This really is the ULTIMATE guide to Vienna!
This guide provides you with everything you need to know about taking a trip to Vienna.
- How to travel around Vienna
- How to get from the airport to your hotel
- Where to stay
- What to do
- What to see
- …even some tips on how to save money during your visit
With just three nights in Vienna and being very determined (not lazy, in other words), Squidge and I managed to go to 17 different places.
Yep, I really did say that…SEVENTEEN different attractions/places in just three days!
Vienna is such an easily accessible city to travel around – even with a stroller as a single parent!
The U-Bahn (underground Metro train) is the best way to travel around Vienna centre!
The U1, U2 or U4 lines are the main train lines that go to the most popular tourist destinations.
At first it can seem a little daunting, but after a few hours in the city, I was able to navigate myself and my Squidge in her stroller through the U-Bahn stations like a local.
All of the U-Bahn (underground) stations we went to had lifts, so there was no problem with the stroller or luggage bags.
The trains were regular, very clean and importantly, they felt safe – with one woman even pointing out that I had parked my stroller in front of a fire escape door!
The ticket machines are a bit tricky to use if you don’t speak German.
Although there is an option to have the machine translate into English, it makes no difference because the station names and destinations etc. meant nothing to me when I first arrived!
Make sure you know before you go, which train stations you will need to go to. This should make your travelling much easier.
Tram (Streetcar) and Buses
We took two rides on the tram, which was perfectly on time and very efficient.
The Trams were clean and gave a great view from the street of the surrounding Vienna.
The only bus that we took was to get to the Donau Tower (Danube Tower) and it was every 30mins.
Like a donut, I lost track of the stops and got off three stops before I actually should have! No worries though, the walk was worth it (More about the Danube Tower below).
Main types of Travel Tickets
- A normal travel card for use on ALL public transport in Vienna
- Valid for the allocated (chosen) time frame as soon as activated
- Acts as a normal travel card for use on ALL public transport in Vienna
- Provides more than 210 discounts at museums and sights, theatres and concerts, in shops, cafés and restaurants
- Also available for 24, 48 or 72 hours
Need to know:
- Children under the age of 15 can travel free if they are are travelling with an adult who has a Vienna CARD
- Both tickets only work for travel within the Core Centre of Vienna (the main areas)
- However, both tickets also offer the option of adding in the ticket for airport transfer for just under an extra €20 – on the The Airport Train / CAT which takes you up to Landstraße station
- Both the tickets must be validated before starting the first journey.
- Punch your travel card once and off you go!
The Vienna Pass is one thing that I really wish I had purchased before making our trip to Vienna!
However, please add up the original separate costing of where you will be visiting first so you can decide whether you are better off with the pass or not.
If you only intend to visit a few of the places the pass gives free entry to, you might be better off without it.
That being said, if you intend to visit many of these places, you will be much better off with the pass!
The Pass gives you an amazing opportunity to have:
- Free entry to more than 60 Top attractions in Vienna (many of which are featured in THIS post!)
- Fast-track entry to many of these attractions
- Access to the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus
There are 1 day, 2 day, 3 day and 6 day passes available:
1 day: Adult €59 | Child €29.50
2 day: Adult €89 | Child €44.50
3 day: Adult €119 | Child €59.50
6 day: Adult €154 | Child €77
Children below the age of 6 do not cost anything.
Travelling on my own with a backpack, stroller, suitcase and a 1-year old proved to be VERY tricky with getting across Vienna.
That being said, once I had reached the hotel, travel around the actual city was flawless.
The reason that getting from the airport to the City was so difficult is that the big train you need to get on first has about 3 or 4 VERY steep steps and very narrow aisles.
I had to leave my suitcase near the door, fold the stroller, take off my backpack and hold my baby tightly so she didn’t try to escape while on the train!
There are a few options for getting to your hotel from the airport – depending on where your hotel actually is.
- S7 Regional train takes you into the centre of Vienna – up to Praterstern station. This was the tricky train for me!
- Airport Train / CAT takes you up to Landstraße station (this is the train you will use if you include “airport transfer” in your travel card ticket.
- Bus VAL 2 from Vienna Airport takes you to Schwedenplatz.
Vienna’s 23 neighbourhoods are called “Bezirke” and each one has it’s own standard of living (pricing) and its own personality.
The lower the number of the district, the closer the neighbourhood is to the city centre. The most inner-city district is District 1, Inner Stadt (Inner City).
With regards to travel around the city, the best places to stay in Vienna are in or around Innere Stadt (District 1), Leopoldstadt (District 2) and Landstraße (District 3).
We stayed in Leopoldstadt in a wonderful 3-star hotel called Das Capri.
As stuck-up as it might sound, I hardly ever stay in hotels with less than 4-stars.
This is not just because I like the “finer things” (which, I kind of do), but it is because I am a single parent of a 1-year old who needs certain things:
- Fridge for milk
- Breakfast included
- Room service if possible (to make my life easier)
- Good cot
- Good location is key for my own state of mind!
One of my favourite special little touches about Das Capri is that the rooms included a nifty tablet for you to find out about the local area, the best restaurants and even book excursions!
Das Capri offered everything I wanted and more (except room service) and have a “lowest price guaranteed when booking direct with hotel” policy.
This means that if you find a lower price on Booking.com or Lastminute.com etc., you can go straight to the hotel, tell them the price you have been quoted and they will either match it or go lower.
I saved £150 doing this!
There was a lovely Viennese breakfast included in the stay and I couldn’t get enough of the random cute little faces they drew on the eggs! Such a cute touch 🙂
Where To Go and What To Do
In a nutshell, Prater Park is an amusement park – and the central location of one of the most famous symbols of Vienna, the Giant Ferris Wheel (Wiener Riesenrad).
At 65 metres tall and almost 200 years old, the Giant Ferris Wheel is one of the best places to see an aerial view of the gorgeous city skyline.
Although the Giant Ferris Wheel is open all year, the amusement park itself is only open from March to October.
Prater Park does not only play home to the Giant Ferris Wheel though.
It also has the cute little Liliputbahn railway train – a family-style mini railway train, which takes you all the way around the park (you can get off it whenever you like).
The prices in Prater are very cheap too! With an adult ticket for the Liliputbahn costing only €4 and a child ticket setting you back just €2.50, and the Giant Ferris Wheel costing only €10 for adults and €4.50 for children.
I completely fell in love with Schönbrunn Palace when I visited with my Squidge in May 2018!
The inside is so magnificent that you will find it EXTREMELY difficult to find a photo of it anywhere on the Internet. It is forbidden to take photographs of the inside.
I actually saw someone take a photo on their phone and security made them delete it before throwing them out of the Palace.
With the many options of tickets and packages available for visitors, I chose to get the Schönbrunn Classic Pass. I am so glad that I did.
This was a personal choice because I have always wanted to try out a flower / grass maze and I know I wasn’t that interested in the Imperial Collection etc. (sorry, not sorry).
As with St Stephans Catherdral, there are many different aspects and sections of Schönbrunn Palace to visit.
Although you are able to visit individual areas of the Palace, I would advise that you purchase a package instead.
It will give you more for your money and won’t cost as much overall.
These listings have been sourced directly from the Schönbrunn Palace website:
Available: 1 April 2019 – 3 November 2019
Duration: 3 – 4 hours
Price: €24 for an adult and €15.20 for children aged 6 – 18 years. Under 6’s go FREE.
- Grand Tour of the Palace with audio guide (40 rooms)
- Privy Garden: Take a stroll under the shady pergola walks
- Maze & Labyrinth: Fun, games and relaxation for children and adults
- Orangery Garden: Relax in the historical garden
- Gloriette with viewing terrace: Fantastic panoramic view of Vienna
Benefits of this package:
- Adults save up to 30% compared with the price of separate tickets!
- Entitles you to one visit to all the attractions included
- The Classic Pass is valid on the date of issue
Duration: 30 – 40 minutes
Price: €14.20 for an adult and €10.50 for children aged 6 – 18 years. Under 6’s go FREE.
- The apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth
- Tour of the 22 Rococo state rooms of the palace, including the Great Gallery, the Chinese Cabinets and Emperor Franz Joseph’s private suite
- No guided tours offered on this tour. You can ask for a free audio guide / tour description.
Duration: 50 – 60 minutes
Price: With audioguide: €17.50 for an adult and €11.50 for children aged 6 – 18 years. With guided tour: €20.50 for an adult and €13 for children aged 6 – 18 years. Guided tours in English are at 11am & 3pm.
- 40 rooms and 40 fascinating stories spanning three centuries, including…
- Feketin Room, later renamed the Millions Room on account of its precious rosewood panelling
- Vieux-Laque Room
- Gobelin Salon with its exquisite Brussels tapestries
Duration: 1 whole day
Price: €29.90 for an adult and €18 for children aged 6 – 18 years.
- Tour of the Palace – Grand Tour with audio guide
- 40 rooms and takes approximately 50 minutes
- Besides the 22 rooms seen on the Imperial Tour you’ll also see the precious 18th-century interiors from the time of Maria Theresa.
- Sisi Museum
- Imperial Apartments
- Silver Imperial Collection
Imperial Furniture Collection
- Unique exhibition of furniture ranging from the Baroque to Biedermeier, Historicism, the Vienna Modernist movement and contemporary Austrian furniture design.
- A specially dedicated Sis(s)i Path takes you through the exhibition “Sisi in the movies – imperial furniture for the set”.
Benefits of this package:
- Sisi Ticket is valid for one year from the date of issue
- Sisi Ticket entitles you to one visit to all the attractions included
- Adults save up to 25 % compared with the price of separate tickets
- Fast-track admission to the tour of Schönbrunn Palace
Price: €21.90 for an adult and €15.90 for children aged 6 – 18 years. However, for 2 adults and up to 3 children, the cost is €49.90.
- Tour of the Palace – Imperial Tour with audio guide
- 22 rooms and takes approximately 35 minutes
- Tour features the Great Gallery, Chinese Cabinets and the private suite occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph
- Exeriencing history at first hand: A dedicated zone for young and old giving an insight into the daily life of the imperial children
- Afterwards children can have fun dressing up as princes and princesses
- Prices if visiting the Museum separately: Adults €8.80 and children aged 3-18 €6.70
Schloss Hof in the Marchfeld
- The former hunting lodge of Prince Eugene of Savoy in eastern Lower Austria makes an ideal destination for a family outing
- The Baroque ensemble consisting of the elegant palace, the glorious terraced gardens and the estate farm with rare-breed animals and demonstration artisan workshops.
Benefits of this package:
- Available at the ticket desks in Schönbrunn Palace, at the Children’s Museum and at Schloss Hof
- Saves at least 50 % compared with purchasing separate tickets for each attraction
There is a very handy little “train” (more like a bus with three sections) which tours through the Palace Park and stops at nine stations (including the Zoo and the Gloriette at the top of the hill).
There are two Panorama trains, which run daily from 10am to 6pm. They stop every hour and every half-hour at the Gloriette Hill and the Schönbrunn Palace.
The Panorama train travels at a max of 15 km/h and the whole journey around the grounds lasts around 50 minutes.
Without this train, I would have struggled hugely with dragging the stroller around but more importantly, we would not have been able to make it up the hill to the Gloriette.
The Gloriette gives an amazing panoramic view of the Vienna skyline.
NOTE: There will be no train service until the middle of March 2019!
A day pass costs €8.00 for adults, €4.00 for children 14 and under, and €4.00 for handicapped persons. With ticket and hand stamps, passengers can get on and off the train as often as they like.
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Stadtpark is one of the most famous – and biggest park and green space in Vienna, hidden away from the noise and rush of the city.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Stadtpark is the gold-plated bronze statue of Johann Strauss Son. There are also many other glorious statues to appreciate, such as the famous composers Franz Lehar, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, Robert Stolz and Sebastian Kneipp.
Around since 1862, the Habsburgs are even known to have used the park as a hunting ground in the past.
The park features several small water features and beautiful plants. There are also a couple of places to sit for a coffee or a snack while you take in your picturesque surroundings.
Whether you want a space to take the kids to let them run around for a bit or you want a romantic picnic with your partner, you can do it in Stadtpark.
One of the most famous opera houses in the world, Wiener Staatsoper features 350 performances and events of over 60 different operas and ballets every season.
On 25th May 1869, the grand opening was attended by Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.
With striking features and architecture outside of the building and an even more magnificent view inside the opera house, the Vienna State Opera House is one of the most beautiful opera buildings in the world too.
The history of the Wiener Staatsoper is particularly sad.
- Neither of the architects responsible for the creation of this masterpiece actually got to see the grand opening. One committed suicide and one died of a stroke before the building was officially opened.
- Between 1938 and 1945, Nazis killed many members of the opera house and certain pieces of music were not allowed to be played.
- The opera house was destroyed in a bombing on 12th March 1945, but re-opened with Mozart’s, “The Marriage of Figaro” on 6th October 1945.
The Vienna Concert Hall (Musikverein) is host to the “Grand Hall” which is considered one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world (largely due to its acoustic setting) and one of the best!
Built by Theophil Hansen in 1807, the building looks somewhat like a temple and exhibits concerts every day of the year.
The columns of the concert hall are reminiscent of the ancient female and the ceiling is all about Apollo and the muses.
The concert hall is home to the famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, many of whose members are also members of the Vienna State Opera House orchestra.
The Concert Hall does not only play “traditional classical music”. It also promotes more “new music” such as Jazz, spoken word and even concerts for children.
Guided tours at the Musikverein cost as little as €8.50 for an adult and are completely FREE for children under 12 years of age.
Although the original church no longer remains and more has been added over the years, there are parts of the building that still date back to its origins, such as the main entrance door.
Sadly, although the Cathedral stood through the bombings of WWII, it was later looted and vandalised in 1945 and caught on fire when vandals started fires around the building.
The Cathedral Treasury contains an extensive collection of “ecclesiastical and historical treasures”.
With over five treasury rooms, you can see breathtaking relics such as the
- Thorns from Jesus Christ’s crown
- Body of St Valentine
- Sarcophagus of Frederick III
- Tablecloth from the Last Supper.
I could not believe the views from the Danube Tower (otherwise known as Donauturm) in Donau Park.
Austria’s tallest landmark and an “engineering masterpiece” is over 50 years old.
The express lift is see-through at the top so you can see all of the wires and engineering…pretty scary on the way down!
The viewing terrace – 150 metres off the ground has breath-taking 360° panorama views of the Vienna skyline and the surrounding mountains.
I wanted mountains…I didn’t even have to leave Vienna to get them!
There is a restaurant at the top of the tower for those who want a meal 150 metres above ground level.
There is also a cute little machine at the top that creates lovely souvenir postcard photographs for a few euros (sorry, I can’t remember how much exactly), but it looked like this:
Danube Park was a pleasure to walk through in the evening and there were lots of people of all ages playing sports, relaxing with a coffee or beer and slurping on their ice cream cones.
There were also still lots of parents out with their younger kiddies, which was very reassuring as a single woman with a 1-year old.
Haus Der Musik (House of Music) is an amazing interactive Music Museum.
As a musician and music technology teacher, I could have spent hours and hours in here.
I know for sure that I will be putting a request in to my future school to take my college kids on a tour of Haus Der Musik!
There are four magical floors to explore:
1st Floor: Museum of the Vienna Philharmonic
This museum is located in the former apartment of Otto Nicolai (the composer, conductor and founder of the Philharmonic Orchestra).
The scientific documentation available in the historical archive can be found near a “concert hall” where you can experience highlights from the Viennese New Year’s Concert and the Schönbrunn Summer Night Concert.
2nd Floor: Sonosphere
This floor is fantastic for new babies to experience. The “pre-natal sensory rush” provides a room where you can experience the sounds of the womb. My Squidge was stuck to this for ages – she loved it!
The acoustic journey you are taken on leads you to discover new sounds and aural experiences through the use of audio-visual and multi-media installations and computer simulations.
A large room is provided as a “relaxation pod” with sounds being pumped into the room to calm and soothe.
Near that room is the Sound Gallery, where sounds and noises from the human body are explored.
There are activities where you can mix your own voice and known melodies to these sounds and record them onto a CD via the ‘Evolution Machine’.
3rd Floor: The Great Composers
Vienna has been recognised as a city of Music thanks to many composers, such as: Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Gustav Mahler, the Second Viennese School of Arnold Schönberg, Alban Berg and Anton Webern.
The 3rd floor provides films, audio clips and databases to aid the learning experience and you can even have a go at conducting yourself.
Move your arms with the baton and lead the virtual Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Another game on this floor is “Namadeus” (Mozart’s Musical Game). This interactive computer game allows you to turn your own name into a musical piece from Mozart “interpretations”.
4th Floor: virto | stage
A virtual stage, which resembles an opera house, this activity is a wonderful opportunity to use your body to direct your own musical experience.
Body gestures allow you to use your body as the music, storyline and stage design.
Another activity on this floor – more specifically for younger children, is the Zoo Concert.
Based on a childrens book by Marko Simsa, children can merge music, vocals and vision using multimedia and you can play-along with a virtual fairy tale.
So much fun!!
Not only is Vienna Zoo regarded as one of the best Zoo’s in the world!
It is actually the OLDEST Zoo in the world!
Squidge and I love animals, so we just had to go. Have you read my review of London Zoo yet?
One of the main reasons we went is that I really wanted to see the Panda and Polar Bear.
Unfortunately, on our visit, we saw neither 🙁
However, don’t let this put you off. The rest of the Zoo that we did see was fantastic! We saw feeding time with the penguins and got close up with the Giraffes.
It was a wonderful trip to Vienna Zoo and I would definitely go back again next time we go back to Vienna.
The Zoo also offers “experiences” and tours:
You will have the entire place virtually to yourself with an early admission. This tour gives you a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the rainforest or aquarium house. Afterwards you can enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Kaiserpavillon.
Duration: 1.5 hrs, followed by breakfast
Price: €240 for two people, each additional person €96
You can either choose one of their suggestions for a theme or put together your own custom tour. Themes include, Highlight Tour, Giants, On the Brink of Extinction, Babies and their Mothers, Africa Safari and Our Relatives in the Zoo – the Great Apes.
Duration:1.5 hrs, daily.
Price: €79 per tour, plus admission
Behind the scenes experience where you can find out how they create a tropical climate in the rainforest house, breed squid and keep the Polarium cool for penguins etc. You can choose to have your backstage tour in the aquarium terrarium house, the Polarium and the rainforest house.
Duration: 1.5 hrs
Price: €145 per tour of the aquarium terrarium house, plus admission
€95 per tour of the Polarium or rainforest house, plus admission
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One of the most famous coffee and cake houses in Vienna, the Cafe Sacher serves the world-famous Sacher-Torte cake and is situated on the ground floor of the glamorous Hotel Sacher.
It is said that Empress Sisi had an original Sacher-Torte sent to her every day.
You cannot get the “original Sacher-Torte” anywhere other than this Cafe!
With front-row views of the Vienna State Opera House and a beautiful interior, Cafe Sacher offers an authentic dining experience.
You can delight in an Original Sacher-Torte with whipped cream for only €7.10 and a yummy main course for an average of €22.
The Mozarthaus (originally known as the Camesina House) is the only residence (and most expensive one) that Mozart ever lived in that is actually still standing and has since been converted into a museum.
Mozart lived in this 17th Century house within Domgasse with his family.
Although almost everything inside has been “untouched” and left as natural, the actual property itself was redesigned in 2006 – the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.
Mozart lived here for three years from 1784 to 1787 – during which time he wrote three of the Haydn Quartets and his famous opera, “Le Nozze di Figaro”.
The Mozarthaus has four large rooms, two small rooms and a kitchen. The most prized room being the bedroom of Mozart himself.
You can find your way around the Mozarthaus with audio-visual installations and images to guide the way.
A visit to Mozarthaus will cost €11 for an adult and €4.50 for a child. There are however, many concessions and tours of the Mozarthaus offered at other prices too.
A trip to Vienna is not complete without a visit to the famous Naschmarkt – the outdoor flea market and food market.
I was actually intending to visit the Ankhur Clock on my last day but ended up spending hours at this not-so-little market, getting bargains and sampling yummy food from 5 continents of the world.
The Naschmarkt has been running since the 16th century and draws tourists and locals alike. The locals do their food shopping there and visitors can haggle their way to a great pressie or souvenir.
The food stalls are vibrant and colourful. They just invite you in, screaming, “eat me!”
So I did!
Visit any day of the week – except Sunday.
The BEST day to visit the Naschmarkt is on a Saturday. Squidge and I actually visited on the Saturday just before we was supposed to leave for our flight home.
If you are like me and enjoy your legends and stories of age-old gore, you need to visit Blutgasse (Blood Alley).
There are many legends associated with Blutgasse, but the main one has to be the legend of the Templars.
According to the legend, back in 1307, King Philip of France owed money to the secret society that was known as the Knights Templar.
Rather than finding a “civil” way to fix his troubles, he decided to just eradicate the Templars.
On Friday 13th October 1307, King Philip gave the order to attack the Templars.
Hence the legend of Friday 13th was born.
It is said that 35 years later in 1342, when the Templars had founded a secret Refugium in Vienna, they were attacked again!
This time the street, which is now known as Blutgasse was “turned red with their blood!”
Being one of Vienna’s most esteemed museums and most popular tourist attractions, the NHM has 39 differently themed rooms and displays over 30 million specimens and artefacts!
The NHM in Vienna has the biggest meterorite collection in the world (which includes the “Tissint” meteorite from Mars) and teaches you all about evolution in rooms for the prehistoric, dinosaur and Ice Age eras to human evolution.
The museum is home to the 29,500-year-old Venus of Willendorf and moveable dinosaurs – which terrified my 1-year old, but entertained me!
Recently, a Digital Planetarium was installed with a “fulldome” projection, which displays space in magnificent detail.
The outside of the Naturhistorisches is awesome in itself…I embarrassingly stood outside looking around at first because I thought I was in the wrong place.
Until I saw the signs!
Entrance to the Naturhistorisches is €12 for an adult and completely FREE for children. There are again, many concessions and tours of the Museum offered at other prices too.
Much like the Mozarthaus, although not as grand, this was the residence of Johann Strauss and his first wife, from 1863 to 1870.
In 1867, Strauss wrote his most famous composition in this property.
‘The Blue Danube Waltz’ is the unofficial Austrian national anthem.
Every hour, on the hour, this Art Nouveau astronomical clock draws hundreds of visitors to it’s feet to view an awesome spectacle.
Built in 1914, the clock plays organ music, which matches one of the 12 historical figures who rotate around the front of the clock.
Even better is at midday – that is when the figures do a complete turn.
Strangely, the clock was actually built by the Anker Insurance Company to remind people of the importance of life insurance.
As a reminder now, there is are two figures that represent life and death in the centre.
Best ways to travel
- U-Bahn (Metro trains)
- Trams and Buses
- With a normal travel card ticket or a Vienna Card
- Look into possibly purchasing a Vienna Pass!
Best places to stay
- Innere Stadt (District 1)
- Leopoldstadt (District 2)
- Landstraße (District 3)
Best places to go / see and things to do…
- Prater Park
- Shönbrunn Palace
- Vienna State Opera House
- Musikverein (Vienna Concert Hall)
- St Stephans Cathedral
- Donau Park (Danube Tower)
- Haus Der Musik (House of Music)
- Vienna Zoo
- Cafe Sacher in Hotel Sacher
- Johann Strauss Apartment
- Ankeruhr Clock (Anchor Clock)