the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

Vienna is exactly what you would expect from a classy European capital. Filled with awesome architecture, harrowing history, and outstanding operatics, there is culture oozing from every pore of the city. But, the city has more than just classical music and elegant appeal. Vienna offers something for everyone if you’re willing to peel back it’s layers of class.

In this guide, you’ll find exactly where to eat, what to see + do, and how to get around the beautiful Austrian capital. Don’t forget to check out the map at the bottom of the post to help you navigate the city!


here’s a full guide to vienna, austria


the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna
the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

fast facts about vienna

Austrians speak German and use the Euro as currency. Vienna has a current population of 1.86 million people. Some of the most notable residents have been Beethoven, Mozart, Sigmund Freud, and, for a time, Adolf Hitler. The German name for Vienna is Wien, which is why you’ll see it all over the city’s signage for main tourist attractions like the Wien Museum. Vienna is responsible for giving us the snow globe and the real Maria von Trapp, played famously in The Sound of Music by Julie Andrews.

getting to vienna

FROM WITHIN EUROPE: One of the great things about traveling in Europe is the fantastic train and bus systems that exist. I highly recommend using FlixBus for the comfort and affordability.

FROM OUTSIDE OF EUROPE: The Vienna International Airport services visitors who prefer to fly into the capital city. There are budget flights into Vienna by airlines like RyanAir and Eurowings.

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

when to visit vienna

According to VisitVienna, Vienna is best to visit during the winter thanks to its Christmas markets or in the summer when the weather is most consistently warm. However, the weather app seems to believe that the best time to visit Vienna is either in the spring {from April to May} or in autumn {around September and October}. Not only is the weather more mild, but the crowds aren’t as large.

I visited the city most recently in the summer {early July}. The weather was scorching and there were serious crowds, but being an early riser has its perks. Do as I did and get up early in to sightsee, take the afternoon to recoup at a café, and then spend the evening soaking in the sunset at a park!


how to get around vienna

Vienna, like most European cities, has a fantastic public transportation system. For those staying in Vienna for any longer than two days, I recommend grabbing a week transport pass. For €17 you get unlimited rides on all forms of transportation throughout the city. This makes it super affordable to get to attractions and sights that are farther away from the city center like Schönbrunn Palace.

On Fridays and Saturdays, the U-Bahn is open the whole night {24 full hours}. There are also bikes for rent around the city through Citybike Wien, that are great for those who prefer to see the city by pedal. You can register yourself at a terminal, all you need is a credit or debit card.

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

where to eat

Admittedly, I drank a lot of coffee in Vienna, but didn’t eat much of the traditional food. Schnitzl isn’t exactly veggie-friendly, ya know? Here are, however, the options I found for me that mixed bits of tradition with modern cuisine creativity.

brunch at vollpension

Without a doubt, my favourite place to grab a brunch in Vienna is Vollpension. This café, which hires without discrimination of age, aims to connect people across generations with food and a sense of community.

OPENING HOURS: 7:30 AM- 10 PM Monday through Saturday, 8 AM- 8 PM on Sundays

you can read my café guide to vienna here.

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

lunch at THE Naschmarkt

The naschmarkt is a local icon of Vienna that dates back to the 16th century. It’s here that you’ll find everything from modern souvenirs to vintage clothing. However, it’s best as a place to grab a bite to eat. Falafel, sausage, candy, wine, pizza, and fresh produce. You can find the best budget eats at the naschmarkt, and it’s a great place to try many different dishes all at once.

OPENING HOURS: 6 AM- 9PM Monday through Saturday, closed on Sundays

dinner at hungry guy

Hungry Guy boasts plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for dinner, making it stand out in Vienna amongst the carnivore-friendly eateries in the city. The modern feel of the restaurant is just as trendy as the menu. If you’re looking for falafel, pitas, tasting plates, Hungry Guy is affordable and filling.

OPENING HOURS: 11:30 AM - 11 PM daily

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

dessert at café central

Café Central is most notable for its beautiful interior and the many famous patrons that have dined there— Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, and {my fave} Alfred Adler {the father of individual psychology}.However, they are also known for their selection of high-quality cakes, including the Viennese famous sachertorte. This chocolate cake is layered with thick apricot jam and cocoa icing. I went for coffee and skipped cake, but trust me when I say they come highly recommended and looked outrageously good.

OPENING HOURS: 8 AM- 12 AM daily

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

WHAT TO SEE + DO

Culture and history are abundant in Vienna, leaving no shortage of things to do and places to see. Attraction admission fees are a bit pricey throughout Vienna, especially when compared to more affordable capitals like Berlin and Budapest, but there are plenty of budget-friendly activities and free sights to be enjoyed for those with pockets less deep.

tour Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is known as the Versailles of Austria. Having been to both, I’d say they’re pretty different, but Schönbrunn is a top recommendation of mine to visitors of Vienna. While the cost of admission to see the interior of the palace is steep, it’s well-worth every penny spent to see the beautiful decor and have an audio-guide that leads you through the national history associated with the palace. Get there for opening to avoid the crazy crowds of people.

ADMISSION: Classic Pass for €26.50

OPENING HOURS: 8 AM- 5 PM daily

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna
the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

try sachertorte

Sachertorte is rumoured to have been invented in 1832 when Prince Wenzel von Metternich said he was bored of traditional cake and wanted a new dessert. It is one of the most famous Viennese desserts and you can try a slice at a variety of cafés in Vienna {like Café Central, listed above}. The chocolate cake is known for having a thick layer of homemade apricot jam in the center and rich chocolate icing on top. I tried my slice at a hidden-away hole-in-the-wall café away from the city center, Kleine’s Café. If you feel spendy, some slices of sachertorte will set you back as much as €10 a slice. I recommend Kleine’s, where my massive portion was only €4.10!

FUN FACT: December 5 is National Sachertorte Day…in the United States…?

a guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna
he big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

enjoy the greenery at the Palmenhaus

This palmenhaus, which is not the same as the well-known brunch spot, is a conservatory that was built in 1882 and consists of three different pavilions filled with plants and greenery from across the world. I was happy to pay the admission fee to get away from the palace crowds for pictures and, more importantly, the peace. Ferns from New Zealand and exotic plants from the African continent kept me a happy girl surrounded by green.

ADMISSION: €6

OPENING HOURS: 9:30 AM- 5PM daily

have a picnic in one of vienna’s many parks

My favourite thing to do in the summer is eat outside. Eating in the many parks of Vienna was such a treat, especially thanks to the stunning weather I got to experience this time around. My recommendations for parks are Sigmund Freud Park and Stadtpark— both of which are free and open to the public.

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna
the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

see the wacky HundertwasserHaus + kunst haus wien

The Hundertwasser House is actually an apartment complex whose artistic architecture stands in stark contrast to the more classic buildings the city boasts. Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who was originally a painter, designed the building, but there was a massive controversy that surrounded the rights of the design of the house. Ultimately, it was ruled that Hundertwasser was the “spiritual creator” of the design and that Krawina must be fully recognized as the co-creator. There are stores at the base of the complex and a museum at its counterpart, Kunst Haus Wien.

ADMISSION: free

OPENING HOURS: open 24 hours

visit the freud museum

My fellow psychology majors {and anybody interested in the human experience, really} can visit the office of Sigmund Freud, known as the father of psychoanalysis. The Sigmund Freud Museum was founded in 1971 and covers his entire lifestory. Recently, in 2003 the museum was handed over to the newly-established Sigmund Freud Foundation.

ADMISSION: €9

OPENING HOURS: 10 AM- 6 PM daily

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

pay your respects at Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial

The Holocaust Memorial in Judenplatz stands to commemorate the 65,000 Jews who were murdered from 1941-1945. The memorial, known as the Nameless Library, was designed by a British architect and sits in the heart of Vienna’s 1st district. The entire memorial, from design to construction and archaeological work cost the city 160 million Austrian Schillings, the currency at the time. The memorial stands as representation of empty space. It looks like a library, but the books are unreadable and shown on the outside.

ADMISSION: free

OPENING HOURS: open 24 hours

spend A Night at the Opera

Vienna is the perfect place to see an opera for your first time, but its also an ideal way to spend a night if you’re a seasoned opera enthusiast. It was originally called the Vienna Court Opera, but was renamed the Vienna State Opera in 1920.

There are two kinds of tickets for the opera— standing room or sitting room. The latter are more expensive, but generally offer better views of the stage and are more comfortable. If you’re not into operas for entertainment, you might consider taking a tour of the building itself to see the architecture and learn about the history of opera in Vienna.

ADMISSION: tickets vary depending on your seat and the show, you can tour the building for €9

OPENING HOURS: 9 AM- 5 PM daily, unless there is a special performance

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna
the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

visit the university of vienna

The University of Vienna is the oldest university in the German-speaking world. The library at the university here is out-of-this-world pretty. If you’re looking for a nice place to read, grab a coffee, or feast your eyes on gorgeous halls where that many a famous academic graced, the University of Vienna is a good place to head. It’s also free to visit and makes for a fab photo!

ADMISSION: free

OPENING HOURS: 9 AM- 10 PM daily

Partying under the viennese Subway at Stadtbahnbögen

If you are looking for nightlife, which is obviously not my forte, you’ll find the most interesting experience at Stadtbahnbögen. Here, under the U6 {subway line} is a string of clubs, bars, and eateries that form an endless party of sorts. If you visit during the summertime, like I did, you’ll be treated with live music performed by local bands.

ADMISSION: free

OPENING HOURS: from 5 PM daily

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

wander about Belvedere Palace

The Belvedere Palace is not just a stunning palace set in perfectly manicured gardens— it’s also home to the world´s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings. When I visited, I opted out of the tour of the interiors of the place, but I soaked up sunshine on the front lawn and near the back reflective pool, where a traditional Oompah band was performing.

ADMISSION: €16

OPENING HOURS: 9AM- 6PM daily

the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna

ride the rollercoasters at prater

Prater is basically an amusement park and carnival combined in the 2nd District of Vienna. There are food vendors and a roller coaster restaurant you’ll see advertised on nearly every subway line, but I’d suggest bringing your own snacks— you’ll find better food for a better price. Music plays all-over the place and people were singing throughout the park. There is also an old school ferris wheel, the Weiner Riesenrad, that has been featured in various films and is the oldest still-operating ferris wheel in the world.

ADMISSION: free to visit, costs vary per ride

OPENING HOURS: 10 AM - 11 PM


looking to book a stay?

Once you’re ready to book your trip to Vienna, you’ll need a place to stay! If you have the cash roll, Vienna boasts some impressive hotels. However, I never recommend accommodation I haven’t stayed at myself so, rather than making a suggestion, I’d tell you to check out Booking.com for deals on hotels.

My time sleeping in Vienna was spent at a beautiful little AirBnB. You can book your first stay with AirBnB using my link to save up to $55 !

Booking.com >

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the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna
the big guide to Vienna, Austria: where to eat, how to get around, + the best things to do in Vienna