Vienna is a fascinating city. The capital of Austria, it’s incredibly atmospheric with a huge amount of history. It’s packed with everything you’d expect from a major city. Shops, restaurants, parks, hotels, museums, cathedrals and famous stadiums. It also has fantastic transport links to other nearby places to visit such as Salzburg as well as a great public transport system within and around the city.
We think Vienna is a great city to visit and we hope this destination guide will help you plan yours.
We flew to Vienna from Heathrow (Terminal 3) with British Airways and the flights were very good. There are 5 airlines that fly non-stop to Vienna from the UK. British Airways, Eurowings, EasyJet, Austrian Airlines and Jet 2. The flight to Vienna took 4 hours 20 minutes.
Transfer from Airport
Transfer time from Vienna International Airport to the city centre depends on which way you choose to travel. A taxi will take approximately 20 minutes and cost around 36 Euro.
We discovered that one of the bus routes of Vienna Airport Lines stopped very close to our Hotel so we decided to use it. Vienna Airport Lines run three routes in all and we used line VAL 3 which operated once every hour.
A return journey for two adults and two youths was 42 Euro and we purchased tickets from the Vienna Airport Lines ticket machines at Vienna Airport. The ticket machines were quite easy to find and operate with instructions in English and payment options including Credit Card. The buses were very comfortable and we found them very convenient. www.viennaairportlines.at
Where we stayed
We did a fair bit of research on where to stay in Vienna because we wanted to be close to the Danube but have convenient access to the city centre.
We decided fairly early on that we wanted to stay in the Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront as it ticked all the right boxes. It was right on the Danube. It offered fantastic views of the water as well as Vienna International Centre and Danube Tower. And it had an outdoor pool, which was very welcome in the August heat. The great view of the water also provided a welcome sense of space.
We booked a double queen waterfront room and got a great deal through booking.com. We also managed to get breakfast in the bargain and were not disappointed with our choice.
Our room had two queen beds with a large window overlooking the river as well as a sitting area. It was perfect for a family of four and we were very impressed with the hotel.
Breakfast in the main restaurant was very good, serving all the usual fare including continental and cooked buffet breakfast. Fried or poached eggs were made to order and the omelettes were great. They even had a do it yourself waffle maker which pleased our youngest traveller no end. We could not fault the service or the quality of the food and the Espresso really hit the spot!
How we got around Vienna
Where we could, we explored Vienna by foot and think this is the best way to see most cities.
Vienna’s is quite a large city and, whilst we didn’t find getting around it too difficult, we did decide to use a Hop on Hop off bus. We booked the Big Bus Tour tickets before we went and paid £85 for a 48 hour Premium Family ticket. Once you’ve printed off your ticket online you can present this to a bus driver and your ticket runs for 48 hours from its first presentation. www.bigbustours.com
Each day, using the bus routes and the guidebook, we worked out a rough itinerary of things we wanted to see and do by area. We then travelled there, back and around by subway, bus or on foot.
Public transport, and the underground system in particular, in Vienna is really very good. Quick, clean, convenient and comfortable we were really quite impressed. It was also easy to use and there was a station not too far from our Hotel. You can buy tickets at the station but remember to validate them, before boarding, at the blue machines located at the station entrance. A single ticket cost 2.40 Euro with children half price. In the school holidays children travel for free. www.wien.gv.at
When we went
A year-round destination we visited Vienna in August because we like cities in the Summer and find that there are some great deals to be had in Europe then.
The weather was very hot and sunny every day until at least 7pm, turning cooler in the nights although, even then, we didn’t find the need for extra layers. We also saw no rain.
Money in Vienna
The currency of Vienna is the Euro and the exchange rate was 1.12 Euro to 1GBP. We found that cards were widely accepted but mostly used cash and got ours from the Post Office.
We found Vienna to be on a par with the UK as far as prices go. As a couple of examples, the price of a McDonalds for 3 was around £16 and a main meal at lunchtime was around £10 per person even in the more expensive districts. Main courses in restaurants evening around £10 to £15.
Lots of things in Vienna are free! Such as entry to the gardens of Schloss Schonbrunn, Stephansdom, strolling around Prater Park and along the Danube.
Food and Drink in Vienna
We enjoyed everything we ate in Vienna and do like to try as much of the local cuisine as we can as we feel this is a big part of the experience. In the main we found that the fast food outlets and restaurants were very reasonably priced.
We ate at Ristorante Don Camillo, at the Stadion Shopping Center. The food and drink was outstanding and very reasonable. A two course meal for four with drinks was approximately 60 Euro.
We also ate in a typical Austrian restaurant in Prater Park. Prices were reasonable and we were able to sample the local delights of Wiener Schnitzel, Gulasch and Frankfurters. And Austrian beer!
If these are not to your taste there are plenty of fast food outlets such as McDonalds. We like to try these when we are away because they too differ to what we are used to in the UK. We also came across some Spar Gourmet stores who sold salads, pastries and freshly squeezed orange juice.
What we did
The centre of Vienna is fairly compact but there there are a few tourist attractions which are spread over the City. We managed to get around by Big Bus several times during our visit.
Before we went we made a priority list of the things we wanted to see and do. We then worked out the best way to combine at least a couple of these on each day. Once we’d done that we looked at the best way to get to and from those places and back to the hotel. It worked quite well and we managed to get around all the places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do.
Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum Vienna, in the Museum Quarter of the city is well worth a visit. From minerals to mammoths, there’s something for everyone here. It’s bigger than we expected covering a few floors so you can easily spend quite a few hours here.
Ticket prices are very good value for money. Adult tickets are 12 Euro each with children (those under 19) free of charge. www.nhm-wien.ac.at
The former Summer residence of the Hasburg rulers, Schonbrunn Palace is truly stunning. Inside and out. It’s located outside of the city centre but, in our opinion, is well worth the trip.
Entry to most of the gardens at Schloss Schonbrunn Palace is free. Certain tours and exhibitions are chargeable. We found that the grounds are so vast that that was quite enough for us. We did however pay to visit the Maze and Labryinth which was a lot of fun.
One of us always enjoys the opportunity to visit a stadium. Especially if it’s the National One. And, as it was within walking distance of the hotel it would have been rude not to.
Ernst Happel Stadion is home to the Austrian National Football team and hosted the Final of Euro 2008. It’s also used for the domestic cup final and European matches featuring Rapid Vienna or FK Austria Wien as well as concerts on a regular basis during the Summer.
Right in the centre of Vienna stands the magnificent Stephansdom, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You can visit part of the interior for free but charges apply for certain other areas. www.stephanskirche.at
Vienna State Opera
Just a few minutes walk away from Stephansdom is Vienna State Opera. It is worth seeing the outside as you may recognise it as a movie location. Surprisingly tickets can be obtained to see some operas for as little as 4 Euro for standing tickets. www.wiener-staatsoper.at
Very close to the Museum Quarter is the Hofburg Palace. A truly stunning building, Vienna’s former Imperial Palace now houses the offices of the Austrian President.
Prater Park, just outside the city centre, is a large amusement park and leisure complex. Entry is free but attractions are charged for. Some of the attractions are a bit…. let’s just say it didn’t appeal to us.
We did however eat in one of the restaurants in the park which served typical Austrian cuisine.
Took the train to Sazlburg
Yes, we took a day trip to Salzburg. It was great to see a bit of the Austrian countryside and the double-decker train was comfortable and convenient. The City itself is beautiful and well worth a visit. We will definitely be going back to spend some more time in Mozart’s birth place.
Planning your trip
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