Vienna is a fascinating city of grand architecture, coffee house culture and classic musical concerts. In this post I’ll give you a weekend itinerary for Vienna that will help you plan your own little city break. Vienna was a much bigger city than I’d imagined and although the city has plenty of trams I found these went around the outside of the city rather than through the middle. In short, what I’m trying to say is wear good shoes you can walk lots in. This is also something to bare in mind when choosing your accommodation, a place with good transport links or close to the city would allow you to make the most of your weekend.
48 Hours in Vienna
This itinerary is written based on having breakfast at your hotel/accommodation and allowing you to go at a slow and relaxed paced. I’m sure you could probably fit more into each day if you wanted.
Begin with a wander
Wander from the opera house to the Hofburg Palace, you’ll have a chance to take in lots of the amazing architecture if you encompass the museum quarter on your walk. This area, I felt, gave me a real feel of Vienna’s grand buildings and history. There are lots of building you can head inside of to explore, some more costly than others but we only did one as it was summer and gorgeous weather outside. You could swap the parks for more of these attractions if your weather isn’t so great.
Next up on your list should be a typical Vienna cafe and this one is perfect as it’s more of a local spot than a tourist spot and to walk there you’ll encounter more of the city. It’s maybe not as grand as some of the more famous cafes but you’ll feel like you’re spending your day as locals do. Head inside to get a real feel for this 100 year old establishment. Their menu is pretty extensive so no matter what time of day you come here they’ll be something to fill your belly with but I’d just recommend the two most famous cakes: apple-strudel and chocolate cake (sachertorte) and coffee of course.
We found this cafe on World of Wanderlust’s list of Vienna best cafes and it’s a pretty good list!
Climb the south tower of the Cathedral
St Stephen’s Cathedral is a pretty iconic spot in Vienna and is beautiful outside and in but while you’re here take the chance to scale one of its towers and get a fantastic view across the city. You’ll find the entrance separate from the main cathedral and you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to climb the 300 and something steps but trust me it’s worth it for the views you get from the top. And you’ll be burning off all the cake you’ve just eaten!
More Coffee? Grab yourself a cornetto coffee
Head north from the cathedral to a little street where you’ll find Fenster Coffee shop. This little hole in the wall is a specialist coffee shop and serves amazing coffee. They have lots of different options on their menu but the one thing you need to try is the cornetto coffee. Your normal latte but served inside of a chocolate cone, mmmm. Unfortunately, being a hole in the wall they have no seating but you’re not far from the canal so it’s a perfect excuse for a little explore of this area.
Chill in a park
I was surprised by how many gorgeous parks Vienna had and so I’d recommend spending a little time just watching the world go by in one of them. We visited the Burggarten several times during our stay as it was so conveniently located, each time it was full of both tourists and locals it seemed. Another spot perfect for relaxing was the Heldenplatz just around the corner from Burggarten. The final park we visited was the Stadtpark which was a lot bigger than the others so had plenty to offer.
Dinner at Naschmarkt
This little market is a bit of a foodies heaven with plenty of market stalls and restaurants housed here. There was so much choice for different types of cuisine and at all different budgets. We opted for a place that did local food as it was our first night, however, I don’t think it was the best place there. I’ve seen lots of people recommending Neni so I’d maybe check that out instead. You’ll need to make it a fairly early dinner as most places shut around 9pm and the whole place is shut on Sundays.
Visit the National Library
Remember that wandering you did in the museum quarter yesterday? It’s time to head back. This impressive building is something that just needs to be experienced during a weekend in Vienna. Inside you’ll find a library that is similar to the one that appears in Beauty and the Beast and trust me it’s magical. The library is not only home to towering bookcases and a grand interior but also exhibitions. While we were there we saw an exhibition about Maximilian’s books and I found the whole thing really fascinating. They also had the most amazing collection of globes of display.
Visit Vienna City Hall (Rathaus)
This building is a pretty impressive feat and something worth viewing during your visit. I believe during the winter there is an ice skating rink located in front of it and this would be the perfect activity for your trip. If it’s not winter, fear not as they have another gorgeous park here to relax in.
You’re probably ready for a little pick me up by this time so let’s head to another Vienna coffeehouse. This little spot caught our eye the day before as it’s right by the cathedral but we were already full of cake then. Again they have super cosy booths inside and plenty of outdoor seating for the summer. There menu had plenty of cake and coffee as well as more substantial meals depending on what you fancy.
What fascinated me the most about these coffeehouses was the way no one rushed you from your seat once you were finished and how all the newspapers had a kind of wooden holder to make them easier to hold and read.
Shopping or Amusement Park
Because every good city break needs some time to wander the shops and pick up a few souvenirs. There are several main shopping streets in Vienna with a mix of traditional and modern buildings. You’ll find many of the typical high street stores as well as a range of local stores varying in price.
Shopping not your thing? Don’t panic, you could head north to Prater which is an outdoor amusement park with plenty of rides and entertainment for all.
American Loos Bar
After a little freshen up, it’s time to begin your evening activities. Your first stop should be this tiny historic bar that has been around for over 100 years. They serve signature cocktails as well as other drinks and have both indoor and outdoor seating although both are limited so I’d suggest getting here early. If you chose to sit outside be sure to head inside to check out the tiny space and how they’ve used the decor to make it feel bigger.
Dinner at Führich or Lugeck
Both of these restaurants have brilliant traditional Viennese menus and plenty of gluten free options for people like me. They are located in the centre of the city so tend to be busy in the evenings and this was especially true when we were there in the summer. They were fairly priced for the delicious food, location and atmosphere.
That warps up my weekend itinerary for Vienna. It is certainly not a exhaustive list, if you’re visiting in winter you might want to do a few more museums. If it’s summer, then you might want to head to the outdoor swimming spot on the canal. It is an amazing city no matter the weather just make sure you take in as much of that coffee and cake life as you can. The minute we left I realized how perfect that vibe and way of life is.