Vienna in 1 Day: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

The reasons that can take you to Vienna for just one day are many, but if you want to spend your time wisely and see as much as possible, read on to the end.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

8 min read

Vienna in 1 Day: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Vienna | ©Luca Sartoni

The Austrian capital is a city with a lot to do. Therefore, organizing a one-day visit to Vienna can be a real challenge. The key is to see its historic center and take advantage of the proximity between its most important monuments.

The itinerary below is designed to make the most of every second, so make sure you have a good night's rest before this adventure. Happy travels!

1. Wake up at dawn to visit the Naschmarkt street market

At Naschmarkt| ©Ivo Jansch
At Naschmarkt| ©Ivo Jansch

Naschmarkt is the name by which Vienna's best-known market is known; wake up early on the morning of your first day to soak up the particular dynamics of this beautiful city.

Founded in the 16th century as a food market, today, at the Naschmarkt you can find delicacies from a wide variety of countries, flowers and stalls evoking the sale of art and crafts.

You can take advantage of this time to do your gift shopping and you should definitely make your first meal of the day in one of the many restaurants you will find in the place.

  • Hours: Monday to Friday from 6 am to 6:30 pm; Saturdays from 6 am to 2 pm.
  • Admission fee: Free for the general public.
  • Transportation: You can get there using the Vienna subway (line U4), the nearest stop is Kettenbrückengasse. But my recommendation is to book a bike tour of Vienna.

Book a bike tour in Vienna

2. Arrive at the Hofburg Palace at opening time

Hofburg Palace| ©Dennis Jarvis
Hofburg Palace| ©Dennis Jarvis

The Hofburg Palace is one of the most visited attractions and one of the best palaces in Vienna. It is also one of the earliest openings, so I recommend arriving early to make the most of the day.

It is a complex with several museums, cathedrals and a library. It is worth the trip to admire the Sisi Museum, where you can learn about the life of the particular Empress Sissi of Vienna and also see the royal rooms, perfectly preserved to this day.

The Hofburg Palace is one of the places included if you buy the Vienna Explorer Pass.

  • Opening hours: Open to the public from 9 am. From September to June it closes at 5:30 pm and from July to August at 6 pm.
  • Admission fee: From 15 € adult ticket; but you will have free access if you buy the Vienna Pass.
  • Duration of the visit: You will need about 2 hours to do the whole tour.
  • Transportation: From your location at Naschmarkt, it is best to take a leisurely walk up the Getreidemarkt and take Eschenbachgasse to the historic center of Vienna, the Palace is only a 12-minute walk away.

Book Vienna Explorer Pass

3. Take the opportunity to visit the Austrian National Library

Austrian National Library| ©Stemonitis
Austrian National Library| ©Stemonitis

Considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, this important historical building is at least surprising as a result of its fabulous decorations in the purest Baroque style. The building is also considered one of the most important works of this architectural movement.

It is worth paying for the tour to admire the Imperial Hall, a fantastic hall with marble statues, frescoes on the ceiling and paintings on the walls; here is kept an important collection of approximately 200 thousand copies of books from 1500 to 1850.

  • Hours: Open to the public daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; extended hours on Thursdays until 9:00 p.m. Closed every Monday from October to May.
  • Admission fee: Approximately €8 per person.
  • Duration of the visit: 1 hour is usually enough to visit all the rooms.
  • Transportation: The Library is located right next to the Palace, just a five-minute walk through the shared grounds.

4. Admire the architecture on the Ausgrabungen Michaelerplatz

Ausgrabungen Michaelerplatz| ©alfred lex
Ausgrabungen Michaelerplatz| ©alfred lex

Leave the library behind and head to one of Vienna's most important squares, Ausgrabungen Michaelerplatz, from this vantage point you can admire another of the facades of the Hofburg Palace, but above all the Spanish Riding School Vienna.

Take the opportunity to take some nice pictures of these important historical monuments before continuing the tour.

5. Drive up to the magnificent Vienna Cathedral

Vienna Cathedral| ©georgianakate
Vienna Cathedral| ©georgianakate

No tour of Vienna would be complete without a visit to its exquisite Cathedral, considered the most important monument of the capital; tourism in Vienna revolves around this important building, as well as having the affection of all the Austrian people.

Built on the foundations of an ancient medieval temple from 1147, some parts are preserved such as the Giant's Gate and the Pagan Towers; besides the clear influences of the Romanesque and Gothic styles. The Cathedral was badly damaged during World War II, but was repaired down to the smallest detail.

There is much to see inside the Cathedral, but some highlights include: the Pummerin Bell, the famous Gothic Pilgram Pulpit; the 18th century Catacombs with the remains of more than 10,000 Viennese; the image of Christ Crucified and the tombs of many of the Habsburg family. Want to take pictures of the city? The Vienna Cathedral Tower offers some of the best views of the heart of Vienna - be sure to climb it!

  • Opening hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Mondays from 7 a.m.
  • Entrance fee: You will find several types of access to tour specific areas of the complex, I recommend purchasing the all-inclusive pass which costs around 15 € per traveler.
  • Duration of the visit: You will need about 2 hours to do the whole tour.
  • Transportation or Tour: Leaving from the National Library, the Cathedral is only an 8-minute walk eastbound.

6. Explore the Austrian Museum of Art History

Austrian Museum of Art History| ©Marcus Winter
Austrian Museum of Art History| ©Marcus Winter

Considered one of the best museums in Vienna, the Museum of Art History is a space that can be enjoyed by both art experts and novices looking to learn a little more.

This space serves as home to the fantastic collection of artwork gathered over the centuries by the Habsburg dynasty, which includes works from ancient Greece and Rome, oriental art, Egyptian art, 15th century paintings and more.

In addition to the fantastic art collection, the Art History Museum is worth a visit for the majestic architecture of the building. Unlike other important historical museums that were adapted in ancient palaces, this museum was from the beginning designed with an exhibition space. The collection is very extensive so it may be a good idea to take a guided tour of Vienna.

Take a lunch break at the museum's restaurant

Before your tour of the museum you may need to recharge your batteries. Just know that one of the best restaurants in the area is located in this facility. The terrace area is truly spectacular.

  • Hours: Open daily from 10 am to 6 pm; Thursdays extended hours until 9 pm. Closed on Mondays from September to May.
  • Admission fee: From 24 € adult ticket, this attraction is included in the Vienna Pass.
  • Duration of visit: The museum is extensive, but you can spend about two hours to see the highlights and highlights.
  • Transportation: To get to the museum from Vienna Cathedral, retrace your steps and take a 15-minute walk through the gardens of the Hofburg Palace.

Book your ticket for the Museum of Art History

7. Admire Vienna's architecture on a tour of the Rinstrase

Rinstrase Vienna| ©Gugerell
Rinstrase Vienna| ©Gugerell

After soaking your senses with art and history from all eras, leave the museum behind for a leisurely stroll along what is known as the most important avenue in the center of Vienna: Ringstrasse. Book a guided tour of Vienna and enjoy this characteristic place.

Built in 1857 after the demolition of the wall that protected the old medieval Vienna, the Ringstrasse boulevard is one of the most beautiful walks in Vienna.

If you do it on foot you will be able to admire and take pictures of the important historical buildings housed here such as: The Museum of Art History, The Museum of Natural History, The Votive Church, The University and more.

Book a guided tour of Vienna

8. Take a tour inside the Vienna State Opera House

Vienna State Opera| ©Pierre Blaché
Vienna State Opera| ©Pierre Blaché

Wiener Staatsoper is the German name for the Vienna State Opera, the most famous and important opera house in the world.

It was the first building to be erected on the Ringstrasse after the boulevard was completed. Due to its distinguished location, a first-class architectural work was required and the first two architects who tackled the project died under the pressure.

Built in Renaissance style you can visit the opera house for a performance or you can pay for the tour to see the interior; this is the most recommended option if you only have one day in Vienna. During the visit you can admire the entrance hall, the fabulous main staircase and the main auditorium with capacity for 2,800 spectators.

  • Opening hours: Guided tours start at 1 p.m. and end at 3 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • Admission fee: From 7,50€ for an adult ticket.
  • Duration of the visit: From 50 minutes to 1 hour is usually enough to make the tour inside the building.
  • Transport: The Vienna State Opera is only a 9-minute walk from the Museum of Art History along the Ringstrasse. In addition, you can get there comfortably if you book the Vienna sightseeing bus.

Book the Vienna Sightseeing Bus

9. Take a tour of the Belvedere Gardens

Palace Gardens| ©Vernaccia
Palace Gardens| ©Vernaccia

To continue the itinerary, book your ticket for Upper Belvedere. Arriving at the Belvedere complex you will find two amazing palaces linked by a French-style garden of grand proportions.

The garden together with the beautiful facades of the palaces constitute one of the best views of Vienna and undoubtedly one of the best spots to take pictures that capture the unique beauty of the city.

  • Hours: Every day from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • Admission fee: 17 € adult ticket. However, if you purchase the Vienna Pass you can enter for free.
  • Duration of the visit: About two hours minimum if you want to visit the gardens and interiors.
  • Transportation: From your location to the exit of the Vienna State Opera, the best way to get there is Resselpark and taking the Tram Line D to the Schloss Belvedere stop.

Book your ticket for Upper Belvedere

10. Say goodbye to Vienna with a dinner in the surroundings of the Palace

Art Corner Restaurant| ©Juliana A
Art Corner Restaurant| ©Juliana A

As you have seen, there is a lot to see and do in Vienna and to end the day what better than a good dinner. In particular, in the surroundings of the Belvedere Palace the gastronomic variety is guaranteed. End the evening of your day trip in Vienna enjoying a dinner in a nice restaurant in the center. Here are some suggestions of good places:

  • Art Corner Restaurant: Located just outside the Palace, the gastronomic offer includes traditional Greek and Viennese dishes, the best part is its spacious terrace ideal if you visit Vienna in summer.
  • Indian Restaurant Demi Tass: If you feel like enjoying good Indian food served in a nice atmosphere, this option is one of the best rated Indian restaurants a few minutes from the Palace.
  • Gorilla Kitchen: Ideal for those looking for a less formal atmosphere, Gorilla Kitchen has a young atmosphere and its menu revolves around easy and delicious dishes ranging from burritos, bowls or sandwiches to coffees, cakes and beers.
  • Hard Rock: If you prefer something more international you can always book a burger menu.

Reserve a menu at Hard Rock