Okay, so maybe not everything you need to know, but we’ll cover the essentials for you…
Along with the must-sees and must-dos we will also give tips about a few not so touristy places, because who doesn’t love hidden gems? If you’re a nerd for history or love architecture you could get lost in this city for days, but if you’re just going for a few days, here are our best recommendations for you!
Here is 48 Hours in Vienna: Everything You Need to Know
Where to stay
Vienna is divided into districts from 1 to 23 (are we the only ones thinking about Hunger Games right now?). From our own experience and from local advice we definitely recommend you to stay in the lower districts (1-9) since they are closer to the town centre. District 6 and 7 are known as the district for Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals), so if you’re working remotely like we are, maybe this is the place for you?
Personally, we stayed in district 3 at a really cute Airbnb. It was close to the Belvedere Castle which is a must see (read more in the next section) and located in walking district from downtown Vienna! Click this link to sign up for Airbnb and get around 35$ (US) off your first stay as long as you book for 80$ or more (disclosure: this is a referral link and will give us 20$ when you complete your stay).
For those of you who’ve started to follow along our blog you might have noticed that we walk basically everywhere, so we would obviously recommend you doing that, BUT if you have a long bucket list you want to tick off, you might want to consider taking public transport instead.
Top 5 places to go
Vienna is sort of spread out… so, unless you’re looking to walk all over the city like us lunatics, you should definitely get a public transportation pass and save yourself some time and money (see more information about this at the bottom of this post). We do recommend walking though, because you’ll find things and see places you would never have the chance to if you trammed and bussed it everywhere.
Check the map further down the page to see where these are all located.
Unfortunately, coming in the winter we weren’t privileged enough to see the beauty of the Schönbrunn gardens that cover the massive courtyard in front of the 1441 room palace. Not that it took away any of the beauty of the palace, which is marvelous, we must say. The history of the palace is long and detailed but a fun fact about Schönbrunn is that, if translated to English, it means “Beautiful Spring”.
The absolutely stunning gothic-styled church which is located right in the heart of the city is a must-see when visiting Vienna. With its 136.7 meter tall tower and its multi-coloured roof it really stands out. An interesting fact about the St. Stephen’s Cathedral is that it sits on the ruins of two churches that date back almost 1000 years, and the church itself will this year celebrate it’s 859th birthday. Quite rich in history, hey? We’re sure most people visiting Vienna will tour around the city center but this is one iconic church of Austria’s history you don’t want to miss.
If you choose to stay in the same AirBnb that we stayed in you will be just a few blocks away from the beautiful Belvedere Palace. The Palace has absolutely no connection to Belvedere vodka, so, unfortunately, there will be no free vodka shots while you’re taking in the views of this stunning summer residence that was built for Prince Eugene of Savoy in the late 1600’s.
Almost every building in Austria feels like it’s linked to some sort of imperial dynasty that dates back to the Middle Ages. The Hofburg Palace is no different… Except for the fact that today it still serves a purpose as the official residence and workplace of the president of Austria. This is actually very fitting since Hofburg translates to the “Castle of the Court” and has served as a residence for powerful dukes and emperors since its construction in the 13th century.
If you’re in Vienna on a weekday, make sure you stop by the Town Hall and check out the paternoster elevators. What on earth is a “paternoster elevator”? We also had no clue up until about two weeks ago. A simple definition is essentially an elevator that constantly moves in a loop without stopping. So yes, you can basically jump (literally) on and off on whatever floor you want. The elevator can be found through the Felderstraße entrance. The Town Hall is also any photographer’s dream with gorgeous neo-gothic-styled arches, courtyards, and beautifully decorated rooms.
Bonus Place: Hundertwasserhaus
Hundertwasserhaus is an absolute must while you’re in Vienna. Of course, you have to go visit the places mentioned above as these are buildings that define Austria and it’s heritage, but the Hundertwasserhaus is something completely different! An architectural design that was created by Friedensreich Hundertwasser is like nothing you’ve seen before. At first hand it looks like a building that was designed by a kindergarten class. But the closer you look, the more you get the feel that every tile and every colour was thought out and was placed purposely.
Friedensreich also designed about a dozen other buildings in Austria but the Hundertwasserhaus is his most famous one and a must visit if you find yourself wandering the streets of Vienna. If you’re loving this place we got good news for you… There’s a Hundertwasserhaus Village right next to it! And inside they have a souvenir shop and a little art exhibition, so you can easily spend a lot of time here!
Where to eat and what to order
Der Wiener Dewan
This place has the coolest concept, especially if you’re travelling on a budget and are looking for a big meal. Imagine a small hostel that is turned into a three-floor dining room. You can sit and eat on a bed (not bunk), on a carpet that you’ve been taken straight out of Aladdin, or at a table like a regular, boring person (like us, haha). At the entrance of this restaurant there is a little buffet with Pakistani food (lots of chickpea centered dishes). It has a good variety of fresh food, along with vegan options as well. For drinks there is table service and for desert… Well, they have this interesting mango mush pudding sorta thing. Like most people you’ll walk by this orange looking bowl multiple times and wondering what in the world it is… But seriously it’s a must. If you like mangos and have a sweet tooth don’t be thrown away by the appearance of the mush. It is SO good!
At the end of it you pay (wait for it) AS MUCH AS YOU WANT! So basically this means that if you didn’t like the food, potentially you could just leave 2€ and get out. We don’t recommend this though since that’s not a nice thing to do and the staff is super friendly. The standard is between 5 and 10€. We paid 7.5€ each, which we think is extremely reasonable for a buffet where we had two big servings each, dessert, free water, and good customer service. All of that for 15€ for two people. Again though, if you’re on a bit of a budget and maybe didn’t have the biggest plate you could get by with paying 4-5€ a person.
If you’re looking for authenticity and a true Austrian experience Pfudl is absolutely the place to go. From the moment you enter you’re greeted by waiters who surprisingly aren’t wearing lederhosen or a checkered short dress (I know right?!). But the restaurant itself has the typical Austro Bavarian feel to it. The furniture and the decorations have been there since the beginning of time when the gasthaus first opened back in 1922. At least it looks that way.
Anyways, let’s get to the important part… What should you order?
You should definitely order schnitzel, goulash, or roast pork (You are in Vienna after all… If you’re looking for pizza, this is not the right blog for you wink wink). The food is truly authentic to the way dumplings are made to the taste it feels like you’re eating some food that’s been made by your friends grandma who has been doing this for eternity. Once you’ve devoured your entire meal (there are BIG servings here) because it was that good, there is no way in h*ll you’ll say no to dessert. So that’s when you should treat yourself to an Apfel Strudel (classic) or a Kaiserschmarrn which is basically very thick pancakes ripped into pieces and topped with powdered sugar with a side of stewed plums on the side. We split this three ways, which was enough for us, so there’s no need for everyone to get their own. For drinks we recommend hot wine, Viennese beer, or Almdudler which is very tasty (kinda like sparkling apple juice).
A fun little Austrian pub and restaurant next to the Town Hall with lots of seating and friendly staff. We, unfortunately, only had coffee there so we can’t recommend any of the food. We did, however, peep at what other people were eating and if we would’ve had the time we definitely would have stuck around to try some of the dishes out. You can find the menu on their website here.
Step 1: Go to Naschmarkt
Step 2: Eat falafels
Step 3: Repeat
We got 10 falafels for 2€ and they were SOOO yummy! Of course, you have to get some sort of dip with them, and what better dip to get than hummus? With over a dozen different variations of hummus, you can’t really go wrong. We tried the olive one and it was delicious. When buying the falafels just make sure to not overpay. There are some stands that charge about double of what we paid. The stand we went to was called Lyotin No 405-409. This market has it all from fresh vegetables to every spice imaginable, great if you need to replenish your kitchen back home.
Other useful info
- You can get an ‘all you can ride’ ticket in Vienna that works for all public transport (metros, trams, and busses) for 24, 48, or 72 hours. You can buy these at the metro stations in the machines, at a ticket office, or at tobacconists! After you’ve purchased the ticket, make sure to stamp it to validate it! These ‘stamp machines’ can be found either before entering the metro platform or on the busses and trams.
- BRING CASH! We can not state this enough. Despite Vienna being a modern city they surely haven’t figured out how a credit card works yet (jk, but seriously). The only place we can guarantee you that they take card is when you buy tickets for public transport. Apart from that we only found a few other places, and there we had to make a purchase of minimum 10€.
- Tipping isn’t mandatory in Vienna, but it is kinda frowned upon not doing so. We highly recommend you to tip for these three reasons: It makes the waiter or waitress happy. Jobs in hospitality aren’t paid that well in Vienna, so even if you don’t have to, it’s still nice if you give them a little extra to show your appreciation of their work. Lastly, everyone in Vienna is so nice, so we think they deserve it! Just remember, that if you pay by card (if you can) you have to mention how much you want to tip them before inserting your card in the machine.
Dom & Jo
Oh, and let’s end off this post with a little fun fact!
Did you know that sometimes apartments have showers right in the kitchen? And some also have their toilet in the hallway outside the apartments which they share with other people in the building? These apartments tend to be cheaper and that way some people can save money on rent. Pretty funky, right?