This first-time Vienna itinerary will show you how to spend 2 or 3 perfect days in Vienna (including where to stay, what to eat and how to save more than €80).
Vienna (Wien) is the capital of Austria and its largest city. Once home to the powerful Habsburg monarchy, the city still preserves its imperial grandeur. Splendour Baroque architecture, imperial palaces and lavish coffee houses, the capital of Austria has it all!
Vienna is also known as a City of Music. Many famous musicians and composers lived and worked here (for example Strauss, Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart and Brahms).
The perfect Vienna itinerary
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.
You can find a detailed map of this Vienna itinerary at the end of the article.
If you want to try some of the restaurants from the itinerary for dinner, better make a reservation or go for an early dinner.
The perfect Vienna itinerary (for first-timers)
- Day 1: St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Plague Column, St. Peter’s Church, Imperial Palace, Austrian Parliament Building, Rathaus, Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel
- Day 2: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Burggarten, Wien State Opera, St. Charles’s Church, Soviet War Memorial, Belvedere Palace
- Day 3: Schönbrunn Palace, Danube Tower
Already have a hotel booked?
See whether your hotel is in a good area in my guide to Where to stay in Vienna for first time visitors.
3 days in Vienna – Day 1
Have breakfast at Le Bol
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.
See the iconic St. Stephen’s Cathedral
09:30 AM – 11:30 AM
The Gothic cathedral, Stephansdom, is one of the most famous sites in the city. The entrance is free, but there are areas within the church that you have to pay for.
The Treasury is worth it unless you are also planning to see the Imperial treasury in Hofburg. In this case, choose one of them.
The catacombs can be visited only with a guide (see more info here).
You’ll need about 2 hours to explore all areas of the cathedral (including the paid ones). The free visit takes no longer than 30min.
Admire the Plague Column
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.
Visit 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.
See all concerts in St. Peter’s Crypt.
Have lunch at Trześniewski
12:30 PM – 02:30 PM
For lunch stop at 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.
Explore the Imperial Palace
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 a Greek style. Since the 19th century, this is the place where the Austrian parliament conducts its sessions.
Be amazed by Rathaus
05:00 PM – 05:15 PM
Rathaus 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!
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 (a 20min ride).
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 metro 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.
If you have more time check out these attractions, too. They are close to the sites from the first day, so you can easily add any of them to your Vienna itinerary (if you are ahead with time).
Learn more about Mozart’s life
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 Mozart’s former apartment.
Watch the clock show at Anchor Clock
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.
Visit the cat café Neko
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 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).
3 days in Vienna – Day 2
Have breakfast at Ulrich
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.
Visit St. Charles’s Church
02:30 PM – 03:00 PM
St. Charles’s Church (Karlskirche) is an outstanding Baroque church from the 18th century. There is a fee to visit the church, but the entrance ticket also includes the elevator to the dome.
See all concerts in St. Charles’s Church.
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 World War II.
Tour the royal Belvedere Palace
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.
Taste some Viennese food
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.
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.
Admire the art at Albertina
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. Get your fast-track ticket to Albertina here.
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.
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.
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 on a guided tour. It takes place from Thursday to Saturday at 11:00 AM and 01:00 PM in front of the church.
Explore the food market, Naschmarkt
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 Naschmarkt and try delicious delicacies, take a gourmet food tour.
3 days in Vienna – Day 3
Have breakfast at Waldemar Tagesbar
08:30 AM – 09:30 AM
Start the last day of the 3 perfect days in Vienna itinerary with breakfast at Waldemar Tagesbar.
Explore the royal Schönbrunn Palace
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.
To get to Schönbrunn Palace take metro line U4 from Karlsplatz or Schwedenplatz to Schönbrunn metro station.
The gardens are huge, so be prepared for a long walk.
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).
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.
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 all. 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. Book your skip the line ticket for Danube Tower here.
For dinner return to the city centre and try Gasthaus Pfudl or Restaurant Pürstner. Both of them serve delicious Austrian food.
Mozart and Strauss Concert
Finish the day with the magical works of Mozart and Strauss. Attend a concert of Wien Mozart Orchestra in period costumes at the Golden Hall (it’s the most popular concert).
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.
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 metro, getting off at Vorgartenstraße station.
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.
How to save money on your 3-day Vienna itinerary
The 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 (€129 for 3 days) you will save €83.
- sightseeing – €137 (all sites from the itinerary except Karlskirche)
- hop-on hop-off buses – €36
- boat cruise – €24
- walking tour – €15
Total without the card – €212
If you use the card – €129
Total savings – €83
Giant Ferris Wheel – if you don’t have a Wien Pass, book tickets ahead to avoid waiting in line.
Mozart Concert at the Golden Hall – the tickets sell out fast, so book as early as you can. You can book your ticket to the Mozart Concert here.
How many days in Vienna
Are 3 days in Vienna enough?
3 days (or 3 nights in Vienna) is the perfect amount of time. You’ll need 2 days to explore the main attractions in the Historic Old Town and 1 full day for Schönbrunn Palace.
I hope that my suggested itinerary for Vienna will be helpful for you.
2 or 3 days in Vienna?
The Historic Centre is walkable and you can tour it in one day. However to visit the Imperial Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Spanish Riding School and Belvedere Palace you’ll need one more day. So, 2 days in Vienna are enough to visit almost all popular attractions (without Schönbrunn Palace).
Regarding the Schönbrunn Palace, it’s located out of the city centre (a 30min journey from the city centre). You’ll need at least half a day to explore the palace and its gardens. In addition, there is a lovely zoo. Thus, if you want to see everything you’ll need one whole day.
What if I don’t have 3 full days in Vienna?
If you have less than 3 days, skip the last day of the itinerary that includes Schönbrunn Palace, Zoo and Danube Tower. They are all located a bit far from the city centre and you’ll lose time in transportation. All other attractions are within walking distance from each other.
Best time to visit Vienna
For sunny weather, visit the city from May to September. The high season starts June and ends in August. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit the city in late spring or early autumn.
Vienna Philharmonic Summer Night Concert takes place every summer in May-June in the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. It’s a spectacular event, not to be missed.
In September-October, the famous Wiener Wiesn-Fest takes places. This is the Viennese version of Oktoberfest.
Winters are freezingly cold and windy. Nevertheless, December is a great time to visit Vienna because of the Christmas markets. Find out which is the best Christmas market in Vienna.
Getting around in Vienna
Find a detailed map of the itinerary here.
Wien has a well-developed public transport network. You can get to every part of the city in no time. In most of the cases, you’ll need to use the metro 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).
Another option is the hop-on-hop-off bus. It’s a great and easy way to tour the city.
Also, you can take a ride of the famous Vienna Ring Tram. This tram is the only one that completes an entire round of the Ringstrasse boulevard.
How to get to Vienna
Vienna is easily accessible by train from any major European city. The Central train station is about 2km away from the Historic centre (you can easily reach it by metro). Check timetables and book tickets online at ÖBB official site.
If you’re arriving by car, it’s best to choose accommodation with available parking. Find more information about parking in Vienna.
Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat) is located about 20km outside the city. There are several ways to get to the city centre from there:
- the easiest one is to book a private transfer directly to your hotel. I love Welcome Pickups because they are always on time and very helpful.
- if your accommodation is close to Wien Mitte – Landstraße, use the additional ticket for the Zoo that takes you to the city centre only for 16min
- another option is to take the S-Bahn (suburban train)
Day trips from Vienna
Wachau Valley and Melk Abbey
A trip to the magnificent Melk Abbey is one of the most popular excursions from Vienna. Leopold II, Margrave of Austria founded the abbey in 1089. Soon it became famous for its extensive manuscript collection. Today, the abbey is a stunning example of Baroque architecture.
During the winter you can visit the abbey only with a guided tour.
How to get to Melk Abbey
- organized tour – this Wachau Valley tour is one of the most booked day tours. It combines a visit to the medieval Melk Abbey with a boat cruise on the Danube River.
- by train – take a regional train from Wien Westbahnhof to Melk Bahnhof (1-hour journey). From there it’s about 800m to the abbey.
Bratislava, the charming capital of Slovakia, is one of the most popular places to visit near Vienna. It’s a vibrant city with a unique mixture of 18th-century buildings and Soviet-era architecture. An impressive castle, quirky statues and a modern UFO tower add a little bit of atmosphere to the city.
How to get to Bratislava
- by bus – it’s the cheapest option (3 times cheaper than the train, 1h journey). Take FlixBus from Erdberg bus terminal (the FlixBus station is right next to metro station Erdberg).
- by train – take a train from Wien Hbf to Bratislava hl.st. (1h journey). From there it’s about 1.5km to the Old Town.
- by water – take the Twin City Liner boat (1h 15min journey).
Salzburg Located at the heart of the Alps, this picturesque city is a true Baroque gem. It’s also the birthplace of the world-famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Highlights of Salzburg include the Cathedral, Mirabell Palace, Hohensalzburg Castle and Mozart Museum.
You’d better spend at least 2 days here and explore the city on your own pace. See the best hotels to stay in Salzburg.
The easiest way to get from Vienna to Salzburg is by train (2h 30min journey). Check timetables at ÖBB official site.
Budapest is known as Paris of the East. And there is a reason why. It’s an outstandingly picturesque city due to its architecture spanning from Baroque to Art Nouveau style. Some of the top attractions are Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Hungarian Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica.
How to get to Budapest
- by bus – the cheapest option. Take FlixBus from Erdberg bus terminal (about 3h journey).
- by train – take a train from Wien Hbf to Budapest-Keleti train station. (2h 40min journey).
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.
How to get to Prague
- by bus – the cheapest option. Take FlixBus from Erdberg bus terminal (about 4h journey).
- by train – take a train from Wien Hbf to Praha hl.n. (4h journey).
Practical information about Vienna
Austria is a part of the Schengen Agreement (the European border-free area). So you don’t need an Austrian visa, but rather a Schengen visa. If your country is part of the Schengen Agreement, you’ll need only a valid passport or ID card.
You can check at iVisa if you need a visa and what type exactly. What I loved about iVisa is that they offer an easy and fast process to obtain a visa online. The application takes no more than 5 minutes!
The official currency of Austria is Euro. The most popular credit cards are Visa and Mastercard and they are accepted in many places. However many of the restaurants or even supermarkets accept payments only in cash. Also, American Express is not popular and accepted in only a few places.
Austria is a German-speaking country. However, most people speak good English, too. If you want to learn some German, check out this German phrasebook (it’s one of the best rated).
Austria operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. The associated plug type is F.
If you’re from the US, this is the only travel adaptor that you’ll need.
If you’re from the UK, this is the best-rated travel adaptor.