Vienna is known all over the world for its culture, art and history. However, you shouldn't believe that it is lacking in the entertainment department or that people here only wear tuxedos and evening dresses and act like snobs or something. Quite the contrary! This is a city full of life with plenty to offer, just with a strong cultural streak. And the people are exceptionally friendly and welcoming! That being said, snapping a few photos here can do wonders for your ego since your friends are guaranteed to look at you in amazement when you start telling them about the exquisite architecture of Schonbrunn Palace or about the incredible feeling you get when you enter Mozart's own apartment. Yes indeed, there is a lot to see here, and this three-day Vienna itinerary will help you make the most of your time in the city. (See Vienna's average travel costs here
Where to stay in Vienna
During our visit, my boyfriend Tom and I stayed at Das Tyrol
, a boutique hotel with an excellent location, very close to stations of two different underground lines - U2 and U3. Therefore, you can easily explore the city from there, although if you're coming in by plane, you will have to change trains to reach it. But don't worry too much about that, as the public transport here is extremely reliable. Museumsquartier or Neubaugasse Underground Station are the stations you're looking for.
Remember what we said about culture? Well, the rooms in this hotel are decorated with original modern paintings, plus we were very close to the Museum Quarter, which all contributed to quite a good feeling and an excellent first impression. They even serve Prosecco in the morning here! Honestly, if you want to pamper yourself, this is an excellent choice. Your pinky almost rises automatically when you're drinking in this hotel.
If you're looking for something more affordable, however, we saw a bunch of good looking hostels around the city centre, so you won't have to worry about staying at a good location. Hostel Ruthensteiner
and Wombat's CITY Hostels Vienna Naschmarkt
seemed like pretty good choices. The former offers buffet breakfast and is within walking distance from many important sights, with many hip bars all around it. Wombat's hostel, on the other hand, has a very nice bar of its own which was quite full when we were passing by, so the drinks should be pretty good there. And since Naschmarkt is the main market in the city, the vibe you'll get here is something really special. For more options, check out our guide to the best hostels in Vienna here
Vienna 3-Day Itinerary: Day 1
The first part of our first day was spent arriving to the city, finding the hotel, checking in and getting comfortable in our room, so the true experience of Vienna only started in the afternoon. Naturally, given that we just got there, we took things nice and slow, but still got to see a whole lot - that's just the kind of city this is: even if you stay only one day in Vienna
, you will quickly get what I'm talking about.
Visiting Leopold Museum
Since we were so close to the Museum Quarter, this was going to be the first thing on our list. This is a city of culture, after all. And right off the bat, I was very pleasantly surprised. Sure, there were plenty of museums around (the clue is in the quarter's name), but the whole area had a very cool vibe. There were plenty of very hip bars and restaurants, and if you didn't know where you are, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is a shopping area or something like that. With plenty of people around, the whole area was somehow full of life, far from cold lifeless buildings some (let's not point fingers now) people imagine.
Leopold Museum Tickets
| Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien
The reason why I wanted to go visit Leopold Museum place is because it is dedicated solely to the period around the turn of the 20th century, more specifically to Vienna Secession. Now, this is something I always like to see, not so much the paintings and stuff like that, but the design of everyday objects which are considered works of art themselves and designed in such a way, too. Even Tom checked out some of the exhibits with genuine interest. They can tell you a whole lot what life looked like back in those days, and you can really see some fascinating examples.
Leopold Museum has thousands of pieces from that period scattered around four floors, but what is maybe even more impressive is that this was all collected by one man - Rudloph Leopold. So, the man got a museum from the government
for his collection. It's nice to be appreciated, huh?
Anyway, things from brooches to furniture can be found here (as well as paintings, obviously), and given how huge this collection is you will easily spend a couple of hours here. If this is your thing, you'll be absolutely delighted, but if you're into some other kind of art there are plenty of other museums to explore: MUMOK
(Museum of modern art; the largest museum in this part of Europe containing contemporary art and pieces by Picasso, Warhol and many other notable artists), the Kunsthalle
(also dedicated to contemporary art), the Architecture Center
(architecture, obviously, and how it influences our lives) and several other institutions are all just a short walk away.
Dining Under Corbaci's Beautiful Ceiling
After the museum, we were starting to get really hungry. And since the Museum Quarter really looked like a hip place to be, we decided to walk around and try to find something interesting. Sure, there were plenty of snack bars and cafes around, but we hadn't had much to eat that day and we wanted a proper meal. Fortunately, we stumbled upon Corbaci, which is a part of the Architecture Center and on the same main square of the quarter, so we decided to go in.
| Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien
This turned out to be a good choice because not only is the interior of this place very bright and interesting (especially the ceiling, which was absolutely mesmerizing), but the food is quite good as well. Always a good thing for a restaurant. You can try traditional Austrian dishes here, such as Wiener Schnitzel, but I went for goulash which was really very very tasty. Tom went for potato and pumpkin strudel, which also looked (and tasted) excellent. All in all, if you want some good food in a fascinating but relaxed interior, this is definitely the place to visit.
An Evening at the Tiki Bar
Once our dinner was over it was getting dark, so we decided that we simply cannot skip on a drink here. The bars were beckoning and the atmosphere was so relaxed that it was very hard to resist. We went back to Leopold Museum, which also has its own cafe/restaurant, but next to it was a nice looking tiki rooftop bar.
| Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien
Miami Rabbit was just what we needed at that point because it had a really relaxed vibe which helped us forget how tired we actually were from the trip. You don't really think of Austria as a tiki destination, but the place somehow worked really well. People here were chilled out and really friendly, plus a large variety of drinks was served, from cocktails (Rabbit's Painkiller was awesome!) to wines and you even get a great view of the Museum Quarter below. Not too many beers here, though, so if that's your poison you may want to choose another place to unwind (Mel's Craft Beer and Diner
has an awesome selection!). All in all, it was a really lovely evening for us, and after a few drinks we turned in for the night.
Vienna 3-Day Itinerary: Day 2
The next morning was reserved for one thing and one thing only - Schonbrunn Palace. And you really should set aside at least one morning for a visit to this magnificent piece of architecture because your jaw will drop when you see how massive it is. The palace has its own station for all types of public transport, so we opted for a ride on the U4 line of the underground system, although trams and buses also come here. It is located to the southwest of the downtown area and easily accessible by car.
Schonbrunn in All Its Glory
Now, and I can't stress this enough, Schonbrunn is IMMENSE! It has its own zoo, for crying out loud, not to mention the incredible gardens in front of it. (Skip the line tickets for the palace and gardens can be purchased here
.) Because of that, I would recommend that you buy your tickets online, just so that you save some time and start exploring the palace as soon as possible.
| Address: Schonbrunner Schlosstrasse 47, 1130 Wien
It is true that you can buy tickets for tours that only last about half an hour, but given how much there is to see here and the fact that it's not really so close to the city centre, it would be a shame to spend so little time exploring the palace. Luckily, there is the option of purchasing the so-called Classic Pass, which allows you to see pretty much everything there in slightly more than three hours and costs less than buying tickets for each attraction separately. I bought two of those for us several weeks before our trip and we got onto the palace's grounds without any problems.
Schonbrunn actually means "a wonderful spring", and the history of this place is actually quite interesting. It first started our as hunting grounds for the Habsburgs way back around the middle of the 16th century. The palace received its final form much later: first Maria Theresa ordered that the estate located here (that she had received as a wedding gift) be turned into a palace, and under Franz I Schonbrunn got the look it has today. In 1996, the palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It's really hard to put in words how beautiful this place is. Not a big surprise there since this is an emperor's palace after all, but the attention to details, the luxury and the beauty inside the main building were simply breathtaking. It's hard to comprehend that some people lived here every day. We saw the imperial apartments, we saw how Maria Theresia used to live and so much more, and in almost every room there were priceless decorations, chandeliers, intricate paintings on the ceilings and other immaculate details. Tom just went around with his eyes like saucers and never said a word - it took him a few moments for everything to sink in when we got out of the palace again.
But as beautiful as the palace was, I liked its surroundings even more. An orangery garden, a vineyard, mazes constructed out of bushes... all of that is meticulously designed and you can't help but to stand in awe and be amazed by everything. Simply incredible, and the fact that the day was beautiful also helped a lot. The morning just flew by.
Lunch at Naschmarkt
After the tour of the palace was over, it was time to find a place for lunch. We took the U4 line back to Karlsplatz, very close to the Museum Quarter, and started exploring a bit. Close to the square is Vienna's Naschmarkt, which seemed like a great place to look for some interesting food. I mean, if you can't find good food around the city's most popular market, where can you find it? The place was an incredible array of colors and smells, with loads of people and stands all around us, but one place drew our attention in particular.
Neni Am Naschmarkt
| Address: Naschmarkt 510, 1060 Wien
We were fortunate enough to find a table on the outside of this cute little restaurant, so we could really soak in the vibe of the place and do some serious people watching. On top of that, the food was really fantastic, so this turned out to be a terrific lunch. Most of the dishes here are vegetarian, and Tom was worried that he wouldn't be able to find any meat, but that was not the case and he calmed down after ordering a juicy pulled beef burger. I, on the other hand, went for the restaurant's "vegetarian cigar", which is essentially dough filled with spinach and cheese and it was awesome! Extremely tasty and delicious and I sincerely recommend it. Oh, and the burger was great, too. So, no matter if you eat animals or not, you'll enjoy the food, the location and the atmosphere in this place, that much is guaranteed.
Checking Out the City Hall
After lunch, it was time for more sightseeing. We crossed the Museum Quarter and got to Austrian Parliament, another architectural masterpiece, but this was unfortunately closed for renovation. As a matter of fact, this renovation will last quite some time, so the parliament was moved to Hofburg (don't worry, we checked that out on day three, so stay tuned).
| Address: Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Wien
However, just north is the city hall, also known as Rathaus, and this more than made up for us not being able to go and see the Parliament. The neo-Gothic architecture of the building is very impressive, and there is a beautiful park nearby where you can relax and enjoy the view and the sun. The square in front of the city hall is where one of Europe's best Christmas markets
is held every year, so if you're in town during that period don't miss this for the world. You can enter the hall if you join a free guided tour, but we were too late for that. Nevertheless, it was a lovely walk through the city centre and the food stalls there created quite a buzz, so the square was full of great atmosphere. A film festival was actually being held here, although we were much too early for that evening's picture. Nevertheless, it was quite a sight to behold because the stalls had all (and I really do mean ALL) kinds of food. Savoury dishes from all over the world, dozens of kinds of fried mean, pastries and so much more - whatever you wanted you could get it there. On top of all that, the smells were amazing. But we had to move on because the next stop on our itinerary was a surprise for Tom, and I am very happy to say that he was absolutely delighted by it.
Acting Like Kids in Prater
We went back to the Museum Quarter and boarded the U2 line. Our destination was Messe-Prater, station on the edge of Prater, probably the most famous park in Vienna. Now, in this park (its northern part, to be exact) is an amusement park called Wurstelprater
, and when Tom saw it he lit up like a Christmas tree. He has a thing for amusement parks, you know, and this one is something really special because it is, get this, the oldest amusement park in the world! Yes, this place became open to the public way back in 1766. Think about it, this amusement park is older than the United States.
Anyway, you don't have to pay anything to enter since each ride is charged separately, and the prices vary from about a euro and a half to like five euros. We went to ride the giant Ferris Wheel, an attraction that is considered to be a symbol of the city, and the view across the Danube was truly spectacular. The Prater Tower is something you will need all your courage for because it's sooooooo high up, and we also visited Hotel Psycho, a pretty spooky house if you ask me, but Tom just laughed all the way.
You can also visit a chocolate museum here, as well as Madame Tussauds, and there are plenty of delicious snacks to munch on. However, I wanted to end the day in style, so we went to a very special restaurant.
Robots and Rollercoasters
Dining at the Rollercoaster Restaurant is the perfect way to wrap up an evening at the amusement park. As a matter of fact, you can consider eating here another ride in Wurstelprater's offer.
Rollercoaster Restaurant | Address: Riesenradplatz 6, 1020 Wien
When you enter, you will first be amazed at the variety of colors around here. Honestly, it's like a disco or something. But as soon as you look up you will see a whole bunch of little roller-coaster tracks all over the ceiling. This is how your food is delivered to you. Yes, you read that right - you order via a tablet and then a robot (a real robot!) packs the food into a container and sends it to you! Now, how cool is that?! I was ecstatic, but Tom almost forgot how to speak. He was just oohing and ahhing all the time looking all around him trying to take everything in.
The food here is nothing too fancy: burgers, fries, pasta and stuff like that. However, our two burgers were very well cooked and the fries were excellent, so I can say that we had a wonderful time here. The experience was just what I had hoped for and our evening ended with a blast.
Vienna 3-Day Itinerary: Day 3Another day, another palace in Vienna. This time, we were heading for the Hofburg, a palace that was once the seat of power for Habsburg emperors and that now serves as a temporary home to the country's parliament. It is also where the president of this country resides. Built in the 13th century, the palace was expanded by every new emperor, so the resulting complex is quite an interesting and fascinating piece of architecture. Even if you stay for only about 24 hours in Vienna, this place is a must.
Franz Joseph and SisiWe opted for a self-guided tour of the place, as audio guides were readily available. And while the Hofburg has a long and glorious history, the main stars today are Franz Joseph I and his Princess Sisi. As a matter of fact, Sisi has her own museum here, and I can still remember the goose pimples I had when we first entered it. It gives you a great idea how special she was and how much pressure being at the top of this kind of empire brings. You can also visit the apartments in which the couple lived to get an even better sense of how their lives must've been, and there is also an incredible silver collection included in the tour, as well.
Hofburg | Address: Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien
But every room, every square foot of the palace exudes class and style, and the whole complex is just as magnificent as Schonbrunn. The chandeliers, the painted ceiling and even the dresses you can see in the castle all seem like from another world and it's really hard to imagine living here every single day of your life, even as you're standing there in the midst of all that incredible luxury. (Get tickets to the treasury of the palace here.)
After the tour was done, we enjoyed the nearby Volksgarten for a while. It was a beautiful day and this park near the palace was the perfect place to recap our impressions and kind of relax for a while. But before that, we first walked around Heldenplatz a bit, given that this immensely important square has witnessed many important historical events, one of which was Hitler announcing that Austria is being annexed. The infamous Anschluss happened on March 15, 1938, when it was announced in front of about 200,000 people that Germany and Austria are merging together. Additionally, the square is home to two big statues, one of Archduke Karl of Austria and the other of Prince Eugen of Savoy, some of the greatest military leaders Austria has ever had. Hence the name of the square - Heldenplatz actually means Heros' Square.
Anyway, after that our stomachs were growling so it was time to find a place to eat.
A carriage ride outside of Hofburg
More Great Austrian FoodLuckily, just north of the palace is an narrow street with a very nice courtyard next to it. The courtyard has umbrellas over the tables outside, so it's never too hot here, and Bierhof is kind of secluded from all the commotion of the city streets.
Bierhof | Address: Haarhof 3, 1010 Wien
The food is mostly comprised of classic Austrian dishes, plus you can order some great beers to wash everything down. Obviously, you have desserts too, and all in all the food is exceptionally tasty. Another big plus is that the restaurant is not particularly expensive, as you can get a menu here for less than 10 euros. We had ourselves some chicken wings and a Wiener Schnitzel along with a salad and some fries and proceeded to share everything between us (as couples do). The meal was great, the fact that we were outside on a beautiful day only added to the experience and we were ready for the last big stop of our trip.
Meet One of the Greatest Composers EverYou can't say "Austrian culture" and not mean Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - that's simply not possible. Arguably the greatest composer who ever lived was born in Salzburg (mind you, spending a day in Salzburg to explore it is highly recommended if you have the time), but he did live in Vienna, and you can actually go and visit his apartment. Which is exactly what we did. Now, Mozarthaus is about 500 meters east of the Hofburg, but if you're not in the vicinity, take the U1 and U3 lines to the Stephansplatz station and you'll be right there.
Mozarthaus Vienna | Address: Domgasse 5, 1010 Wien
To be more precise, the whole building is dedicated to Mozart and his life, his relationship to the city and various people, but his actual apartment is down on the first floor. Don't worry, though, you won't have to buy separate tickets.
In any case, you can learn a lot about 18th-century Vienna by going through the floors (skip-the-line tickets here), and about Mozart's life, too. There are plenty of details from the latter that will bring you closer to the great artist instantly. I laughed a bit when I came across some peepholes and looked through them - some of them had, well, mature content, if you know what I mean. There aren't many original objects, but this is where the master wrote "The Marriage of Figaro", so just the feeling of being in the same room can be quite rewarding. Also you can find the place if you look for Figarohaus. Anyway, the museum is very interesting, with plenty of fascinating documents and stories to tell, plus their souvenir shop is excellent (we bought some chocolates and a music box for my mom, you're welcome mom!) and there is even a small cafe if you need a breather. It's not some flashy attraction, but if you let your imagination run wild a bit, you'll be happy you came here. We certainly were.
A Glass of Wine and Vienna's Sunset
Since our flight was early in the morning, we didn't want to stay up late, but a couple of drinks certainly wouldn't go amiss.
Leo Hillinger Wineshop | Address: Wollzeile 25, 1010 Wien
Very close to Mozart's house we found the Leo Hillinger Wineshop and decided a glass of wine would go well with the chocolates we had bought in the museum's gift shop. The selection of red wines here was quite good, from various Cabernet Sauvignons to Pinot Noirs. With two glasses of Small Hill Red from 2016 and a bunch of dark Mozart chocolate in our hands, we relaxed and took some time to enjoy the fact that we had just gone through a fantastic city. Vienna sure is something very special.