If it's your first time in Vienna and you have no clue on what to do, don't fret! We've got you covered on all the essentials—from what to see do, eat and more, all in this handy guide.
When to visit
For exploration and sightseeing, the best time is in spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October), where the weather is much more pleasant, ranging between 10°C to 20°C. While the weather is sunny and warm during the summer months, it also means that many tourists flock here during this period, so it would be best avoided. While it can get quite cold during the winter months, Christmas is an especially memorable time to visit due to the many Christmas markets that pop up in Vienna.
How to get around
Transport is simple and efficient in Vienna, with four main forms of transport: U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (tram) and Autobus (bus). While most attractions are located in the Inner Stadt and are walking distance from each other, attractions such as Schönbrunn Palace may require the help of public transport. A single ticket costs EUR2.40, and can be bought at ticket machines in most underground stations or tobacconists. Tickets must be validated before boarding, if not they are not considered valid and could result in a fine! Do this at the blue machines located at the entrance of underground stations, and at the entrance of buses and trams.
Where to stay
Vienna is split in 23 different districts, so choosing where to stay may be a bit of a headache. For the first-time visitor looking to get the most out of their trip, staying in the 1st District (Innere Stadt) will be your best bet as it is the closest to the majority of the main attractions. However, this convenience comes with a high price tag, especially considering that accommodation in Vienna is already not cheap. If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, the 2nd District (Leopoldstadt) and 3rd District (Landstraße) are also good choices that are still walking distance from everything, albeit just a bit less convenient.
What to eat
The question on every foodie’s mind! What to eat in Vienna? While there are many iconic dishes, there are a few that you certainly cannot leave without trying. Check out our other article for a more comprehensive guide on what else to eat in this beautiful city and the best places to get them!
The national dish of Vienna and a real crowd-pleaser, this dish consists of a deep-friend, thin cutlet of veal. The law dictates that if it isn’t made out of veal, it can’t be called a Viennese schnitzel!
The Viennese apple strudel is a dish that consists of juicy apples and plump raisins encased in a thin, flaky pastry, served alongside a generous serving of vanilla sauce or a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.
This brilliant cake was invented in Vienna, and consists of chocolate sponge layered with apricot jam and thick frosting, making it a unique and satisfying dessert.
Where to go
St. Stephen's Cathedral
One of the most prominent symbols of Vienna, St. Stephen's Cathedral is a 12th-century Gothic cathedral. One of its most striking features is its roof, inlaid with colorful tiles, creating a double-headed eagle (an imperial insignia), as well as the Vienna’s coat of arms. Ascend the towers for a wonderful view of Vienna.
The Belvedere Museum
A must-see for any art lover, the Belvedere Museum is housed in the iconic and magnificent Belvedere Palace. It features the world's largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, and houses Klimt’s pièce de résistance, The Kiss. Other prominent works from the periods of Viennese Biedermeier, Austrian Baroque, Vienna around 1900, and French Impressionism are showcased as well.
Vienna’s most popular market, Naschmarkt is home to about 120 different stalls and restaurants, serving up a range of different worldly cuisines and delicacies. Be sure to come here on an empty stomach! You’ll also be able to find many Viennese specialty products such as wine and cheese here as well. A flohmarkt (flea market) is held every Saturday, where you’ll be able to find a range of unique and vintage items.
The summer residence of the Habsburgs, this 1,400 room Rococo palace was designed by the renowned architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and since 1996 it has been deemed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is an important cultural, architectural and historical icon in Austria.
What to do
Aside from the usual attractions, here are some things that you should definitely not miss while in Vienna:
Kaffee und kuchen
Nothing screams Vienna more than spending an afternoon at a Viennese coffee house over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. A place where the brightest and greatest would once gather, coffee house culture is so important to Vienna that it has been deemed an “Intangible Cultural Heritage”. Here, you’ll find many coffee houses scattered throughout the city, all with delectable pastries and sweet treats of all kinds.
Spend an evening at the theatre
Classical music and Vienna are so synonymous, that this is a city where the greatest of composers had once flocked to in order to establish themselves, a period which is known as “Viennese Classical Period”. What better place to immerse yourself in music than an opera or orchestra performance in Vienna?
Appreciate Vienna’s architecture
Vienna’s architecture is an eclectic mix of traditional and modern. From traditional styles of Baroque and Gothic architecture to the Viennese Secession and more modern approaches to design, be wowed by the variety of different styles Vienna encompasses.
Watch the sunset from the Donauturm
At 252 meters, the Donauturm is a tower in Vienna, the tallest structure in Austria. The viewing platforms are located 155 meters above sea level, providing unparalleled views of the city and the Danube.
Stock up on Manner Schnitten
These tasty wafers are ubiquitous to Austria, and it's pink packaging is easily distinguished amidst the supermarket shelves. You won’t regret stocking up these delectable wafers for sure. These make a perfect and inexpensive gift for the kids or for the office and are simply delicious. While the Original Neapolitan Wafers are Manner's classic and best-selling flavour, other delicious flavours and varieties such as the one pictured above are also available.