Vienna, Austria Travel Guide
Vienna is quite a grand city.
Full of history and incredible architecture, it can be hard to get your bearings in such a luxurious city. I have a feeling my photos won’t do the city justice! Each building felt so large and opulent, it was hard to get a good picture to show that.
We had a lovely time visiting Vienna! We arrived the evening of November 15th and moved on to our next destination on November 19th. It was quite chilly while we were there, so bring your layers if you plan on visiting around the same time of year. We were lucky enough to see it snow on the morning of the 19th too, it was really beautiful and I wish we could’ve seen more! The Christmas markets were in full swing while we were there, so we spent a large portion of our visit exploring those (there are so many!). Details on those at the bottom of this post.
As always, we use Rick Steve’s books to guide all of our European trips. Just as a guide though, we aren’t huge museum fans and like to do things a bit differently than Rick, but he knows his stuff. We always bring his books with us too! Keep reading for more of my recommendations and some of my favorite iPhone photos from our trip.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at the Pertschy Palais Hotel, which was in the perfect location! It was less than one block away from the “main strip” – Stephansplatz. Stephansplatz can be a bit touristy, but it is still a really nice and fun area to stay in. Lots of shopping, eateries and a large amount of the top historic things to see on my list are right around the corner.
As for the hotel, it was pretty basic. A little outdated when it comes to the décor, but we spend such little time in our hotel rooms. They did have a free hot coffee/tea/hot chocolate station in the lobby which we used very frequently. :)
Vienna is a “meat and potatoes” kind of meal mecca. We love our hearty meals, but towards the end of the trip we were looking to mix it up a bit. Some of the favorite things we had while in Vienna…
Sachertorte – A Vienna specialty, a rich layered chocolate cake.
Weiner schnitzel - We went to Reinthaler's Beisl, a restaurant near out hotel that was great.
Strudel – I can never say no to apple strudel!
Jonathan & Sieglinde - If you love potatoes, this place is for you. It’s alllllll potato based dishes and is really delicious. You can see a photo of what we had below.
A few places that we wanted to go, but didn’t get the chance to go…
Café Sacher – known for their Sachertorte! We ended up having Sachertorte elsewhere, but this is supposed to be the place to go.
Heuriger – also known as a tavern. It was winter, and the ones we wanted to go to were more known for their outdoor gardens and terraces. If you visit in the warmer months, definitely check out one of the many heurigers Vienna has to offer.
FAVORITE SITES IN VIENNA:
Opera House – Beautiful, huge and very famous! It is a giant, impressive building.
St Stephens Cathedral – Amazing medieval Catholic Church
Graben/Kohlmarkt – Nice street to walk along with lots of shops and beautiful buildings
St Peter’s Church – Baroque Catholic Church, the oldest church in Vienna
Schonbrunn Palace – The main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, really stunning and worth the trip! Visit the Palace Gardens and Imperial Apartments.
Mariahilfer Strasse – One of the largest streets in Vienna, lots of shopping and restaurants – mainly stores we have in the U.S.
Ringstrasse Tram Tour – A DIY approach to a tour. There is a tram that rides around the city in a circle and is a good way to see everything at a glance.
Hofburg Palace – Imperial Apartments, New Palace, Treasury & Spanish Riding School. Pick what you are most interested in and tour that! We did the tour of the Imperial apartments. If we would’ve had more time I would have loved to see the Spanish Riding School & Treasury.
State Hall of Austrian Library – Very LARGE library. We didn’t get to go inside to fully visit, but we did take a quick peek. Looks like a beauty!
Hofsburg Church – Didn’t get to visit this, but wish we could have!
Stadtpark – Didn’t get to visit this, but wish we could have!
I tried to put the photos in order of this list, so hope that helps to visualize everything.
There were several streets listed above that had a lot of shopping and eateries mixed together, but here were my favorite shopping sites in Vienna…
Kärntner Strasse – Famous shopping street
Nashmarkt & Nashmarkt Flohmarkt – The BIGGEST outdoor farmer’s market/ flea market combination I’ve ever been to. You can find just about any food you can imagine here. It was very crowded and we didn’t end up purchasing anything, except for a few small bites to eat. There were lots of great antiques though!
Meta Markt – A cute little flea market set up indoors. We found two small oil paintings to bring home, so it was a success for us! Lots of large pieces (furniture/large art), but also a good amount of smaller pieces too. Worth a look, but we did have to take the train a bit out of the city center and walk a bit.
Parking Garage Flea?! – Out of all the flea markets, this was the best for deals and for the life of me I cannot remember or find what it was called. I think my husband found it on the morning of. It was more of a garage sale/ flea market combination that took place in a random parking garage a little outside the city center on Saturday morning. We found an oil painting for less than $5, If this interests you, perhaps do a little good searching of your own and you can find it? Let me know if you do!
We had no trouble getting around Vienna. They have buses, trams, trains, rental bikes & scooters, taxis and more. They operate on an honesty system and once you buy a ticket it works for all the public bus, train, tram and subway system. Depending on what you plan on doing, day passes can be a good idea.
We visited a ton of Christmas Markets while we were in Vienna! A lot of them aren’t open until the evening, but a good portion are open during the day too. Always check in advance! The largest market by far is the Christkindlmarkt at Rathauseplatz. They have hundreds of booths, activities for kids, an ice rink and more.
The best part about all of the Christmas markets is that they are all outside and you are surrounded by the impeccable, historic buildings in Vienna. It’s so special! Yes, it can get cold, but that’s what the hot drinks and warm treats are for (and there was a lot of food to choose from too)! Expect lots of people and lines. These type of events are popular for locals and tourists!
Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz
Weihnchtsmarkt Am Hof
Christmas Market at Stephansplatz
Christmas Market at Spittelberg
Old Viennese Christmas Market at Freyung (altweiner)
Winter Market in the Prater at Riesenradplatz
The Old AKH
Viennese Christmas Market City
Christmas Village at Altes AKH
Best spots to view Christmas lights
Outside of the Christmas markets, there are also tons of horse carriage rides available. Could be a charming way to see the city?!
Thanks for following along! I’m sure there’s much more to do in Vienna that I listed here, but for us this was the perfect trip. We also visited Bratislava, Slovakia, Budapest, Hungary and Salzburg, Austria on the same trip. I’ve written some travel guides for each of those cities, so make sure to check those out!