Vienna is famous for its great buildings, parks and gardens. Conveniently for tourists, they are situated within walking distance from each other. Even during a stopover of a few hours, it’s worth your while getting to the city center. You’ll be able to see a good portion of the sights – at least externally.
If you want variation to palaces and gardens, you can head to the Danube Canal and the largest market place of Europe, Naschmarkt, which provide nice contrast to city life. And yes, both are close to the center.
Where to stay in Vienna
Most attractions are situated near the Old Town and ring roads around it. Ideal location for accommodation would be near the ring roads west of the river, in Innere Stadt, as the locals call the area. The area constitutes the Old Town of Vienna.
If you are looking for cheaper accommodation outside the city center, but still within walking distance of central locations, the vicinity of Mariahilfer Straße is a good place to start looking. Mariahilfer Straße is a busy shopping street with limited car traffic. Especially the Neubau district, north of Mariahilfer Straße, is a pleasant area.
Things to do in Vienna
The Belvedere palace area contains two palaces, Upper and Lower Belvedere, with a garden and fountains in between. Both palaces host exhibitions with world-famous art pieces, but especially Upper Belvedere is an attraction on its own.
There’s free access to the garden. It’ll take some 30-45 minutes to stroll through the garden, including the areas on the other side of Upper Belvedere. A fee is collected to gain access to the palaces.
Belvedere is situated south of the city, 1,5 kilometers away from Stephansplatz at the heart of the Old Town.
If on foot, choose the left-hand side of the Hochstralbrunnen fountain (street: Rennweg). The entrance is 250 meters away by Lower Belvedere. If approaching via the right-hand side of the fountain (Prinz Eugen-Strasse), you’re in for a longer walk; the entrance is by Upper Belvedere.
More information: belvedere.at
Schönbrunn Palace is probably the most impressive attraction in Vienna. It’s the only attraction clearly outside the center, but it’s a must-see sight if you’re staying for more than a day.
The fantastic gardens alone take easily a couple of hours to stroll through. The area is over a kilometer long and almost just as wide. The other end is mostly covered with forest. There’s free access to the garden, but the palace and other attractions require a fee.
The metro line 4 (green) runs close to the palace area. The correct stop is Schönbrunn, which is 600 meters away from the entrance on foot. Trams and buses can get you closer.
There are no pictures of Schönbrunn on this website, since it’s a private area with strict rules concerning pictures. Photos for personal use are allowed.
More information: schoenbrunn.at
Hofburg is a former imperial palace. The palace consists of several buildings, wings in fact, all belonging to the same palace complex. The main image on this page is one of these buildings (Neue Burg).
Tickets to e.g. the museums and the interior of the palace, can be purchased in the middle of the building, shown in the picture above. Should you have purchased the ticket, the Vienna Pass or other means of access in advance, the entrance takes place through the courtyard of the same building. It is shown in this picture behind the statue by the red flags.
More information: hofburg-wien.at
While there are numerous museums scattered around Vienna, MuseumsQuartier is full of them. Moreover, twin museums Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Natural History are facing MuseumsQuartier on the other side of the street.
More information: mqw.at
Stadtpark, Vienna City Park in English, is situated southeast of the Old Town by the Wien Mitte train station. The park serves as a great area to stroll around and relax in the shadows of trees.
In the middle of it, there’s a small pond with plenty of benches and statues (Johann Strauss in the picture) around. There are also grass areas for having a picnic. Coffee and refreshments are sold in kiosks and carts on wheels.
The area also contains Kursalon Music Hall, restaurants and cafeterias.
Volksgarten, People's Garden in English, is situated opposite the parliament building. It’s a beautiful and well-maintained park with fountains, a rose garden and plenty of beautiful plants.
You can’t miss Volksgarten, if you’re near City Hall, Parliament building or Hofburg, as it lies right in the middle of them.
Have drinks along the Danube Canal
Danube canal is not a famous attraction as such, but it’s a nice getaway from the city on a hot day. It’s a great place for relaxing in a sunbed, with your toes in the sand and a tropical drink in your hand; there are small bars built on imported sand, with reggae music lifting your spirits.
Most bars are situated on the eastern side of the canal. To get there, take the metro Line 4 and hop off at Schottenring. Then choose the exit on the other side of the canal. At the canal crossing east of Schwedenplatz, there’s also a large Strandbar.
Naschmarkt is about a half kilometer-long market area south of the city center, between Linke Wienzeile and Rechte Wienzeile.
Areas closest to the center are dedicated to food. Vegetables, fruits, spices and drinks are on offer everywhere. There are also restaurants one after another. Naschmarkt serves as an interesting alternative to restaurants in the center, especially during chilly evenings in spring and fall; most restaurants have heaters on the terraces.
In areas farthest from the center, there’s all kinds of miscellaneous stuff on offer on saturdays. The only limit is your imagination as to what you can find.
There are three important shopping streets/areas:
- Kärntner Straße is the most famous shopping street in Vienna.
- Kohlmarkt-Tuchlauben: These streets, with the Golden Quarter (Goldenes Quartier) on Tuchlauben included, contain a good selection of the most expensive luxury brands.
- Mariahilfer Straße is a pedestrian-friendly, versatile shopping street, a couple of kilometers in length.
Shopping centers in or near the center of Vienna
- The Ringstrassen-Galerien is located along the circumference of the city center, on the Kärntner Ring, just a couple of blocks away from Kärntner Straße. The stylish shopping center contains about 50 small boutiques. (link)
- The Donau Zentrum, with about 260 stores the largest shopping center in Vienna, is located on the other side of the Danube. From the city center, the Donau Zentrum is easily reached by the U1 metro line. Exit the metro at the Kagran station. (link)
- The BahnhofCity shopping center is integrated into the main railway station. The building complex includes about 90 stores.. (link)
- Wien Mitte / The Mall, including about 60 stores, is integrated into the Wien Mitte Station, which is both the final stop of the airport train connection and a metro station. (link)
- BahnhofCity Wien West is integrated into the Westbahnhof railway station, at the end of the Mariahilfer Straße shopping street (the street itself continues in the form of a wider street with traffic after the station). The shopping center contains about 90 stores. (link)
Prices in Vienna
Below, there are some examples of hotel and restaurant prices in Vienna. Costs of hotel rooms refer to median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
Steak in restaurant
33 cl beer in restaurant
Hotel room, 3-4* (April)
Hotel room, 3-4* (July)
From the airport to the city center
City Airport Train (CAT)
City Airport Train (CAT) is the easiest and quickest choice. Trains are available every half hour (06-23), and the connection between the airport and the only stop, Wien Mitte, takes 16 minutes.
Tickets are available at many locations at the airport, and the CAT-station is well indicated by signs.
If you have an evening flight, some airlines allow the check-in already during the day at the Wien Mitte station, giving you the chance to spend the day in the center without luggage. A CAT-ticket is required for that.
More information: cityairporttrain.com
Express train S7
Due to its many stops, the Express train S7 is slower than CAT, but also significantly cheaper.
In timetables, the airport is referred to as Flughafen Wien. Timetables: ÖBB.
The airport is outside the Vienna city zone, and therefore a city zone ticket is not sufficient. Instead, you need to buy a ticket covering the outer zone as well.
Railjet trains are long distance trains, which stop at the Vienna main railway station (Wien Hauptbahnhof or Wien Hbf) and at Wien Meidling. The price is equivalent to that of S7 trains, but the travel time is only 15 minutes. Hence, it’s a good option if you accommodate near Wien Hbf, or if you need to use the metro anyhow.
At ÖBB website, choose Flughafen Wien (the airport) and Wien Hbf as the stations.
The metro station at the main railway station is referred to as Südtirolel Platz in many metro maps. The station is located along the red metro line (Line 1).
Going to the very center, a bus might be the best option, unless there’s a metro station near your hotel. More information: viennaairportlines.at
Weather in Vienna
Winter: Temperatures vary on both sides of 0°C, generally with plus degrees in daytime. It snows sometimes, but not often.
Spring: Especially March nights are cool. In April, the weather may change from very warm to sleet – anything is possible. In May, day temperatures exceed 20°C, but nights may be cool.
Summer: June is the rainiest month, and you can’t avoid rain in July and August, either. However, on average, more than half of the days are sunny. The daily highs often exceed 20°C in June, and in July – August it could be 30°C and higher. At nights, temperatures drop below 20°C.
Fall: In September, the weather resembles June, except for nights with temperatures close to 0°C at times. Some days could be warm in October, the daily highs going above 15°C. November brings subzero temperatures at night, and day temperatures may also drop to 10°C and below.
Text and images: Jussi Ryynänen
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