There are so many things to see in Vienna and we have created the ultimate itinerary highlighting the best things to do in Vienna in 3 days. It covers where to stay, and practical information such as tips for getting around Vienna, and how to save money on sightseeing, all to help you plan your dream vacation to Vienna.
➳ Where to stay in Vienna: find your hotel in Vienna
Vienna is full of history and beauty. It is impressive how elegant the city looks with over 2,000 years of history. Vienna was a the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and you can see in the architecture how the city was designed to impress all its visitors. By spending three days in Vienna, you can see many artistic masterpieces, listen to musical legends and fall in love even more with this unique city.
With just three days in Vienna it is important to have a plan with all the attractions you want to see and experience. Since it is a short visit, it can be worth getting a Vienna pass to help move around the city and get into attractions.
How to get to Vienna?
Vienna is located in Eastern Europe and it is really accessible from any major countries by train, bus and plane. Its located between Prague and Budapest. It is a short bus ride from Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. There are many great bus options, for example, Flixbus, that we have used ourselves several times in the past. The buses are comfy and in our experience, the busses run on schedule.
How to get from and to the airport of Vienna?
Vienna’s international airport is 16 km outside the city center and has plenty of transportation methods to take you from the airport to downtown Vienna. The best ways to travel from and to the airport are:
- Private Transfer: It is the easiest and most comfortable way to get to the city centre but it is also the most expensive option. If you are not on a budget then you can book your transfer online before your departure and a driver will be waiting for you at arrival. It takes 20 minutes depending on traffic and cost €45. Book your transfers in Vienna.
- City Airport Train: The train from Vienna airport to the city centre takes 16 minutes. The train runs from the airport to the city centre every day from 6:09 AM to 11:39 PM every 30 minutes. From the city centre to the airport it runs from 5:37 AM to 11:07 PM every 30 minutes as well. The tickets cost €11 for a one way ticket and €19 for roundtrip.
- Express Train S7: This train takes about 37 minutes and it runs from the airport to the city centre every day from 5:18 AM to 0:18 AM and from the city centre to the airport from 4:36 AM to 11:36 PM. You will need two tickets and the total will be €4.10 each way. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket machine and must be stamped before entering the train.
Vienna Card vs Vienna Pass?
Nearly all the things to do in Vienna have an entry fee, so a good way to save money but still enjoy some of the best attractions in Vienna is by using a pass. There are 3 type of passes in Vienna that depending on your budget and preference are a better option for you.
The Vienna Pass includes access to over 60 different attractions and allows you to skip the line at the majority of the popular attractions in Vienna. The price for the Vienna Pass ranges from $77 USD for one day to $172 for 6 days. The Vienna Pass includes unlimited use of the Vienna tourist buses (Hop On Hop Off sightseeing tours). You can also add a TRAVELCARD that includes all the public transportation in the city. The TRAVELCARD cost €8 for 24 hours, €14 for 48 hours and €17 for 72 hours.
The Vienna Flexi Pass gives you access to 3, 4 or 5 tourist attractions out of more than 30 options. The pass also lets you skip the line at the some of the attractions. The Flexi Pass with 3 sights cost $50, with 4 sights $60 and with 5 sights $72.
The Vienna City Card which gives access to all public transportation such as trams, busses and subways along with discounts at many of the main attractions and restaurants. It costs €17 for 24 hours, €25 for 48 hours and €29 for 72 hours. On top of that you can add for an extra fee the following add ons: 24-hour Hop-On Hop-Off and transfer on all modes of transport to and from Vienna Airport.
Our advice is to add up the cost of each attraction you want to visit to figure out which pass is best for your three day visit to Vienna.
How many days in Vienna?
Vienna is a beautiful cities with tons of things to do and see. We recommend to stay in Vienna for at least 2 to 3 days depending on your budget and interests. With 2 to 3 days you will be able to see the best places to visit in Vienna including the main sights and attractions. If you want to use it has a hub to make day trips from Vienna, then we recommend to spend at least 5 to 7 days in Vienna. There are so many things to do in Vienna if you enjoy getting off the beaten path and experiencing the city like a local.
Where to stay in Vienna?
The best place to stay in Vienna is around the MuseumsQuartier, which is close to a majority of the Vienna tourist attractions. We loved staying at the 25hours Hotel in the heart of the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna. Rooms range from $100 to $200 USD depending on the season. What we loved the most about staying at the 25hours Hotel was its decoration, we were amazed with the amount of creativity, uniqueness and colorful vintage decor.
➳ Read more: Our experience staying at the 25hour hotel in Vienna
Vienna has different ranges of hotels and hostels from budget friendly to mid-range to luxurious options. Make sure to choose one that fits your needs and your budget.
Where to see live music in Vienna?
There are many venues throughout the city where you can attend a classical music concert and enjoy live music. For instance you can go to the Vienna Opera House or any of the churches that offers live music concerts.
A great option to check a list of events in Vienna is the Vienna’s official website.
How to get around Vienna?
Vienna like any other European city is very walkable. The majority of this 3 day itinerary can be done on foot with the exception of some places like the Schönbrunn Palace and the Danube Tower for which it is best to take public transport, tourist buses or a taxi.
Once you are in Vienna, it is really easy to move around using the public transport. Both times we have been in Vienna we have used the metro to go from place to place. The metro is fastest and easy to understand even if you do not speak German.
The tickets for all public transportation can be bought from machines at metro stations and other points of sale across Vienna. If you choose you use public transport remember to validate your ticket at special validation machine before using the transport. The ticket costs 2 EUR and is the cheapest way how to move around Vienna besides walking.
What to do in Vienna travel video
3 Day Vienna Itinerary Map
In this Vienna tourist map we have added all the locations you must visit in Vienna. In this map you will find all the attractions you must visit in your three day Vienna itinerary.
22 Unique things you must do in Vienna in three days:
Day 1: Explore downtown Vienna
1. Have breakfast at the Cafe Central
The Cafe Central is one of the most beautiful coffee shops we have seen in our life. It is best to go early in the morning to avoid lines. We went twice for breakfast and there was no line but in the afternoon we tried to go back and the line was long. All the food is really good especially the desserts. While you are at the coffee shop you should try the Viennese coffee. Having a desert in Cafe Central is a must do in Vienna.
➳ Tip: Try the Sisi dessert and the teas!
2. Visit the National Theater of Austria
Enjoy a guided tour of the Burgtheater, one of the most prominent German language theaters in the world. See the beautiful 19th century building and its famous ceiling paintings by Gustav Klimt.
3. Vienna City Hall (Rathaus)
The Vienna City Hall is an impressive building that will definitely catch your attention. It is a nice building to go inside as they offer free guided tours that will take you to different staterooms such as the Council Chamber, the Stone Halls, the staircases and the Senate chambers. In your three day trip to vienna you must visit the Vienna City Hall.
During the winter, specially in November and December, you will find in front of the City Hall, one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Austria.
4. Vienna Parliament
The Vienna Parliament was inspired by the Greeks and it was built between 1874 and 1883.
5. Visit the Imperial Palace of Hofburg
The Imperial Palace of Hofburg was the residence of the Habsburgo family for over six hundred years and without a doubt it is one of the most interesting complexes in all of Vienna.
To learn more about Empress Elisabeth of Austria, visit the Sisi Museum inside the palace. At the museum will learn more about the life of the aristocrats back in the 19th century.
In the complex, you will also find one Vienna’s most famous attractions, the Spanish Equestrian School of Vienna, which has been well known for its Lipizzan horses and classes since 1572. If you have the Vienna Pass the tickets, the morning practices and the tour are included.
Make sure to watch a show in the winter riding school arena for a small fee. Throughout the week, the riders and the horses do training exercises in the arena every morning. Just be aware that you will be watching training exercises rather than a whole show. If you want to see an elaborate coordinated spectacle it would be better to attend an actual performance.
6. Walk down Graben Street
Graben Street is the is one of the most important promenades and commercial street in Vienna, where you can find the most exclusive and expensive brands.
7. Go inside the magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is found right in the centre of Vienna’s old town and only a few blocks away from St. Peter’s Church. It is one of the most impressive cathedrals in the city and a must to do in Vienna.
The first thing that catches your attention is the glazed and ornate painted tiles on the roof. The entrance to the cathedral is free of charge but you can also visit the two large towers on the side for a fee. The South Tower is 136m tall (only stairs) and offers the best views over Vienna while the northern tower is only 68 metres tall (it has an elevator). You are also able to visit the catacomb, for an additional fee unless you have the Vienna Pass.
8. Look at the Anker Clock
The Anker Clock is a beautiful clock on a bridge between two buildings. Every hour a historical figurine moves across the bridge with a full parade at noon. Make sure to take a selfie with one of the most unique attractions in Vienna.
9. Go inside the Saint Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)
Saint Peter’s church is one of the most ornate churches we have visited. This Baroque Roman Catholic is not to be missed when visiting Vienna and it is free to visit.
Day 2: Visit the palace and explore beyond downtown Vienna
10. Visit the Schonbrunn Palace
The Schonbrunn Palace was once the home of the Habsburg empire and it is considered the Versalles of Vienna, which comes as no surprise with just one look. The entrance to the palace is included in the Vienna Pass.
Plan to spend at least half the day exploring this beautiful palace. As soon as you get to the palace sign up for the palace tour and get tickets for the other attractions you want to visit. Some of the things to do at the palace are visiting the oldest zoo in the Western world, visiting the Imperial Carriage Museum, attend the Apple Strudel show, and taking a stroll around the Orangery.
The Schönbrunn Palace is open every day at 8 AM and it closes depending on the time of year. Check their opening times and prices here.
➳ Tip: Visit the massive gardens at the Schonbrunn Palace.
11. Enjoy the famous Sachertorte at Café Sacher
While in Vienna make sure to try the Sachertorte cake. This delicious chocolate sponge filled with apricot jam and a thick crust of hard dark chocolate will blow your mind. The Sachertorte is a symbol of the city.
12. Visit the National Library of Austria
National Library of Austria was built in the 18th Century and is considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. It is also free with the Vienna Pass.
13. Walk down the Karntner Strabe
Karntner Strabe is a pedestrian avenue with many tourist shops, flagship stores and historical buildings.
14. Take a Vienna State Opera House Tour
The State Opera House is one of the most beautiful and world famous Opera venues in the world. It dates from 1869 and have hosted some of the world’s most famous singers and conductors.
You can take a guided tour or enjoy a performance. The ticket prices vary depending on where you would like to sit but it is a great way to see the venue and enjoy a show. If you choose to take a 40 minute tour around the Vienna State Opera House, you will learn all about the history of the building, how the opera house runs and all the main highlights that make this venue fascinating.
➳ Fun Fact: The Opera House was damaged during WWII but gladly it was reopened in the 1950s.
15. Walk down the Ringstrasse Boulevard
It is 5.3 KM long boulevard with impressive buildings and shops lining the road. The majority of the important buildings in Vienna are located along this boulevard. You can either walk the whole thing, a section of the road or take the Vienna Ring Tram. Walking down Ringstrasse Boulevard is a must thing to do in Vienna.
16. Visit the Karlskirche
St. Charles Church is an 18th century Baroque style church with two impressive spiral columns on the exterior and a lake in front of it that offers a beautiful reflection of the church. The best thing to do inside the church is admire the beautiful frescoes in the interior of the dome.
You can also take a panoramic elevator for a closer view of the frescoes. It is not free to visit the church but it is worth paying the admission fee to see this beautiful church. Make sure to check the opening hours of the church on its official website.
The Karlskirche is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city and definitely something you cannot miss on your 3 days in Vienna!
Karlskirche was built by the Emperor Charles VI to celebrate the end of the plague in the city, and is dedicated to St. Charles, known as a plague healer.
Day 3: Explore outside downtown Vienna
17. Visit the Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the most impressive buildings in the city and definitely an attraction you must visit in Vienna. The palace was constructed in the early 18th century as the Summer residence for Prince Eugene.
The palace consists of two buildings, the Upper and Lower Belvedere. The buildings are separated by sloped landscaped gardens with several sculptures and water features.
Inside the palace there is the famous painting of Gustav Klimt called “The Kiss”. You will also find a number of artworks from Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne, and Max Beckmann.
The best time to enjoy the sprawling gardens is in during late Spring and Summer. If you have a Vienna Pass both ticket are included. Check out the prices for either of the palaces in here.
The Upper Belvedere is open daily from 9AM to 6PM from Sunday to Thursday and until 9PM on Fridays. The Lower Belvedere is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM from Sunday to Thursday and until 9PM on Fridays.
18. Visit the Hundertwasserhaus
The Hundertwasserhaus is so colorful and totally different from the rest of the city and it makes you feel like you are visiting a new destination. It is a little bit out of the way versus most of Vienna’s attractions but it is well worth the visit.
19. Visit the St. Francis of Assisi Church
We love the architecture of the St. Francis of Assisi Church as it looks like a royal palace unlike other churches in the region.
20. Danube Tower
The best view of Vienna can be seeing from the Danube Tower. It is the tallest structure in Austria at 450 ft. From the viewing platforms you get an excellent view of the entire city and the surrounding areas. The Danube Tower is open from 10:00 AM to midnight every day.
In your 3 day itinerary to Vienna make sure to include the Naschmarkt. It is not only a landmark of Vienna, but it is also a great place to get food. There are over 100 stalls selling meats, cheeses, herbs, and spices.
Every Saturday there is a flea market which sells everything from records to clothes.
22. City River Cruise
A unique way to explore Vienna is with a river cruise. We always recommend to take a boat tour down the Danube after exploring the city on land. A river cruise will give you a different perspective and you can get truly unique photos of the different landmarks in Vienna from the water.
If you have more time visit the following museums:
- Wien Museum: At the Wien Museum you will learn more about the history of Vienna. The interesting thing about this museum is that there are several buildings spread out around the city. The most popular building is the Karlsplatz, where you will find neolithic finds, roman archaeological discoveries and artwork from Gustav Klimt.
- Albertina: It is the most popular art museum in Vienna with a collection over of over a million items, 65,000 drawings, photography and old masters paintings including artwork from Monet, Cezanne, and Picasso. The Albertina Museum is open from 10AM to 6PM on Sunday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and until 9PM on Wednesdays and Fridays.
- Natural History Museum: what we love the most about the Natural History Museum is the building where it is hosted. The museum collection contains over 25 million items including dinosaur skeletons. The Natural History Museum is open from Thursday to Monday from 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM and on Wednesday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
- Sigmund Freud Museum: The interesting thing about this museum is that it is hosted in the former apartment and office of Freud himself. The museum is not big but it has many items that belonged to Freud. At the museum you can learn the history of psychoanalysis and its influence on art and society.
- Kunsthistorisches Museum: It is the largest art museum in Austria and one of the most beautiful buildings as well. In the museum you will find paintings from the Habsburg era and Egyptian, Greek and Roman relics.
- Mozarthaus Vienna: The Mozarthaus is the former home of Mozart. He lived at this property for three years between 1784 and 1787. The museum tells the life of the composer. The Mozarthaus is open daily from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. You can buy your ticket here!
- Walk around the MuseumsQuartier: In Vienna MuseumsQuartier you will find the Architecture Center Vienna, Leopold Museum collection, and the Kunsthalle Wien.
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