How to spend the perfect 2 days in Vienna
Craving a getaway to a cultural city of world-renowned cake, classic architecture and all-around perfect enchantment?
Welcome to Vienna Austria.
The Austrian capital is flecked with coffee houses, museums, history and imperial palaces. And the best part is that everything is in super close range. Most of Vienna’s major attractions are located around the Ringstrasse, a historic city center that is easily visited on foot.
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2 days in Vienna – itinerary
Vienna is one of those capitals where it’s easy to get around on foot. Pretty much every sight is located within walking distance, but you can take the tram or a sightseeing bus if you’d rather not walk.
Vienna is a wonderful city and it’s easy to spend a whole week there. But you really only need 2 days in Vienna to see the main sights and get a good sense of the city.
In this Vienna itinerary, I’ve sorted the sights by location. Attractions on day one are all near the Ringstrasse, which makes it easy to get around. Day two is spread a little more out and therefore only includes three things.
Get a Vienna Pass
If you plan on seeing a lot of sights while you’re in town, I recommend getting a Vienna Pass for 24, 48 or 72 hours. It costs from $20 and gives you free, unlimited use of public transport and discounts at 210 popular attractions, museums, shops, and much more.
Find more info here: Vienna City Card
On your first day in Vienna, you’ll be around the Ringstrasse. Put on your good walking shoes, because you’ll be walking a lot today!
Your Vienna itinerary includes the imperial castle, government buildings, several churches and cathedrals, the Vienna State Opera and more.
Let’s get started.
Vienna State Opera
You can’t really say Vienna without saying opera – and the other way around.
Vienna has three operas, and the most famous of them is the Vienna State Opera. Even if you don’t plan to attend a concert, you should still go there to experience the building. It’s beautiful!
The Vienna State Opera has hosted ballets and operas since the mid 19th century. The Renaissance building has 1709 seats and was the first major building on the Ringstrasse (Vienna Ring Road).
Did you know that more famous composers have lived in Vienna than in any other city on the planet? World-renowned composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss.
Even Hitler, Freud and Stalin have called Vienna home.
Just 400m down the road, you’ll find Burggarten – a beautiful art nouveau conservatory. There’s a statue of Mozart with a note of flowers in front of it.
Downtown Vienna (Graben)
Right next to the State Opera is the pedestrian street, which is known as Graben. The car-free Graben is busy and has many beautiful buildings on either side such as Pestsäule statue, St. Stephens and St. Peters Church.
If you want to do some shopping, this is where to go.
Hofburg – the imperial palace
- Entrance fee: €15
- Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm
And then there’s Hofburg, the former Imperial Palace. This is where all the emperors and kings ruled and lived from 1439 to 1918.
The Hofburg Imperial Palace was built in 1275 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. It extends over 240,000 m², has 18 wings, 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms in which nearly 5,000 people still work and live today.
From Hofburg it’s an easy walk to the MuseumsQuartier, an art complex with 60 cultural institutions. If you plan on visiting several museums, combined tickets are available at MQ Point.
Some of the highlights include:
- Leopold Museum
- Kunsthistoriches Museum
- Natural History Museum
- Wien Architekturzentrum
One of the largest buildings on the Ringstraße is the Austrian Parliament building.
The Neo-Classical building was completed in 1883. It houses more than 100 rooms, including committee rooms, libraries, bars and a gym. It’s a working government building and where the swearing-in ceremony of Austria’s president takes place.
You can join a guided tour. Before you go in, make sure to notice the beautiful fountains and Greek statues out front.
Vienna City Hall (Rathaus)
Next up is Vienna City Hall, a Neo-Gothic building that houses the Mayor of Vienna. It was built from 1872 to 1883 by Friedrich Schmidt.
When I visited Vienna City Hall, I practically ran into a festival. They often have festivals and stalls set up in front of the city hall. Around Christmas, there’s a Christmas market here.
Next to the City Hall, you’ll see a beautiful church.
The similar Neo-Gothic architecture is eye-catching, so go have a look (also inside!). I’ve been to several churches in Vienna, but I liked Votive Church the most. It’s not the largest church in town, but it has a certain atmosphere.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
And from one church to another. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a Gothic construction from the 12th century with a 137-meter-high spire and a beautiful decorated roof.
More than one million people visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral annually, which makes it one of Austria’s most popular attractions.
Once you’re done exploring the cathedral, you can relax for the rest of the day. Grab a cake at Aida Konditorei (just opposite of the cathedral) and experience the daily Vienna life from the window.
Day two of your 2 days in Vienna is going to be just as great! We’re going to visit a stunning palace, a very colourful and unique house and a lovely park. If you’re visiting in winter, you can skip the park.
The Austrian capital is home to several palaces. There’s Hofburg, there’s Schonbrunn Palace and then there’s the Belvedere Palace.
Belvedere is a historic area with two main complexes: The upper and the lower Belvedere. The gardens surrounding the palace are really beautiful. Just look at all that green, the water basins and cascades of nymphs and goddesses.
The Baroque Belvedere Palace was built in 1712. Today, it’s one of the leading museums worldwide for its art collection that includes the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings along with prominent works from French Impressionism, Austrian Baroque and Viennese Biedermeier.
It’s located in the city, not far from St. Charles Church.
And now to a completely different side of town. It’s easy to visit those usual tourist sights, but I like to find the quirky ones as well. And I did, at Kegelgasse 36-38.
This street is home to the famous Hundertwasser House; an artistic house with a colourfully decorated exterior designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 1983. Although it isn’t exactly a hidden gem, it’s definitely unusual!
Close to the Hundertwasser House is Vienna Stadtpark. This green oasis within the bustling city is super lovely. A quiet place with a little lake, birds and frogs.
You’ll find a few statues here and there and the most famous one of J. Strauss!
Where to eat in Vienna
- Best Wiener Schnitzel: Figlmueller
- Best sushi: Wasabi Wien
- Best cakes: Aida Konditorei
- Sacher Cake: Sacher Hotel
All that sightseeing will probably make you hungry 🙂 So, here are a few ideas if you’d like to try Viennese specialties ↑
I had amazing sushi at Wasabi Wien, then a great Wiener Schnitzel at Grand Hotel and for desserts and snacks: lots and lots of cake at Aida konditorei. Another Viennese specialty is the famous Sacher cake and Vienna coffee at Sacher Hotel. Double-yum!
Wiener Schnitzel is the Viennese dish, and it’s best at Figlmueller, the king of schnitzel restaurants.
Where to stay in Vienna
Vienna has a lot of great accommodation to choose from. I actually wrote a whole post about the best hotels for first-time visitors. Here’s the short version, though:
High-end: Grand Hotel Wien 320$ per night, excellent location in the city centre next to the State Opera. I loved their classic, royal style and design. And, fun fact, Kim Kardashian stayed there in 2014. Click here to see the latest prices.
Mid-range: Arthotel ANA Prime $85 per night, located 700 m from the city centre. Click here to see the latest prices.
Budget: Hotel Hadrigan $66 per night, nice and clean rooms, and public transportation is in front of the hotel. There’s a grocery store nearby. Click here to see the latest prices.
There’s a wide variety of Vienna tours available. You can experience an opera or concert, go on a guided city tour or explore by segway. I’ve handpicked these experiences based on ratings, availability and how you can have the best time in amazing Vienna.
Go to the opera
On this tour, you get to experience a classic Mozart and Strauss concert. The renowned orchestra, Salonorchester Alt Wien, performs the most famous waltzes, polkas, arias and duets.
Get your ticket here: Ticket for Mozart & Strauss Concert in Kursalon Vienna
Spanish Riding School
Another famous thing to do in Vienna is visiting the Spanish riding school. Here, you get to witness the training of the Lipizzaners and their riders during the morning exercise.
Get your ticket here: Spanish Riding School Morning Exercise
Enjoy Vienna’s highlights on a walking tour through the centre. During these two hours, you get to visit the Hofburg and see where Mozart lived among other things.
Get your ticket here: Vienna Walking Tour (2 hours)
Segway tour around Vienna
The most fun way to explore the city is by segway. On this 3-hour segway tour, you get to hear about the history of the city and visit the Hundertwasserhaus (a must-see!) and the Prater ferris wheel.
Get your ticket here: Vienna: City Segway Tour
Day trips from Vienna
If you have more than 2 days in Vienna, I highly recommend taking a day trip to one of the nearby sights. The Schönbrunn Palace, Hallstatt and Salzburg are your top options.
Schönbrunn palace is the most obvious place for a day or half-day trip from Vienna, because it’s so close. This beautiful Baroque palace was the summer home of Emperor Franz Joseph and Sisi. The palace has over 1400 rooms spanning over three centuries.
The easiest way to get there is by public transportation and buy a ticket at the entrance. I just took the Underground (U4) and got off at Schönbrunn. It took me straight to the palace. Then I got an audio guide at the ticket office.
The beautiful city of Salzburg is always worth a visit. Surrounded by towering mountains and hill tops, it’s got a completely different vibe than Vienna. It’s the perfect place to chase the Sound of Music sights or taste the delicious Mozart kugel.
On this day trip, you get to see the beautiful Salzburg, including Mozart’s birthplace and filming scenes from The Sound of Music movie.
Hallstatt is the most beautiful place in Austria (and one of the most magical places in all of Europe). The little fairy tale town is tucked between hilltops by a lake. The houses are stuck onto a steep hillside, and on calm and clear days, the whole town is reflected in the lake. Hallstatt is definitely worth visiting!
Final thoughts on Vienna
Vienna is magnificent. It’s easy on the eye, and the architecture and symmetrical lines make it a photographer’s dream. I was truly sad to leave when the time came. But I was off to a new exciting destination: Slovakia, my 50th country.
I’ll leave you with a few sunset silhouettes and this advice: If you have yet to visit Vienna, make it a priority to go. It’s such a beautiful capital. Might even be the prettiest in Europe.
Many thanks to Vienna Tourism for hosting me on this trip to Vienna. As always, all opinions are my own.
Ask me anything about your 2 days in Vienna!
More stuff you’ll love:
- Schönbrunn: 15 fascinating Schonbrunn Palace facts
- Hotel guide: Where to stay in Vienna for first time visitors
- Grand Hotel review: Vienna’s best 5 star hotel
- Hallstatt: Hallstatt Austria: The fairy tale lake town you need to visit
- Salzburg: 10 things to do in Salzburg
- Liechtensteinklamm: Hiking the legendary Liechtensteinklamm gorge
- Hotel in Salzburg: Austria Trend Hotel has the best view in Salzburg
Vienna is our favorite city in Europe! We’ve been there 4 times so far and each time there was some kind of festival and stalls set up in front of the city hall – looks like something is always going on there. 😀
Love your sunset pictures! You haven’t been to Schönbrunn Palace? That’s one of our favorite places in Vienna. 🙂
Wow, 4 times already? Well, I can’t blame you, Vienna IS addictive. Somehow it reminded me a bit of Budapest, just fancier.
I did go to Schönbrunn and it was very impressive. It deserves a blog post of its own 🙂
Hey Miriam! glad to come across your blog 🙂 I like Vienna too – have gone a few times already and am revisiting it alongwith Halstatt this weekend.
Love your website:) Btw, such a pretty font you use for all titles,etc! Mind telling me which one it is? Stay well and keep exploring!
Thank you, Menorca! I love Hallstatt, it’s such a beautiful place – have an awesome trip!
My font is my blog’s trademark so I’d rather not share which one I’m using. But you can find similar ones by searching for Brush Script Fonts on Google.
All the best.
How to decide is it Vienna more beautiful by day or by night? Just look at all these pictures… Especially these few last with the purple sky. Unreal!
Aaw, thank you!
Thank you, Madam !
You’re most welcome, sir!
Vienna is my dream city. I love that city a lot. I have spent some valuable times there. I will never forget that city.
By the way, thanks for your amazing travel guide.
You’re welcome, Amanda. And you’re right – Vienna sure is special.
Wow so wonderful pictures! Thanks for your story Miriam, you should also try starting a VLOG!
Thanks, Franky. Yeah, I’ve thought about it, but for now I’m sticking to Reels 🙂