How to spend 48 hours in Vienna, Austria
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If you fancy a few days away in the Austrian capital and are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the things to do and see, we have created this expert guide to make sure you don’t miss the best bits. But remember, it’s just a guide — one of the most fun parts of exploring a new place is not knowing what might happen next.
5 p.m. — Arrive at Vienna International Airport
How to get from the airport to town:
- Option 1: The CAT train is the quickest way to get into the center of Vienna and takes about 17 minutes. It costs $23 return or $13 for a single ticket.
- Option 2: The S7 train, which is the local train. It takes 25 minutes to Praterstern station with a few stops and costs $5. You can buy tickets at the station inside the airport.
- Option 3: Uber rides are capped to $36, and a ride and will take you about 20 or 30 minutes to get into the center of Vienna.
7 p.m. — Explore your accommodations
As far as where to stay while you’re in Vienna, these are TPG’s top picks.
- Option 1: 25Hours Hotel is perfect for a short stay or if you are traveling alone. It’s very centrally located in the Museum Quarter with a really unique look. Rooms are mid-range at about $154 a night. “It’s like a W Hotel but more low-key”, said TPG U.K. Head of Video, Jean Arnas, who is our resident Vienna expert.
- Option 2: Imperial Hotel Vienna — the ideal place to feel like a Royal Austrian. The decor features high ceilings with lots of gold and crystal. In a nutshell, it’s pretty magical. It’s more for a honeymoon or a special occasion, as rooms start at about $415 a night. The Imperial is part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection as a Category 6 property and rooms start at 40,000 Marriott points a night off-peak and 60,000 during peak season. It is also part of the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Program.
- Option 3: Airbnb is a good option, where the simplest house looks like a “little royal suite” and you can find places for as cheap as $110 a night with spacious rooms, high ceilings and a rooftop terrace. Rent isn’t as expensive as London or New York, so Airbnb is a good way to take advantage of paying less for accommodation.
8 p.m. — Dinner
Whether it’s fine dining you’re after or a cheeky schnitzel, here are a few of the best spots.
- Option 1: Fabios is flashy, fancy but not snobby and has excellent food without the gastronomical pretentiousness of a lot of other places in Vienna. It’s a small gem in the 1st District, in between Prada, Alexander McQueen and the Louis Vuitton shop. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great place to spend some cash if you need to hit that sign-up bonus.
- Option 2: Mochi features delicious Japanese food. It’s away from the busy center, in a beautiful and cozy square at Praterstraße 15. Most tables are outside under big trees and surrounded by very grand local houses. It’s definitely a must if you’re by yourself or going to Vienna for the first time but want to find a place away from the touristy bits.
11 p.m — Nightcap
Too early to go to call it a night? Visit one of these spots for some late-night mischief.
- Option 1: Onyx Bar at the DO&CO hotel can be found on the sixth floor. It’s in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the cozy lounge atmosphere will make you want to linger. Try the Missionary Swizzle cocktail.
Option 2: Sofitel Vienna is the most beautiful rooftop bar in the city. Das Loft at the Sofitel is a little edgier than the Onyx.
9 a.m. — Breakfast
Joseph Brot, the bakery and bistro, says “a hard-working baker means a lazy dough”, meaning its dough rests for 48 hours to create the perfect sourdough loaf. There are five branches all over Vienna, and its not-to-miss breakfast classics include Joseph’s French omelet and the classic Viennese breakfast consisting of a Viennese roll, organic crumbly crescent roll, butter, homemade organic apricot marmalade and a soft-boiled organic egg. Prices range from about $7 to $15.
11 a.m. — Some culture
Schönbrunn Palace is a huge, grand palace with vast fields to walk around. There is also a cafe on the top of a nearby hill where you can see the whole of Vienna from afar. It’s free to walk around the palace and the fields, but you have to pay if you want to see inside the house and the royal rooms. Get the local Metro to Schloss Schonbrunn station, which will take about 25 mins from the city center and costs $3.
1 p.m. — Lunch
Café & Restaurant Motto am Fluss is located in a big boat on the Danube. The Twin-City liner’s restaurant was designed by BEHF Architects and created in the Venetian style of the Fifties. Prices are mid-range — expect a meal for two with drinks to cost about $59. Plus, there are loads of other cool bars, man-made beaches, music and party people nearby, especially during the summer.
3 p.m. — A spot of shopping
Vienna’s city center in the 1st District has some amazing shopping opportunities. “It’s a totally underrated destination for retail therapy”, said Jean. Around the Stephansplatz area is perfect for super high-end shops like Dior and Alexander McQueen. If you’re after something a bit more quirky, head to the 9th District for a more flea-market vibe.
7 p.m. — Big night out
- Option 1: Vienna State Opera if you really want to treat yourself. The building, a Renaissance revival venue, is absolutely stunning and right in the center of Vienna. It’s not cheap, though, as tickets start at about $70. It seats 1,709 people, so it’s quite a spectacle. Even if you can’t get a ticket or opera isn’t your thing, it’s worth going to have a look.
- Option 2: Viennese Ball season is at its peak in January and February and is one of the most unique, fun and historic events in the world. Each year, more than 450 balls take place. The fanciest are at the Imperial Palace and are traditionally hosted by various professional guilds, from weightlifters to confectioners. However, it is possible for tourists to buy tickets and attend. Remember the balls have a strict dress code and you might want to brush up on your waltz skills first. Tickets and more information can be found here.
11 a.m. — Explore Prater
Prater is a massive public park with a year-round amusement arcade. It’s basically the Hyde Park in London or the Central Park in New York equivalent and is great for both kids and adults. There are rollercoasters, a 5D cinema, and it’s good for couples, too, as there are loads of Winter Wonderland-style restaurants and bars. It’s free to enter and the nearest Metro station is Wien-Praterstern.
3 p.m. — Final coffee/snack
Before you go back to the airport, have a last Viennese experience by returning to the fully pedestrianized area of Stephansplatz for a coffee and sachertorte (Austrian chocolate cake) at Hotel Sacher Wien. We recommend the cafe inside the Hotel Sacher Wien, which is really fabulous and a great way to cap off the weekend.
5 p.m. — Head to the airport
From there, hail a taxi, book an Uber (20 minutes) or make your way to Karlsplatz station — this journey will take about an hour with one line change. Tschuss!
Featured photo by Getty/K’Nub
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