Planning a trip to Vienna? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
Vienna is much more than just the capital of Austria. The nobility of this European metropolis goes without saying. As the home of the Hapsburg dynasty, there is something aristocratic about this city. This will become apparent over the course of your stay in Vienna, starting with the moment you set foot in the streets of the Innere Stadt. Vienna’s majesty and elegance are on full display as you approach the national library, which once belonged to the Hapsburgs. It is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, a point that is exemplified by its stateroom. This 80-metre-long room is decorated in Baroque splendour, and contains an incredible collection of papyrus, maps and illuminated manuscripts.
With the Albertina Palace and the Pallavicini Palace right next door to the library, your stay in Vienna is off to a good start.
For now it is time for you to head deep into the old city, the Altstadt, to walk along the roads surrounding the affluent boulevard called the Ringstrasse.
After having lunch on the small, charming Franziskanerplatz, head for one of Vienna’s most important monuments: St. Stephen’s Cathedral. With its glazed tiles, 136-metre-high spire and Gothic style, the cathedral where Mozart was married has borne up very well under the weight of the centuries: this amazing building was built no less than 900 years ago. At the end of the day, you will appreciate the calm of the prosperous roads leading you to Cafe Central. This is one spot you cannot miss during your stay in Vienna. Behind the Gothic facade, you will discover an incredible place. Some of the most important minds of modern history once met here, amidst the vaulted ceilings and marble columns. As Leon Trotsky and Sigmund Freud did before you, have a seat and order schnitzel, a traditional Viennese breaded cutlet, and enjoy the subdued, refined ambiance of this legendary room while sipping Cafe Central’s speciality: coffee with whipped cream, known to locals as schlagobers.
Let your stay in Vienna be guided by the impressive history of the Hapsburgs. Make your way to the royal dynasty’s summer residence: Schönbrunn Palace. From Napoleon to Princess Sisi by way of Mozart, the 1441 rooms of this building have welcomed many illustrious guests before your arrival. It is a sumptuous, opulent monument that is worth visiting largely for its imperial staterooms, such as the large and small galleries where you can admire a wealth of decorative fixtures worthy of Versailles. Later, leave all this ornamentation behind you by heading out to the Baroque garden and its large flowerbed to better appreciate the site as a whole.
After this first experience in the footsteps of the Hapsburgs, return to the city to visit the Hofburg. Vienna’s largest palace was the royal dynasty’s stronghold until 1918, and it is a rare architectural treasure. Inside the palace, you will discover a series of stucco, frescos, chandeliers and gilding. Head to the oldest part of the castle to find Vienna’s Imperial Treasury, as well as the apartments that once belonged to the legendary Sisi.
When you’ve had enough, leave the world of princes and castles behind and head to the banks of the Danube. Once night has well and truly fallen, the Donaukanal, or Canal of the Danube, welcomes a crowd of night owls and electronic music lovers. Grelle Forelle is the most well-known dance club in Vienna. Or you can follow the crowds to Flex, THE Viennese club known throughout Europe, in particular for its musical selection. Your stay in Vienna is finding its rhythm!
For this last part of your stay in Vienna, get an early start to your day. Enjoy a Viennese coffee near the Staatsoper, the Viennese opera house. Considered as one of the most prestigious in the world, this building is part of the city’s musical tradition. It is located on the Ring, an urban thoroughfare that goes around the city’s historic centre. Built in a neo-Renaissance style, the Hapsburgs’ opera house is a perfect example of 19th century Austrian refinement. Get the best view by climbing the grand staircase to look out over the stage from one of the red-carpeted balconies.
The rest of your day will be spent following traces of the Secession, the artistic trend that was born in Vienna between 1896 and 1906 and influenced all of Europe through the Art Nouveau style. As you walk through the doors of the magnificent Secession Building, located south of the opera house, you will see the importance of this trend that Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffman and Koloman Moser helped broadcast to the world. Beneath the impressive golden dome, you will discover Klimt’s best known piece: the Beethoven frieze, with its numerous plant, animal and fantastical figures.
For a more practical conclusion to this last day of your stay in Vienna, head for the Spittelberg. This neighbourhood, found near the Hofburg museums, is filled with romantic interior courtyards and shaded gardens where you can enjoy Viennese specialities like schweinsbraten, a traditional Viennese roast pork.
Once night has fallen, contemplate the illuminated facades of Vienna’s Art History Museum and Natural History Museum. It’s a poetic way to finish your stay in Vienna on a high note.
bold;Vienna is one of Europe’s most refined, elegant destinations. It has maintained its position as a historic and cultural centre for many hundreds of years, and continues to open itself up to new ideas century after century. You can learn more by staying for longer and visiting the Leopold Museum, the Kunst Haus Wien or the MuMok, Vienna’s contemporary art museum.