Vienna Travel Guide
Elegant, full of history, nightlife and culture, Vienna has it all. This impressive Central European capital is one of the best cities in the world.
It follows in the footsteps of great Viennese such as Sigmund Freud, Mozart and Egon Schiele. Attend a classical music concert in the Musikverein or an opera in the Staatsoper, after enjoying yourself in succulent restaurants such as Reinthaler’s Beisl.
But Vienna is not just about concerts and art. You can also shop in the trendy boutiques of the Goldenes Quartier or have fun in nightclubs like Donau Techno.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Vienna
- What to do in Vienna
- When to visit Vienna
- How to get to Vienna
- Where to stay in Vienna
- How to get around in Vienna
- Cost of living in Vienna
- Where to eat in Vienna
Top 5 reasons to visit Vienna
Vienna is a must for art lovers. The Art History Museum dominates the local art scene, with works by Vermeer and Dürer, but there are also promising artists on bäckerstrasse4, as well as paintings by Klimt in the Belvedere and pieces by Schiele in the Leopold Museum.
Wonderful food and drink
Vienna is a famous gastronomic destination. Have a coffee and some Viennese pastries in their Kaffeehäuser, savour an escalope or Wiener Schnitzel in Figlmüller Wollzeile or simply go to the Naschmarkt to tour its endless food market.
Few cities can match Vienna in musical pedigree. Mozart, Brahms, Schubert and Beethoven all made their careers there, and their works are regularly performed in the Musikverein.
The Danube and its surroundings
Vienna combines fabulous 18th and 19th century architecture, such as the Hofburg and Schoenbrunn palaces, with the majestic blue Danube. Cruise down the river and, if you have time, take a boat trip to the nearby vineyards.
Luxury shopping and markets
Vienna is a fantastic shopping destination. The Old Town is home to exclusive firms such as Louis Vuitton and Prada, Kohlmarkt is ideal for buying jewellery and Naschmarkt and Brunnenmarkt offer hundreds of food, craft and antique stalls.
What to do in Vienna
Touring the Innere Stadt
Vienna’s old town is full of impressive places. The Hofburg Palace is the jewel in the crown: it houses the Spanish Riding School and magnificent horses. In addition, the medieval St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses underground catacombs. The Kärntner and Graben streets, with their baroque beauty, are also fabulous.
Explore Schoenbrunn Palace
Once the summer imperial residence of Leopold I, Schoenbrunn Palace is now one of Austria’s most important architectural, cultural and historical monuments. Its gardens feature impressive flower beds, countless ornate fountains, artificial Roman ruins, greenhouses with exotic plants and a zoo.
Prater is a double destination: an attractive public park and the home of the oldest amusement park in the world. The Wiener Riesenrad waterwheel has stood upright since 1766. An adorable locomotive follows the tracks of the Prater Liliputbahn and takes visitors from one end of the park to the other, so that they can visit all of its attractions, from the Planetarium to the Schweizerhaus brewery.
Fall in love with the Austrian National Library
This is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. In the 18th century Baroque style, it contains over 8,000,000 documents, including old volumes, plans and papyri from the House of Habsburg. Its exceptional Imperial Hall, surrounded by high wooden shelves full of books, and its statues, frescoes and ancient globes stand out.
Celebrating modern art in the Museum Quarter
The city’s best museums are located around the charming MuseumsQuartier art centre, which offers impressive cultural immersion and a host of alternatives. The MUMOK museum of modern art is internationally renowned for its more than 10,000 works by Warhol, Picasso and Lichtenstein, among others. The nearby Leopold Museum houses modern Austrian masterpieces, while Kunsthalle Wien presents emerging artists. The 17th century Belvedere Palace presents the incredible Gustav Klimt Collection.
When to visit Vienna
The summer is excellent for admiring the sights and walking along the Danube. If you like classical music, go for a walk in late spring (May and June) or in autumn (especially in October). Furthermore, Vienna is a magical Christmas destination, with markets, lights and unique parties. The average annual temperature is 9.5°C.
How to get to Vienna
The Vienna International Airport (VIE) is located about 16 kilometres south-east of Vienna and from there it is not difficult to reach the centre. You can take the S7 S-Bahn (4 EUR, 25 minutes) or the less frequent but faster Railjet trains (same price, 16 minutes). If you prefer to take a taxi, the ride will cost you about 30 EUR. There are also buses, although they are more expensive than trains.
Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof, or central station, has excellent connections with the rest of Europe, so getting there by train is interesting. The station is included in the Vienna underground system, so you will arrive at your accommodation comfortably. DB and ÖBB ICE allow you to travel from Berlin starting from 79,90 EUR.
If you arrive in Vienna from Germany, you will use the A3 to the border, then the A8 and finally the E60. From the Italian border, the best route is the A2 and then the E59, while if you drive from Prague you can take the E50, E461 and then the A5 to the heart of Vienna.
Many buses arrive in Vienna daily from destinations all over Europe. Eurolines is the main operator, and its buses usually arrive at the International Bus Terminal in Vienna, southeast of the historical center. From there, you can take the local buses or go by subway from Schlachthausgasse: you will reach the center in 10 minutes. A bus trip from Madrid, which takes just over twelve hours, costs 168.40 EUR.
Airports near Vienna
Where to stay in Vienna
Luxury accommodation abounds in Vienna, as does affordable accommodation. In the Old City, the Hotel am Stephansplatz and the Ambassador are the most important, but the best hotels are in the outer “ring”. Choose the Hotel Sans Souci and the Park Hyatt for first class accommodation.
Interesting neighborhoods in Vienna
The Old Town – Altstadt is located around the Stephansplatz and the cathedral. Here you can admire the filming locations of The Third Man, attend an opera, shop or look in the windows of Kärntner Str. or have a coffee at Café Hawelka.
Leopoldstadt, the Second District of Vienna, is located on an island in the Danube River and is the coolest neighborhood. Once home to the large Viennese Jewish population, it now houses the Prater, Vienna’s amusement park and its iconic waterwheel. It is a fun place, pivoting around the Karmelitermarkt, its picturesque daily market. To relax, we suggest places like Zimmer 37 and Café Einfahrt.
Landstraße, located in the southeast of the Altstadt, is a great neighborhood with elegant gardens and the magnificent art collection of Belvedere Palace, the lively Hauptstraße shopping district and unique art attractions such as the KunstHausWien.
How to get around in Vienna
Getting around Vienna by public transport is pleasant and easy. There is a metro, tram, bus and suburban train, and each area is well connected to the centre. The single fare is 2.20 EUR. There are also 24-hour passes for 7.60 EUR and weekly passes for 16.20 EUR.
With a public transport system this good, you won’t need taxis. If you choose to use this mode of transport, it will cost you 3.80 EUR to get off and then you will pay about 2 EUR for every 1.6 kilometres. Uber also operates in Vienna, with initial fees of 1 EUR and an additional fee for every 1.6 km added.
It is easy to rent a car, both at the airport and downtown. Companies like Sixt, Hertz, Avis, Europcar and Budget offer affordable rates, starting at 15 EUR per day. However, driving through the center of Vienna is complicated: its streets are narrow and many of them are only one way. More interesting are excursions to Liechtenstein Castle or trips to suburban attractions such as Schoenbrunn Palace.
Cost of living in Vienna
Vienna is a wonderful place to buy jewelry, clothes, chocolates, shoes and food. The central Kohlmarkt street offers brands like Burberry, Chanel and Armani, while Graben is full of high-end boutiques. Finally, the Goldenes Quartier neighborhood is a showcase for fashion brands like Alexander McQueen, Miu Miu and Mulberry.
Groceries and others
Vienna is usually expensive, so you will save money by buying food in supermarkets like Merkur, Billa, Spar and Hofer. As a guideline, a half-litre local beer will cost you 0.95 EUR.
Where to eat in Vienna
Vienna’s food is delicious, though somewhat caloric. Taste the Wiener Schnitzel (fried veal in breadcrumbs) in places like Figlmüller Wollzeile and have a traditional Apfelstrudel (apple pie) in the Café Central or at the stalls on the Naschmarkt. For a gourmet experience, try the 100% organic Weinbotschaft. Prices vary greatly, from 5 to 10 EUR for a street meal to 50 EUR for a three-course gourmet meal per person.