• 4 September 2021

Whether you’re walking in the footsteps of the Habsburgs, exploring Vienna’s many museums, admiring the baroque architecture or splashing out on a shopping spree, you’re in for a great time in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna is both a dynamic European capital and a city rich in historical sights and attractions. The city effortlessly combines the past and present! Trendy clubs, galleries, modern architecture and stylish boutiques have shaped the city of Vienna as much as the state opera, concert halls and museums.

Only have one day to explore Austria’s capital? No problem! There are so many exciting things to fit into one day!

Here is a guide to spending an incredible 24 hours in Vienna:

View of Vienna cityscape
Skyline of Vienna, Austria.
Discover Imperial Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is the former summer residence of the imperial family and is one of Europe’s stand-out palace complexes. Having been in the Habsburg family since 1569, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a stunning historical reminder of the city’s past. Mostly decorated in the Rococo style, the rooms of the palace are open to the public. Don’t miss the Hall of Mirrors, where Mozart famously performed in 1772 at the age of six.

See the impressive Hofburg

Until 1918, the Hofburg was the imperial palace and centre of the Habsburg Empire. Today it is the seat of the Austrian president. The Hofburg offers a glimpse at Austria’s glorious past. It features the Imperial Treasury, several museums, cafes, restaurants, public squares and parks, the Hofburg offers another glimpse at Austria’s glorious past.

Hofburg in Vienna, Austria
Views of the Hofburg in Vienna.
The Gloriette in the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens in Vienna, Austria
The Gloriette in the Schönbrunn Palace gardens in Vienna.
Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria
Schönbrunn Palace is beautiful to see in person!
Follow in the footsteps of the Habsburgs

Explore the power centre of the Habsburgs: from St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of the old city, the Imperial Burial Vault and the Church of the Augustinian Friars, to the Imperial Palace, the Sisi Museum and the Spanish Riding School where world-renowned Lipizzaners inspire audiences from around the world. All these sites are within easy walking distance of each other. So take a stroll through Vienna and discover monuments to its illustrious past!

.View of interior of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria
Admire the architecture of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
View of Michaelertrakt in Vienna, Austria
Michaelertrakt is home to the Spanish Riding School and Sisi Museum at the Hofburg, Vienna.
Marvel at the modern art in Vienna

Vienna’s art scene is world-famous. The Secession’ building is one of the city’s most famous art nouveau buildings dating from about 1900. In 1897 a group of modern-minded artists in Vienna decided to resign from the Austrian Artists Association due to conservatism. They started the “Vienna Secession” also known as the Union of Austrian Artists and wanted to build their own, free and modernised exhibition space and so they did! Inspired by the motto ‘To the Age, it’s Art – to Art, it’s Freedom’ – which is inscribed above the entrance – famous artists, architects and designers have called Vienna home; including famous names like Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

View of Secession building in Vienna, Austria
The Secession: famous Exhibition hall in Vienna. Did you know Gustav Klimt was its first president?

Take the ‘Klimt Walk’ through Vienna and visit the Museum of Applied Arts, the Leopold Museum and the Church am Steinhof as these are all great places to soak up the atmosphere of Vienna’s more recent past. Have you seen the film Women in Gold starring Helen Mirren? This fantastic film gives great insight into the world of Klimt and the history of Austrian art.

Travel tip: You can see Klimt’s famous work “The Kiss (Lovers)” in the Belvedere Museum which is home to an array of incredible art dating from the middle ages to today.

Collage of Gustav Klimt's world-known piece "The Kiss" (left); The interior of the Museum of Applied Arts (top right) and the Souvenir Shop of the Leopold Museum (bottom right) in Vienna, Austria
Gustav Klimt’s world-known piece “The Kiss” (left); The interior of the Museum of Applied Arts (top right) and the Souvenir Shop of the Leopold Museum (bottom right).
Taste Viennese Coffee…

Coffee is an institution in Austria and Viennese coffeehouses are in a class of their own. The coffee culture in Austria dates back to when traders from Turkey invaded the country and reportedly left behind bags filled with coffee. Austria is one of the countries in the Western world that consumes the most coffee per capita, even more than France! Viennese cafes are centuries-old with wooden interiors, warm, cosy atmospheres and well-dressed waiters.

…and order like a local!

Expect to see locals sitting for hours on end sipping a cup of coffee, reading the newspaper and discussing politics. Ask for a simple cup of coffee and you might get the death stare! As such, we suggest you start with a “Grroßer Brauner” (rich black coffee) or a “Melange” (steamed coffee with frothed milk, similar to the Italian’s cappuccino). Another famous Viennese coffee is the “Einspänner”. This drink is black and strong like the Austrians like it with a dollop of whipped cream. Your coffee will get served on a round plate served with a glass of still water. Top it off with a slice of Sacher Torte, the famous Austrian chocolate cake, on the side.

Sacher Torte when in Vienna (left) and sit in a local Viennese Coffeehouse for some people-watching and some of the best coffee in Europe (right) from Vienna, Austria
Look out for original Sacher Torte when in Vienna (left) and sit in a local Viennese Coffeehouse for some people-watching and some of the best coffee in Europe (right).
View of outdoor cafe in Vienna, Austria
Beautiful outdoor cafe in Burggarten Gardens, downtown Vienna.

Travel tip: Visit the Twelve Apostles Cellar for dinner. Located on Sonnenfelsgasse, the Twelve Apostles Cellar is a restaurant showing evidence of being around in some capacity at least as far back as 1339. The cellars have been used as shelter in various wars, including Turkish sieges in 1529 and 1683. Rebuilt in 1561, the structure survives to this day as a restaurant serving traditional Austrian fare. It’s a brilliant place to visit!

Whether you’re a history buff, an art fanatic, party animal or a foodie, Vienna will have something to delight and inspire you! Take a multi-country Europe tour with Expat Explore to get experience Vienna and all of the city’s delights! Add the magic and beauty of railway travel to your trip by visiting Vienna on Expat Explore’s Amsterdam to Budapest Rail Explorer tour – the perfect blend of history, architecture, culture and fun!

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