Vienna is just… so pretty. Pretty, clean and well-designed.
Best of all, easy as hell to travel around in.
The one major downside to this gorgeous city is that it is expensive. I probably spent more cash here than any other European getaway. But rest assured, the money was well-spent. I treasured my time in Vienna, and I hope to return someday.
But in the meantime, here’s how to spend 3 days in Vienna, let’s go!
How to Spend 3 Days in Vienna
Map of Vienna
Introduction to Vienna
Official Language(s): Austrian German
Emergency phone number: 112
When to Go to Vienna
April – May or September – October
Depends on just how many people in one place you can handle, because the Vienna Christmas markets are the stuff of legends. As a result, they’re quite popular and flooded with tourists. It’ll also be cold enough for a jacket and heavy clothing.
I went in late September. The weather was cloudy but pleasant, and a light jacket or sweater was all I needed.
Where to Stay in Vienna
There’s one Airbnb that I loved because the owner is a gem. I was close to a tram stop in a quiet but cute neighborhood, 10 minutes from the Belvedere. Lots of space to spread out too; we fit three people comfortably. Best of all; it’s reasonably priced. Booking anything on the cheap in Vienna is a nightmare.
How to Get Around in Vienna
Wiener Linien Pass
Vienna is easily one of the most walkable places in Europe. I really can’t stress that enough.
Sure, they have Uber (which I used in a pinch) but their transportation system is phenomenal. I’d honestly recommend it just for the experience. It felt like it was designed for the harried tourist.
Where to Eat in Vienna
I stumbled upon burg.ring1 completely by accident, since it was close to the Albertina. If you like your food sweet, give this place a whirl. I’m still dreaming about that Belgian waffle.
If you can make this your first dinner, Paulmenhaus is really where it’s at. This was my first meal in Vienna, and it almost set the tone. The place itself is stunning, half of it is a greenhouse.
Cafe Central is such a must-see I debated putting it into the “Things to Do” section. This cafe has served the likes of Freud, Trotsky and Zweig. They have a lunch special that’s easier on the pocketbook but still delicious. Make a reservation if you can.
Cafe Amacord is so fun. There’s live music, huge portions of good foods, and lively conversation.
Day 1 of 3 Days in Vienna
Your first full day in Vienna ought to be packed with royal history. Go big or go home.
Read about Empress Maria Therese on the way there and tell me she’s not your new favorite royal (Sorry, Prince Harry).
Schönbrunn is a former imperial summer residence and I really feel like it’s got something for everyone. It’s Baroque, so the architecture geeks can go crazy. It’s been impeccably recreated for my fellow history buffs. And quite frankly, it’s stunning.
(But I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the palace interior, so you’ll have to see for yourself.)
If you can, arrive at Schönbrunn Palace right when it opens. You’ll avoid the crowds of tourists that way. I had entire rooms to myself.
Plan an extra hour or so to peruse the Schönbrunn gardens. No matter what season it is, they really are a sight.
After this, it’s a good time to head over to Hofburg Vienna. It’s got the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum and Silver Chamber under the same roof. *fist pump*
The best way to manage your finances in this regard is to book the Sisi Ticket on Schönbrunn’s website. You’ll have access to everything I’ve mentioned so far, for between 20-30 euros.
I started with the Silver Collection, which is exactly what it sounds like. Perfectly preserved silver and ornate dining ware from the time of the Hapsburg monarchy. Whatever you’re imagining, I promise, there’s more. I almost got royal fatigue cause there was just so much stuff.
The Sisi Museum is where I found myself next. It gave a special insight into Empress Elisabeth of Austria (called “Sisi”), who, by all accounts, wanted zero to do with the throne. Every single item, down to the letters she wrote about what bullshit it is to be an Empress, are on display.
I’m a little sad that you’re not allowed to take photos in any of these three museums, but especially here. I’m not kidding when I say everything is in here. If there was a little trinket commemorating the marriage, it was there. Fascinating stuff.
Finally, I went to the Hapsburg Apartments where Sisi lived. It’s a little like Schönbrunn all over again, but much more personal. (“Here’s the equipment that Sisi used to stay in shape. Here’s her beauty routine.”) I don’t necessarily think I could pick a favorite between the two, but I feel like I learned much more about the royals from the Hapsburg Apartments.
(P.S. Cafe Central is real close if you’re feeling hungry after all the royal sightseeing.)
See an Opera
If you want to see an opera in Vienna, even just a little bit, do it. You won’t regret it. The State Opera House is most well-known, but looking at the prices can make you weep bitterly. But of course, there are ways around that.
For starters, you can get standing room seats for 5 euros. These are a bit of gamble, but one of my fellow bloggers went super in-depth so give it a read.
… or see an opera elsewhere
I know it doesn’t sound as fun, but I saw “The Barber of Seville” at Vienna Volksoper for just under 50 euros and had a marvelous time! Quality is everywhere here.
Day 2 of 3 Days in Vienna
Austrian National Library
The Austrian National Library, also known as the inspiration for that giant library in “Beauty and the Beast,” is spellbinding. It’s home to some of the oldest and most important literary works in Europe.
Kunsthistorisches is primarily Hapsburg art, but two wonderful collections include the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection and the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
The Albertina is known for its master collection of print works. Roughly 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints are housed here.
Day 3 of 3 Days in Vienna
Get a pocketful of euros and ride the train to Prater amusement park around 10 a.m. A must ride is the Riesenrad ferris wheel.
I’m unfortunately serious about the whole pocket full of euros thing. You pay for each ride individually. If you’re a roller coaster junkie, you have my sympathies. I spent a lot of money here.
Then, once you’ve had your fill of fun, go absolutely ham at the Naschmarkt for your fill of food. You could easily spend a whole afternoon there. There’s so much to see and it’s just so fun!
Shops on a makeshift table are right next to a full-fledged restaurant. Every kind of gift for every kind of person is available. I got a unique kind of olive oil for my dad, and he turned it into the best salad dressing a gal could ask for. This is a day for pockets of euros, is what I’m essentially saying.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Wander on down to St. Stephen’s Cathedral when you’re ready to. That’s the one sight I couldn’t fit in, and tbh, I’m still bitter.
When all is said and done, if you’re still itching for just a bit more royal history, check out the Belvedere Palace. It’s an 18th century beauty that now houses Middle Age artwork.
Know Before You Go
Almost all shops tend to close on Sundays. So if you want to do a little shopping, plan accordingly.
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