Vienna, the capital of Austria, is one of the most visited cities in Europe (for obvious reasons!). Often considered the continent’s culture capital, is famous for its romance, music, art, architecture, and more. This beautiful city is located in Eastern Austria, on the Danube River and near the country’s borders with the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Many charming towns, villages, and cities surround the capital, many of them discoverable through day trips from Vienna. In this post, I’ll be writing about three of the most popular day trips destinations from Vienna: Bratislava, Hallstatt, and Salzburg. All three of these cities are under three hours away from Vienna, the perfect distance for a perfect day trip!
One of Europe’s four capitals on the Danube, Bratislava is the capital of the small country of Slovakia. Though it is similar to many nearby Eastern European cities, Bratislava has its own unique flair and quirks. Its most well known attractions include its Bratislava Castle, a picture-perfect castle atop a hill; St. Martin’s Cathedral, the city’s largest church that dominates its skyline; and along with many other European cities, its Old Town, a charming and picturesque neighbourhood. Bratislava is known for being a mix of the old and new, as well as for overall being a very one-of-a-kind city. It is still emerging as a popular tourist destination in its region, though it has been gaining a lot of standing in recent years.
Bratislava is easily the closest day trip destination in this post, located a quick hour drive or train ride from Vienna. Keep in mind that when visiting Bratislava you’ll be crossing country borders, so be prepared with a vignette if you’re driving. Since Slovakia and Austria are both Schengen Area countries however, you won’t need a passport to go between the two countries!
When my family and I were driving from Vienna to our next stop on our trip, Prague, we decided to make a quick detour into Slovakia by driving through Bratislava. We barely spent an hour in Slovakia overall, just driving through the city and then onto to Czech Republic. We didn’t get to explore the city at all obviously, so I’m not in the best position to tell you a lot about Bratislava and how long you should stay to fully enjoy and experience the city (I do hope to someday go back and explore it more!). From the quick time I spent driving through it though and from what I’ve read online, I would overall recommend spending half a day in Bratislava, leaving Vienna in the morning and getting back in the late afternoon or early night.
Considered both one of Europe’s beautifulest and oldest towns, Hallstatt is pretty much a village out of a fairytale. Its set in a picture perfect background, surrounded by mountains and a lake, and is home to some amazing sights, one of them being the world’s oldest salt mine. Virtually every part of this town is photo-worthy – there wasn’t one part of Hallstatt that I saw when I visited that I didn’t want to take a photo of! Photos of Hallstatt can be found all over the internet, so the beautiful town most likely looks somewhat familiar to you.
To get to Hallstatt from Vienna, take a three and a half hour train ride or drive southwest towards the town. I would recommend staying as long as possible in Hallstatt, as I can promise that as soon as you arrive you won’t want to leave! If you have enough time in your schedule, try booking an overnight stay in the village at one of its many hotels. If you don’t have the time to stay overnight, though, dedicate your whole day to exploring Hallstatt; catch the first train there or head on the drive there as early as possible, and catch the last train back or head on the drive back as late as possible!
My family and I stopped in Hallstatt for a few short hours on our drive from Salzburg to Vienna. Though we got to see a good amount of the town during our short time there, there are a few places, mainly the salt mines and skywalk, that I wish I could’ve visited but didn’t have the time to see. Hopefully sometime in the future I can return to Hallstatt and visit those spots, as well as return to the spots in the town that I did get to see when I visited!
(click here to read my blog post all about Hallstatt)
Salzburg is one of Austria’s most popular and well known cities, thanks to its stereotypes as Mozart’s birthycity, the setting of the ‘Sound of Music’, and the home of some of Europe’s best baroque architecture. This city’s top sights include Hohensalzburg Fortress (read my blog post about it here), Mozart’s Geburtshaus and Wohnhaus (read my Mozart guide to Salzburg here), and its Mirabell Palace and Garden. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, aka the Austrian Alps, and home to many beautiful attractions, as listed above, Salzburg is a must visit city on a trip to Austria.
Salzburg is about a three hour drive or two and a half hour train ride from Vienna. Again, I would suggest, like Vienna, staying as long as you possibly can in Salzburg. If your schedule allows for it, definitely stay overnight in Salzburg as less than a full day in the city is nowhere near enough time to fully explore the city. If it is your only chance to visit Salzburg however, absolutely take up the chance!
I stayed in Salzburg for two nights, in between visiting Munich and Vienna, so my family and I got a bit more than a full day to spend actually exploring the city. I absolutely loved Salzburg, and I hope to go back one day; I’m sure anyone else who visits the city will feel the same way.
(click here to find all of my blog posts about Salzburg)
That’s it for my post about the best day trips from Vienna. I hope you enjoyed! Have you ever been to any of these three cities? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!