Vienna Travel Guide 2019

Heather jumping at Schönbrunn Palace
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Why Vienna?

Vienna is a fantastic city filled with so much history including the Habsburg Dynasty, architecture, art, and music. You might need some help planning your next trip to Vienna, and this Vienna Travel Guide can assist you in prioritizing things to see and do in Vienna. As the capital and largest city in Austria, it has a plethora of activities and places for you to explore and experience. And with famous inhabitants as Mozart, Beethoven, and Freud, Imperial Palaces, gorgeous Gothic and Baroque churches, and numerous museums you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself on your visit to Vienna. Here is my complete Vienna Travel Guide for 2019 for you to use in your upcoming travels to Vienna.

Getting to Vienna

Vienna is really easy to get to by plane, train, or bus. You can search for flights using Skyscanner. Compare prices on flights with Skyscanner If you are arriving by plane to the Vienna International Airport you can get a train that takes you to the City Center, When you come out of airport arrivals, merely find a ramp that leads you down directly to the train station under the terminal. A single ticket to the city on a regular municipal train service (S-Bahn) costs approximately €4.20.

Buses from Bratislava take just over an hour and are only €7 on Flixbus. Trains running from Prague to Vienna take about four hours and will cost you €80-€118 ($91-$134). From Budapest, it takes a little over 2 and a half hours by train to get to Vienna (cost is ~€19).

Things To Do in Vienna

Schönbrunn PalaceSchönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is a must Vienna Travel Guide place to visit. It is the former summer residence of the Habsburgs and everything, and I mean everything is on a grand scale. The gardens are massive to stroll through, and the palace is just as magnificent on the inside (although no photography inside). You can easily spend a half to a full day wandering around the grounds.

I would recommend taking the Palace tour. There are a couple of tours to choose from. You can take a shortened version 22 rooms for €14.20 or the longer full hour (40 rooms) Grand Tour €17.50 (I did this one). Or you can get the Sisi ticket and follow in Empress Elisabeth’s (Sisi’s) footsteps with access to three imperial attractions. This ticket entitles you to a single admission (fast-track admission to the tour of Schönbrunn Palace) to each of the three museums (Schönbrunn Palace, the Imperial Furniture Collection and the Vienna Hofburg with the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum plus the Imperial Silver Collection) within one year of purchase date for €29.90. With the Vienna City Card, you can get a discount on the tour tickets. Open hours are daily from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.Heather on the back stairs at Schönbrunn Palace

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg is the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg Dynasty and is now the residence and office of the President of Austria. Built in the 13th century, it is in the center of Vienna. The Habsburgs were the rulers of Austria and the Austro-Hungarian empire right up until the end of World War II. They were one of the most powerful royal families in Europe. The Hofburg Palace was the imperial winter residence, as Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence. You can visit the Sisi Museum, Imperial Apartments, and the Silver Collection here for €13.90. Open hours are daily from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Vienna State OperaVienna State Opera

One of the unique things you can do when visiting Vienna is to go to the Opera. They put on over 350 Opera performances a year in Vienna. Now, you would think that this would be expensive and trust me it could be. But, what if I told you that I saw La Traviata for €4 ($4.50). There is a lesser known, but easy way to see an opera in Vienna for €4. Although the process is a little time-consuming. You have to show up at the standing area entrance and wait. We showed up around 4 p.m. for an 8 o’clock performance. We thought we would be let in to get our ticket then have time to eat, change and then make it back for the opera. Nope. You are waiting in that line until just before the opera begins.

If you plan to do this, here are a couple of suggestions. Grab some food while you are waiting outside at Bitzinger’s or pack some in your backpack. Once the standing area doors are open, the line moves inside where you can sit on the ground for the next couple of hours. You will have to check your backpack as there is absolutely no room for anything in the standing area. Also, remember to wear comfortable shoes. The opera can last a few hours, and you will be standing throughout the entire performance.

The standing area is rows with bars that you can tie a scarf around to save your place when you need to go to the restroom. There isn’t much room for even another person to squeeze behind you. There is a nice tablet for each position that translates the opera into your choice of language. Although I found myself looking down at that more than the stage because I couldn’t understand Italian. But, overall it wasn’t too bad to see an opera in the Vienna State Opera for less than $5.La Traviata at the Vienna State OperaVienna State Opera Standby Entrance

Hundertwasser House & VillageHundertwasser House

Hundertwasser House can be found in the Landstraße district on the corner of Kegelgasse and Löwengasse. The Hundertwasser House is one of Vienna’s most visited buildings and has become part of Austria’s cultural heritage and probably one of the most Instagrammable sites in Vienna. The exterior facade of the apartment house was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 1983-1985. The Hundertwasser Village directly opposite the house was created out of a tire workshop in 1990-1991. It is a nice neighborhood to explore, and the pictures here are so colorful! The village open hours are daily from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.Hundertwasser back viewHundertwasser Village

Prater

The Prater is a large public park in Vienna which has a little bit of something for everybody. The amusement park has almost 250 attractions, from auto-drome rinks to ball toss and shooting booths, exciting roller coasters and ghost trains to flight simulators. The Vienna Prater is opened from March to October. But the world-famous Wiener Riesenrad Ferris Wheel, where you can get a beautiful view of the city on the Danube is open all year round. The other portion of the park is Green Prater which is right next to the amusement park. A vast forest and meadow area that is great for walkers, runners, bicyclists, and horseback riders.

Museum Quartier

Together with the Maria-Theresia-Platz and the Heldenplatz squares and the Hofburg Palace, the former imperial stables (today’s Museums Quartier) are part of one of the most important historical area in the city. This is one of the largest evolving cultural districts in the world covering an area of 60,000 m2. The Museum Quartier includes the Leopold Museum, Kunsthalle Wien, and the Museum of Modern Art. The Vienna City Card does give you a slight discount on the tickets of these museums. Opening hours vary per museum so, make sure to check before you visit.

Albertina Museum

Albertina MuseumThe Albertina Museum is in one of the largest of the former private Habsburg residences. Some of the highlights are the furnished rooms of the Habsburg state apartments, but my favorite is the Monet and Picasso art exhibit. For those who know me, know I love Monet and Impressionism paintings. And when I find a museum that is showing their artworks, I make a point of visiting. The Albertina had quite a few of Monet’s paintings along with other Impressionism artists. Loved this exhibit! Open hours are daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m, but on Wednesdays and Friday’s it stays open longer until 9 p.m. With the Vienna City Card you can get – €2.40 off your ticket price.Heather in Habsburg state rooms at Albertina MuseumMonet - The Water Lily Pond

Sigmund Freud MuseumSigmund Freud Museum

The Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna was founded in 1971 and showcases his whole life story. The museum is in the same actual building that Sigmund Freud lived and worked in for 47 years. Along with his story, this museum exhibits the history of psychoanalysis and houses the largest psychoanalytic research library in Europe. The museum includes original items owned by Freud, his practice’s waiting room, and parts of Freud’s extensive antique collection. However, his famous couch is now in the Freud Museum in London. A third Freud Museum, after London and Vienna, was started in the Czech town of Příbor in 2006 when the house of his birth was opened to the public. With the Vienna City Card, you can get – €3.50 off your ticket price. Opened daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Spanish Riding School

The Spanish Riding School is a great morning activity if you love horses. You can watch the horses go through their morning exercise program while classical music is playing in the background. This is the only place in the world where classical horsemanship is still followed in the original Renaissance form which they have been doing for over 450 years. Tickets should be purchased in advance (€15.00), but with the Vienna City Card, you can get 20% off or – €2.00 off. You can also buy tickets to see the world-famous performances of the Lipizzaners in the “Ballet of the White Stallions.”

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephens CathedralSt. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. There are guided tours you can schedule to go down in the catacombs, evening tours that take you to the roof, and also tours around the inside of the cathedral. Opening hours are Mon-Sat 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sun 7 a.m. -10 p.m. But, visiting hours are Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Sun 1 p.m. – 4:30 pm. 

St. Charles ChurchSt. Charles Church

St. Charles Church (Karlskirche) with its striking cupola is an iconic church in Vienna. I would try photographing this church in the evening as you can see by my photo that was taken during the morning. The sun is washing out the vibrant blue of this church’s exterior. If you are looking for something different to do in Vienna, St. Charles Church has concerts (Mozart’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons) that are performed regularly. Also, you can find the Wien Museum Karlsplatz next door.

Photographing the Architecture & StatuesNeue Berg

The one thing that Vienna has plenty of is excellent architectural buildings and statues on or around them. All you need is some good walking shoes and a good camera or phone and be ready to take lots of photographs. My friend, Rebecca, kept getting frustrated with me as I was continuing to stop and take photos and making us late for breakfast. All I kept saying as my excuse was that “But, it is so pretty!”

Little Things in Vienna

Traffic Signals

One of the coolest things I saw in Vienna is the different traffic light signal pictures around Naschmarkt. Apparently, in 2015, Vienna added three different pictograms of couples on selected pedestrian traffic lights to celebrate diversity. It is kind of fun to hunt for these although you need to be careful when taking the pictures while crossing the street.

Getting AroundVienna Public Transportation

Public transportation is really easy in Vienna. The Vienna City card allows you to have free access to public transportation of the trains, trans, or buses. The four main forms of transport are U-Bahn (subway), Schnellbahn or S-Bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (tram) and Autobus (bus). Vienna works on the honesty system. There are no ticket barriers at stations and no formal ticket checks on trains, trams or buses. You just hop on and off freely. This doesn’t mean public transport is free, though. You need to buy a ticket. Supposedly, there are undercover agents that can ask to see your ticket at any time. So, better to be safe than sorry and buy a ticket or better yet, get the Vienna City Card. I found the trams to be frequent and running on time which is always welcome when trying to make the most of your visit.

Best Day Trips

Bratislava, Slovakia

Hlavné námestieIf you are looking for a great city to go and visit for a day trip from Vienna, check out Bratislava. It is conveniently easy to get to and only takes an hour by bus. Plus, the Vienna to Bratislava train trip takes 1 hour and departs from Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main railway station). Trains leave twice per hour. There are castles to see, great museums to wander through, a marvelous old town that is filled with old world charm, and fun, quirky statues to pose with. Read detailed info in my post on Bratislava.

Prague, Czech RepublicAstronomical Clock in Prague

It takes a bit longer to get to Prague, but if you have the time, it will be worth it. You can visit Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Wenceslas Square, and the Astronomical Clock. The Vienna to Prague train journey takes around 4 hours and departs at least ten times per day from Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main station). Plus, if you want to make this trip a bit longer, there are tons more to see outside of Prague. Read more detailed info in my posts on Pardubice and on the East Bohemia region.

Food & Drink Guide

Breakfast

Cafe Central

Cafe Central

Cafe Central is a traditional Viennese café but, holds a unique history of patrons since it opened in 1876. Some of the infamous ones are Sigmund Freud, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Leon Trotsky (the latter two being regulars) of the establishment. The main floor of the cafe even held regular chess games back in the day. This cafe is beautiful with its marble columns and painted ceilings, and the food is delicious. I had an omelet with tea while my fellow travel blogger and friend, Rebecca opted for one of the scrumptious cakes. If you aren’t interested in breakfast, come anyway to have a Viennese coffee. Opening hours are from Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Sundays.Inside Cafe CentralDessert at Cafe Central

Lunch

Bitzinger Würstelstand Albertina
Bitzinger

Bitzinger Würstelstand Albertina has by far the best sausage street food I have ever tasted. It was so delicious that we came back the next day to get it again. The flagship stand is located behind the opera and in front of the Albertina Museum. This is one of two positions (the other is at Prater), and you can always expect to wait in a line. Some of the options you can get are sausage with cheese in it, plain (which of course is what I got), and if you choose you can even get Champagne here. Nothing like munching on a bratwurst sipping champagne in Vienna. It is opened from 8 a.m. – 4 a.m. daily. Cost of the sausages vary but, it is around €4.

Sausage and a Coke at BitzingerSausage in a Bun at Bitzinger

Naschmarkt

Naschmarkt

Naschmarkt is near the city’s center between Karlsplatz and Kettenbrückengasse and is the greatest central market in Vienna for buying fresh food and vegetables. It is a long boulevard (1 km) filled with three rows of wonderful stalls with foods from all over the world. You can come here and peruse the booths for something to eat for lunch or just for a snack. I bought some food that I could save and eat while I was traveling on the buses through Europe. Prices are reasonable, and vendors will offer you samples to get you to buy from them. Stalls start opening up around 6 a.m. and generally close around 7:30 p.m. during the week. On Saturdays, they close at 5 p.m. The market is closed on Sundays. Cheese at NaschmarktVegetables at Naschmarkt

Dinner

Glacis BeislGlacis Beisl

Glacis Beisl is a wonderful restaurant to have a meal in. The ambiance is quite lovely, and the wait staff is exceptional. You have to call ahead and reserve your seat since this restaurant fills up every night. This is the place to try the local Vienna dish of Wienerschnitzel, which is a thin, breaded veal cutlet. The meal was amazing! Cost of the Wienerschnitzel is €19.80. The restaurant is opened from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. daily.Wienerschnitzel

Dessert

Cafe SacherCafe Sacher

In the heart of Vienna across from the Albertina Museum is Cafe Sacher.  Cafe Sacher has been serving up the original Sacher-torte since 1832. I think that they have perfected this slice of heaven. The chocolate cake has a thin layer of apricot jam and a thick dark chocolate icing on top. This dessert is so popular that there is always a line wrapped around the outside of the building. The inside of this coffee house is decorated in bright colors and chandeliers making this experience even more special. The cost of the original Sacher-torte is approximately €7. Cafe Sacher is opened from 8 a.m. – 12 a.m. daily.Original Sacher-torte

Where to Stay

Budget Hotels/Hostels

Wombats City Hostel ViennaWombats City Hostel Vienna Common Room

Wombats City Hostel Vienna is conveniently located directly across Naschmarkt. Perfect for grabbing snacks or breakfast before heading out to explore the city. Wombats is a larger chain that has several hostels in multiple cities throughout Europe. It is perfect for a few days; it is ideally situated in the heart of Vienna and walking distance to all the sights. Their common area was cute and comfy, and I was able to get a little work done while I was waiting for my laundry to get done. You can check availability and price on Hostelworld. I use this app extensively when booking hostels in Europe and Asia. You should always read the reviews and compare amenities, cost, and location before booking.Wombats City Hostel Vienna common area

Mid Range Hotels

I haven’t stayed in these hotels, but they are among the better three-star hotels offered in Vienna. Check out Motel One Wien Staatsoper –  refurbished town palace with tasteful references to Vienna in a great city center location; Pension Suzanne –  original 19th-century Viennese furniture with a great story of famous people who have stayed overnight here and is centrally located; The Hotel Austria – a highly sought after three star hotel with a nice local touch; and the Hotel König von Ungarn – is one of the oldest hotels in Vienna, dating back to 1746 giving you the real Vienna experience. I will add more to the Vienna Travel Guide as I continue my travels and can give you an honest review of these mid-range hotels.

Luxury Hotels

These hotels tend to be out of my price range, but if you are so inclined to splurge, check out these five-star hotels. Park Hyatt Vienna –  located on a beautiful cobblestone square in the old city center, opulent, impeccable service, gorgeous pool in what used to be a bank vault; the Ritz-Carlton – Travel + Leisure has voted this deluxe urban retreat the number one hotel in Austria; The Hotel Sacher Wien – perfect location across from the State Opera, a classic look, gracious service, and excellent food; Palais Coburg – a white stone palace that was built in the 1840s for a prince and only offers suites. I will add more to the Vienna Travel Guide as I continue my travels and can give you an honest review of these luxury hotels if I do happen to stay in any of them.

Vienna Annual Events

Ball Season

Every year over 450 balls occurs in Vienna with the most famous one being the Vienna Opera Ball. The Vienna ball season starts punctually at the beginning of Carnival with public dancing of the waltz in the city center. In Vienna, the ball season reaches its peak in January and February and the best ones during Carnival season (January – March). Tickets can usually range from student tickets to adult flaneur tickets (admission to the venue) or tickets for tables or sometimes gala dinners. The average price for a flaneur ticket is approximately €100, a table for 4 to 8 people can cost a couple of hundred Euros. If you are interested in participating in the ball season, check out this post on everything you need to know before going to a ball. If any of you have joined in the Ball Season, let me know. I would love to add your review to the Vienna Travel Guide.

Christmas Markets

From mid-November until Christmas Vienna’s town squares are transformed into magical Christmas markets. There are over 20 different Christmas markets in Vienna, and each one is with a different backdrop making it unique. The biggest is Vienna Christmas World on Rathausplatz with 150 stalls, an ice rink, and trees all festively lit. Punch and chestnuts draw you in with their wonderful smells but, the hand-craft goods are what you are excited to go home with. I will definitely be adding more Christmas market information to the Vienna Travel Guide going forward.

Vienna City Card

As you have read in the above Vienna Travel Guide, there are numerous places to get discounts with the Vienna City Card. You can purchase on for 24, 48, or 72 hours and this will include all the public transportation or the Hop-On Hop-Off tours by Big Bus Vienna, discounts on restaurants and museums in the city. You can buy the card at your hotel, the Tourist Info offices, the Main Railway Station, the airport, or online. This is by far the most important thing in the Vienna Travel Guide for you to receive the most piece of mind experience when you travel in Vienna.

Vienna Travel Guide Summary

I hope that you found my Vienna Travel Guide helpful in planning your next trip to Vienna. I, myself, plan to go back and visit Vienna again this year; If you see something I should add or missed on the Vienna Travel Guide, let me know and I will update it. Vienna is a fantastic city to explore, and one visit might not be enough for you, but I know you will be able to make the most of your trip by using this Vienna Travel Guide. Happy travels, my friend! And who knows I might see you there!

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Further Reading

If you would like to see more of my nomad travels, check out my post on my first month of traveling full-time: One Month of Nomad Travel or if you are interested in learning more about what to do in Bratislava check out Bratislava: The Most Underrated City in Europe.

Thank You to the Vienna Tourist Board for offering me the Vienna City Card and the food vouchers to try the amazing Vienna food and experience the most I could for my few days in Vienna. As always opinions are 100% my own.

8 Comments

  • Danielle Farideh 17March2019 at 1:23 PM Reply

    Wow Vienna is so high on my list and this guide is SUPER detailed and helpful! Saving this for when I plan my trip!

    • Heather 18March2019 at 12:10 AM Reply

      You definitely will have a great time in Vienna. There is so much to see and do here!

  • Jen 16March2019 at 1:58 PM Reply

    I would love to visit Vienna. The Spanish riding school would be right up my alley and that chocolate cake looks divine!

    • Heather 17March2019 at 12:07 AM Reply

      You will love all of it, especially the Sacher-torte!

  • Smita 16March2019 at 2:02 AM Reply

    This is so detailed! The last time I went to Vienna I did only half of it. The opera is definitely on my list.

    • Heather 16March2019 at 2:41 AM Reply

      Which of the half were your favorites? You should definitely plan to attend the opera next time. It was quite the experience!

  • upasana 16March2019 at 12:11 AM Reply

    Amazing and such a detailed guide to Vienna. I have never been to Vienna but this guide is super helpful. I loved it how you mentioned the entry fee and all minute good to know information.

    • Heather 16March2019 at 12:20 AM Reply

      Thank you, I’m so glad you liked it! I hope it is helpful to you in the future!

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