Vienna is one of those cities you need to visit at least once in your life. Full of history, culture, and a melting pot of nationalities, the Austrian capital is as welcoming as it can be. And whether you only have one day in Vienna or a whole week, this city won’t disappoint. If you want to make the most of your visit while still leaving with the feeling of knowing your host home a bit better, keep on reading for some tips for the perfect walking Vienna itinerary.
And be warned, Vienna is such a photogenic city, that if you are a shutterbug like me, you’re likely to come back with hundreds and hundreds of photos! Anyhow, let’s get started, shall we!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION ABOUT VIENNA
As you probably know, Vienna is the capital of Austria. A small country of about 9 million inhabitants in Central-East Europe. It borders Germany, Italy, Switzerland on the west and Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia on the east.
Even though German is the official language in Austria, don’t be surprised to hear your language (and many others) in Vienna. And not only from other visitors.
The currency is the Euro as in most of mainland Europe and the time zone is Central European Time (GMT+1).
HOW TO GET TO VIENNA
Vienna is very well connected with other major cities in Europe by air and land at fair prices. As well as international hubs.
If you are already in mainland Europe and have some time to spare, I’d recommend you take advantage of the affordable train options (such as Interrail tickets) and admire the beautiful Austrian landscape (from Germany, Italy or Switzerland).
Alternatively, Bratislava (Slovakia) is a mere 30 mins away by bus!
VIENNA PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Vienna is a very walkable city, so if you only have one day in Vienna, you can get away with walking around. However, it is a big city and some unexpected highlights may be a bit off the main path. But don’t despair, Vienna’s public transport system is affordable and reliable, with connections by subway/metro, tram and bus to every corner of the city.
Ticket options range from monthly/weekly to short term tickets (24, 48 or 72 hours) and single tickets. Which one you choose will depend on how long you will stay and how much you plan on using the public transport in Vienna.
All the mentioned ticket options are transferable (there are non-transferable options of those too) and can be bought directly in Vienna at the ticket offices or the ticket machines. Alternatively they can be bought digitally via the WienMobil app (iOS | Android) or from the Wiener Linien mobile ticket shop.
- Monthly ticket: 51€
- Weekly ticket: 17,10€
- 8-DayClimate ticket Vienna: 40,80€ (this ticket is great if you are planning to stay in Vienna for a little longer and don’t plan to use public transport every day as the 8 days don’t need to be consecutive.)
- 72 hours: 17,10€
- 48 hours: 14,10€
- 24 hours: 8€
- Day ticket: 5,80€
- Single ticket (10 units): 24€
Here you can find an overview of all existing tickets available to visitors.
For more information you can check Vienna’s Public Transport website here.
As an added note, with the WienMobile app you can also book bikes, scooters and moped shares, as well as other means of transportation from their service partners such as Europcar, Sixt and SHARE NOW.
WHERE TO STAY IN VIENNA
The Austrian capital is a beloved destination all year around, so there are plenty of choices on where to stay. From cheaper hostels to luxury hotels, B&Bs and vacation homes.
So far I can highly recommend a stay at the Wombat’s Hostel in Vienna. I’ve stayed there several times and not only are their locations top but the dorms are clean and comfortable and the service is welcoming!
And a local tip for those of you on a tight budget in case you are visiting Vienna during summer. It’ll be worth checking the student dorms as they rent them out while the students are away on their summer break, and the deals are usually awesome! Of course it won’t be the Ritz, but they are usually in really great locations, you have your own space, and sometimes you’ll also have access to the building’s sauna to boot.
WHAT TO DO IN VIENNA
Depending where you are staying you may need to walk a bit to the starting point of my favourite (walking) one-day-in-Vienna itinerary. The day starts off at the magnificent Wiener Rathaus (Town Hall), a beautiful Harry-Potter-like building (a.k.a. Gothic style palace) designed by Friedrich von Schmidt and built in the late 1800s. During the winter months a huge ice skating circuit is installed in the walkways from the park in front of the Rathaus. Sometimes there is a circus instead… Either way, the garden is perfect for people watching, and if you are lucky to be around on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday at around 1PM, you can visit the building. For free!Which you can read more about in my post about visiting the Wiener Rathaus. (NOTE: Unfortunately, due to the current situation there are no tours taking place at the moment (27th May 2021), please check their website for updates before heading there).
Once you are done admiring the fairy tale-like town hall and learning all about its nooks and crannies, it’s time to head across the street to the Burgtheater. This theater was founded in whooping 1741 and even though its name has changed several times over the years, it is one of the most important theaters in the German speaking world. You can find the complete schedule here.
If you continue down the Ring, which is a street that circles the centre of Vienna, you’ll reach the stunning Greek revival style building that houses the Austrian Parliament. This masterpiece is, much like the town hall also from the late 1800s, with its statues of pensive men and the Pallas Athena fountain welcoming visitors and bystanders alike.
Right next door to the Austrian parliament is the Palace of Justice. And if you are in luck to find its doors open, the cafeteria on the rooftop has some incredible views over Vienna’s skyline.
Done with the obligatory photo session on the roof, the next stop is the Volksgarten with its beautiful Rose garden, just across the street from the Austrian Parliament building. This inviting park is covered in beautiful flowers in as many colours as you could possibly imagine wrapping Greek-style inspired fountains and statues. This is the perfect stroll spot towards the next stop: Heldenplatz and the staple Hofburg palace.
In case you are not familiar with this area, the Hofburg palace is home to the Spanish riding academy, the Sissy Empress Museum, the Royal Jewels, the National Austrian Library and many other historical moments and MONUMENTS!
Here you will also find the popular Viennese Carriage tours, in case you were wondering.
After a long stroll among statues, people and other historical spots, you can go off-script and head towards the Burggarten. There you will find the famous Palmenhaus Café and the Schmetterlinghaus Wien (Imperial Butterfly House of Vienna). Take a moment, enjoy a coffee and something to eat and then go explore the Butterfly House for a different side to Vienna.
Now that we are all rested, it’s time for my favourite part of the “Wanderwings” Vienna in a day itinerary: the Schloss Schönbrunn.
Getting to Schönbrunn from Schmetterling Haus is as easy as taking the U-Bahn (Metro) line U4 towards “Wien Hütteldorf” from Karlsplatz Metro station, which is a mere 600 metres away. 6 stops and 10 minutes later you’ll be in the Schönbrunn stop.
One of my favourite things in Vienna, and something I do every time I’m in town, is wandering through the palace gardens. It’s a haven in the hustle and bustle of the Viennese metropol and a great place to wind down after a long morning of strolling through the historic downtown.
And if you want to visit the palace, there are several ticket options available. From a Sissy special to the classic tickets. You can find all the information here.
NOTE: If you’re interested in how things work and such, not far from Schönbrunn is the Vienna Museum of Science and Technology (Technisches Museum Wien). Here you can find historical objects as well as modern technology alike and they even have puzzle hunts to encourage engagement.
After a refreshing walk through the gardens, it’s time to head back into town for the best views all around. From the top of Saint Stephen’s Cathedral! Going up the tower is no easy feat but the rewards are more than worth the effort. And at only 6€ (2,5€ for children up to 14 years old) it is a very interesting steal.
Once you’ve conquered the roofs of Vienna, it’s time for a bit of downtime at the stunning courtyard of the university of Vienna, also known as the Arkadenhof. It is a 70×45 meters patio inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture and the perfect place to wind down after a long day wandering around. Take a seat and enjoy the quiet before heading out and over the street to Café Stein for dinner.
Cafe Stein is probably one of the most popular Viennese cafés. Maybe it’s because of its amazing location, just a few metres away from the U-Bahn stop Schottentor, or the lovely service, perhaps it’s due to the mouthwatering food or because of it’s cozy atmosphere. Whatever it is, it’s worth a stop.
And if you are still not tired…you can end the day with drinks with a view at Dachboden. On the 8th floor of the 25hours Hotel, in the heart of the MuseumsQuartier, Der Dachboden restaurant-rooftop lounge is a great place to chill at the end of the day. With a wide offer of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, retro decorations, chill vibes and an amazing view over the Viennese skyline, it’s the perfect place to relax.
But note that Fridays can be busy, so you may have to wait to get in (max. 120 guests), but it won’t take long and it’s absolutely worth it. Reservations are not possible.
If drinks are not your kind of thing or if you are staying in town more than one day, you should try to get tickets to the Vienna Opera and/or the Volkstheater. Both are world class institutions and their buildings are worth checking out in and out!
Alternatively, if you prefer something a bit more guided, you can try one of the gamified self-guided walking tours of Vienna offered by Secret City Trails. But no matter what you do, enjoy and learn as much as you can!