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What is Special About Vienna? Here are 27 Cool Things to Do in the Austrian Capital

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Having visited almost 10 years ago, Vienna is a place I knew I needed to get back to. When my family and friends asked for the best things to do in Vienna, I couldn't even remember! So that was my cue to go back, and I'm so glad we recently added it as a stop on our European road trip.

Vienna has a special place in my heart, because the first time I went I was in a toxic relationship with a guy who would try to prevent me from traveling. I decided to end things, and grabbed my phone to open Skyscanner. I looked up the most affordable place to travel that day, and Vienna it was. I ran to the airport, and had one of the best weekends ever.

But other than my experience, what is special about Vienna? Well, it's full of history, stunning architecture, and some of the most beautiful cafes in the world. We've had a lot of people ask us recently whether they should go to Prague or Vienna, or to choose between Budapest or Vienna. We think there are so many great things to do in Vienna, and reasons to visit, so we'll give you all the info, and let you decide for yourself.

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Where is Vienna?

Vienna is the capital city of Austria, and is located in the east of the country. Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe, which is bordered by Germany to the north west, the Czech Republic to the north east, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia to the south, Italy to the south west, and Liechtenstein to the west.

Due to its proximity to other nearby capitals, it is often traveled to in addition to Prague, Budapest, or Bratislava.

where is Vienna in Austria

Vienna is located in the east of Austria, in central Europe.

What is the Best Way to Get to Vienna, Austria?

Being located smack in the middle of Europe, Vienna is an extremely convenient city to travel to, whether you are flying from another European city, driving, or taking public transportation.

Where Do You Fly Into for Vienna?

Vienna has its own airport, which is located just 20 km (12.5 miles) outside the city center. Many cities around Europe, as well as a few cities outside Europe fly direct to Vienna, and you can find a lot of budget flights to get there.

European cities that fly direct to Vienna include Alicante, Altenrhein, Amsterdam, Antalya, Athens, Baku, Banja Luka, Barcelona, Bari, Basel, Belgrade, Berlin, Billund, Bologna, Bourgas, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Cagliari, Catania, Chisinau, Cologne, Copenhagen, Corfu, Dublin, Dubrovnik, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh,  Faro, Florence, Frankfurt, Funchal, Hamburg, Hanover, Helsinki, Heraklion, Geneva, Gran Canaria, Graz, Iasi, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Istanbul, Izmir, Karpathos,  Kefallinia, Klagenfurt, Kos, Kosice, Krakow, Kutaisi, Larnaca, Leipzig, Lisbon, London, Luxembourg, Lyon, Madrid, Malaga, Mallorca, Malta, Manchester, Marseille, Milan, Modlin, Munich, Mykonos, Naples, Nantes, Nice, Nuremberg, Ohrid, Oslo, Palermo, Paphos, Paris, Podgorica, Prague, Pristina, Rhodes, Riga, Rome, Santander, Santorini, Sarajevo, Sibiu, Skopje, Sofia, Split, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Tallinn, Tenerife, Thessaloniki, Tirana, Venice, Vilnius, Warsaw, Yerevan, Zadar, Zagreb, Zakinthos, and Zurich.

Cities outside of Europe that fly direct to Vienna include Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Almaty, Amman, Ankara, Bangkok, Cairo, Chicago, Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Erbil, Houston, Hurghada, Izmir, Jeddah, Los Angeles, Newark, New York, Riyadh, Seoul, Taipei, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo,  Toronto, and Washington.

Alternative Flight Options

Can't find your city, or flights are too expensive for your dates? You can also try looking for flights at nearby airports such as Bratislava, Brno, Prague, or Budapest. (We'll go over how to get from those cities to Vienna next.)

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can use the "everywhere" option to find the cheapest flights at surrounding airports! 

Search for a flight to Vienna or nearby:

How to Get from Vienna Airport to Vienna City Center

It is super easy to get to the city of Vienna from the airport.

  • The fastest way to get from Vienna Airport to the city center is by taking the City Airport Train (CAT), which is a direct trip getting you there in 16 minutes. Tickets are €14,90 for a one way or €24,90 for a roundtrip. Trains from the airport run every 30 minutes, starting at 6:08 am, and run until 11:38 pm. Trains back to the airport start running from 5:37 am, and run until 11:07 pm.
  • The cheapest way to get to the city center of Vienna from the airport is by taking the OBB Railjet. Tickets are €4,40 each way, or €2 with the Vienna City Card, and it's a 15 minute ride to the central station. Trains run every 30 minutes from the airport starting at 6:33 am until 11:03 pm. Trains back to the airport start running at 5:42 am, and go until 10:12 pm.
  • Other options for getting to the center include a rental car, taxi, or Uber.

Other Ways to Get to Vienna

If you are coming from a nearby city, you may not need to fly! Luckily, Vienna is such a well-connected city, and you can easily find several options for getting to Vienna from plenty of other cities within Austria, or other nearby countries.

Trains to Vienna

Trains are the most convenient and comfortable option when it comes to traveling in this area of Europe. Here are a few popular train rides you can look into.

Domestic trains to Vienna:

International trains to Vienna:

Buses to Vienna

Buses are another great option if you don't find an affordable train, or one that fits your timetable. They are typically a bit longer of a trip, but oftentimes have more affordable rates. Here are links for the bus options for each city.

Domestic buses to Vienna:

International buses to Vienna:

Blabla Car

Another final option for getting to Vienna is by checking on the app BlaBla Car. It allows you to connect with people who are already riding from your city to whichever city you plan on traveling to, by booking a seat in their car. We use this typically when we can't find a good train or bus option.

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Entry Regulations for Austria

Now that you know all of the options for the best way to get to Vienna, let's double check that you have all the right documents.

Visa Entry Requirements: Do You Need a Visa to Go to Austria?

Austria is part of the EU and the Schengen Zone. This means that if you are a nationality that requires a Schengen Visa, you will need to get one before visiting Austria.

It also means that if you are going to be visiting from one of the neighboring countries (Germany, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, or Slovakia) or any of the other countries in the Schengen Zone at all, you will have free travel. However, this also means you will need to keep the 90/180 rule in mind!

What is the 90/180 Rule?

The 90/180 rule applies to all countries which are in the Schengen Zone in Europe. The rule states that you can only spend up to 90 days within a 180-day period inside the Schengen Zone. 

These 90 days are applicable for all countries within the Schengen area, which means if you spend 45 days in Spain (also part of the Schengen Zone), you will then only be able to spend a total of 45 days in Austria (or other countries that apply).

We use the Schengen visa calculator, which is extremely helpful for those who are planning on traveling around Europe for a longer period of time.

Covid Entry Requirements: Does Austria Require a Covid Test to Enter the Country?

Covid is finally a thing of the past in Europe, so you won't have to worry about taking any Covid tests or presenting any vaccination certificates in order to enter Austria, or any other countries within in the EU.

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Local Adjustments for Visiting Vienna

Whenever traveling somewhere new you'll encounter things to adjust to such as language, plug types, or a different tipping culture. Here are some useful things to keep in mind while visiting Vienna.

What Language is Spoken in Vienna?

The language spoken in Vienna, and the rest of Austria, is Austrian German.

Is it ok to speak English in Vienna?

There are a ton of people that speak English in Vienna. Depending on where you go, and who you speak with, will depend on whether or not English will be prevalent. We found that there were a ton of people who spoke English, but also quite a few that did not, or did not want to. 

Many restaurants did have English menus, but the most traditional ones may only have the menu in German. We suggest picking up a few of the basics in German, in order to have a more pleasant visit and be more well-received by the locals.

What Currency is Used in Vienna?

The currency used in Vienna is the euro.

Can You Use USD in Vienna?

You cannot use USD in Vienna. We suggest heading to a local ATM to take out some Euros, although the majority of places do accept credit card.

Is Vienna Expensive?

Vienna is so much more expensive than the first time that I visited! Other surrounding capitals such as Prague, Budapest, and Bratislava are much more budget-friendly, so you'll definitely want to put some extra money aside for all of the things to do in Vienna.

Outlets: What Plug is Used in Vienna?

Austria uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C, E, & F. The standard voltage in Austria is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Water Potability: Is it ok to Drink Tap Water in Vienna?

The tap water is extremely clean and safe to drink in Vienna, and all throughout Austria. For some odd reason though, the Viennese are not keen on serving tap water, and some will even charge you for it! (Always make sure to ask).

We suggest bringing your own reusable water bottle and filling up at whatever taps you can find in order to avoid extortionate water fees in supermarkets or restaurants.

If you do purchase bottled water, be aware that most of the bottles you'll find will be sparkling! Always double check the label before buying.

Tipping Culture: Is Tipping Customary in Vienna, Austria?

The tipping culture in Austria is pretty flexible. Austrians tend to round up, rather than calculating a certain percentage of the bill. It's pretty typical to tip between 5-15% of your bill.

Note: Something we noticed in Vienna is the service overall is pretty awful. Not only can wait times get pretty high, but many servers seem simply miserable and annoyed by tourists. This isn't the case 100% of the time, but if you do encounter service like this, don't let it bother you too much, as it's pretty common there.

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What is Vienna Famous For?

So exactly what is Vienna famous for? This city is actually referred to the city of music, and was the birthplace or residence of a lot of talented classical musicians. Vienna is particularly proud of Mozart, and you'll find him all over the place.

The Austrian capital is also famous for the Hapsburg Family, which is the center of the history of the city of Vienna, and is involved with a ton of the top highlights and things to do in Vienna.

Want to know what Vienna is famous for also but the Viennese do not like to claim? It's where Hitler was denied from art school. Of course this a sore subject for the locals, but also an interesting topic to learn about while visiting Vienna.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

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things to do in Vienna pin
things to do in Vienna pin

The Best Things to Do in Vienna

Now that you know what Vienna is famous for, let's talk about all of the great things to do in Vienna!

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #1: Take a Free Walking Tour

There are so many things to see and do in Vienna that it can be overwhelming. The best way to be able to see the highlights and learn about the history though is by taking a tour. 

We love free walking tours because the guides are usually super fun and energetic, making the tours way more interesting than the traditional ones. They work on a tipping basis, so you get to decide how much to give. These guides typically give great tips for other things to see in the city, as well hidden gems to check out.

For walking tours we always use GuruWalk, as they connect you with local tour guides around the world, and are easy to make bookings with.

free walking tour, things to do in Vienna
free walking tour, things to do in Vienna
free walking tour, things to do in Vienna

Free walking tours give you insight into all the details around the city.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #2: Admire the Architecture

Vienna is seriously one of the most stunning cities, and the architecture is just next level. Other than visiting all the highlights, we definitely suggest walking around and paying attention to the beauty of the buildings all around the city.

architecture of Vienna, things to do in Vienna
architecture of Vienna, things to do in Vienna
architecture of Vienna, things to do in Vienna
architecture of Vienna, things to do in Vienna

Vienna is full of stunning architecture.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #3: Dive into the Cafe Culture

One thing that Vienna is particularly known for is its cafe culture. The city is full of gorgeous cafes serving great coffee and local pastries to try out. We'll dive into some of the best ones to try out in our food & drink section of the article.

cafe culture in Vienna
cafe culture in Vienna
Cafe culture in Vienna

Vienna is known for its beautiful cafes.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #4: Attend an Opera Concert

Being known for its music, it's no surprise that opera is a prominent part of Vienna's culture, The opera hall is definitely a place you'll want to visit, and going for a show is a must! Unfortunately in August they close for the month, so we didn't get to experience it, but it's definitely on the list for the next visit.

Something really cool about the opera is that they never have the same show two days in a row, so they actually have to change sets twice a day! There is also an underground passage leading there from the nearby yellow building, and they have 9 km of costumes.

Another fun fact is that the performers in the opera lose about 5-8 kilos during each show! If that doesn't make you intrigued to see a show, then I don't know what will.

Vienna Opera House, things to do in Vienna
Vienna Opera House, things to do in Vienna

The opera is one of Vienna's most iconic places.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #5: Visit the Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace was the former residence of the famous Hapsburg family, and is located right in the heart of the city. It is so massive that it has over 2,000 rooms, and 7 underground passages.

We definitely suggest getting a tour of the palace to get a better insight of all that is there, and take some time to walk around the gardens, which are free of charge to visit.

Vienna Hofburg Palace, things to do in Vienna
Hofburg Palace, things to do in Vienna

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #6: Stop by the Mozart Statue

Right inside the gardens of the Hofburg Palace is one of the most famous statues in the city of Vienna. The Mozart statue is a tribute to the famous musician. and also has a large musical note in front of it made from flowers.

Mozart statue, things to do in Vienna
Mozart statue, things to do in Vienna

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #7: Pop Into the Butterfly House

Located right next to the Hofburg Palace is a bit of a hidden gem. The butterfly house is not only cool to see, but it has a great cafe to enjoy breakfast, or some wine at sunset.

Butterfly House, things to do in Vienna

The Butterfly House has a great cafe to check out.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #8: Look for the White Horses

Vienna is known for their famous white horses. The Lippazaners are known as the dancing horses of the city, and have been a special breed training and performing at Vienna's Spanish Riding School for over 450 years.

If you're lucky and the weather is perfect, you can actually see the horses next to the palace between 9 and 9:30 am.

spanish riding school

The white horses are usually at the riding school, but on occasion you can find them outside Hofburg Palace.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #9: Walk Around Maria-Theresian-Platz

Maria-Theresian-Platz is one of the most popular squares of Vienna, and is where you can find the museum quarter meeting with Ringstrasse. Check out the famous statue, visit the museums, or simply admire the beauty of all of the buildings in this area.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #10: Go to Shonbrunn Palace

The Shonbrunn Palace is one of the top sites in Vienna. It was originally the summer residence of the Hapsburg family, and now visiting there is one of the most popular things to do in the city. It is located outside the city center, but can be easily reached by public transportation.

Shonbrunn Palace, things to do in Vienna

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #11: Roam the Palm House Gardens

The Shonbrunn Palace has some really beautiful gardens that are free to visit. But if you'd like to experience something a bit more, there are also green houses that you can see called the Palm House Gardens.

Palm Garden, things to do in Vienna
Palm Garden, things to do in Vienna
Palm Gardens, things to do in Vienna

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #12: Stop by St Stephen's Cathedral

We all know that any trip to a European city includes a church or two, and St Stephen's Cathedral is definitely one of the most beautiful in Vienna with its Gothic style. It's located right in the heart of the city center, and connects the main pedestrian streets of Vienna.

St Stephens Church, things to do in Vienna

St Stephens Cathedral is the most beautiful church in Vienna.

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #13: Check Out the Vienna City Courthouse

If you're looking for a true hidden gem, then make sure to head to the Vienna City Courthouse. While it may just seem like a municipal budding from the outside, it is truly impressive inside, and definitely worth a visit. It's free of charge to enter, and you'll just need to go through a security check . (PS: no tripods are allowed).

Vienna city hall, things to do in Vienna
Vienna city hall, things to do in Vienna

The Best Things to Do in Vienna #14: Explore Albertina

The Albertina is one of the most famous things to see in Vienna, and is typically a place that a lot of tours will just walk by.

The museum is massive, and is home to over a million collections of artwork. Locals will recommend dedicating at least one full day to the museum. We aren't big museum lovers, but if you are then you'll definitely want to save a good amount of time for this one.

Albertina Museum, things to do in Vienna
Albertina Museum, things to do in Vienna