Vienna is a beautiful city unlike any other. The narrow streets, the smell of freshly baked pastries and brewed coffee, and Viennese culture will draw you in the moment you step foot into the city. The power and grace of the architectural and historical presence of Vienna captured me at first glance and I cannot wait to go back again. Vienna is one of my favorite European cities; allow me to show you why!
Here’s my ultimate guide to exploring Vienna in 2 Days.
In Austria, they use the Euro (€). As of today, the exchange rate is approximately €1 to $1.10 USD. When exchanging money, I do not recommend exchanging at the airport or any transit centers (bus or train). There are plenty of exchange stalls throughout the city with a better exchange rate. But, if you must exchange at the airport or a transit center, I recommend only taking out a little bit. You don’t need much cash here because most places accept most major credit cards. (And yes, I really did only take out €20 just to have cash on hand. It mostly paid for all of my ice creams!)
Navigating the City
Getting around Vienna is easy and you have easy access to all areas of the inner and outer city. I found it very easy to get wherever I wanted to go no matter the time of day or night. I only explored Vienna in 2 days, but I wish I had stayed for at least a week to fall in love even more with this beautiful city.
From the Airport - If you are flying into Vienna, it is very easy to get yourself to the city center via Bus or train. By bus, you can use the Air-Liner or Vienna Airport Lines to get from your terminal to the Hauptbahnhof Central Station. By train, you can take either CAT (direct line from the airport to the city center) or OBB (Austrian railways and city line) to the central station. From the Hauptbahnhof, you can take a subway or city bus to get into Vienna city center. Both bus and train options are relatively cheap and shouldn’t cost you more than 5 euros to get to the central station.
I came to Vienna by bus from Budapest using Nomago and got off at Hauptbahnhof Central Station. From there, you can use the local subway lines or buses to get yourself into the city.
Train, Bus or Tram - Vienna is interconnected with numerous train, metro, bus, and tram routes that can take you throughout the inner and outer regions of the city. There are also routes available into the early hours of the morning, especially on the weekends for the late-night owls and party-goers.
You can purchase single-use tickets, multi-use tickets, or a 24/48/72-hour transportation pass. Another option is the Vienna Pass which includes local transportation, access to 60+ attractions free or at a discounted price, and the Hop On Hop Off city tour buses. I recommend this if you know that you will be in the city for at least a 3-day weekend so that you get your money's worth.
Bike - You will find city bike rentals throughout the city and there are also numerous private bike rental shops where you can rent by the hour or day. You will find locals and travelers out running or riding their bikes at any time of the day or night.
Walk - Vienna is a very pedestrian-friendly city. There are numerous pedestrian plazas and zones throughout the inner city that a car or bus cannot access. You can easily spend a full day just walking around the city center and exploring the numerous museums, shops, and cafes.
Walking is my favorite mode of transportation wherever I travel. You get to see so much of the city and can stop into any shop or cafe for a small break or even to steal some air conditioning or heat depending on the weather. I recommend bringing a comfortable pair of shoes if you are a big walker like me!
Rideshare - Uber or Bolt, the European version, are great ways to get around the city quickly. They are not as cheap as the bus or train but will definitely beat the taxi prices. These car hire companies offer great convenience when you need to get somewhere quick or to get to the airport in comfort.
Where You Should Stay
Staying inside the city center will obviously be more expensive. However, there are many great hostels, Airbnbs, and hotels located in and around the center with great access to transportation. You just have to look for a place that fits your budget with a great location.
While visiting Vienna, I stayed at a&o Wien-Hauptbahnhof. It was a large hostel that provided spacious rooms, quality staff, and breakfast. There is also a guest kitchen should you want to buy your groceries and cook your own meals, a laundry room, a bar, a patio, and a games room. It is located 2 minutes away from Hauptbahnhof Central Station. It gave me access to the inner and outer regions of Vienna without breaking the bank. I paid €14 per night for 3 nights in August.
Booking My Accommodations - I love finding deals on places to stay while traveling. Here are my favorite sites that continue to find me affordable and great places to stay!
Agoda - Agoda is hands-down my favorite app for booking my hostel stays. I have yet to find a site that beats their prices and provides cashback and discounts the way they do. If you are looking for your next place to stay, give Agoda a try!
Things To Do - Attractions and Experiences
There is so much to see and do in Vienna that I recommend you space it out and savor the architectural and historical beauty. Whether you love to explore during the day or go out during the night, there are activities and life at all times of the day for you to enjoy!
The Hofburg Imperial Palace
Once the Imperial Palace of the Habsburg family, the palace is now a large complex of museums, apartments, and offices. This beautiful imposing structure stands in the heart of the inner circle of Vienna's historic district. It is worth a walk around and I recommend exploring the museums inside!
Austrian National Library
Filled with more books than you can possibly imagine, the Austrian National Library is a bookworm's dream! The intricate architecture and paintings inside the library and State Hall are worth the stop. Tickets to visit the State Hall cost €8.
Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is an iconic landmark within Vienna's historic district and definitely worth a visit. You can book a tour or even go and watch a performance. If you don't want to break the bank and don't mind standing for a couple of hours, ask about their standing ticket prices.
The MQ is a contemporary art complex full of museums, restaurants, cafes, bars, and free wifi, which draws anyone with a smartphone or laptop. This is a great place to just chill and enjoy a nice meal (and some wifi).
Graben - shopping district
If shopping is on your mind or your stomach is telling you that you need food (or ice cream) after walking all day, the Graben shopping district is the perfect place to stop. You could spend hours here walking in and out of all the shops.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral is considered the symbol of Vienna. It is a beautiful contrast of architecture with a gothic exterior and an updated Baroque-style interior. It is free to enter and the architecture and decor alone are worth it for you to step inside and admire.
Visit Mozart, Franz Joseph, and the Vienna butterfly house all in the same park. Burggarten is a wonderful place to bring a picnic, a book, and just relax in the sun or shade listening to the sounds of the world go by.
Whether you want to stroll through the gardens, go for a picnic, or listen to music, the Volksgarten park is a relaxing spot to enjoy life and take a break from the city. You can even go and check out the Volksgarten Club Disco for some late-night tunes and concerts, especially during the summer season.
A beautiful summer palace with over 1,400 rooms and colorful gardens for any traveler to get lost in. Located 10 minutes outside of the city center, the Schönbrunn Palace and surrounding district are a great place to spend the day. Tours of the palace start at €16, but you can walk the grounds and gardens for free.
In my opinion, it's not as beautiful and definitely not as big as Schōnbrunn, but Belvedere Palace is a wonderful break from the city to sit and read a book, visit the museum inside the palace, or go for a run (yes, there were many morning runners when I went).
If you are looking to escape the city and want to have some fun, the Prater amusement park is a great place to go! This is a great place to meet up with friends, have fun, and get lost among the crowds and rides. The prices are not budget-friendly, but no one said you had to go on everything.
Are you on a tight schedule, but still want to see the major sites of the city and learn about them too?? I recommend catching one of the morning or afternoon free tours offered by numerous tour companies in Vienna
Where To Eat
Vienna is perfect for exploring the Viennese and Austrian cuisine and to try something new. Famous for coffee houses and wine taverns, there is a café or restaurant around every corner that will quench your hunger without breaking the bank. Here are my favorite spots you shouldn't miss!!
A beautiful and perfect spot in Albertinaplatz underneath the Albertina museum with additional seating outside. Augustinerkeller Bitzinger is one of the last ancient monastery cellars in Vienna’s city center and is worth a visit even if you are not hungry. You can enjoy great hospitality and food for a fraction of the price. I enjoyed Ratatouille, a large salad, and a glass of Rose all for under €15. It was wonderful! This is a must for lunch while exploring the city!
Located within the inner-circle of Vienna’s historical center, Café Central has as much history as some of the surrounding buildings. Many of the world’s greatest storytellers, scientists, and philosophers used to gather here to socialize and discuss their work. To be honest, there will always be a line no matter what time you go, but I can say that on a Tuesday at 6:00 pm (when I went in August), I only had to wait in a 15-minute line. The wait is usually well over an hour during prime meal times of the day. So plan accordingly!
Ice cream is definitely one of my guilty pleasures I always treat myself to when traveling. It is a tradition for me to have ice cream in every country I visit. Sometimes I treat myself and have one ice cream a day and try new flavors each time. I easily found at least two ice cream shops on every street while exploring. It is my favorite way to beat the heat and a delicious snack.
I enjoy taking a break from dining out by going to the grocery store or local market to find snacks and meals that can last. It also helps me stay on budget! I can always find a cheap and healthy meal and some great snacks to bring while I am out exploring the city during the day!
I felt like I saw so much of the city in the two days that I was in Vienna. I loved it so much that I would go back in a heartbeat to explore more areas and go during different times of the year for events or festivals.
Have you been to Vienna?? Tell me your thoughts and stories about your experiences in this beautiful city below!
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