Vienna in 5 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

Vienna has a lot to offer you, and in five days you will have enough time to see everything in detail. Follow my suggested itinerary and don't miss a thing.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

17 min read

Vienna in 5 Days: tips, what to see, and much more

Vienna Musikverein | ©Jorge Franganillo

In Vienna there are always many activities and plans to do; the good news is that in your five-day visit you will have time to see everything or almost everything. As I know that sometimes it is complicated to organize this kind of itineraries of so many days, I want to share with you what for me would be a perfect tour.

The city of palaces and music is big, but not inaccessible. In fact, you can walk from one place to another and discover its most important buildings, such as the Opera House or the Cathedral.

Day 1: Walk through Vienna's Old Town

Albertina Panorama| ©kareszzz
Albertina Panorama| ©kareszzz

Are you looking forward to starting your tour of Vienna? The first day is the perfect occasion to visit the most emblematic and central places, so get ready to walk around and get to know the historical (and imperial) area of Vienna.

Start the day between Helmut Zilk-Platz and Albertinaplatz

Your trip to Vienna has to start between Helmut Zilk-Platz and Albertinaplatz, two of the most important and central squares of the city, where you will find great monuments and buildings, such as the Albertina building, which was one of the residences of Prince Albert of Saxony-Teschen.

The Albertina today is a museum (admission is approximately 22€). You can enter to see the permanent collections, which exhibit historical prints and also works by more contemporary artists (Picasso, Monet...).

The visit can be interesting if you like art, although architecturally there are more special palaces. Of course, if you decide to enter be sure to ask if all the rooms are open, because in bad weather some are closed as a precaution.

Book your ticket for the Albertina Museum:

Marvel at the shelves of the National Library

I don't know which is more incredible, the building itself or the towering shelves filled with millions of books. History and culture run through the walls of the Austrian National Library, built in the 18th century by order of Emperor Charles III. In addition to books, other objects such as papyrus and globes are also on display.

Don't think that you are entering a normal library, as it is more like a museum. The room that will leave you with your mouth open will be the Prunksaal (Imperial Hall) with its frescoes, marble statues and more than 200,000 copies. You will feel like you are in one of those movie libraries.

Take a break and pack a picnic in Burggarten

Before continuing with the day, it is better to stop for lunch, don't you think? Rather than recommending restaurants, I propose a better plan: a picnic in Burggarten.

This park acted as the emperor's private garden, although nowadays it is a public place where many Viennese (and now you too) go to walk and enjoy its nature, fountains, sculptures and ponds. You can make your own picnic (in the surroundings you will find food stalls and stores) or if you prefer you can order something in the cafeteria of the Palm House.

When you have filled your stomach, do not leave directly, it is better to take a walk and get to know the grounds. If you are too tired, you don't have to do this tour on foot, you can rent one of the many bicycles available in the city and tour the park in a more pleasant and agile way.

Book a bike tour in Vienna

Discover the Habsburgs at the Hofburg Palace

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

The Hofburg Palace is one of the many palaces in Vienna, but the best thing about it is that it is located in the center of the city, right in the Burggarten, which has made it one of the most visited places in the city. It is also the perfect place if you want to know how the Habsburg family lived.

The entrance costs about 15€, so it is affordable and a good plan to do this first afternoon. Although there is a lot to see, my advice is to focus on the Imperial Apartments and the Sissi Museum.

At this point it is important that, before continuing with the guide, you know the existence of the Vienna Pass, a tourist card with which you can enjoy more than 70 attractions in the city with unique discounts and skip-the-line tickets. If you are going to stay 5 days or more, I definitely recommend it, although there is the possibility of acquiring different modalities according to the days you want it to be active. It is a more economical and convenient way to discover the city.

Book your Vienna Pass

End the day at the Vienna City Hall

Before ending the day it is time to go to the Wiener Rathaus, the City Hall. This building was designed as a cathedral by Friedrich Von Schmidt, one of the great Viennese architects, and was completed in only 11 years, something quite surprising considering its grandeur. It highlights its tower of almost 100 meters high, which is surrounded by other lower ones. If you enter (it's free) you will also have access to its gardens and pavilions.

Today what started as a cathedral is now the mayor's house and also the seat of the senate. During your visit you will walk through the rooms open to the public, such as the library or the ceremonial hall. If you get hungry, you are in luck because in its basement there are several restaurants for you to taste the Austrian gastronomy.

Day 2: Discover Vienna's contemporary culture

Belvedere Palace| ©Andreas *****
Belvedere Palace| ©Andreas *****

For your second day you will return to the center of Vienna, but you will visit another area that will take you on a journey through the most recent history of the city. In addition, you will have the opportunity to get to know one of the most important elements of Viennese culture: its music.

Contemplate the art and gardens of the Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace was the summer residence of the Savoy family, so be prepared for the immensity of its gardens. The interiors are also spectacular (and huge, as they are actually two palaces), although they are now used as a museum. It is true that you will not be able to see the rooms as they were during the imperial era, but you can see famous works of art such as The Kiss by Klimt and from different historical periods (from the Middle Ages to the present).

If you want to get tickets for the Belvedere Palace I recommend you to book them in advance, as there are usually long queues and waits. The price is approximately 16 € and includes access to the two palaces and the Orangery (also known as the Orangery), as well as the gardens, which are the great treasure of this place. To get there I recommend taking the streetcar(line D has a stop at the palace).

Tickets to Belvedere Palace

Visit Karlskirche

Did you know that in the 18th century Vienna suffered a great plague epidemic? More than seventy thousand people died. To give hope to his people, Emperor Charles VI promised that, when it was over, he would have a church built to St. Charles Borromeo, patron saint of the fight against the plague. So he did and thus was born Karlskirche, which is only a 15-minute walk from Belvedere. This temple stands out for the two columns that preside over it and that collect, through reliefs, the life of the saint.

The entrance is cheap (about 8 €) and I recommend you to buy it to see the frescoes on the ceiling of the church. You can also take the opportunity to climb the dome and get a nice panoramic view over Vienna.

Eat (and buy) something at the Naschmarkt market

Naschmarkt Market| ©Anne and David
Naschmarkt Market| ©Anne and David

After a whole morning indoors, nothing like taking a stroll through the Naschmarkt market, where you can take the opportunity to do some shopping or eat something, both in the stalls and in the restaurants in the area. This market is one of the most famous in Vienna and is open every weekday from 6 am to 6:30 pm (Saturdays only until 2 pm).

Naschmarkt has been Vienna' s urban shopping center since the 16th century, although since then more and more products have started to be sold on this square, which is located halfway between Karlskirche and the museum quarter. Now you can buy food (fresh and cooked) as well as flowers and handicrafts.

Tour the Vienna Museums

Continuing on your way, in about a quarter of an hour, you will reach the museum quarter, where some of Vienna's best museums are located.

You may not have time to visit them all, but I would like to recommend some of them, as they contain contemporary works by well-known artists from different parts of the world. If you like other types of collections, you will also have plenty to choose from, you will see.

The tickets for each museum cost about 15€, but if you are planning to go to several, it is best to purchase the Vienna Pass, which includes access to several important places in the city for about 80€.

  • Leopold Museum: in its rooms art takes on a holistic meaning and you can find everything from paintings to furniture.
  • Kunsthistorischen: here is where you can better understand and explore the artistic value of the city, from Egypt to Rembrandt. To make the most of your visit, I recommend booking a guided tour of the Vienna Museum of Art History.
  • Natural History Museum: you will be impressed by the dinosaur skeletons and the possibility to learn about the world we inhabit.

Book your ticket for the Kunsthistorischen Museum:

Attend an 18th-century concert in Vienna

It is impossible to leave without listening to a classical music concert (dinner included) in Vienna. It is the perfect plan to end the day, especially because most of these shows take place in the Musikverein, the great concert hall of the city, or in other equally historic venues, such as the Sala Terrena or the Kursalon.

Usually the musicians are dressed in 18th century costumes and the auditorium is also decorated, so you can feel like you are really in that era attending a recital of Mozart or Beethoven. If you like music and want to experience it in one of its capitals, book your ticket (approximately 50€) and enjoy a unique evening.

Book a classical music concert in Vienna

Day 3: Visit the symbols of Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna| ©Ji Goal
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna| ©Ji Goal

The days are progressing and so is your knowledge of Vienna, so today it's time to visit one of its most important places, such as the Schönbrunn Palace or the Opera House. Between visits you can also take a walk in nature, so be prepared with comfortable shoes.

Visit Schoenbrunn Palace and gardens

Of all the palaces in Vienna, Schoenbrunn Palace is the one you will have seen most as a must-see. No wonder, because both its interior and its gardens are a great treasure.

Thousands of square meters are waiting for you to walk through them and discover how the emperors enjoyed their summers there. To make the visit even more worthwhile, I recommend buying tickets to Schoenbrunn Palace that include a guide. Of the rooms you will visit, one of the most important is the Great Gallery, where banquets were held. During your walk through the gardens, especially if the weather is nice, you will see beautiful sculptures. Do not leave without climbing the Gloriette, a hill from which you can see the entire site.

If I had to say something bad about this Palace is that it is on the outskirts of the city, so you will have to go by public transport (the U4 metro line is the most recommended).

Book a tour of Schoenbrunn Palace

Stroll through Stadtpark

When you finish your visit to Schoenbrunn Palace, I recommend you to take the subway line U4, which in about 20 minutes will take you to Stadtpark, one of the most visited and famous parks in Vienna.

There the best plan is to walk and cross one of its bridges, which connect both banks of the Wien river. It was designed in the purest English style, so you can imagine that you will find colorful flowers and many decorative elements made of marble.

Direct your steps towards the statue of Johann Strauss, which is one of the emblems of the park and the city, and then approach the Kursalon, a former spa that is now a concert hall. The best thing is that the Stadtpark is in the heart of the city, so it is a good place to continue your tour.

Enjoy one of the symbols of Vienna: the Opera House

Vienna Opera House| ©Pierre Blaché
Vienna Opera House| ©Pierre Blaché

The next stop is the Vienna State Opera, one of the great symbols of the city. How not to visit it? Guided tours are organized every day and, for about €8, you can get to know the ins and outs of this Renaissance-style building.

If you want to attend a show, you can do so. There are very expensive tickets (over 100 €) but other cheaper ones (between 3 € and 5 €), which go on sale a few hours before the start of the show at the box office, although I warn you that they are for standing.

Building and designing it was not easy, as the Viennese were very demanding, but it was finally inaugurated in the late nineteenth century. If you go inside, you can see its huge auditorium and also other more private rooms, such as the place where Emperor Franz Joseph used to rest during opera intermissions.

See Vienna from above at Stephansdom

Just a ten-minute walk from the Opera House is Stephansdom, Vienna's cathedral, which still retains part of the structure of the old church (from the 12th century) on which it was built.

The city's religious seat par excellence, St. Stephansdom is striking for its tiled roof and 130-meter tower. Yes, from up there the views are incredible, so I advise you to buy the general admission ticket (approximately 14€) to go up.

With this full ticket you can also access the interior of the cathedral, where there is a large bell made with war cannons, the catacombs, where thousands of Viennese citizens lie, and also the tombs of the Habsburg family.

Visit the Mozart Museum

Before the end of the day it is time for a visit to the home of one of the most illustrious composers: Mozart. Now converted into a memorial museum, the Mozart House is where the musician and his family lived for a few years. Among its four floors (all visitable if you buy the ticket for about 12 €), you can get closer to its history.

Although the decoration of the house is not preserved as it was, it is a place with a lot of information about how his life was there, his work and his day to day. It is a sight that I recommend especially if you like music and in particular Mozart's music. And if you are left wanting more, you can always go to a concert of the composer in Vienna.

Go to a Mozart concert

Day 4: Take an excursion to Salzburg

Salzburg| ©zhang xiaoyu
Salzburg| ©zhang xiaoyu

Vienna is a city with a lot to see, but very close to it there are other places that are also worth a visit. That's why my suggestion for your fourth day of travel is to go on an excursion to Salzburg, one of the most beautiful places in Austria. Do not miss the opportunity to get to know it with an organized tour.

Discover the Old Town of Salzburg

If you book an excursion from Vienna to Salzburg one of the first stops will be the old town, which has been declared a World Heritage Site.

The best advice I can give you is to get lost in its streets and stone houses, with that fairy-tale look. Of course, pay a visit to the Salzburg Cathedral, which is the heart of the neighborhood and, why not say it, of the city.

Although the Cathedral is one of the most important buildings, when you buy the ticket to see it inside (approximately 4€) you also get access to other places such as St. Peter's Abbey, dating from the late seventh century, and the Franciscan Church, which mixes different architectural styles and is very beautiful inside and out.

Get to know Mozart's personal life

Salzburg is home to Mozart's birthplace, where he composed his first works when he was still a child. He lived there for about twenty years and it is now a large museum that collects scores, personal objects and portraits of the artist.

As soon as you enter the main avenue of Salzburg, Getreidegasse, you will know which is the building where the house is located, as there is a large golden sign and the facade is bright yellow. If you want to enter, you will have to pay about 7€.

My advice is to go in, as it is quite an interesting visit as you can be inches away from Mozart's first pianos and in his personal studio.

Have a bite to eat at Alter Markt

Before continuing, I recommend you to go to Alter Markt and have something to eat there. In the past it was not only the city market, but also the center of celebrations and folk dances.

Nowadays it has changed a bit; there are not so many stalls and the houses of the medieval nobility were replaced by baroque buildings. Nevertheless, it is a good place to sit and have a drink.

Of all the stalls that are set up at the market, especially at Christmas time, one of the ones I recommend you try is the pretzel stall. These typical Austrian and Salzburg buns are very well priced compared to other places in the city, so take the opportunity to eat one at one of the little tables that are placed around.

Visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress| ©Manfred Werner
Hohensalzburg Fortress| ©Manfred Werner

There are many interesting places to see in Salzburg, but one of the best known is the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It is quite well preserved, especially considering that it is from the eleventh century, and you can walk up (although it costs a little) to take some good pictures of the city.

If you want to go up and enter, you can do it for about 10 €. The access includes a visit to the princes' quarters that were protected there during the attacks, to which the Hohensalzburg always resisted. Although it is a bit more gloomy, you can also enter the torture room.

Walk through the Mirabell Gardens

Like most cities in Austria, Salzburg also has a palace to boast about: the Mirabell Palace. This will be your last stop before returning to Vienna.

The best thing, besides its gardens full of roses and ponds, is that the entrance is free. As you read, you don't have to pay anything to enter, although I warn you that the use of this place is governmental, so sometimes there are rooms closed to the general public.

In any case, I recommend you to go and at least take a walk through the gardens. Whether it is winter or summer, you will be greeted by a landscape that is well cared for and, within the possibilities of each season, full of life and color. Its beauty is such that it has been the scene of some movies, such as The Sound of Music and Tears.

Day 5: Say goodbye to Vienna

Inside the House of Music| ©John Valk
Inside the House of Music| ©John Valk

Your trip to Vienna will soon come to an end, but first it's time to say goodbye to Vienna with a stroll along the Danube and also enjoy its treasures, both those underground and those served on the table. Time to hit the road!

Enjoy and learn about music at the Haus der Musik

If there's one place you have to go if you're traveling to Vienna with kids (and if you're not, too) it's the Haus der Musik, an interactive museum where you can learn about, experiment and play with sound and music.

During your visit you can become a conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra and also compose your own melodies. Tickets to the Vienna House of Music cost approximately 16 euros and include a whole morning of fun.

In an entertaining way, at the Haus der Musik you can learn a lot about music, from its history and its relationship to the city of Vienna, to its scientific side, which will answer your questions about how sound is produced and how we perceive it.

Dive into the secrets of the Imperial Crypt

A five-minute walk will take you to Vienna's Imperial Crypt, which is located in one of the central areas (Neuer Markt). In this underground place are buried the sarcophagi of the monarchs and nobles of Austria, including that of the Empress Sisi.

The building in which it is located is the Capuchin Church, which is small, austere and whose visit, if not for the Crypt, is dispensable.

However, underground in addition to the tombs there is a lot of art, something that might surprise you. Think that all those noble people were buried with their belongings and in style, placing paintings and jewelry in their graves.

Taste the original Sacher Cake

Sacher Cake| ©Jj Thompson
Sacher Cake| ©Jj Thompson

When hunger starts to call your stomach, being in Neuer Markt, you will have different restaurants to choose from.

In the area there are several places where they serve typical dishes such as Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded veal fillet) or Speckknödeln (a dish of dumplings typical of the Alpine region). Of course, for dessert you have to order a piece of Sacher cake, the famous (and very sweet) chocolate cake.

You are relatively close to Café Sacher, where the original is served. Be careful, the price is expensive (about 8€). Although leaving Vienna without trying the Sacher cake is almost a crime, if you find chocolate too cloying, you can order apple strudel.

Learn about the history of Vienna's Jews

After the Sacher cake, continue your itinerary by heading to the Vienna Jewish Museum, which is about a five-minute walk away. It is one of the most important centers on Judaism in Europe, allowing you to learn about the culture of this population worldwide as well as locally.

The good thing is that the entrance fee (approximately 10 euros) also includes access to a second location at Judenplatz, which is a 15-minute walk away.

In these two museums on the history of the Jews is the collection contributed by Max Berger, the only German-Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. He collected thousands of objects during his lifetime to reopen this museum in the middle of the 20th century, since it was obviously closed during the Nazi invasion.

Embark on a trip along the Danube River

What better way to end your trip to Vienna than by seeing its most important sites from the Danube? In addition, these cruises usually include dinner, the best plan to end the day with good food and the illuminated skyline of the city. In total, you will have 3 hours of walking along the Danube Canal in Vienna during which, in addition to dinner, a guide will be explaining the sites you pass by.

On one bank will be the old town of Vienna, with the towers of its churches and its cathedral standing out above the rest of the buildings. On the other side, the most modern part of the city. Undoubtedly, the more or less 50€ that this activity costs is the perfect farewell.

Book your cruise on the Danube

The best way to get around Vienna

Inside the Vienna Metro| ©Avinash Bhat
Inside the Vienna Metro| ©Avinash Bhat

In general, most of Vienna's landmark buildings and monuments are in the city center. Between them you can move perfectly on foot, although you will need to use public transport to go to more distant but equally important places, such as the Schönnbrunn Palace. Do not worry because everything is well connected by streetcar and metro.

In case you do not plan to take too many transports, it is best to buy a day pass (8€ approximately) or a single ticket (2,40€ approximately). You can buy them at the machines in the metro stations, through the official website or, in streetcars and buses, in hand directly to the driver.

If you think you will need more trips (for example, if your trip to Vienna is in winter when the cold and precipitation complicate the rides), I recommend taking a weekly pass (about 16 €).

Buy the Vienna Pass: