Amazing Vienna 2 Day Itinerary

Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a city steeped in rich history, art, culture, and classical music. As a music and history lover, I find Vienna the perfect place to visit! Vienna seamlessly blends rich history with modernity, offering old world charm with a modern vitality to it. Here’s your perfect Vienna 2 day itinerary!

Spending two days in Vienna may feel a little rushed on a trip, but I assure you, you’ll still be able to experience a lot that this city has to offer in two days! Vienna is probably the prettiest European capital I’ve visited and feels quite small compared to others like Rome, which seem to be sprawling. You’ll love Vienna!

Table of Contents

Where to Stay in Vienna for Two Days

As mentioned, Vienna feels pretty small, and most of the attractions you’ll want to visit on this two-day itinerary are within the Ringstrasse or Ring Road. All the places below I recommend are along public transit and close to the Ring Road. 

Hotel The Weekend

The Weekend is located in Vienna’s 7th District, just 10 minutes from the historic center of Vienna. This modern, relaxed hotel in a quiet area makes it a great spot to stay for those traveling with someone. The staff is really friendly, and the service here is excellent. I stayed here on my trip, and it was terrific!

Hotel MOTTO

Located right on Vienna’s main shopping street, Mariahilfer Straße, Hotel MOTTO occupies an impressive historic building next to the Neubaugasse stop of the U3 metro line. Contemporary Vienna meets Art Deco-era Paris at Hotel Motto, a boutique design hotel in the city’s trendy 6th District. Every detail, from the floral staff uniforms by Austrian designer Lena Hoschek to the tile flooring, lends itself to the whimsical atmosphere that feels straight out of a Wes Anderson film.  

Hotel Sacher Wien

Opened in 1876, Hotel Sacher Wien is furnished with valuable antiques, elegant furniture, and a famous collection of paintings. The rooms are individually furnished with precious materials. This is the perfect place for anyone staying in a historic hotel. The traditional Hotel Sacher is located in the heart of Vienna, opposite the State Opera and right next to the Kärntner Straße. 

Tips for Visiting Vienna

  1. Plan Ahead: To avoid long lines, research the attractions you want to visit and consider purchasing tickets in advance, especially for popular sites like Schönbrunn Palace or the Vienna State Opera. Even in winter, Vienna can get busy!
  2. Public Transportation: Vienna has an efficient and extensive public transportation system, including trams, buses, and the U-Bahn (subway). Consider purchasing a Vienna Card or a multi-day travel pass for unlimited travel on public transportation and discounts at various attractions.
  3. Walking: Vienna is a very walkable city; exploring on foot allows you to discover hidden gems and enjoy the city’s beautiful architecture. Plan to walk a lot while here!
  4. Vienna Pass: Vienna can get pricy quickly. Most museums are over 15 Euros, and there are lots of them to visit! If you plan to visit multiple attractions, consider purchasing the Vienna Pass, which provides free entry to over 60 attractions and includes unlimited use of public transportation.
  5. Café Culture: Experience Vienna’s renowned café culture by visiting historic coffeehouses. I’ll give suggestions throughout this itinerary!
  6. Viennese Cuisine: Don’t leave Vienna without trying traditional Viennese dishes, such as Wiener Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel, or Sachertorte. Explore local markets like the Naschmarkt to sample fresh produce and regional specialties. I’ll give more suggestions in the itinerary.
  7. Concerts and Performances: Experience Vienna’s rich musical heritage by attending a classical concert, opera, or ballet performance. It’s a must while visiting!
  8. Respect Local Customs: Be mindful of local customs and etiquette. People in Vienna tend to keep to themselves, and while it may come off as rude to Americans, it’s respectful in their culture not to bother or speak with others in public places. The same goes for restaurants. They will likely not check on you repeatedly, and you will likely have to call them over.
  9. Consider packing carry on only for your Vienna trip! It’s a great way to save some extra money and will save you time at the airport.
 

Day 1

Gerstner Cafe

This two day itinerary starts at a cafe that has been in Vienna since 1847. My jaw literally dropped when I entered this cafe; it was so pretty. Gerstner Cafe started as a confectioner’s shop that impressed the monarchy of Austria, and in 1869, they took over the Opera’s buffets and catering as well as the monarchy. 

It still stands today as one of the most beautiful (and delicious) cafes to visit in Vienna. The three-story shop in Vienna’s inner city offers a wide range of sweets and goodies. The ground floor offers gifts and souvenirs, while the first floor was turned into its own Gerstner Bar. On the upper floor, you can drink and dine on traditional Viennese cuisine.

During winter, it’s not very busy in the early morning, so I was able to get a table without a reservation. However, it does get swamped in the summer months, so plan in advance and make a reservation on their website if you can.

Skip the Line: Schönbrunn Palace & Vienna City Tour

I always recommend a tour first when visiting a new city to orient yourself, get the inside scoop, and learn the main significant historical landmarks throughout the city. I chose to take a tour that would lead me through the main sites of Vienna by bus (it was winter, after all) and then to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs.

Tour Options:

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Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy a city tour of Vienna by bus
  • Admire the many magnificent buildings along the Ringstraße
  • See the Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna State Opera, and the Museum of Art History
  • Discover the museum quarter, the Hofburg Palace, the Austrian Parliament, and the Court Theater

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace was the second half of this three-hour tour, and I absolutely loved it! Originally a hunting lodge, Schönbrunn Palace was transformed into a grand imperial residence during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa in the 18th century. It served as the summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs, and it was at Schönbrunn that Emperor Franz Joseph I, the longest-reigning emperor of Austria, was born and spent much of his life.

The palace showcases a stunning blend of Baroque and Rococo architectural styles. Its bright yellow façade, adorned with white ornaments, stands out against the lush greenery of its expansive gardens. The palace features over 1,400 rooms, including lavishly decorated staterooms, private apartments, and the opulent Hall of Mirrors.

While here, make sure you also take time to explore the gardens and head to the cafe at the top of the hill that overlooks the palace called The Gloriette. This grand pavilion is on the hilltop overlooking the palace, offering panoramic views of Vienna.

Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm

Tickets: Children (from age 6): € 23.00 – € 48.00 

Included in Vienna Pass

Café Landtmann

After your morning tour, it’s time to visit another iconic and historic cafe in Vienna, Café Landtmann. Café Landtmann. During its long history, Café Landtmann served as a meeting place for many of the leading industrialists, politicians, thinkers, and artists in Austria and was the preferred coffeehouse of Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Peter Altenberg, Felix Salten, and Emmerich Kálmán.

The food is excellent, so make sure you get the Vienna classic apple strudel while you are here for dessert!

Choose a Museum

As mentioned, there are so many different museums in Vienna. It has a long history of being a cultural and architectural hub, so you’ll find all kinds of museums here. In the afternoon, I recommend choosing a museum or two to spend some time at. There are so many in Vienna that you won’t have time to visit them all, but below are the top three to choose from depending on what you’re most interested in (and how tired of walking you are!).

Photo by Martin Zenker on Unsplash

Belvedere – Palace and Museum

The Belvedere Palace was once a residence for the Austrian Habsburg dynasty Prince Eugene of Savoy. Today, the Belvedere Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and serves as a museum, housing a remarkable collection of Austrian art. The palace’s extensive galleries showcase various artworks from medieval to contemporary periods, including iconic pieces by Austrian masters such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

In addition to its role as an art museum, the Lower Belvedere Palace hosts various temporary exhibitions and special cultural events to bring to light the works of various Austrian artists. 

Hours:

  • Upper Belvedere Palace: Monday to Sunday: 9 AM to 6 PM
  • Lower Belvedere Palace: Monday to Sunday: 10 AM to 6 PM
  • Belvedere 21 Museum: Tuesday to Sunday: 11 AM to 6 PM, Thursday: 11 AM to 9 PM, Closed on: Mondays, except for public holidays

Tickets: Children and youth under 19 € 0,00 – Adults € 16,70 (each museum charges a different entry)

Included in Vienna Pass

Albertina Museum

The Albertina not only has the largest and most valuable graphical collections in the world, but it also has works such as Dürer’s “Hare” and Klimt’s studies of women. Its latest exhibition collection presents masterpieces of the Modern, spanning Monet to Picasso and Baselitz.

As the largest Habsburg residential palace, the Albertina dominates the southern tip of the Imperial Palace on one of the last remaining fortress walls in Vienna.

While here, don’t forget to visit the State Rooms. This is one of the largest Habsburg residential palaces. The State Rooms, in shining yellow, green, and turquoise, partly furnished with original furniture, transport visitors back to the time of their inhabitants. The entire gilding of the carvings with the special alloy “Albertina gold” and the artistic parquet floors with rose and ebony intarsia are worth a look. 

Hours:

  • Saturday – Tuesday 10:00 – 18:00
  • Wednesday, 10:00 – 21:00
  • Thurday, 10:00 – 18:00
  • Friday, 10:00 – 21:00

Tickets€ 19,90  

Included in Vienna Pass

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Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (Art History Museum)

The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) was built in 1891 near the Imperial Palace to house the extensive collections of the imperial family. With its vast array of eminent works and the most extensive Bruegel collection in the world, it is considered one of the most distinguished museums.

The paintings gallery houses numerous major artworks of European art history, including Raphael’s “Madonna in the Meadow,” Vermeer’s “The Allegory of Painting,” the Infanta paintings by Velazquez, and masterworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian, and Tintoretto. The Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection contains fascinating treasures from mysterious past cultures.

Hours:

  • Friday – Wednesday, 10:00 – 18:00
  • Th, 10:00 – 21:00
  • Open daily from June to August and October 8, 2024, until January 6, 2025.
Tickets: € 21,00 
 
Included in Vienna Pass

Vienna Opera or Other Musical Performance

Vienna’s music scene is legendary, with its opera houses, concert halls, and classical music performances drawing visitors from around the globe. The Vienna State Opera, Musikverein, and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra are world-famous institutions, and the city hosts events like the Vienna Opera Ball and the Vienna International Film Festival.

To end your first day, head to a musical performance. I personally chose to go to the Vienna State Opera. When looking at the tickets, I saw they were expensive, like $150-200, so I thought they weren’t in the cards. However, I then learned about another way that made it possible for just € 18 to see the opera!

There are standing room only tickets for the Vienna Opera that become available on the day of the show. They are on general sale from 10 am on the day of a performance, purchasable either online from the Staatsoper (you have to register and can buy a maximum of two per account) or at federal theatre box offices.

The second option is to visit a Stehplätze ticket office (“Stehplatz-Kasse”) 80 minutes before the start of an evening performance when you can buy standing-only tickets for that day’s production.

The tickets cost:

  • €13 for the Balkon area
  • €15 for the Galerie area
  • €18 for the beautiful Parterre area

Other musical performances to consider:

Day 2

Architecture and History Tour with Photographer

Everywhere you look in Vienna is another gorgeous building, and as someone who loves capturing memories, I think a photography tour was the perfect option to see some of the top sights we haven’t touched on yet and explore on foot! I booked this tour via Airbnb Experiences, but other walking tours are worth taking if you’re not into photography. Here are some options:

Tour Highlights

  • Vienna Opera House
  • Albertina Museum
  • Hofburg Palace
  • Austrian Parliament
  • Rathausplatz (Town Hall)
  • Votivkirche (Votive Church)

Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace served as the principal residence of the Habsburg dynasty, one of the most influential royal families in Europe, for over six centuries. Originally a medieval castle, it was expanded and renovated over the centuries to reflect changing architectural styles and the evolving needs of the Habsburg rulers.

Today, it stands as a symbol of Austria’s imperial legacy, with 18 different museums and offices housed there. Below are two I’d recommend, but you can visit any you’d like! 

Also, with two days in Vienna, you really do have time to do both Schonbrunn and Hofburg Palace because of it’s location and many museums in the city. I’d definitely recommend both, they are different.

Sisi Rooms

The Sisi Museum authentically examines the life of the infamous Empress Elisabeth, who is somewhat of a cult figure in history. During your visit, the Imperial Apartments of the Imperial Palace compare myth and fact and give you a look into what royal life was like in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Among the highlights are numerous personal objects once owned by Elisabeth and the most famous portraits of the beautiful empress.

The museum shows the restless life of the legendary empress, from her carefree time as a young girl in Bavaria to her surprising engagement with the Austrian emperor to her 1898 assassination in Geneva.

 
I really enjoyed looking at this museum because I was also reading a book about the Gilded Age in the United States, which was happening at the same time. The infamous US families like the Vanderbilts and Astors were trying to mimic the monarchs of Europe. It was interesting to compare what they were doing in the US to what was happening in Europe!
 
Hours: daily, 09:00 – 5:30
Cost: Children (from age 6): € 12.00 – Adults: € 19.50
 
Included in Vienna Pass

Austrian National Library

This is Europe’s largest Baroque library, with over 200,000 historic books on its richly decorated wooden shelves. The Grand Hall is rightly one of the most beautiful library rooms in the world.

The Austrian National Library is just one of the visitor attractions in Vienna’s Imperial Palace. In the former court library, however, the books are only the supporting cast: The impressive Grand Hall is almost 80 meters long and 30 meters high and is crowned at its center by a mighty dome. 

It’s located right next to the Sisi Rooms, which makes it an easy stop here!

Hours:

  • Friday – Wednesday, 10:00 – 6:00
  • Thursday, 10:00 – 21:00

Cost: € 10.00

Included in Vienna Pass

Graben

The Graben is one of the most famous squares in Vienna’s first district, the city center. It begins at Stock-im-Eisen-Platz next to the Palais Equitable and ends at the junction of Kohlmarkt and Tuchlauben. Another street in the first district is called Tiefer Graben. There’s a lot to do here, including shopping, taking in incredible views, and, of course, more cafes. 

Spend your afternoon exploring this area of Vienna—you’ll love it! Cafe Central and St. Stephen’s Cathedral are located very close to each other. Decide how much time you want to spend shopping, admiring architecture, hanging in cafes, or doing anything else this neighborhood has to offer!

Cafe Central

Cafe Central is another historical cafe in Vienna that dates back to 1876. For many years, Café Central was known as ‘the university of chess’. The café was one of the most important meeting hubs for intellectual life in the city right the way through until 1938 and also welcomed numerous chess masters during this time.

The menu includes a broad selection of classic Viennese dishes, traditional coffee specialties, and sweet treats from the in-house patisserie. The architecture is also beautiful, so it’s really a win all around! Expect to wait for a table here.

All the amazing coffee I had in Copenhagen and Vienna on this trip made it hard to enjoy coffee in Munich. But that’s a story for another post!

St. Stephens Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is located in the center of Vienna and has stunning Gothic architecture. Construction began in the 12th century and has been changed repeatedly over the centuries until it was finally given its current appearance. 

It’s well worth it to go to the top of this stunning cathedral, and you can climb two of the four towers—the South Tower and North Tower. I visited both during my trip, and each has a great view! The South Tower is far higher than the North Tower, at 136 m high vs. 67 m high. On the roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, colorful roof tiles were laid to create the Royal and Imperial double-headed eagle and the coat of arms of the city of Vienna. 

Hours: 

  • Monday – Saturday, 06:00 am – 10:00 pm 
  • Sunday, 7:00 am – 10 pm
  • (tower hours vary)

Cost: € 7.00 – € 23.00

Schnitzel at Figlmüller

After another full day of walking and exploring Vienna, it’s time to end your two days in Vienna with another classic – schnitzel. Just around the corner from St. Stephen’s Cathedral (they have two other locations), Figlmuller is home to the original schnitzel and is a classic that must be tried on a trip! 
 
A schnitzel is a thin slice of meat. The meat is usually thinned by pounding with a meat tenderizer. Most commonly, the meat is breaded before frying. Breaded schnitzel is popular in many countries and is made using veal, pork, chicken, mutton, beef, or turkey.

This is an extremely popular place to visit, so a reservation is needed, no matter what season you visit. Don’t forget to order a side of potato salad here. It’s incredible, too! 
Just around the corner from St. Stephen’s Cathedral, he established a place where people have been imbibing, chatting, and eating great for the past 115 years

Photo by Francesca of Homeroom Travel

Other Suggestions:

Looking for something different? Here are a few day trips and other things to do in Vienna you might consider instead.

  1. Cooking classAs you now know, Austrians adore their food and there’s no better way to connect with the culinary passions and traditions in Vienna than with a cooking class!
  2.  Vienna Wine Country:Leave the busy streets of Vienna behind and immerse yourself in the Weinviertel wine region.
  3. Day Trip to Salzburg: Known as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for “The Sound of Music,” Salzburg is around 2.5 hours away from Vienna by train. Explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town, visit Mozart’s birthplace, stroll through the Mirabell Gardens, and take in the stunning views from Hohensalzburg Fortress.
  4. Semmering Railway: Embark on a scenic train journey along the Semmering Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historic mountain railway offers breathtaking views as it winds through the Semmering Pass, passing viaducts, tunnels, and picturesque landscapes.
Explore history, art, and music in this Vienna 2 day itinerary. Immerse yourself in the city's old-world charm and modern vitality.
Explore history, art, and music in this Vienna 2 day itinerary. Immerse yourself in the city's old-world charm and modern vitality.

Overall, Vienna is a city that seamlessly blends its rich history with modernity, making it a captivating mix of world charm, cultural sophistication, and urban vitality. From Vienna, I went on to take a train to Munich to spend 5 days exploring Bavaria. I hope you find this Vienna 2 day itinerary helpful when planning for your trip. Have a great time!

Meghan

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