A magnificent city filled with imperial beauty and class all around. A place where majestic buildings appear in every corner. A metropolis that constantly reminds you of mankind’s greatest and most noble accomplishments. Dear readers, welcome to Vienna – the glorious capital of the Austrian nation, and a city with an uncanny high standard of quality of life. If you’re planning on spending 2 days in Vienna, get ready for a juggernaut of an experience!
Beautiful green areas will merge with authentic architectural masterpieces and make you feel overwhelmed with beauty. Everywhere you look there is a sight worth snapping and that’s certainly not a coincidence, as Vienna used to be the capital of the dominating and megalomanous Habsburg’s Empire (therefore you know it cannot disappoint!).
Definitely one of Europe’s most splendid cities, here’s a full itinerary of places to see when visiting Vienna for 2 days.
HOW TO SPEND 2 DAYS IN VIENNA – THINGS TO SEE & DO
DAY 1 – INNERE STADT AND THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STREET IN THE WORLD
For the first of your 2 days in Vienna, your time will be spent exploring the city’s Innere Stadt and its vicinities, crossing off some of the area’s most famous attractions and impressive landmarks (lookin’ at your Statsoper!). And all of this while walking through of one the world’s most spectacular avenues!
We’re starting with Vienna’s most famous street! A huge ring road formed by 8 smaller streets, while walking through the Ringstrasse you’ll find some of the most iconic, important and beautiful sights Vienna has to offer. No matter where you look, you’ll always find something worth appreciating, and even if we exclude some of the major attractions (more on that up-next), we guarantee you’ll still have plenty in your hands to deal with! You can visit the Votivkirche (a beautiful church that looks like a fusion between Notre Dame and La Sagrada Familia), watch the student life at the University of Vienna, catch a show at the Burgtheater – which in turn stands right in front of the wonderful Flemish-lookin’ Rathaus – pay a visit to the Austrian Parliament Building and cap off your walk with a relaxing stroll through the Stadtpark. With so many historic and beautifully-designed buildings, you’ll be feeling like you went back to the Habsburgs era!
Its name can be a mouthful, but the Kunsthistorisches Museum is an unmissable sight when spending 2 days in Vienna. So much so, that we chose to highlight it despite also being located along the Ringstrasse! It’s the biggest (and arguably the best) art museum in Austria, and the building that houses its premises is absolutely majestic! In fact, the whole area is just mesmerizing, as the Kunsthistorisches and the Naturhistorisches Museums face each other – two façades that look exactly the same – with the Maria-Theresien-Platz lying in-between. As for the museum itself, we don’t want to spoil much, but the interiors lavishing decoration and the wide variety (and richness) of the collections displayed are bound to leave you stunned.
Tip: Check out the Museumsquartier located next to the Kunsthistorisches as it houses 8 more cultural institutions such as the MUMOK or the Leopold Museum. Even if you already had your share of museums, the quarter is still very much worth visiting due to its alternative vibe and laidback atmosphere.
VIENNA STATE OPERA
Our next entry is one of the most iconic and respected music organizations in the world, and therefore deserving of an individual mention. This may be hard to believe but this stunning building wasn’t well received by the Viennese or the Emperor, causing a major stir in public opinion to the point one of the opera’s architects actually committed suicide. But all of that is now water under the bridge and the Wiener Staatsoper sells out every night as both locals and tourists alike try to get their hands on the precious tickets.
Tip: If you want to see a show but don’t want to blow up your wallet, there is a wonderful thing called “Standing Tickets”. They are available about 2 hours before the show and can be bought directly from the Opera’s ticket desk. How much do they cost? About 3/4€!!
Although the Stephansdom is the most famous religious site in Vienna (don’t worry, we’ll get to it soon), I got to admit I have a soft spot for Karlskirche. Not only is this church absolutely gorgeous, but it also has one of the most pleasant surroundings we’ve ever seen in a place of this nature, with a huge artificial pool and a fairly big green area (Resselpark) next to it, where you can just sit back and watch the kids playing with the church serving as background. As for the church itself, the dome and the two giant columns are the elements that really make it stand out from all the others in the city.
If there’s something Vienna is famous for – besides its world-class coffee houses and classical music culture – is surely the city’s fantastic palaces. You can easily find 3 of the best palaces in Europe within the Austrian capital, but the Imperial Palace (aka Hofburg) is the one located closer to the Innere Stadt. Serving as the seat for several kings, emperors and presidents throughout its existence, the Hofburg is an unmistakable symbol of power that slowly evolved into a cultural complex, with the addition of several institutions such as the National Library or the Imperial Treasury, just to name a few. The truth is that the whole palace is so rich that a full day would probably not be enough to check out all the foundations that make it up. With that being said, at least try to visit the palace’s grounds and squares, admire its beautiful buildings, walk through its passage gates and breathe in the royal atmosphere only Hofburg can offer!
Still, there is one particular place within the Hofburg that we highly recommend – the Prunksaal, Austria’s National Library central hall. Trust us, seldom will you find a more outstanding room! The walls are covered in beautiful frescoes, the space is adorned with sculptures and you can feel the scent of those centuries-old books and manuscripts in the air. I’m not the biggest book-lover in the world and still got very much impressed with what I saw, so you can imagine how it must have felt like for Daniela to be there. She looked like a child in a candy store!
GRABEN AND KOHLMARKT
Known for their outstanding architecture and high-end shops, walking through the historic centre’s most famous streets is a must when in the Austrian capital. The Kohlmarkt is where you’ll find most of the fancy stores and restaurants, as well as a fantastic view of the Hofburg’s dome; while Graben is home to the iconic Pestsaule and is filled with countless beautiful buildings in different styles. This is also the perfect place to people-watch, since it’s pretty much busy all the time. A must-do when spending 2 days in Vienna!
And we finally reach our last stop in a rather busy 1st day – Vienna’s most important religious site and a true icon of the city. Also called St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Stephansdom is an imposing half-gothic/half-romanesque church located right in the heart of the Austrian capital. As soon as you see it, you’ll be surprised by its massive size and impressive exterior, while on the inside you can appreciate 18 different altars, several chapels and visit the crypts where important figures in the Austrian history are buried. However, to get a proper look of Stephansdom’s most distinctive feature, climb the church’s towers and see the giant rooftop tile panels up-close! An unexpected artsy touch to the Cathedral!
DAY 2 – FINALLY THE PALACES (AND OTHER CRAZY RIDES)
Before saying goodbye to the city, your last full day in Vienna will be pretty… eclectic! Yep, in a single day you’ll get to visit some of the most impressive palaces your eyes have ever seen, wander through one (really) old amusement park and even check out the country’s biggest and most important sports stadium! Luckily, Vienna’s efficient metro system will help you out commuting from one place to the next.
Built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, our first palace of the day yet is another stunning Viennese complex. Made up of two different baroque palaces – Upper Belvedere and Lower Belvedere – this place is absolutely gorgeous! Just walking through the beautiful gardens and admiring the palaces’ exteriors is worth the visit, but if you want to get inside be ready for a wonderful experience. At the Upper Belvedere you’ll get access to the very best of Austrian art, with a special mention to Gustav Klimt’s world-famous “The Kiss”. At the Lower Belvedere however, you can take a look at the magnificent staterooms and luxurious halls to get a glimpse of how it was to live in such an opulent way. It’s just another demonstration of the greatness of Austrian aristocratic history.
How to get there: Metro Line U1 – Stop: Südtiroler Platz-Hauptbahnhof, followed by a 15-minute walk.
And finally the place you’ve all been waiting for! The 3rd and final palace on our list is also widely considered the most impressive! And why should someone disagree?! In fact, even UNESCO seems to acknowledge it, listing the Schonbrunn Palace and its Gardens on their World Heritage Sites list. The whole complex is just picture-perfect! The architecture is jaw-dropping, the interiors and its exhibitions are amazing, the views from the Gloriette are some of the best in all of Vienna… and don’t even get me started on those gardens! We aren’t kidding, someone should give an award to the people who keep them! Definitely a landmark you want to see when spending 2 days in Vienna.
How to get there: Metro Line U4 – Stop: Schönbrunn
Who would say that in the imperial and grandiose Vienna you could find one of the oldest and most famous amusement parks in Europe?! Established in 1776, the Prater is now – along with the palaces, museums and coffee houses – a symbol of Vienna! Actually, Prater is the name of the huge public space where the amusement park is located, but the latter’s influence on the area’s development was so strong that locals and visitors refer to the Wurstelprater (its official name) simply as Prater. Inside the park you can find lots of different rides and food stands, but its most prominent attraction is the Wiener Riesenrad, a giant Ferris wheel that was once the tallest in the world.
How to get there: Metro Line U1 or U2 – Stop: Praterstern
And so we reach the final stop! Actually this one was a no-brainer for me, since it was in the Ernst-Happel Stadium (back then still called Praterstadion) that FC Porto – the football club I so avidly support – won its first ever European Champions Cup, back in 1987 against heavy favourites Bayern Munich. Personal feelings aside, the Ernst-Happel Stadium might not have the stunning looks of its modern counterparts, but in an era where brand-new stadiums are being built every year, this 50.000-seater is one of the last remaining sacred temples in European football.
How to get there: Metro Line U2 – Stop: Stadion
EXTRA 3RD DAY IN VIENNA
If you’re lucky enough to afford an extra day in Vienna, make sure to hop on a bus and pay a quick visit to underrated Bratislava, the Slovakian capital located just 80km away!
Finito! We admit it: Vienna is one of our favourite cities and 48 hours is not nearly enough to get acquainted with this amazing place! Still, if 2 days in Vienna is all you got, our itinerary will definitely come in handy!
Have you ever been to Vienna? What did you think about it? Let us know on the comments below!