From Hofburg to Schönbrunn, St. Stephen’s to St. Peter’s, and Strauss to Beethoven, Vienna is famous for a variety of reasons. The city has a lot of offer, seeing as it is Austria’s capital and largest city. One could spend days exploring just one of Vienna’s inner city districts, roaming the cobblestone streets and window-shopping at some of the world’s fanciest stores. During my first visit to Vienna, back in December, my family and I only had a little over a day to spend in the city. Luckily, I planned our time there well, and we were able to see almost all of Vienna’s top sights. To help out any of you in the same situation, I created a one day itinerary to Vienna, showing you how to have the perfect day in the city, which I’ll be sharing throughout this post!
9AM – Schönbrunn Palace
Start off your day in the imperial city at its iconic Schönbrunn Palace, the most visited tourist attraction in Austria. Located just outside of the city centre, this UNESCO World Heritage Site holds hundreds of years of history behind its iconic yellow walls. Schönbrunn is known for its symmetrical and photogenic exterior gardens, as well as for its lavish and luxurious interior rooms. Spend the two and a half hours allotted in your itinerary to Schönbrunn exploring and photographing the beautiful palace and its surrounding gardens, as well as (if you’re up for it!) touring the palace’s royal rooms and apartments.
(20 min drive)
12PM – St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Next, make your way into Vienna’s city centre towards the city’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Dominating the city’s skyline, St. Stephen’s is the ninth tallest still standing church in the world. At first sight this 12th church is truly astonishing – it is much over 100 metres at its highest point! If you’re up for the climb, you can even climb up 300+ steps to get to the top of the church, where you’ll find breathtakingly beautiful views of Vienna. If you’d rather stay on the ground however, spend your time there exploring the surrounding Stephanplatz, admiring and photographing the church, and making sure to check out St. Stephen’s stunning interior.
(5 min walk)
12:30PM – Grabenstrasse
Head on a short five minute walk from Stephansplatz over to Grabenstrasse, arguably Vienna’s most well known street. This pedestrian only zone, the first in Vienna, is lined with fancy shops, picturesque cafes, and interesting restaurants. While here, window shop at stores ranging from Hermes to Chanel, have a quick photoshoot in front of one of the colourful buildings of the street, and stop at one of Graben’s cafes or restaurants (I’d recommend Segafredo!) for a quick meal before heading to your next stop of the day.
(5 min walk)
1:30PM – Michealerplatz
Easily recognizable, as it is one of the most photographed spots in Vienna, Michealerplatz a quintessentially Viennese square. Home to Michealertor, part of Hofburg Palace that serves as a gate from the palace to the square; Michealerkirche, a 13th century imperial church; and, in the middle of the square, a collection of excavated ruins. While there, marvel at the square’s amazing architecture and take advantage of the picturesque photo ops throughout it.
2PM – Hofburg Palace
Spend your next hour and a half in Vienna at your second imperial palace of the day – Hofburg! With its Swiss Wing dating back to the 13th century, and its New Castle Wing as recent as the 19th century, Hofburg is full of history. Two palaces in a day may seem a bit redundant, but I promise that visiting other is worth your time. Though they’re both known for being home to the famous Habsburg monarchy, Schönbrunn was the summer residence while Hofburg was the winter residence. Both of the palaces are similar in some ways, yet at the same very different. Take some time at Hofburg to explore the palace’s many wings and squares, all a mix of many different architectural styles.
(10 min walk)
3:30PM – Burggarten
Just outside of Hofburg Palace you’ll find Burggarten, a moderately sized English style garden. Originally created as a private palace garden, it was later opened to the public to enjoy in 1918. Throughout the garden are a few scattered statues and monuments, celebrating famous Viennese ranging from Franz Joseph to Mozart. Rest, relax, and people watch in this pretty park for a bit after spending the past few hours in the hustle and bustle of Vienna.
(5 min walk)
4PM – Maria-Thersien-Platz
After a quick break, head on a short walk across the street over to Maria-Thersien-Platz. Surrounded by two symmetrical museum buildings, this square is home to both a natural history museum and an art history museum. If you’re visiting during the holiday season, spend your time here looking through the square’s annual Christmas market stalls. If you’re visiting during any other time of the year however, the square serves as one of the most picturesque ones in Vienna, so make sure to stop for some photos while there!
(10 min walk)
4:30PM – Vienna City Hall
Located a short walk from Maria-Thersien square, Vienna’s Neo-Gothic style City Hall building is a symbol of the city. The massive city hall was built in the 1800s, and is bordered across the street by Rathauspark (Town Hall Park). Though I didn’t get to see it for myself, I’ve heard that the Christmas market at city hall is one of the best in all of Vienna, and judging from photos I’d say its a must see spot during the wintertime (as well as year round!).
(20 min walk)
5:30PM – Vienna State Opera
Last but definitely not least, to top off your perfect day in Vienna, end the night by seeing the opera at the city’s iconic Opera House. Originally opened in 1869, the Vienna State Opera has a long standing history and legacy. It is one of the top operas in the world, pulling thousands of visitors per year; as well as one of the busiest operas in the world, playing nearly 60 productions a year. I didn’t get to see the opera while I was in Vienna, though looking back on it I really wish I did (I hope to go back and do so someday!). Therefore, I’d highly suggest seeing the opera while in Vienna as if you don’t take the chance then you’ll definitely regret it in the future.
Spending more than a day in Vienna? Check out some of my other posts on the city for some more ideas on what to do with your other days in the city.
That’s all for my one day Vienna itinerary, and the end to my series about Vienna! I hope you enjoyed reading about Vienna – I definitely enjoyed writing about it. Stay tuned for blog posts about Prague starting next week!
Thanks for reading!