Planning the perfect Vienna itinerary can see a bit overwhelming when you realise on every cobbled street corner, there’s something to admire here. There are baroque facades, imperial palaces and Viennese coffee houses. A home for intellects, artists and politicians, in order to soak in all of the sophistication Vienna has to offer, you’ll need 2 to 3 days in Vienna.
Austria’s capital city is filled with world-famous paintings, artefacts and relics of one of the most impressive European royal dynasties, and it has picturesque views of the Alps too. To make sure you don’t miss the best attractions or skip out on the lesser-known sites, read our Vienna itinerary to plan the perfect trip.
How Many Days in Vienna?
The majority of tourists are drawn to Vienna for its history. To feel truly satisfied with your trip, you’ll be wondering how many days you’ll need to spend in Vienna in order to get the most out of your trip.
A weekend will give you plenty of time to tick off all of those bucket-list attractions. Those 2 days in Vienna will give you ample time to explore palaces, museums and even have a slice of Sacher torte too.
But you might be wondering if you should extend your holiday by one day to give yourself a long weekend in the capital. If you have the time, 3 days in Vienna will give you time to squeeze in a day trip to the neighbouring capital city of Bratislava or over to Salzburg.
If a day trip isn’t your ticket, then a third day in the city will give you time to explore Vienna’s lesser-well known attractions.
Getting To and Around Vienna
For international arrivals, the easiest way to arrive into the city is by Vienna international airport. The airport is well-serviced by several public transport links, but the most convenient way to arrive is via the rapid transit railway (also known as the S-Bahn).
Services arrive at several stations including Wien Hauptbahnhof. A one-way single ticket costs €4.10, so they’re highly economical too.
If you’re travelling across mainland Europe, the easiest way to get to Vienna is by train to Vienna Central Station (Wien Hauptbahnhof). You can jump on a direct train into Vienna from Rome, Budapest, Munich, Bratislava, Prague and many many more. You can check schedules and prices here.
Now that you’ve arrived in the city, you’ll want to know how to get around Vienna. On the whole, the city is a highly walkable city with most of its top sites located within walking distance of one another.
Because some of the sites are further out of the city, you will need to navigate Vienna’s public transport during your 3 days in Vienna. The best way to move through the city is on Vienna’s U-Bahn (the metro).
They’re highly frequent and run from 5 am all the way through to midnight. Vienna also has an extensive tram and bus network too – use CityMapper to navigate these. If you end up purchasing the Vienna City Card, public transit is included – along with entry into a number of different sites and museums. You can also get a travel card with the purchase of the Vienna Pass.
2 to 3 Days in Vienna Itinerary
Now that you’ve got a vague idea of Vienna’s sites and surroundings, you’ll be after a step-by-step Vienna itinerary to make the most of your 2 or 3 days in Vienna.
This is a great travel itinerary for first-time visitors getting to know the city who want to see the major attractions in Vienna.
Day 1 – City Centre Highlights
Free Walking Tour
As we’ve already mentioned, Vienna is a highly walkable city so we recommend jumping on a free walking tour. Our favourite is the Red and White Walking Tour. They have an informative bunch of guides who offer tidbits about the city and local recommendations.
If you’re ever on a free walking tour, it is generally expected that those on the tour will tip their tour guide at the end. How much you’d like to tip is at your discretion (the tip is really about how much you enjoyed the tour).
But if you don’t fancy hopping on a free walking tour, then you can easily build your own or join a paid walking tour if that suits your schedule better. This will allow you to join more specialised tours such as this food tour or this Jewish history tour.
Vienna Opera House
To see Vienna in 2 days, start your first day outside its world-renowned Opera House – the Vienna State Opera. Also known as the Wiener Staatsoper, this Opera House first opened its doors in 1869 and has since received a global reputation.
Its facade is grand and striking, a beauty that deserves to be admired.
If you want to watch an evening performance, then purchase tickets online well before you arrive in Vienna. Tickets for a night at the opera can be purchased for as little as €14 – it’s a bit of a bargain really.
The Albertina Museum
After you’ve ogled at the might of the Vienna Opera House, take a short walk over to Albertinaplatz where you’ll find the Albertina Museum.
The Albertina Museum houses one of the most important collections of art in the world. Inside its walls, there are around one million prints including paintings by Monet and Picasso. You can book entry tickets here.
Austria National Library
Once you’ve finished staring at some works of art, walk over to the Austrian National Library. The library houses several different attractions including the State Hall, the Literature Museum, the Papyrus Museum, the Globe Museum, the Esperanto Museum and the House of Austrian History.
Individual tickets can be bought for each attraction, if you want to visit more than two it is worth buying a combined ticket. At the moment, the State Hall is under refurbishment and will re-open its doors in 2023.
Finally, it is time to walk on over to the Hofburg – an incredible place to visit on any trip to Vienna. The Hofburg is a labyrinth of monumental buildings and wings. To experience it in all its glory, make sure you enter from Michaelerplatz’s cobbled courtyard.
This part of the Hofburg is lined with statues of Heracles and soothing fountains. Here, you’ll find the classic horse-drawn carriages from the Spanish Riding School (they should be on your left).
As you walk through the Hofburg, you’ll find yourself in a courtyard with a large monument to Emperor Franz I. While you’re there, make sure you visit the Swiss Gates. These red and gold gates date back to the 16th Century and give the Hofburg’s exterior a pop of colour.
Straight ahead from the Swiss Gates is Heldenplatz (also known as Heroes Square). The balcony in Heldenplatz is where Hitler addressed a rally in 1938 – just standing in the square will give you the chills.
As well as walking around the Hofburg, there is plenty to see inside the imperial palace’s formidable walls. Inside the building you’ll find the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments, the Imperial Silver Collection, the Spanish Riding School and many more.
You can gain entry to the Sisi Museum by itself, or you can purchase a combined ticket that will include a grand tour of the Schönbrunn Palace, the Sisi Museum, the imperial apartment and the silver collection as well as entry into the Vienna Furniture Museum.
You can also get tickets to the Spanish riding school or you can book a guided tour here.
From the Hofburg, walk 10 minutes along Vienna’s winding cobbled streets to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The Gothic cathedral stands in a busy, bustling square.
Before touring around the cathedral, we recommend stopping for a drink or a light snack at one of the many bars surrounding the cathedral. Even though these bars are in a tourist hotspot, the prices are relatively affordable.
As you sip your drink, admire the outside features of the cathedral. One side of the roof is adorned with Green tiles including the Hapsburg house crest (a double-headed eagle). You’ll also notice a golden ladder on the side of the spire, which is referred to as the stairway to heaven.
Now, it’s time to head inside. The Cathedral’s attractions are separated into these distinct parts: the cathedral, catacombs, south tower and the north tower. If you’re planning on going to only one or two of these attractions, then you’ll want to purchase separate tickets.
Day 2 – Schönbrunn Palace, Schloss Belvedere & Museums Quartier
To see Vienna in 2 days, you’ll want to start your second day bright and early at the summer residence of the Hapsburg family, the Schönbrunn Palace.
It is one of the most famous examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. Head into the palace and move through the 44 rooms, including private apartments and staterooms, and other precious 18th-century interiors. A tour around the palace will take hours, and once you’ve come outside it’s not over there.
Take a stroll through the palace gardens to the viewing point. You’ll be able to soak in tremendous views of Vienna as well as glimpses of the Alps. When you’re here, sit down and have a coffee so you can really soak in those views.
There are numerous different tickets to purchase at Schönbrunn. Have a browse through the ticket options and pick one that piques your interest. You can also book a guided tour here if you want to learn more about the history with a travel guide and skip the line.
After visiting the Schönbrunn Palace, it’s time to visit Karlskirche – an 18th Century cathedral. It dominates Vienna’s skyline, so it isn’t very easy to miss. On the outside, you’ll notice a large dome and two long columns. Entry into the cathedral is paid, and it’s worth paying the price for panoramic views of the city.
After visiting the cathedral, jump onto tram line D and head over to Schloss Belvedere. Formally two palaces, Schloss Belvedere is now a museum complex. Its collection of art ages from the middle ages all the way up to the present day.
Access to the majority of the gardens is largely free and accessible to the public. To visit inside, you’ll have to purchase a ticket here for the Upper Belvedere and you can purchase tickets here for the Lower Belvedere.
Spend the rest of the afternoon in the Museums Quartier. This former imperial stable is one of the largest cultural quarters in the world.
It’s an urban, edgy, part of the city where locals enjoy long summer evenings lounging around on bean bags and deck chairs.
You can easily spend a day in the Museums Quartier, but if you’re short on time make sure to see the Leopold Museum (you can pre-book tickets here) and the Museum of Modern Art.
Day 3 – Day Trip from Vienna
Day Trip to Bratislava
If you want to see Vienna in 3 days, there are a few ways you can spend your final day in the city.
Firstly, you can continue to explore Vienna a little deeper. You might want to return to the museum quartier and visit another museum or you might want to sit back and relax with a warm mug of coffee and a slice of cake. Take the time to, perhaps, visit the city hall and the nearby Rathauspark.
Alternatively, you could send your final day in another country. Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) is only a one-hour train ride away from Vienna Central Station. Visiting Bratislava is really worth it if you have more time in Vienna to spend.
Because Bratislava is a small city, it can be easily explored within one day. Trains run every hour between the two capitals and can be purchased here. Alternatively, it is also possible to book a guided day trip if you don’t want to do the trip independently.
Once you’ve arrived in the capital, make a beeline for the Old Town. Head straight to St Michael’s Gate – one of the city’s last remaining fortresses. For great views of the city, climb to the top of the tower, but get there early to beat the crowds.
After you’ve taken in the views of the city, walk over to St Martin’s Cathedral. While it may not look impressive from the outside, underneath the cathedral lies a labyrinth of catacombs, which are worth a visit.
From here go for a wander around the main square where you’ll find brightly-coloured buildings. One colourful building in Bratislava that stands out, in particular, is the Blue Church. Officially known as the church of St Elizabeth of Hungary, it is a must-see if you’re a lover of whimsical buildings fit for a fairytale.
Where to Stay in Vienna
Vienna is a massive city with a range of choice when it comes to accommodation. Whether you’re looking for an ultra-budget option or a plush luxury hotel, you’ll be sure to find it in the Austrian capital. If you’re wondering where to stay in Vienna, have a look at these great options:
Motel One Wien – Hauptbahnhof — For those travelling on a mid-range budget in Vienna, then this hotel is a fantastic option. Situated within easy reach of Vienna’s main train station they have a number of clean, comfortable and nicely decorated rooms on offer. There is also a breakfast option available each morning. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Brauhof Wien — If you’re looking for a luxury option in the Austrian capital, then this 4-star hotel is a great choice for you. They have a myriad of luxe rooms available, a fantastic location for exploring the city and a number of other great amenities to ensure you have an excellent stay. Click here to see their availability
Hostel Ruthensteiner — For budget or solo travellers, this hostel can be a fantastic option in Vienna. Family-run, they have both private rooms and dorm beds available, a central location for exploring the city and there are plenty of great common areas that make it easy to meet other visitors to the city. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Vienna hotels!
Vienna is a city of grandeur, dynasty and culture, so it’s easy to feel sophisticated when you’re exploring palace after palace. However you’ve chosen to spend your 2 to 3 days in Vienna, we hope you found our Vienna itinerary useful.
Are you planning a trip to Vienna? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!