3 Days in Vienna: Everything You Should Know
Vienna is a romantically imperial city rich in magnificent architectural ensembles, including Baroque mansions, grand buildings, gardens, old churches, monuments, and palaces with beautifully manicured lawns. There are also green, rolling vineyards, parks, and enchanting, old-world beaches along the Danube. With so many places to discover, 3 days in Vienna might seem too short to immerse yourself fully into this fascinating Austrian capital.
Besides its cultural and historical attractions, Vienna is also a paradise for food lovers. This city offers luxury even for the pickiest palate, from the cozy coffee houses to traditional inns, cafes, and restaurants. Furthermore, experienced and talented chefs continue to innovate the unique traditions of Viennese cuisine to meet the growing customer needs.
For art and music enthusiasts, you’ll be pleased to know that Vienna played a crucial role in Beethoven’s life for over 35 years. It was home to some of the best classical music composers of all time, including Johann Strauss, Mozart, and Schubert. It’s also where you’ll find one of the largest and most distinguished art museums in the world, the Museum of Art History.
Whether you’re a returning visitor or a first-time traveler, 3 days in Vienna may not be enough to see everything the city has to offer. But with good planning and proper organization, you can discover some of its best attractions, excellent museums, and iconic landmarks on a self-guided tour. However, before heading out for an adventure, store your bags safely with Bounce luggage storage in Vienna. It’s the most convenient way to travel without worrying about your belongings or dragging around your bags.
Vienna itinerary - Day 1
Morning: See the Hofburg
Begin your 3 days in Vienna in one of the most historically significant palaces in the city. The Hofburg, Vienna’s Imperial Palace, was the seat of the Habsburgs for centuries, which ruled Austria from 1282 until 1918. It is one of the world’s largest palace complexes, with major buildings representing over 700 years of architectural history.
Today, this marvelous palace complex serves as the home and workplace of the President of Austria. But anyone can still visit and get a glimpse of the palace’s fascinating Imperial past and delve deeper into its history. Overall, the Hofburg covers a vast area of about 59 acres, consisting of courtyards, squares, gardens, buildings, and thousands of rooms.
The Hofburg Palace has three main sections: The Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments, and the Silver Collection. You can explore each zone individually or combine them into an extended visit. If you come during its opening hour at 8 am, you have all morning, so why not tackle them altogether? It also houses other known attractions worth exploring. These include the Weltmuseum, the Spanish Riding School, the Austrian National Library, and the Imperial Chapel.
You’ll pass several cafes and restaurants from the palace complex for a quick bite before your next destination. You can head to Palmenhaus and have a nice lunch in a warm and cozy atmosphere or stop at Klassische Wiener Würstelstand for some classic sausages. You can also try some street foods for a more authentic Viennese experience.
Afternoon: Experience Vienna State Opera House
No trip to Vienna is complete without visiting the Vienna State Opera House. It is one of the world’s most important opera houses known for performances of works by classical music geniuses, including Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It also hosted countless performances of some of the world’s most prominent dancers, conductors, and soloists.
You’ll likely catch a show if you come at the right time, as ballet and operatic performances are staged here over 300 times a year. If you stay until nighttime, you might witness world-class artists on the stage along with the permanent ensemble members or attend a classical music concert.
The opera house features the Marble Hall, Gobelin Hall, and the Schwind Foyer, which makes it unique and stands out among other theaters you’ll find today. Established in 1869, it can accommodate more than 2,200 seats and standing places.
While in the area, head to St. Stephen's Cathedral, just a short minute walk from the opera house. Initially built in 1137, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is regarded as the city symbol and one of Austria's most significant Gothic structures. It serves as a final resting place for numerous prominent individuals, including Emperor Friedrich III. And if you still have time, stop at its neighboring church, St. Peter’s Church. It was built in the 18th century with a Baroque interior and has been a venue for recitals and concerts.
Night: Visit the Museum Quarter
Spanning over 90 thousand square miles in central Vienna, the Museum Quarter (MQ) consists of sixty cultural institutions, making it one of the world’s largest contemporary art and culture districts. It opened in 2001, and since then, it has been a favorite destination among history buffs, art lovers, foodies, or anyone who simply wants to chill and hang out with loved ones.
The MQ was originally built as Vienna’s imperial stables in the 18th century. Today, it combines historical structures from old buildings with contemporary architecture to create a masterpiece. You’ll find several other attractions within the complex, including the Museum of Modern Art, Leopold Museum, Austria’s Museum of Architecture, and Kunsthalle, an exhibition space for contemporary art.
The opening times of every museum may vary, but the MQ is open 24 hours and offers free entry. It holds regular temporary exhibits and various events worth attending during your 3 days in Vienna. There are also restaurants, cafes, and kiosks, offering different culinary options.
Vienna itinerary - Day 2
Morning: Browse the Natural History Museum
A visit to Vienna’s Natural History Museum is a must for every tourist and traveler. It’s home to more than sixty full-time scientists researching various topics related to the earth, human life, and sciences. It features thirty-nine exhibition halls covering topics such as the human origins and development and human cultural evolution from the prehistoric era.
Even if you’re not a fan of history, you’ll be impressed by its massive Dinosaur hall, which showcases the remains and skeletons of prehistoric predators. It features a lifelike allosaurus, an animated model design based on Utah’s 150-million-year-old Allosaurus fragilis. You’ll also see the 29,500-year-old sculpture called ‘Venus von Willendorf.’ This 11cm-tall pottery figurine is one of the world’s most famous archaeological discoveries. The Meteorite Room is also worth seeing, featuring the oldest and most extensive collection of meteorites worldwide.
Just a stone’s throw away from the museum, you can quickly visit Kunsthistorisches Museum. It holds artworks from Ancient Egypt to the late eighteenth century, including Baroque and Renaissance art collections.
From the Natural History Museum, you’ll find a few restaurants nearby for a quick bite or a sit-down lunch. There’s Gorilla Kitchen for some tasty burritos, bowls, and sandwiches, or try classic Indian dishes at Indian Restaurant Demi Tass.
Afternoon: Explore Belvedere Palace
Whether you have a day, a week, or 3 days in Vienna, you shouldn’t leave without exploring the Belvedere Palace. It consists of two magnificent buildings, the Lower and Upper Belvedere. With its two distinct palaces and their vast gardens, the entire complex is one of the most spectacular Baroque architecture ensembles you’ll find in the world.
The Lower Belvedere palace was completed in 1716. It was designed as a residential building for Prince Eugene, with staterooms illustrating the Baroque craftsmanship and lifestyle. Then the following year, the construction of the Upper Belvedere began and was completed in 1723. It served as a venue for large festivals, formal receptions, and state functions during Prince Eugene's time. After his death, it became a royal painting gallery accessible to the public.
Night: Have Fun at Prater Amusement Park
After a cultural trip during the day, exploring your favorite Vienna museum and a palace complex, it’s time to do something that will get your heart pumping. Visit the Prater amusement park and eat, drink, and play. It might be your only chance to ride the giant Ferris wheel in your 3 days in Vienna, so don’t miss out on the fun and adventure.
The Prater is a famous green space and public park in the city, home to one of the world’s oldest amusement parks. It was used as the imperial hunting ground for centuries, but it wasn’t open to the public until 1766. Then the amusement park opened its doors in 1895 and opened the Giant Wheel or Vienna’s Riesenrad two years later. Since then, it has become one of the most iconic symbols of the city.
The Prater welcomes visitors all day, year-round. If you have Vienna Pass, entry to the Ferris wheel and other attractions is free. However, the amusement park, with its themed rides, is open until midnight only between March 15th and October 31st. But some attractions, including the Ferris wheel, restaurants, and shops, are available throughout the year. It’s also close to several popular tourist spots, such as the Hundertwasser Museum, Stadtpark, and Hundertwasserhaus.
Vienna itinerary - Day 3
Morning: Meander the Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens
The Schönbrunn Palace is a stunning 18th-century palace known for its magnificent Baroque architecture. It used to be a summer residence of the Habsburgs, which still reflects the monarchs’ unique tastes and interests, especially in the arts. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is regarded as the country’s most significant cultural monument.
The Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens will give you an insight into the Imperial past and lifestyle and an authentic experience of their heritage. You can enter the park as early as 6:30 in the morning for free. But suppose you want to explore the special attractions, like the Maze, Orangery Garden, and the Privy Garden. In that case, you’ll need an admission ticket for each.
Besides the gardens, the palace park is also home to the Imperial Carriage Museum, numerous impressive monuments, statues, and fountains. If you need a break or some refreshments, there are cafes and restaurants in the area. The Schönbrunner Schloßcafé offers pastries, hot snacks, and authentic Viennese cakes. Its outdoor seating area will give you a view of the palace.
Afternoon: Adventure at Vienna Zoo
You don’t have to go too far to get to the zoo. Nestled within the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace and Park, Vienna Zoo is the oldest working public zoo in the world, dating back to the mid-18th century. It attracts over two million visitors each year who want to see the giant pandas, koalas, Siberian tigers, African elephants, and more. It’s a treat for the young and young at heart, featuring over 700 animal species, some of which are now critically endangered.
If a wet day in Vienna makes it less appealing to wander around the park’s outdoor sections, there are several animal houses you can explore. Head to the aquarium terrarium and see the reptiles, fishes, and other marine animals or go to the monkey house, where you’ll see the creatures roam free. The Polarium shows the penguins and seals underwater, while the neighboring Polardom allows you to witness polar bears dive below the water's surface.
Night: See Vienna City Hall
End your 3 days in Vienna at the city’s impressive administrative center. Located in the historic city center, Vienna City Hall is a gorgeous, much-photographed building even at night. It’s a grand architectural structure built with bricks and adorned with limestone. It was designed and erected from 1872 to 1883, featuring a fantastic 98-meter tower. It’s a renowned symbol of Vienna with more than 1,500 rooms.
In front of the City Hall, you’ll find the City Hall Square (Rathausplatz), which holds numerous events throughout the year. It becomes a lively dining and shopping center around November and December, thanks to the Christmas markets, and is transformed into a glorious skating rink during the winter holidays. If you come in the summer, you’ll find different regional restaurants and food stands in the square. So, plan your visit around the festivals, music concerts, activities, and live events in the City Hall.
Vienna in 3 Days
Obviously, there are a lot more places to explore in the Austrian capital. But 3 days in Vienna should give you an excellent overview of this vibrant city. This self-guided tour emphasizes its fine old architecture, world-class offerings, and distinctive charm. And if you have more days to spend, try seeing a little more of its countryside and have a taste of life outside the city. Tour around the fields, forests, and vineyards and savor its delicious cuisines.
Still planning your visit to Vienna? Check out these guides for more ideas!
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