a trolleys on a street

It’s a lofty claim, but there aren’t many cities in Europe more fun to explore than Vienna, Austria.

The grand buildings of the city transport you to a different time, its many parks bring joy to your face, and the city’s enviable pastry and cake scene add inches to your hips, but in such an enjoyable way. And when it comes to romantic sidewalk cafes, there are too many to count.

A “first time” in any city can always be a bit nerve racking, so this Vienna Travel Guide offers everything you need, to figure out how to get from the airport into town, which area of the city to stay in and a few places to stuff your face, or fill up on coffee.

a trolleys on a street

Best Ways To Get From Vienna Airport Into The City

Unlike some European capitols, Vienna Airport is nice and close to the city center, and a journey of any kind shouldn’t take more than a half hour. This also makes the city a fantastic layover option, if you can maximize 23:59 rules.

The best options between Vienna Airport and the city centre are the S7 train, the CAT express train, Vienna Airport Lines busses, or of course your preferred rideshare service, like Uber.

Train: The CAT Train (City-Airport-Train) is typically the fastest option from Vienna Airport into the city, with 16 min direct service. The train costs €21 round trip, or €12 one way. After a brief pause during the last two years, it’s running full speed again.

You can even check in your luggage at the CAT counter in the city on your way back to the airport. Just follow the green CAT signs. If you don’t mind a few extra minutes on the journey for a third of the price, the S7 train is €4 and operates on the same tracks, taking about 25 mins to Vienna Mitte (central station).

Rideshare: Uber and Bolt (formerly Taxify) both work well in Vienna and are generally pretty cheap.

If you’re traveling in a group, or to a non central location in Vienna, one of these may be the easier, yet slightly more expensive option for getting from Vienna Airport to the city of Vienna. For groups, the city has excellent Mercedes Sprinter Vans, which allow 5 people or more to ride together with ease.

Vienna Bus Lines: A bus company called Vienna Airport Lines runs yet another good option from the Vienna Airport to the city, or vice versa, with the benefit of quite a few drop off and pick up points. It’s the mid priced option with €8 one way tickets or €13 return. It’s not a bad option at all.

a wall with graffiti on it

Where To Stay In Vienna

Especially on your first trip, there’s so much to see in the Inner Stadt, which makes it a logical place for most people to stay.

The Inner Stadt is surrounded by parks, castles and everything else which will blow your mind on the first visit, and it makes just about everything in Vienna within walking distance.

Airbnb in Vienna is a great option for affordable accommodation, but with the famous Viennese pastry and breakfast scene, it’s tough to pass up on a great hotel.

You can’t go wrong with The Guesthouse, Do & Co, Park Hyatt, Hotel Sans Souci, Ritz Carlton or Hotel Sacher on the high end. For a few cheerful and more economical hotel options in Vienna: Hotel Beethoven, Hotel Harmonie and Hotel Altdstadt are all great choices.

If you want to stay a bit more out of the way in a local neighbourhood, areas such as Laimgrube and Neubau offer a more low key take, with some of the better non touristy restaurants, cafes and shops in the city, as does Leopoldstadt.

a person sitting at a coffee shop

Must Eat Restaurants And Cafes In Vienna

If your menus are automatically presented in English, it’s a sign you may be in a place that Viennese people don’t frequent. If there’s a line out the door, you can bet the same. But when it comes to great cakes, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.

Vienna is world famous for its ability to satisfy any sweet fix, most notably with its light sponge cakes, wafers and esteemed cafes. It’s where Sigmund Freud came up with all of his big ideas, for what that’s worth.


There’s a few distinct styles for breakfast here, and there’s no wrong answer, but you will need to choose.

You have the ornate high ceiling cafes with wood, gold and marble, and brasseries of similar description full of tourists, and then you have the cafe scene for people who are brunch lovers and fans of the style of coffee that’s more single origin beans roasted in house, than “gimme a coffee”.

Iconic Vienna Cafes (with lines full of tourists): Demel, Cafe Central, Cafe Landtmann, Cafe Schwarzenberg, Cafe Hawelka.

Great Places For Breakfast (with far more locals): Ulrich, Cafe Ansari, Erich, Motto Am Fluss, The Guesthouse, Das Augustin.

For The Best Coffee (fresh roasted, alt milks, etc): Furth Kaffee, CoffeePirates, Kaffefabrik, Akrap Espressobar, Kaffemik, Wiener Rosthaus.

Lunch & Dinner

Once you’ve had your fill of Schnitzel, Vienna has a brilliant selection of restaurants and cafes from all regions of the world. But until you reach that fill, there are a few places you’ve absolutely gotta try, because you just don’t find Schnitzel this good almost anywhere else in the world…

For Iconic Schnitzel: Skopik and Lohn, Salzamt, Cafe Dommayer and Plachutta are great calls.

Our Top Picks: Mochi, Daniele, Mama Liu & Sons, Motto, Neni Am Nashmarkt, Pizza Randale, Ulrich and O boufes all offer super high quality experiences with a great Viennese feel.

If you like Japanese, Mochi is a delicious concerto of sharing plates. If Italian is the order of the day, Daniele does really outstanding homemade pasta, and Pizza Randale is a treat for its namesake. For a low key but super delicious meal on a pretty night, Ulrich is a great place to sit outside in a buzzing neighborhood.

a large white building with a garden in front of it with Belvedere, Vienna in the background

The Tourist Sights Worth Seeing And More

Vienna is a city best explored on foot. It’s safe, and just about every corner brings a building, castle or park that you can’t help but marvel at.

Considering that the city was nearly flattened in World War II, it’s even more remarkable that Vienna has a feel perhaps even more romantic and enjoyable than Paris, with so many unique districts to explore. Whenever possible, walk, or take an e-scooter rather than driving.

For a first trip, you just can’t leave Vienna without seeing…

Belvedere Palace – The Belvedere is a great choice because it’s kind of like a two for one. You get incredible gardens with views over the city, an absolutely iconic baroque palace and also one of the finest collections of Klimt paintings as well as Monet and more.

Naschmarkt – In between all the artsy stuff, you probably deserve a nice cold beer or some delicious cheap eats. Right? Naschmarkt is a really fun feast for all senses, with food stalls, flower shops and more. Be sure to hit up Neni at Naschmarkt for exquisite Tel Aviv food that bests just about any other Middle Eastern food you’ve tried. It fills up fast.

The Albertina – Vienna and art kinda go together hand in hand. The Albertina is a truly world class gallery in a beautiful setting with an outstanding collection of Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, Magritte, Degas, Richter, Lichtenstein, Chagall, Modigliani, Klimt and Munch that is perhaps only surpassed in one or two other museums around the world.

Stadtpark – On a warm summer day, Stadtpark in Vienna feels like a dream. You can walk along the river and then find a place on the beautiful lawn to enjoy a picnic before wandering further. You’ll find a lovely cafe along the river and plenty of benches to rest.

MuseumQuartier – This is a bit of a catch all, but you’ll be grateful if you’re on limited time. This is where most of the museums can be found, and is replete with beautiful parks, gardens and places to relax. If you want to see classic Viennese buildings while popping in and out of the galleries, make your way to the MuseumQuartier and tick all the boxes in one sitting.

There are so many more things to see and do in Vienna, including world class vineyards just miles away, so however much time you were planning on spending, consider adding another day or two, because this is a city you really won’t tire of anytime soon!

a fountain with a statue in the middle

Where To Shop In Vienna

If you want all the big stores you can find in most cities around the world, with all the people of the world shopping in them, Kärntnerstrasse is where you can find it all. It’s the Broadway of Soho in NYC, or the Oxford Circus of London all in one, and although it’s crazy busy, the side streets lead to some great areas.

But if you’re more of the boutique, vintage and unique local shop type and want to support the community, heading to Laimgrube, Neubau or Leopoldstadt is where you wanna be. Neaubaugasse, Praterstrabe and Westbahnstabe are all perfect streets to wander in their respective neighborhoods with plenty of unique gear you won’t find elsewhere.

And as you may have hoped, there’s plenty of places to grab a beer or a coffee in between too.

contactless credit card

Euro, Cash, Card And All That

Vienna is pretty progressive when it comes to taking your money. In other words, you can use your credit or debit card at pretty much any restaurant, cafe or shop. If you have a contactless credit card, those work like a charm virtually anywhere.

There are a few smaller businesses in Vienna which may insist on cold hard Euro cash, so it doesn’t hurt to keep a few small bills on you, just for safety. As a savvy traveller, you know that the best way to get foreign currency is never going to be at an airport currency stand or anywhere that offers exchange. Use this guide as your friend.

Vienna Is So Much Fun

Vienna is one of GSTP’S favorite cities in Europe with great bike lanes, wide avenues and architecture that’s virtually unmatched in any other European city. Considering the competition, that’s saying something.

It’s elegant, clean and ever changing with best new trends in food and culture. With any hope, this guide will help you navigate your way to loving it even more. Cheers!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. One of the best Go To places to eat traditional stelze (pork knuckle) and drink beer is at the Famous Schweizerhaus Beer garden in the Prater Park. This is a place that is full of locals and tourists who are lucky enough to walk in on a whim..it has a huge outdoor garden area. You pay per kilo, we usually take a 1.5 for 4 of us. accompanying condiments are mustard and fresh grated horseradish, Bread pay for what you eat from the basket. And naturally drink beer. This place has a long history and the beer pouring area has to be seen to be believed. There are other locations, but for warmer weather this place outside in the garden area cannot be beat. We are locals and try to make it at least once a year in the summer months. Highly recommend

  2. As a Viennese I have to clarify something:
    Wien Mitte is not the central station. It’s just the railway station closest to the centre of Vienna, thus its name.
    However, you can also reach the real central station (Wien Hauptbahnhof) non-stop from the airport using the railjet. This is Austria’s high speed train which costs just as little as the S7. So if you are staying in the southern or western part of Vienna you can definitely take this train as another fast option to reach your destonation.
    Very glad that like Vienna!

  3. Another nice hotel by the Ring strasse is the Hotel Bristol, full of old world charm, across the street from the opera house. They serve a fantastic early day spread that has everything you need for the day, including a glass of champagne.

  4. If you’re on a budget the best place to stay in Vienna is….. Bratislava!
    Only an hour into Vienna from the Slovak capital by (very frequent) coach and hotel rates are just a small fraction of the cost. Plus, you get to see two cities for the price of one…

  5. You left out the Fenster Cafe, a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop. We found it by accident and the Cappucino was so good I ended up drinking 3 before we could move on.
    Also an experience as it is just a server window, no indoor cafe. Other than in Italy the best Cappucino I have had anywhere, and perhaps the best we ever have had

  6. Hi!

    Just a few quick tipps from a Viennese citizen.

    It’s called „Innere Stadt“ not „Inner Stadt“ or you could just say 1st district.

    You mention „Laimgrube“ twice. Do you have the word „Laimgrube“ from Google Maps? I had to google it. It’s just a small part (3 blocks) of Neubau (7th district). Nobody knows this name despite of maybe the residents of these 3 city blocks.

    Despite having loads of tourists in iconic Vienna Cafes even the locals frequent them becaus of the heritage and old style decor.

    Only about 20 % of the buildings were destroyed during WW II but the city has grown immensely since.

    I you like classic art paintings, coins, artifacts I would also suggest Kunsthistorisches Museum.

    Shopping: „Praterstrabe“ and „Westbahnstabe“ are misspelled. The are written Praterstraße and Westbahnstraße or if you lack the letters on your keyboard Praterstrasse and Westbahnstrasse.

    All in all a pretty comprehensive guide.

  7. Wien Mitte is not the centre station, I should say that as a native Viennese. Its name comes from the fact that it is the nearest station to Vienna’s city centre.
    The railjet, on the other hand, provides nonstop service from the airport to Vienna’s actual central station (Wien Hauptbahnhof). As cheap as the S7, this is Austria’s high-speed train. This train is another quick way to get to your destination if you’re staying in Vienna’s south or west side.

    The city of Vienna has a new fan!

  8. For history buffs, consider staying at least one night at the Hotel Intercontinental. It was at that hotel in 1973 that OPEC decided to sock it to the world and have the oil embargo. That embargo was the start of more expensive gasoline that continues to the present day.

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