Vienna was the first city in Europe I fell in love with. I went there for a school trip back when I was 16 and even if we spent only one day in Vienna I knew I will be returning there. And I did!
Over the years I went to the capital of Austria so many times I’ve lost the count. At some point I even knew the city so much better than Warsaw! In many cases I’ve spent one day in Vienna only, taking a night train there and back, so by now I’ve mastered the skill how to have the most of the little time you might have there!
My recent trip was also rather short so again I’ve squeezed all the best things to see in Vienna in just one day. I know the city deserves so much more, there were trips when I’ve spent a week or so there (including Vienna in winter) and still haven’t seen everything. But if you’re short on time and have only one day in Vienna this little guide might help you to plan your whereabouts!
Before you set off to explore Vienna in one day you need to decide how you want to get around the city. You might use the public transport (8€ for 24 hours ticket) or you can use the convenient hop-on, hop-off bus that will take you directly to all the Vienna highlights, without the hassle of navigating through the metro, tram and bus network. Click here to read the details and book the ticket for the hop-on, hop-off bus!
Now, that you’re settled with the transportation let’s see how to use the best the one day in Vienna!
Table of contents
- 1 Start your one day in Vienna at traditional cafe
- 2 Explore the Inner City
- 3 Hofburg – the imperial residence
- 4 Ring Road – where to find the most important buildings in Vienna
- 5 Karlsplatz and Naschmarkt – the art nouveau hub
- 6 Schönbrunn Palace – where Empress Sissi used to live
- 7 Hundertwasserhaus – the funky side of Vienna
- 8 Prater – a fun ending of your one day in Vienna
Start your one day in Vienna at traditional cafe
Vienna is famous for its traditional coffee houses that eventually spread all over former Habsburg Empire. I can’t imagine a better place to quietly sip a strong coffee while reading the newspaper or to have a discussion about literature. It feels like the time has stopped there but no one really minds.
The most famous one is Cafe Havelka, hidden in Dorotheergasse, few steps away from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. My favorite, however, is Cafe Pruckel, in front of the Stadtpark and next to Stubentor subway station. Even if you do the budget travel to Vienna you should stop in one of the cafes!
Explore the Inner City
The center of Vienna is closed within Ring Road – everything you find inside is the Inner City. After you’re done with your morning coffee that’s where you should head to.
The very center is Stephansplatz with magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral – it’s definitely worth stepping inside as the interior is as breathtaking as the building itself. Be sure to visit the tower and the catacombs too! You can prebook the ticket for these and save up to 35%! Click here to find out more details and book the ticket for your visit at St. Stephen’s Cathedral!
Now from Stephansplatz you have two main options: Kartnerstrasse – the main shopping street in this area or Graben – the street with stunning houses along the way. I always choose the second option and go to Hofburg that way.
But before heading that way you can also look for traces of art nouveau architecture in the Inner City! My recent discoveries were Ankeruhr – an art nouveau clock that gives a show at noon (kind of like astronomical clocks in Prague or Olomouc) and the building of Austrian Postal Savings Bank designed by the most famous Viennese architect of that time Otto Wagner.
Since your time in Vienna is limited you might also want to join the highly rated walking tour with the professional guide to get to know the Inner City and to learn more about the capital of Austria. The tour lasts up to 2 hours and gives you a great overview of the place. Click here to read more about it and to reserve your spot!
Hofburg – the imperial residence
A majestic imperial palace that used to be home to the rulers of the country. Hofburg was rebuilt numerous time and now it’s a real mix of styles, with baroque and classicism being the dominant ones. When you cross the inner yard pay attention to the renaissance Swiss Gate as it’s really beautiful!
If you’d like to see the incredible Imperial Treasury you’re in the right place as all those beauties are on display in Hofburg! You can book your ticket for a visit here (click!).
Ring Road – where to find the most important buildings in Vienna
The Inner Town is surrounded by Ring Road (with couple of different names, always with -ring at the end). That’s where you will find the most important and most spectacular buildings in Vienna: the Opera House, the Parliament, the State Theater, the Town Hall or the University – just to name the few.
The most interesting part is between the Opera and Votivkirche. You can walk it (highly recommended as the sidewalk is broad and hidden in the shadow of trees) or if you feel lazy you might take the tram and look at all these beauties while moving around.
Karlsplatz and Naschmarkt – the art nouveau hub
Vienna is famous for its art nouveau and even if there aren’t as many amazing buildings as in Riga you can still find some real gems around. The most amazing ones are located around Karlsplatz and Naschmarkt – the metro station, the Secession building with the Museum inside (not worth the money in my opinion) or three houses at Linke Wienzeile 38, 40, and 42.
While you’re at Karlsplatz make sure to visit beautiful Karlskirche – probably the most beautiful church in Vienna with two massive columns on both sides.
You should also walk through Naschmarkt – the most popular market in the city. While the first part is full of small restaurants serving food from all over the world, the further you go the more down to earth it gets and eventually it turns out into the flea market.
Schönbrunn Palace – where Empress Sissi used to live
This is one of the most important landmarks in Vienna and whole Austria. A beautiful baroque palace that used to be the summer residence of Habsburgs, including the famous Empress Sissi.
If you manage to get some extra time it’s worth to visit in inside – you will see only a small part of over 1.000 rooms but they are just stunning! But even if you’ll stay outside only you’re in for a treat!
The gardens surrounding the palace are equally beautiful and wandering around is a pure pleasure! Be sure to go up to the Gloriette too as the view from there is really good!
To use your time as best as possible I highly recommend booking the tour of the palace and the gardens with the skip-the-line ticket. The guide will show you all the best corners of the premises and tell you all about Schönbrunn Palace. Click here to read more details about the tour and to book it!
Hundertwasserhaus – the funky side of Vienna
The capital of Austria isn’t only about imperial, Habsburg remnants. In your one day in Vienna you can see also its funky side with its best example – Hundertwasserhaus.
This is probably the most famous work of the Austrian / New Zealand artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and you will see how popular it is when you get there. There always seems to be tours visiting the place, opposite Hunderwasserthouse you will also find a big souvenirs shops. But even with the hype, it is a really lovely place to visit as the house is just the cutest, with all these strong colors and unusual shapes!
Not too far from Hunderwasserthouse you will find KunstHausWien, designed by the same artist but with way less people around! That’s where the Museum Hundertwasser is located – if you are intrigued by the funky artist and his work you can’t miss this place! Click here to book your ticket!
Prater – a fun ending of your one day in Vienna
Prater – a huge park that used to be Habsburg’s hunting area – is especially known for the amusement park with the big wheel built in 1897. Your one day in Vienna wouldn’t be completed without riding the famous ferris wheel, with spectacular views of the city! Click here to book your ticket for the ride!
Besides the Ferris wheel, there are so many attractions to choose from and some of them are really terrifying (I’m speaking from my own experience). The amusement park is open till midnight which makes a perfect and fun end of your one day in Vienna!
If you’re tired with Prater amusement park you might choose another activity to finish your day – a relaxing evening cruise through Danube Canal with the dinner included. Click here to read more details and book the cruise!
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