Two of the most beautiful cities in central Europe are without a doubt Vienna and Prague, but which one are you going to choose to visit? Technically and in an ideal world, you would go from one to the other and see both in one trip, especially as they are only a train ride or short flight apart but alas, for most of us, having enough money and/or time gets in the way.
So, how are we going to choose when it comes to choosing between Vienna or Prague? It’s an impossible choice but here are some comparable details about each of them that should make sure you go to the one that suits you the most.
Vienna is the capital of Austria and is renowned for being a city with friendly residents, stunning buildings, lots of green spaces, and it’s also squeaky clean with a bit of elegance thrown in.
The vibe in Vienna is relaxed, everything is safe and you feel confident walking around alone or with your young kids.
The city is dotted with an immense history and a ton of cultural sites to visit which you can help but notice as you walk around. The grand age-old architecture grabs your attention quickly. Along with the cultural side of things, Vienna is also one of the most diverse European cities when it comes to food, and it was voted the best city to live in in the world two years in a row.
Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic, also known a Czechia. Through the middle of Prague flows the stunning Vltava River and with a nickname like the City of a Hundred Spires, you can only imagine just how beautiful the setting is.
Prague old town has a chilled atmosphere that is full of medieval delights. This includes its old cobblestone streets, ancient bridges, gothic builds, and oh so many spires, over 400 in fact, not just 100.
When you walk around Prague, you feel like you should be in a romantic movie chasing your loved one around the city. It’s very engaging and it draws you in a lot more than Vienna might.
Prague is by far the less formal of the two. You feel a connection when you’re in Prague as if you’ve been invited into the inner circle. Vienna feels more formal, and with its newer building you get a sense of “look at me, but don’t touch”. It’s like you’re there to gaze upon its stunning beauty but never invited in for a drink.
Vienna has something for everyone and it’s a joy to explore this wonderful city. Between the ancient cafes, stunning architecture, or enjoying the beauty of its many gardens and parks, Vienna is simply a lovely place to be.
There are some things you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Vienna. A ride on the Riesenrad Ferris Wheel is a must as the views from the top are to die for and showcase just how beautiful Vienna is from a birdseye view.
For a historical and cultural fix take a stroll down to Hofburg Palace where you’ll learn everything you could ever want to know about Vienna, and a little bit more too. The palace’s architecture is also amazing and you should take a moment to gaze at it from the outside, maybe with a coffee or two.
You will have to pass by the Museums Quartier at some point, and it’s very much alive with things going on all the time. You’ll find some great cafes, hip bars, delicious restaurants, world class museums, and a sculpture park that doubles as a mini-golf course – ideal for the kids.
No trip to Vienna is complete without the tourist march which takes you up to see ustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ on the Upper Belvedere Palace. It’s said to be his greatest masterpiece.
Sachertorte chocolate cake was invented in Vienna, but there is a huge argument between Hotel Sacher and Demel as to who actually came up with it, both claiming it was them. You should have a piece of cake from both and see which one you prefer.
One last spot not to be missed is Café Central. Grab a coffee and sit outside and sit outside this cafe from 1876. You will be sitting where Freud, Trotsky, and Stefan Zweig used to.
One of the most iconic images of Prague is the Charles Bridge. If you have ever seen a postcard picture of Prague, chances are it was taken of the Charles Bridge at sunrise as the mist rises off the Vltava River. Well, you have got to go see it live right?
The reason the Charles Bridge is loved so much is that it’s pretty much the perfect medieval bridge with a stone arch of note that crosses the Vltava River. You don’t want to go and see it in the daytime though, it’ll be covered in traffic and tourists. To do it justice you have to get the postcard shot and see it in the sunrise silence.
Another great thing to see in Prague is the Prague Astronomical Clock in the old town square. It was built way back in the 1400s and the old medieval clock sits on the walls outside of the Old Town Hall. You’ll know you’ve found it when seeing a large crowd staring up at it, but why are they so interested in a clock?
Every day on the hour, between 9 am and 11 pm, the clock, instead of having a cuckoo come out of it, has the “Walk of the Apostles” happen instead. 12 figurines of the Apostles make their way to the tower’s window for everyone to see – super cool especially as it’s technology from the 1400s.
Luckily, the Prague Astronomical Clock is in the old town of Prague, and Prague wears its history on its sleeve so to speak. There are historical buildings everywhere in this ancient city as it was never bombed during the war, so everything this full of ancient atmosphere and architecture. Stroll around the old town drinking it all in.
You kind of have to see the St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle whilst you’re there as they are a big hit with tourists and a great resemblance to the countries faith and history. Plus, again, they are architecturally beautiful too.
For something a little off-piste, a stroll to the John Lennon Memorial Wall is a must. you’ll find some incredible street art that was painted in dedication to him.
Taking a river cruise at sunset is a great way to see the city in a different light and from a different angle. As the sun goes down, the lights of the city come on and shine across the river, it is delightful.
It’s hard to pick a favorite in this category as both Vienna and Prague have such great things to do and see while you’re there. I’d say Prague is a bit more like walking around a fairytale with all of its beauty on display whereas you have to seek out Viennas a little. Even if just for a day trip.
If it was me, I’d choose Prague, but that’s me, which one do you prefer the sound of?
Vienna’s food scene is extremely diverse. If you can think of a type of cuisine you’d like to try, you’ll probably find a great restaurant that specializes in it in Vienna.
Vienna, however, is most famous for its outdoor markets, cafes, and delicious desserts, but that’s not all, of course, also have a little German influence on their traditional foods. If you want to eat like a local, make sure to try Wiener schnitzel, tafelspitz, Kaiserschmarrn, apfelstrudel, and Sachertorte chocolate cake.
One food experience you shouldn’t miss when in Vienna is a visit to Naschmarkt, a food market that has been around since the 1500s. You’ll find it in the Vienna city center between Karlsplatz and Kettenbrückengasse and be completely blown away by its size.
Naschmarkt is a mile long with hundreds of stalls selling anything you could want for your kitchen, from seafood to condiments and vegetables. You’ll also find some good restaurants along the way that are great for a spot of lunch.
If you want to go to one of Vienna’s historical coffeehouses/cafés head to Demel. It’s been serving coffee in Vienna since the 19th century and is known for its delicious sweet bites such as strudels, cream cakes, and scones.
We all like to go for an upmarket dinner while we’re on holiday and the best place for that in Vienna is in the Innere Stadt of the First District. You’ll find a plethora of fine dining restaurants in the area which will satisfy any tastes you’re looking for, but they are expensive so be warned.
Another thing Vienna is famous for is Austrian wine. To west and southeast to the city is Austria’s wine region along the River Danube, they make some fantastic whites and reds, so be sure to try some in the many Grinzing Heurigen pubs.
If you’re interested in a night out after dinner, the main party zone of Vienna is near to the Schwedenplatz. You’ll find some fun bars and clubs where you can dance to the early hours.
Prague’s food scene has come a long way in recent years and today you can find almost every cuisine from around the world in the city. Everything from French to Italian, Asian, and Argentine plus a could of Michelin start restaurants are on offer.
The traditional food in Prague is hearty, filling, and delicious. The must-try local dishes include knedlíky (dumplings), česnečka (garlic soup), smažený sýr (deep-fried cheese), and trdelník (warm rolled pastry covered in sugar).
If you want to try the local dishes, a great place to head to is Lokál Dlouhááá. This restaurant/pub has three locations around the city and they serve a mean beer alongside local favorites like fried cheese, dumplings, and goulash. It has a lovely atmosphere too, you truly feel like a local when you’re in there.
Another local dish I haven’t mentioned yet is chlebíčky, an open-faced sandwich and if you ask a local where you should have one, they will say Sisters Bistro. Sisters Bistros serves these up on sunflower bread, along with loads of toppings including meat, delicious cheeses, and vegetarian options.
Weirdly enough, Prague is home to some of the best Vietnamese restaurants you can find and this is because young Vietnamese moved to Prague for work during the communist years. Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan is a great place to spend an evening tasting up some Asian delights.
If you want to go Full-Gastro, you can head to one of the two Michelin-star restaurants, La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise and Field. Both have an open kitchen with 8-10 course tasting menus, and the dishes are likely to blow your mind.
From a drinking perspective, Prague is all about beer. The Czech Republic drinks more beer per capita than anywhere else in the world, so trying a few is a must.
When it comes to food and Vienna vs Prague, you’re spoilt for choice no matter which one you end up going to. They both have cuisine from around the world, come great local dishes too, and you can go fine dining if you want to – everything is on the table, literally.
Vienna in the summertime is delightful warm with temperatures on average hitting a high of 27°C and low of 16°C, making it a great time for a city visit. The only issue with visiting in summer is that everyone else who want’s to go to Vienna will be there too which drives up hotel and flight prices, plus the city is a bit too busy.
Vienna in winter is crispy and chilly hitting a maximum of around 6°C and a low of -1°C. While winter is the best time to visit Vienna weatherwise, around Christmas, the streets of Vienna are magical, all lit up with lights, markets, and everyone is out having a good time.
The best time to visit Vienna from a weather perspective is May and June, or September and October. The days are warm but not too hot, the streets aren’t too busy, and you won’t be cold either.
The rainfall is very consistent in Vienna and it has around 8 days of rain per month, every month, so be sure to bring a rain jacket with you on your visit.
Prague is a little cooler than Vienna in the summertime with average highs of 24°C and lows of 15°C between June and August. This is also the wettest time of year in Prague with around 9 days of rain a month. Like Vienna, Prague is crowded during the summer and it’s best avoided.
In winter, the temperature in Prague drops considerably and they are a little lower than Vienna with a high of 4°C and a low of -2°C. Like Vienna, Prague’s streets also become very festive at Christmas time with markets, lights, and good times so visiting at Christmas is a great option.
The best time to visit Prague is April and May, or September and October. It’ll still be warm and you’ll miss the crowds and rainy days that come with summertime.
Weather-wise, Prague and Vienna are extremely similar just Vienna is a little wetter all year round, and Prague is a little colder all year round, but the differences are negligible and shouldn’t affect your choice between Vienna vs Prague.
This section is where you’ll see a huge difference in the Vienna vs Prague comparison, as Vienna is a lot more expensive the Prague. Austria uses Euros, whereas the Czech Republic uses Czech koruna which you get a lot more for when you change your dollars.
A basic meal in Prague will cost you around $6 and for a similar meal in Vienna, you’ll be paying $13, so more than double. Dinner for two at a good restaurant in Prague is around $33 whereas it’s $53 in Vienna, almost double again.
If you want to enjoy a beer at a pub, in Prague you’ll pay $1.89 and in Vienna, it’ll be $4.51. For coffee, Prague is $3.10 and Vienna is $4.17.
As you can see, Prague is a lot more affordable than Vienna across the board. Everything from your accommodation to public transport and everything you eat is going to be more expensive in Vienna. When you look at the costs of living, Vienna is 28% more expensive than Prague.
If you’re traveling on a budget and want your money to go further, Prague is the obvious choice.
Do you know which one you would choose in the Vienna or Prague comparison? I would personally choose Prague every time and this is due to the more inclusive vibe of the city, as you feel a part of it instead of feeling separate.
That being said, Vienna does have things to offer that aren’t available in the Czech capital, and if that is what suits you better then Vienna is also a great choice.
In the end, one really should go to both of these amazing two cities as they are both worth seeing. And they certainly have a lot of day trips you can do from Vienna or Prague.
Maybe choose Vienna at Christmas for 4 days? And then do Prague before the summer for a week since it’s more affordable? That’s how I would play it.
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!