On my last flight to Vienna, I was surprised how many passengers were on their way to farther destinations, i.e. in Austria’s capital only on a layover. Therefore, after having already published an extended article on my stay, I put together my best tips in this “24 hours in…”-post.
|Majestic Vienna: At the Imperial Apartments of the “Albertina”|
As usual, it’s meant as an itinerary for just a layover or a short stop on a road-trip through Europe: Austria has eight(!) neighboring countries*!
If you have more time to enjoy Vienna, don’t miss my recent post!
? Local Currency:
Euro (EUR) / 1 EUR = 1,14 US$ (November 2018) / current rate
? Emergency Hotline:
? National Airline:
Vienna International Airport, IATA Code: VIA
? Tourist Info online and onsite:
The official Vienna Website is excellent and very informative.
At the airport are dispenser with free maps – albeit only showing the very center.
You get information and help either right away at the airport
Tourist Info Vienna Airport
at the arrival hall
Open daily from 7 a. m. to 10 p. m.
or at the info point downtown
Open daily from 7 a. m. to 7 p. m.
Furthermore, all the hotels can supply you with info material, tourist cards and more.
? Getting Downtown and Back
|Taking the streetcar is the fastest and cheapest way to visit Vienna.
(@ WienTourismus/Peter Rigaud)
To get from the airport to the city center, your best option is to take the S7 (‘S-Bahn’) towards Floridsdorf and get off at Landstraße/Mitte. This train takes only about two minutes longer than the CAT (City Airport Train) and costs a fraction: If you just buy one way, it’s 3,90 €uro. If you get a 24 hours ticket – for 7,60 €uro highly recommendable since a single ride costs 2,20 €uro – you only have to pay an additional 1,70 €uro for the trip from the airport – while the CAT costs 12 €uro (and the shuttle bus 8 €uro).
There are so many different tickets and options – you might want to check for yourself. There even is a Queer City Pass and although I did some research online, I don’t get what’s the difference and what makes it queer; if you get, give me a hint, please.
? Morning Activities
|Inside Saint Steven’s Cathedral
(©Wien Tourismus/Daniela Stallinger)
Even on a sunny day a visit to the Stephansdom, Saint Steven’s Cathedral is Vienna’s most important landmark and within walking distance from the hotel resp. the Schwedenplatz. Built in the early 12th century, it is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of Vienna’s Archbishop. It has four towers, the highest, southern tower is 136 meters / 446 feet high. There are 343 steps to be climbed to get to the tower chamber from where you have an incredible view of Vienna. Besides precious altars and chapels, there are also the treasury and the catacombs to be visited.
Domkirche St. Stephan
Phone: + 43 – 1 – 515 52 3054
Open daily from 6 a. m. to 10 p. m. (Sunday from 7 a. m.)
|At Christmas time there even is an
entire Manner streetcar!
(Photo: © Manner)
You’ll probably will enjoy strolling a little around the Stephansplatz, watching some street artists performing, listening to the hoofs of the horses pulling the ancient carriages and stock up on traditional wafers and other delicious sweets at Manner.
Phone: + 43 – 1 – 513 70 18
Open daily from 10 a. m. to 9 p. m.
|This little golden Cherub on top of the baroque
plague column is watching over Vienna’s shoppers.
Still in the mood to saunter? You’re at the perfect location: The Stephansdom is facing the Graben, Vienna’s most important, pedestrian shopping street with the flashy plague column in its center.
Although most of the stores and cafés are more or less like stores and cafés in any other city center, I’d like to point out – believe it or not – H&M: In 2004, this chain opened its 50st store in Vienna and chose the beautiful building of the former ritzy department store Braun & Co.
Even though you are at H&M, in the antique furnishing and decoration you’ll feel like shopping at a posh boutique.
Don’t miss out on a ride with the ancient wooden elevator!
Phone: + 43 – 810 – 90 90 90
|Vienna’s elegant promenade is called “Graben” –
which means trench. Well, sometimes shopping can be war.
(Photo: ©WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)
Walking down the Graben away from the Stephansdom, you’ll reach another Viennese institution, the coffee roaster and deli Meinl am Graben. Here you’ll find all sorts of wonderful Austrian delicacies – i. a. of course Meinl’s famous coffees – to sample on the spot or take with you home. This is also a good place for a short break. Get a light snack on Meinl’s terrace while you watch people.
Meinl am Graben
Phone: +43 – 1 – 532 33 34
Open weekdays from 8 a. m. to 7.30 p. m. and Saturday vom 9 a. m. to 6 p. m.
|The Heldenplatz, the hero’s square, was not
always a place for the better men.
(Photo: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)
Ready to go on? Walking up the Habsburgergasse, you’ll get to the Hofburg, the Royal Castle, that today is the Austrian President’s official seat.
Admiring the magnificent architecture, cross the Hofburg to the huge Heldenplatz, the hero’s square, with the equestrian statue of Prince Eugen.
At the Burgring, turn left and walk a couple of minutes to the gate that opens to the Burggarten, the castle garden with the prominent Mozart statue.
|The Burggarten is a great place to chill –
and the Palmenhaus in the backdrop a great place to eat.
(Photo: ©Wien Tourismus/Peter Rigaud)
The Burggarten with its huge trees and the little lake is a perfect place to just hang out a bit on a hot day. If you get thirsty, there’s the Palmenhaus serving light snacks or hearty Austrian food. It’s located next to the Hofburg, so it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s really beautiful and if you’re not on a budget, absolutely worth the visit.
Phone: + 43 – 1 – 533 10 33
Open weekdays 10 a. m. till midnight, Saturday 9 a. m. till midnight and Sunday 10 a. m. till 11 p. m.
|Bitzinger’s sausages with all the fixings.
(©Wien Tourismus/Peter Rigaud)
Don’t worry, even if you’re not up for a fancy lunch, you won’t spend the day hungry: Leave the Burggarten on the right side of the Palmenhaus and you find yourself at the Albertinaplatz. Here is Vienna’s most famous sausage stand, Bitzinger Würstelstand.
⛈ Morning Activities
Vienna’s public transportation is excellent and if you stay at the recommended hotel or at another one in that neighborhood, you’re centrally hence perfectly located.
Since in the rain you cannot explore Vienna itself, let’s do the next best thing: Explore Vienna’s culture and all the quirky stories around it.
|The breathtaking architecture of the Upper Belvedere.
(Photo:© WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)
One of the best places is the Belvedere, which consists of the ‘Lower Belvedere’, the garden palace, built around 1714 for Prince Eugen, and the ‘Upper Belvedere’, which was added a couple of years later (from 1720 on) and is even more luxurious. Both are connected by a manicured garden. While the Lower Belvedere houses temporary exhibitions, the permanent collection at the Upper Belvedere is indisputably a must-see since it shows some of the most important works of mainly Austrian painters like the masterpieces by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.
Catch the streetcar #2 towards Dornbach at Schwedenplatz and go to Schwarzenbergplatz where you can take a quick look at the Soviet War Memorial. If it’s not raining too hard, you can enter the Belvedere complex here and walk through the garden to its upper building. If that’s not an option, you can also change at Schwarzenbergplatz to streetcar #D towards Alfred-Adler-Strasse and get off at the Schloss Belvedere stop right next to the gallery.
The good thing about bad weather is, it’s a great excuse to take the tram instead of walking – like you do now back at the Schloss Belvedere stop: #D towards Nussdorf will take you in ten minutes to the stop Burgring, located between the Hofburg, the Royal Castle, and two magnificent buildings housing the Natural History Museum to the left and the Art History Museum to the right; and between them is sitting monarch Maria Theresia.
|Pieter Bruegel’s ‘Tower of Babel’ –
certainly one of the world’s most famous paintings.
(©Wien Tourismus/Peter Rigaud)
Your destination should be the Art History Museum, which houses an incredibly rich collection from any art epoch and every region: the Cranachs, Raffael and Tizian, Caravaggio’s ‘Madonna of the Rosary’ – and of course the masterpieces by the Bruegels like the ‘Tower of Babel’. Besides the paintings, they also show art from Egypt as well as Greek and Roman statues, a coin collection and much more.
Your lunch options on a sunny day are a couple of snack stops along the way described in the morning itinerary.
|What would be Vienna without a Schnitzel?!
To the right a pot roast with a dumpling.
These are of course two separate meals…
On a rainy day, you’ll probably won’t be up for a quick bite on your way, but will enjoy a hearty hot meal at a cozy restaurant, so it’s good that you’re just a five minutes walk away from a typical Beils, a pub, serving authentic Austrian food.
Cross the Museumsquartier west of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (were our first afternoon stop will be, anyway) and you’re practically there.
Breite Gasse 4
Phone: + 43 – 1 – 526 56 60
Open daily from 11 a. p. to 2 a. m. (Sunday to 1 a. m.)
? Afternoon Activities
|Designed for walking solemnly, not for pacing:
The Belvedere Garden.
(Photo: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)
Like I explained in the itinerary for a rainy day above, the Belvedere consists of two main buildings that are connected by a very elegant park with fountains and statues. You can just stroll along the gravel paths, rest on the many park benches and be enchanted by the beauty and majesty of the place.
If you choose to visit the buildings, that today house museums, please check the rainy weather part above for details.
|He’s golden – that’s how much Vienna
honors the ‘King of the Valse’
(©Wien Tourismus/Willfried Gredler-Oxenbauer)
Right next to the Belvedere is another elegant yet cool park that’s worth a visit, the Stadtpark, the city park. Besides its shady paths and lush trees, there are many romantic statues of Vienna’s great artists – the most famous among them is the Johann Strauß statue, made by Franz Metzner and Edmund von Hellmer in the symbolist style of the Vienna Secession.
⛈ Afternoon Activities
|The Leopold Museum is not only worth the visit for the art,
it also opens to Vienna’s most beautiful views.
The Glacis Beisl is three minutes from the next great museum focusing mainly on Austrian art from the turn of the last century – a truly exciting era with many ingenious, daring artists such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Albin Egger-Lienz, Anton Kolig, Richard Gerstl, and many others. Since not only the paintings of these gentlemen are colorful, but also their lives, it’s worth it to get an audio guide telling you about their shenanigans.
|The Michaelertor, the Michaeler gate –
entrance to the palatial Hofburg complex.
(Photo: ©Wien Tourismus MAXUM)
No Vienna-sojourn is complete without a visit of the Hofburg,
the Royal Castle, that was the Habsburg’s residence between the 13th century till the end of WWI in 1918. After WWII in 1945, it became the Austrian President’s official seat. Besides the official apartments, the Hofburg houses Austria’s National Library and a couple of museums like the Sisi-museum, focusing on the beloved Empress, the ancient State Apartments and the Silver Chamber.
|Tafelspitz, beef in its broth, one of Austria’s delicacies.
Nope, Austrian cuisine is not very light.
If after all the snacks or hearty lunches you’re still hungry, there’s one of Vienna’s most rustic and traditional restaurants just a few steps from your hotel.
If you are coming – on a sunny day – from the Stadtpark, you can actually walk there along the Bäckerstraße from which the Sonnenfeldgasse deviates.
Coming on a rainy day from the Hofburg, you walk back to the tram stop Burgring and take either #1 (towards Prater) or #2 (towards Friedrich-Engels-Platz) back to Schwedenplatz.
|Sundowner on the river front: Motto am Fluss
(Photo: © WienTourismus/Christian Stemper)
Vienna might be historical and traditional, but it’s of course also trendy and hip and there are many clubs and bars.
The Motto am Fluss is a pleasant place for a nightcap – especially since it gives you the opportunity to say Good Night to the city: It’s located on the bank of river Danube and there is a fantastic view over Vienna.
Motto am Fluss Cafe
Franz Josefs Kai 2
Phone: + 43 – 1 – 252 55 11
Open daily 8 a. m. till midnight
A walk from your hotel to the train station Mitte should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
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* In case you’re curious: Austria adjoins to Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Hungary.
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