Vienna is a city that could captivate and fascinate anyone for weeks and weeks. But you’ve only got 3 days? No problem. Here are our suggestions to help you make the most of your short break.
1) Day 1, morning
Let’s start by getting our bearings. The iconic Ringstrasse is the main thoroughfare of the town and by wandering along it you’ll see some of Austria’s most impressive and imposing architecture. Why not pick out just two of the architectural gems to visit, like the State Opera House and the Ringstrassen-Galerien, a luxury shopping mall?
2) Day 1, lunch
The Ringstrasse brings you to the Burggarten, a lovely park filled with roses. Look out for the Mozart statue, and relax over some lunch at the Palmenhaus café.
3) Day 1, afternoon
Now for some serious sightseeing. The Hofburg is the old Imperial Palace, and was the beating heart of the Habsburg Empire until things came crashing down at the end of World War I. The building is still magnificent, and you can wander through the rooms and admire the opulence. If all the walking leaves your feet aching, why not take a fiaker, or horse-drawn carriage, back to your hotel?
4) Day 1, evening
There are plenty of great places to eat in Vienna, but if you’re looking for traditional wiener schnitzel, head for Schnitzelwirt on Neubaugasse. Be warned, this isn’t a place for vegetarians. Once you’ve let your veal go down, take a taxi to Jazzland on Franz-Josefs-Kai, and relax in an authentic and intimate jazz club.
5) Day 2, morning
After breakfast visit the Spanish Riding School. At around 10am every day you’ll be able to see the horses taking their morning exercise. Then stroll down to St Stephen’s Cathedral and gaze at the spectacular Romanesque towers on the west front. There’s plenty to explore inside, including 18 altars and 6 separate chapels.
6) Day 2, lunch
Fancy eating in a works canteen? Many in Vienna are open to the public, like the canteen at the Applied Arts College on Oscar Kokoschka Platz, or the Justice Ministry’s canteen near the Viennese Parliament. They’re all excellent value for money, and the food is of a high standard too.
7) Day 2, afternoon
Time for some art. You’ll find the MuseumsQuartier on the edge of the old city, and there are lots of museums and galleries to look at. One must-see destination is the Leopold Museum, with its collection of paintings by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.
8) Day 2, evening
Why not head over to Schwedenplatz to take an early evening cruise down the Danube, looking out at the landmarks of the city as the sun goes down and the floodlights go on. Then it’s time to eat. Head over to the Jewish Quarter and visit one of the hundreds of bars in the area, most serve food. Once you’ve eaten, if you’re still feeling lively then Vienna is big on techno and house music. Nightclubs like U4 and Fluc are big on electro sounds, and at Pratersauna you can really dive into the ambience, with pool parties in the summer.
9) Day 3, morning
Once you’ve slept off the night before, take a subway train out to Schonbrunn, the old summer residence for the Habsburgs. This is a Baroque jewel in Vienna’s crown, and you could spend all day here. But let’s do just the morning. Take the audio guide to find your way around.
10) Day 3, lunch
If you haven’t had an Austrian pastry yet we think you’ve earned one. So grab a strudel at the Gloriette in the gardens at the Schonbrunn. Then take a subway back into town.
11) Day 3, afternoon
Now your Vienna sightseeing is nearly at an end it’s time to wind down. Stroll through one of the beautiful gardens in the heart of Vienna, like the Volksgarten, or the Augarten if you’re looking for something a bit more edgy. Take a Viennese coffee, and relax.
12) Day 3, evening
To go out in style, why not head over to the State Opera House to see if there are any tickets left for tonight’s performance? Or go to the Vienna Prater and take a ride on the Riesenrad Ferris wheel. You’ll be able to look down on all the places you’ve been to – and all the places you wanted to go to but didn’t have the time. You’ll just have to come again!