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!
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
- 9 Zucchini in Vienna and a great new mobile phone accessory
- 10 Vienna – practical information
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.
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. Now from Stephansplatz you have two main options: Kartnerstrasse – the main shopping street in this area or Graben – 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.
Hofburg – the imperial residence
A majestic imperial palace that used to be a 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!
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 though Naschmarkt – the most popular market 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!
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!
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. 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!
Zucchini in Vienna and a great new mobile phone accessory
I know how silly this subtitle might sound but those who follow me on Facebook already know the story of travelling zucchini.
I was leaving for Vienna directly from work. On that very day a friend of mine brought me a giant zucchini from his garden. And by giant I mean at least 2 kgs of weight.
I put it into my bag, together with some shopping for the 8 hours train trip, to take to my room at work and totally forgot about it. Some 2 hours into the journey I was about to take the water from the bag only to find the giant zucchini going with me. I couldn’t stop laughing for some solid 10 minutes.
When I shared a picture on Facebook someone suggested I should take the vegetable for sightseeing in Vienna with me. And I did so!
It wasn’t so easy to carry it all day long but the most challenging part was to take pictures of the zucchini. Not only it was really heave but also it was too big to fit in the picture.
Fortunately I had my new Pixter lenses with me – I got the starter pack (that includes wide angle, fish eye and macro lenses) and it was more than handy! You basically just clip the lenses onto you mobile phone and voila, you can take a completely different and better pictures!
To be honest I would probably have ditched the idea of travelling zucchini photo shoot if it wasn’t for those lenses as at least I could fit the zucchini in the picture together with the landmark – my regular camera wasn’t able to do that.
The lenses are small, handy and easy to use. I was carrying them for all the time in the front pocket of my jeans and could easily get them and put them on the mobile phone whenever I wanted to. The quality of pictures turned out to be really good, just like from the phone itself.
If you’re too lazy to carry the camera with you during your travels I honestly can’t think of the better way to improve your mobile travel pictures as the lenses give you so many new options and angles. After playing with Pixter accessories I can understand more and more people who use mobile phones only for their travel pictures!
Even if I only have those three lenses there are few more to choose from. Just head to Pixter website to see the whole selection of the accessories for the mobile phone photography.
Vienna – practical information
How to get to Vienna?
I took the direct train from Warsaw – it takes around 7 hours and there are 3 connections per day. You can also fly to Vienna from just about every country in Europe. You should check low cost flights to Bratislava too as this is the cheap airport for Vienna. I always look for my flights on SkyScanner as I love their options “anywhere” and “cheapest month”!
Where to sleep in Vienna?
I found a really good deal in Ibis Wien Messe – 93€ for two people and two nights, with breakfast! The hotel was clean, comfortable with good selection for breakfast and super comfy bed – I slept like a baby! The hotel was located few steps away from the metro station Vorgartenstrasse and within a walking distance to Prater. Click here to see the details and current deals!
How to get around in Vienna?
No matter if you spend one day in Vienna or more you definitely should get a public transport pass. There are numerous option to choose from and you will find the one that suits you for sure! Here you can read more details!
Don’t travel without a travel insurance! I’ve learnt my lesson that you never know what might happen and I don’t leave the house without being insured. Click here for more info and best rates on travel insurance at World Nomads!
Disclaimer: yes, this post is in collaboration with Pixter but I mean every word I wrote here, their lenses are really cool and the zucchini story really happened!
If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 23.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss new posts sign up to my newsletter or follow on Bloglovin!
Disclaimer: there are affiliate links in some of the posts on this website. If you book or purchase anything though the links listed here I will get a small commission at no extra costs for you. This helps me run this page and provide you the most useful travel information. Thank you! I recommend only products I genuinely belive in.