The city of Vienna one of the top tourist destination in Europe. The city is brimming with exceptional architectural buildings and historic monuments. The city is home to sumptuous palaces, magnificent churches, and many world-class museums. One day in Vienna is not enough to cover the best of what the city has to offer, you need at least 2 days in Vienna or even more.
If you have only one day in Vienna then the best possible itinerary would be to start with the top attractions and add in or remove a few as per your interest and personal preference. You can also opt for the Hop On Hop Off bus which will save to time on public transport for long distance. Once in the historic center, you will have to explore all the major sights on foot as its mostly traffic free area.
Vienna Airport to City Center
There are several options to reach Vienna City center from Airport –
S7 train on S Bahn – Is the cheapest option but time-consuming. Trains run every 30 minutes.
CAT (City Airport Train) – Is the fastest but pricier option. Again there are trains running every 30 minutes.
Regional Buses – There is also a good network of buses connecting the major bus stations of the Vienna City.
Where to Stay in Vienna?
We stayed in ‘Novum Hotel Congress Wien am Hauptbahnhof’ which is right across the street from the Vienna main railway station. If you are traveling to the city center by public transport it is very convenient to reach the hotel. Also if you are planning to do a Hop On Hop Off bus tour for Vienna City sightseeing then the bus stops close to the entrance of the railway station. The rooms are equipped with basic toiletries and 24 hours hot water with 24 services at the reception.
Things to do in Vienna in One Day
Karlskirche or the St Charles Church
The 18th-century Karlskirche is an impressive baroque church located south of the Karlsplatz Square. The church features a large copper cupola, a portico designed in Greek temple style and two columns modeled after Trajan’s Column of Roman Forum in Rome. The columns are adorned by reliefs which depict scenes from the life St. Borromeo to whom the church is dedicated.
The interior of the church is decorated with sculptures, stucco work and rich frescoes and paintings in the dome and in the chapels. There is an entrance fee to access the church. You can check the entrance fee and open times here.
About 5 minutes walk from the Karlskirche is the bustling Naschmarkt. The 16th-century market sells everything from fresh vegetables and fruits to spices, herbs, cheese, bread, meat, and clothes from over 100 stands. There are small stalls and shops if you want to try some local Viennese delicacies. There is a flea market next to the food market on every Saturday. The market is closed on Sundays and on public holidays.
Vienna State Opera
Next, walk through the Karlplatz train Station to the other side and climb up to the street view which opens up to the Vienna Opera. The Vienna State Opera is a Renaissance style building located on the Vienna Ringstrasse or Vienna Ring Road. The Ring Road is a boulevard circling the historic Vienna Old Town and stands on the location of the former medieval city walls.
The Opera opened in 1869 was one of the first buildings on the Vienna Ringstrasse and one of the busiest opera houses in the world. The Opera hosts over 350 performances of operas and ballets every season. There are guided tours of the building which is offered in German, English, and Spanish languages. The tour walks you through the interiors and history and facts of the Opera building.
For one day in Vienna it may not possible to fit in the tour of the Opera but you can always come back at the end of the day to watch an Opera performance.
Tip: When you are here you may want to taste the famous Vienna Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher which is 5 mins walk from Opera and is said to serve the original delicacy.
Walking further from here towards the old town the streets are lined with cafes and restaurants with outdoor seatings. You can take a break and try some delicious patisseries and desserts.
We came across this beautiful Baroque fountain in the old town called Donnerbrunnen located in the Neuer Markt Square.
There are numerous interesting architectural buildings around the fountain square. Walking further from here for another 5 minutes you will walk into the Stephansplatz.
St Stephens Church
The Stephansplatz is the main square in Vienna City and is dominated by the the 12th-century St Stephens Church. The church features Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles with the most striking feature being the roof which is decorated with colorful glazed tiles. The facade of the church has by two towers which the visitors can climbed via 343 steps for a wonderful view of the city of Vienna.
The catacombs are underground burial place located in the basement of the cathedral. It contains the mausoleum of the bishops and the tombs of Duke Rudolph the Founder and other members of the Habsburg family. The church is also one of the top concert venues in Vienna.
St Peters Church
Peterskirche or the St. Peter’s Church is a Baroque church, the oldest church building in Vienna dating back to the 1100s. The church features a large copper dome flanked by two bell towers which are said to be inspired by the St. Peter’s Basilica of the Vatican City.
The church has a plain exterior but the interior is remarkable decorated with sculpted pews, frescoes, and the Baroque pulpit.
St Michael Church
The St. Michael’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Vienna. The Romanesque Church featuring a Neoclassical facade and a towering spire is located in Michaelerplatz opposite the entrance of the Hofburg Palace.
The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes dating back to the 15th-century. The most important work of art in the interior is the Baroque stucco work with alabaster Rococo sculpture ‘Fall of the Angels’. The large crypt located underneath the church holds 4000 corpses including mummified corpses in a well-preserved state in coffins.
In the center of the Michaelerplatz in front of the church is a excavation site where archeologists uncovered the remains of a Roman settlement. The site is covered in glass and one can only view it from the glass covering.
Cafe Demel is a popular pastry shop established in 1786. Before you start touring the imperial palace of Hofburg you can take a break and spend some time relishing some delicious pastries and cakes.
The Hofburg Palace built in the 13th century is the former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and today serves as the seat of the President of Austria. The Hofburg Palace houses several outstanding museums which offer insight into the history and culture of the Habsburgs.
The Sisi Museum displays personal possessions and artifacts from the life of Empress Elisabeth. Visitors can learn about the events of the life of the Empress and learn more about her as a person through the museums exhibits. The Imperial Apartments walks you through the ornate rooms and lavish furnishings from the times of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. The Silver Collection has a large impressive collection of silverware, table centerpieces, porcelain and crystal glasses from the royal collection.
The Sisi Museum, Imperial Apartments, and Imperial Silver Collection can be visited with a single ticket which includes an audio guide. Opening times for Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments and the Silver Collection.
September to June – Daily 9.00 am – 7.30 pm, last admission at 4.30 pm
July to August – Daily 9.00 am – 6.00 pm, last admission at 5.00 pm
The Heldenplatz is a square in front of the Hofburg Palace and is dominated by two equestrian statues of Archduke Charles of Austria and Prince Eugene of Savoy. The buildings around the square house numerous museums including Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer (Imperial Hunting Museum and Armory), Ephesos-Museum (collection of antiquities), The Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente (Collection of Historic Musical Instruments) and the Weltmuseum (an Ethnology museum).
The visitors can watch the Lipizzan horses performing their daily exercises in the beautiful Baroque riding hall of the Spanish Riding School. The Imperial Treasury displays an awe-inspiring collection of crown jewels and precious stones in the ‘Secular Collection’ and religious treasures in the ‘Ecclesiastical Collection’.
Again it is not possible to explore these museums if you have only one day in Vienna. You can just walk through the grounds of Heldenplatz and explore the statues, monuments and the remarkable architectural building around.
If you are visiting with kids then you wouldn’t want to miss a visit to the Prater. Prater is a large public park in Vienna which offers over 250 attractions for kids as well as adults. The attractions include the Giant Ferris Wheel,which offers great pabaromic views of the Danube and the Vienna City, Madame Tussauds, Prater Museum, the Planetarium and various kind of adventure activities like indoor skydiving, bungee jumping and more.
Next to the amusement park is the “Green Prater” – an extensive green space with lush trees which makes for a pleasant place for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. The miniature train Liliputbahn covering more than three miles is a great way to explore this beautiful neighborhood.
Alternative Places to Visit in Vienna in One Day
There are other amazing palaces in Vienna which might interest you too. We were very much intrigued by the life of Sisi and hence Hofburg Palace had to be on our list of places to visit in Vienna. If you want to visit Belvedere Palace or Schonbrunn Palace it is recommended you start your day with a visit to the palace and then head to the historic center to explore other places. And in that case, you will have to skip a visit to the Hofburg Palace. Or if you are a museum person you can explore one or two of the museums located in the Heldenplatz or in the Museum Quarter right across the street from the Heldenplatz
The Belvedere Palace complex built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy comprises of two Baroque buildings the Upper and Lower Belvedere set in a Baroque landscape garden.
While the Upper Belvedere houses the permanent display of Austrian art masterpieces from the Middle Ages to the present the Lower Belvedere and the former Orangery is a venue for temporary exhibitions. You can book your tickets online here.
The magnificent palace of Schonbrunn is one of the top places to visit in Vienna. The palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg as the Hofsburg was the winter residence. The Baroque palace has 1441 rooms some of which are open to the public. Visitors can choose from one of the two tours which let you walk through two different set of rooms.
The Imperial Tour that walks you through the 22 rooms where you can visit the apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth and other Rococo staterooms in less than an hour.
The Grand tour is an extension of the Imperial tours which walks through 40 rooms which along with the apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth and other Rococo staterooms including the Gobelin Salon which displays some exquisite Brussels tapestries. You can prices and tickets here.
Also must visit is the UNESCO list of World Heritage Site of the Schonbrunn Palace garden. The palace garden is decorated with sculptures and mountains and have several elaborate fountains. The most striking attraction in the garden is the Great Parterre which features 32 sculptures representing deities and virtues. The park is open from 6.30 am in the morning. Though the garden is free to access, the garden attractions like Zoo, the Palm House, Desert House, Orangery Garden all have a separate entrance fee.
The Museumsquartier is located across the street from the Heldenplatz and comprises of numerous important museums housed in Baroque as well as Modern buildings.
Apart from museums the Museumsquartier also has several restaurants and cafes which makes it a great meeting place. Museumsquartier also hosts several events and festivals.
Recommended Vienna Tours
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