- Airport – Vienna International Airport (VIE)
- Currency – Euro (EUR)
- Language – German
- Population – 1.7 million
- GDP (Austria) – $374 billion (30th overall)
From the natural beauty of the Vienna Woods and Danube River to its beautiful architecture and delicious food, Vienna is one of the coolest cities in Europe I’ve visited. Home to both Beethoven and Mozart, Vienna has a rich history filled with European classical music and so much more. Vienna is also known for Empress Elisabeth and the splendid Schonbrunn Palace, portrayed in the film Sissi.
In addition to its political and economic significance as both the capital and the largest city of Austria, Vienna has the second largest German-speaking population in the world (it was #1 for years!) and is also regarded as a food paradise, full of both international and local cuisine! More on that below 🙂
How Much Time Do I Need in Vienna?
I spent 4 days in Vienna which felt like enough to enjoy this beautiful city. You can also visit Bratislava, Slovakia which is only a one hour train ride away. Get ready to take in the delicious food, sights like The Schonbrunn Palace and the Gothic and Baroque Architecture that the beautiful city has to offer.
When to Visit Vienna
- Spring and Fall
- Because it is the off-season for Vienna, the city sees a decrease in tourists. If you choose to explore Vienna at one of these time you can visit many of the top attractions without standing in long lines.
- The weather is warm and sunny; temperatures are around 60º F (15.5º C)
- If you want to avoid the crowds and very hot weather, this time is best for you!
- Winter/Christmas Time
- One of the best times to visit Vienna is during the Christmas holidays!
- Enjoy beautiful Christmas decorations and fun holiday markets, where you can purchase traditional Christmas foods, arts and crafts, and handmade toys
- December can be cold, with lows of 10º F (-12º C). If you love snow and winter in general, this is a good time for you to visit
- Summer (June to August)
- Summer in Vienna can be hot with temperatures reaching above 90º F (32º C)
- Many Viennese leave the city in the summer for vacation, but tourism is at a high
- During the summer months, tourists and locals alike enjoy Viennese culture through the street concerts, festivals, and marathons
- In the summer, the flowers are in bloom! You can take in this beauty through walks in the park and around the city
Budgeting & Costs
- Getting Around
- Subway = €2.20
- Taxi = €3.80 (starting) +€2.29 (per mile)
- Walking = Free! I walked around a lot in Vienna and recommend you do the same. There is so much beauty on hidden streets that you will discover
- Anywhere from free up to €12
- Can range from €17 (hostel) to €60+ (Airbnb) to more than €200+ per night (Hotel)
Where to Stay?
Depending on your budget, there are many different options ranging from hostels to Airbnbs to different types of hotels. However, if you are looking for the ultimate hotel experience, the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna is for you.
I stayed at the Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna during my stay in Vienna and it truly stood out as one the best hotel experiences of my life. And I have stayed at many luxury hotels across the globe. From start to finish, my experience was memorable. The breakfast buffet includes cucumber and ginger amuse bouche drinks, and the entrance to my suite began with a complimentary bottle of champagne!
How to Get From the Airport to the City Center
Fortunately, Vienna has a well-developed public transportation system that makes navigating around the city convenient for both locals and tourists. We recommend buying a Vienna 72-hour travel card, which applies to all the networks within the inner zone, including underground, train, tram, and buses. There are five underground lines (U1, U2, U3, U4, and U6), which can take you to almost all the key sights and famous spots. When you arrive at the airport, follow the signs for CAT (City Airport Train). This train takes about 16 minutes to get to the city center station. When I went, it cost 16 Euros for the one-way ride into town.
Check Out Schönbrunn Palace
You can start your day by taking the U4 to the Schonbrunn Palace. If you are a big fan of either history or the film Sissi, the Schonbrunn Palace is a must-visit site. It was built as an imperial summer palace more than 300 years ago.
Located in Southwest Vienna and built in 1743, the Schonbrunn Palace is more than 26,000 square meters in size and has 1441 rooms inside. 45 of these rooms are open to visitors. Most of the rooms are decorated with Baroque features, but there are also Chinese-style rooms composed of rosewood and ivory. Additionally, the Palace contains collections of fine china inset on the walls and ceilings, showing an appreciation and affection for mysterious Eastern culture from a European perspective.
Tickets to the Schonbrunn Palace can be booked on the website in advance, in order to avoid the crowd. Photos are not allowed inside, in order to preserve the artwork.
While walking out of the Palace and roaming in the French Garden, you might get lost in the parterre and maze, because of the green wall on both sides. At the end of the garden, you can find the origins of the name “Schonbrunn:” an unimpressive, but beautiful, fountain named Neptunbrunnen directly facing the Gloriette as the apex of the Schonbrunn. Gloriette is about 200 ft tall, and you can enjoy a cup of coffee in the cafe located at the highest point, featuring a perfect panoramic view of Vienna.
You don’t want to miss the chance for an unparalleled auditory feast in the Goldener Saal Wiener Musikverein. Here, you will be surrounded by a beautiful symphony, which is the perfect end to a long day of exploration in the city center. The Musikverein is a representation of the most archaic but also the most modern odeum in Vienna. Built in 1869 during the Renaissance period, the Musikverein is comprised of an outer wall of yellow and red colors and sculptures of several music Goddesses on the roof. There are nearly 2,000 seats inside the hall, and you can book the tickets for any concert online prior to your trip.
The most famous Großer Musikvereinssaal (Goldener Saal) is where Vienna’s New Years Concert takes place. It is also noteworthy that the design of the hall applies perfectly to the acoustics without consideration of resonance and sound propagation. There is a hole intentionally made underneath the wooden dais, and the wall and roof are made of materials which avoid the interference of static electricity. Furthermore, the separation distances between upstairs rooms and columns are exquisitely calculated, thus allowing the architectural structure to enable audiences to experience the same auditory effect of the performance in spite of their different seating positions.
Visit the Seventh District
Check out Vienna’s seventh district, also known as Neubau, and explore this very fun neighborhood. The district is a fashionable and unique part of town where students, artists and others come to hang out.
Wiener Schnitzel is the national dish of Austria and is a must to try if you are visiting Vienna. Schnitzel is a thin, pan-fried pork or veal cutlet. The origin of the Schnitzel can be traced back to 1831, appearing in a German cookbook for the first time. Interestingly enough, Schnitzel can be eaten both hot or cold (Personally, I prefer it hot). For the preparation of Schnitzel, first, it is pounded flat, then coated in flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs, and, finally, it is fried in lard or clarified butter, until its color reaches a golden brown. Schnitzel is usually served with potato salad, but can also be served with a slice of lemon.
Recommended Restaurants for Wiener Schnitzel
Located beside the Schoenbrunn Palace and serving a traditional Austrian breakfast is Cafe Residenz. Try the Wiener Schnitzel after a long day of walking in the Schoenbrunn, and you will not be disappointed.
Note: If you are a big fan of dessert, try the apple strudel, another traditional Viennese dessert served in a hot dish with vanilla ice cream.
Cordon Bleu style! You can see more at http://www.concordia-schloessl.at/de
Tafelspitz refers to a cut of meat, generally from young ox. At Tafelspitz, guests will be provided a labeled map, showing each muscle of the ox. To order, guests choose the cut they would like from the map. Though not as famous as Schnitzel, Tafelspitz is certainly a unique dish among Austrian cuisine, due to its absorption of Eastern and Western styles of cooking. Tafelspitz is usually boiled in soup and taken out to be served with minced apple, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, along with horseradish or sour cream. The soup can also be served as an appetizer, with umami of meat, before having the beef.
Recommended Restaurants for Tafelspitz
This place is famous for serving Tafelspitz and other classic Viennese cuisine. Plachutta is located in the town center, just a short walk from Musikverein.
When in Vienna, make sure to always leave room for dessert! Don’t miss out on Sachertorte, an Austrian chocolate cake or torte. Sachertorte was invented in Vienna in 1842 and even has its own national day on December 5th! The chocolate cake is composed of a layer of apricot jam, dark chocolate icing, and finished with a decadent unsweetened whipped cream.
Recommended Restaurant for Sachertorte
Café Central Wien
The most famous place for dessert in Vienna, Café Central opened in 1876. Standing as both a tourist spot and cafe, Cafe Central is a significant addition to Viennese history.
Note: Be prepared for a potential wait!
Address: Herrengasse 14, 1010 Wien, Austria