Vienna is a truly beautiful city with plenty of things to do and it’s well worth a visit even for a short city break.
If you have just 2 days in Vienna, this guide will give you some ideas on what to see and do.
This Vienna itinerary includes some of the highlights and key attractions, some fun things to do, typical Viennese experiences and good places to eat.
I’ve also included some useful tips about where to stay, how to get around and how to save money in Vienna.
The capital of Austria is a big city, but not too big.
Luckily, many of its attractions are close to each other, so you’ll be able to see many of them in 48 hours.
I recommend you book tickets online a few days in advance, because it’s a popular destination with tourists and can sometimes get crowded.
There’s a lot to see in the city, but a short visit of 2 days in Vienna will give you a taste of all the brilliant things it has to offer.
Don’t expect to see everything, just enjoy the time you have in the city and make the most of it.
Hopefully your two days in Vienna will leave you inspired and fascinated to come back and see even more of this gorgeous city.
Where to Stay in Vienna on a 2 Day Visit
The 2 day itinerary below assumes you’ll be staying in the city centre of Vienna.
That’s where most of the main attractions and museums are.
It’s also a walkable area and staying in the centre will save you a lot of time.
Hotels in Vienna
There are some top quality hotels that are ideal for a vacation of 2 days in Vienna.
TIP! You can take advantage of the standard hotels.com offer, that gives you a free night for every 10 nights you book (anywhere in the world).
Here are some highly rated hotels in the heart of Vienna:
Hotel Sacher Wien: A 5-star luxury hotel with exceptional reviews right next to the Opera House (i.e. very central).
Schlosshotel Römischer Kaiser: A 4-star traditional hotel in the city centre, but on a quiet street.
Motel One Wien-Staatsoper: A 3-star hotel in a very central location with great reviews.
If you want to stay in a design hotel, check out this lovely selection of design hotels in Vienna.
Follow this Vienna itinerary to plan your schedule easily on a 2 day visit to Vienna.
Vienna Itinerary: Day 1
On your first day in Vienna, get to know the city, learn a bit about its history and enjoy some fun activities.
Free walking tour
It’s always a good idea to take a walking tour when you first arrive in a new city.
There are several free walking tours in Vienna.
I took the Welcome Tour Vienna on my first day in the city.
Walking tours cover most of the main highlights in a couple of hours.
They give you an overview of the history and some nice and funny anecdotes. What’s more, you can always ask the guide for local tips.
Other free walking tours in Vienna include Prime Tours and Good Vienna Tours.
On free tours, you’re expected to tip the guide at the end of the tour. Pay as much as you think the tour was worth.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1010, Vienna
Time Travel Vienna – The Multimedia History Ride
After the walking tour, head to Time Travel: Magic Vienna History Tour.
It’s a unique attraction in Vienna. It’s also extremely popular, so you want to book tickets in advance.
I didn’t book in advance, and when I arrived was told that the next available entry would be a couple of hours later… So I went next door to the amazing Tricky Mind Museum in the meantime (more about it below).
However, if your time is limited in Vienna, it really is best to book online in advance.
Time Travel is designed as an entertaining, interactive multimedia experience.
It takes about an hour, during which you’ll get to know Vienna’s history through a 5D cinema, animated mannequins of Vienna’s historical celebs, a beautiful virtual reality experience and many other surprises.
It’s for both kids and adults. The guide speaks German, but you can collect your audio guide before you enter. It’s available in English and 10 other languages.
Address: Habsburgergasse 10A, 1010 Vienna
TrickyMind – 3D & Augmented Reality Museum
Right next to Time Travel is a relatively new museum that is well worth a visit.
It has three floors of brilliant, inventive mind trickery.
To enjoy this museum fully, you’ll need to download its app (they’ll give you a wifi password).
When you go inside, use the app to point at anything that has the AR sign next to it.
The 3d pictures have an example sign showing where you can stand to see the effect.
Then you can record video and take pictures through the app.
You want to go with someone so you can take pictures of each other. If you’re travelling solo, just ask the staff to take some pictures of you.
This was such a cool experience! You might say this is the next generation of museums of illusions (though there is one of those in Vienna too).
After you explore the huge collection of visual mind tricks on the first and second floor, go downstairs to the basement, where you get to walk around large famous masterpieces by Gustav Klimt, Van Gogh, Claude Monet and other artists.
They are illuminated with UV light and the glow in the dark effect is quite stunning.
Address: Habsburgergasse 10, 1010 Vienna
Lunch Break in the Centre of Vienna
At this point in your day, you’ll be at the very centre of the city, close to most of the attractions and with plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby.
I recommend Veggiezz for a nice lunch in this area of Vienna.
There’s plenty of choice on the menu and the service is fast.
I enjoyed one of their vegan burgers, but you can also find soup, salads, pasta, wraps and healthy bowls on the menu.
Address: Opernring 6, 1010 Vienna
The Spectacular Austrian National Library
This magnificent library is the best preserved Baroque library in Europe.
This isn’t really the place you want to go to read books when you visit Vienna; rather, it’s the mesmerising design of the interior that attracts so many visitors to this library.
Enter the Baroque State Hall and have your camera ready!
Everywhere you look you’ll see the most gorgeous paintings and decorations.
There is a short guided tour in English that you can take in the library.
It’s only 25 minutes long and will introduce you to the history of this beautiful Viennese spectacle.
I also learnt some technical details on this tour about how the books have been preserved for so many years.
Address: Josefsplatz 1, 1015 Vienna
When you exit the library, you’ll be in the same building of the Hofburg Palace. More beautiful things await you here.
Historically, this was the imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty. These days it is the home and office of the President of Austria.
The Sisi Museum features the Austrian Empress Elisabeth, her life story and her personal items, like dresses and jewellery.
The Imperial Apartments are truly luxurious Rococo style gems, and there are no less than 24 rooms to explore.
The Silver Collection is the final part of the exhibition, with a display full of silver, gold, porcelain and crystal.
Visit the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments and the Silver Collection with the same ticket.
You can use an audio guide or join a guided tour.
Address: Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna
See Live Music in Vienna
Music is part of the Viennese experience and an opera or a concert are a great way to end a day of exploring the city.
The State Opera in Vienna
One of the coolest things about the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) is that you can get a last minute ticket for as little as €10!
While tickets to the opera in Vienna can cost as much as €200, the opera offers discounted standing tickets.
On my recent visit to Vienna, I got in line about an hour before the show to get a standing ticket.
They’re very popular and I think the experience is worth it. I used the waiting time to read the opera synopsis 😉
How do you get a standing ticket to the Vienna State Opera?
You need to go the Stehplatz-Kasse, a special ticket office inside the building which opens 80 minutes before the show.
You’ll have to pay cash for your ticket, so prepare €10 in cash.
Once the ticket office opens, the queue moves quickly.
After you enter the theatre and find a spot, they then ask you to leave bags and coats in the cloakroom. It can get pretty hot inside.
Mark your place with a scarf and you can go to the cloakroom, the bar or the toilets freely before the show starts.
You’ll also have plenty of time to take photos of the theatre and take all the selfies you like. The building is really beautiful.
Standing for the duration of an opera performance isn’t as hard it it might seem. Also, the view form the standing area was excellent.
There’s a screen with a language menu, so you can see the libretto in whatever language you need to follow the plot.
Address: Opernring 2, 1010 Vienna
Classical Music Concerts in Vienna
If you can’t get a last minute ticket, or don’t fancy waiting in line for it, there are other classical music concerts you can go to in Vienna.
One typical Viennese experience much loved by tourists is watching the musicians of the the Vienna Mozart Orchestra in Baroque costumes and wigs perform the greatest hits of Mozart and Strauss.
I went to one of these concerts on my first visit to Vienna. It’s a very entertaining evening.
Even if you think you don’t know much about classical music, you’ll soon find that you know all the melodies by heart, just like everyone else in the audience 😉
Tickets are available to order online. It’s a popular attraction in Vienna, so make sure you book your tickets.
Also, there are a lot of illegal ticket touts in Vienna, lurking outside the opera house.
Make sure you book online for your peace of mind, or buy only from the official ticket office.
There are more opportunities to hear Mozart and Strauss in Vienna, including:
🎵 A daily Mozart and Strauss concert at The Kursalon.
🎵 The Vienna Hofburg Orchestra performs several times a week at different venues in the city.
Music lovers may also want to check out what’s on at the Musikverein. It’s a large concert hall in the centre of Vienna, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Vienna’s Concert Cafes
Another option for a musical evening in Vienna is to go to one of the city’s unique concert cafes to hear some live music.
The concert cafes in Vienna have live shows on a regular basis, free of charge, on different days of the week.
Some musical cafes in Vienna include: Café Bräunerhof, Café Schwarzenberg, Café Weimar, Café Prückel, Café Sperl and Café Schopenhauer. Look them up before you go to Vienna to see their current schedule.
Vienna Itinerary: Day 2
On the second day in Vienna, you already know the city centre and the Old Town and it’s time to explore it a bit more and go a bit farther (though not too far…).
Vienna House of Music
Last night’s musical evening must have left you wanting to know more about why Vienna is the classical music capital of the world.
One of the best museums in Vienna, the House of Music (Haus der Musik), uses a mix of interactive screens and historical documents to introduce visitors to the rich history of music in the city.
It covers a lot of information over several floors and keeps you engaged throughout.
There was a line at the ticket office when I went there, but luckily I’d booked a ticket in advance.
After you go up the playful piano stairs and see the exhibition about he Vienna Philharmonic, go upstairs to experience the sonosphere, a collection of mysterious sounds that appear and disappear as you walk around.
From there continue to an exhibition about the physics of sound, with some interesting displays and to the room featuring musical instruments on interactive screens.
Go up another floor to meet the great composers: Hyden, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss and Mahler.
This is the highlight of the museum. Each composer has a room in which his life and works are presented in all sorts of creative ways.
Right before the end of your visit, don’t miss the final room where you can create your own music using sensors that read your body language.
Address: Seilerstätte 30, 1010 Vienna
Weltmuseum – Vienna’s Ethnographic Museum
This museums offers some very well curated and beautifully displayed collections of artefacts from different cultures.
Weltmuseum (World Museum in German) takes you around the world to see how people lived over the past few hundred years.
It’s a big museum with a lot to see. The permanent exhibition on the second floor has 14 galleries dedicated to different parts of the world.
It was interesting to learn that Austria did not have a colonial past, and so the items were not collected while conquering other countries.
Rather, it was keen collectors and world explorers who brought these treasures back to Austria.
The large collection may feel a bit overwhelming, so my tip is to read a bit more about the museum and its highlights before you go, so you can plan your time there and see the things that interest you most.
Address: Heldenplatz, 1010 Vienna
Lunch Break in the Naschmarkt Area
A 10 minute walk from Weltmuseum is one of Vienna’s famous markets, called Naschmarkt.
Naschmarkt is an open-air market with over 100 stands and eateries.
It’s a popular market and can get crowded, especially during weekends.
On Saturdays there’s a flea market there, that’s worth a visit if you’re in Vienna on a Saturday.
You can have your lunch at the market, but I suggest you browse the market for fun and then head to Swing Kitchen, a great restaurant just a couple of minutes walk from the market itself.
The food is very tasty, with a 100% vegan selection of burgers, wraps, salads and sweets. I tried their Swiss Wrap which was really delicious.
Service is fast, so it will leave you more time to explore.
Address: Operngasse 24, 1040 Vienna
Vienna’s Museum of Applied Arts (MAK)
I’m a big fan of good design (and have already written about great design in Vienna on this blog), so this impressive design museum was one of the highlights of my trip to Vienna.
There is a lot to see in this museum, it’s big and full of surprises, so take your time.
Even before entering any of the galleries, I found myself taking endless photos of the building – it is quite stunning.
To follow the exhibition, you can use the museum’s mobile app called MAK.
It’s very easy to use and provide video and audio information about the permanent exhibition.
Some of the museum’s highlights include the Viennese Style Art Nouveau exhibition; the Asian collection, featuring arts from China, Japan and Korea; the Baroque, Rococo and Classicism rooms, with beautiful Austrian and German furniture; and the weirdly fascinating carpet collection.
Do not miss the Klimt Magic Garden virtual reality experience, it is totally psychedelic!
Also don’t miss the Design Lab downstairs, featuring contemporary and futuristic design projects.
Address: Stubenring 5, 1010 Vienna
Evening River Cruise on the Danube
A river cruise after dark, with the lovely city lights, is a great way to relax after a day of exploring the city.
There are several Danube evening cruises to choose from:
- Evening Dinner Cruise – A 3 hour cruise with a 3 course meal.
- Evening Cruise Along The Danube – A 3 hour dinner cruise without dinner.
- Cruise with Viennese Songs and Buffet – A 3.5 hour cruise with a buffet and live music.
More than 2 Days in Vienna? More Attractions!
If you can stay for more than 2 days in Vienna, you’ll be able to see some more of the best things the city has to offer.
A short trip outside the city centre will take you to two of the main attractions in Vienna:
Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens
This huge Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site, with over 1,400 rooms and massive gardens around it.
Its impressive Baroque architecture and spectacular gardens make it one of the most popular attractions in Vienna, so like many other famous sites, it’s best to book your tickets in advance.
The gardens are free to visit, but to enter the palace you’ll need to buy a ticket.
As with other famous places in Vienna, it’s best to book in advance, preferably a guided skip-the-line tour to save time.
40 of the rooms in Schönbrunn Palace are open to the public and you can see them with a guided tour or an audio guide.
One of these rooms is famous as it’s the place where Mozart performed a concert at the age of 6.
It will take you at least half a day to see Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens (which is why I didn’t include it in the short 2-day itinerary for Vienna).
It’s a little bit out of the city centre, but if you take the U-Bahn (metro), it will get you there quickly.
Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna
Prater Amusement Park
Another famous attraction in Vienna is an amusement park featuring what might look to you like an ordinary Ferris wheel, but is in fact the oldest Ferris wheel in the world, dating back to 1896.
It’s still working today, after some reconstruction.
If the weather is nice, you can ride the wheel, known as Wiener Riesenrad, and see some panoramic views of Vienna from above.
You can get skip-the-line tickets for the Ferris wheel (recommended if you visit Vienna in high season).
Address: Prater, 1020 Vienna
Travel Tips For Visiting Vienna
I’ve travelled to Vienna twice and think it’s a tourist-friendly destination overall, but there are some things that may be confusing for first time visitors.
Here are some general tips that will help you make the most of your time in Vienna.
Vienna Guide Books
These are currently the top guide books about Vienna:
Vienna travel guide by Lonely Planet
Rick Steves Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol
Fodor’s Vienna and the Best of Austria: with Salzburg & Skiing in the Alps
How to Get to Vienna
Flying to Vienna
Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat) (VIE) is just outside the city.
You can reach it from most European countries with both major and low-cost airlines and from big cities in North America.
To get to the city from the airport, use the fast City Airport Train (CAT) or the slower but cheaper S7 train.
You can also take a taxi or an Uber. It’s a convenient option and prices are pretty standard for European cities.
I got an Uber on my way to the airport for about €25. Regular taxis will charge by the meter and may cost a little more than that. The ride takes about 20-30 minutes.
Trains and Buses to Vienna
There are four big train stations in Vienna.
Vienna’s central station is called Wien Hauptbahnof. The others are Wien-Meidling Station, Vienna Westbahnhof Station and Wien-Mitte Station.
It’s easy to reach Vienna by train from nearby countries, including Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and, Switzerland.
International bus services to Vienna arrive on a regular basis from many countries in the Balkans, the Baltic countries, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and other outscores in Europe.
I use Omio to search for transport links within Europe.
It lets you find trains, buses and flights with just one search and has saved me a lot of time on trip planning.
How to Save Money in 2 Days in Vienna
Vienna is pretty expensive. Entry fees to most of its main attractions are quite high, but there are ways to save money:
There are two main sightseeing cards in Vienna: The Vienna Card and the Vienna Pass.
They’re priced differently and each gives you different benefits:
The Vienna Pass
The Vienna Pass grants you free entry to over 60 attractions and museums.
It is available for 1, 2, 3 or 6 days.
You can add a travelcard to it for all public transport in Vienna at an extra charge.
It includes fast track entry to some of the attractions.
This is the best option if you want to see many attractions in a short visit and don’t want to wait in line.
It can be great for 2 days in Vienna when you plan to see many of the attractions and need to save time on queuing.
The Vienna City Card
The Vienna City Card is a different card.
It offers discounts on many attractions and museums in Vienna.
It is available for 1, 2 or 3 days.
The card includes free travel on public transport in Vienna for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
This is a cheaper option compared to the City Pass, but only offers discounts, rather than free entry.
This card can also be useful for 2 days in Vienna, however if you plan to focus on attractions in the centre, you won’t need to use public transport much. You’ll find more tips about public transport in Vienna later in this post.
How to decide?
Work out which attractions and museums you actually want to visit, check how much they cost and see if the Pass or the Card will save you money.
Remember that many museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, but not all of them.
If you’re not keen on seeing that many attractions with high entry fees when you visit Vienna, but just want to see a few, consider getting the Vienna Flexipass.
It grants you free entry to 3, 4 or 5 Vienna attractions of your choice and is valid for 30 days.
How to Get Around Vienna
In the city centre, most attractions are within walking distance from each other.
You will hardly have to use public transport if you stay in the centre, it’s perfectly walkable.
If you do have to use it, the good news is that public transport in Vienna is excellent and it’s fairly easy to get around the city.
The system includes the U-Bahn (subway), trams, buses and trains.
You can also buy your travel card independently from ticket machines or counters, but I personally preferred to use the mobile app.
The WienMobil app is very convenient and lets you purchase different types of tickets online from your phone.
If you plan to visit Vienna for 2 days without getting the Pass of the City Card, I think it’s best to get around on foot in the city centre.
You can always buy a single trip ticket or a day ticket on the app if you find that you actually need it.
Also, you can easily get an Uber in Vienna if you don’t feel like navigating the public transport network.
More tips about the various tickets:
There is a 24 hour ticket as well as a day ticket.
What’s the difference?
The 24-hour ticket expires at 1 am, and it is more expensive than the day ticket, so you should only get it if you plan on going out till late.
If you’re staying for more than 2 days in Vienna, there’s a 72 hour ticket and a weekly ticket as well.
There are two weird things about them:
The first is that the weekly ticket starts only on Monday.
The second is that the 72 hour ticket costs the same as the weekly ticket.
When To Visit Vienna
It’s best to visit Vienna in spring (April-May) or autumn (September – October).
The weather is nice and the city is not overly crowded.
The winter is cold, rainy and snowy, though you may still want to visit Vienna in winter for the Christmas markets.
Summer is high season, which in a popular city like Vienna means too many crowds and high prices.
When you plan the timing of your trip to Vienna, take into account that:
– Many museums and attractions in Vienna are closed on Mondays and some on Tuesdays.
– Some museums are free on the first Sunday of the month.
– Many shops are closed on Sunday. When I wanted to buy some juice on Sunday afternoon, it was difficult to even find a supermarket that was open…
– Check the dates of public holidays in Austria. I forgot to check, got there on the Austrian National Day and found that many shops were closed… though some attractions were free that day 😉
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Before you go to Vienna…
Book your flight or find a train or a bus to Vienna– Search all of these on one single website.
Find a place to stay – hotels in Vienna.
Use my Europe packing list to pack smart.