The imperial city of Vienna is known for many things. A rich history of classical music, grand palaces, the royalty that spanned empires and food to delight the taste buds. If you only have one day in Vienna, you can still experience a surprising amount of the city.
Below I have put together the perfect one-day itinerary to help you get the most out of your time in the Austrian capital. Included are some of the top things to do in Vienna organized in a way that maximizes your limited schedule.
Find out what to do in Vienna in one day.
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Map of all destinations in the one day in Vienna itinerary
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One Day in Vienna – Itinerary
Sunrise at St Stephens Cathedral
7:30 am: St Stephens Cathedral towers above the city as an iconic landmark. The church is one of the most important Gothic structures in the whole of Austria. Visit at sunrise to take pictures of the church with a beaming glow. The cathedral opens at 6 am, and exploring the awe-inspiring interior is one of the best free things to do in Vienna. You can also see the catacombs underneath in a tour costing 6 euros. Climb the 343 steps to the tower room for some of the best views across the city.
Breakfast at the iconic Cafe Central
8 am: Cafe Central was once the meeting place of famous revolutionaries, psychoanalysts, writers, and poets. Come for traditional coffee and magnificent sweet treats. Take a seat and marvel at the intricate marble decor across the ceiling. The grandeur will take your breath away.
Cafe Central offers traditional breakfast options. However, seeing the outstanding collection of cakes and pastries on offer, I opted to try a Winterkuss which is an apple based pastry. Enjoy a Viennese coffee and daydream about what well-known past patrons, Freud and Trotsky, envisioned whilst here.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 7:30 am to 10:00 pm, Sunday and public holidays from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Piano entertainment daily from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
Video: 9 Amazing Things To Do In One Day In Vienna
Visit The Hofburg
From 9 am: The Hofburg is Vienna’s Imperial Palace located in the centre of the city. For centuries, it was the home of the Habsburgers, the rulers of Austra and the Austro-Hungarian empire right up until the end of the Second World War. They were one of the most powerful royal families in Europe. Much of their history remains at The Hofburg. There are three main attractions for visitors to the Hofburg. The Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection. Each can be toured separately or as part of a ticket that includes entrance to all three at a cost of 13.90 Euros.
The Imperial Apartments
For an insight into the private lives of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth, also known as Sisi, visit the Imperial Apartments. These rooms are splendidly decorated and filled with historically authentic furniture.
The Sisi Museum
Discover more about Elisabeth (Sisi), who was an often misunderstood Empress. She lived an interesting life and was known for her exceptional beauty, which included her hair that stretched down below her waist. This Viennese museum is filled with many of Sisi’s personal objects.
The Silver Collection
Located next to the Sisi Museum, the silver collection is full of valuable and grand objects. The museum helps to give great insight into the culture of courtly dining.
Art at The Albertina
11 am: Named after Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen who founded the museum, The Albertina museum hosts a varied collection of artwork alongside its grand imperial rooms. Exploring the many rooms of artwork is a relaxing and creatively inspiring way to spend a morning. However, the highlight was Monet to Picasso: The Batliner Collection, one of the most important compilations of Modernist art in Europe. View 130 years of art history in this permanent collection. Tickets to the museum cost 19.90 euros for an adult, with student discount available.
The Albertina is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, and on Wednesdays and Friday’s is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A sweet treat at Cafe Sacher
12:15 pm: Have a sweet tooth? Get ready for a treat that will knock your socks off. The Sachertore is one of the must-try foods when in Vienna. The best place to eat it is hands down at Cafe Sacher, which is across the street from the Albertina. The cafe has been serving up this chocolatey delight since 1832, therefore the recipe has been perfected over generations. This chocolate cake has a thin layer of apricot jam and a thick dark chocolate icing. Be prepared to queue outside as this cafe is an institution and the menu is almost exclusively made up of varieties of this famous chocolate cake. A slice of original Sachertorte costs 7.10 euro.
The colourful Hundertwasserhaus
1:15 pm: After your stop at Cafe Sacher, take the U4 underground train from Karlsplatz to Landstraße and from there it’s a 10-minute walk to the colourful Hundertwasserhaus. This eccentric apartment building is the creation of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and architect Joseph Krawina. It is one of Vienna’s most visited buildings and a great place to take photos. The building is owned by the city of Vienna and the apartments are rented out like any other public housing project. Roughly 200 people live here so you can’t go inside. However, taking in the crazy cool architecture on the exterior is a great free thing to enjoy.
Get lunch and snacks at Naschmarkt
2 pm: Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular and best-known market. The 120 different stands offer a range of tasty delights from traditional Viennese cheeses and meats, to international food, dried fruit, and nuts and fresh fruits and vegetables. On Saturday’s Naschmarkt also houses a flea market. Visit the Naschmarkt for lunch and grab some snacks for later in the day as you’ll need them (trust me).
If you are a foodie like me, you can take an awesome food tour of Naschmarkt which you can book here.
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Marvel at Schönbrunn Palace
3 pm: Schönbrunn Palace is something else. This is one of the places to see in Vienna that you really can’t miss. As soon as you lay eyes on this giant yellow palace, you will be lost for words. Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburgs, and walking around it’s easy to see why. Firstly, begin by walking through the spectacular gardens that lead up to the palace. The perfectly symmetrical planting and grand pathways make for a beautiful walk.
When visiting the palace, you have several different options for tickets. For example, The Imperial Tour will take you through 22 rooms with an audio guide. The Grand Tour will take you through 40. I took the grand tour which cost 17.50 euros, and 16.20 euros for students. The audio guide tells the story behind each room. Here you will find out about the different styles of architecture and some of the palaces famous inhabitants, such as Maria Theresa. The grand tour will take roughly an hour to complete.
Cheap tickets for the Vienna Opera
This year the Vienna Opera House is celebrating its 150th birthday. In a city with as rich a musical history as Vienna’s, the artistic and cultural performances on offer are some of the best in the world. With all this talent accumulating in one place, it would be normal to think the average person would be priced out of this experience. However, you would be wrong. I have always been a big believer in the arts is available for all, no matter what your income or class. In Vienna, they have gone further with this belief and for every performance at the Opera house, there are extremely affordable standing tickets on offer.
Therefore, even if you only have one day in Vienna, this is something you really must do.
Standing tickets cost either 3 or 4 euros depending on where you choose to stand. To secure one of these tickets you have to line up on the left-hand side of the opera house at the door that says standing tickets. It is first come first serve so for a good chance of getting a ticket, I advise you turn up roughly 2 hours before your performance.
I got to see a mindblowing performance of La Traviata for 4 euros and can vouch for this experience. It was one of my highlights from my time in Vienna.
To check the schedule of performances, click here.
Best sausage stand in Vienna
Lastly, after you’ve taken in an incredible performance at the Vienna Opera House, chances are you’ll be hungry. luckily just across the street is the best Sausage stand in Vienna. Vienna is known for its sausages, it is a rich tradition here, and at Bitzinger Würstelstand Albertina you will see why. The first time I ate there I had the sausage snack, which is a sausage cut up into bite-sized pieces and served with ketchup and mustard.
You can choose whether to have the sausage with cheese inside or without (I recommend with.) This hearty snack was the best thing I ate in Vienna, so much so I came back the next day for a sausage in a roll for lunch. The sausages are also amazing value for money, with the majority under 5 euros.
Thank you for reading my one day in Vienna Itinerary. I hope this post has helped you plan your visit to Vienna and maximize your time in the city whilst still getting to see as many of the incredible sights as possible.
If you need some inspiration when It comes to packing, I have written a post that will help you pack for your city break that you can read here.
Need help planning your travels? Here is a comprehensive list of resources with everything you need to book that trip.
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