Vienna Travel Guide

Vienna (Wien in German) is the reigning empress of Europe. As you wander Vienna’s immaculate streets, you’re quickly reminded that this elegant city was the former imperial capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Beyond the sheer beauty of the city, it’s the relaxed, stress-free atmosphere that is most appealing. Everything runs on time. No one ever seems to be in a hurry. And, unlike other European capital cities, Vienna isn’t overcrowded and swamped with tourism.

This Vienna City Guide is packed with unique recommendations and local insight (Kati and I live in Vienna). We’re going to tell you exactly what to see and do in Austria‘s gorgeous capital city.

Pin This!
Vienna City Guide

Vienna Travel Guide Overview

  • Where to Stay in Vienna
  • When to Visit Vienna 
  • Vienna City Map
  • Best Things to Do in Vienna
  • What to Eat and Drink in Vienna
  • Where to Eat and Drink in Vienna
  • Vienna Travel Basics
More Guides about Visiting Vienna
Austria Travel
Get the Guidebooks

This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!! – Sabrina and Kati

Palmenhaus, Vienna, Austria

Where to Stay in Vienna

Budget | Comfy apartments at Siebertgasse is a cheerful, and light-filled apartment-style accommodation in the 12th district, close to the Margaretengürtel U-Bahn station (U4). Each apartment has a kitchen and dining area. We love the airiness, the pastel accents, and the minimalist design of these apartments. This is a great place to stay if you’re an independent traveler, who craves exploring a city on your own terms. 

Midrange | Hotel Schani Salon is an excellent hotel located on Mariahilfer Straße, Vienna’s biggest shopping street, a few steps away from the Neubaugasse U-Bahn station (U3). We love this Vienna hotel, because of the bright, modern rooms, the friendly vibe, the communal lounge and bar, and the helpful staff. Breakfast is healthy and varied. 

Luxury | Altstadt Vienna is a boutique 4-star hotel in the charming Spittelberg quarter, close to Kunsthistorisches Museum. This contemporary-art-filled hotel features uniquely designed interiors and a hidden rooftop terrace (open from March until October). A wonderful breakfast is served in the Red Salon daily. In the afternoon, complimentary tea and homemade cakes are served in front of the open fireplace. 

Luxury | The Leo Grand is advantageously located in the inner district of Vienna, steps away from Peterskirche, Stephansdom, and the Graben. This top-rated hotel features luxurious rooms with romantic, pastel-colored furnishings and decor. Stay here for the unbeatable location, helpful personnel, and fairy tale vibes. Breakfast is available at an extra charge. 

Luxury | The palatial Hotel Imperial harkens back to imperial times with its grand, antique-filled interiors and sumptuous rooms and suites (fit for royalty). This 5-star hotel is set on the Ringstrasse boulevard in the heart of Vienna, walking distance to the Vienna Opera House, the Kärntner Strasse shopping street, Karlskirche, and the Musikverein concert hall. This hotel features a cocktail bar in the historic Hallensalon, rooftop fitness center with a sauna, on-site restaurant (Opus) and café (Café Imperial). Breakfast available.

Look for accommodation in Vienna.

Vienna, Austria

When to Visit Vienna

Fall in Vienna

Autumn is the most colorful and flavorful season in Vienna. Fall colors peak between mid/late October and early November. Our favorite places to see fall foliage are the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens, the Stadtwanderweg 1 (Vienna City Walk), and the Augarten Park.

Seasonal menus highlight dishes with pumpkin, chestnut, parsnips, and red cabbage. Starting in late October, you can order the beloved Martini Gansl goose dish.

If you love wine, Autumn is the best time to visit Vienna. Heurigen (wine taverns) are open and you can taste the dangerously good early wine called Sturm that’s only available in the fall.

Learn more: Austria in Autumn.

Winter in Vienna

Vienna dresses up for the Christmas season and it’s enchanting. Illuminated chandeliers deck the main shopping street in the first district and there are many Christmas markets throughout the city. Here are all the festive things to do in Vienna in December. If you’re traveling to Vienna in January, read Vienna in January.

A unique experience you can have in winter is attending a Viennese ball. The traditional ball season begins in November and ends on Ash Wednesday. The capital hosts over 300 balls each year.

Spring in Vienna

If you like outdoor activities, Spring is a lovely time to visit. Consider biking the Donauinsel, or through the Prater.

Make sure to savor any dish with Bärlauch, which is wild garlic that only grows in spring. In the weeks leading up to Easter, there are Easter Markets throughout the city. Early spring can still be very crisp, so bring a warm jacket.

Summer in Vienna

In the summer, the Viennese socialize on the Donaukanal, go to outdoor movie theaters, and swim in the Alte Donau. Vienna can get really hot and sticky in the summer months.

We recommend watching a free open-air screening of a concert, ballet, or opera at the Rathausplatz Film Festival, in front of Vienna’s City Hall. Before the film, you can grab a bite to eat. There are over a dozen food vendors selling international food and drinks at the Rathausplatz (City Hall Square).

In summer, you can can also eat along the Danube Canal at the season open-air Summer Stage.

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, Austria

Vienna City Map

Click the dots to explore specific destinations. You can expand the map by clicking the icon on the top right corner. The map is best viewed on a desktop.

The streets of Vienna are paved with culture, the streets of other cities with asphalt.





Karl Kraus, Austrian Writer

Best Things to Do in Vienna

Sacher Cake at Hotel Sacher in Vienna

Drink Coffee at a Kaffeehaus

The best way to experience Viennese culture is by going to a traditional Kaffeehaus (coffee house). Drinking coffee in Vienna is the antithesis of the grab-and-go, paper-cup culture of the U.S. It’s elegant and slow. You can spend the whole day reading a newspaper. No one will pressure you to leave.

Vienna’s Best Coffee Houses:

  • Café Central – beautiful interior with vaulted ceilings.
  • Café Sacher – if you want to try the original Sachertorte, you must come here. We’ve tried others, but they can’t compete.
  • Café Sperl – our favorite.

Kaffeehaus Etiquette – unless otherwise stated, you can seat yourself. A waiter will come eventually, though it can feel like an eternity. It’s best to order a traditional Viennese coffee. For example, say “Melange” not “Cappuccino.”

Learn more: Coffee Culture in Vienna

Vienna State Opera, Austria

Attend an Opera

Whether you’re a first-time or a seasoned opera viewer, Vienna is the perfect place to experience an Opera. There are two ways to see an opera: seated or standing. If you’re on a budget, or if a performance is sold out, you can still see an opera from the Standing Room (Stehplatz in German). Standing room tickets can be purchased on the day of the performance.

Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper)

Built in 1869, devastated by bombings in WWII, and rebuilt after the war, this magnificent opera house is located on the Ringstrasse in the first district (Address: Opernring 2, 1010 Wien). Each season, the Staatsoper stages 60 different operas and ballets, amounting to 350 performances. 

Vienna People’s Opera (Wiener Volksoper)

The Volksoper is located in the 18th district. It stages opera, operettas, musicals, and ballets. Most works are performed in German. We recommend coming here to see operettas (opera with spoken dialogue), like Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss II) and Die lustige Witwe (Franz Lehár).

Theater an der Wien

This regal opera house, completed in 1801, faces the Naschmarkt and is located at Linke Wienzeile 6, 1060 Wien. Come to Theater an der Wien if you want to see a cutting edge and non-traditional-staging of your favorite opera.

Weinhandwerk Heuriger, Vienna, Austria

Drink Wine at a Viennese Heurigen

Heurigen (also spelled Heuriger) is a wine tavern in Eastern Austria. More specifically, it’s where a local winemaker serves their new wine under a special license during the growing season.

The name traditionally is a reference to this year’s young wine, which can be purchased by the glass or in bottles. In the fall, when grapes are being harvested, fresh grape juice (Traubensaft), as well as fermented grape juice (Sturm), are also served. 

Heurigen are usually rustic and charming, offer indoor and outdoor seating, and are frequented by Austrians of all ages. In the traditional Heurigen, only cold snacks are offered (e.g. belegtes Brot, sliced bread with toppings).

Especially around Vienna, it’s common to see a buffet, with cold meats, hard and soft cheeses, different spreads, olives and pickles, and various salads. In the more “modern” Heurigen, a small selection of warm foods (e.g. Spinatstrudel) are offered.

Typically, Heuriger are only open for a limited period of time. In Vienna, you can find these wine establishments in the following districts: Grinzing (19th District), Nussdorf (19), Kahlenbergerdorf (19), Neustift am Walde (19),  Stammersdorf (21), Mauer (23), and Oberlaa (10).

Therme Wien, Vienna Day Spa, Vienna

Relax in Vienna’s Thermal Day Spa: Therme Wien

Therme Wien is a massive thermal spa complex in Vienna, bordering Kurpark Oberlaa. In fact, it’s the largest Therme in Austria.

The 75,000 m² spa comprises 26 indoor and outdoor pools, 18 saunas, multiple relaxation zones, a fitness center, spa treatment center, and canteen-style restaurant. The facilities are immaculate.

The day spa is conveniently located at the Oberlaa station on line 1 of the Vienna U-Bahn. From St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansplatz), it’s only a 17 minute U-Bahn ride to Oberlaa and Therme Wien.

Visiting Therme Wien is an authentic introduction to Austrian spa culture. This is not a tourist attraction. Locals of all ages visit Therme Wien to soak in thermal water, swim, sweat in saunas, and get massages. There are adults-only spaces and pools and areas designed for children.

It’s possible to purchase 3-hour entry tickets, day tickets, or after-work tickets (6 pm till closing).

For the most enjoyable experience, get the Relax! One Day Holiday ticket. This VIP ticket gives you exclusive access to the Relax lounge with complimentary refreshments (juice, water, coffee, tea), fruit, and snacks all day. Another perk is the spa bag (two towels and a bathrobe) free rental and complimentary exchange of wet towels throughout the day. 

Learn More: How to Visit an Austrian Therme

Rainbow Ball, Vienna, Austria

Dance the Viennese Waltz at a Ball

Austria has a glorious ball season, which starts in mid-January and ends in April.

Each ball has a unique theme and program, though you’ll experience an opening ceremony and the waltz at each one.

Some are very traditional, and others are alternative. Most importantly, balls in Austria are for everyone. There are non-barrier balls, that enable easy access for those with handicaps, LGBT balls, political party balls, and hundreds more.

  • Dress Code: These dress codes vary, depending on the ball.
  • Tickets: Buy in Advance.

Read Next: Attending the Regenbogen Ball – The Most Elegant LGBT Event in Vienna

Gloriette at Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria

Schloss Schönbrunn

Schönbrunn was the summer palace of the Habsburgs. The yellow rococo building is more than just a building for the Viennese. Locals run here, relax in the palace gardens, eat brunch at the Gloriette, take their kids to the Zoo, and visit the annual Christmas Market in December. You don’t have to tour the interior of the palace to enjoy Schönbrunn.

A few ways to enjoy the summer palace:

  • Visit the Vienna Imperial Carriage Museum (Kaiserliche Wagenburg Wien).
  • Have Brunch at the Gloriette on Saturday or Sunday.
  • Walk from the Palace to the Gloriette for a great view of the city (Free).
  • Tour the State Rooms and Imperial Apartments of the palace. You can buy your tickets online.
  • Walk the palace gardens (Free).
  • Visit Tiergarten Schönbrunn (the Vienna Zoo). Once serving as the private menagerie of Emperor Franz Stephen and Empress Maria Theresa (built in 1752), this baroque style zoo is the oldest in the word.
Party at Stadtbahnbögen in Vienna

Party under the Subway – Stadtbahnbögen

The best nightlife in Vienna can be found in the Stadtbahnbögen (city train arches), between the stops Spittelau and Gumpendorfer Straße. Here, under the overground U-Bahn 6 (subway), you’ll find an endless party.

Small bars, clubs, and eateries are wedged closely together under the rail line. Our favorite spots are Chelsea (if you love to watch soccer), B72 (if you love live music) and the Gürtelbräu (if you love beer).  Every year at the end of August, there’s a Gürtel Nightwalk with concerts inside and outside of the Stadtbahnbögen venues.

Martinigansl, Vienna, Austria

What to Eat & Drink in Vienna

Austrian Etiquette

Prost (Cheers) – In Austrian culture, it’s really important to make purposeful eye contact when you toast. Say “Prost” or “Zum Wohl.” You should tap glasses with everyone within reach. There’s only one exception to the rule. When you drink Sturm, an early wine, you should say “Mahlzeit” not “Prost.”

Mahlzeit (Bon appetite) – You say Mahlzeit right before anyone at your table begins to eat. It means “enjoy your meal.”

Viennese Gastronomy

Wiener Schnitzel – Thin, breaded and pan fried veal. Squeeze a slice of lemon on this quintessential Viennese dish before digging in. If you’re not into veal (we’re not), you can usually order Schnitzel vom Schwein (pork), Schnitzel von der Pute (turkey), or Schnitzel vom Huhn (chicken). Schnitzel is typically served with a side of mixed or potato salad.

Tafelspitz – Boiled Beef. This Viennese specialty was actually Emperor Franz Jospeh’s favorite dish. The tender beef is served in a pot of broth with bone marrow. The dish is accompanied by sides of fried potato rosti, vegetables (spinach, string beans), horseradish and apple sauces. We recommend trying this dish at Plachutta.

Eiernockerl – flour dumplings with egg. This is comfort food at its best. While you can order this as a main dish, we think it’s better as a side dish.

KaiserschmarrnShredded Pancakes. It’s often made with raisins. If you don’t want the raisins say, “Bitte ohne Rosinen.” This is eaten as both a meal and a dessert. We say eat it for dessert. Traditionally, it’s served with a side of plum sauce.

Austrian Wine

If you want to order a glass of wine, you should say “ein Achterl” (an eighth of a liter), which is the common serving size.

Weisswein gespritzt – It’s very common to drink white wine with mineral water, especially earlier in the day.  If you like sweeter drinks, order a Kaiserspritzer, which is white wine, mineral water, and Holunderblütersirup (elderflower syrup).

Sturm – this is an early, sweet wine that is only served in early Fall. Unlike all other alcoholic beverages, you don’t say Prost (Cheers) before drinking. Instead, you say Mahlzeit. If you make the mistake of saying Prost, there’s an unwritten rule that says you’re obliged to pay for this round of drinks.

Grüner Veltliner – dry white wine.

Gelber Muskateller –  aromatic white wine.

Otto Wagner Villa, Ernst Fuchs Museum, Vienna, Austria

Where to Eat and Drink in Vienna

Viennese Cuisine

Zur Goldenen Kugel is an upscale Beisl serving Viennese classics and seasonal dishes. If you’re visiting Vienna in late October, or November, pre-order their traditional Martinigansl mit Rotkraut & Knödel (traditional goose dish with red cabbage and dumplings) when you make your reservation. This establishment is more expensive than the average Beisl (down-to-earth traditional Viennese tavern), but the prices are completely justified. Zur Goldenen Kugel website.

Gmoakeller is a traditional Viennese restaurant dating back to 1858, located near the Akademietheater and Wiener Kozerthaus. This is a great restaurant to savor Viennese specialities. We ate the Martinigansl in November and it was outstanding. Gmoakeller Website.

Servitenwirt is a cozy restaurant with a terrace on the charming Servitengasse in the 9th district. Their Mittagsmenu (lunch menu) is reasonably priced and very good. Servitenwirt website.

Lugeck. Housed in the historic Regensburger Hof building in Vienna’s first district, Lugeck is a fresh-faced Viennese tavern created by Hans and Thomas Figlmüller. Come here for the Wiener Schnitzel. Lugeck website.

Plachutta. This restaurant serves traditional Viennese cuisine. This is the best place to try Tafelspitz, Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorite dish. The service, presentation, and quality is excellent. They have several locations across Vienna. Plachutta website

Gasthaus Kopp. This is a no-frills, down-to-earth, traditional Austrian Beisl. It’s out-of-the-way, but worth the extra effort to get here. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Gasthaus Kopp Website.

Ilona Stüberl. Ilona is a tiny, cozy Hungarian restaurant in the first district. This gem has been operating since the 1950s. Food portions are generous and prices are very reasonable. Ilona Stüberl Website.

Gasthaus Quell. Serving Viennese classics, Gasthaus Quell is a lovely place to eat during the week (open Monday – Friday). The interior is cozy, warm and authentic. Gasthaus Quell Website.

Kaffee Alt Wien. Traditional café in the first district, founded in 1922. They serve a limited, but tasty menu. This is a great place to meet up with friends, drink beer, eat goulash, and of course drink a Melange. Kaffee Alt Wien Website.

Breakfast and Brunch

Motto am Fluss. Located on the Donaukanal (Danube Canal), this stylish brunch spot is great for sunny days. It feels like you’re eating on a river cruise ship. Come here if you’ve had your fill of bread basket breakfasts. Motto am Fluss Website.

Meierei im Stadtpark. Located in the Stadtpark (City Park), this fine breakfast spot has a light-filled interior as well as an outdoor seating area. The menu features many small dishes, so that you can order several items. It’s a great place to enjoy an unhurried breakfast. Meierei im Stadtpark Website.

Palmenhaus.The Palm House is an Art Nouveaux style greenhouse located in the Hofburg Palace Gardens (Burggarten). It was constructed in the early 20th century for the imperial family. Today, it’s a restaurant and a great place for Brunch, or just a coffee. This airy light-filled space is centrally located, but somehow hidden. Palmenhaus Website.

Gloriette. There’s no better place to have brunch (Saturday & Sunday only) than on the grounds of Schloss Schönbrunn. The Sissi buffet brunch is located in the Gloriette, perched on a hill overlooking the palace. Make sure to make a reservation. Café Goriette Website.

Other Cuisine

Neni am Naschmarkt. This atmospheric Middle Eastern restaurant is located in the Naschmarkt. Though they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we recommend dining here in the evening on a hot summer’s day. Neni Website.

Pizza Mari. This casual, low-key pizzeria serves excellent Neapolitan pizzas. We love the local neighborhood vibe and the service. Closed on Mondays. Pizza Mari website.

Schönbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna, Austria

Vienna Basics

State: Vienna is the Capital of Austria as well as one of Austria’s 9 states.

Population: 1.8 Million

Tipping Etiquette: 5-10%, cash only. For small bills, round up to the nearest Euro.

Water Quality: Tap water is safe to drink.

Getting Around:Vienna is very walkable but also has an excellent transportation system.

The Wiener Linien (subway, trams, and busses) and the ÖBB (S-Bahn = trains) provide a very extensive public transportation system in Vienna. On Fridays, Saturdays, and on the day before a public holiday, you can rely on the U-Bahn (subway) and S-Bahn the whole night (24 hours). The Vienna City Card makes probably the most sense for tourists in Vienna. The fastest way (16 minutes) from the Airport to the City is the CAT (City Airport Train).

Citybike Wien: If you want to explore Vienna on two wheels, you can rent a CityBike. The sign-up process is pretty straightforward. You can register for a bike at the terminal, or online.

Something Interesting: Home to over 1,700 acres of vineyards within the city limits, Vienna is the only capital city in the world to produce significant quantities of wine within the city limits.

Unique Walking Tour: Secret Vienna Tours. We’ve done a lot of free walking tours in Europe, which are absolutely a wonderful way of getting acquainted with a new city. However, if you know a city relatively well, it’s nice to dive in a bit deeper into a specialized topic. We found that Secret Vienna Tours does a great job of uncovering information about Vienna that’s not readily accessible or available. Tours cost around 20 EUR.

Justice Palace, Justizpalast, Vienna
  • Sunrise views from the Schäfler Hut in the Alpstein Mountains in Switzerland. 
This is we’re you’ll wake up on day 2 of the 3-day Alpstein High Trail (itinerary is on the blog -
If you prefer longer treks, @alpenventuresunguided is offering a new 6-8-day self-guided, hut to hut hike in the Appenzell Alps next summer (June - September). 
📍Appenzell Alps, Switzerland 
#huttohut #huttohuthiking #trekking #multidayhiking #alpstein #swissalps #huttohuthiking #appenzellerland🇨🇭 #appenzellalps #hikingswitzerland #swisshiking #switzerlandtrip #switzerlandtravel #appenzellhiking #europeanalps #alpsmountains #alpsteinliebe #alpsteingebiet
  • Our 3-day Appenzell hut to hut hiking itinerary is finally published on the blog. We called it the “Alpstein High Trail” because it follows the high trails of the Alpstein massif. Hiking this route was one of the highlights of our year.
📍Appenzell, Switzerland 
📷 The beginning of stage 3. 
#alpstein #swissalps #huttohuthiking #appenzellerland🇨🇭 #appenzellalps #hikingswitzerland #swisshiking #switzerlandtrip #switzerlandtravel #appenzellhiking
  • Autumn is the most enchanting season to visit the Wachau Valley in Austria (1 hour train ride / drive from Vienna).
📆 This is what this lovely wine region looked like today (November 1, 2023).
#austria #austriatravel #austriatrip #visitniederösterreich #loweraustria #wachauvalley #wachau #danuberiver #danube #austriatravelguide #fallcolors #autumn #austriainautumn #travel #viennadaytrip #winecountry #vineyards #rivervalley #wachauwein #viennatravel
  • A dreamy afternoon in South Tyrol, Italy. We’re seriously thinking about booking a winter trip here to see what it’s like when the mountains and treetops are blanketed in snow. 
#brixen #plosebrixen #plose #southtyrol #myarbor #myarborhotel #myarborplosewellnesshotel #spahotel #wellnesshotel #italytravel #italytrip #northernitaly #northernitalytrip #southtyrolian #visitsouthtyrol #hotels #treehotel #luxurylifestyle #dolomitesunesco #dolomitesitaly #italiandolomites
  • Sunrise atop Mount Schäfler in the Alpstein, Appenzell Alps, Switzerland. 
#hiking #hikingswitzerland #swissalps #switzerland #visitswitzerland #switzerlandtrip #alpstein #appenzell #appenzellerland🇨🇭 #appenzellinnerrhoden #appenzellalps #alpsteinview #alpsmountains #feelthealps #thealps #hikingtrails #sunrise
  • A restorative and unforgettable stay at @my_arbor in South Tyrol, Italy. 
📍San Leonardo, Brixen (near the Dolomites)
📷 @moonhoneytravelers 
#brixen #plosebrixen #plose #southtyrol #myarbor #myarborhotel #myarborplosewellnesshotel #spahotel #wellnesshotel #italytravel #italytrip #northernitaly #northernitalytrip #southtyrolian #visitsouthtyrol #hotels #treehotel