Last Updated: September 13, 2022

One Day In Vienna: The Perfect Itinerary

If you have never visited Vienna then it is high time you planned a trip there. Vienna is a stunning city and one of the most visited cities in Europe.

It is home to everything one could want from a city break from incredible architecture to magnificent museums, and historic sights everyone should see. But can you see enough of the city when spending one day in Vienna?

Ideally, one would spend more than one day in Vienna but you can definitely see a lot of the great things Vienna has to offer in 24 hours.

Join me as I run through an awesome one-day Vienna itinerary that will take you to everything worth visiting in the city so you can get the most out of your 24 hours there.

Why Visit Vienna?

Why Visit Vienna

Visiting Vienna is very much worth it as it is not one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe for no reason.

Vienna is a stunning city to be in. Between the beautiful buildings, hundreds of parks and gardens, and the shores of the river Danube, it honestly feels like you are walking around in a fairytale.

The architecture covers Baroque to Art Nouveau and Gothic, it is the heart of classical music where the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert did some of their best work, and it is home to 100 museums, so it is culturally incredible.

The cuisine and coffee culture of Vienna is also world-class so you can enjoy great coffee, amazing food, and some of the best chocolate cake you have ever tasted.

Overall, it is safe to say that a trip to Vienna should definitely be high on your list, even if you can only spend one day in Vienna.

Getting Around Vienna

Getting Around Vienna

Getting from one great spot to the next in Vienna can mostly be done via walking. In fact, most of the one day in Vienna itinerary is designed in such a way to ensure you can walk easily between the great sights.

That being said, you may need to get on public transportation now and then, and luckily, the public transport system is excellent in Vienna.

I would recommend using Google Maps to navigate your way around the city as it will direct you when walking and on the fastest public transport options to use too.

U-Bahn

The U-Bahn is the metro in Vienna and is without doubt the fastest and most affordable way to get around the city. It runs from 05:30 am to 00:30 am so whether you are having an early start or a late finish, it should be running.

It is well worth buying a Vienna City Card before your arrival at it gives you free use of all metros, buses, and trams plus discounted access to more than 200 attractions for just 16 euros.

Trams

The city centre of Vienna is serviced by a very handy tram route called the Ring Tram route. This route takes you past most of the incredible sights Vienna has to offer and is a great option when you don’t want to walk.

Buses

Vienna is also home to a great bus network that takes you all over the city centre and outside too. This is included in your Vienna City Card but I would recommend using trams or the U-Bahn before the bus as they are often faster.

Bikes

A great way to explore Vienna is by bicycle as this gives you access to the city center without needing any public transport whatsoever. Simply inform your hotel you would like to rent a bike before you arrive and they will organize it for you.

Best Time to Visit Vienna

Best Time to Visit Vienna

Vienna is a lovely city to visit any time of the year but there are better times than others. I would recommend avoiding the summer months of July and August at all costs if you can.

The reason for this is that everything costs more from your flights to your hotel and even the restaurant prices go up too. Also, this is when everyone else visits, meaning you will have thousands more tourists to contend with while exploring the city.

Weatherwise, the best time to be in Vienna is in the months of May, June, and September. The weather is warm, dry-ish, everything is more affordable and there will be a lot fewer tourists to navigate.

Another great time to be in Vienna is in the build-up to Christmas during the winter. The city comes alive with beautiful Christmas markets, everything is lit up with fantastic lights, and the atmosphere is hard to beat.

How to Spend Your Day in Vienna

I have done my best to ensure that your one-day Vienna itinerary makes the most sense possible in regards to getting from one place to the next. You will be able to walk a lot of it and if not I will suggest what local transport is needed in each case.

People Watch At The Famous Café Havelka

Café Havelka

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

The first stop on your one-day Vienna itinerary is the famous Cafe Havelka.

Depending on where your hotel is located, it might be a bit of a journey to get to but it is surrounded by all the next stops on your Vienna itinerary so is well worth the trek. Check Google Maps for your fastest route and get down there early.

Cafe Havelka is known as the best coffee house in town and was made famous by the likes of the royal family and Andy Warhol who used to frequent it for their daily fix of caffeine. The coffee is excellent as are the sweet treats so load up and enjoy some people-watching.

It can get very busy at Cafe Havelka so there might be a queue, if so there are lots of other great cafes around the corner.

Enjoy Amazing Views And Cathedrals At Stephansplatz

Once you have had your coffee and are ready to go, the next stop of your one day in Vienna is Stephansplatz, just a 4 minute walk away.

Stephansplatz is a beautiful square in the heart of the city center and home to St Stephen’s Cathedral, one of the most famous churches in Europe.

St Stephen’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and it is the seat for the Archbishop of Vienna too, so is religiously very important.

The cathedral’s architecture is nothing short of spectacular and you see a very prominent Gothic style to it. It was built on the ruins of two old churches. The tiled roof is St Stephen’s Cathedral’s best feature as they come together to form a mosaic of a double-headed eagle.

It is worth having a tour inside St Stephen’s Cathedral, and being there first means you might have it to yourself. Make sure to climb the 343 steps to the viewing area for one of the best views of Vienna.

Stroll Down Graben To Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace

When you are ready, it is time to take a walk down Graben, one of the most famous pedestrianized streets in Vienna’s city center and one of the busiest.

Graben has been around since the Romans and is lined with tons of restaurants, cafes, and shops. If you are in need of a snack and another delicious coffee, this is a great place to have a pit stop.

While you’re enjoying the busy atmosphere of Graben, be sure to stop and check out the Plague Column.

Built in the late 17th century, the reason for this column’s name is that it was built by Emperor Leopold I who made a column of gratitude to God to try and spare Vienna from the plague which was tearing its way across Europe at the time.

The Plague Column is very famous across Europe and it is stunning to look at as it features a ton of detail that reflects the back story very well.

Once you have absorbed the Plague Column, continue onwards until you reach your next stop on your one day in Vienna, Hofburg Palace.

See Horses and History at Hofburg Palace

Having enjoyed St Stephen’s Cathedral you will have walked to Hofburg Palace, your next port of call for your one day in Vienna, via Graben. It is only a 13-minute walk away, enjoy the stroll and take in the city center and all the Graben has to offer.

Hofburg Palace is one of the top things to see in Vienna and is therefore a must. It used to be where the Habsburg Monarchy lived but today is home to the Silver Collection, Sisi Museum, Spanish Horse Riding School, and the Imperial Apartments.

Entry to the palace costs around 15 euros and this gives you access to everything inside from the apartments to the museum. You can spend hours in here but try and keep it to around an hour so you have time for everything on your itinerary.

Make sure to take a look at the Spanish Horse Riding School as you might get to see the Lipizzaner horses doing their thing.

Be Blown Away At The Austrian National Library

When you are finished at Hofburg Palace pop in next door to your next stop, the Austrian National Library.

The Austrian National Library is open every day except Monday and is possibly the most stunning library in the world. It feels like you have stepped into another world when you are inside.

You will feel overwhelmed by the huge bookshelves that house more than 12 million items, 200,000 of which are books. The statues are highly impressive too, as are the huge building and the four museums you can find inside.

Something worth knowing before you enter the library is that its director assisted the Nazis by illegally taking valuables from Jewish locals. The library is making every effort to return the items to their rightful owners and has returned 32,000 items since 2003.

Tour Around Vienna Opera House

Next up on your one day in Vienna is the Vienna Opera House, a 10-minute walk from Hofburg Palace and a lovely one at that as it goes through the palace gardens.

The Vienna Opera House is one of the most notable opera houses in the world and all of the biggest opera names have performed here at some point in their careers.

The building was completed in 1869 and it was an icon for many years until it came under Nazi control and was bombed in 1945. Since then it has been restored to its former glory and is now magnificent.

It truly is a stunning building to admire from the outside and it is worth booking a tour of the inside too if you’d like to. It is also worth attending one of their nightly performances while you are in Vienna if you like opera.

Awaken Your Senses At Naschmarkt

Naschmarkt

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Next up for your day in Vienna is Naschmarkt, a 7-minute stroll from the Opera House.

Naschmarkt is the most popular market in Vienna with locals and tourists alike. It is packed full of restaurants and vendors selling fresh produce from bread to fish, meat, and vegetables.

Naschmarkt has been around since the 1500s and is a great place to pick up the atmosphere of Vienna. Take a walk down the full length of the market, taste the small bites on offer, and eventually, you will find a flea market at the end selling all kinds of vintage goods.

You might be ready for lunch by now but try to resist as it is in the itinerary for later but there is nothing stopping you from having a glass of wine and a light snack while you breathe in the awesome atmosphere.

Have Lunch With A View At Rathausplatz

After you have tasted some local bites and enjoyed the vibe at Naschmarkt, it is time to head to Rathausplatz, a 20-minute walk away. If that seems a bit far you can choose to hop on the Ring Tram which reduces the journey time to 15 minutes with very little walking.

Rathausplatz is a great place to have lunch and it couldn’t have come at a better time as chances are you are pretty peckish by now.

Sit in the square outside the city hall and gaze at the neo-gothic architecture while you pick what you want from the numerous vendors serving up local treats. There are various types of food available to suit everyone, and I highly recommend a crepe for dessert.

In the summer, lots of outdoor concerts and events happen here and in the winter it is home to one of the best Christmas markets in the city and an ice rink.

Stand In Awe At Schonbrunn Palace

The next stop on your one day tour is the stunning Schonbrunn Palace but you will have to use the transport system for this one.

Walk to Volkstheater station and take the U-Bahn 3 and get off at Westbahnhof. From there hop on the number 60 tram, get off at Schloß Schönbrunn and it’s a 2-minute walk from there.

Schonbrunn Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason, as it is one of the most important landmarks in Vienna and Austria. The palace is magical, built in Baroque style and it was once the summer residence of Empress Sissi and the Habsburgs.

If you have the time, hop inside for a quick tour. There are more than 1000 rooms inside so seeing all of it isn’t possible in one day in Vienna, you’d need a few more. Take a stroll in the gardens too as they are absolutely beautiful.

If you do intend to go inside be sure to book a ticket beforehand so you can skip the queue.

Drown In Art At Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace

Next up is Belvedere Palace and another ride on the metro and tram but it only takes 30 mins. Hop on the U-bahn 4 from Schönbrunn Palace to Karlsplatz and then get tram D from Oper, Karlsplatz to Schloss Belvedere.

Belvedere Palace is actually formed of two palaces (Upper and Lower) and some beautiful gardens along with some smaller buildings too. It was built in the 1600s as a summer palace and today is a tourist attraction with amazing art exhibitions and a garden you have to spend some time in.

You kind of have to see it all as the Lower Belvedere offers great exhibitions, an Orangery, and the Palace Stables with Gothic art pieces inside. The gardens are simply mind-blowing, and the Upper Belvedere is home to some of the best art exhibitions in Austria and is home to the famous Gustav Klimt’s ‘Kiss’.

It is open from 10:00-18:00 every day and it is well worth booking a time-slot ticket so there is no waiting around.

Admire The Uniqueness Of Hundertwasser House

Now take tram 0 from Rennweg station to Marxergasse and stroll down to Hundertwasser House. The journey is only 20 minutes and it is a lovely one.

Hundertwasser House is a very unique building and a great example of wonderful architecture. It was designed and built under the idea of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It is a multi-colored building full of different textures and an outstanding build of Vienna.

Have Some Fun At Prater Amusement Park

To finish your day having a ton of fun, walk 15 minutes to Prater Amusement Park and get involved.

You will find it inside a large park and entrance is free but the rides aren’t. It is home to a massive Ferris wheel that has been running since 1766 and is an awesome way to see the city, especially at night.

The views at night are hard to beat and once you have experienced them go and hop on some of the rides before heading to dinner and back to your hotel.

Where to Stay in Vienna



Booking.com

Considering you will only have 24 hours or less in Vienna it would be best to stay in the center around all the great things to see which are laid out in the itinerary. This way you can walk to most things from your hotel and don’t have to lose any time on the metro.

If staying in the center is too expensive then make sure to choose a hotel that is close to a metro station so that you can get in and out of the center of Vienna efficiently.

There are more than 500 hotels to choose from in Vienna from budget hostels like Wombats Naschmarkt in the center to mid-range hotels like Motel One Wien Hauptbahnhof, and five-star options such as Hotel Sans Souci Wien.

No matter what level of accommodation you are looking for there is a hotel to match in the wonderful city of Vienna.

Tips for Exploring Vienna in One Day

Tips for Exploring Vienna

  • Make sure you buy a Vienna Pass for your 24 hours in Vienna. Not only does that make all your public transport free for your day out but it also gives you free or discounted access to most of the sights and you don’t have to queue either. This is not only the most affordable way to spend 24 hours in Vienna, it is also the most efficient and time-saving option too.
  • The itinerary laid out is very walkable except for a few of the sights. This doesn’t mean you can’t use public transport instead of walking though. Do whatever is going to make your day as comfortable and enjoyable as possible
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. While Vienna is a very safe city, pickpockets and scam artists operate, especially in the busiest tourist areas. Make sure you are not targeted by having your bag in front of you, your phone deep in your pocket, and your wallet tightly put away
  • Google Maps is your friend and you will need it in order to walk from one sight to the next. Make sure it is downloaded and you have your day written down so you can navigate from one place to the next with ease

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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