Vienna is one of the beautiful and architecturally rich cities that we have been to. There is royalty and mesmerizing art in every little corner of the city. A clean city, Vienna also has great cafes, unbelievably well-dressed people and you can hop on a horse drawn carriage to explore the city – an experience that will take to its rich past. We enjoyed our stay in the city and have highlighted 10 spots that are worth-seeing in one day in Vienna. Most of these spots are free to visit from outside, unless if you wish to explore the inside of the palaces/complexes with a guided tour. Some of the monuments and complexes are living quarters and are currently in use by high dignitaries and/or set up as museums. These sight-seeing spots of Vienna are very close to each other and well-connected, making it perfect for exploring Vienna in a day. You can either take a local transit or cab to reach one spot and can walk down to explore the other areas.
One Day in Vienna: 10 Things to See in Vienna in a day
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There are a few convenient ways to explore Vienna in a day. All the 3 options are equally great, it just depends on your travel style – which suits you best
- Vienna Pass 1 to 6 days of Sightseeing – This is the ULTIMATE sightseeing tool in Vienna Vienna Pass. This pass includes free admission to over 60 attractions, unlimited hop on and hop off sightseeing tours and a guide book to the city. Book a one day in Vienna pass here
- Vienna Hop on and Hop off Sightseeing with a guided city Tour – Vienna Hop on and hop off sightseeing tour is a convenient way to hit all the sightseeing spots in Vienna in a day. Because you only have one day in Vienna – hop on and off services will take you to the main tourist sights and more. This sightseeing bus is not intrusive (it doesn’t include entry to attractions or guide) but includes a guided walking tour to learn about the history of Vienna in old town. Book a Vienna hop on/off tour
- Vienna City Card – 1 to 2 day Vienna City Card gives you free public transportation for the day (or two). It doesn’t include travel to the airport as it is located outside of city limits. You can get discounted tickets to the Hofburg Palace and Schonbrunn Palace. Buy a Vienna City Card here
Visiting Vienna for 2 days? Read our Vienna itinerary here
Here’s an extra Vienna item to consider:
Vienna is known for its palaces, cafes and sweet foods – so definitely check them out on your one day in Vienna trip. BUT….there are 3 amazing palaces to see and you got only 1 day, so you have to prioritize and choose! We could easily do 2 palaces in a day, but the third one might be a stretch if you are planning to visit some of the other tourist attractions.
The 3 popular palaces are – Schonbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace and the Belvedere Palace. We recommend including Schonbrunn Palace in your day’s itinerary (more on that below). Between the Hofburg Palace and the Belvedere Palace – Hofburg is in a GREAT location (innere stadt or inner city) and is just a stone throws away from other sightseeing areas. The Belvedere Palace is known for its collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, including the Kiss and Judith, which is one of the world’s largest. It is, however located a little outside of the inner city.
Starting your day in Vienna
Start your day bright and early in Vienna. If you are arriving in to Vienna from a nearby city or country, you will find cafes and restaurants on your way to the sightseeing locations. Viennese coffee is amazing.
If you are flying to Vienna, of course Viennaairport will have breakfast options for you. Get airport transfers from Vienna airport here – CAT
Our first stop for the day is the Schonbrunn Palace and the palace complex has a cafeteria as well for breakfast or light snack.
Schonbrunn Palace – the most popular palace in Vienna
Schonbrunn Palace is the most popular tourist spot in Vienna. It is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is rightly so because of its rich cultural history and association with the Hapsburg royalty. Built in early 18th century, this gorgeous yellow colored palace reflects the changing styles and interests of the Hapsburg dynasty.
The Schonbrunn Palace in its present form was built and re-designed during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. Maria Theresa was an able leader and during her reign she popularized the yellow color as a color of royalty. But the reality was that the color yellow was economical and easily available.
You can easily spend 3-5 hours at the Schönbrunn palace complex. There is a guided tour available to explore the interior of the beautiful palace. We recommend starting the day with the Schönbrunn Palace after breakfast. Keep in mind, they have 1441 rooms!
The sculpted garden is beautiful and is adorned by 32 sculptures of deities. There are picturesque Roman ruins as well located in the palace complex. One of my favorite sights is the Neptune Fountain, with Gloriette in the background. The Gloriette was erected to glorify the Hapsburg rule. It definitely adds a romantic feel to the entire place and you can get amazing views of the city of Vienna from the Gloriette.
Schonbrunn Palace is open daily, including public holidays. There are cafes, restaurants and museums in the palace complex. This site is completely accessible to all tourists.
Schonbrunn Palace has a popular Apple strudel show – Viennese Strudelshow in the bakery of Café Residenz. (The show along with a sample piece of apple strudel is included in Vienna Pass). It is popular because you get to see how the original Viennese Apple Strudel is made (right in front of your eyes) from the imperial bakery and also taste it. The show is conducted for 15- 20 minutes from 11:00 am to 04:00 pm every day.
HofBurg Palace – the iconic landmark
The Hofburg palace is located in the old town of Vienna or the inner city (inner stadt – 1st district in Vienna) and this is where you will spend majority of the one day in Vienna.
The Hofburg palace is the imperial seat of the Hapsburg Dynasty in Austria. Every inch of this palace drips in luxury and royalty. The outside of the palace is as beautiful as the inside. There is a lot of history that has happened in this palace and had served as prime residence for Empress Maria Theresa, Emperor Franz II and, for a while, even the German Emperor. The complex is spread over 59 acres and comprises of 18 groups of buildings, close to 20 courtyards and around 2600 rooms. The entire complex showcases the legacy of rich and different architectural history – nearly every Austrian ruler since 1275 had either ordered additions or alterations.
There are guided tours available to tour the palace complex. Visitors are given three choices when visiting this spectacular site – the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and Silver Collection – each of which can be toured individually or as part of an extended visit. There are other attractions included as well along with the the Hofburg, which included the Imperial Chapel (Burgkapelle), the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum), the Austrian National Library, and the Spanish Riding School.
There is a Sisi Museum at the palace as well and its worth a visit. Sisi or Elisabeth was the Empress of Austria. She has gone down in history as an empress of eternal youthfulness and beauty. For more than three decades she was regarded as the most beautiful queen in Europe. A fun fact about Sisi is that she believed in natural beauty and never used any cosmetics or fragrances. She relied on natural remedies. Her beautiful brunette hair was beautiful and very long. She would spend about 2 hours a day to fix and take care of her hair. There are exhibitions conducted at the Imperial palace that highlights the lives of the Hapburgs including Sisi.
The Hofburg palace is iconic to the city of Vienna. The Hofburg is an architectural marvel that showcases many different architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, Baroque to Rococo and a little bit of Classicism.
Heldenplatz – public square in inner stadt
Maria-Theresien-Platz is a large public square in Vienna built in the honor of Hapsburg Empress – Maria Theresa. There is a huge statue of the Empress, which is flanked by two museums on each side. These buildings are identical – one is the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum) and the other was the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum). The buildings are near identical, except for the statuary on their facades.
The Maria Theresa Monument is a probably most important monument with construction that lasted a 13 year period. The statue is about 19 metres high and is surrounded by 4 horseman statues. It can be seen from across the road as you proceed to the complex. There are beautiful gardens in and around the monument, making it a perfect place for a stroll or a picnic.
Maria Theresa Platz is classified as an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The legacy of Maria Theresa is phenomenal – her stories of grit and tact are discussed even today. She reformed the school system and took care of the state affairs in a remarkable capacity and also took care of her 16 children. Talk about home and work life balance for a woman. Amazingly done, I say!
Optional Palace no 3: Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere palace is a historic complex in Vienna located about 30 minutes from the inner city area. The complex grounds comprises of two Baroque palaces – the Orangery and the Palace Stables. These buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape and also has a Belvedere museum on site.
The Belvedere served as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who built it as his summer residence. He was an accomplished general and art connoisseur. His apartments and staterooms are located at the Lower Belvedere. The Lower Belvedere and the Orangery are mainly used for temporary exhibitions, and the Palace Stables showcases 150 objects of sacred medieval art. The Belvedere Palace is known for its collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, including the Kiss and Judith, which is one of the world’s largest.
The Palace Gardens are stunning and it features beautiful sculptures, fountains and cascades. Get entrance tickets to the Belvedere Palace
Lunch in the inner city
Well, if you decide to stay back in the inner city, then it is a great time for lunch (or brunch) before exploring more of the inner stadt. Let me tell you, you will find TONS of variety of restaurants (expensive and budget eats including Starbucks and other fast food chains), street cafes, open air cafes and fine eating options to choose from.
We decided to eat (and drink coffee) from Aida – a very common coffee and bakery shop in Vienna. Their sachertorte was delicious.
After a food break, explore more of the inner city – starting with the St Stephen’s Cathedral. You can also cover the next 3 stops (St Stephen’s Cathedral, St Peters Church and Graben) before lunch if you like, as most of the open cafes and fine restaurants are located near the Graben.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
One of Vienna’s most iconic landmarks is the St Stephen’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is located at Stephenplatz, 1010 Vienna, providing visitors with stunning architecture of the Hapsburg and other Austrian rulers. The cathedral has stood the test of time. It has watched over the city for more than 300 years. The Giant Gate, dates back to the 13th century and is one of the oldest parts of the cathedral. The cathedral is decorated with Baroque altarpieces in the name of St. Stephen, the first martyr of Christendom.
There is an underground burial place which contains the mausoleum of the bishops, the tombs of Duke Rudolph the Founder and other members of the Habsburg family. It is also the home to some of the treasured art pieces like the red-marble sepulcher. Austria’s largest bell, known as the Boomer Bell is also located at the cathedral in its north tower.
The South Tower’s observation deck is the highest point in the city of Vienna. You can enjoy some of the finest views in all of Vienna from here. A climb of 343 steps of the tight spiral staircase leads up to the watchman’s lookout 246 feet above street level. The entire cathedral complex area is also called the Stephansplatz (named after the St Stephen’s Cathedral or Stephensdom).
Aren’t these multi-colored roof-tiles the prettiest? They shine under the sunlight!
St Peter’s Church
We accidentally passed by this beautiful baroque church in Vienna. Its called the Peterskirche or St Peter’s Church. This important church has a long history and dates back to the Middle Ages. The church looks stunning with its beautiful green colored dome. What was most interesting was the intricate details in the church’s interior. You will see an attractive high altar, several side altars with beautiful religious works of art. There are remarkable frescos inside as well.
You will definitely pass by this place when you are wandering out and about and cover attractions like the Hofburg Palace, Graben or even the St Stephen’s Basilica. This church is not crowded, making it a great spot for a quiet stroll, photography, etc
Or take a horse drawn carriage to this church and click amazing shots! Book a musical concert at the St Peters Church for the evening
The Graben Vienna is an upscale and trendy shopping street in the heart of the inner city. What is unique about this street is that the area is lined with a plague column. The origin of this street dates back to the old Romans. Due to its close proximity to St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg palace, this street has served as a shopping district since the ancient times. There are 5 divisions/shopping areas with the Graben. And they include Stephansplatz, Kohlmarkt, Naglergasse, Tuchlauben and Petersplatz.
The plague column dates back to the 17th century and is made of marble. You can see unique structures as you walk along the market area. Make sure you visit their Swarovski store – their window displays are gorgeous and all sparkly! There is an H&M store located in a splendid room of a former court.
Talk about royalty! Oh and people in Vienna, so well dressed and handsome.
I do recommend visiting this area, during the day and in the evening. Day-time is great for shopping, people-watching or even to admire the beautiful buildings, sculptures and to read about the city’s past. Visit this place in the evening to enjoy some leisure time at a side cafe or an open restaurant, with live music. The city shines under the moon (and neon) lights. Very beautiful.
Hundertwasserhaus or Hundertwasser House
From the city center or inner city, let’s proceed to some of the attractions in the other districts in Vienna. Staring with Hundertwasserhaus. Drive to Hundertwasserhaus from the inner city is about 12- 15 minutes. Or if you are on the hop on and hop off sightseeing bus, you will see this on your way in and out of the city center loop.
A unique form of art and architecture, the Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment building located in Vienna. This is unique as it was built after the idea and concept of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The outer landscape is multi-colored, hap-hazard and uneven, making it an interesting piece of art.
This expressionist landmark is located in the Landstraße district on the corner of Kegelgasse and Lowengasse in Vienna. Don’t miss this popular Vienna tourist attraction.
Last item on the list for the day is the Giant Ferris Wheel – Prater amusement park in Vienna.
Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel or the Viennese Prater
Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel or the Viennese Prater is an amusement park in Vienna. Distance from the city center to the Prater is about 15 minutes.
It is located in Vienna’s 2nd district. The Wurstelprater which is an amusement park is an iconic symbol of Vienna and it includes the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel. The park is open from 10: 00 am to 11:00 pm every day.
Indulge in some comfort food, enjoy some rides and fall in LOVE with Vienna. You can see the amazing night lights from the rides at the Prater.
Other sightseeing options for one day in Vienna
Karlskirche Karlsplatz in Vienna
Karlskirche or the St Charles Church is a beautiful baroque church in Vienna.It is located on the edge of the Innere Stadt and is characterized by the turquoise blue dome with 4 pillars. The church is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo – Roman archbishop from Milan.
Karlsplatz is also known as art nouveau paradise. There aren’t that many, but if you happen to wander to Karlsplatz or the Naschmarkt train station you will see some art nouveau buildings on your way. The Art Nouveau movement blossomed in Vienna at the turn of the 20th Century. Secession art musuem is worth visiting if you are an art nouveau enthusiast.
Vienna State Opera
Wiener Staatsoper or the Vienna State Opera is an Austrian Opera house. This opera house is one of the busiest in the world with over 350 performances conducted in the 2017/18 season. It was opened for the first time in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. So when you step foot into the opera house or book tickets for the opera, you are enjoying a slice of rich Austrian history.
The Vienna State Opera is particularly unique as it caters to children’s performances. The opera house used to showcase children’s productions, in the bygone era, which were performed in a tent on the roof of the Staatsoper. Presently the opera house has an opera school for boys and girls. The children are introduced to music theater and the prospect of becoming opera singers. The company recruits singers for children’s roles in its productions from this opera school. Twice every season there is a special matinee performance of the opera school. Don’t miss it!
Book your tickets and learn more about Vienna State Opera shows or book a dinner, musical concert and horse drawn carriage ride
Joahn Strauss Building
Vienna is a city of music lovers. This apartment building located in Praterstraße 54, 1020 Vienna, used to be residential unit of Johann Strauss son. This is where he wrote his most famous composition (the Blue Danube Waltz), which is also the unofficial Austrian national anthem.
This building houses original furniture and instruments, including objects that were used in the daily life of the great musician, as well as paintings, photographs and documents about his life and work.
Christmas Markets in Vienna
If you are visiting Vienna from November to December (until Christmas), then definitely visit the Christmas market at the Rathaus platz. Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz are said to be Europe’s finest. Find how Vienna looks like during Christmas
Vienna Sightseeing Map for Reference <3
One Day in Vienna – Travel Tips
Here are some quick tips to help you prepare for your trip to Vienna. Vienna is easily connected by train, road and airways to the rest of the world. We arrived in Vienna from Prague by road.
Vienna Austria belongs to the Euro zone of countries, which means that if you require a visa to visit the Schengen list of countries then Vienna is one of them. Ensure you have visa approved prior to landing in Vienna. EU nationals are visa exempt. Citizens of US and Canada can stay up to 90 days without visa.
If this is your first trip to Europe, read our extensive guide here
Always insure your trips against trip cancellations and delays.
Hotels in Vienna
Extending your stay in Vienna? Find the best hotel deals in town. We recommend using HotelsCombined.com to find accommodation. It is our favorite hotels website for quickly comparing the prices of multiple hotel booking sites at once.
For a night’s stay, we chose the Trend Austria Hotel. We loved the location as it is close to the city center or the old town and be can accessed via the Rathaus Underground Station (public transportation). Book your stay here
Day Trips from Vienna
Looking for day trips from Vienna?
Last Update: May 23 2019
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Vienna in a day: 10 Things to See in One Day in Vienna