Vienna – The Austrian Capitol regularly ranks first in studies of the world’s most livable cities, and Vienna is absolutely fantastic for tourists, too. What fascinated me most is the mixture of colonial buildings from the time of the Habsburg monarchy and the lively youth culture that you can feel all over the city.
But Vienna is also particularly green. Especially in spring and summer you will love this when you visit. In this article I will give you 16 Vienna tips that you should definitely do. There are typical Viennese sights but also the one or other insider tip.
For most of the sights of Vienna you have to pay entrance fees. But there are always free attractions or ways to save money, which I show you here in the Vienna Tips.
Are you still not sure if you should visit Vienna at all? Then watch the following video with the highlights of the city.
When to Vienna?
For me, Vienna is most beautiful in spring and summer, because then everything is green and blossoms. But actually you can visit Vienna all year round and even in bad weather there is a lot to see in the Austrian capital.
In winter, especially the romantic Christmas markets are a magnet for visitors.
How long to stay in Vienna?
A city trip to Vienna is great for a normal weekend – arrive on Friday and return on Sunday. But it will be perfect if you take a long weekend, 3-4 days, e.g. with a bridge day. Because then you can spend 1-2 days visiting the most famous sights, one day just walking around Vienna and discovering secret places and another day you can go on a trip into the countryside, e.g. along the Danube to the Kahlenberg.
Transportation in Vienna?
Vienna actually has a pretty good public transport system.
A good idea if you want to visit many sights is the Vienna Pass. With it …
- you get free admission to over 60 sights and museums.
- you will get to the sights faster and don’t have to stand in a queue.
- you have unlimited use of the Hop-On Hop-Off buses of Vienna Sightseeing Tours.
- you get a free Guidbook.
The Vienna Pass costs …
- for one day: 59 €
- for 2 days: 89 €
- for 3 days: 119 €
- for 6 days: 154 €
Tickets for children cost half the price.
Together with the ticket you can also order a Travel Card (time card of the Wiener Linien) to use public transportation (subway, streetcar, bus incl. Nightline buses, S-Bahn). These are available for 24, 48 and 72 hours for 8 €, 14,10 € and 17,10 € (per person).
An alternative is the Vienna City Card from 17 €.
Exploring Vienna by bike
If the weather is nice, I recommend you to rent a bike. There are bike paths all over the city. Especially along the Danube and the Danube Canal, cycling is especially beautiful.
There are several providers, where you can rent bikes via app in the whole city:
- Citybike Wien | 1 hour: Free; 1€ for 2nd hour; 2€ for 3rd hour; 4€ for 4th hour, 4€ for each additional hour; Cool is: 15 minute break means you can take a free hour again
- Donkey republic | 14€ per day; 7€ for 2 hours
But there are also other providers:
- Baja Bikes
- the bike station Vienna
Uber and taxi in Wien
Unlike in Germany, you can also use Uber in Vienna. Even for short distances this is very cheap in contrast to a cab. For a 5-10 minute drive, for which you would have to walk for about 30 minutes, you pay about 3-5 €.
Travels from and to the airport cost about 30 €. A cab costs about 50 € in comparison.
Accommodation in Vienna
As in any major city in Europe, Vienna has many good airbnbs, but the prices are a bit higher than elsewhere. Therefore, even if you usually only stay in airbnbs, it is worthwhile to look for hotels in Vienna.
For my trip I researched some great hotels. In one of them I stayed overnight.
Hotel Kahlenberg: The Hotel Kahlenberg is located in lofty heights 480 m above the roofs of Vienna on the popular excursion destination of the “Kahlenberg” mountain (see tip 3). It is surrounded by forests and vineyards and is the perfect accommodation for those who want to explore the quiet regions of Vienna.
Radisson Blu Park Royal Palace Hotel Vienna: Here I slept for 2 nights and can only recommend the hotel. It is located in a green idyll only about 5 minutes walk from Schönbrunn Palace and the park. The furnishing is very comfortable and there is a good hotel bar, as well as a steam bath. The hotel is affordable despite its 4-star superior. Like me, you might find some bargains on comparison portals like trivago.
Hotel Sacher: It could hardly be more traditional than at the Hotel Sacher. Opened in 1876, the hotel is located in the heart of the city and is furnished with many valuable antiques and elegant furniture. Also some famous paintings hang on the walls here. The house itself is an experience, but not for the small purse.
Ruby Lissi Hotel Vienna: The hip Ruby Lissi is situated in a prime location in an 18th century house. But inside it is furnished in a very modern way. In the rooms you’ll find for example an open bathroom with glass rain shower.
Hotel Fabrik Wien: This hotel is located in a former linen factory from the 19th century and is special for this reason alone. The backyard of the hotel is very idyllic and invites you to linger. From the price-performance ratio the hotel is a very good alternative.
16 Vienna Tips
All the following Vienna tips can also be found here on the map:
1. treat yourself to breakfast in a typical Viennese café
A Vienna city trip needs to include a visit to a typical Viennese coffee house. These traditional institutions will impress you with their special charm. It is not without reason that the Viennese coffee house culture belongs to the intangible cultural heritage of the UNESCO.
The light shines only sparsely into Café Goldegg, but casts long shadows into the room equipped with billiard tables. It smells of fresh coffee. Glasses clink and the wooden parquet floor cracks incessantly, while the waitresses, dressed in traditional black with white aprons, gallantly glide back and forth to serve their customers. There is the gentleman at the window enjoying his “Verlängerter” and a piece of Sachertorte in his green seating niche to the Sunday newspaper. And then there are the two elderly ladies who have thrown themselves into their pink and blue Sunday dresses to meet for a coffee party at Goldegg. Next to them on the table lies the yellow press magazine Bunte. What is written in it is also the content of their conversation, which however, almost completely disappears in the noise of the room.
I have tried some. Here are my absolute favorites:
The Central is probably one of the most famous coffee houses in Vienna. It opened already in 1876 and many famous people, such as Sigmund Freud or Leo Trotsky, came and went here. Already when you enter you can feel which tradition the house has. However, nowadays it seems that mainly tourists have breakfast here, but this does not harm the charm of this place at all.
Very tasty was the vital breakfast for 14,90 € with coffee of your choice, orange juice, various bread and spreads as well as a fruit salad.
The Goldegg, which is kept in art nouveau style, is located near the Belvedere Castle. Many locals also go there. I can recommend the Early Bird breakfast (hot drink of your choice and bread with 3 very tasty homemade spreads).
Café Zartl is another one of these Viennese cafés where guests can enjoy their Sachertorte and coffee even with a cigarette. But in a separate room, so that non-smoking guests are not bothered. There is also an extensive lunch menu.
Further well-known Viennese coffee houses are:
- Café Basket
- Café Prückel
- Balthasar Coffee Bar
- Café Sperl
- Café Schwarzenberg
- Café Landtmann
- Café Frauenhuber
- Café Museum
- Café Hawelka
- Café Am Hof
But there are many more spread all over the city.
2. Follow the traces of the globetrotter Hundertwasser
Friedensreich Hundertwasser was a painter born in Vienna, but he is especially famous for his unique architectural works.
What I find particularly cool about him is that he built himself a boat and sailed around the world for many years, even to New Zealand on several occasions. So he left his traces not only in Europe but in many different corners of this planet. In Pahia on New Zealand’s North Island there is for example a dog water toilet.
But of course especially in Vienna you will find many of the so-called Hunderwasser houses. The 3 best ones I will introduce to you here.
Hunderwasser residential complex in Kegelgasse
One of the coolest buildings in town is the Hunderwasserhaus in Kegelgasse. This is a residential complex where normal people live.
Typical for Hundertwasser’s works are the wooded balconies, the rich colors and natural forms, which clearly stand out from the rest of the Viennese architecture (and from any other).
Next to the building there are also a few dog water stores, a café and galleries.
Not far away from the Hundertwasser House is the Hunderwasser Museum. It is worth a visit, because here you can learn a lot about the life of Hundertwasser and his special philosophy. Besides models of his most famous buildings, many of his paintings are on display and a video about his life is shown.
Waste incineration plant Spittelau
Not quite as well known as the other two Hundertwasser buildings, and therefore an insider tip, is the Spittelau waste incineration plant, which you can recognize from a distance. Here Hundertwasser managed to transform the ugly outer facade of the plant into something beautiful and special.
3. Look over the roofs of Vienna from Kahlenberg mountain
The Kahlenberg mountain on the outskirts of the city is one of the most popular excursion destinations of the Viennese. From up here you have an amazing view over the whole city.
Arriving by bike is only recommended if you are fit. Because it will be quite steep. From Nussdorf 2 ways lead up the mountain. It is easier to get there by public transport. Take the U4 to the terminus Heiligenstadt and from there take the bus 38A to Kahlenberg. You can also go to Leopoldsberg mountain. From here you also have a great view.
Also the journey by car is no problem. At the top of the mountain there is a parking lot.
4. Sipping a cocktail over the roofs of Vienna
“Das Loft” is a cocktail bar on the top floor of the Sofitel Hotel. From here you can dine in the Michelin-starred restaurant or simply sip a cocktail while soaking up the evening panorama over Vienna.
Attention: There is a dress code here. For example, I couldn’t get into the loft because I was wearing short pants.
The old town teems with small hiding places and hidden backyards, one more picturesque than the other. The best thing to do is to take a few hours and stroll through the historic old town on foot.
You are sure to find one or the other jewel. On the map above I have marked some of the most beautiful places where you can relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of Vienna.
Here you will also find a route on which you can discover these Viennese secret tips for yourself.
Some great restaurants in the old town that I can recommend are Le Bol (French restaurant) and Figlmüller where they serve gigantic schnitzels.
6. Get the best ice cream in town
Several locals advised me to get a waffle in this ice cream parlor and I was not disappointed. Just the long queue in front of the hall was already a sign.
The peculiarity of our gelaterie is that we care about each and every one of you,
both communicative and aesthetic details, with the greatest attention,
so that the customer can relax in an inviting and elegant place
feels welcome and can enjoy our gelato.
And what is the name of the ice cream parlor now? Gelateria La Romana.
7. Walking through the gardens of the Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace consists of two palaces connected by a long garden. Here I was particularly impressed by the symmetry of the individual elements. In the four squares at the lower Belvedere, which are planted with high, shady hedges, you will find protection from the blazing sun in the summer and can stroll a little.
You can walk through the garden for free. If you want to see the inside of the castle, you have to pay an entrance fee. The ticket for the upper and lower Belvedere together costs 20 € (for children under 18 years: free of charge).
8. Feel like Empress Sisi (or Emperor Franz) at Schönbrunn Palace
Empress Sisi is the reason why many tourists come to Vienna. That is why Schönbrunn Palace, where Empress Elisabeth and Emperor Franz once resided, is by far the most visited sight in the city. The imperial state rooms inside are still originally furnished and let you feel the history of the imperial couple and the Habsburg monarchs in a realistic way.
Many different guided tours are offered. The Grand Tour through the entire palace takes you through the private chambers of the imperial couple and the most precious 18th century rooms from the time of Maria Theresa. The whole tour costs 17,50 € per person.
9. Stroll through the park of Schönbrunn Palace
In contrast to a visit to Schönbrunn Palace, a visit to the absolutely fantastic palace gardens is free of charge. It is open all year round from 6:30 in the morning and is closed in the evening (depending on the season from 17:30 to 21:00. You should get out in time, otherwise the park gates are closed).
The park is huge and offers many individual special attractions in itself, for which you have to pay extra entrance fees, such as
- The Gloriette
- The Palm House
- The maze
- The Crown Prince Garden
- The Orangery Garden
- The zoo
- The desert house
10. Explore the insanely cool palm house from outside and inside
I was absolutely fascinated by what for me was the coolest building in the whole city – the Palm House in the Schönbrunn Palace Park. It is simply impressive both from the outside and the inside.
It is 111 meters long and with a floor area of 2,500 m² and 4,900 m² of glass it is the largest palm house on the European mainland. A total of 45,000 glass panes were processed for it.
The entrance fee is 6 €. For 9 € you can also visit the desert house next door.
By the way: There is also a palm house in the old town that looks similar. However, there is a restaurant in it, which I can recommend for a short stopover for 1-2 drinks.
11. Celebrate with the Viennese youth along the Danube Canal
Vienna is not only history and tradition. Vienna is also party and youth culture. Nowhere else is this more apparent than in the evenings along the Danube Canal in summer. Because then hundreds of young and young-at-heart Viennese sit on the banks, play the guitar, chat and get their drinks at the kiosks and bars along the way.
It is the perfect place to experience a balmy Viennese summer night. There are also some well-known clubs in the area. Recommended and very popular is the Flex, right on the canal.
12. Chill in one of the many beach bars of Vienna
What I also liked very much about Vienna were the many cool beach bars that are spread all over the city. While walking through the city you will most likely pass one of them. Why don’t you take advantage of that, get a cocktail and relax in a comfortable deck chair.
The following beach bars you can find in Vienna:
- Beach Bar Herrmann
- Tel Aviv Beach
- Vienna City Beach Club
- Sand In The City
- Adriatic Sea Vienna
- Copa Beach
13. Ride the Ferris wheel at the Wiener Prater
The Vienna Prater is a leisure park in the middle of the city. The special thing: The Prater is open 24 hours a day all year round. One of the main attractions here is the Ferris wheel from which you have a great view over the city. A ride costs 10 € (children 4,50 €).
There are even private and luxury cabins where you can have a candlelight dinner.
14. Chill on the Danube Island
In summer, the 21 km long Danube Island is one of the most popular recreation areas for the locals. They come here to relax in the greenery or to do sports, sunbathe and swim in the small lakes on the island.
Rent a bike, ride along the island and do exactly the same thing. Or just watch the locals and take a sightseeing break with an extensive picnic.
Especially for families there is a lot to discover along the Danube Island, such as the huge free water playground, the family bathing beach, the white water canal, the world’s largest floating trampoline facility and a climbing park. In any case, it will not be boring.
15. Drive along the Prater Hauptallee and relax in the park
Probably the longest street in Vienna – and that without cars – is the Prater Hauptallee. At the beginning it leads past the Prater, but then completely through the greenery.
Once, the Viennese nobility used to drive along the 4.4 km avenue lined with chestnut trees. Today the street is a public recreational area for cyclists, pedestrians, runners (e.g. at the annual Vienna City Marathon), rickshaw drivers and horse riders. In winter it is even used by cross-country skiers (of course only if there is enough snow).
Ride your bike along the avenue, make a short stop at the Ernst-Happel-Stadium and treat yourself at the end of the street to a cold beer or an ice cream at the Lusthaus.
16. Explore the district Spittelberg
The romantic Spittelberg is characterized by the Biedermeier style. There are many great cafés, restaurants and bars hidden in idyllic backyards.
Known are above all …
- the Amerling-Beisl
- Wittwe Bolte
- Tian Bistro at Spittelberg
- “Das Möbel”
You should also visit the Raimundhof, a typical Viennese courtyard with cafés, right on the shopping mile.
Where can I get the best Wiener Schnitzel?
The Schnitzel is part of Vienna’s culinary identity and almost sacred to the Austrians. Since I do not eat meat myself, I cannot tell you here where it tastes best. But I don’t have to. Because many other bloggers have already dealt with this topic. Have a look here:
Where can you get the best Sacher cake?
Many people think that the café in the Hotel Sacher is probably the best place in Vienna to eat the famous Sacher cake – after all, the hotel and the calorie bomb have the same name. However, original Sacher cake is available in almost every Viennese café. The difference is that at Hotel Sacher you simply have to wait a hell of a long time for your cake because of all the tourists who had the same idea.
A tip on the best Sachertorte in Vienna can also be found here.
Well then: Bon appetite!
Did I miss some more tips in Vienna that you think should definitely be listed? Then just write it in the comments!