Vienna has everything I love about Europe: history, art, architecture, music and culture. I have been to Vienna twice, once in the summer and once in the winter and spent 2 days each time. There is so much to see and do in Vienna that you could easily spend many days exploring the city. However, if you don’t have that luxury, then this post cover what to do in Vienna in two days and how to experience the highlights.
What to Do in Vienna in Two Days
Stephansplatz and Stephansdom
Stephansdome (Cathedral) is perhaps one of the most famous and important landmarks in all of Vienna. Situated in Stephansplatz which is right in the heart of the city, this Cathedral and square is a must visit in Vienna. First established in the 12th century, this gothic masterpiece as it stands today, mostly originated from the 13th century while it’s colorful tiled roof is a more recent addition. There is so much to see inside the Church itself including visits to its towers, catacombs and the main alter. Each piece is priced separately or you can buy an all inclusive ticket (€16).
This church is fully functioning so check worship times HERE before you go as certain areas close during mass.
Graben is one of the most famous streets in the city of Vienna. It is said this street goes all the way back to Roman times. Today, it is the epicenter of the most elegant and luxury stores. Visit this street at night, especially if you go during the holiday festive times as the decorations are a sight to behold.
Cafe Demel is known to be one of Vienna’s oldest coffee shops, with some of the best cakes and pastries in town. The best part about Cafe Demel is that you can actually watch the chefs create some of their delicious treats. Cafe Demel can get a little crowded but I think the line and wait if any is worth it.
Michaelerplatz & Hofburg Palace
One of my favorite squares in Vienna! There is always so much going on at Michaelerplatz. From horse drawn carriage rides to residents and toursts walking across the square, this place is busy any time of the day. One side of Michaelerplatz forms the entrance to the Hofburg palace complex and is a beautiful architectural site to see. The Roman excavations, right in the middle of the square, is a reminder of Vienna’s ancient days. You can also visit the Hofburg palace, the former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty. You can probably skip if you go to Schönbrunn but do not skip out on seeing the building complex itself! It’s grandeur is truly breathtaking.
Rathaus is the seat of local government of Vienna and is a beautiful building to see. The Rathaus hosts many different festivities and celebrations like the Vienna Festival, and most importantly one of the best Christmas markets during the winter. There are guided tours available if you want to explore inside.
From Rathaus, hop on tram line 1 to visit the next place…
Designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this whimsical, colorful and norm defying piece of art is a must see if you love architecture. The Hundertwasserhaus is actually an apartment complex and I cannot imagine anywhere more fun to live. Hundertwasserhaus is a little further away from all the central attractions but can easily be visited using public transportation (line U3 from Stephansplatz or tram line 1 from Rathause if you are following the order on this post) or a 20 minute walk if you are up for it.
Unfortunately with only two days in Vienna, you will most likely only have time to explore one or both (if you go fast) of the museums below OR the Schönbrunn Palace. I opted for the Schönbrunn Palace but my friend visited the Natural History Museum and she loved it! So this is really up to you and your interest.
Empress Maria Theresia sits atop her throne at the middle of this square that houses 2 of the most important important museums in Vienna, the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum). The two buildings face each other and are near identical. The Natural History Museum is said to be one of the best in the world!
This UNESCO world heritage site was the former Summer home of the Habsburgs. The Palace and surrounding gardens are well worth a visit! If you go during Christmas time, the area outside the main palace is home to one of the most magical Christmas markets in Vienna. There are lots of options when it comes to tickets including combination tickets with some of the attractions at the Hofburg Palace. SEE here for more information.
Schönbrunn Palace is a little away from the city center and you will need to use public transportation (or a ride share app or taxi) to get to and from the Palace.
Vienna Opera House
The opera house is a majestic site to see during the day or night! You have a few options for seeing the inside of this magnificent building. You can kill two birds with one stop if you do option 2 on this list. If you do opt for option 2, leave it for last and it would be a great way to spend your final evening in Vienna!
- Do a guided tour – It costs €12 and lasts 40 minutes. HERE is the link to book
- See a performance – You can either pay full price OR if you are willing to go all the way up and potentially stand (although there may be seats now due to Covid), you can purchase a cheap ticket for €10, 2 hours before the show. HERE is the link with more information
Former palace now turned art museum. Even if you don’t go in (I did not), it’s still worth a visit for the 2 beautiful buildings and the surrounding fountains, waterfalls, sculptures and well manicured gardens.
Take a quick break from sightseeing by spending a few minutes at Stadtpark. This green oasis in the middle of the city has lots of monuments and sculptures that call this park their home, including a golden statue of Johann Strauss.
Hotel and Café Sacher
Hotel Sacher and its café are one of the most famous places in Vienna. Their signature dish is the Sacher-Torte, a chocolate cake that is one of Vienna’s most famous culinary specialties! This café claims to serve the original version of the Sacher-Torte. Like Cafe Demel, the lines are usually very long but worth it. If the line is too long check out the Sacher Eck, a sister café that is a part of the hotel than also serves the Sacher-Torte. Alternatively, if you can be sure of the time you can show up, make a reservation HERE.
What to do with More time in Vienna
The cities listed below can easily be visited from Vienna either as day trips or with overnight stays. These cities are easily connected via bus and rail from Vienna.
- Bratislava, Slovakia – Read my post on Bratislava
- Hallstatt, Austria – Read my post on Hallstatt
- Salzburg, Austria
- Prague, Czech Republic – Read my post on Prague
- Budapest, Hungary – Read my post on Budapest
Quick Guide to Vienna
When to Visit
As I mentioned before, I’ve been to Vienna in the Summer and Winter and enjoyed both times. If you can tolerate the cold, highly recommend going during the Christmas holiday (which starts mid November) to enjoy the spectacular decorations and Christmas markets!
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of accommodations in and around Vienna and there are many choices for every budget. I stayed at Austria Trend Hotel Europa Wie which was right in the heart of the city near Stephansplatz and close to a couple of metro stations. My recommendation, especially with only 2 days in Vienna is to try and stay close to the city as possible. If you do go during the summer, you may want to book a hotel with air-conditioning as it does get relatively warm.
How to Get Around Vienna
Getting around Vienna is super easy! The city is well connected via an underground metro system and a tram system. Depending on what you plan on doing, you may find it is cheaper to buy a 48 hour pass than individual tickets. One thing to note is that most of the attractions on this list are very walkable and in close proximity to each other (I tried to callout ones that are not).
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Thinking of visiting Vienna during Christmas or wonder what the city is like during this time? Check out my post HERE or below.