Vienna might not get as much buzz as neighbors Berlin and Prague do, but this Austrian city is the ideal mix of avant-garde and historic. From palaces, museums, and gardens to coffee shops and music halls, Vienna embodies glamor perfectly. Design an amazing Vienna itinerary, find your way around the airport, and score an awesome place to stay in this glittering city.

Your Vienna Itinerary

When in Vienna, it’s important to balance historical spots with artsy ventures. Here’s what you need to do and see in the Austrian capital.

Morning: Be Dazzled by Vienna’s Classic Coffee Houses

Vienna basically invented the opulent coffeehouse, so you absolutely have to stop by at least one. Keep in mind that if you need a pick-me-up later in the day, most of these spots are open all day long. In fact, some of them are at their busiest in the afternoon, especially on a sunny summer day.

Head to Café Schwarzenberg, which is the oldest café in the center of the city. Along with fantastic espresso, this old-fashioned spot also serves delicious apple strudel. It’s a morning-only spot, so be sure to arrive early.

You can also hang out where Sigmund Freud and other important Austrian figures once spent their time. Head over to Café Central, which has been pouring coffee and serving mouth-watering desserts in a palatial setting since 1876. Another oldie, Café Landtmann has been a great place to see and be seen since 1873. Browse a local newspaper while you dig into a classic royal treat like Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancake).

Sigmund freud museum
The Sigmund Freud Museum.

Noon: Explore Vienna’s Artistic Side

Vienna has made a name for itself for centuries as an art hub, but some of the coolest developments happened in the last hundred years or so. First, get up to speed on the history at the Museum of Fine Arts, a huge building that looks a little like the Louvre from the outside and is filled to the brim with classic art on the inside. This is the place to get up close and personal with ancient Egyptian pieces, see European masterpieces, and get a peek at medieval arms and armor.

After you’ve gotten a glimpse of the classic side of Vienna’s art scene, head over to the MuseumsQuartier to immerse yourself in its modern and contemporary side. This is where you’ll find the Leopold Museum, which has a gorgeous collection of paintings from Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, two of the artists who turned Vienna’s art scene on its head at the turn of the 20th century.

The MuseumsQuartier is also home to mumok, a museum that focuses on late modern and contemporary art. You can also see avant-garde media and films here. No matter what time of year you visit, there’s bound to be something happening in the MuseumsQuartier courtyard, too, from temporary exhibitions to public performances and Christmas markets.

Schonbrunn palace
The Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

Afternoon: Get the Royal Treatment

Next, get the royal treatment at one of Vienna’s palaces and royal hangouts. You’re going to want to start at the Hofburg Palace, the massive complex in Vienna’s Innere Stadt. Here, you can do everything from wander through the opulent apartments that once belonged to Empress Elisabeth, browse the imperial furniture collection to get some decorating tips, listen to the Vienna Boys’ Choir perform, or tour the Spanish Riding School facilities, home to the gorgeous Lipizzaner horses.

If you still have time before dinner, head over to Schonbrunn Palace, which was once a royal summer home. Somewhat like Versailles, this place is both massive and magical, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Prepare to be amazed as you wander through the incredibly furnished rooms, marvel at the fountains, and stroll through the seemingly endless gardens. If you want to save a few bucks, you can always tour the gardens themselves for free, but you’ll have to pay to test your skills in the maze. You can also visit the totally gorgeous Orangery Garden.

Evening: Have a Classic Viennese Meal

You really can’t visit Vienna without sampling the quintessential local dish, Wiener Schnitzel. Enjoy a heaping plate of this melt-in-your-mouth veal specialty at Figlmüller, which has perfected its recipe over the past hundred years or more.

If you’re hungry for something a little more contemporary, stop by the totally Instagram-worthy ON Market, which serves up pan-Asian dishes like maki rolls and tiki drinks in a gorgeously designed interior. If you really want to make a splash, try The Motto, where you can dine on steak tartare while mingling with celebrities. If you’re just in the mood for a quick bite, Naschmarkt is your spot. You can nibble on something light while sipping local wine or grab something to go in this centuries-old market street.

Late Night: Catch a Show

Mozart and Beethoven put Vienna’s music scene on the map, and today, the city continues to celebrate music in a big way. Treat yourself to a show at a classic spot like the Vienna Concert House, where you can catch jazz, classical, or contemporary music. For a really special night, head to the Vienna Opera, which is housed in the type of ornate opera house you’ve only seen in the movies. Tickets can be expensive, especially if you want front-row seats, but you can save a few bucks by queueing up for standing-only spots that cost only a few euro.

If you prefer electronic music to classical sounds, Vienna has you covered. Dance the night away at Flex, which specializes in drum and bass, or go to fluc, which focuses on avant-garde electronica

Natural history museum
The Natural History Museum.

Vienna International Airport Guide

If you’re flying into Vienna, there’s a good chance you’ll be arriving at Vienna International Airport (VIE), the city’s main air travel hub. This airport welcomes nearly 24 million passengers each year. It has three terminal buildings — Terminal 1, Terminal 1A, and Terminal 3 — along with five lettered concourses.

The airport serves dozens of airlines and countless destinations, many of which are in Europe. For instance, you can hop an Austrian Airlines flight to Belgrade or Paris, a British Airways flight to London, a Eurowings flight to Madrid or Barcelona, or a KLM flight to Amsterdam. However, it’s also easy to fly to North American destinations like New York and Chicago, African destinations like Cairo and Tunis, Middle Eastern destinations like Doha and Amman, or Asian destinations like Taipei and Bangkok.

How to Get to and From Vienna International Airport

VIE is just 13 miles southeast of the city center, so getting to and from the airport is a breeze. Planning to tour around Austria’s countryside or set out on a ski trip? You can rent a car from any of the major international car rental counters right at the airport. Just go to the car rental center, which is on the bottom level of car park 4, and take your pick from Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Flizzr, and others. Driving into Vienna takes about 20 or 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you’d rather let someone else do the driving, pick up a cab at one of the many taxi stands outside. Public transit options are also plentiful here. You can catch local or international buses, the rapid transit railway (S-Bahn), or the City Airport Train (CAT). If you’re in a hurry, the CAT is a great choice, since it will get you to Vienna’s main train station in just 16 minutes. A one-way ticket costs just €12, so it’s well worth the price.

Prater
The Prater in Vienna.

What to Do at Vienna International Airport

The Vienna airport is great for sneaking in a little work, catching up on emails, or uploading a few blog posts about your trip. Wi-Fi is free throughout the airport, and you’ll even find power outlets and USB charging stations near the B and C gates. If you want a little more peace and quiet, try one of the AIR or SKY lounges, all of which are available for an additional fee.

You’ll find basic snacks and drinks in the lounge, but you’ll have to explore the terminal for full restaurants and snack bars. Grab a coffee at Airbrew, snack on a pretzel at Bretzel Meister, stock up on sweets at Demel, or stay healthy at Juice Factory. You can even do a little light grocery shopping at Spar before or after your flight.

Alternatives to Vienna International Airport

VIE is the most convenient gateway to Vienna, but you do have other options if you don’t mind a little extra travel time. Drive or take the train about 90 minutes east, and you’ll arrive at Bratislava Airport (BTS), which is just over the border in Slovakia. Since both Austria and Slovakia are part of the Schengen Zone, you don’t have to worry about additional passport checks or border controls if you opt for this airport.

While BTS is much smaller than VIE, it does offer a few very convenient flights. For instance, Wizz Air flies to Warsaw and Sofia, flydubai will get you to Dubai, and Ryanair will transport you to Dublin and beyond. With easy bus connections to and from Vienna, BTS is definitely worth considering.

Rathaus city hall
The Wiener Rathaus in Vienna.

Where to Stay in Vienna

From buzzing hostels to boutique hotels and awesome rentals, there’s no shortage of great places to stay in Vienna. Check out a few top picks and find an ultra-cute spot to rest your head.

Top Hotels in Vienna

There are so many cute boutique hotels in Vienna that you may have a hard time making a choice. First, check out The Guesthouse Vienna, an amazing design hotel with contemporary rooms, fantastic photographs throughout, and a minibar with freebies in every room. You’ll also love grabbing a quick coffee and pastry at the hotel’s café.

If you have a serious sweet tooth, you’re definitely going to want to stay at Hotel Sacher Wien. Named for the rich, chocolatey Sachertorte, this hotel serves slices of cake in its café, and the rooms are pretty nice, too. If you prefer wine over chocolate, set your sights on Hotel Rathaus. This wine-themed hotel has rooms that will have you dreaming of your next glass of Gewürztraminer, and you can even nosh on wine-inspired dishes for breakfast.

Best Hostels in Vienna

Vienna might not be known as a budget travel destination, but it’s home to a few pretty fabulous hostels. When you stay at one of these Vienna hostels, you’ll save a few bucks and make some new friends, too.

If you love eating snacks, being social, and sleeping in style, you’ll love Wombats City Hostel Vienna. This spot is right next to the Naschmarkt, which is basically a giant snack market, and there are tons of artsy spots right around the corner. The beer and the breakfast are both super affordable, and there’s a great social scene here, too.

If you’re looking for something a little quieter, check out Hostel Ruthensteiner Vienna. It’s clean and comfy, has a lovely garden, and is just steps from the city’s western train station. You can rent bikes to explore the city, use the musical instruments, and chill out in the bar in the evening. Also on the west side of town, the Westend City Hostel has mixed dorms and private rooms, a fun common area, and easy access to Vienna’s metro and train systems.

Karlskirche
The Karlskirche.

Coolest Private Rentals in Vienna

Thinking about renting a flat for your stay? You’ll need to find the perfect neighborhood to settle into. If you want to be right in the middle of everything, look for Vienna’s coolest private rentals in Leopoldstadt or Margareten, central neighborhoods with fun, artsy vibes. For more of an up-and-coming location, look in Neubau, which is a little grittier but still fun. Mariahilf also boasts tons of tiny cafés and art galleries just a short metro ride from the city center.

No matter the season, a trip to Vienna is always a fabulous idea. Find the perfect place to stay, map out your itinerary, and use GoDoTrip to plan all of your Austrian highlights.