A First-Timer Guide to Vienna, Austria

by - July 17, 2019

A budget guide to the Austrian capital.

Vienna is a beautiful and rich city. There are many things to see and do, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed when planning a trip there. Unlike London where most museums are free, you have to pay for everything in Vienna. It can add up very quickly, especially if it's your first time there and you want to experience a lot of the city. So keep on reading to find out the best things to do in Vienna!


1. Take the Tram along the Ringstrasse
You'll read it on many guides: the best way to see the landmarks of Vienna is by travelling on the tram line D. This tram goes around the Ringstrasse, a road that goes around the historical centre of Vienna in a circle. From inside the tram, you can see the most famous buildings of the city: the Rathaus (town hall), the Volksgarten (Garden of the People), Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera, the Museum Quarter... One tram ticket gets you around all these places, and you are free to exit where you like and visit the places you want.
Churches are also accessible free of charge, and I would recommend seeing St Stephen's Basilica in the town centre, though you have to pay to access the nave, the view from the main entrance of the cathedral gives you plenty to see already. If there is one church you shouldn't miss, it is the Jesuit Church, tucked away at the corner of a street. It's high facade is beautiful, but really it is the inside that will have you go 'oooh' and 'aaah' at its precious beauty.

From top to bottom:
- Horse drawn carriage around Hofburg Palace
- Maria-Theresien-Platz, in the Museum Quarter
- The Jesuit Church

2. Visit the parks of the city
All parks in the city are free of charge and beautiful. My favourite was the Volksgarten, which is full of blooming roses that the Viennese have dedicated to their loved ones.
The gardens of Belvedere Palace and Schönbrunn Palace are also free to visit, and beautiful in their grandeur - especially Schöbrunn gardens, with their wall of red roses and impressive greenhouse.
My favourite park area however was Kahlenberg. It is a mountain on the outskirts of Vienna, and to get there, you need to take the bus around narrow, uphill streets lined with beautiful houses and restaurants. This spot was recommended to us by a local, so you know it's a good one! The view over Kahlenberg is beautiful: you can see the whole of Vienna and the Danube. There is a small cafe up there with indoors seating facing the panorama, as well as an open terrace where you can sip on your coffee with the best views.

From top to bottom:
- The view from Kahlenberg
- The roses of the Volksgarten
- The foutain of Schlöss Belvedere 


1. Schönbrunn Palace
This is probably the Versailles of Austria, and for a good reason! Although I find that Versailles could never be compared to any other palace, Schönbrunn is a beautiful piece of history, and so are its gardens. One thing you need to know about Schönbrunn is that you should always book tickets in advance. If you show up and buy your tickets there and then, you will not be able to go in straight away - you will be given a time of entry, around two hours after you buy the tickets. My friend Julie and I got caught off guard by this and as it was our last day in Vienna, we ended up not visiting the interiors of the palace. We had plenty of time to explore the gardens though, in all their beauty.

The view from up the hill is beautiful, and on a clear day you can see Vienna from above. Some parts of the garden are only accessible with a ticket to the palace, but all the free areas are already worth seeing.

2. Walking the town centre (churches, cathedral, walking tours)
If you don't have so much time to spend in Vienna, make sure to walk around the city centre to get a feel of the city. There are many beautiful churches, cafes and museums you can pick and choose from. I would recommend stopping by St Stephen's Cathedral, the Albertina museum and the Sacher Hotel, where you can sachertorte, the original recipe invented by the son of the owner - no less! My friends and I also followed a tour off the beaten track, which led us through picturesque courtyards and medieval streets - so always check walking tours online, or ask the locals for their favourite sights.

3. Prater Park
Prater Park is a fun fair that you can visit all year around. You can easily spend a summer evening there, with lots of food options and fun rides. We picked the chair swing ride, which is one of the highest in the world and gives you beautiful views of Vienna and the landscape around - though it gets a bit chilly up there! The prices of the rides differ, it can become a costly activity but if you really like theme parks, it's a fun way to experience the Austrian capital differently. I would say this is definitely a spot you shouldn't miss, even just to soak in the fun atmosphere and have a cheeky greasy dinner.

4. Schnitzel
This one is for those of you who eat meat, of course - schnitzel, Austria's dish of choice, is unmissable. You can find it at every corner, and actually I am pretty sure you can find vegetarian and vegan alternatives now. There is one place I would recommend for good schnitzel and a very Austrian atmosphere, recommended and approved by one of our friends there: Schnitzelwirt (Neubaugasse 52, 1070). The choices are incredible, the dishes affordable, and one dish of any of their schnitzel is big enough to feed three. A tip: it is a popular spot and expect a short waiting time to get a table. 


1. Do
- Use public transport. You can get a weekly pass that allows you to take unlimited underground, bus and tram. Vienna's public transport service is amazing and it will basically take you wherever you need - even at the top of Kahlenberg moutain!
- Look up bars and restaurants in advance. Vienna is a big city, but I found that picking restaurants or bars last minute was a hastle, unlike some other capitals I've visisted. Make sure you've got your restaurant sorted before you head out. Booking a table is always advised, especially for popular spots!
- Speak English. The Viennese are great at English and everyone we met could speak the language. It's always good to know your greetings and key phrases in German out of politeness, but don't panic if you're not a languages person - the locals will still be able to communicate with you.
- Book tickets in advance for popular attractions. If you don't plan ahead, you may end up queuing for ages to visit places, especially the palaces. Buy tickets to skip the queues!

2. Don't
- Show up late at touristic places. Vienna has a lot of visitors, and of course everyone wants to see the amazing castles and musems. The earlier in the day you go to the attractions, the better your experience will be. There's nothing better than having a museum or a castle to yourself and avoid the noisy crowds.
- Visit every single church, museum, gallery. This piece of advice is highly unusual for me as I would always say you should see everything in a city, especially when it comes to its cultural and historical side, but in Vienna there is literally so much that you can afford to skip a few of the less interesting places. Pick two or three spots that inspire you, and spend more time enjoying those, rather than rushing around to fit in every single museum in the area. Make a connection instead of ticking a travel list.

Have you ever been to Vienna? Is the city on your travel list?

Lots of love,
Julia x

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    18 commentaires

    1. Wow it looks so majestic and beautiful, definite fairytale vibes, I love those incredible grand old buildings, you capture it beautifully Julia! xx

      elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara

      1. Oh yes Vienna is definitely a fairytale city - it couldn't be any different with Empress Sissi! xx

    2. I have been to Vienna several times, the earliest when I was 16, and loved it every time.

      Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

      1. I'm sure it's the type of city you can come back to many times and always discover something new! xx

    3. omg i need to come here! your photos are making me jel! they look amazing thanks for sharing! this is going in my bucketlist for sure!


    4. Vienna is one of my favorite cities! Seeing this post makes me want to go visit again!

      xo Deborah
      Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

      1. Oh is it? What did you see there? xx

    5. I've been to Vienna once, many years ago and I loved it. I remember being able to speak in English, unlike other places, like Budapest or Sophia (things might have changed in the last 8-9 years). It is such a beautiful city. There I went to a butterfly house for the first time and I loved it. It was a temporary structure erected in the city centre.
      Your pictures are gorgeous; they made me want to visit Vienna again.

      1. I know there is still a butterfly house in Vienna actually, my boyfriend went there two years ago and he loved it! Thank you for reading Anca! xx

    6. I've never been to Vienna but it looks so beautiful! Bookmarking this post for future reference, thank you!

      Geeky Posh

      1. You should really go! It's a wonderful city :) xx

    7. I think I visited Vienna when I was a teenager; so young enough to not remember enough .... which definitely warrants a return visit! Yay! haha :) This is a beautiful travel post, Julia!

      Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

      1. I'm sure you would love Vienna Gabrielle! It totally seems like your type of city :) xx

    8. Oh wow, those streets and shops look so beautiful! I'd definitely love to visit Vienna one day, your photos are gorgeous Julia xx

      My Lovelier Days

      1. Thank you Diana, I'm so glad you enjoyed! xx

    9. From the sun soaked beaches of Miami when you travel to the heritage capital city of Austria, it's better to reach prepared to make the best of your trip.
      Helene Goldnadel

    10. Lovely pictures. There are several activities that one could be involved in while seeing this country. There is something for each age and taste.
      The Mens Store


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