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48 hours in Vienna – A 2 day Itinerary

Vienna old town buildings and St Stephen Cathedral at sunset, Austria

Vienna, Austria is a must-visit city on any extended trip around Europe. It has everything! From opulent Baroque buildings, indulgent cuisine, cool neighbourhoods, and lots of world-class museums. In fact, Austria’s capital city can boast over 100 museums so it’s an ideal city for culture lovers! There are so many things to do in Vienna that you should spend as much time here as possible.

This 48 hours in Vienna itinerary will cover the best time to visit Vienna and where to stay over 2 days in Vienna. It will also list all the best things to do, place to go, where to eat and drink, and tours you should do during your two days in Vienna. Use this 2-day Vienna itinerary guide to have the best trip possible!

But if you’re on a limited schedule, 48 hours in Vienna is just enough time to get a feel for the city and see the top Vienna attractions. Despite it being a sprawling capital city and home to almost two million residents, most of the best things to see over a weekend in Vienna are packed into the historic centre

If you join a guided tour, you’ll be able to see most of them in one afternoon! Getting the Vienna pass might also save you time waiting in ticket queues as well as money on entrance fees if you plan on visiting a lot of museums.

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The Best Time to Visit Vienna

Vienna has a moderately continental climate, which means it experiences cold winters and warm summers. The coldest month is January which has an average temperature of 0°C (32°F) and the hottest month is July with an average temperature of 21°C (70°F). 

Vienna’s peak travel season is the summer (July and August) when the weather is warmest. Expect lots of other tourists and higher prices for accommodation and flights. The month leading up to Christmas in late November/December is also busy and expensive due to how many people visit Vienna’s Christmas markets. The city’s historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so they’re pretty and popular!

Winter after Christmas is the low season so the city will be quieter and cheaper but the weather will also be very cold. 

The best times to visit Vienna in 2 days are during the shoulder seasons of spring (May and June) and autumn (September and October). There will be fewer crowds and less expensive accommodation options but the weather will still be pleasant. This is ideal when trying to see as much as possible during 48 hrs in Vienna because you want neither crowds nor bad weather to slow you down!

Vienna, Austria - Traditional christmas market in front of the Rathaus (City hall) of Vienna just before Covid-19 lockdown.

How To Get Around Vienna

Most of the landmarks and attractions you will discover during your Vienna 2-day itinerary are in the historic centre so, as long as you don’t have any accessibility needs, you should be able to walk to most of them. A lot of the streets in Vienna’s city centre are pedestrianised. Just be sure to weather comfortable shoes!

But anywhere that is too far to reach on foot, you can take Vienna’s underground metro system or tram system to most other places. Vienna also has a bus network, but you shouldn’t need to use it unless you are travelling to the outskirts of the city. 

You can buy tickets from the machines at both metro and tram stations and they are valid across all types of public transport for the duration you chose. You can buy single tickets for one-way journeys or passes that are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours which is perfect when you want to experience Vienna in 48 hours! Day passes cost around €5.80 so they’re very affordable.

Avoid getting taxis in Vienna as even short journeys will cost around €7 – 12, plus there is often a lot of traffic and road works in the centre of the city. Taxis to the airport cost between €35 – 55. 

Where To Stay in Vienna

When trying to pack in all your Vienna sightseeing in two days, you should choose an accommodation that is as central as possible. Only stay in Vienna Old Town (the historic/city centre) or Wieden which is just to the south of the Old Town. 

Wombat’s City Hostel in Wieden – This is, without a doubt, the most popular hostel in Vienna for backpackers. It is modern yet cosy with bright, spacious bunk rooms and ensuite bathrooms. It’s an absolutely huge place and they host walking tours every day and social activities every night. It’s right next to the Naschmarkt which is Vienna’s biggest food market too.

Aparthotel Adagio Vienna City in Vienna Old Town – Are you travelling as a family or couple and prefer staying in apartments when you travel? Aparthotel Adagio is a great choice. It’s a four-star hotel in Old Town so it’s in a fantastic location and all of the apartments are modern with a high standard of interior design. Plus, prices per night start from as little as €60.

Hotel Sacher Wien in Vienna Old Town – If you have the cash to splash and want to stay in a luxurious hotel in Vienna, there really is only one option. Hotel Sacher is a five-star Austrian institution. Dating back to 1876, it was hardly damaged during WWII and the British used it as their local headquarters. A famous cake was even invented here (more on the Sacher Torte soon!) and it has every upmarket amenity you could possibly need from balconies to fireplaces. Room rates start from around €450 per night.

Vienna, Austria - Hotel Sacher Entrance, famous for its chocolate cake.

Things To Do in Vienna

Catch a Show at the Vienna State Opera House

The Palais Garnier might be the largest opera house in Paris but the Vienna State Opera House is arguably more famous. Famous classical composers like Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, and Schubert are all Austrian which gives validates Vienna’s musical heritage.

Seated tickets to the Opera house sell out weeks in advance and tickets can cost hundreds of euros. However, if you’re willing to wait in line for up to three hours before the show starts, you can get standing tickets for less than €20.

Vienna State Opera house in Austria in summer

Ride the Giant Ferris Wheel at Prater Amusement Park

The Giant Ferris Wheel, also known as The Weiner Riesenrad, at Prater Amusement Park in the north of the city is the world’s oldest Ferris wheel. It dates back to 1897 but it’s perfectly safe to ride! And you’ll get wonderful views across the whole of Vienna and the river Danube.

Vienna, Austria - Ferris wheel (Wiener Riesenrad) in Prater amusement park

Watch the Spanish Riding School Training Shows

If Vienna having a famous ‘Spanish’ riding school sounds odd, then you’re not the only one who thinks so! But the Spanish Riding School is an important Viennese Institution and has been for around 450 years. This organisation upholds the tradition of dressage and the training of a special breed of Lipizzaner horses.

You can either watch them hang out in their stables, watch their exercise and training classes in the daytime or watch their show at night.

Vienna, Austria -  horse-drawn carriages outside of the historic Spanish Riding School building in Vienna

Eat and Shop at Naschmarkt

Naschmarkt is Vienna’s oldest food market with over 120 market stalls selling local fresh produce, delicious meals, drinks, and souvenirs. It dates back to the 16th century but today it’s modern and diverse with cuisines from all over the world.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA-the famous naschtmarkt of vienna

Walk Through Stadtpark

Vienna consistently wins ‘liveable’ city awards due to its high standards of cleanliness, social services, and amenities. One of the reasons why Vienna is such a beautiful, liveable city is due to its many green spaces and parks like Stadtpark. This 19th-century English park is right next to the canal and it’s a great place to go for a stroll on a warm day.

Autumn landscape of Stadtpark in Vienna, Austria

Witness the Views from St Stephen’s Cathedral

St Stephen’s Cathedral is Vienna’s main church and it sits in the centre of the city. It was badly damaged during WWII but has been beautifully restored. There are two towers, the north and south tower, and you should head up the escalator in the north tower to see the stunning panoramic views across Vienna. The roof tiles also boast beautiful multicoloured patterns.

St. Stephen's cathedral on Stephansplatz square at sunrise, Vienna, Austria

Eat Local Coffees and Pastries in a Traditional Cafe

Vienna is famous for its dessert and traditional coffee culture which you need to partake in during your 48 hours in Vienna. Some of the best cafes are Cafe Central, Cafe Sperl, and Cafe Museum. Order a Wiener Melange (quintessential Vienna coffee similar to a cappuccino) or a Wiener Eiskaffee (like a frappuccino) with an apple strudel.

You should also taste a Sacher-torte in Vienna, which is named after the Hotel Sacher which invented this cake. It’s a dense chocolate cake with orange marmalade that you can find in most Vienna coffee shops but you should taste it in the original location.

Chocolate Austrian dessert Sacher with apricot jam and nuts. Traditional austrian dessert. Sacher cake. Chocolate cake with jam

Places To Visit in Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace

There are three main palaces in Vienna and Schonbrunn Palace is the only one which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers who were in power from the 13th century to 1918. Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s most visited tourist attractions and is arguably the grandest and most opulent of all the Vienna palaces.

Vienna, Austria - Schonbrunn Palace or Schloss Schoenbrunn is an imperial summer residence in Vienna, Austria. Schonbrunn Palace is a major tourist attraction in Vienna, Austria

Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace is made up of two palaces: Upper Belvedere and Lower Belvedere. They are both 18th-century Baroque palaces that are now art museums. In fact, you’ll find one of the most famous works of art in Vienna in the Upper Belvedere Gallery which is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. As well as the beautiful palaces, there are also lots of sculptures and fountains in the beautiful gardens.

Vienna, Austria -  Belvedere Baroque style palace was built by Prince Eugen who was a field marshal in the army of the Holy Roman Empire and of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty during the 17th and 18th centuries in Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace

And the final palace is the most central one, the Hofburg Palace. This is the former imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty and was first built in the 13th century with several extensions and renovations in the centuries to follow. This was the Habsburg’s winter residence and you can wander around at the preserved Royal apartments inside.

Wien / Austria - the statue of Prince Eugene against Neue burg, the new part of the Hofburg palace in historical part pf Vienna

Rathaus City Hall

Rathaus is Vienna’s city hall and is located near the Austrian Parliament Building. It’s a neo-Gothic building built in the late 1800s to serve the city of Vienna. Today, it hosts lots of grand events including balls and markets.

New Town Hall at night. New Town Hall or Neues Rathaus is located at the Marienplatz or St. Mary square, a central square in Munich city centre, Germany.

MuseumsQuartier

Vienna has so many museums that it has an entire neighbourhood named after them and there are still lots of other museums dotted around the city! MuseumsQuartier is in Vienna’s historic centre and is where you’ll find the Museum of Natural History, the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum, the Leopold Museum, and many more. It also has lots of beautiful gardens and fountains too.

Vienna, Austria - Museum quarter in Vienna

Tours To Do in Vienna

Historic Centre Walking Tour

Walking tours are the best way to see Vienna’s top landmarks and learn an overview of Vienna’s recent history when you aren’t in the city for very long. Join a tour with a knowledgeable, local guide at the beginning of your trip so you can get your bearings for the remaining time. 

Walking tours are great because a lot of Vienna’s city centre is pedestrianised so you will be able to visit places that are difficult to see on cycling and bus tours.

Vienna, Austria - Graben street and Plague Column in center of Vienna

Pastries and Dessert Food Tour

Vienna is the capital of sweet treats, so what better way to taste as many of the best dessert dishes than on a food tour with a knowledgeable guide? Taste as many apple strudels, Sacher tortes, and Viennese iced coffees as you can in all the best cafes in the city.

homemade flavored apple strudel in a plate on a gray concrete background

Christmas Market Tour

Vienna has over 100 stalls in its Christmas markets selling everything from Christmas decorations to bratwurst. Your stomach only has so much real estate so you don’t want to buy from the wrong stalls! Join a Christmas market crawl where a local guide will show you around all the best stalls and you’ll be able to make new traveller friends too.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - Christmas Market near City Hall in Vienna Austria.

48 Hours in Vienna

Day 1 in Vienna

Start your 48 hours in Vienna with breakfast at Superfood Deli. They are a Viennese franchise so you will find lots of them all over the city. Then, join a walking tour! Most walking tours will start at the Albertina Museum before showing you around the Hofburg Palace Rathaus City Hall, and MuseumsQuartier before finishing at St Stephen’s Cathedral.

Buy a ticket to ride the elevator up to the top of St Stephen’s Cathedral for the views, then grab lunch at a traditional coffee shop like Cafe Central.

If you have children (or are a child at heart) then head to Prater Amusement park for the rest of the day and ride the Giant Ferris Wheel. If not, take the metro to Schönbrunn Palace. Even if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay the entrance fee it’s worth strolling around the gardens of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

In the evening, head to a classic Austrian restaurant like Zum weißen Rauchfangkehrer for schnitzel. Get tickets to the Vienna Opera and throw on your best dress to watch a fantastic performance at the State Opera House.

Vienna, Austria: Interior of Vienna State Opera House. Wiener Staatsoper produces 50-70 operas and ballets in about 300 performance per year.

Day 2 in Vienna

Start your second day in Vienna with breakfast at Kaffee Alt Wien before taking a stroll through Stadtpark. You can either hop on the metro or walk to Belvedere Palace where you’ll spend your morning. Again, if you’re on a budget then it’s free to walk around the grounds. But if you visit inside any of Vienna’s three main palaces, make it this one. You’ll find the famous Gustav Klimt painting The Kiss in Upper Belvedere.

Head back into the historic centre and have lunch somewhere like Kleines Cafe which is in a beautiful yet quiet square. Spend your last afternoon in Vienna checking out some of those world-famous museums! 

If you like art, head inside the Albertina or Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. If you like history, head to the Museum of Natural History or the Sigmund Freud Museum. There are also lots of cool, obscure museums in Vienna like the Museum of Art Fakes and The Third Man Film Museum. 

Eat dinner at Naschmarkt (don’t worry, it stays open late) before catching the Spanish Riding School show. If horse displays aren’t your thing, you could always catch one of the regular showings of The Third Man (1949) at the Burg Kino cinema. It is a famous British movie set in Vienna and this cinema continues to screen the film in the original English.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA -  This is a neo-Renaissance building of the Natural History Museum in the square of Empress Maria Theresa.

Recommended tours in Vienna

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Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!