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 suggest you start with a general walking tour in Vienna, that covers most of the main highlights in a couple of hours. The tour gives you an overview of the history and some nice and funny anecdotes. You can always ask the guide for local tips.
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
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.
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 €13-18!
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.
If you don’t fancy attending a performance, but still want to see the grogeous opera house interior, you can take a book a guided tour. You can either go on a city tour that includes a visit to the opera house or just get a tour of of the opera house with a skip-the-line ticket.
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
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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.
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