24 Hours in Vienna

The original plan was to have 2 days in Vienna, during our Europe trip in December, but after needing to rearrange our itinerary due to available flights when booking using miles (unfortunately they limit the flights you can select from), we ended up adding Munich and Salzburg to our trip, which ended up working out well (and I loved)! The only downside was time cut short in the original planned cities, one of which was Vienna.

I’m trying out a new format today for the travel recap, would love to hear your thoughts on which type of format (detailed times or general walkthrough) you prefer!

24 Hours in vienna

Day 1 // 12:35 – 1:35 p.m.

Arrived at the Wien Westbanhof train station (important note: there are TWO train stations in Vienna!) and were picked up at the end of the platform by our Blacklane driver, and taken to our hotel, Hotel Altstadt Vienna, where we checked in, got settled, and determined our plan of action for the day.

1:35 – 4:15 p.m.

We hailed an Uber (I was so excited when I realized Uber’s in Austria!) from our hotel to Austria’s most-visited site, Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence, which was a bit removed from the city center. The one-time 1,441 room palace is a key site in the country, with so many important architectural, cultural, and historical moments taking place. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we pulled up at the palace gates. It was unbelievable!

Schönbrunn Palace

We opted to get tickets for the guided “Grand Tour” (~$20 each), to learn more about the World Cultural Heritage site, and property of the Hapsburgs (are you flashing back to your high school history class? I know I sure did)! Vienna was the only day I didn’t fully plan out, so fortunately, we were able our tickets on site. This place is extremely popular, so you’ll want to plan ahead and buy your tickets online (or get to the ticket office super early), if possible!

Our tour was incredibly interesting and filled with lots of drama and secrets of the royal times, as well as seeing what life was like for them (at least in the summer, when they lived in this huge palace)! Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to snap photos inside, but looking at it as a whole from the outside was my favorite anyway!

After our tour, we wandered around the Christmas market, checking out the local goods and enjoying the Christmas atmosphere! The market wasn’t too big (or that exciting with the exception of one stand that kept offering us samples), but our timing ended up being pretty great, as we were able to see Schönbrunn both in daylight and lit up at night.

Vienna at nightpalace vienna night

4:15 – 6 p.m.

At this point, we were starting to get pretty hungry. We trekked back over to the main part of town near the largest Christmas market in the city to find a bite to eat, and honestly, we were so hungry that we just looked down the street and chose a random restaurant (Cafe Eiles) that had decent reviews. It was definitely more of a locals cafe/diner-type place, but it really hit the spot! I wish I could rave to you about a traditional Viennese meal I ate, but really, I went for a Greek Salad, because 1) I love them, 2) I needed to throw in a little something I’d eat at home into the mix of all the foreign foods, and 3) it just sounded so good. And it was!

greek salad vienna

6 – 9 p.m.

Post-dinner we walked over to Rathausplatz, where the biggest and most beautiful Christmas market in Vienna is. In fact, it was my favorite market in all of the 6 cities that we visited! There were lights everywhere and it was SO magical. The market was packed too, even on a Tuesday night! The big Christmas tree in the center was lit up in French colors (blue, white, and red), something Vienna set for the season, to remember the tragedy in France less than a month before our visit. I thought that was something really special!

vienna christmas market treevienna market foodsvienna christmas marketchristmas market vienna

In the back of the market, there was a huge area dedicated to more kid-friendly activities, including the cutest little animated cottage of elves at Santa’s workshop! My favorite, however, was this inflatable that included the Christmas figures around the world, honoring all of the different traditions during the month of December. There was an informational sign posted too, letting you read more about each of the “characters.” I couldn’t stop laughing at the little witch sitting atop the sleigh. She doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the others, but hey, to each their own!

christmas around the world

9 – 11 p.m.

To unwind from the day, we headed back to the hotel to relax (and defrost) in our hotel’s lobby with a couple drinks before retiring to the room to sleep. Along the way we caught a glimpse of Vienna’s Parliament building in the Museum Quarter, which surprisingly looked a bit like the buildings you see in Washington D.C., it was so beautiful at night! The best surprise when getting back to the room? American Christmas movies in German! I had no idea what was being said (in German), but it was so entertaining to watch some of my favorites in another language, and that other countries were enjoying the films as well!

vienna parliament

Day 2 // 8 – 11 a.m.

The next morning we woke up, packed up our bags, and hit our hotel’s delicious breakfast buffet for a quick meal, before venturing out for our last hour and a half of free time to explore in the city. While we were bummed we didn’t have enough time to hop on another tour, we decided to walk around the Museum Quarter. We had briefly passed through here walking back to our hotel the previous night, but it was an entirely different view to take in during the day. The most amazing architecture!

vienna theatervienna statuesvienna museumvienna statues museumvienna architecturemaria theresa statue

11 – 11:45 a.m.

The time to head back to the hotel and get on the road came before we knew it, and we were off to the train station to catch our 3.5 hour train to Budapest! Remember what I said earlier in the post about there being 2 train stations in Vienna? I didn’t realize it and thought we were going to the train station we arrived in. ROOKIE MISTAKE, GUYS. They’re actually on the opposite ends of town. Fortunately, we made it with time to spare and didn’t miss our train. But yikes! It felt like it was going to be a close one.

vienna train station

We barely scratched the city’s surface during our quick stop in Vienna, but I loved everything we were able to take in. This is one city I definitely want to get back to. SO much of Europe’s history lies in this city, and there’s a lot more to see/do!

Have you visited Vienna? If not, is it on your travel bucket list?

  • We’re not going to have time to visit Vienna when we make our trip in September, and it looks like we’ll really be missing out! All of the architecture in Vienna looks amazing, and the Christmas Market looks like so much fun! I totally know what you mean about sometimes just needing a taste of home!

    • Aww bummer :( That just means you’ll have to plan another trip back! The architecture was SO amazing and the Christmas market was gorgeous! I’m ready to go back for more!

  • Ilona K.

    wow! Such a pretty city!

    • It was! So much history to take in and the architecture was incredible!

  • Vienna is one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited and I feel like it will always be. I had family living there for awhile, so I visited a few times and really got to explore. It’s such a beautiful place and there’s so much to do and see there!

    • That’s so awesome! I’d love to get back there and visit. 24 hours definitely wasn’t enough!

  • Eleftheria

    Vienna is so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Can you please tell me the name of the restaurant? The Greek salad looks yummy!!!!

    • It so was!! The restaurant was Cafe Eiles, a great place for a quick bite!

  • I love Vienna!! So clean and pretty. Can’t wait to take my husband there someday.

    • I agree! I’m hoping to get back there with my boyfriend too! I think both of our guys would love it!

  • Wow, such gorgeous pictures!

    • Thanks, Christine! It was even more amazing in person!

  • Anjerika

    Ah! I loved this post, especially all the pretty snapshots! I studied abroad in Vienna for five weeks as an undergrad and it was the most amazing experience! I agree: Vienna is such a hidden gem with beautiful architecture around every corner. I’m so glad you enjoyed your 24-hour visit — hopefully, you can make the trip back again someday. I know I want to :)

    • Thank you! So cool that you were able to spend some time living and studying in Vienna. I would’ve loved to do that! I hope you’re able to get back one of these days too!!

  • I’m in Budapest right now and headed to Vienna in the AM! Can’t wait to use some of your tips :)

    • Budapest was my favorite! I hope you have a great time in Vienna! How long will you be there for?

      • I was in Vienna for 4 days! Unfortunately, I got strep throat my first day there and was bedridden the entire time :( I’ll definitely have to go back!

  • Beautiful! And yay for christmas markets!!

  • This looks like an amazing 24 hours! I love the photos of the Christmas markets. So jealous you’re so well traveled!

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal

    • It was! The Christmas markets were my favorite. I’d love to visit every country in Europe at Christmas to see all of their markets. I’m slowly checking them off the list!

  • Shann Eva

    Wow. Sounds like such an amazing trip. The architecture is gorgeous, and I love all the lights too. I really liked how you formatted this post.

    • Thank you! I’m thinking it’s a little more helpful for anyone interested in planning a trip to read it this way :) It was the best trip!

  • I have a post on Salzburg when we visited last year too!!!! We stayed in Munich for a week. I think Salzburg is the prettiest place I have ever laid eyes on. Austria is gorgeous.

    • Totally agree, Amanda! Salzburg was incredible! I’d love to explore more of Austria – the smaller towns especially!

  • emi

    I love this type of post! It shows how doable it is to pack a lot into a short time in a city like Vienna. It’s so gorgeous there, I want to go back for Christmas markets! :) xox


    • Thanks, Emi! You definitely should try to make it back for the Christmas markets. It’s even more magical!

  • love love this. i hope we are able to go to Vienna one day, we really wanted to during the last trip (well my husband really wanted to!) but we couldn’t make it happen. pinning this for ‘one day’!

    • Thanks, Kristen! I know the feeling about wanting to keep adding more places to the itinerary :) I hope you guys are able to get there soon!

  • This looks like it was an amazing trip and like you were there the perfect time of year. There are certain places that I’d only want to visit during the holiday season.

    • Couldn’t agree more! Both times I’ve been to Europe have been during the Christmas season. It’s extra beautiful then :)

  • It sounds like you managed to see/ do a lot during your stay!! Also looked like a great time to visit! :)

    • We did! Wanted to try to squeeze in as much as possible, especially since we were there for such a short time!

  • Silvia

    Very useful guide! Would definitely love to visit Vienna during the Christmas season

    • Thanks, Silvia! I highly recommend going during the Christmas season! All of the lights are just incredible!

  • Dhie Rey Island Girl Traveller

    Very interesting guide. Ive always wanted to get to Europe and see all the sights. Ive heard so much about Vienna and its beauty.

    • Europe is amazing, there’s so much to see/do! Which country’s at the top of your list to visit?

  • Carol

    I have never been to Vienna and hope to be there, even if just for 24 hours like you did. The night lights are lovely!

    • They so were, Carol! Our trip was pretty fast-paced, but since just getting over to Europe period is a huge ordeal (not like hopping a domestic flight), we really wanted to maximize our time and see as much as we could, even if we weren’t able to stay in one city for too long!

  • I really appreciate the fact that European cities put the chicken wire over their statues so that they aren’t destroyed by pigeons…just wish they would invent a see through version! lol. Love the architecture…looks wonderful.

    • Haha, yes! I think they were also doing some restoration work on some of them so they kept them covered. It does look a little awkward, but agreed, much better than covered with pigeon poop!

  • Sounds like an amazing trip nonetheless! I actually love this style of format — kind of makes me feel like I’m following you around or something haha. Here’s to more travels!

    • Thanks, Aileen! I hope it’s helpful for people planning a trip. I know it’s always a struggle trying to figure out what there’s time for! And yes! Always more travels!

  • Travel Gretl

    A beautiful city and it looks like you guys had a lot of fun here! I mainly remember the Hundertwasser haus from when I was visiting with school as a teenager. It was really impressive, I realized how cool art can be at that time :)

    • We had a blast! There’s definitely a lot that can leave a lasting impression in Vienna!

  • It was great! I highly recommend a visit :)