Vienna is a great city for solo travelers, foodies, history buffs, families and couples alike. It’s also one of the most popular city break destinations in Europe. Whether you’re just getting away from home for a weekend, visiting Vienna as part of a longer trip around Austria, or even Interrailing, you’ll be surprised by just how much there is to do in this awesome capital city.
If you only have two days to visit Vienna, don’t worry. Not only are two days the perfect amount of time to see the city’s highlights and try some mouth-watering Austrian food, but it’ll also leave you wanting more, and you’ll be desperate to return.
Where to stay in Vienna
You will always want to choose to stay in the perfect location, especially when you have only 2 days to explore a place. Vienna has been chosen throughout the years as one of the best places to live in Europe, offering a great life quality, but you’ll want to know where to stay to make the best out of your trip.
District 1 – the perfect location for the first time travelers
You will stay in the heart of the city center when you choose District 1 as your accommodation location in Vienna, with access to most of the main attractions in walking distance, stunning architecture, and great coffee.
Some great hotels to choose from in the area:
- Motel One Wien-Staatsoper – this is a great chain in Europe I would always stay in. They usually have great locations and pretty awesome architecture, and this particular one in Vienna is liked just for that.
- The Guesthouse Vienna – a hip and trendy place in an excellent location, offering cozy rooms and pretty views. A place to consider for sure!
Districts 6 and 7 – central, vibrant, and hip
Mainly the areas around the famous shopping street Mariahilferstrasse, this area will have you close to the main attractions, while offering you a more hip and vibrant surrounding (pretty much like the Fraunhofer area in Munich).
Some great hotels in the area:
- 25hours Hotel beim MuseumsQuartier – a super modern hotel with a unique design for each room, a rooftop bar, and located in the middle of museums you will want to see.
- Hotel Rathaus – Wein & Design – stay close to all the great cafes and restaurants, enjoy a drink on the rooftop, or choose a room with a bathtub in the middle and relax after a full day of exploration.
When to visit
Even though Vienna is a year-round destination that won’t disappoint no matter when you choose to visit, there are mainly 2 periods you will want to plan your 2 days Vienna itinerary for spring and winter.
Spring is beautiful and you will enjoy seeing the parks in bloom, drinking a coffee with the sun caressing your face, or simply walk around on a clear day.
On the other hand, winter is perfect for when you want to see one of the greatest Christmas Markets in Europe.
Getting around Vienna
Getting around town in Vienna is super easy mainly because the public transportation network is great and offers so many options.
Due to the fact that Austria’s capital is a large city and most of its attractions are spread around various locations, I would suggest you consider buying a Vienna City Card or a multi-day Metro pass.
When buying the Vienna City Card you get free access to metro, trams, and buses. On top of that, you get discounts or free admission to plenty of museums and tourist attractions in town.
Day 1 of your 2 days Vienna itinerary
Arriving in the city center, stop off at one of Vienna’s famous cafés for breakfast. The café culture in Vienna, as you’ll soon find out, is an iconic Viennese tradition, and can’t be missed.
If you don’t feel like queuing at one of the most famous cafés (and let’s be honest, you don’t have time!) head to the wood-paneled and cozy Café Hawelka for a Melange (Vienna’s answer to the cappuccino) and a steaming slice of Apfelstrudel. One holiday dessert for breakfast is okay.
When you’re ready, take the tram to Schönbrunn Palace, just outside the city center, and get ready to explore Austria’s most visited attraction!
Tour the Schonbrunn Palace
You could easily spend a whole day touring the palace and basking in its beautiful gardens, but we’re on a time limit. To get the most bang for your buck, opt to buy the Sisi Ticket at the ticket desk. This ticket combines three attractions: the Grand Tour of the Schönbrunn, the Hofburg Palace and the Imperial Furniture Collection.
All of this can be seen with the Sisi ticket for just €34,00, which is a great saving. I bought this ticket during my visit for 2 days in Vienna, and although I skipped the Imperial Furniture Collection, the ticket still saved me money versus buying separate tickets.
If you only have time to see one of them, make sure to go for the Hofburg Palace and book your ticket ahead of time online, to save money.
If you’re visiting in summer, make sure you get to the Schönbrunn as early as possible to avoid lengthy queues!
This gorgeous yellow palace was once the summer residence of the Imperial Habsburg family. The audio guide will show you around the imperial apartments and give you time to take in the gorgeous jewelry and dresses of the enigmatic and reclusive Princess Elisabeth (affectionately known as ‘Sisi’).
The Grand Tour audio guide lasts for approximately 40 minutes and takes in 40 of the palace’s rooms.
Another potential option is to book a Strudel Show with Tasting at Schönbrunn Palace and see how the traditional dessert is made. It only takes 20 minutes and you will be happy you did book it.
Discover the Palace Grounds
Full of knowledge and history from the tour, don’t miss exploring the beautiful and vast palace gardens. Unfortunately, I visited in winter so I didn’t get to see any of the hundreds of flowers which make the gardens so colorful in spring.
However, even on a frosty day in January, the gardens were breathtaking. Once you’ve finished strolling and feel your stomach rumbling, get the tram back to the city center and head to St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Try a traditional Käsekrainer
You can’t visit Vienna without trying this street food staple.
Imagine a huge German sausage in a baguette, but that sausage has small chunks of cheese in it which, when fried, melt inside the sausage to create its famous texture and taste.
Be careful! The cheese often “explodes” out of the sausage on the first bite, so make sure you have a napkin nearby.
Having visited a few of the Käsekrainer stands, the best by far is by St Stephen’s Cathedral, near the Zara store.
Optionally, you could fit into your 2 days in Vienna itinerary a food tour and experience Austrian food culture.
Visit the Imposing St Stephen’s Cathedral
After devouring a Käsekrainer you’ll be right on the doorstep of St Stephen’s Cathedral, which stands at an impressive 136 meters.
Entry is free, and it’s worth taking in the intricate details of the church’s interior.
Join the 1:30 pm tour of the cathedral’s catacombs for €6.50, where you can take in the tombs of bishops and royals of years gone by, and be swept up in its eerie atmosphere.
Explore the Austrian National Library
The largest library in Austria, the majestic National Bibliotek contains an overwhelming collection of books and old manuscripts, globes, maps and cultural exhibitions (there was one on Beethoven when I visited!).
The highlight of the library is the Grand Hall, an opulent hall built in the 1720s. This room alone contains over 200,000 leather-bound books!
For any book lovers like myself, a visit here is a requirement. Entry is €8, and an audio guide costs an extra €3. We opted for an audio guide, and I feel we got a lot more out of our visit to the library as a result.
Drink a toast at 1516 Brewing Company
By now your legs will probably be aching from all the walking, and you’ll be ready to kick back and relax. Head to the awesome 1516 Brewing Company to grab one of their great beers.
Pick a cozy table in the corner to unwind and people watch, or maybe read a book. During my stay in Vienna, my boyfriend and I visited this place three times – we couldn’t get enough of it!
Their ‘Black & Tan’ beer, a combination of dark and blonde beer, is delicious and a firm favorite of mine. Prices are reasonable at €3.60 for 0.4l of beer, and all their beers are brewed on the premises.
Dinner at the Griechenbiesl
Get ready to eat a dinner fit for kings at the oldest restaurant in Vienna. This place has been serving food for over 550 years, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing!
The restaurant feels like walking through a rabbit warren, as it is split into several rooms through a maze of walkways and corridors. They often have live traditional music, giving you a flavor for how it must have felt to dine there during its earlier years.
Although this restaurant is not a budget-friendly option, it is an unbelievable value and definitely worth the splurge. My boyfriend got the barberie duck breast with warm bacon-cabbage-salad and dumpling slices, and I got the Schnitzel.
The portions here are huge, the service is exceptional and the food is exquisite. Make sure you reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment.
After this, you can either head to a café for a post-dinner coffee, visit a bar for drinks, or just go straight to bed as we did!
As an option, you can go for a Traditional Dinner Show at the Wiener Rathauskeller and listen to traditional music while you indulge in local dishes.
Day 2 in Vienna
Up bright and early, head to Ramasuri for the best breakfast in Vienna. If you’re looking for pancakes, omelets, toasties or, my favorite, Eggs Benedict, this is your place.
Once you’ve eaten and if you’re passionate, you can choose to learn about the local coffee making on a Viennese Coffee-House tour. Make sure to book in advance and make your schedule fit.
Stop by the Vienna State Opera House
After breakfast, head towards the world-famous State Opera House and join a tour to have a good snoop around.
Tours last around 40 minutes, and highlights include the Teesalon (the former private chamber of Emperor Franz Joseph), the auditorium and the stage.
Tour times vary due to the changing schedule of the opera house but can be found on their website. The tickets cost €9.
Wander in the Hofburg Gardens
Next, walk through the huge arch of the Hofburg Palace and take a stroll around the many gardens surrounding it.
Consisting of the Heldenplatz, Volksgarten, Grete Rehor Park and Rathauspark, this area is a stunning green space with several thought-provoking memorial statues. No matter where you are you’ll hear the clattering of hooves as people take horse-drawn carriage tours around the palace.
Take it easy, either taking in the brisk fresh air in winter or basking in the beautiful sun in summer.
Lunch at Café Landtmann
End your stroll through the gardens at Café Landtmann, one of my favorite cafes in Vienna. Get a table, peruse their huge cake menu and try your best to choose one.
There are so many amazing cakes to try in Vienna that it’s hard to know where to start! If I had to pick just one, I would recommend trying the Sachertorte.
It’s world-famous, invented in Vienna, and a true staple of the Viennese food scene. This cake consists of two layers of light chocolate sponge, a layer of apricot jam in the middle and a chocolate coating over the top and sides.
Get to know the Hapsburgs at Hofburg Palace
Now is the time to use your Sisi ticket to skip the queue at the Hofburg.
Once you’ve scanned your ticket, skip the Silver Collection (unless you’re really into seeing silver cutlery and vases). Instead, head straight to the Hofburg Imperial Apartments to start your audio tour there. The Hofburg was the Hapsburg family residence for over 600 years and the center of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Hofburg acted not only as of the imperial family’s winter residence but was also the empire’s government and administrative center. The audio guide brings the family to life, and it’s a great reminder of Vienna’s rich history.
Authentic Austrian Wine Tasting
As the day draws to a close, walk over to Vinthek W-Einkehr to sample some traditional Austrian wines.
For €30 (best shared with a partner!) you can take part in a tasting of ten different wines. The owner is very knowledgeable and passionate about Austrian wines, and will happily teach you about the wines you choose.
When you want to plan ahead of time, choose one of the below wine tasting tours and let yourself seduced by the Austrian wine:
- Small-Group Wine Tasting Tour with a Local Guide
- Full-Day Vienna Woods Wine Tour
- 3-hour Vienna wine tasting tour
Sample some Schnitzel
To round off your whirlwind two days in Vienna, sample the world-famous Wiener Schnitzel at Zum weiβen Rauchfangkehrer.
This restaurant is as traditional as it gets, and the interior is beautiful, bright and airy. Their Wiener Schnitzel is out of this world. Not only is it so big that it extends off the plate, but the meat is the perfect thickness, and the batter is crispy and delicious.
Be sure to order the potato salad as aside. This is a very traditional accompaniment to the Schnitzel and ensures the schnitzel isn’t too dry. The waiter recommended this pairing to us, and I’m really glad we listened to him.
As you enjoy your Schnitzel, reminisce about the many amazing things you have managed to do in Vienna in just two days, and start planning your next trip to the city!
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Ella is a London-based travel blogger who writes about affordable, short-term travel, specifically for solo female travelers, on her blog, manymoremaps.com. When she’s not traveling or blogging, you’ll find her exploring her adopted hometown of London or listening to comedy podcasts.
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