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Must-dos in Vienna for a 2-3 day stay?

Hi, all -- Friend and I are going to have jam-packed few days in Munich starting this Sunday. Then we are going over to Vienna on Thursday afternoon and leaving back for the States Sunday morning.

So, basically we have 2.5 days in Vienna. We are staying near the city center and planning to see Schonbrunn Palace and the Imperial Treasury for sure. Otherwise, anything we MUST do? Are the spots we're planning to visit overrated? Any other tips?

Much thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Posted by
11 posts

I have actually received some feedback from friends who have already traveled there and someone who studied abroad in Vienna for a significant amount of time. However, I also always value the opinions of the Rick Steves community -- hence the ask.

In general, I mostly enjoy just being in a different place and culture and don't get all caught up in checking things off a list. I also did not want to overplan this part since we put so much effort into the Germany portion. In other words, we're hoping to relax a bit by the time we get to Vienna. That said, sometimes it's good to know the one or two "must dos" since it's unlikely I'll be back. That's all. No need for the attitude.

Posted by
608 posts

We were really tired by the time we got to Vienna, as it was the last stop on our trip, so we took it at a slower pace than usual for us, which we really enjoyed. Vienna is an utterly gorgeous city to just wander around in! We loved spending a few minutes sitting in Volks Garden to enjoy the amazing roses, although I'm not sure what that would be like this time of year. We also thought the Kunsthistorisches Museum was a must. Even if you don't have much time, which we didn't because it was part of our walking tour, it's worth it to see the gorgeous architecture of the building and a few pieces that interest you. We also enjoyed having dessert at Demel- probably touristy, but we really enjoyed sitting near the glass and watching the bakers. I'm sure someone else could give you better ideas, as we only got part of two days there, but I think you'll love it!

Posted by
2320 posts

Everyone's must-dos and sees are different, depends on where your interests lie. I spent a week in Vienna and my first level of musts centered on everything to do with my favorite movie, The Third Man. Next up were the museums, specifically ones that focused on art of the Secession era--favorite was the Leopold, then the Belvedere and MAK (Museum of Applied Art) and I really found the Wien Stadt museum fascinating. Another must was visiting the Flohmarkt on Saturday morning because I love antique and collectable hunting wherever I travel.

I also visited Schonbrunn and then got so intrigued by Sissi and Franz Joseph that I headed back to tour the Hofburg, including the Imperial Treasury. Those two combined can easily take half a day + depending on your pace.

Vienna's U-bahn and trams will get you anywhere you need to go, and I also did a lot of walking, the Ringstrasse area is very compact and walkable and it's a lovely city to explore on foot. Plenty of parks to sit for a spell, too--I was unfortunately dealing with ridiculous blisters and even though I managed a lot in spite of that, I also rested a bit more than usual.

Posted by
670 posts

Relaxing in one of the heuriger in the Vienna woods sounds great to me! That would be a evening good option after the museums are closed.

Posted by
12898 posts


If you are interested in modern Austrian history, then I would suggest as "must do" the Army Museum (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) along with Schönbrunn and the Hofburg, Maria-Theresien Platz, Soviet memorial, and the Albertina. Vienna is a captivating, interesting city although the usual charges against it I find them to be valid too. On the history note, I think the special exhibits on Franz Joseph are still on until Nov. I saw two of them in June.

Posted by
2097 posts

I would add my vote for the Kunsthistorisches Museum if you enjoy art, the building interior is a work of art in itself, it is so beautiful! I recommend the Albertina Museum, a smaller museum with a number of Impressionist paintings by Monet and others. The Belvedere Palace has wonderful paintings by Klimt and the grounds are beautiful as well. These ideas assume you have some interest in art.
The heuriger idea is a fun thing to do for the evening, hopefully the weather will be cooler this weekend.
Walking around and enjoying the ambiance watching horses clopping along the cobblestones is very neat and not something I see here at home.
Enjoy your whirlwind trip!
Judy B

Posted by
2353 posts

Not one mention of the Wiener Riesenrad! Definitely a heuriger and add a stop at a coffee house. Vienna is such a beautiful city to just enjoy. I'm not sure if just got lucky or it was time of year but it did not seem to have the crowds that were elsewhere.

Posted by
2320 posts

Christi--One of the first things I did was visit the Prater and ride the Riesenrad--part of my Third Man agenda, but I would have gone anyway because it really was fun and such a great view of the city. Had an enormous stelze and beer for lunch after that, and explored more of the charming old park.

Posted by
4694 posts

As noted above, "must do's" are so subjective.

If I had two full days in Vienna, here's what I would do:

Friday - Breakfast at Naschmarkt (Neni's) and then a stroll through the flea market. Stop and look at the Secession and Majolikahaus. Take the U4 to Schonbrunn and spend the afternoon there. Take the U4 back to Karlsplatz and get on the D Tram to Nussdorf and have dinner at Schuebel-Auer heuriger.

Saturday - Follow a self-guided tour through the first district such as the one on Frommer's. This will allow you to see St. Stephan's Cathedral, walk down the Graben, see the Hofburg (Treasury) and wander some side streets. Have ice cream at Zanoni and Zanoni; have coffee and cake at Demel's (upstairs). Eat dinner at Figlmuller's.

For your arrival day, I'd suggest walking around the ring clockwise from Stadtpark to the Rathaus. It is not a long distance and you will see many notable buildings. Have dinner at Palmenhaus.

I have gone to the Prater and rode the Ferris Wheel about a million times (when visitors come) and I fail to see the appeal. That said, Vienna's version of Oktoberfest is now underway at the Prater just in front of the Ferris Wheel. This can create a fun or not fun atmosphere. Fun if you like drinking beer; not fun if you don't like obnoxious drunk people.

I suggest the following English language website for ideas of what to do next weekend:

Posted by
5 posts

I’ve been to Vienna 3 times. The last time I was with my 2 sisters in June 2016. The must-dos I suggest you visit are: 1. The Hofburg Palace – it’s gorgeous architecture will take your breath away! The Sisi Museum is magnificent. 2. The Belvedere Palace. 3. Schönbrunn Palace (both of these palaces are so beautiful on the outside and inside; lots of paintings inside). 4. Stefan’s Dome – this cathedral is very impressive on the inside and it has stunning mosaic on its roof. 5. Simply walk around the city center and enjoy the Viennese atmosphere.

Posted by
84 posts

I would recommend Schoenbrun and the Belvedere. (There's something about the neighborhood around the Belvedere, it feels different from the rest of Vienna). Also a stop for coffee/cake in the center, Oberlaa is a good place with outdoor seating and Tirolerhof is my favorite "old school" cafe.

Posted by
5697 posts

Just read the cited vienna-in-three-days website, and realized that in three trips to Vienna we haven't even covered all the "day 1" places. We like taking the trams around the ring (RS audio tour.) Took the tour of the Opera House. Saw Schoenbrunn and Hofburg and Treasury and Belvedere and Albertina. Ate schnitzel and Sachertorte. Wandered around a lot. Hope to make it to the Kunst (1) on the upcoming trip next spring.
EDIT: (1) The Kunsthistorisches Museum

Posted by
4694 posts

"The Kunst"? I've never heard that expression before. Do you mean the KHM, Kunsthalle or the Kunsthaus?

Posted by
1492 posts

@ MrsEB

I never followed that 72-hours-schedule compulsively, not only because I am not interested in everything (like the zoo or the maze), but also not to impose needless stress on me, keeping a vacation as it should be.

Nevertheless, the Vienna tourist information website gives a lot of hints:

We got a a little printed folder, titled "Vienna in three days", which contains two (reasonable) city walks, touching the most important sights. This folder is available at the offical tourist information offices (city, airport, main train station).

(I have kept a pdf copy of that folder, but I think there is no way to attach it here.)

Posted by
4479 posts

We enjoyed walking around the Inner Circle, St. Stephens, the Volks Garden, walking the RS recommended path in the Inner Circle, and eating at Figlmuller besides what's been mentioned by others.

Posted by
3034 posts

The 2.5-day trip of a pediatrician and a pscyhologist:

Arrival day:
Landed in Munich early and caught train to Vienna (cheap ticket to Munich!)
Late lunch at the very Austrian restaurant near our hotel: Subway
Rick Steves walking tour of the 1st district (very good 1st day activity)
Staatsoper performance (terrible idea for 1st day -- slept through much of it -- left at 1st intermission -- learned to "keep moving" on day 1 of trip)

Frommer's Walking Tour #2 (Emily's suggestion; excellent)
Cold War Vienna Tour/Third Man Museum (excellent)
Heeresgeschichtliches (Museum of Military History; excellent -- you can see the car in which Archduke Ferdinand was shot!)
Schloss Belvedere (excellent)
Riesenrad (excellent)
Concert at Annakirche (ok -- slept through much of it, too)

Context Travel's "City of Dreams: Freud's Vienna" tour (excellent)
Cafe Landtmann (one of Freud's favorite cafes; very good)
Entered St. Stephen's Cathedral briefly (good)
Schönbrunn (very good in March; excellent in July)
Musicus Concentus Wien with 85-year-old conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Musikverein (amazing; stayed awake!)

Posted by
12898 posts

@ Dave...I would suggest also in terms of war history the Zentral Friedhof to see the WW1 cemetery (it's way in the back), and the big military monument to Austrian war history located am Deutschmeisterplatz, accessible on the U-Bahn.