We think that three days in Vienna is the perfect amount of time for a visit. Three days will let you see the majority of the main sights in this beautiful city that you’re interested in, plus add in a few of the less well-known attractions, without being too rushed.
In this post, we’re going to share with you our idea of the perfect itinerary for three days in Vienna. As well as covering all the key attractions we think you’ll enjoy visiting, we’re also going to share some practical tips and advice for your visit, including tips on where to stay, where to eat, tips for getting around Vienna, and how to save money on sightseeing.
If you do have less time in Vienna, check out our itinerary for two days in Vienna. But now, let’s take a look at how to spend 3 days in Vienna.
Table of Contents
3 Days in Vienna
Day 1 in Vienna
Vienna is very much associated with Mozart, one of the most well known composers of Classical music. Vienna was his home for many years during his prolific career, and he lived at a number of properties during his time in the city. Only one of these homes survives today – the Mozarthaus, which you’ll find in Vienna’s Old Town on Domgasse. Which is our suggested first stop on day one of our three day Vienna itinerary.
Mozart lived at this property for three years between 1784 and 1787, and it has been open to the public since 1941. In 2004 it was totally redesigned, and now the whole building is a centre dedicated to the life of the composer.
You don’t have to be a Mozart fan to enjoy a visit to this building – it’s a good insight into life in general in Vienna in the late 18th century. Naturally it’s also filled with information about Mozart and his life, so even if you don’t know much when you arrive – you’ll certainly know a lot when you leave!
The Mozarthaus is open daily from 10am – 7pm, and there’s an admission fee. You can see the official website for more details. It’s included for holders of the Vienna Pass. You can also buy individual tickets online in advance here.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Just a short walk from the Mozarthaus is the magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic church in Vienna. This is found right in the centre of the old town. and is hard to miss!
As you approach you will instantly notice the roof, which is decorated with glazed and painted tiles in an ornate design. There are also two large towers – the massive south tower, which stands at 136m tall, and the smaller north tower which is 68 metres tall. Both of these towers are open to the public, and can be climbed for a fee. As expected, the higher south tower offers the best views over the city.
Naturally, you can also go inside the cathedral, which is of a largely Romanesque / Gothic design, and predominantly dates from the Middle Ages. The three nave design with it’s huge columns is definitely an impressive sight and you can visit for free. You can also visit the Treasury.
This does require a small fee (included with the Vienna Pass), but you get to see more stuff and it offers good views of the main church interior from a first floor viewing area. The fee also means it’s a lot less busy, so you can enjoy the building without feeling too hemmed in.
Vienna State Opera House Tour
Vienna has a world famous state opera house which dates from 1869 and has played host to some of the world’s most famous singers and conductors.
If you are particularly interested in the Opera, then a night here watching a performance is likely to be an experience you will never forget. You can check performance times and buy tickets for shows at various venues in Vienna here.
However, you can also visit the opera house without seeing a performance, by taking a guided tour.
These last around forty minutes, and you’ll learn all about the fascinating history of the building, see all the main highlights, and even get a behind the scenes look at how an opera house is run. Tours run a number of times during the day – see the official website for information and pricing.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Vienna, we suggest heading to the Vienna Museum, or Wien Museum.
This is spread out over a number of buildings across the city, but we recommend you visit the main building on Karlsplatz.
Spread across three floors, this building houses an excellent spread of artistic and historical exhibits that will give you an excellent overview of the history of Vienna, as well as some of its more notable artists and other residents over the ages.
On display you’ll find everything from neolithic finds through to Roman archaeological discoveries through to displays from the present day.
There are also notable artworks from Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele on display, as well as two incredible models of the city, one of which shows what Vienna would have looked like in the mid-19th century.
Even if you aren’t usually a “museum” person, we think you will enjoy the Wien Museum, and if you only visit one museum in the city, this should be it.
Note that as of February 2019, the Wien Museum at Karlplatz is closed for renovation. However, you can see exhibits at the Wien Museum MUSA (1st District, Felderstraße 6-8), which is right next to City Hall.
Right next to the Wien Museum is the beautifully ornate Karlskirche, or St. Charles Church. This is an 18th century Baroque style church with two impressive spiral columns on the exterior. It was built by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, largely to celebrate the end of the plague in the city, and is dedicated to St. Charles, known as a plague healer.
It’s a striking building with the central dome and two spires, and the lake in front of it offers a lovely reflection as well.
Of course, you can also go inside, where one of the highlights are the spectacular frescoes that adorn the interior of the dome.
You can also take a panoramic elevator for a closer view of the frescoes. There’s an admission fee for the church, and you can see that and the opening times at the official website.
We’re going to round off our first day of sight-seeing in Vienna with a visit to one of Vienna’s most famous markets – the Naschmarkt. This is just a short walk from Karlskirche.
The Naschmarkt runs for almost a mile along Wienzelle, and is Vienna’s largest market by far. It’s also got some pedigree, having existed here since the 16th century – although back then if you came here you’d largely only be able to buy milk.
Today there is a lot more on offer than milk. You’ll find fruit and vegetables from the around the world, exotic spices, olives, cheeses, meat, seafood – almost anything you can imagine in fact. There are also many restaurants and food stalls serving everything from sushi to Viennese specialities. A fine way to end your first day exploring Vienna, we think you’ll agree!
Day 2 in Vienna
Spanish Riding School
One of Vienna’s most famous attractions is the Spanish Riding School, home of the Lipizzan horses. These horses and their riders regularly perform shows in the winter riding school arena, a purpose built building which dates from 1729. The shoes focus on classical dressage, and are rightly world famous.
However, you don’t have to book tickets for a show to see these beautiful horses in action. On a number of mornings through the week, the riders and the horses do training exercises in the arena, and you can watch these training exercises for a moderate fee.
It’s worth noting that these are training exercises rather than a whole show, so don’t go expecting to see an elaborate co-ordinated spectacle. If that’s what you’re after, you should attend an actual performance. Also note that photography is not permitted during the training.
If you are interested in the behind the scenes operation of the Spanish Riding School, you can also take a guided tour. We were lucky enough to be taken on a private guided tour, and very much enjoyed getting to meet the horses and learn about their lives (although do note that for the horses’ health, you aren’t allowed to actually touch the horses).
I’m now going to suggest a number of museums and art galleries that you might be interested in visiting.
Visiting all three of these might be a challenge if you also want to do the activities at the end of the day, but I wanted to include them all so you can decide which sounds best to you. You could also add them in to the first day of the itinerary if you have time. It all depends on your own pacing.
The first museum you should consider adding to your Vienna itinerary is the Albertina. This is an art museum, found in the Hofburg Palace complex, which is home to one of the largest print rooms in the world.
With over a million items in the collection, you are assured to see something you like, with art from world renowned artists from Monet to Cezanne to Picasso on display. It’s also home to the Hofburg Palace staterooms, which included as part of your entry fee.
The Albertina is open daily from 10am to 6pm, and until 9pm on Wednesdays and Fridays. There’s an admission fee – you can see more at the official website here. Entry is included on the Vienna Pass.
Natural History Museum
If you prefer your museums to contain fossils, dinosaurs and other items of a natural history theme, then you should head to Vienna’s Natural History Museum.
This is housed in a spectacular building (Vienna has a lot of spectacular buildings), which was purpose built and opened in 1889 as a museum to house the Habsburg collection. Today, the museum collection contains over 30 milion items, collected over 250 years, and makes for an impressive visit.
The Natural History Museum will definitely be for anyone who loves to learn about the history of the earth, and there’s everything here from dinosaur skeletons to exhibits on the history of the solar system. You could easily spend a whole day just exploring this museum if you wanted to.
The Natural History Museum is open Thursday – Monday from 9am – 6.30pm, and Wednesday from 9am – 9pm. It is closed on Tuesdays and for public holidays. You can see full opening hours and ticket prices on the official website here. It’s also included on the Vienna Pass.
Note that directly opposite the Natural History Museum is the Kunsthistoriche Museum. This is built in the same style and is a museum to the arts. So you might opt to visit this instead of (or as well as!) the Natural History Museum.
Sigmund Freud Museum
With Jess’s background as a psychologist, naturally, we had to visit the Sigmund Freud museum in Vienna – and this might be something you are interested in as well.
The museum is housed in the former apartment and office of Freud himself, and has been open to the public since 1971. It’s not a huge space, but it does contain a number of items related to Freud including some of his clothes and part of his antiques collection.
The museum also has information related to the history of psychoanalysis and its influence on art and society. However, it does not contain much original furniture, as most of this was taken to London by Freud when he moved there, and is now in the Freud Museum in London.
There is a small fee to visit the museum, and do be aware that there can be a wait at busy times as it is not a large space and it is a popular spot to visit. You can see opening times and prices at the official website. Included on the Vienna Pass.
City River Cruise
We always enjoy taking a river cruise if it’s an option in a city, and Vienna of course has the Danube. A river cruise is a relaxing way to see a few sights whilst taking the load off your feet (and perhaps enjoying a refreshing beverage?), and there are a number of operators who run cruises in Vienna.
We took the tour with City Cruises Vienna on the MS Blue Danube, which was conveniently included on our Vienna Pass.
This was a fun and comfortable experience, and we saw parts of the city, including a lot of street art, that we hadn’t seen before. Cruises run throughout the year, but the schedule varies depending on time of year.
If you don’t opt for the Vienna Pass, you can book a cruise online in advance here.
If you’re looking for a good view in Vienna, look no further than the Danube Tower. This tower, originally built to host the 1964 Viennese Horticultural show, is the tallest structure in Austria.
From the viewing platforms, which are 450ft above ground level, you get an excellent view of the entire city and much of the surrounding area.
As well as the viewing area (accessed by high speed elevator) there are also two revolving restaurants in the tower, which would make for a good spot for your evening meal. This would also be a great place to watch the sunset at the end of your second day exploring Vienna!
The Danube Tower is open from 10am – midnight every day, and there’s a fee for visiting. It’s included on the Vienna Pass, or you can buy tickets online in advance here.
Day 3 in Vienna
No visit to Vienna is complete without a visit to the spectacular Schönbrunn Palace, home of the Habsburg empire.
This is a large complex with a lot to see and do, so we suggest you allocate at least half a day, if not more, to your visit.
You’ll also want to arrive as early as you can, as the queues here can become long as the day progresses.
On arrival, you’ll want to join those queues and book your time slot for the palace tour, as well as get tickets for whichever of the other attractions you want to visit. We’d highly recommend access to the gardens, which are massive.
Once you have your tickets and tour time set up, you can plan what to do for the rest of your visit.
There is so much to do at Schönbrunn, including a big zoo (the oldest in the Western world!), the Imperial Carriage Museum, and the Orangery. A visit to the Gloriette, a huge structure which crowns a hill here, offers great views of the palace.
We’d also highly recommend taking the time to visit the Apple Strudel show, where you can learn all about traditional apple strudel making techniques – plus eat a slice yourself.
Schönbrunn Palace is open every day, including public holidays. Closing times vary depending on the time of year, but it opens every morning at 8am, when tickets and display rooms are opened. You can see opening times and prices here.
Schönbrunn Palace is also included on the Vienna Pass, and we highly recommend the pass if you are planning on visiting the palace, which is relatively expensive due to all the various attractions on site. If you don’t want to buy a pass, we recommend buying a ticket in advance to skip the lines, which you can do from the official site here.
Another option is to take a guided walking tour of the palace, such as this well reviewed one. This will also skip the lines, as well as give you lots of information and historical context about the palace.
To be honest, if you have the time and inclination, you could easily spend all day at Schönbrunn Palace, and we wouldn’t blame you if you choose to do just that. On a warm sunny day it’s definitely one of the nicest places to be in the city.
If you’d rather do a bit more sightseeing though on your third day in Vienna, here are a couple more options for you to consider.
If you have time, we very much recommend a visit to the UNESCO world heritage listed Belvedere Museum.
This actually consists of two buildings, the Upper and Lower Belvedere. which were constructed in the early 18th century as the summer residence for Prince Eugene, a military commander and statesman of the Holy Roman Empire.
The two palaces are separated by sloped landscaped gardens which contain a number of water features and sculptures, and are considered some of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe.
Within the museum are a number of artworks, including the largest collection of Klimt paintings in the world, as well as works from Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and Cezanne. The Upper Belvedere also affords an excellent view of the city.
The Upper Belvedere is open daily from 9am – 6pm (9pm on Fridays), and the Lower Belvedere is open daily from 10am – 6pm (9pm on Fridays). Each palace has an individual entry fee, and you can see full details of fees and opening times here. Both are also included on the Vienna Pass, or you can buy your tickets online in advance here.
Time Travel Vienna
If you are travelling in Vienna as a family, or you prefer to learn about history in a more interactive way, then you might enjoy a visit to Time Travel Vienna.
This is a fun tour through 2,000 years of Viennese history, told through the medium of costumed guides, animatronic shows and a “5D” cinema experience, as well as various special effects and music.
The tour lasts around an hour, and is available in a number of languages. Definitely a fun way to learn about Vienna!
Prater Park and Ferris Wheel
Last on our list of what to do in Vienna for three days, before we move on to some practicalities for your visit, is a visit to Prater Park.
This is an old traditional amusement park, a couple of metro stops from the old town centre, which is home to Vienna’s iconic Giant Ferris Wheel.
Originally built in 1897, this was the world’s largest ferris wheel for decades, right up until 1985 in fact. It was seriously damaged in World War 2, and today’s version is the rebuilt model from after the war.
If you’re visiting with a partner and feeling romantic, you can even hire out your own cabin on the Giant Ferris Wheel and have a romantic meal. Group cabin reservations are also possible, perhaps if you are celebrating a special event.
Otherwise, you can just do what we did, and take the standard tour which lasts around twenty minutes, and offers lovely views of the city.
Prater Park itself is also a lot of fun, especially for families. There are rides, an arcade, a Madame Tussauds and a number of places where you can get food. One thing to be aware of though is that it attractions aren’t open that late all year round, so check opening times on the official website before you go to avoid disappointment.
For the wheel, there is a fee to ride it, and it’s also included on the Vienna Pass. You can also purchase tickets in advance here.
3 Day Vienna Itinerary Map
To help you with your planning, we’ve put together a map of all the attractions in our three day Vienna itinerary. You can see this below, and access the original on Google Maps here.
3 Day Vienna Itinerary Summary
- Day 1: Mozarthaus Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna State Opera House, Wien Museum, Karlskirche, Naschmarkt
- Day 2: Spanish Riding School, Albertina, Museum of Natural History, Sigmund Freud Museum, City River Cruise, Danube Tower
- Day 3: Schönbrunn Palace, Unteres Belvedere, Time Travel Vienna, Prater Park and Ferris Wheel
Where (and what) to Eat in Vienna
Vienna has a wide range of excellent restaurants and cafes to choose from, at a variety of price points. There are also plenty of bars of course. Local food specialities in Vienna include Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded veal cutlet), Tafelspitz (boiled beef) and of course, Apfelstrudel, or Apple Strudel.
Many of the restaurants throughout Vienna will serve the classics, with prices ranging from 13 – 18 euros for a main course in our experience. We enjoyed particularly good food at Augustinerkeller, Zwolf Apostkeller and Glacis Beisl, all three of which serve high quality traditional Viennese food at reasonable prices.
Where to Stay in Vienna for 3 Days
As we often do when visiting a city like Vienna, we opted for an apartment. This was right in the city centre, and meant that we had room to work, cook meals and do our laundry.
Of course, there are plenty more options in Vienna, with everything from hostels through to mid-range hotels and of course, luxury five star hotels available. Here are some recommended options to consider:
- wombat’s CITY Hostels Vienna – Found in Naschmarkt, near the large city market, and close to the museum quarter, this is a highly rated hostel that offers both dormitory and private rooms at a great price. For hostels, also consider CH-Hostel.
- CH-Budget Centre Rooms – at the budget end of the spectrum, this is a well located guesthouse offering free wifi, private bathrooms and TV’s, with a good value breakfast also available.
- Motel One Wien-Staatsoper – just 100 yards from the Vienna State opera, this three star property is fantastic value. Air conditioned rooms are all en-suite, and WiFi is available throughout.
- Hotel Am Parkring – A highly rated and great value four star property that offers stunning views over the city from its high floor location
- Hotel König von Ungarn – Vienna’s oldest hotel, this four star property is well reviewed and rooms come with free wifi and air conditioning
- Hotel Imperial – a great value yet impressive 5 star luxury hotel in the heart of the city, with a range of rooms that include luxury amenities, marble bathrooms, and at the higher end, a butler service
- Grand Hotel Wien – a highly rated and centrally located 5 star historic property which offers 5 restaurants, luxurious rooms, spa and business centre. A fantastic choice at the high end
We recommend you checkout the Vienna listings on Booking.com if you prefer a hotel stay, we find they usually come back with the widest choice and best deals, plus once you book a few times you get access to Genius discounts, which can save you even more.
For more tips and ideas on how to get the best deals on accommodation (and more!), check out our comprehensive travel resources page.
How to Save Money on your Vienna Trip
As a European capital. Vienna is not exactly a budget destination, although there are ways that you can save money on your trip.
Nearly all the attractions on this list carry an entry fee, which ranges from a few euros up to thirty euros per person. So the cost of sightseeing can very quickly add up.
Thankfully there’s a solution, which is the excellent Vienna Pass. We’re big fans of using city passes like this to save money, and think that the Vienna Pass is one of the best value city pass cards available.
To give you an idea of the savings, if you visited all the attractions on the itinerary above, you’d be looking at over 250 euros in attraction entry fees per person.
With the Vienna Pass, all of the attractions above are included, with the exception of the Karlskirche, Wien Museum, Time Travel Vienna and the Vienna State Opera Tour. It also includes a great many other attractions not listed above, which means you can see even more should you want to.
And a three day Vienna Pass normally only costs 149 euros. As you can see, this is a considerable saving.
Of course, you’ll want to check your own savings against the attractions you want to visit, and you can see many of the attractions covered by the Vienna Pass here. We definitely think you’ll find it saves you money, and the included Hop on Hop off bus is a real bonus as well for helping you get around the city.
Also check out the Go Vienna pass from Go City, which offers a customisable pass for Vienna, which might work out better for you depending on your interests.
Finally, if you don’t think you’ll use the Vienna Pass enough to get value out of it, you might instead consider the Vienna City Card. This includes free transport around the city, as well as discounts at the major attractions and museums.
Where to see Live Music in Vienna?
A popular question that we are asked from visitors to Vienna is where to attend a classical music concert in the city.
There are many venues throughout the city which offer live music, from the opera house through to performances in churches, many of which will be classical music concerts.
Popular performances include:
- Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Karlskirche
- Mozart and Strauss at Kursalon Vienna
- Classical Concerts at Schönbrunn Palace
- Classical Concerts in St. Anne’s Church
- Classic Ensemble Vienna in St. Peter’s Church
For more options, visit this page on the official website for Vienna, which has event listings for every type of musical event, and in particular, classic music lovers will want to check out the Classical Music listings.
You can also purchase tickets for live music in Vienna on this website.
How to Get Around Vienna
Vienna is a very walkable city for the most part, and the majority of this itinerary can be done on foot. There are a few locations that are a little further out of the old town centre, like Schönbrunn Palace, the Danube Tower and Prater Park, for which you might need to take public transport or a taxi.
Vienna has an excellent public transport system that includes a metro, buses, and trams. We invested in a three day travel card for our time in Vienna, which gave us free access to all the public transport options in the city, but to be honest, we didn’t use it enough to really justify the cost – we found ourselves walking between most of the sights, or taking Vienna’s hop on hop off bus.
As discussed above, if you pick up a Vienna Pass, this includes a Hop on Hop off bus pass good for the duration of the pass, which is excellent value. There are multiple routes around the city, including to all the major sights in this itinerary (including Schönbrunn Palace), and it’s a fun way to do a bit of sight-seeing whilst resting your legs as well.
If you don’t pick up a Vienna Pass or a travel card, instead consider the Vienna City Card. This includes free transport around the city, as well as discounts at the major attractions and museums.
Further Reading for your 3 Days in Vienna
We hope this post gives you nearly all the information you need to plan out your three days in Vienna. However, we have some additional resources that we think you might find useful for planning your trip. Do check back from time to time and bookmark this page, as we’re always updating and adding new content to our sites to help you make the most of your travels!
- Our guide to spending 2 days in Vienna, if you are visiting for a shorter trip.
- We also have a number of other detailed itineraries, which cover cities, countries and road trips around the world.
- Visiting Vienna in summer? Take a look at our tips for visiting Europe in summer to make the most of your time
- Looking for a guidebook? We used the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Vienna, and found it very informative
- Planning to stay in an apartment? Check out our guide to over 20 websites that allow you to book apartments online to make sure you get the best deal
And that sums up our post on how to spend three days in Vienna! As always, we hope you found it useful, and that you have a wonderful trip! If you’ve got any questions or thoughts on how to spend three days in Vienna, let us know about them in the comments below!