Vienna is as beautiful as all the travel books say, and even though the city was grayed by cold unpleasant weather, its gorgeous historic architecture and easy navigation made my short trip memorable.
Below are some of the things that struck my fancy and other things that were so-so, plus some suggestions to consider if you’re heading to Vienna any time soon.
Kaserkrainer – Unexpected Tasty Treats and Great People Watching
Before my trip, I’d heard a lot about the sausages in Vienna but I really didn’t give them much thought. Then I tried one. Yum! I went back, twice.
My guilty pleasure was the Käsekrainer, a large, ridiculously phallic sausage with cheese served in an equally large, warm, crusty baguette. (If you’re not into the carbs you can order the Käsekrainer cut into bites on a plate).
I paired it with spicy mustard and washed it down with an ice-cold beer and it was the perfect nosh after a rigorous morning of turbo sightseeing.
There are sausage stands all over Vienna (how do we not have these in the States?), but the one I went to was the Bitzinger Wurstelstand in front of the Albertina, part of Hofburg Palace. It’s a great, central location to people watch and
Sacher Hotel – Long Lines
Around the corner is the Sacher hotel, known for its world-famous Sacher Torte.
As I was preparing for the trip, I asked people for recommendations of where to go, what to eat, etc., and nine out of ten people told me not to miss the Sacher Torte. Tourists flock to it. It’s a thing. My opinion: It’s OK, you can skip it.
It’s very tasty, don’t get me wrong. But is it worth standing in a long line of tourists to try it? Nope. If you fear a raging case of F.O.M.O (Fear of Missing Out for those who are acronym challenged), there’s a separate entrance to the restaurant’s smoking section—which is really cute by the way—about 20 feet from the main door on the left. My fellow travelers and I decided we’d rather risk a smoke-filled room than stand in the queue that had formed out front.
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The Cheesecake at Districkt – YUM
As an alternative, I highly recommend the cheesecake at Distrikt (a chic and popular restaurant) in the Ritz Carlton. The general manager boasted at dinner one night that it would be one of the best cheesecakes I would ever eat. I was dubious. I’m from New York—cheesecake central—but he was right. So right. It was creamy and delicious with just the right amount of tang and the graham cracker crust was divine. I’m salivating as I write this. Best of all, no lines.
St. Stephens Cathedral – A Must
I’m a big fan of cathedrals and St. Stephen’s is very impressive. Originally built in 1147 (it was almost destroyed in World War II but rebuilt within seven years), the cathedral is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna, so be ready for crowds.
(I was there midday, I’m sure it’s better early in the morning.) You can explore the main nave, climb the 334 steps to the top of the south tower where I’m told there are spectacular views of the city ( I passed on the workout) or take a tiny elevator (if you’re claustrophobic may want to pass on this option) to a viewing area on the north tower which also has some pretty views.
The catacomb tour with its coffins, interned bishops, 56 urns filled with Habsburg intestines, thousands of bones and other historical artifacts, in addition to the tour guide’s delightfully creepy stories, are worth the hour of your time and the €5,00 (Approximately $5.50). I really wanted to take photos but the powers that be wouldn’t allow it.
The Seasonal Carousel — Little Kids Love It!
P.S. If you’re concerned that your little kids might get bored at St. Stephens you’re in luck, on the
Votive Church – Less Touristy
I also recommend putting Votive Church on your list. We ran across it while exploring the Ringstrasse, the famous circular boulevard along which countless historic buildings are found including Hofsburg Palace, the Museum Quarter, the Parliament building and City Hall. It’s neo-Gothic design was consecrated in 1879 on the same day that Emperor Franz Joseph married his Empress Elisabeth.
We didn’t stay long—we were making our way to St. Stephen’s and under the gun to make the catacombs tour—but it was utterly breathtaking. (Be sure to check out the “Antwerp Altar,” it’s spectacular). The church was practically empty, which I loved. St. Stephen’s was packed with people but in Votive I was able to revel in its beauty in quiet serenity.
The Spanish Riding School – Amazing
Check out the 450-year-old Spanish Riding School, named after the famed Lippizan horses originally imported from Spain. On the weekends (be sure to check the online schedule as there are breaks throughout the year) they have spectacular presentations showcasing the best in traditional horsemanship. During the week you can see the horses trained during their morning exercises but the pomp and circumstance of the shows are much more exciting.
Danube Island – Short Trip into Nature
Not far from the city-center is New Danube (a channel created to ease flooding in bad weather) and the 13-mile Danube island, where the locals like to eat, drink and play. You can rent boats, picnic, lie on a beach, hike, ride bicycles, bask in the beautiful scenery, and dine in one of the many cafés that line the shore. There’s also water and climbing parks.
The best part: it’s easy to get to. Take the U-bahn (subway) line U1 (red line) to the Alte Donau stop or the U6 (brown line) to Neue Donau. You’ll be there in 10-15 minutes from the city center. Piece of cake.
Prater Amusement Park – Great Family Fun
The Wurstelprater amusement park had all the rides one expects of a good amusement park and it’s a perfect place to spend time if you’re into that kind of thing or have kids in tow. If not, there wasn’t anything uniquely Viennese that stood out as a must-see. If you have limited time, I would pass.
A Few Travel Tips for Vienna
Depending on how much you plan on sightseeing, it might be worthwhile to invest in one of two options (You can buy the following online, at a hotel or various locations throughout Vienna. Follow the links for exact locations.)
Vienna Card vs Vienna Pass
A Vienna Card ( you can get on in a 48 or 72-hour denomination) It’s a single card that enables you to have unlimited use of the U-Bahn (subway), trams and buses around the city, as well as more than 210 discounts at museums, sights, theaters, and concerts, in shops and cafés. The cost is either € 21,90 (~ $24.00) for a 48-hour card or 72 hours for €24,90 (~$26.00). Each card entitles one child up to the age of 15 to travel with you free on Vienna public transportation.
The Vienna Pass is more expensive and ranges from €59,00 to €114,00 ( ~$65.00 – $127.00), depending on how many days the pass is valid for, but gets you into over 60 attractions, including the hop-on, hop-off buses, compared to just discounts with the Card, and it doesn’t include public transportation, though you can add that feature if you want. The Pass becomes cost-effective if your itinerary will take you to four or more attractions.
What want to do on my next visit
- I don’t know when I’ll be back in Vienna but when I do I’m going to take a Hot Rod City Tour. Every day I saw people zooming around in these teeny-weeny cars. It wasn’t until I returned home that I found out it was a tour (I thought it was some tiny hot rod club or something). Besides being utterly adorable, it looks like so much fun and a great way to get an overview of the city.
161 thoughts on “What to do in Vienna in Two Days: Stuff You Shouldn’t Miss and Things You Can”
Very nice post! The catacombs are worth seeing 😉
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Brought back so many memories of my own trip there 🙂 Those sausages! And I went to Bitzinger too (drool! drool!) And you nailed it with your sacher torte report. That’s exactly what I felt and wrote about in my own Vienna post. Nice to see I’m not the only one knocking a beloved Viennese tradition 😉
Ha! It’s so funny how they line up around that hotel for the torte and it’s just not that great. So glad you liked the piece. Thank you.
My God, loveeee it
I was having so much fun reading your blog, and I love all of your posts so much, and then I came across this post. Your photos and advice just arrested me!!! I love it so much.I love finding a fellow traveler who shares my love for detail and adventure. Thank you so much for sharing! you are totally welcome to check out my travel blog if you ever want to, but warning, my photography is no where near yours!
Hi Brooke! I’m really happy that you enjoyed the blog. Thank you so much and welcome! I will definitely check out your blog. 🙂
Love your picture ..and in love vienna 😉
I’ve been to Vienna several times and it is a wonderful city. If you like art, I suggest you to visit the Hunderwasser, a hause similar to the Casa Batlò in Barcelona. I love your blog and your pictures are amazing!!!
Thank you so much for the kind words! It means a lot. And thank you for the recommendation. I’ve put them in Travel file.
You are welcome! If you need more suggestions let me know! 🙂
vienna is absolutely beautiful 🙂
It sure is. I would love to spend more time there.
Beautiful photos! And I totally agree with you about the Sacher Torte. I visited Vienna in May too (you can see the post on my blog if you’re interested) and was unimpressed with the famous cake. The city itself, on the other hand, was lovely. Thanks for sharing!
I mean it’s good but not worth the hype in my opinion. Thanks for letting me know you felt the same. Welcome to the blog!
OMG, love the post and pics. I wanna go to Vienna for the first time this winter. After reading this I wanna go even more!
Hi Jade! Thank you very much. Vienna is really great and I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time if you go.
Vienna looks beautiful beyond words. Your photography is fantastic and does the city justice!
It really is a pretty city and I saw it under gray skies. I would have loved to have seen it in better weather.
Oh yes, well you´ll have a great excuse to go back for another trip then hey 🙂
Vienna today is not in Vienna 30 years ago and not 20 years ago is less clean, less quiet, a lot of migrants, public gardens not cared as then, too bad,
I have no doubt that Vienna has changed in 30 years. I can’t imagine any city that hasn’t. Would have loved to have seen it beack then.
Enjoyed your tips and photographs… that sunset around the Copa Kagrana area is absolutely stunning… wish I had been there!
Thank you, Adam. It’s true, that sunset was extraordinary. The week had been so grey and cloudy, it was lovely to have such a wonderful send off on my last night in the city. Glad you liked the post. Welcome to the blog. Please share if you think your friends or family will enjoy. 🙂
Great city and great picture 🙂
Great article,Wow what an amazing post.. 🙂
enjoyable style of writing….cool!
m new here…..would really appreciate ur support…..
Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Have a great day.
F.O.M.O – hahahaha. I might have to use that someday. One sausage, please… and a Hot Rod City Tour. That just looks like loads of fun. Cheers.
LOL.. it’s so true though right? No one likes to decide not to do something only to hear the rest of the crowd rave about it later. LOL
I went to Vienna a few years ago and loved that trip! The city itself is beautiful (so much heritage!) and we visited many churches (when it rains it’s a great shelter and you can sit and most of them are worth seeing!). My preference goes to Schönbrunn though, such a nice place (especially when there’s sunshine).
As for the food, did you tried the schnitzel? It is quite good.
With my friend we went to café Central and were not disappointed, it’s beautiful, sometimes a pianist is playing and you have a large range of cakes to try (the 3 we trasted were very good!)
I guess I will go back some day…
Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time to explore Schönbrunn and would probably make time to do that if I returned–especially the gardens. I did try the schnitzel and it was good but not so extraordinary that it struck me as worth a mention. It seemed pretty straight forward to me. Thank you so much for your comment. 😉
No the schnitzel is not extraordinary, it’s even quite easy to do by yourself. I tried it once, it was good 🙂
It was good. But didn’t float my boat to such a degree that I wanted to write about it. Didn’t have much to say. LOL
Lol yeah I understand. The cakes howerver… :p
The lazy guy was here and he was astonished….;)
My dream destination… Hopefully soon….
Been to Vienna, never could have described it as beautifully as you have. Surely you all should read my take on my home city – Muscat
Thank you very much. That’s very kind.
Good luck with your blog. 🙂
You should definitely visit Muscat 🙂
Such a beautiful city.
Your blog is amazing, please give us more !
Alicia – Yay! I’m so happy you like the blog. Thank you for letting me know. Welcome to the blog. I hope you return.
Thankyou. Sure will 😀
great post . all your posts are great .. i am new in wordpress. would be happy if you will follow mine
Thank you, you’re very kind. 🙂
I love all your pictures. I’ve knocked around Asia and other parts of the world. Never hit Vienna until now. Thanks.
Thank you, I’m really happy you liked it. 🙂
great post! Vienna is high up on my list of european cities to visit! x
It’s a very special city.
Thanks for the kind words and welcome to the blog. 🙂
Was in Vienna once. Never got to see some of it as you posted. Definitely going back! Nice pictures 🙂
Vienna is great! I’m flying back next Tuesday!
Oh Wow.. Anything in my post that you plan to try or have you already seen most of it?
Ihve seen alot of the churches (thanks to my parents), and we went to the amusement park over christmas. But Honestly the cheesecake caught my attention the most haha, will have to look into that! Over Christmas there are incredible markets!
I’m going to live in Vienna very soon and I have to say: this is a really good article, very interesting.
Aw thanks! I hope it’s helpful. Let me know how your trip was, and what you did, when you get back. 🙂
My home is not far from the Danube Island. I absolutely agree with your opinions and ideas for a trip in Vienna. Every day you can find something new
😉 Thank you 🙂
Beautiful photos and suggestions! It is a wonderful city. Also, I couldn’t agree more about the Sacher Torte. No fun waiting in the cold for it!
Right?! It was good but not THAT good. 🙂
Wow the photos you take are beautiful. They make me feel like I am sitting right there.
Great photos! I love Vienna. You should visit Ljubljana and the rest of Slovenia as well.
Hopefully someday I will. So much world to explore. 🙂
I am planning a trip to Vienna in November and this was a great read. Thanks!
Yay! I’m glad you think so. If by chance you should take a hot rod tour, please let me know what you think. 🙂
Wonderful article and awesome photos
Thank you so much! I appreciate the kind words.
Wow what an amazin article! Love your blog!!
That’s so nice to hear, thank you so much.
Welcome to the blog. I hope you return. 🙂
The hot rod tour looks awesome!
Amazing photographs, wish I could visit this place soon. 🙂
This post was amazing. I am a new blogger trying to learn the ins and outs of blogging, and I’m trying out all types of writing. I have been blessed and will be traveling abroad for 4 months next year in Rome and London. I want to try travel blogging and your blog acts almost as a “How To Guide” from everything to what to write about, to photography, etc. And I just wanted to take the time to thank you because your writing has served as an inspiration and, in the near future, a guide on how to do it and how to do it right. So thank you. I really enjoyed this article and can’t wait to read the next one!
Hi Baylor –
Welcome to the blog! I appreciate your kind words and wish you great luck with your blog. Rome and London, what fabulous cities to explore. Have a fantastic time. 🙂
Nice post and nice photo… Follow me?
Hi.. Not sure what you mean? Where, what?
He just wrote above :”Following me”, that’s why I ask “where would he like us to/you to follow”?
Only if you as god as Susan
So glad you had a great trip, Susan, and thank you for the photos. A place I hope to see one day!
Thank you very much, Carla. I hope you see it one day too. 🙂
Great photos! They reminded me why Vienna is one of my favourite places in Europe
Thank you. It’s beautiful. I would like to go back and spends some more time.
GREAT pictures!! I loved the architecture there, and went to see the Lipizzaner stallions practice – very beautiful!
Thank you! The horses are gorgeous and the riders extremely skilled. I recommend the show over the training if you happen to be there over the weekend. Welcome to the blog. 🙂
your pictures speak more than 1000 words
Aww… thanks.. What a lovely compliment. I really appreciate it. Welcome to the blog. 🙂
thank you son much Susan
I search for places to visit, I guess Vienna will be on the list after that:)
I’m glad you found it inspiring, it’s why I love blogging and sharing my adventures. I want people to consider places they may not have thought about before. 🙂
Wow.. this makes me wanna grab my backpack visit Vienna right away! Great shots… could I trouble you to get some info about the lens and shot specifications?
Hi – Thank you! I used my Canon 16-35mm and my 24-105 mm. Is there a particular photo you with the info on?
Wow, you covered some ground, Susan — and got lots of wonderful shots. Beautifully done! (Even if I am a *tad* disappointed not to see those 56 urns filled with Habsburg intestines. YIKES.)
Lol… It was so dark down there. Very creepy and cool. 🙂
Great post Susan, bought back happy memories of our trip to Vienna about 12-13 years ago.
Thanks Mark. 😀
You really captured the city and its attractions. The photos are terrific, as is your commentary and the useful information! Thank you for sharing!
You bet! I’m happy that you enjoyed it and feel it’s useful. Thank you for letting me know. 😀
hello, I’m a Emily. I love your post.
Hi Emily! Welcome to the blog. Glad you love the post 🙂 thank you
nice article i like
Thanks for this hearththrilling report of your visit to Vienna. I wish I had opportunities such as this to travel. The phographs are so nice that I am highly tempted to start learning photography. One more thanks for this beautiful and well articulated presentation and I look forward to hearing more from you
Thank you so much. I’m very happy that you enjoyed the post. Welcome to the blog. 😀
lovely images and post!
I love historical architecture so beautiful. Thank you for posting the pic’s amazing!
Thank you very much!
Hi, Susan, great pics as always! If you ever go to Vienna in winter, especially December,be sure to taste those different and delicious variants of punch sold on stands everywhere! I was tipsy all week and didn’t manage to taste them all… There are fruity ones (apple, plum, cherry…) and some with egg and whipped cream (very sweet) etc, etc. Even a stand serving only punch variants created by star cooks! As for Sacher Torte, you’re perfectly right. American Brownies are much better!
Thanks so much for the heads up about the punch. What a cool tradition. 🙂
Beautiful architecture! I especially liked the fountain.
The architecture is amazing. I wish I had an opportunity to shoot more of it.
Nice Pictures 🙂
I have been wanting to go to Vienna for some time now! Great shots and suggestions! 🙂
Great! I’m glad you found the information useful. Welcome to the blog. I hope you return. 🙂
Agree. There was a lot of research done, you could sense it. I again saw Vienna through the different perspective. Nice. Though I got a feeling, that you enjoyed Cuba more,am I right?
Cuba and Vienna are so different it’s hard to compare the two. Vienna was fun but it was a very limited amount of time (2.5 days) and the weather wasn’t the best. So yes, Cuba was better but I was also there a full week. 🙂
I think you had a different feelings towards those places and I see it in the choice of those images and also the way how they are made. I might be mistaken too
Yes.. they are completely different places. One is a third world island that is a throwback to the 50’s, the other is a modern European City. But really, Vienna was difficult to shoot. Between my schedule and the weather, I had infinitely fewer photos to choose from. A lot of what I did was inside and at locations that didn’t allow photography. 🙂
Great post! Sounds like a whirlwind few days, and you also hit a couple spots we missed (I guess we’ll just have to go back…). Were you able to see Schonbrunn? It was our favorite!
Yes, but not a lot of it. Just didnt have the time. Thank you for the kind words.
Hi Susan, I am new here, never did blogging before, and you are the first blogger I subscribed to because your photographs are amazing and I like the way you write – you are great!
I’m very honored that The Insatiable Traveler is the first blog you subscribed to. Welcome and thank you for the very kind compliment about my photos. Good luck with your blog. 🙂
Same here. Also came here in my early blogging life. Susan you are a magnifying youngsters 😉
You have very wonderful pictures I would love of you could give me a few pointers in phography
Hi there – Thank you so much. I appreciate your kind words. Here’s a link to some photography tips I’ve written.
https://theinsatiabletraveler.com/category/photography-tips-2/ If there is a specific question you have, I’m happy to oblige. Sound good?
Yes thank you so much
A really in depth guide – definitely want to visit now.
Thanks, Lindsay, I’m glad you feel it’s helpful. Thank you for letting me know. 🙂
Great photos! I enjoyed Freud’s house.
Thank you and good to know. What struck you about it?
Well, it was about 15 years ago, so just the fact that I remember having gone there is something. I think I just learned a lot about Freud.
LOL.. I’ll put it on my list to check out should I go back.
Stunning Photos, sounds like an ideal place to visit
It was lovely. Needed more time but I’m so glad I went.
I am sure any time spent there was not long enough
Amazingly writtern.. deciphered in a nice way…. Good work.. Loved the picures
Why thank you! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂
Ohhhh, those sausages! I’m dying Susan. There was a place on the street when I was there that served them on big slabs of black bread. I can still taste it after all these years. Thanks for the walk through Vienna and those lovely churches and cathedrals. As usual, great images!
I still think about that damn sausage, Patricia. LOL. I appreciate your support of the images. It was hard to shoot there with bad weather and flat light. Half of what I took was blah..
What a joy to read such a good story about my beloved city. And I agree in ALL points!!
Yay! I’m glad a true native found it legit. Thanks for the kind comments. I hope to visit again. Welcome to the blog. 🙂
It’s a pleasure to visit your blog! But I must confess I’m only a half true native: I’m actually brazilian but living here the half of my life i do consider myself very viennese 🙂
I think half of your life makes you a native.. :)))
Gues you are right Susan :-))) That’s how I feel!
Love the photos! Is it supposed to say “I sweet sausage…..”
Thanks, Donna.. It was really hard to shoot there with the flat light but a few worked.
Hi Susan, congrats to your story on Vienna! Stunning pix and a good story to read. Keep up the good work, xoxo Travelzoner Oliver
Hi Oliver – Welcome to the blog. Thank you so much for the kinds words. I’m glad you liked it. Hope you return. 🙂
No problem 🙂 stop by my blog when you get the chance