3 Days in Vienna itinerary – the best first-time itinerary for 2 or 3 perfect days in Vienna (including where to stay and what to eat).
Vienna (Wien) is the capital of Austria and it is the largest city in the country. It’s known as a City of Music due to the many famous musicians and composers who lived here (like Strauss, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and Brahms).
How many days in Vienna
Are you planning a weekend in Vienna and wondering how many days to spare? Are 2 or 3 days in Vienna enough to see the city?
The first time I visited the city was for a weekend getaway and I tried to see everything. I mean really everything and it was exhausting! So my advice is to spare at least 3 full days (or 3 nights in Vienna) for your trip. Two days are barely enough to scratch the surface of what the city may offer you.
This Vienna itinerary for three days is perfect for you if you are visiting the city for the first time. It covers all the places you must see.
In this way, you can easily reach all attractions.
If you want to try some of the restaurants from the itinerary for dinner, better make a reservation or go for an early dinner.
How much time I spent in Vienna
Wien is one of my favourite cities. In fact, it shares the first place with Edinburgh.
I visited Wien for the first time in 2008 and instantly fell in love with the cold majestic beauty of the city. I’ve spent 2 days and a half, but it wasn’t enough! That’s why I returned again.
In the following years, I visited the city in the summer for the Summer Night Concert in Schönbrunn. I went back again for the Christmas Markets in December. As my favourite season is the autumn, I didn’t miss to see Wien twice during that time. I guess I’ll never get bored of this imperial city.
It’s a lovely family run hotel that serves the most delicious breakfast I have ever tried! Moreover, the location is super, close to the city centre and Praterstern railway station.
I hope that this suggested itinerary for Vienna will be helpful for you.
Hotel König von Ungarn – Best for families
A 4-star elegant hotel 70m away from St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
9.3/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,020+ guest reviews
Hotel Am Stephansplatz – Best for couples
A boutique hotel located as close as possible to St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
9.3/10 Rating – See hotel images and 600+ guest reviews
Singerstrasse 21/25 Apartments
Beautiful modern apartments close to Stephansplatz.
9.2/10 Rating – See apartments images and 1,140+ guest reviews
Check out more awesome places to stay in Vienna.
How to save money on your 3-day Vienna itinerary
The Wien Pass includes:
- free admission to over 60 attractions
- fast-track entry at many sites
- unlimited rides on the hop-on-hop-off buses
- boat cruise along the Danube Canal
- guided walking tour
By using Wien Pass (€119 for 3 days) you will save €78.
- sightseeing – €131 (all sites from the itinerary except Karlskirche)
- hop-on hop-off buses – €28
- boat cruise – €23
- walking tour – €15
Find out more details in this Vienna Pass review.
2-3 Days in Vienna itinerary
Follow this detailed itinerary for 3 perfect days in Vienna. If you have only 2 days in Vienna or a weekend, skip the last day (Schönbrunn Palace) and explore only the Historic Centre.
Day 1 – Historic Centre and the Prater
Morning – St. Stephen’s Cathedral
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start the day with a breakfast at Le Bol or L. Heiner.
L. Heiner has the typical atmosphere of a Viennese café. Take a cup of coffee and a delicious piece of cake to sweeten your day.
Le Bol is a French café and it is a great place if you want something substantial for breakfast. Their Croque-monsieur is mouth-watering.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
The Gothic cathedral, Stephansdom, is one of the most famous sites in the city. Tour the cathedral, the Treasury and climb the South Tower. The catacombs can be visited only with a guide.
The Treasury is worth it unless you are also planning to see the Imperial treasury in Hofburg. In this case, choose one of them.
11:45 AM – 12:00 PM
The Plague Column (Pestsäule) is erected to celebrate the end of the Great Plague epidemic in 1679. The column is right in the centre of the most famous shopping street in the city – Graben.
St. Peter’s Church
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM
St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche) is easy to miss, but don’t! Although this Baroque Roman Catholic church is small, it is a real gem inside.
12:30 PM – 02:30 PM
Try Trześniewski or Hopferl. Trześniewski offers delicious little sandwiches. You can choose from many variations. They go along great with a cold beer.
Hopferl is a traditional Austrian pub and it is a nice option for a longer lunch.
Afternoon – Imperial Palace, Rathaus and the Prater
02:30 PM – 04:30 PM
Hofburg is the former Imperial Palace. It houses three museums: the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the Silver Collection. Buying a ticket for Hofburg allows you to enter all of them.
Continue your walk through the imperial Wien with a visit to the Imperial Treasury. It is a stunning museum and a must even for a limited time. Here you can see one of the largest emeralds in the world. You need to buy a separate ticket for the Imperial Treasury (it’s not included in the ticket for Hofburg palace).
Austrian Parliament Building
04:45 PM – 05:00 PM
You can’t pass without noticing this beautiful white building in Greek style. Since the 19th century, this is the place where the Austrian parliament conducts its sessions.
05:00 PM – 05:15 PM
No, this is not the house of rats as you might think reading the name in German. In fact, this is the City Hall. The word “Rat” in German means council. The Neo-Gothic building of the Rathaus is outstanding, especially at night. If you have a chance to take a look at it in the evening, do it!
The Prater and Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel
05:45 PM – 07:00 PM
No visit to Wien is complete without a ride on the Giant Ferris wheel. The 64.75-metre (212 ft) tall Ferris Wheel does only one slow turn.
This attraction is in the Prater, a huge amusement park. If you are not into such parks, you can skip it. Just go for the Ferris Wheel.
To get there take metro line U2 (Direction Seestadt): from station Rathaus to Praterstern Bf – 4 stop.
For dinner, I suggest you take the underground back to the city centre instead of looking for a place to eat around the Prater. There are two great places to dine close to St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
If you love spare ribs, go to Ribs of Vienna. They offer more than 20 variations of ribs.
If you prefer a traditional Austrian restaurant, try Gasthaus Pöschl.
Day 2 – Ringstrasse and Belvedere Palace
Morning – Visit the popular museums
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start the second day of the Vienna itinerary 3 days with breakfast at Ulrich.
Natural History Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum
09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
These identical buildings from 19th-century house the Habsburgs’ collections. It is not possible to see both of them in 2 hours, so choose the one that is more interesting for you.
If you are into art and history, Kunsthistorisches Museum is the better choice. I found their Egyptian and art collections fascinating. You can buy a combo ticket for the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Imperial Treasury and save some money.
On the other hand, the Natural History Museum houses the unique 29,500-year-old statue of Venus of Willendorf and enormous dinosaur skeletons. It’s a really tough choice.
Burggarten and Mozart Statue
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM
Take a rest in the Burggarten and see the famous Mozart Statue that is created in 1896.
Wien State Opera
12:15 PM – 12:30 PM
Pass along the beautiful 19th-century old building of the Wien State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper).
12:30 PM – 02:30 PM
Choose between Café Museum and Phil. Café Museum is a traditional Viennese café where you can order a lunch beside the usual cakes and coffee. Or you can eat a few pieces of cake instead of lunch as I did. Phil combines a regular coffee shop with a bookstore.
Afternoon – St. Charles’s Church and Belvedere
St. Charles’s Church
02:30 PM – 03:00 PM
St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche) is an outstanding Baroque church from the 18th century. The entrance ticket is also valid for the elevator to the dome.
Schwarzenbergplatz and Soviet War Memorial
03:15 PM – 03:30 PM
The memorial is built to commemorate the Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Vienna in the World War II.
03:45 PM – 05:30 PM
Belvedere Schloss used to be the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Palace is housed in two buildings separated by a huge park.
The Upper Belvedere houses the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings. Here you can see his iconic masterpiece the Kiss (Lovers).
The Lower Belvedere houses temporary exhibitions, but it’s worth to visit it because of the few restored rooms. So if you want to find out how the palace looked back in its glorious days, don’t miss the Lower Belvedere.
You can buy separate tickets for Upper and Lower Belvedere if you want to visit only one of them.
Finish the day with dinner at Wiener Wiazhaus or Salm Bräu.
Salm Bräu is a few centuries old brewery. It is worth visiting for the beer.
However, I love the food in Wiener Wiazhaus more.
Day 3 – Schönbrunn Palace and Danube Tower
Morning – Tour of the palace
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start the last day of the 3 perfect days in Vienna itinerary with breakfast at Waldemar Tagesbar.
09:30 AM – 01:30 PM
Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) is the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs. It has over 1400 rooms! The rooms in the palace are well preserved and you can see only 40 of them. There are different kinds of tickets for Schönbrunn Palace.
The gardens are huge.
There a lot of fearless squirrels you can feed with nuts. I don’t go there without a package of walnuts in my pocket.
The most interesting sites in the gardens are Gloriette, the Maze and the Palmenhaus. For all of them, you will need a ticket.
At the entrance of the palace, there is an Imperial Carriage Museum (Kaiserliche Wagenburg).
You’ll see how the original Viennese apple strudel is made. Also, a tasty warm piece of strudel will wait for you at the end of the show.
As you see there are a lot of options to choose from and you will have to make a choice. If you want to see all of this you will need a full day, not only the morning. It is up to you.
01:30 PM – 02:30 PM
Have lunch at Café Restaurant Residenz or Landtmann’s Jausen Station. Both of them are located on the grounds of the palace.
Afternoon – Zoo or Danube Tower
Zoo or Danube Tower
02:30 PM – 06:00 PM
If you are done with the palace and the gardens you have two options for the afternoon. You can visit the amazing zoo in the garden of the palace or the Danube Tower.
The Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn) is the oldest one in the world and it is huge. It takes hours to see it. You need an additional ticket for the Zoo unless you choose a Schönbrunn Pass that includes an entrance to the zoo.
If you stick with this option you can have dinner at Brandauers Schlossbräu or Plachutta. Brandauers Schlossbräu is a typical Austrian pub, while Plachutta is a little more formal.
The tower (Donauturm) is far away from the palace and you have to use public transport.
Take metro line U4 (Direction Heiligenstadt): from station Schönbrunn to Schwedenplatz – 9 stops. Then change to metro line U1 (Direction Leopoldau): from station Schwedenplatz to Kaisermühlen – 5 stops. From there you have to walk about 1,5km to reach the Danube Tower.
A huge calm park surrounds the tower. From the top of the 252 metres (827 ft), you can enjoy spectacular views.
For dinner return to the city centre and try Gasthaus Pfudl or Restaurant Pürstner. Both of them serve delicious Austrian food.
What to do in Vienna in 3 days – more ideas
Get another view of the city
Listen to the magical works by Mozart and Strauss
Attend a concert of Wien Mozart Orchestra in period costumes at the Golden Hall.
Take a day trip
If you’re into castles, visit Castle Kreuzenstein (Burg Kreuzenstein). It’s only 25km away from Wien, about a 30min journey with the S-Bahn.
Naschmarkt is the best-known market in the city since the 16th century. The market has about 120 stands and restaurants, that ensure you a colourful culinary experience. To learn more about Viennese cuisine and try delicious delicacies, take a gourmet food tour.
Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding school is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses with a history of more than 450 years. You can attend a morning exercise of the Spanish Riding school. The performances take place at the Winter Riding School (Winterreitschule) in Hofburg.
Hundertwasser House (Hundertwasserhaus) is a colourful and extraordinary house. It’s designed by the famous architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The house can’t be visited, but you can tour Kunst Haus Wien. It is also designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Mozarthaus is the only remaining home in the city of the famous composer Mozart. He lived here from 1784 to 1787. Discover the musical side of Wien by visiting the Mozart’s former apartment.
Albertina served as a residence of Habsburgs for more than 100 years. Nowadays it’s a must-see art museum. You can admire exhibitions of French and German expressionism, Russian avant-garde and many more. The museum also houses one of the largest graphical collections in the world. Tour the sumptuous staterooms and see some incredible art at Albertina.
Austrian National Library
The Austrian National Library is a must-see for every book lover. Its lavishing interior is something not to be missed. You can visit the State Hall, Literature museum, Globe Papyrus and Esperanto museum. Keep in mind that State Hall is located separately from the other museums.
Museum of Technology
This is one of the best technology museums I’ve ever been to. It’s very interactive and it’s huge. The museum is close to Schönbrunn Palace, so you can combine it with a visit to the palace.
Ankeruhr Clock is a famous clock in Art Nouveau style. At every hour the clock shows some historical figures and at noon all of them parade. If you want to see the show at 12:00 PM, go 15 minutes early as there is usually a big crowd.
I found the Uhrenmuseum fascinating. It houses about 700 clocks from around the world, some of which date even to the 15th century.
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial
Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial is a moving memorial in the heart of the Jewish quarter. It commemorates the Austrian victims of the Holocaust. It’s also known as the Nameless Library. This concrete library is filled with books put backwards on the shelves. To learn more about what happened to the Jewish community in Wien during the WWII, take a historical walking tour.
If you take a walk along Ringstraße a beautiful sandstone church in neo-Gothic style will come in your sight. The history of Votive Church (Votivkirche) began with a failed assassination attempt. In 1853 during one of his regular walks around the city, Emperor Franz Joseph was attacked from behind. He was stabbed in the collar with a knife by the Hungarian nationalist János Libényi. The attack was unsuccessful. Although the emperor was heavily wounded, his life was out of danger. János Libényi was arrested for an attempted regicide and later he was executed.
The emperor’s brother, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, decided to build a church in gratitude to God for the salvation of the emperor. Maximilian asked the people for donations and after a year the needed amount was gathered. The name of the church Votive Church (Votivkirche) derives from the fact that it is built entirely by donations (votive offerings).
St. Francis of Assisi Church
The church is built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. It’s very different from the other churches in the city, it resembles a small castle. The church is located a bit out of the city centre. Yet you can easily reach it from the underground, getting off at Vorgartenstraße station.
St. Michael’s Church
Michaelerkirche is one of the oldest churches in the city. The church is mostly known for its crypt. Around 4,000 bodies are buried in the crypt from 1631 to 1784. Due to specific climatic conditions, the corpses are well preserved. The crypt can be visited only in a guided tour. It takes place from Thursday to Saturday at 11:00 AM and 01:00 PM in front of the church.
The Imperial Crypt lies beneath the plain-looking Capuchin Church. It’s the final resting place of the Habsburg dynasty. About 150 Habsburgs are laid to rest here, among them are 12 emperors and 18 empresses. You can tour the crypt on your own.
The Stadtpark is one of the most beautiful parks in the city centre. The famous music hall, Kursalon, is an elegant addition to the park.
Tucked away in some side streets, this cat cafe is a must for every cat lover. It’s not fancy, has no entrance fee and five lovely cats are there to welcome you. Go early on weekdays for fewer crowds.
If you happen to visit the city in December, don’t miss the Christmas markets.
Getting around Vienna
The easiest way to get from Wien International Airport to the city centre is by using City Airport Train (only 16 minutes journey).
Wien has a well-developed public transport network. You can get in no time to every part of the city. In most of the cases, you’ll need to use the underground only to go to Schönbrunn Palace or Danube Tower. Otherwise, the city can be explored easily by foot. There are different types of tickets.
During my trip, I mostly used the Weekly Pass (Wochenkarte). It’s a great option for a longer stay within a week. This ticket is valid from Monday 12:00 AM until next Monday 09:00 AM. To reach the airport by the S-Bahn (if you have the weekly pass), you’ll need only a supplementary ticket for Vienna outer zone (Aussenzonen).
Also, the hop-on-hop-off buses are a great and easy option to tour the city.
Further reading for your trip
Find more self-guided walking tours and historical insights in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Vienna.
If you’re planning to rent a car, compare the car rental prices in Europe.
Visitors often combine Wien with:
- Bratislava – the charming little capital of Slovakia is only about an hour away by train. Find out how to see everything in just one day with this Bratislava itinerary. Also, check out the best places to stay in Bratislava.
- Budapest – an outstanding city with gorgeous architecture. It’s a little far away for a day trip – almost 3 hours by car or train. Thus you’d better spend at least 1 (or even better 2) nights there. Find out what are the must-see sites in Budapest.
- Prague – a colourful city with medieval charm. Prague is located about 4 hours away by train or car. Thus you’d better add it as the next stop in your itinerary. Check out these hotels in the Old Town – it’s the most convenient area to stay.
|I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.|
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