View of Vienna in the sunrise, Austria

Vienna Travel Guide

By Patricia Doherty
August 05, 2021

Vienna (Wien in German), Austria's capital city, is rich in history, architecture, art, music, food, and wine.  Located on the River Danube, Vienna dates back to a Roman era settlement. Most of the city's many Baroque buildings were created under Empress Maria Theresa (18th century) and Emperor Franz Joseph (19th century), and today they stand in contrast to modern glass and steel structures.

Beautiful buildings, walkable streets, delicious food, and lots to do both indoors and outdoors make Vienna a wonderful vacation destination. Voted one of the most livable cities in the world, Vienna's city limits include vineyards, parks, and the forested Vienna Woods (Wienerwald in German), a protected natural landscape. A dog-friendly city, Vienna permits dogs on public transportation as well as in restaurants and shops. The "coffee culture" features prominently in Viennese life, and coffee houses are places to relax, socialize, and enjoy the city's famous desserts. 

Called the "City of Music," Vienna was home to classical composers Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, Brahms, and Beethoven. Vienna is known for its Ball Season when, from November until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, nearly 500 balls take place—with the Viennese Waltz and elegant formal attire in full display.

Time Zone

Central European Time Zone (CET) UTC +1

Seasonally: Central European Summer Time (CEST) UTC +2

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Best Time to Go

For mild, although sometimes chilly weather, spring and fall are pleasant times to be in Vienna. Fewer tourists make it easier to see the city's attractions, and hotel rates are lower. Summer is warm and sunny with temperatures in the high 70s and perhaps a bit more rain. It's also a lovely time there, but the city sees more visitors during the high season, reflected in hotel prices.

Christmas markets and magical decorations attract tourists in winter, despite colder temperatures. The ball season from November until February can be fun even if you're not ready to waltz onto the dance floor. Ball gowns, traditional Austrian dirndls, live music, and the festive atmosphere create memorable experiences.

So it seems that there's no wrong time to visit Vienna. Take a travel umbrella, warm clothing, and remember the well-worn adage, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes."

Things to Know

Currency: Euro 

Language: German

Hello - Hallo
Good Morning - Guten Morgen
Good day - Guten Tag
Good Evening - Guten Abend
My name is… Ich heiße…
What is your name? - Wie heißen Sie?
How are you? - Wie geht's?
I'm well - Mir geht's gut.
How much is that? - Wie viel kostet das?
Where is the bathroom? - Wo ist die Toilette?
Men - Herren/Männer
Women - Damen/Frauen
Please - bitte
Thank you - Danke

Calling Code: +43

The letter ß, unique to the German alphabet, is used in many words to replace "ss."

Snow globes, a favorite souvenir of Vienna, have been produced there for more than a hundred years by the Perzy family in their 17th district factory. They depict St. Stephen's Cathedral, landmarks, animals, cakes, and more. The snow globes, made in a variety of sizes, are favorites at Vienna's Christmas markets. 

Vienna is the only world capital with wineries within its city limits. In the city's outskirts of Grinzing, visitors can hike, bike, or visit a Heuriger, a seasonal wine tavern. Most of the wineries produce white wines, mainly Grüner Veltliner, Weissburgunder, Rheinriesling, and Gemischter Satz.

Danube Island, built as part of a flood protection system, has become a major recreation center with a beach, waterpark, restaurants, and nightclubs. An annual open-air music event, Danube Island Festival (Donauinselfest) is held there. 

Austria's national dish is Wiener Schnitzel, thin cutlets of veal, breaded and fried. It's usually served with parsley potatoes or potato salad. Veal is most commonly used, but chicken may also be prepared as schnitzel.

Sacher Torte, one of Vienna's most famous desserts, is a rich chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam, covered with chocolate. It's said to have first been prepared by Franz Sacher, a 16-year old apprentice, for Prince Metternich in 1832 when the head chef was ill. National Sachertorte Day in Austria is December 5.

In addition to coffee and sweets, Vienna is known for hot dog stands where you can choose either sweet (süss) or spicy (scharf) mustard.

If you live outside the European Union and your single local Vienna shopping bill exceeds EUR 75.01, you can claim a refund of the Austrian value added tax.  Ask the seller for a Global Blue Cheque and the Global Blue Envelope that includes a list of all refund offices. (Global Blue is an international payment provider for tax free shopping.) While you are buying, make sure the original invoice is stapled to the Global Blue Cheque.When you leave Austria (or the European Union), go to the customs officer at the eValidation service counter at Vienna International Airport and get your Global Blue Cheque stamped on presentation of your purchase. Then cash your refund at one of the more than 700 refund offices world wide, including at Vienna airport. Alternatively, send the Global Blue Cheque of your Vienna shopping to Global Blue and they will transfer the money to you.

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How to Get Around

Vienna's public transportation network is extensive. Buses, trains, trams, and underground lines operated by Wiener Linien make getting almost anywhere in the city quite convenient. Ticket machines are located at underground stations, tobacconists, online, and on board (with a slightly increased rate.) In addition to single tickets, passes are available for longer periods of time. 

The subway is called U-Bahn; local trains are Schnellbahn or s-Bahn; the tram is the Straßenbahn, and Autobus is the bus.

Taxi stands can be found throughout Vienna. 

Uber operates in Vienna for ridesharing.  

From Vienna International Airport, there is bus, train, and taxi service into the city as well as Uber for ridesharing. 

The Vienna City Card provides discounts on tours and attractions as well as free public transportation on most lines. CityBike Wien operates approximately 120 bike stations around Vienna, one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe.

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Best Hotels

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Grand Hotel Wien

Address: Kärntner Ring 9 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 51580-0
Website

This opulent hotel dating to 1870 offers luxurious furnishings, five restaurants, two bars, and the Grand Spa No.605. Their elegant rooftop terrace, open from March through October, features panoramic views along with cocktails, bar snacks, and traditional breakfasts. The hotel is centrally located near the Vienna State Opera and Kärntner Straße shopping.

Ritz-Carlton Vienna

Address: Schubertring 5-7 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 31188
Website

Located in downtown Vienna, the luxury hotel features 201 guest rooms including 43 suites. The historic building was once four palaces that have been connected, and modern amenities include fitness center, indoor pool, and spa. An excellent steakhouse, Italian restaurant, cocktail lounge, and seasonal Atmosphere Rooftop Bar provide a range of dining offerings.

K & K Palais Hotel

Address: Rudolfsplatz 11 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 53313 53
Website

This centrally located hotel is housed in the former residence of Emperor Franz Joseph. Modern air-conditioned rooms include flat-screen TV's, coffee machines, minibars, and elegant furnishings. Family-friendly amenities include playground, laundry facilities, snack bar, and available child care.

Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Austria
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hotel Imperial

Address: Kärntner Ring 16 1015 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 501 100
Website

Built for the Duke of Wurttemberg in 1863, the palatial building offers 76 rooms and 62 suites, all elegantly furnished with authentic antiques. Conveniently located near Vienna State Opera and St. Stephen's Cathedral, the hotel is also ideal for designer shopping. Family-friendly options include babysitting service, connecting rooms, and children's menus.

Hotel Sacher Wien

Address: Philharmoniker Str. 4 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 514 560
Website

This classic Victorian-era hotel features 152 exquisitely furnished rooms and suites that combine tradition with modern amenities. Fine dining restaurants and cocktail lounges are available, and guests should not miss Café Sacher's world famous Sacher-Torte. Child care is available, and the "Petit Sacher" program provides a welcome gift and special amenities for children. 

Interior of a suite at Park Hyatt Vienna
Credit: Matthew Shaw/Courtesy of Hyatt

Park Hyatt Vienna

Address: Am Hof 2 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 22740 1234
Website

Set in a 100 year old former bank, the elegant hotel features 143 spacious guest rooms including 42 suites, as well as a spa with a sauna and pool. The hotel's location in the Goldenes Quartier is convenient to shopping, museums, churches, and attractions. In keeping with the theme, The Bank Brasserie & Bar presents exceptional dining and relaxed ambiance.

Hotel Daniel Vienna

Address: Landstraßer Gürtel 5 1030 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 90 131-0
Website

This centrally located hotel features 116 contemporary style rooms with modern amenities at a budget-friendly price. Their onsite bakery, restaurant, and breakfast buffet are popular with guests and locals. Pets are welcome, and bicycles are available to rent when weather permits.

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Best Restaurants

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Mraz & Sohn

Address: Wallensteinstraße 59 1200 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 3304594
Website

This family-run fine dining restaurant has received two Michelin stars for its creative approach to Austrian and internationally-influenced cuisine. Multi-course tasting menus offer an experience that's both sophisticated and casual, with friendly, attentive service. Reservations recommended.

Steirereck

Address: Am Heumarkt 2A, Innere Stadtpark 1030 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 71 33 168
Website

Located in Vienna's Stadtpark and set in a modern mirrored glass building, the restaurant features rural Austrian cuisine in creative presentations.  Fresh seafood, produce from the terrace gardens, wild boar, and more are treated in novel ways. Choose the tasting menu or dine a la carte, and call ahead for a reservation.

The lounge at Palmenhaus
Credit: Lavatische Maerz/Courtesy of Palmenhaus

Palmenhaus

Address: Burggarten 1 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 533 10 33
Website

Set in an 1822 greenhouse overlooking Hofburg palace gardens, the updated modern glass and steel structure is stunning, offering both indoor and outdoor dining. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, and the dinner menu includes seafood, steaks, and (of course) schnitzel. Reservations are suggested.

Interior of Veranda at Sans Souci Wien

Veranda

Address: Burggasse 2 1070 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 5222520194
Website

The Michelin Guide describes the restaurant's cuisine as modern Austrian which can be ordered a la carte or as a tasting menu, with wines that focus on Austria's vineyards. Indoor and outdoor tables are available, and the menu includes traditional wiener schnitzels, veal, bisque, and desserts. Located near Vienna's museums; reservations are recommended.

Das Loft

Address: Praterstraße 1 1020 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 906168110
Website

Located on the 18th floor of the modern hotel SO/Vienna, Das Loft offers panoramic views of the city through expansive windows, while a colorful illuminated ceiling created by multimedia artist Pipilotti Risi shimmers overhead. International fare is served starting with breakfast, and innovative dishes match the decor in creativity. Cocktails and a selection of wines from Austria and around the world are available.

Café Central

Address: Ecke Herrengasse,
Strauchgasse 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 5333763
Website

Established in 1876 and set in Palais Ferstel, a palatial Italianate mansion, Café Central attracts tourists and locals who dine on Viennese dishes, coffee specialties, and bakery items in the historic setting. Through the years famous figures like Freud and Trotsky as well as poets and writers have dined there, so a stop at Café Central should be on every visitor's itinerary.

Naschmarkt

Address: Mariahilf, city center 1060 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 400005430
Website

Vienna's largest and best known food market is located on the Vienna River, with more than 120 market stands selling produce, fish, cheese, international street foods, sweets, snacks, local products, and sit-down restaurant meals. The market dates to the late 16th century, and some stalls have been there for over 100 years. On Saturdays, a flea market next door offers books, record albums, antiques, and more. Closed on Sundays.

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Things to Do

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Group Of People In Front Of Schonbrunn Palace
Credit: Hella Hoffmann/Getty Images

Schönbrunn Palace

Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraß 47 1130 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 81113239
Website

This magnificent 18th-century palace is one of Vienna's top attractions for its architecture, history, and Baroque gardens. Tours take visitors through the rooms once used by Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Maria Theresa to see the furniture, art, and sumptuous décor.

St. Stephan cathedral in Vienna, Austria
Credit: TomasSereda/Getty Images

St. Stephen's Cathedral

Address: Stephansplatz 3 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 515523054
Website

Also called Stephansdom, the cathedral was built as a 12th-century Romanesque church, and it has been reconstructed several times as recently as post World War II, combining its original design with Baroque and Gothic architecture. Visitors can tour the 14th-century catacombs in an underground labyrinth or climb one of the towers for a view of Vienna from the roof walk.

MuseumsQuartier

Address: Museumsplatz 1 1070 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43/1/523 5881
Website

Located in central Vienna, the complex includes 60 cultural institutions covering contemporary art, history, architecture, music, fashion, theater, dance, literature, photography, street art, and children's culture.  Guided tours are available, and the exterior courtyard is designed for visitors and locals to enjoy with unique furniture, cafés, and restaurants.

The Spanish Riding School

Address: Michaelerplatz 1 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 533 90 31-0
Website

The riding school was established with the introduction of the famous Lipizzaner horses from Spain in the 16th century. Today, a variety of tours and performances demonstrate equestrian skills and take visitors behind the scenes for exercise and training sessions.

Children watch an elephant at the Schonbrunn Zoo
Credit: Xinhua/Georges Schneider/Getty Images

Vienna Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)

Address: Maxingstraße 13b 1130 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 87792940
Website

The world's oldest zoo dating back to the mid-18th century, the Vienna Zoo was built in the Gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. Visitors can enjoy the exhibits on their own or choose from a variety of tours that include backstage tours, themed tours focusing on a favorite animal, and morning experiences in the rainforest or aquarium followed by breakfast.

The Prater

Address: Riesenradplatz 7 1020 Vienna, Austria 
Phone: +43 1 7280516
Website

With a history that dates back to the 18th century, the 3,200-acre amusement park was rebuilt after World War II. The Prater is home to roller coasters, old-fashioned theme park rides, the Giant Ferris Wheel, Haunted Castle, the Prater Museum, Planetarium, 5-D cinema, and more.

General view at Cafe Demel in Vienna, Austria
Credit: Mathias Kniepeiss/Getty Images

Demel

Address: Kohlmarkt 14 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 535 1717 0
Website

Vienna's oldest café and bakery is an experience as well as a place to indulge in cakes, pastries, strudels, petit fours, and coffee. The experience is the opportunity to enjoy the same recipes loved by Emperor Franz Joseph served in traditional style by Demelinerinnen, waitresses in black dresses with white lace collars. You can also watch through a glass wall as bakers work, marvel at the window display, and take home a classic sacher torte to enjoy later.

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Best Shopping

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Ringstrassen-Galerien (Ringstreet Galleries)

Address: Kârntner Ring 5-7 and 9-13 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 51 25 181
Website

Two buildings connected by a glass bridge creates a unique atmosphere for the 16-floor mall that includes offices, luxury apartments, and restaurants as well as retail shops. Stores offer clothing, accessories, jewelry, toys, art, gifts, flowers, and more in a gorgeous setting.

Donau Zentrum (Danube Center)

Address: Wagramer Strasse 94 1220 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 20347 22222
Website

This huge mall includes more than 250 stores and a multiplex cinema as well as at least 50 restaurants. Conveniently linked to the city center via metro, Austria's second largest shopping center is popular among locals and tourists.

The empty street Kohlmarkt as the Michael Dome of the Vienna Hofburg stands in the background, in the center of Vienna
Credit: Alex Halada/Getty Images

Kohlmarkt

Address:  Inner City 1010 Vienna, Austria

One of the oldest and most elegant streets in Vienna, Kohlmarkt is home to jewelers and international luxury fashion brands including Cartier, Chanel, Armani, Burberry, Gucci, and more. Browse the high end shops and enjoy the grand historical architecture of the area.

Hamtil & Sôhne

Address: Herrengasse 2 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 532 1803
Website

This store offers unique souvenirs, gifts, lamps, and locally-made products. An interesting selection of children's toys, games, and puzzles make clever gifts.

Steffl Department Store

Address: Kârntner Straße 19 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 930 56 0
Website

This upscale department store features a wide variety of clothing and accessory brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Furla, Chloe, Patagonia, in a convenient location. Rest a bit after shopping at the SKY Café and enjoy views of St. Stephan's cathedral and Vienna's skyline.

Tostmann Trachten

Address: Schottengasse 3a 1010 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 533 533 1
Website

This is the best place to purchase locally made traditional Austrian clothing. In business for more than 60 years, Tostmann offers dirndls for ladies and lederhosen for gentlemen. Choose from a variety of styles for adults and children.

Augarten Wien

Address: Obere Augartenstraße 1
1020 Vienna, Austria
Phone: +43 1 211 24 200
Website

Europe's second oldest porcelain manufacturer and purveyor to the Habsburg court, Augarten still produces timeless objects meticulously designed and painted. Dinnerware, vases, figurines, teapots, and collectible objects are available at the shop.

Neighborhoods to Know

Innere Stadt (1st District) is the city center where most hotels, stores, restaurants, and attractions are located. St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Vienna Opera House, Parliament, and many museums are located in this district. The Ringstrasse, once the city's fortifications and now a fashionable boulevard, circles the district.

Leopoldstadt (2nd District), once Vienna's Jewish quarter, is now a trendy area a short subway ride from the central city. Prater Park, Vienna's amusement park, is in this district as is the modern art museum and Augarten porcelain factory.

Landstrasse (3rd District) includes Stadtpark, Schwarzenberg Palace, Belvedere Palace, and several embassies and consulates. Stadtpark features lush lawns, playgrounds, and the excellent restaurant Steirereck im Stadtpark for Austrian cuisine.

Mariahilf (6th District) features the busy Mariahilferstrasse shopping street and the Naschmarkt produce and dining market as well as theaters and pubs. Vienna's aquarium is in this district, housed in a World War II air defense tower built by Hitler's engineers. 

Neubau (7th District) includes the Spittelberg quarter, a lively cultural and upcoming trendy area. Bordering the MuseumsQuartier, this neighborhood's Christmas market is a popular winter destination. The large museum complex, formerly Imperial Stables, features bars, restaurants, shops, and an appealing outdoor area that attracts locals and tourists.

Hietzing (13th District) is home to Vienna's most popular tourist attraction, Schönbrunn Palace, and the Vienna Zoo. An elegant residential area with gorgeous 18th- and 19th-century summer residences, the district includes the Klimt Villa, with an exhibition of the artist's life and work.Döbling (19th District) borders the Vienna Woods and is home to exclusive residences as well as lush woodlands, wineries, and vine covered hills. Explore wineries or stop at a wine tavern. Hiking among hilly trails is popular here as well.

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Weather

The climate of Vienna is continental with cold winters and moderately warm summers. Winter is cold and gray, with an average of 21 inches of snowfall each year. Snowfall is frequent, but generally not abundant.

January is the driest and coldest month, and July is the warmest and wettest. Hurricanes do not occur in Austria, and there is a chance of tornadoes during summer. Winter, December through February, is quite cold, and the weather starts warming in late March. Spring is mild and pleasant, and summer temperatures are warm, reaching into the 80s at times. Fall is mild, an ideal time to visit Vienna.

The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month. Average annual precipitation is 23.9 inches, with somewhat more rain occurring between May and August.

January 27°F - 37°F
February 29°F - 42°F
March 34°F - 50°F
April 42°F - 61°F
May 50°F - 69°F
June 56°F - 75°F
July 60°F - 80°F
August 59°F- 79°F
September 52°F - 69°F
October 44°F - 58°F
November 36°F - 47°F
December 29°F - 38°F

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Apps to Download

Zoo Adventures Guide - Schönbrunn Zoo guide, photos, videos, animal stories
iOs | Android

WienMobil Guide - route planner, real time departure information, transportation services
iOs | Android

Wien.at - official city homepage for local news, events, and weather
iOs | Android

Quandoo - restaurant search, booking reservations.
iOs

Bike Citizens - City Bike finder, navigation, directions to available nearby bikes
iOs | Android

Uber - ride sharing
iOs | Android