3 Days in Vienna—The City of Dreams

If you need ideas for how to spend 3 days in Vienna, look no further! We have the perfect tips to make your stay in Austria’s capital absolutely brilliant.

Vienna is well-cemented on the European backpacking route, and for good reason! This charming city packs a big punch when it comes to sightseeing and unique things to do. You’ll probably find out quickly that three days simply isn’t enough time to fully explore the city, but what a wonderful excuse to come back, right?

About Vienna

Zagreb at dusk

Vienna has consistently ranked as one of the best cities in the world. It is the birthplace of classical music, home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and packed with stunning architecture and exciting things to do. On top of all of that, the City of Dreams is also insanely walkable and full of cozy coffee shops. 

If you have time to spend a weekend in Vienna, you should prioritize it. You won’t be sorry.

3 Days in Vienna: An Itinerary

Cityscape of Vienna

Day 1—Get Acquainted with the City

There are so many great things to do in Vienna that you have to hit the ground running once you arrive. 

First, start off by exploring the famous Old Town on foot. There are plenty of self-guided walking tours you can do or, if you prefer to learn as you walk, you can join a free tour of the city. 

No matter what tour you choose, you’ll be taken to similar (but fantastic) historical sites in the city. 

Be sure to stop by Mozarthaus, the only building still standing where Mozart lived. 

From there, you can easily wander to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This is the city’s defining landmark and an absolute must-see during your 3 days in Vienna. The cathedral’s towers are open to the public, and you can climb to the top for free. 

St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

The church is beautiful, equipped with a multi-colored tiled roof, making it a perfect place for photos. 

Pro tip: Go during the day when you can check it out in the sun! It makes the experience that much better. 

When it’s time for a much-needed break, what better way than with a Viennese coffee? Have you even been to Vienna if you haven’t been to a traditional kaffehaus? They are required places to visit while in Vienna for 3 days.

The city is full of gorgeous cafés that stick to the traditional way of making and presenting Vienna’s top drink. Café Sacher and Sperl are top recommendations.

Sachertorte chocolate cake in Vienna

Café Central is another cool option if you want to experience a kaffeehaus frequented by Sigmund Freud or Leon Trotsky. While you’re here, but sure to try a sachertorte, Vienna’s traditional dessert filled with chocolate sponge, ganache, and apricot jam-filled. It is to die for.

Just a 10-minute walk further is the Vienna State Opera House, another famous building in the city. Take a guided tour to learn about the famous musicians who have graced the stage.

Come back during the evening and try to grab €10 tickets to the night performances. It’s usually standing room only, but well worth it for the cultural experience!

Day 2—Visit all the Palaces in Vienna

Schönnbraun Palace in Vienna

No Vienna trip would be complete without seeing the Schönnbraun and Hofburg Palaces.

Schönbraunn Palace was the summer home to the Hapsburgs, one of the most powerful family dynasties in Europe. It also has UNESCO World Heritage status and is the most visited palace in the city.

The palace has a staggering 1441 rooms—40 open to the public. Once you arrive at Schönnbraun, you have the option to take a variety of guided tours. Be sure to find a tour that includes the Mirror Room. This is where Mozart gave his very first concert at the age of six and is one of the most impressive things to do in Vienna.

In the afternoon, you can also see Hofburg Palace, the primary home to the Hapsburgs. Since 1946 this has also been the official home of the president of Austria. However, unlike many other presidential residences, you can pay a small fee to enter and tour this stately building.

Once you finish there, head to the Naschmarkt. This mile-long market is located near the St. Charles Church. It sells a plethora of local and traditional Austrian foods. It is the perfect way to end your day!

Day 3—Drink in all of Vienna’s Culture

Vineyards outside of Vienna, Austria

Because 2 days in Vienna just isn’t enough, be sure to stick around on your third day to wander through some of the world-famous museums or enjoy local Austrian wine.

Surprisingly, Vienna’s city limits are actually home to 700 hectares of vineyards. And if you didn’t already know, Austrian wine is delicious, so you are in for a treat when you go wine tasting. 

If you haven’t had your fill of palaces during your 3 days in Vienna, another grandiose option is Belvedere Palace. This UNESCO site is a top tourist attraction and also functions as a museum. You can wander the beautiful complex of buildings and learn all about Austrian Baroque art. 

If it’s too early for wine tastings (although you are on vacation), the city boasts around 100 different museums to enjoy.

Inside a museum in Vienna, Austria
  • The former residence of Sigmund Freud has been turned into a museum to display information about his life and meaningful work.
  • Museumsquartier is another excellent place to see. It is essentially an urban living room with many different works and areas to explore. 
  • If you prefer impressionist art, head to Albertinaplatz. This museum is home to plenty of Monet, Degas, and Picasso paintings.
  • If your love of classical music has brought you to Vienna, the Beethoven museum won’t disappoint.
  • The Jewish Museum documents the country’s Jews from the Middle Ages to today and combines it with the Jewish history of the city. It’s fascinating.  

Obviously, you couldn’t see them all on your last day, but now you know why 3 days in Vienna simply isn’t enough!

If you have more time, consider spending a week in Vienna! As you can see, there is more than enough to keep you entertained.

Day Trips from Vienna

Hallstatt, Austria town on the lake

If there is time for a day trip from Vienna, there are several magical places to go.

One of the best options is the picturesque village of Hallstatt. It is on a lake surrounded by mountains and is one of the most beautiful places in Austria. 

Because it is so stunning, Hallstatt is also one of the most crowded, no matter what time of year you go. So be sure to head there early in the day to beat the swarm of tourists.

One hour outside Vienna is Wachau Valley, home to charming towns, wine, and castles. What more could you want?  

Finally, Cesky Krumlov is a great option because it is only two and a half hours away. Located in the Czech Republic, this storybook town is just the right amount of quaint and quirky. Be sure to visit the historic Old Town and take plenty of photos!

Where to go After Vienna

theater in Zagreb, Croatia

If you plan to expand your trip around Central Europe, you can easily head from Vienna to Graz. Austria’s second-largest city is a mere two-and-a-half-hour bus ride away and there are tons of things to do in Graz.

When you’re ready to leave the land of The Sound of Music, consider traveling from Vienna to Maribor, Slovenia. It is only a 250 km (~156 miles) journey south, and buses cost less than $15.

Croatia has been calling lots of visitors lately. If you’re ready to explore its fascinating capital, take the bus from Vienna to Zagreb. It takes five and a half hours and is such a scenic ride that you’ll feel it took no time!

No matter where you go next, you’ll treasure your 3 days in Vienna. 

FAQ

Is Austria part of the Schengen Zone?

Yes. It’s a member of the European Union and the Schengen Zone. Keep this in mind if you are required to obtain a Schengen Visa prior to travel. Most visas are good for 90 days within the Schengen Zone. 

What language do people speak in Vienna?

Most people in Vienna, or Wien as the locals say, speak German. However, most people speak English. So, you should be able to get around in tourist areas without any problems. Signs, especially in museums, will be in German and English.

Is public transportation reliable in Vienna?

Absolutely, it has a well-developed public transportation system. Subways, trains, and buses can take you pretty much anywhere. Additionally, you can hire a taxi or Uber. 

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