3 Days in Vienna: What to Do, What to See, How You’ll Feel
Vienna was our second stop in our 30 days around Europe trip, following an impressive visit to Budapest. We only spent three days in Austria’s capital, so we didn’t get a chance to explore most of the city, but we still saw a bunch of amazing stuff.
So if you’re looking for a 3 day itinerary for Vienna and you’re traveling with kids (like we always do), this might be a great place to start. We were all about slow travel and seeing the things that our kid would love the most. And fortunately he did!
Getting to Vienna
We love traveling by train in Europe and that’s how we got there: we took the train from Budapest and in just a couple of hours we were on Austrian soil. The ticket for two was 64 Euros which isn’t cheap – but we bought it on the spot before leaving and I’m sure it’s cheaper if you purchase it in advance.
If you do it like we did, make sure you arrive a few hours in advance because the international booths in Budapest are usually packed and there’s some waiting to be done!
Where we stayed
As always, we chose AirBnb for accommodation. We love it because it gives us so much more value for our money – and more leg room too. We never had a bad experience with AirBnb over the years thanks to solid planning and reading countless reviews of all shortlisted places, so we see no reason to stop using this awesome service.
Although we usually choose centrally located apartments, for Vienna we went for a different route and chose one located close to Prater since we were sure we’d spend a lot of time there (which didn’t really happen, in the end).
The area itself was not very nice, but we were really close to a metro station which always helps and the apartment itself was good. Our host is an artist, so we had a fair share of interesting art on display, plus an amazing inner garden with a perfect table for eating outside – we used it on a couple of occasions too, even though the weather wasn’t perfect during our stay.
3 days in Vienna: What we did
One of the stranger things on my bucket list is to visit all the Madame Tussaud’s in the world. And before getting to Vienna, I had never seen a single one! So you can imagine that it was high on the list of my priorities. Plus, I thought it would be very fun for my son too. He didn’t like it as much as we did, though, since none of the celebrities were Minnie Mouse or Mickey or the Paw Patrol puppies or anything similar…
Well, lesson learned. But still had fun and that was, for me, one of our highlights in Vienna. We had a lot of fun there as you can see in some of the photos we took:
You definitely have to visit Madame Tussaud’s – which is conveniently situated in a park you will most likely visit if you’re an adrenaline junkie: the Prater amusement park.
Our timing for Prater wasn’t ideal. Far from it, as we arrived early in the morning when most of the attractions were closed and apart from us, there wasn’t anybody in the area except for a few workers.
So we didn’t get the chance to experience any of the famous rides in the park – but fortunately I had visited it in the past and did that, so it wasn’t a big loss. Plus, my son was too young to be allowed to try them out, so it was better this way.
But for most of the travelers, Prater is a real joy and it offers some of the best possible thrills you can get. The best part is that you don’t have to pay anything to enter, but you do pay for each of the attractions you want to try.
This beautiful project was on our way to Prater and I am really happy that I got the chance to see it. It’s an innovative building imagined by artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser (yeah, I had to write his entire name!) The name of the apartment building itself translates as “Hundertwasser’s House”.
As you can see, it looks spectacular and like nothing I’ve ever seen so far. It has some eco-friendly concepts, too: trees and gardens planted on the roof as well as the “window right” of every tenant to embellish the facade around their windows. An interesting concept and great eye candy for sure!
You can’t really visit Vienna – for whatever amount of time – without going to the Schonbrunn Palace. It is absolutely impressive and beautiful, but make sure you put aside at least half a day for visiting it, although you’ll most likely spend an entire day there (especially if you visit the Zoo nearby, which we did!)
The Schonbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence with beautiful gardens and one of Vienna’s top tourist attractions.
We decided against waiting in line to visit the palace itself since our son would’ve gotten bored quickly (and I also had visited it with a prior occasion). But just looking at it on the outside and exploring the surroundings is totally worth it too.
What I liked even more about this Palace and the nearby park was that everybody was welcome to visit and there was no fee involved. There were locals jogging, people walking around… just imagine how cool it is to wake up every morning and jog in the imperial gardens! Pretty cool, right?
This was one of the top attractions for our son and something that we all really, really enjoyed. Vienna’s zoo is absolutely impressive and a bit better than the one in Budapest in my opinion.
If you want to visit everything there, you should set aside at least a few hours – it’s huge, impressive and time flies when you’re there. But it will be incredibly fun, so we’ll always take that!
Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral)
This Roman catholic cathedral is also one of the top touristic attractions in Vienna. This means that the area is packed with tourists and horse carriages and, well… a lot of horse poop smells.
Really, I couldn’t completely enjoy the walk because of the smell. Maybe it was a bad day for me because my wife didn’t seem to mind it as much as I did, nor did the other tourists seem to care – but for me, that was a really bad surprise.
Yes, the horses are beautiful and I understand that some tourists are ready to pay a lot of money for a trip in the carriage, but I just couldn’t take the smell.
One thing to add, though: there was no horse poop lying around and the entire area was spotless clean, so don’t ignore this amazing attraction just because I (probably) had a bad day and a way too sensitive nose.
All in all, Vienna was a bit too dark and gritty for my liking. We stayed in the Landstrasse district, near the Rochusgasse metro station which is a bit more of industrial Vienna than tourists would like it to be. There was a lot of construction work in the area too which didn’t help with the views and overall impression.
It was soggy and cloudy for most of our stay (except for the time spent in Schonbrunn and the zoo, fortunately) and we didn’t get to experience all the parks and central beauty of the city.
It was a bit of a disappointment, but I also realized how important the places you visit and the time of the year you get there are. I had visited Vienna in the past and absolutely loved it. It was during late spring though and I stayed in a central location and everything was different. Much better, I’d say.
So always do your research and make sure you stay in the right district and you visit at the right time! Otherwise a beautiful city like Vienna will seem a little bit “meh” like it did in my case.
Still impressed and I’d still visit again without spending more than 1 second thinking about it. And I would definitely spend more than 3 days there because you can’t even scratch the surface in terms of attractions visited, especially if you’re traveling at a slower pace with younger kids.
What about you? Have you visited Vienna in Austria so far? What were your impressions?