So, you’re about to spend 3 days in Vienna – the most aristocratic capital in Europe? An excellent choice. Vienna is the heart of Europe, a city of emperors and geniuses that shaped the history of the continent and left an eternal legacy.
3 days in Vienna is a great amount of time to taste the city spirit. You won’t be able to see everything, but you’ll be able to see just enough to have a wonderful trip and fall in love with it.
In my 3 day Vienna itinerary, I’ll lead you through the very best the Austrian capital has to offer. With a combination of famous sightseeings, recreational areas, and photo spots, we’ll learn more about the glorious history of Vienna, will end up with a lot of awesome photos, and most importantly of all, we’re gonna have tons of fun!
Where to Stay in Vienna
Before we start the itinerary, here are a few accommodation suggestions. In my opinion, every one of these has the X factor to take your Vienna trip to the next level!
Hotel Sacher Wien
• A legendary hotel where the first Saher pastry was invented
• Still offers the best Saher pastries in the world
• Perfect location in the center of the city – right behind the opera
• Spacious rooms designed for emperors!
• World-class spa
• The hotel interior has world renounce paintings and antiques – basically, you are sleeping in a luxurious museum
Green Prater Apartments
• Quiet neighborhood
• Great location next to Prater park and a metro station
• Very spacious rooms
• Airport transfer (double-check with the host)
• Private terrace with panoramic views
• Probably the best value in Vienna
• Perfect location next to Karlsplatz
• Vintage Vienna apartment
• A cozy, well-decorated room
• Lovely house cat
• Responsible and quick replying host
• Fully equipped kitchen
• Fast Wi-Fi
Want to explore more options in Vienna?
See the best-located hotels in town
Three Days in Vienna – Day 1- An introduction to the city
To start our 3 days in Vienna the best way possible, I decided the first attraction to be my favorite one– the Kunsthistorischen museum. You probably don’t know (at least I didn’t), but Vienna is full of museums. I’d say they have more museums per sq/m than any place I’ve ever been to. The Kunsthistorischen museum (which translate to Museum of Art History btw) is the best one. It’s so good that it went straight into my top 3 museums in Europe (The Louvre and The Vatican Museums).
Housed in a gorgeous palace-like building, the Kunsthistorischen museum displays the formidable art collection of the Habsburgs alongside an impressive exhibition of roman, greek and Egyptian antiquities.
Some of the most notable artists on display are Raphael, Rubens, Velazquez, Vermeer, and Arcimboldo (the guy who painted faces out of fruits).
Checking out the museum should take up the most of your morning. Remember, when you start to feel burnt out – it’s time to leave. No need to push yourself to see it all and ruin the experience.
The second stop of the day is the most famous church in Austria and the seat of the Vienna’s bishop – Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). Built in 1137 the cathedral withstand many tests of time (including WWII) to amaze the visitors today with its stunning gothic design.
There’re a few things you can do inside Stephansdom. You can check out the interior, you can visit the catacombs, climb to the North (this one has an elevator) and south (no elevator here) towers.
I recommend the interior walk for sure (there’s a very odd art installation of floating stones) and the North tower (which opens a lovely panoramic view of Vienna’s center and the iconic multi-colored tile roof).
You can only visit the catacombs on a guided tour, but quite frankly there is nothing exciting to see there. As for the south tower, there are very demanding 343 steps to climb just to find yourself in a closed gift shop area. Yes, there’s still a panoramic view, but it’s not that impressive when it’s from the window.
Considered to be one of Austria’s architectural highlights, the Hundertwasser House is an art project of an apartment building that combines nature with Hundertwasser’s unique expressionist architectural style. You can’t enter the house (unless you know someone who lives there), but right across it, you can find the Hundertwasser village. The village is open 365 days a year, it’s free and hosts numerous stores designed in the same style.
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The first of our 3 days in Vienna would end in a park. But not just an ordinary park. Prater Park is one of the largest parks in Vienna and is also home to Wurstelprater – the oldest amusement park in the world!
It was 1766 when emperor Josef the II gifted the area to the people of Vienna, making the Prater park accessible for everyone. Shortly after Cafés and merry-go-rounds began to emerge.
Nowadays the park is open 24 hours each day, 7 days a week from January to December and is free of charge. Depending on the season some of its attraction are open from 10:00 AM to 1:00 AM with fees from1.50 EUR to 5 EUR.
While there’s a roller coaster, a Madame Tussauds Museum and even a small railway circling the park, there are two absolute must-sees:
The Giant Ferris Wheel
– Get your skip-the-line ticket here
The Viennese Wheel is so famous that in Bulgaria, all Ferriss Wheels are called Viennese Wheels.
The brown sphere located in the middle of the park and surrounded by 2 meters high barbwire fences is actually another country! No joke here, the micronation declared independence in 1976 after its creator had some disputes with the Austrian government about his desire to build a ball-shaped house.
Even though the founder of Kugelmugel died in 2015, the Republic officially has a population of over 650 non-resident citizens! I wonder how does the Kugelmugel passport stamp look like?
Three Days in Vienna – Day 2 – Empire and art
The second day of our Vienna itinerary will start with another museum – Albertina. Yes, I know, but you gotta trust me on this one. The museums I put in my itineraries are among the very best in the world, and their exhibits are simply unmissable.
Albertina was found long ago (1805) by Duke Albert Casimir and displays a beautiful collection featuring some of Monet’s Water Lilies, Da Vinci’s study for the last supper and the symbol of the museum – Albrecht Dürer’s rabbit (Young Hare).
Enjoying a concert in the Opera is one of the citie’s most popular activities. Classical music has long-lasting traditions in the Austrian capital, it’s not that expensive, and it fits the whole Vienna experience.
Around town, multiple Mozart-dressed vendors would try to sell you a concert ticket. To get the best price and avoid scams, better ignore them and buy from the opera ticket desk or online (recommended option).
The Hofburg palace has been a center of power since the early days of the Austrian Empire. Being the principal palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers in the past, today the palace is the official residence of the president of Austria. Being home of the president can’t stop Hofburg to be a significant tourist attraction, though. Offering various highlights, the palace is one of Vienna’s biggest must-sees. If you followed my 3 day Vienna itinerary to get there, you should have time to check-out at least two of them.
Austrian National Library
My favorite Hofburg highlight is the National Library. If you’ve been to central Europe before (and if you haven’t you should start planing it immediately!) you probably know the middle age libraries are absolute must-sees. The Vienna one is no exception. From the glorious cupola fresco, depicting the Habsburg emperor being supported by Apollo and Hercules, to the giant antiquarian globes, the only thing that is missing is a talking candlestick (yup, it was a Beauty and the Beast referrence).
Spanish Riding School
No, that’s not a mistake, it really is called Spanish riding school even though it’s in Vienna. And it’s not even a riding school. It’s more of a ballet of gracious white stallions taking place in the Hofburg Palace. Why is it called Spanish Riding School? Because of the special horses. They were initially imported from Spain to the Lipica village (today in Slovenia) and was selectively bred just for the Royal Riding School. Today it’s a famous breed known as Lipizzan.
It may sound intimidating, but Schmetterlinghaus actually translates to Butterfly House. This piece of tropical paradise is located in the Hofburg Palace and is home to nearly 400 live, free-flying butterflies from all around the world. Have in mind, however, that the Butterfly House is not that big and gets crowded very fast. If you want to enjoy the tropical paradise to the max, better get there early.
Considered to be the most important treasuries in the world, the Vienna Imperial Treasury displays two imperial crowns, the opulent treasure of the Dukes of Burgundy and the riches of the Order of the Fleece (aka the Habsburg order).
Alongside them, you can find one of the biggest emeralds in the world, the Agate Bowl (which may or may not be the Holy Grail) and a Unicorn horn (which may or may not be a narwhal tusk horn).
If you’re a fan of Austria’s most famous empress – Elizabeth (also known as Sisi), the museum hosted inside the Hofburg Palace would show you more about her restless life. Being very progressive, empress Sisi was way ahead of her time. She kept a regular training schedule and diets. She even had pull up bar inside her quarters! Something entirely unheard of at this time, especially for a woman.
Alongside personal belongings of Elizabeth, the museum offers access to the Habsburg’s imperial apartments and displays a collection of royal Silverware and kitchenware (not my cup of tea but most of the visitors seemed to enjoy this one).
Volsgarten & Burggarten
Once you finished the Hofburg attractions, you can take rest a bit and enjoy the beautiful gardens around the castle – Volsgarten & Burggarten. Great recreational areas with magnificent sculptures of Vienna’s most famous musicians – Mozart and Strauss.
Last stop on our second day is reserved for an unusual and a little bit creepy attraction – Kaisergruft aka Habsburg’s Imperial Crypt.
Habsburg Dynasty ruled over much of Europe before their downfall in Word War I. Austria’s most famous emperors were part of the Habsburg dynasty, and every time one of them died, it was a major event. All emperors have their own astonishingly crafted sarcophagus, most impressive of which is Maria Theresia’s (the last original Habsburg ruler) one.
The crypt was initially intended to hold only the remains of Emperor Matthias and Empress Anna but was later expanded and today, the remains of 12 emperors, 18 empresses, and 113 other members of the Habsburg family, rest there.
It may sound a bit creepy (and it is), but Kaisergruft really is an impressive sight and seriously underrated Vienna attraction.
Three Days in Vienna – Day 3 – What is like to be an Emperor?
The last of our 3 days in Vienna will start with arguably the biggest highlight of the city – Schönbrunn Palace. The former summer residence of the Habsburg emperors is nothing less than glorious. More than 40 opulent royal apartments will make your jaw drop to the ground. And that’s not all. There are also the 500 acres gardens that feature Roman ruins, an Orangery, a few labyrinths, and a zoo.
Exploring Schönbrunn can take half a day (or even more) but skipping it would be like skipping the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
1 April to 30 June / 1 September to 31 October
8:00 AM – 5.30 PM
1 July to 31 August
8:00 AM – 6.30 PM
1 November to 31 March
8:00 AM – 5.00 PM
The afternoon of our last day is reserved for another Vienna classic – the Belvedere Palace. Unlike Schönbrunn you won’t find royal apartments or a zoo here. Belvedere Palace used to be the summer residence of Savoy’s commander – Prince Eugene, but today it’s an art museum. The upper Belvedere hosts gorgeous classical art collection, the pinnacle of which is the most famous Austrian painting – Gustav Klimt’s ” The Kiss”.
The lower Belvedere is also an art museum but displays more contemporary art.
Lower Belvedere: 14 EUR
Combined Ticket: 22 EUR
Belvedere Guided Tour: Check the price here
Mon-Sun: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
Mon-Sun: 10:00 AM-6:00 PM
To acquire “The Kiss” Belvedere paid 25.000 crowns (around 250.000 USD today) before the painting was even finished. Prior to the sale, the record price paid for a painting in Austria was merely 500 crowns.
Karlskirche also offers access to its roof (with an elevator) where you can enjoy some panoramic views of the city. If my 3 day Vienna itinerary left you too tired for rooftop trips, you can simply enjoy the evening in the park around the church.
Oh, I almost forgot. Since we’re in Vienna, there is one more thing to do in Karlskirche. You can enjoy Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played by original Austrian orchestra!
More than Three Days in Vienna
You have more than 3 days in Vienna, or you want to replace something on the itinerary? Not a problem, Vienna has plenty to offer.
A historical market that operates since 1780. If you want fresh ingredients for your dish or a place to try classical Austrian dishes, this is the place for you. Conveniently located in the center, Naschmarkt is the perfect lunch place.
Mon-Sat: 6:00 AM – 7:30 PM
Saturday: 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: Most stalls are closed
St Francis Church
The St. Francis of Assisi Church is not your average church. While most of the temples are twice as impressive from the inside, St. Francis’ interior is nothing special. Why do I put it as suggested highlight then? Because I believe it’s the most picturesque site in Vienna! Seriously, the church looks more like a Disney castle than a religious temple. There is also a pleasant recreational area around it so you can kick back enjoying the view.
Naturhistorisches Museum Wien
One of the top national history museums in the world, this museum is a great place to spend a few hours with your family. It’s located right in front of another prime Vienna museum – the Kunsthistorischen museum – and offers the world’s largest meteorite collection in the world! There are also large dinosaur skeletons and one moving dino-robot. Add to that the 30 000 years old statue of Venus of Willendorf, and Naturhistorisches Museum starts to sound very tempting.
Palace of Justice
There is only one reason to visit the Palace of Justice in Vienna, and that is to take an awesome Instagram photo. There is no entry fee, but you need to go through airport-like security to enter. The place is so incredibly beautiful that it makes it totally worth it. Bonus – it’s located very conveniently around the other highlights of the city center.
Mon-Fri: 7:30 AM – 3:30 PM
No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, there is no way you’ve never heard of Mozart. The genius musician, who had written his first composition when he was just five years old, had spent half of his life in Vienna.
Mozarthaus, as the name suggested, was home to the famous artist and his family from 1784 to 1787. It is there where he wrote one of his best works – “Le Nozze di Figaro”. The whole building is practically a museum curated to show information about the composer in combination with historical exhibits and audio-visual installations.
Day trip to Hallstatt
If you have more than 3 days in Vienna or simply want a break from the city, a day trip to the fairy-tale town of Hallstatt has your name written on it. Surrounded by the Alps, Hallstatt is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous among photographers due to it’s unraveled natural beauty.
Organized day trips include a tour around town, a ride with the Salzbergbahn Hallstatt funicular (for some panoramic views of the area) and a visit to Hallstatt ossuary (to see a peculiar collection of decorated skulls).
Vienna Itinerary Map
How to get around Vienna?
If you’re not up to that much walking, you can use the very convenient metro system or the even more convenient hop-on-hop-off bus!
Metro ticket rates:
Single ticket: € 2.40 (Children € 1.20)
24-hour Vienna ticket: € 8.00
48-hour Vienna ticket: € 14,10
72-hour Vienna ticket: € 17.10
Vienna weekly ticket (valid from Monday to Monday at 9.00 am): € 17,10
Is it safe in Vienna?
You should still consider getting travel insurance, as I recommend doing for every travel you do. Vienna may be the safest there is, but no matter how safe a place is, there is always a chance to have an incident, to have your luggage lost, etc. I use World Nomads since they’ve proven themselves to me in the years, but whatever your personal choice of insurance is, make sure you have one. It’ll do wonders to ease off your mind.
Is Vienna expensive to visit?
Since Austria is one of the richest countries in Europe, Vienna can’t be a cheap place to visit. The prices, however, are not as high as the ones in London or Paris. Just a little bit over the average for the EU.
Example prices (out of touristic areas):
Water (1.5L in a supermarket) – 0.58 EUR
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 6:00 EUR
Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draught in a restaurant) – 4 EUR
Cappuccino (regular) – 3.18 EUR
More Vienna prices
What is the best time of year to visit Vienna?
Vienna is great to visit all year round.
For the best weather – got there in the summer. Vienna doesn’t get too hot during the summer months with average temperatures of 24’C. Summer, however, is also the most popular season so the crowds are massive and the prices are high.
Around November and December, the Christmas markets transform Vienna into a magical place. There are still plenty of tourists, though, and prices would be similar to the summer ones. Traveling in winter also holds a bad-weather risk.
If you want to enjoy the city as cheap as possible and to avoid the crowds – spring and autumn are your seasons. Be prepared, however, for the occasional rainy day.
What language is spoken in Vienna?
In Vienna, they speak German. Most of the people I encountered were very good at English too, and I didn’t have any troubles without knowing a single word in German.
What currency is used in Vienna?
In Austria, the official currency is EUR. You can’t pay in any other currency.
That’s all from me, I hope you enjoy your 3 days in Vienna!
If you haven’t planned your trip there yet, find out how I plan my trips!
I have 18 bucket list ideas for Austria. See my impossible bucket list of 1700+ adventures
What is your favorite European capital?