What to do in 72 hours in Vienna

The Local
The Local - [email protected]
What to do in 72 hours in Vienna

Scottish travel writer Megan Conway, who runs the Half This World Away blog, tells us how to experience the best of Vienna.


Vienna is a city which exudes elegance, class and splendour. It entwines an imperial history with contemporary museums, a delicious culinary scene and lively bars. 

Ever since watching the movie The Girl in the Picture, Vienna had been high on my list of destinations and although I have visited the city three times now, I've still not had enough. 

I adore the grandeur of Vienna and it's not difficult to imagine Austria's elite from decades ago wining and dining in the various palaces peppered throughout the city.

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

What to see?

Visiting Vienna is an architect's dream, even if buildings generally aren't your thing, you can't help but be amazed at the sheer scale and beauty of some of Vienna's most iconic landmarks. Wandering aimlessly through the city you will stumble upon some of its great treasures. It seems there is something remarkable at the end of every street, from intricately sculpted water fountains to exquisitely designed palaces. There are, however, a few places which you simply cannot miss.

Schönbrunn Palace

This is one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in all of Austria. The history of the palace and its gardens spans over 300 years and reflects the changing tastes and aspirations of Austria's monarchy. The expansive gardens are beautiful in summer when the flowers are in full bloom and a walk up to the Gloriette provides unprecedented views of the Palace and the gardens with Vienna city as a backdrop. It's the perfect place to spend an afternoon meandering through the gardens and soaking up the sunshine.

St Stephens Cathedral (Stephansdom)

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

Europe is full of cathedrals and I have visited so many I have lost count, however I can honestly say St Stephens is one which stands out from the rest. The sheer scale of the cathedral is mesmerising, especially once you learn it was constructed in 1160.

Its ornate roof, stained glass windows and soaring spires will evoke your amazement as your marvel at the architecture. The cathedral is located in the heart of the city and I love the contrast between the new and shiny Vienna with its designer shops and trendy bistros and its imperial, decadent past.

St Stephen's place in the city is the perfect example of the old interwoven with the new, something that Vienna does so effortlessly.

The Belvedere

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

The Belvedere Palace is home to the largest collection of works by my favourite artist, Gustav Klimt. However, Klimt's spectacular paintings aren't the only reason to visit. The stunning palace and its gardens are worth seeing on their own.

The Belvedere is split into two buildings, known as the Upper and Lower Belvedere with a gorgeous expanse of gardens separating the two. Admissions into both are €20 but the absolute highlight for me is the Upper Belvedere, which houses the golden "The Kiss" painting.

Vienna State Opera

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

The Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important Opera houses in the world. It has had some of the world's greatest composers play within its walls from Mozart to Strauss.

Austria is, after all, home to one of the greatest composers of all time and the opera runs through its blood. To get a true sense of Vienna and of the wonder of Austria, a visit to the Opera is an absolute must.

In addition to these incredible places there is also the Hofburg, an imperial palace which was home to the Habsburgs for six centuries. There is also the Leopold Museum, Holocaust-Denkmal, Kaisergruft and Museum Quarter. 

With so many incredible places to visit you won't be disappointed. 

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

How long to spend there?

Vienna is a huge city, with something to see in every corner which means you need a good amount of time to experience everything the city has to offer. I would recommend a minimum of 3 days.

Where to eat & drink?

Mmm... schnitzels and Viennese goulash and pork knee.. oh and lets not forget apple strudel. Plus countless bakeries and ice cream shops, there is so much to try in this city!

My absolute favourite restaurant in Vienna is Griechenbeisl. This romantic restaurant, with its old fashioned lanterns and ivy entwined exterior, is difficult to look past. It is also Vienna's oldest biesl, once frequented by Beethoven himself. 

If you do manage to tear yourself away from Griechenbeisl then another few favourites of mine are Mill, Amerlingbeisl and the most incredible bakery, Fett & Zucker.

Photo: Pixabay/Creative Commons

Fancy a cocktail too? With the Loos-designed American Bar slap bang in the middle of the city, you would be crazy to not try at least one of their magical concoctions. This place made the best Singapore Sling I've ever had (and believe me, I've tried a fair few).

If wine is more your thing then Vis-a-vis is the perfect place to relax after a day of sight seeing. This atmospheric little wine bar may only seat about a dozen people but it does have over 350 wines to choose from, complimented perfectly with their famous antipasti. 

Where to Stay?

The Royal Park Palace Hotel is the perfect place to base yourself whilst in Vienna. Right next to Schönbrunn Palace and a short metro ride into the heart of the city, it enables you to get away from the bustling centre and relax in a more chilled area of Vienna. (Oh, and the buffet breakfast is really quite awesome!)

Vienna is a spectacular place to visit which entwines culture, art, history and a progressive urban scene so effortlessly. It has an old-world charm and is literally brimming with grandeur, whilst at the same time being home to trendy bars and a lively art scene. It's moved and adapted with the times whilst retaining its Austrian essence.

Vienna, as any fitting capital should, really does showcase the best of Austria.

This blog post was originally published on Half This World Away.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also