Voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world, witness to the glorious history of the Habsburg Austrian Empire, an important cultural center of Europe, headquarters to many of the United Nation’s offices and organizations, and the indisputable music capital of the world, Vienna is an exquisite blend of imperial splendor and cosmopolitan trends. Get acquainted with the capital city of Austria to have a rewarding experience this summer. Before you plan to travel to Vienna, you must take notes from my 4 days itinerary for Vienna. For the visa, you may go through the Schengen process and provide for all the details as asked.
A slightly different version of this post was originally published in Hello 6E, Indigo’s inflight magazine in the month of March. For more on European itineraries, check here.
Vienna has a unique vibe
At first sight, Vienna appears as aesthetically charming, squeaky-clean, and an artsy city. But as soon as you get the bearings of the city, you would know that it is more than what meets the eye. Being the primate city in Austria, with a history dating back to the early Celtic and Roman settlements, Vienna is a city with a lot of class and sophistication. Despite being home of the ‘House of Habsburg’ to high-brow museums, ornate architecture, magnanimous palaces, baroque castles, and grand gardens, it has also been metamorphosing into a cosmopolitan, fashionable, forward-looking, and friendlier city, effortlessly.
Step back in time when you travel to Vienna
The city offers an overwhelming selection of noteworthy attractions, and the favourable part is that most of them are located in the 1st District or Innere Stadt, also called the vibrant heart of Vienna. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. This is the area where all the medieval buildings, administrative buildings, Parliament, and city hall of Vienna are located. There used to be a wall here. Now, the fortifications exist no more but a boulevard called Ringstraße makes for a ring. If you are keen to take a round, use the official Ringstrasse Tram. This historic soul of the city is best explored on foot. Don’t forget to pack a few reliable and athletic pairs of walking shoes. They will be your best friend in the whole trip and you will thank me later.
The first day in Vienna may begin at Stephansplatz, which remains abuzz with activity day and night. Head straight to Stephansdom cathedral (St. Stephen’s Cathedral), the tallest church in Austria with the signature Vienna roof tile design, and then Erzbischöfliches Palais, (Episcopal Palace) which is the seat of the archbishop. Next up on your itinerary must be Michaelerplatz square to find the Hofburg Palace, the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Treasury, and St. Michael’s Church, all around the same place. Hofburg palace is a world heritage site for it safeguards the glory, imperial crown, and jewels of the Habsburg empire. You cannot call it a day without visiting the extraordinary Austrian National Library which houses more than 2.5 million books.
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One cannot visit Vienna and not visit Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburg Dynasty. Book the tickets in advance for the second day of your itinerary. It is one of the world’s most spectacular palaces and deserves a couple of hours to be awestruck with its neoclassical exteriors, opulent interiors, sprawling gardens, and impressive sculptures. The second half of the day may be dedicated to the Schonbrunn Zoo (world’s oldest zoo) followed by the Belvedere Palace, a palatial attraction presenting Baroque architecture in a different light.
Wash out the fatigue of each day over Austrian coffee, great music, and tasty schnitzel, strudel, and ice creams.
Get a culture fix
Hapsburgs had a true affinity for art and music. Unlike any other city in the world, Vienna has been home to the stalwarts of music like Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Johann Strauss and more.
Your third day may begin at the Vienna State Opera. Even if you are short on time, don’t miss attending a concert here followed by a visit to the world’s largest cultural quarters, Museumsquartier. From the beautiful collection of Austrian art to modern and contemporary artworks, it has it all. Leopold Museum is unmissable. The Museum of Fine Arts is equally impactful. Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) is beautiful.
And to keep it an artsy-themed day, a visit to Albertina is a must for its largest collections of graphic art and works on paper. Music lovers must head to Vienna’s House of Music.
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Take a ride on the giant Prater Park Ferris wheel and fill yourself with child-like joy, adventure, and Viennese charm. Watch a show at the Spanish Riding School, which is one of a kind. Find your way over to the Hundertwasser Village to see the amazing work of the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
On one of the evenings, stroll on the banks of the Danube canal, to be entertained with the urban street art.
Do not miss window shopping in and around der Graben and Kohlmarkt. For casual cafes, underground clubs, dance bars, and cocktail joints, the 6th, 7th, and 8th districts are a must-visit. Burggasse in the 7th district is not to be missed for its creative and quirky stores.
Plan a day at the Viennese vineyards in the Heurigen area because the vineyards are not very far from the city and are accessible by tram.
Enjoy Summers in Vienna
Vienna has plenty of outdoor and summer in Vienna is all vibrant. It is a great time for concerts, festivals, sporting events, and more. And this is the time to enjoy the famous vegan ice creams. Spring and summers are synonymous with the sun, and sweets and the bakeries will flourish with cakes and pastries. Keep an eye on the dates of the local festivals. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra also becomes very active during this time of the year.
Do you know?
- More than half of Vienna is covered with green spaces, parkland, and gardens. Stadtpark is most popular.
- Vienna has got a centuries-old coffee house tradition from the Turks and now, it has become a part of the city’s identity. Café Central is
- The Vienna pass is the best way to explore the city and it gives free access to more than 50 attractions of the city.
- Vienna is divided into 23 districts and they are arranged in a series of concentric circles. District 1 is the heart and soul, as well as the legislative focal point. 2 to 9, are wrapped around it and house ninety percent of the attractions of Vienna.
- Public transport is fantastic and the top attractions are well connected on the cycling route as well. The best and cheapest way to travel from the airport to the city is the City Airport Train or the Express.
- Imperial Butterfly House (Schmetterlinghaus) is home to hundreds of varieties of butterflies.
- Sisi Museum is dedicated to the legendary empress Sisi.
- Vienna’s beautiful Upper Belvedere Palace has some significant artworks.
- Vienna played the role of one of the most important cities in the “German-led” Art Nouveau movement. Vienna Secession refers to the progressive modern artists in Vienna.
Things that you must do
- Eat a schnitzel. Vienna is the birthplace of one of Austria’s national dishes.
- Indulge in the original Sacher-Torte, dark chocolate, and apricot cake, one of Vienna’s signature desserts.
- Visit Naschmarket, the largest food market with displays of more than 120 stands of local cheese, olives, wine, spices, and more.
- Try out authentic Austrian schnitzel and potato salad. Visit Cafe Tirolerhof, a 100-year-old café that features Viennese food
- Do a quick visit to Rathaus (City Hall), one of the city’s key landmarks.
- Look out for the events, concerts, marathons, and musical nights that may be planned during the Vienna Spring Festival.
- Explore the Neubau district, an upcoming neighborhood in Vienna.
- Enjoy walking around Vienna!
Have a great trip!