City Guide: What to do in Vienna

I have been calling Vienna my elective home for more than eight years now. Still, whenever I walk through the inner district or discover new places, I get amazed by the city’s beauty. I’d even go as far as to say that Vienna is probably one, if not the most beautiful city in Europe. At least, it was voted the most liveable city in the world. And while both, locals and tourists complain about Viennese people being rude, I can promise, it’s still definitely worth a visit.

See the most popular sights

As in every bigger city, there are some sights and attractions you probably shouldn’t miss during your stay. By simply strolling across the inner city of Vienna, you will already pass by St. Stephen’s Cathedral (also called “Steffl” by locals), Albertina museum, Saint Michael’s Church, or Hofburg and Heldenplatz. Other famous landmarks include Belvedere, the Viennese Giant Ferries Wheel with the close-by Prater amusement park, St. Charles Church, and Hundertwasser House. And last but not least: Schönbrunn. Once there, you can either visit the palace or the world’s oldest zoo or walk up to Gloriette for panoramic views of the city.

Take a walk along the Ring Road

The easiest way to see Vienna’s main attractions is by simply taking a walk along the Ring Road. There, you’ll pass by the Vienna State Opera, City Hall, Austrian Parliament Building, Museum of Natural History and Museum of Art History, Burgtheater, Votive Church and major parks like Volksgarten (that’s also a club), Burggarten, and Stadtpark. Along the Ring Road you also find many of the city’s well-known 5-star hotels. 

Alternatively, hop on tram line 1 at Schottentor to Schwarzenbergplatz, where you will pass all of the above-mentioned sights as well. Plus: you can use your Wiener Linien ticket for this and don’t have to pay extra for taking a ride along the Ring Road.

Try traditional Viennese cuisine

Vienna’s public transportation system, operated by Wiener Linien, makes it super easy to get around the city and explore the city, as metro, tram, and bus stops are very well-connected. If you spend more than 72 hours in the city, it makes the most sense to get the “7 Tage Wien” ticket (valid for seven consecutive days from your chosen day) as it’s the same price. 

I’d recommend getting Sacher cake either at Aida (cheaper) or Café Sacher (the original). If you don’t like chocolate cake, try apple strudel instead. And don’t forget to order a “Wiener Melange” with it. For Schnitzel in the inner city, either go to Figlmüller, where they also serve vegan Schnitzel or Artner am Franziskanerplatz. Alternatively, you can also try Tafelspitz (boiled veal or beef), another traditional Austrian dish for which the restaurant Plachutta is known. 

Explore the city on public transport

Vienna’s public transportation system, operated by Wiener Linien, makes it super easy to get around the city, as metro, tram, and bus stops are very well-connected. If you spend more than 72 hours in the city, it makes the most sense to get the “7 Tage Wien” ticket (valid for seven consecutive days from your chosen day) as it’s the same price. 

Are you arriving at Vienna International Airport – which actually isn’t even in Vienna, but in Schwechat/Lower Austria – and want to save money getting to the city center? Just take the regular trains – called “S-Bahn” – operated by ÖBB instead of the more expensive City Airport Train (CAT). You can get your ticket either at the ÖBB counter at the airport and by using the red ticket machines. And a tip: If you get your Wiener Linien ticket beforehand, you only need to pay for the journey from the airport to the city border (in German: Stadtgrenze).

Get out of the city

If you have more time left in Vienna, try to get out of the city. You want to enjoy amazing views of the city? Take bus 38A at Heiligenstadt and get off at either Kahlenberg or Cobenzl. During summer and autumn, it’s also worth visiting the closeby so-called “Heurige”, a kind of wine taverne serving platters with cold cuts and their locally produced wine. But you can find them in e.g., Ottakring, Grinzing, or Stammersdorf too. Or you just take one of Vienna’s city bikes, bike to Donauinsel take a dip in the Danube.

And did you know that Vienna also has a wildlife preserve? The Lainz Game Reserve, or in German “Lainzer Tiergarten”, in the southwest corner of the city extends over an area of 25 square kilometers, mostly covered in woodland. It’s open to the public during its opening hours and a good address for taking long walks off the bustling city and even for seeing some wildlife.

And what else?

Enough of Vienna, but still a day left? Go on a day trip to Bratislava. Because the Slovakian capital is only an hour by bus from Vienna and tickets at Flixbus are approx. 5€ one-way. Alternatively, you can also use the Twin City Liner, which gets you to Bratislava on a boat along the Danube. However, it is not only more expensive but also takes longer. Yet, for the experience, you can also combine both.

I could probably write a book about what to do in Vienna, but I also need to stop somewhere. So here’s what else you can do in the Austrian capital – or you simply take it day by day and do whatever you are in the mood for!

In summer and on warmer days

Grab a drink at one of the bars/restaurants at Museumsquartier and sit down at their outdoor area

BYOB or get one e.g., at Adria Wien, Neni am Wasser, or Taste! and enjoy the sunset in summer at Vienna’s Danube Canal

Visit a rooftop bar and enjoy the stunning view of Vienna, e.g. at Dachboden at 25hoursl, Lamée Rooftop, Istros at Radission Red Hotel

In winter and on colder/rainy days

Visit an art gallery or a museum such as Albertina, Albertina modern, mumok, Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), or Leopold Museum

See a musical at the theater (e.g., Ronacher or Raimundtheater)

Visit one of the many Christmas markets during Christmas time,

Travel through Vienna’s history at Time Travel Vienna.

All year around

Do some shopping at the main shopping streets Kärntner Straße or Mariahilfer Straße

Go to a market on Saturday, e.g. Naschmarkt, Karmelitermarkt, Brunnenmarkt or Kutschkermarkt

Stroll across the different neighborhoods, such as “Neubau” (considered the hipster district) or “Leopoldstadt” (known for its Jewish history)

Enjoy the views of Vienna at IKEA’s rooftop at Wien Westbahnhof

Late spring vibes at Danube Canal
View from Belvedere
Vienna’s famous “Fiaker” at Michaelerplatz

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