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How to Spend One Day in Vienna, Austria

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Out of all the places in Europe, Vienna is the most surprising, with its decadent food, beautiful architecture, and incredible palaces. Even with just one day in Vienna, you’ll be able to see the city’s top sites.

We were lucky enough to visit Vienna while we were studying abroad in Dublin. Visiting Vienna was a memorable experience, and we are still in awe of the beauty that we experienced there. A trip there is truly one that you’ll never forget.

Below, learn how to spend one day in Vienna!

How to Get to Vienna

historic church on a clear day

There are a few ways to get to the city of Vienna, and each one is great and makes the city easily accessible.

The first is by flying into Vienna International Airport, which is located just outside of the city. If you’re coming from within Europe, there are also many budget airlines that fly into Vienna. We flew in and were able to take a train over to where we were staying near Prater.

Another option is to take the train, with service from many major European cities. The trains in Europe are incredibly reliable, so this is a great option.

Finally, you can also drive to Vienna, although it is a bit further from most major cities. However, having a car makes it so that you can enjoy

How to Get Around Vienna

Once you’ve arrived in Vienna, the best way to get around is by using the city’s public transportation system. This includes buses, trams, and subways, which all run frequently and are very efficient! We relied solely on the city’s public transportation during our trip, mixed with walking.

If you’re only planning on being in the city for a day, you can purchase a one-day pass, which will give you unlimited rides!

You could also rent a car to get around or use taxis if you wanted, but this is a lot more expensive. Compared to the United States, the public transportation is truly top-notch and very reliable.

Where to Stay in Vienna

people walking along the streets on a rainy day

Because the public transportation in Vienna is amazing, you can pretty much stay anywhere you want. However, the more centrally you stay, the less time you’ll have to spend getting from place to place.

Here are a few of the best places to stay in Vienna.

Wombat’s City Hostel Vienna Naschmarkt

For budget-friendly accommodation, stay at Wombat’s City hostel Vienna Naschmarkt. It’s near Hofburg Palace so it’s centrally located and it has great rates! There are amenities here like the option to get breakfast, an on-site bar, and a guest kitchen in case you want to cook your own meals.

Click here to check out current rates!

ibis budget Wien Messe

We stayed at the ibis budget Wien Messe during our trip to Vienna and loved the location. It’s right next to the Prater Amusement Park and is a few blocks away from public transportation, so it’s easy to get around. The rooms are simple but comfortable! It’s great for those on a mid-range budget.

Click here to check out current rates!

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The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna

If you want a luxury stay for one day in Vienna, stay at The Ritz-Carlton. It’s located inside an old palace and is very central! Guests can enjoy access to a swimming pool, continental breakfast, a bar, and an on-site spa and wellness center.

Click here to check out current rates!

One Day in Vienna Itinerary

With just a day in Vienna, there’s a lot to see! Here’s our suggested itinerary.

Eat breakfast at a local restaurant or cafe

two croissants on a table

The best way to start the day is by fueling up with a tasty breakfast. I suggest stopping by a cafe that’s close to you because the cafes in Vienna are incredible! There are so many to choose from.

We stayed near Prater and ended up going into a cafe called Anker. There are a few of them around the city, and they have tons of pastries. Their chocolate croissant was absolutely incredible and super affordable, too!

Head to Stadtpark and have a peaceful stroll

garden in front on a historic building

After enjoying breakfast, head over to Stadtpark for a morning stroll. This will allow you to start to stretch your legs because you’ll be on them almost all day.

This peaceful garden is quite large and is filled with lots of statues to enjoy as you walk through. It was a rainy day during our visit, so we had the entire park to ourselves on a March morning!

Visit the famous Hofburg Palace

large roundabout in front of a palace

If you only have one day to spend in Vienna, Austria, then you’ll want to visit some of the city’s palaces. One of them is super centrally located: Hofburg Palace. This 13th-century palace was once the imperial palace of the Habsburgs and is filled with many different museums.

Should you not be in the mood to go into the museum, you can definitely just walk around the exterior of the palace. This area is super busy, but the palace is so picturesque that it’s just as beautiful from the outside as it is inside.

Go inside the Austrian National Library

top of a grand building

If you love books, then a visit to the Austrian National Library in Vienna is a must! This library is one of the largest and most important in Austria and houses an incredible collection of over 12 million artifacts, books, and more.

The views of the library are absolutely unparalleled; the beauty is unlike any other in the world! There is a small fee to enter the library, but it’s worth it.

Keep in mind that the library is closed on Mondays. If you happen to visit on Monday, then you’ll have to check out the exterior.

Have lunch at Bitzinger

two bratwurst inside of bread

There are so many incredible foods to eat in Austria, but one of the best is wurst. There are tons of places throughout the city that you can try, but there’s a Bitzinger stand just a 5-minute walk away from the library, so head over there for lunch.

With many items on their menu, it can be hard to choose. We each ordered a kasekrainer, which is a bratwurst with cheese in it. They put them in hearty bread with just the top cut off so that the toppings don’t drip out.

Order it with a side of fries and you’ve got an incredible lunch!

Explore Belvedere Palace

large gravel path leading toward a palace

Another of the best places to visit with one day in Vienna is Belvedere Palace. It’s another of the city’s best examples of architecture. This gorgeous baroque palace was built in the 18th century and served as a summer home!

Today, there are two different museums that can be explored both in Upper and Lower Belvedere. Most people opt just to visit Upper Belvedere.

Even if you’re not particularly interested in art, the Belvedere Palace is worth a visit for its sheer beauty. Make sure to wander through the manicured gardens surrounding the palace – they’re truly breathtaking.

If you’re on a budget, the grounds are completely free to explore. Check out the beautiful gardens, take photos of the outside, and you can still have a great time!

Climb to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

aerial view of a european city

After visiting Belvedere Palace, head over to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It was built in the 12th century and is truly one of the most beautiful church exteriors we’ve ever seen.

The roof features mosaic tiles that create a beautifully intricate design with fine detailing! The best way to see it is to climb to the top. This only costs a few euros and allows you also to see all of Vienna from above.

The climb up to the top is pretty tight, and if you don’t like being in a tight space, then be warned about this! It’s a spiral staircase all the way up but doesn’t take too long. Once you get to the top, you’ll be in a little room with windows in the tower where you can look out and enjoy the view.

Another option, if you don’t want to climb, is to take the elevator up to the tower. The pricing for this is different but does allow the views to be more accessible.

Be sure also to explore the interior. The interior of the cathedral is absolutely beautiful, with its ornate façade and intricate details. There’s so much to learn about the cathedral – from its history to its architecture – and a visit here is sure to be an enlightening and educational experience.

Trust us; even if you’re not religious, you’ll be in awe of this place!

Try an Austrian delicacy, sachertorte

two pieces of cake on a table

There are many reasons to love Sachertorte, the world-famous chocolate cake from Vienna! When visiting Vienna, you absolutely have to try it. The original location to try it is over at Café Sacher Wien in Hotel Sacher, but this place is almost always busy with a long line.

We had ours over Hofburg Cafe back at the Hofburg Palace in order to try it! We ate there and loved it. We also tried a tasty apple strudel, and it was amazing.

The best part? There was no line, and we were able to get a great spot inside. Unfortunately, this place has since been permanently closed; we visited in 2019.

Don’t worry though; today, you can find Sachertorte all over Vienna – in cafes, restaurants, and even at the airport. Sit back, relax, and savor every bite of this delicious piece of Viennese history.

Sachertorte is absolutely delicious, rich, chocolatey, and perfectly moist. You can enjoy it for breakfast with a cup of coffee, as an afternoon snack with a glass of milk, or as a dessert with a dollop of whipped cream. Eating a slice of this iconic cake is like taking a bite out of Vienna’s history.

The original Sachertorte was created in 1832 by Franz Sacher, a 16-year-old apprentice chef. His employer, Prince Klemens von Metternich, was hosting a dinner party and needed a dessert. Franz stepped up to the challenge and created what would become one of Austria’s most beloved foods.

Watch the sunset over Schonbrunn Palace & walk the grounds

large clean palace on a sunny day

As your one day in Vienna is coming to an end, make your way to one more palace: Schonbrunn.

If you’re looking for a taste of imperial Austria, then a visit to Schonbrunn Palace is a must! Once the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, this grandiose palace is now one of Vienna’s top tourist attractions.

Schonbrunn Palace is a bit further outside of the city, but it can be easily reached by public transportation. Once you arrive, you’ll be amazed by the scale of the palace and its beautifully manicured grounds.

A visit to Schonbrunn Palace wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the palace itself. You’ll learn about the history of the Habsburgs and get a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle they enjoyed.

Be sure to also visit the Palace Gardens, which are some of the most beautiful in all of Europe. If you don’t have much time left in your day, don’t worry. Just walk around the exterior and check out the gardens, which are beautiful in spring and summer.

If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love a visit to the Schonbrunn Palace Zoo. Founded in the 18th century, it’s the oldest zoo in the world and home to many animals.

Ride the giant ferris wheel at Prater Amusement Park

giant ferris wheel at night

Vienna’s Prater Amusement Park is a must-see for anyone spending a day in the city. With lots of history dating back to the 18th century when it opened, the park offers a wide variety of rides and attractions that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

From the iconic ferris wheel to the thrilling roller coasters, there is something for everyone at the Prater.

A visit to the amusement park is not complete without a ride on the famous giant ferris wheel, Wiener Riesenrad. Tickets can be purchased right on-site, and though it’s a bit steep for a ferris wheel, it’s worth it for the views you can get, especially in the evening.

Have dinner at a local restaurant

Now your one day in Vienna is officially coming to an end, but don’t fret! You still have to grab dinner. There are tons of spots to eat dinner throughout the city, so pick any one that suits your fancy.

If you’re on a budget like we were, you could also just eat at one of the restaurants in the amusement park. We did this and tried schnitzel in a quaint restaurant with barely anyone else inside. It was a great experience and was perfect to try another Austrian food.

This post was all about how to spend one day in Vienna. Save this post for later and enjoy your holiday!

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