Day 1 - The Schönbrunn Palace
Like in all cities, before you go wandering around the streets looking for a selection of the city’s best known attractions, take some time out to explore your surroundings. The city is easy enough to get around and also quite compact, meaning many of the premier attractions can be visited on foot.
After walking around for a while, and maybe grabbing a bite to eat, go and see one of the Vienna’s most visited attractions - Schönbrunn Palace. Used as a summer residence by the Hapsburgs, one of Austria’s richest families, from the 18th century until 1918, the palace has 1,411 rooms in total. With only 40 rooms to the public (which is enough for one afternoon). Along with the lavishly decorated rooms within the palace to look at, the palace also has well kept gardens to relax in and also a striking fountain at the rear of the palace. No visit to the Austrian capital would be complete without paying the palace a visit.
If you plan on going out, a good area which distances itself away from the tourists is Spittleberg, which also isn’t too far from Schönbrunn Palace. Here you will find a good selection of bars, clubs and restaurants.
Day 2 - See as much as you can
Like with most cities, the best way to see all the attractions and make sure you don’t miss anything is on one of the ‘hop-on, hop-off’ city sightseeing tours. Departing from the city opera house at 10am daily, and returning at 5pm, the tours visit Vienna’s ‘must-do’s’, the best known being Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). Completed in 1433, construction of this magnificent cathedral began in 1147, almost 300 years previous. It can be spotted effortlessly thanks to the blue, black and yellow tiles on the roof.
When you want to sit down at some stage during the day Stephansplatz right beside the cathedral is a square perfect for watching time go by. Otherwise, another good place to take a breather is somewhere along the banks of the River Danube. There are a string of cafés here where you can stop for a coffee.
Other highlights on the tour which are worth getting off for are some of the city’s churches such as Peterskirche and Michaelerkirche, the latter famed for its catacombs.
The best-known area in Vienna for socialising is known as the Bermuda-Dreieck, or the Bermuda Triangle which is the area around Ruprechtsplatz, Seitenstettengasse and Rabensteig. All around here are tourists filling a number of bars and clubs so you will have no problem finding something to take your fancy in the area.
Day 3 - Get out of the city
When visiting a city for a few days you can never beat getting out of the city centre for the day. If you want to get out for the whole day make your way to World Heritage Listed Wachau Valley, a 36km stretch of the Danube Valley between Melk and Krems an der Donau.
If you are feeling active you can take advantage of the various outdoor activities which you can take part in. Hiking, cycling and watersports can all be done in and around the valley, and if you are not feeling like exerting that much energy, the stunning scenery in the valley will leave you gobsmacked.
Both of the towns, Melk and Krems, are worth stopping in for a few hours before returning to the city that night. Melk’s biggest draw card is its stunning abbey called Stift Melk. Dating back over a thousand years ago, it is open to the public and guided tours lasting an hour can be done. The latter of the two towns is surrounded by vineyards and has an array of old cobbled streets to wind through and museums to visit.
Day 4 - Your day of culture
In the south-west of the city, not far from the Innenstadt in the centre of the city is the Museums Quartier. The best known of all museums (also one of the world’s best known art galleries) is the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Thanks to the wealth of the Hapsburgs it contains the fourth largest collection of paintings in the world and some beautiful Greek, Roman and Egyptian relics. Many people come to see the collection of Bruegels which is the largest in the world but ther are numerous painting by artists that are household names, such as Rembrandt, Raphael and Caneletto.
Other museums which are sure to enthral any visitor are the Naturhistorisches Museum which houses a very impressive collection of ancient artefacts including an anthropological exhibition and fossils from the Ice Age, and the Leopold Museum which also houses another impressive art collection.
After learning more about the city’s history and wondering at the paintings the various museums boast, there is an area in the city centre known as the Innenstadt. To put it literally, many streets ending in the word ‘ring’ make up the Ringstraße. These make up three sides of the Innenstadt, while the Danube makes up the third. All the city’s premier attractions are in this area, but walking around and taking in a coffee somewhere along the way is a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
If you visit Vienna, and you enjoy styles of music other than rock or dance, plus you want to take in some culture which the Austrian capital after dark, then you must visit the Wiener Staatsoper, better known as the Vienna State Opera House to English speaking visitors. Staging operas and ballets between September and June and standing tickets can be quite cheap. Make sure and queue early though.
If classical music is your thing, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra performs at the Musikverein.
Day 5 - Shopping then relaxing
When on holiday it’s always nice to treat yourself to a present of some description. You’ve probably worked hard enough to save enough money to go on holiday. Vienna’s best known shopping street is Mariahilferstrasse. All along this street you will find the world’s main shopping stores as well as some department stores also. But if you don’t want to go splashing all your hard earned cash in one go, make your way to the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s open-air market which takes place from Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm. Situated close to the Karlsplatz, just south of Ringstraße, this is the best place in the city to get fruit and veg if you want to do some cooking in your hostel.
When walking around shops or stalls becomes a bit too much, and you want to do nothing more than relax for a few hours, maybe grab a newspaper or watch life go by, go to Stadtpark which is west of Innenstadt. This is also where you will find the Strauss Monument.
West of the city centre (Innenstadt) is a street called Gürtel. This long street is divided into different sections and there is a good selection of bars all along here.