karlskirche - baroque church located on the south side of Karlsplatz, the square with one of the best Christmas markets in Vienna. Regular entry ticket costs 8 euro.
- Naschmarkt - a large street market located on a narrow boulevard not far from Vienna city center offering a wide variety of products, and not only food. Come here to try some local delicacies, as well as various dishes from all over the world. To explore it better, book a Naschmarkt food tour.
Unusual Places to visit in Vienna
Now, let's move to some unusual places to visit in Vienna, most of which you won't see in regular travel guides.
- Kugelmugel - a small round house and a self-proclaimed republic within Prater Entertainment Park. The house has a very interesting story. Unfortunately, the creator of it died in 2015, but somehow the republic has a non-resident population of about 650 people. You can visit it only on a special event in Vienna called Open House held in mid-September.
- Hundertwasser Houses - Friedrich Hundertwasser was a very popular and unusual architect in Vienna, a kind of Austrian Gaudi. He hated straight lines and standardization, which you can see in his works around Vienna (Hundertwasser House, Hundertwasser Village, Kunsthaus Wien, District Heating Plant) and all around the world. In Vienna, you can also visit his museum for just 11 euro.
- Prater Entertainment Park - a large entertainment park not very far from the city center, but you'll probably need to take a metro for two or three stations.
- Economical University Campus - really? yes, the Vienna Economical University Campus is an interesting attraction itself. All buildings have very different modern architectural styles. Don't be surprised if you take more pictures there than in the city center 😉 You can also enter some of the buildings, like the futuristic spaceship-looking library. But I recommend you to visit this place in the daytime, as the evenings are very quiet there, and most of the buildings are closed.
- Flak Towers - anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed by Nazi Germany in Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna during the Second World War times. Vienna has three of them. These huge concrete buildings look very impressive, but you can visit only some of them. The one in Augarten is abandoned and it is not possible to enter it (unless you're a pigeon 🙂 ). You can only enter the L-Tower in Esterhazypark, which serves as a public aquarium.
- City parks - Vienna has a number of nice parks to visit in summer. I mentioned some of them already. Augarten is very nice for relaxed walks of jogging. The Vienna City park (Stadtpark) is a more popular place to visit. It has a couple of nice monuments, a small river, a pond, and a restaurant. For entertainment or if you're traveling with kids, you should definitely visit Prater (buy a skip-the-line pass for the Prater giant ferris wheel here)
- Praterstrasse - perhaps, the most 'hipster' area of Vienna, where immigrants from many different countries peacefully coexist. You should definitely visit the Karmelitermarkt food market and some shops and restaurants with international cuisine. Learn more about this and other hipster areas of Vienna here.
It was the list of the best typical and unusual attractions to visit in Vienna during your 2- or 3-day weekend. Now, quickly check the best dishes and drinks to try in Vienna and the best places to try them.
Where and What to Eat in Vienna
You definitely need to try some local dishes. The most typical ones are:
- Schnitzel - perhaps, the most typical Austrian dish that everybody tries when visiting Vienna. It is a pan-fried breaded veal cutlet. It is usually very thin but almost fills the whole plate. It is served in every traditional restaurant in the capital.
- Goulash - a traditional Austrian-Hungarian dish very popular in both countries and beyond. It is a beef stew with tomatoes, paprika, and onions often served with local dumplings (Semmelknödel).
- Viennese sausage - a huge sausage originally brought from Germany that became very popular in Vienna. All over the city, you can get huge hot dogs with it and the traditional local bread. It is mainly a fast-food, but you can also get it in some restaurants.
- Strudel - it is a popular local dessert that has several variations of filling. The most typical one is the one with apple (Apfelstrudel). The dessert is made with puff pastry, raisins, rum, lemon, and cinnamon.
- Zacher - this cake has more density of chocolate than in any other dessert you've ever tried. It also has several layers of apricot jam and is served with whipped cream.
Food tours to have a great gastronomical experience in the capital: 4-hour food tour (including a visit in a cafe, market, bakery, and a chocolate shop) and 2,5-hour Best of Vienna food tour (visit Viennese Palais, artisan chocolate shop, including tastings of wine, ham, and other local delicacies).
See the map of the best restaurants, cafes, and bars in Vienna here.
Where and What to Drink in Vienna
Melange is a Viennese coffee, which is similar to a cappuccino but is topped with half hot milk and half foamed milk. In many kinds of coffee in Vienna, they add whipped cream. You can try them in numerous coffee houses around the city.
Local wine is usually served when it's new and just produced. There is local red and white wine, but the latter is generally better. Most popular wine here is Gumpoldskirchen and is sold all over the capital.
Places close to Vienna, where you can get really good wine are Wachau district (check this full-day Wachau winery bike tour) and Klosterneuburg abbey just outside of the capital.
Spritzer is a local drink which is made of white wine and mineral water or soda.
Heurigen are wine taverns mostly located outside of Vienna city center, where you can try some local wine.
There are also several good beers brewed in Vienna and around Austria. Some of them are Schwechater, Gösser, Adambräu, Weizengold, and Kaiser.
You can also check this guide to microbreweries and bars in Vienna to try craft beers.
Here you can book a 3-hour craft beer tasting tour.
How much time you need in Vienna
Vienna is a capital, but not a very large city, so three days will be enough for you to explore it well enough.
It is also possible to optimize your route and visit all the main attractions of Vienna in 1 or 2 days.
However, not just to see all the sights of the city, but to feel the city spirit, you better take your time and spend 5-7 days in Vienna.
Vienna in 1 Day Itinerary
Here is a link to the map, so that you can customize it and add your hotel and maybe remove some points in this Vienna 1-day itinerary.
- Start with the Schonbrunn palace. Take a metro or a taxi from your hotel and walk around the palace and its area with a guided tour in the morning, while there are still not many tourists. You can also visit the zoo after.
- After that, go back to the city center to visit some museums of your choice in Museumsquartier.
- Passing by the huger Austrian Parliament building, move towards Vienna City Hall. After the visit, you can stop by the Landtmann cafe for Viennese coffee and apple strudel.
- Next stop is the Hofburg palace. You can walk around the palace or just visit the Imperial Treasury and move further.
- Walk to Vienna City Opera and visit it with a guided tour if you booked it in advance.
- After that, visit Naschmarkt where I also recommend booking a tour, or just walk around the market and try some local and exotic foods.
- Stop by Karlskirche on the way to Belvedere Palace, and visit the museum of the latter.
- Next stop - Vienna city center with its St. Stephen's Cathedral, Graben street, Ankeruhr clock and some other attractions around.
- If you only have one day in Vienna, better save your energy and time, and get a taxi or a U3 metro to the Hundertwasserhaus (station Rochusgasse). Check out the house and the Hundertwasser Village with a gallery, bar and several unusual shops inside.
- Your last stop will be Prater Entertainment park. Nearby, there is Praterstrasse, hipster area I mentioned before, Vienna Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Kugelmugel house and the Economical University campus. You can finish your evening in this area, or go back to the center ot have a nice juicy schnitzel with local beer for dinner.
Vienna in 2 Days Itinerary
In case if you have two days in Vienna, you can be a bit more relaxed, but still, you shouldn't waste your time if you want to visit all the best attractions of the city.
Here is a link to the map above.
If you have two days in Vienna, I suggest you first exploring the city center with 'typical' sights of the city. It will help you have a general impression of the city and dive into the local atmosphere.
It is just a suggested itinerary. You definitely shouldn't limit your first day in Vienna to only these attractions. I recommend you going on some side street, forget your plan for an hour, and just get lost in the narrow streets of the city center, visit some backyards (many of them are nice and accessible to the public) and find some local cafes and stores away from the tourist crowds.
Here is a map of your second day in Vienna.
For the day 2 of your Vienna weekend trip, I suggest visiting Schonbrunn and spend a couple of hours there, take a metro to one of the Flak Towers, which is not far from your next stop, Hundertwasserhaus.
After that, you can cross the river and take a picture of Kugelmugel in Prater park. Then see the modern campus of Vienna Economical University, and depending on the time you have left, visit Madame Tussauds Museum, buy tickets for the show in the Vienna Opera House or have a cruise along Danube River.
Vienna in 3 Days Itinerary
Here are some of the best options to spend half a day in Vienna and one-day trips from Vienna:
- See the Lipizzaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School
- Vienna full-day winery tour on a bike (book here)
- 3-hour craft beer tasting tour (book here)
- Boat trip to Durnstein (book here)
- Day trip to Budapest (learn more)
- 1-Day trip to Slovenia (find out more)
- Day trip to Croatia (book now)
- 1-Day Trip to Prague (check here)
It was my full overview of the best things to do in Vienna on a 1-3-day weekend.
If you're just spending a weekend in Vienna, you definitely need to get a 1-, 2- or 3-day Vienna City Pass to visit all the main attractions cheaper.
To plan a perfect trip, visit my travel planner.