Whether you are here on a cruise on the Danube, whether you have a long layover between two flights or you’re on a road trip through Europe, like in my case, you have to know that Vienna, although impressive and very offering, can be “tasted” if you only have a day at your disposal. True, you could walk the streets for a week, and still never get bored of the baroque architecture of the elegant facades, world-renowned cafes, its green parks and rose gardens or the monuments that depict its formerly famous inhabitants. Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, or Antonio Vivaldi are just a few famous names that have written pages of history, on musical notes, in the capital of Austria. And you will feel this in every corner of Vienna, for a long time the city being the center of classical music.
Also, the city crossed by the Danube has been the imperial capital and residence of the Habsburg family for centuries, which has led to its development, becoming one of the most important cultural and political centers in Europe. The historic center of Vienna is so beautiful and valuable that it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage.
What you can do in Vienna in one day
Start your morning with a Viennese coffee
If you have not yet learned about the centuries-old tradition of coffee in Vienna, I promise it will no longer be a mystery to you once you get here. There is no street where you can not find at least one café, so let yourself get carried away by the freshness of the fried black coffee beans and enjoy such a beverage in the morning to be fresh for the rest of the day.
And since you will do that, do not pick at random, but opt for a Melange, being the coffee celebrity in the Austrian capital, a delicious combination with milk foam. How will you know that you stepped into a Kaffehaus and not in a simple coffee shop where you take a packed drink in a plastic glass? Well, in such a place with long tradition, the drink is usually served on a silver tray, with a teaspoon and a glass of water to rinse after mixing the coffee. Elegance and refinement from the first tasting to the last drop. In order to gain power for the rest of the day, add a delicious apple strudel or a Viennese schnitzel.
Visit the Schönbrunn Palace
Every tourist guide, every brochure and every article about Vienna will recommend you not to miss the beautiful palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg dynasty, whose name translates into a “beautiful fountain.” Schönbrunn is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Vienna or even Austria, due to its important history and beauty, which can rival the Palace of Versailles in France.
How did Schönbrunn appear? The first pages of its story describe how Emperor Maximilian II had bought the land to build a palace smaller than what we see today and to bring various wild animals like pheasants, wild boars or deer for the purpose of organizing hunting sessions. Later, the palace was destroyed by the Turks and raised again by Emperor Leopold I, but the one who had the last word in determining the style of it was Empress Maria Theresa, a great fan of the Rococo style. It is said that the controversial Empress Sissi, considered the most beautiful woman of that time and also a travel lover, would have spent a few Summers in the palace, together with her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph.
Columns with ionic poles, sculpted statues, huge gardens, labyrinths, gorgeous fountains, elegant and refined rooms, a zoo, Japanese gardens, all of which will delight your eyes when you get here. Even if time does not allow you to visit the interior of the palace that includes no less than 1441 rooms, you will have plenty of time to admire it from the outside.
All the information about visiting the palace can be found here https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/
Admire St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Being located in the city’s center, more specifically in Stephansplatz, you surely can’t miss the 137-meter high religious building. St. Stephen Cathedral or Stephansdom, as it is better known, is a true architectural masterpiece, built in the unmistakable Gothic style that you will want to admire. The exterior of the building is made of limestone rocks, but the most fascinating element is the very colorful tile on the roof. Impressive is also the interior, but if you do not have the time to complete a visit, you can enjoy only the gorgeous facades.
And if you want to see Vienna from the top and have a good physical condition, then I invite you to climb the 343 steps of the Cathedral where you can enjoy a splendid panorama of the city.
Visit one of Vienna’s parks
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Vienna is a predominantly green city, where the parks are abundant and very beautiful, so it would be a pity not to visit at least one of them. I managed to see two of them and one more from the car. So these are my recommendations:
This is Vienna’s most famous park, perhaps because of the fact that you will find a Ferris Wheel of considerable size here, of more than 100 years old. The wheel is part of the world’s oldest amusement park, the Wurtelprater.
As you probably know, Vienna is one of the four capitals crossed by the Danube River, alongside Budapest, Bratislava, and Belgrade. Well, if you enjoyed my article in which I was telling you about how the Danube crosses Budapest, then you might like to visit Donau Park, located on one of the banks of the Danube. Here, you will find some rose gardens, some lakes, and a few bridges. It is not the most aesthetically pleasant park in Vienna, but it is worth a short visit to see the Danube.
Stadtpark is Vienna’s oldest public park, dating back to 1862, and for me, it is also the most beautiful I’ve visited in Vienna. It is divided into two by the Vienna River, and on the bridge linking the two parts, you will notice many locks, just like on the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris. I’m not sure, but I think that their meaning is the same as in France.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Stadt Park, especially a place where people were sitting on a large glade and simply relaxing in the sun or socializing. It reminded me of Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Besides, the park has great potential for beautiful pictures. The alleys are filled with benches, colorful flower gardens, and in some places, you will also see statues of famous personalities from the field of art.
If you were to choose one park to see on the day spent in Vienna, then my recommendation is definitely Stadtpark.
Walk on the Kaerntner Strasse or Mariahilfer Strasse
You don’t have to walk specifically on these two streets, but you can explore any other. However, if you really want to feel the vibe of the city, then you have to walk on Kaertner Strasse or Mariahilfer. Whether you are a shopping lover, or you like to spend time sipping a lemonade on the terrace and observing people.
Both streets are very long and very wide, and the atmosphere is like a holiday. Here, you will find the most high-end shops, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and expensive hotels with baroque-style façades. The streets are very close to each other, so you will not have to choose if you have limited time. You can explore them both without problems.
Vienna is a charming city, filled with lovely places to visit, so this article covers a very small part of what you can do in the capital of Austria. If you have any other recommendations, I expect them every time in the comments section.