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Planning a trip to Austria and only have one day in Vienna?

With a well-planned day, you can visit Vienna’s must-see sights, including St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace, and dine in one or more famous coffee houses. This itinerary is a wonderful mix of must-visit places plus a few memorable dining experiences.

In this guide, we provide a detailed one day itinerary for Vienna, complete with walking directions, where to eat along the way, and how to book your tickets in advance. In order to spend one perfect day in Vienna, you will need to make some reservations in advance, but it will pay off once you are here.

Overview of Vienna

With a few exceptions, the majority of the must-see sites in Vienna are located in the historic city center. Called the Innere Stadt, this is the old town of Vienna. Graben, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Hofburg Palace, the Kunsthistorisches and Natural History museums, and a long list of famous cafes are all located in the old town.

The Innere Stadt is bordered by the Danube River and the Ringstrasse. The Ringstrasse is a wide boulevard that was built where the medieval fortifications once stood. Now, instead of walls and ramparts, cars and trams cruise through Vienna on this road.

With one day in Vienna, you will spend all of your time in the old town. There are a few notable sites outside of the old town, such as Schönbrunn Palace and Prater, but with such limited time in the city, it is not worthwhile to travel out to these places, in my opinion.

One Day in Vienna: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest and the walking route for this one day in Vienna itinerary. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Best Things to Do with One Day in Vienna

Below is a list of the top places to visit if you have one day in Vienna.

  • Have breakfast in a café
  • Historic heart of Vienna
  • Hofburg Palace
  • Austrian National Library
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum
  • Vienna Opera House
  • St. Stephen’s Cathedral

ABOUT SCHÖNBRUNN PALACE: As mentioned earlier, we did not include Schönbrunn Palace in our one day in Vienna itinerary. You need a minimum of 3 hours to travel out and back to Schönbrunn Palace and tour the palace and gardens. However, it does appear in our 2 Day Vienna Itinerary (coming soon). If you want to add in Schönbrunn Palace to this itinerary, do it first thing in the morning. You’ll most likely arrive back in the Vienna city center around noon. Pick up our itinerary at that point or eliminate one to two places on the itinerary and adjust the timing.

Austrian National Library | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

The Austrian National Library, one of the amazing places you can visit with one day in Vienna.

Best Time to Visit Vienna

Vienna is a great place to visit all year. We have been here in May (wonderfully warm and sunny) and December (magical with the Christmas markets and a few inches of snow). Here is a breakdown by season of what you can expect in Vienna:

WINTER: The winter months are cold, with average high temperatures ranging from 2°C/35°F to 7°C/45°F. At night it is generally below freezing. Winter is one of the driest times to visit Vienna. Despite the cold temperatures, rain is more likely than snow and the snowfall we witnessed was relatively rare. In winter, the days are very short, and in December, sunrise is at 7:30 am and sunset is at 4:00 pm.

Graben with Snow | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

Vienna (Graben) in December

SPRING: Vienna warms up nicely in the spring. In April, the average high is 16°C/60°F and in May the average high is 20°C/68°F. Rain chances increase in May, with an average of 9 days of rain during the month of May.

Schonbrunn Palace in May

Schönbrunn Palace in May

SUMMER: Summer is the warmest, wettest, and most crowded time to visit Vienna. The average high temperature is 27°C/80°F, although temperatures can top out over 32°C/90°F during a heat wave. In July, sunrise is at 5:10 am and sunset is at 8:50 pm.

FALL: In fall, rain chances diminish and the weather gets cooler. In October, the average high temperature is 13°C/55°F and by the time the calendar flips to November, temperatures can dip down below 10°C (into the 40’s).

VERDICT: We loved being in Vienna in early May. The warm sunny days, blooming tulips, green grass, and lower crowds than the summer months made this a wonderful time to be in the city. September has similar weather and would be another great time to visit Vienna. If you like the idea of visiting Christmas markets, plan your trip for December (and keep for fingers crossed for a dusting of snow).

One Day in Vienna Itinerary

Overview of this itinerary:

8:00 am: Viennese Breakfast
9:00 am: Hofburg Palace
12:00 pm: Kunsthistorisches Museum and lunch
2:00 pm: Walk to St. Stephen’s Cathedral
2:30 pm: St. Stephen’s Cathedral
4:00 pm: Historic Center of Vienna
6:00 pm: Dinner

WARNING! 😊: On this itinerary, you will visit a handful of elegant cafés. Coffee lovers and those with a sweet tooth are really in for a treat.

8:00 am: Viennese Breakfast

There’s no better way to start your day than having breakfast at one of Vienna’s famous cafés. Not only are coffee and pastries a delicious introduction to Vienna, but this is also a cultural experience.

Dining in a café is such an important part of the city’s culture that the Viennese coffee house culture is listed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

We have a detailed guide to the best cafés in Vienna, but for breakfast this morning here are 3 recommendations.

Café Central. This beautiful café is one of the most popular to visit. Brilliant minds like Sigmund Freud were regular guests of this café. Since Café Central is so popular, it is essential you make a reservation in advance.

Cafe Central Vienna | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

Cafe Central

Demel. Opening in 1786, this is one of the oldest cafes in Vienna. Step inside its elegant interior and dine on Sachertorte, apfelstrudels, and savory treats. It is located on Kohlmarkt.

Café Sacher. Café Sacher is famous for being the birthplace of the Sacher Torte, two layers of cake separated by apricot jam and covered in chocolate icing. Like Café Central, this café has a line out the door all day long. Make a reservation in advance.

9:00 am: Hofburg Palace

On this itinerary, you have the entire morning at the Hofburg Palace. Believe or not, you will still have to be very selective in what you visit. The Hofburg Palace is massive with a long list of things to see and do so you could easily spend a full day here.

The Hofburg Palace, also called the Imperial Palace, has been the seat of government since the 13th century and the Habsburg’s winter residence.

Here is a list of the main sights to see in the Hofburg Palace. With 3 hours, you can visit 2 to 4 of them.

The Sisi Museum & Imperial Apartments

On a 75-minute tour, see the 300 personal objects of Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) and tour the Imperial Apartments. Make your reservation in advance on the official website.

Spanish Riding School

At 10 am, training exercises are held, which are the training sessions of the famous Lipizzaner horses. This experience lasts 1 hour. Make your reservation in advance and get pricing on the official website.

The Swiss Gate

Free and quick to visit (you just need a minute or two to see it), this was the original entrance into the Hofburg Palace.

Swiss Gate Vienna | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

Swiss Gate

The Imperial Treasury

On display are the Imperial Crown (which served as the crown for the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire), one of the largest emeralds in the world, and an agate bowl which is considered to be the Holy Grail. A visit here lasts 30 minutes. Get hours and pricing on the official website.

The House of Habsburgs Tour

On one ticket, visit the Armory Chamber (3,800 artifacts, including armor and weapons), the Collection of Historical Musical Instruments (Renaissance and Baroque instruments, some of which were used by famous composers), and the Weltmuseum (an ethnographic museum). For us, one of the highlights was seeing the Hall of Columns, a gorgeous hallway in the Hofburg Palace.

This “tour” is done self-guided at your own pace, so you can spend as little or as long as you like, visiting the various exhibits. We spent about an hour here. It is located in the Neue Hofburg. Get hours and pricing on the official website.

Armory Chamber Hofburg Palace

The Armory Chamber on the House of Habsburgs Tour

The Austrian National Library

The Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek) is the largest library in Austria and one of the largest in Europe. It is located inside of the Neue Berg Wing of the Hofburg Palace.

Austrian National Library Vienna

Austrian National Library | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

This is not a room simply filled with books. The ceiling and upper walls are decorated with colorful frescos. Marble statues carved by Peter Strudel and Paul Strudel are located along the long hall, as well as four globes created by Vincenzo Coronelli. It is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

A visit here lasts about 15 to 20 minutes, a little longer if you want to take it all in.

On the official website, purchase your tickets in advance and get pricing and hours of operation. There are several branches of the library so make sure you are purchasing a ticket for the State Hall.

12:00 pm: Kunsthistorisches Museum

From the Hofburg Palace, it is a 5 to 10-minute walk over to the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

This museum is well worth the visit, simply to see its grand staircase and amazing frescoes on the ceiling. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Vienna, which is really saying a lot.

Kunsthistorisches Museum

Kunsthistorisches Museum

On display is an enormous amount of art which was collected by the Habsburg family. Paintings by Gustav Klimt, Titian, Michelangelo, Vermeer, Rubens, and Rembrandt grace the walls. Don’t miss the Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel, one of the most famous paintings in the museum. Also on the display are Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities.

By this point, you are probably getting a bit hungry. As luck would have it, one of the most elegant cafés in Vienna is located in the dome hall. You can sip on more coffee, treat yourself to another decadent pastry, and have lunch. Again, make a reservation in advance.

On this itinerary, you have 2 hours to have lunch and tour the museum.

Kunsthistorisches Museum Cafe | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

Kunsthistorisches Museum Cafe | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

2:00 pm: Walk to St. Stephen’s Cathedral

From the Kunsthistorisches Museum, it is a scenic walk past the Opera House and along Karnter Strasse to get to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This walk is 1.5 km (just over 1 mile) and takes 20 minutes. The walking route is marked on our map.

Alternatively, you can skip the walk and use the metro. Get on the metro at the Volkstheater station (a 5-minute walk from the Kunsthistorisches Museum) and ride the U3 line 2 stops to Stephensplatz.

Walking Route to St. Stephen’s Cathedral

From the Kunsthistorisches Museum, walk out to the Ringstrasse (Opernring) and walk past the Burggarten, the garden next to the Hofburg Palace. Here you have the option to quickly see the statue of Mozart (Mozartdenkmal on Google Maps).

Turn left onto Karntner Strasse and walk alongside the opulent Opera House. This view from Karntner Strasse is the classic view of the front of the building. Take a few photos here, then continue on Karntner Strasse, past Hotel Sacher Wien, until you reach Stephensplatz and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Vienna Opera House

Vienna Opera House | TTstudio/shutterstock.com

 St Stephens Cathedral Vienna Christmas | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

St. Stephen’s Cathedral (in the evening in December)

2:30 pm: St. Stephen’s Cathedral

This ancient cathedral (it was consecrated in 1147) is the centerpiece of historic Vienna. It sits on Stephensplatz, a large square surrounded by shops and restaurants. For the remainder of the day, you’ll be visiting the cathedral and walking the pedestrian streets in heart of Vienna.

There is a lot to do at the cathedral, from viewing the nave to touring the catacombs to climbing its two towers. For the full, detailed list, take a look at our Best Things to Do in Vienna article, but here is a brief overview.

View the Nave

For free, you can enter the church and view the nave. There is a fence that limits your visit to the lobby. For a small fee, you can purchase a ticket to walk along the nave and see the side chapels.

St Stephens Cathedral Interior

North Tower

This is the smaller of the two towers. Since an elevator takes you all of the way to the top, it’s the easiest tower to visit. We also like the views from this one more, since you get a close-up view of the beautifully tiled roof from the outdoor observation deck. There can be a line to ride the elevator.

North Tower Vienna View

View from the North Tower

South Tower

Almost double the height of the North Tower, expect to burn some calories to get to the top of this tall tower (that’s one way to burn off the pastries from earlier today!). It is 343 steps to the top, mostly on a spiral staircase. The stairs end at a room on top of the tower where you will gaze out over Vienna from the windows.

South Tower View Vienna | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

View from the South Tower

Tours of the Catacombs

The catacombs can only be visited on a guided tour, which are offered multiple times of day, but it will be tricky to get this to work on this itinerary. You can get the tour times here. The tour takes about 40 minutes and photography is not allowed. You learn about the history of the burials and can see containers that hold the Habsburg’s organs. We thought the tour was just OK and skippable with limited time today.

Ticketing and More Information

For free, visit the lobby to see the nave. If you only want to walk through the nave to see the side chapels, you can do so for a small fee. If you purchase the All Inclusive Ticket, you get access to everything the cathedral. At the time of the last update, tickets could only be purchased onsite with cash (no online tickets are available). Learn more on the official website.

4:00 pm: Historic Center of Vienna

For the next few hours, stroll the pedestrian streets of the Innere Stadt.

Graben starts next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and runs up to Kohlmarkt. You can also take another stroll along Karntner Strasse. Go shopping, explore the side streets, visit St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche) or visit a café or bar for a snack or pre-dinner drink.

The Ferstel Passage is a short but beautiful covered arcade lined with boutique shops and cafes. It is also located in the old town.

Ferstel Passage

Ferstel Passage | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

If you are looking for a bar/restaurant with rooftop views of Vienna, visit SKY @ STEFFL, which is located on Karntner Strasse. This rooftop bar and restaurant offers a unique view of the roof of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You can also save this restaurant for dinner, or just have an early dinner here.

Sky at Steffel View Vienna | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

The view from SKY @ STEFFL

6:00 pm: Dinner

Have dinner and drinks in Vienna. Cafes such as Café Central, Demel, and Café Sacher all serve dinner. Café Sacher is a great place to consider, as you can end dinner with a slice of Sacher Torte. Make your reservations in advance.

We had a great experience at Onyx, a sushi restaurant located on top of the DO & CO Hotel. This restaurant has floor to ceiling windows that offer a spectacular view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Stephensplatz. Here is the link to the official website so you can see the menu and make your reservation in advance.

Onyx Vienna Restaurant

The view from Onyx


Best Vienna Restaurants

Salad at Onyx

If you want to try traditional Austrian food in a rustic setting, take a look at Puerstner. Dine on Wiener Schnitzel, goulash, pork medallions with a mushroom cream sauce, spätzle, and more. See the menu on the official website.

Where to Eat in Vienna

Dining at Puerstner | One Day in Vienna Itinerary

This evening, you also have the option to attend a performance at the Vienna Opera House. The cheapest option is to purchase Standing Room Only tickets but tickets for general seating are reasonably priced. See show times and purchase your tickets in advance on the official website. Be aware that the Opera House does not have performances in July and August.

One more idea for an activity to do this evening is to ride the tram on the Ringstrasse. This is a cheap, low-key way to see the beautiful buildings that line the Ringstrasse illuminated in the evening.

Make Your Reservations in Advance

Below we list the places in Vienna that we recommend making advance reservations and provide the links to make your planning a little bit easier.

How to Get Around Vienna

Most of the sights in the old town (Innere Stadt) are within walking distance of one another.

The metro is useful for getting into the old town and to travel across the old town.

There is also a tram that runs along the Ringstrasse. This can be a scenic way to see the beautiful buildings that line the Ringstrasse in the evening, when they are illuminated.

Where to Stay in Vienna

For mid-range travelers, we recommend Pension Sacher (apartments with a prime location on Stephensplatz), Hotel Karntnerhof, and Boutique Hotel Nossek.

If you prefer an apartment stay, take a look at 7th Heaven Vienna Center Apartments, which is located in Spittelberg, a short walk from the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the MuseumQuartier.

For the ultimate in luxury, stay in the Ritz-Carlton, Hotel Sacher Wien, or Rosewood Vienna.

For budget travelers, we recommend JO&JOE Vienna (a hostel with great reviews that sits outside of the city center but is located on a convenient metro line) or Vienna Boutique – Premium Hostel.

Tours of Vienna

Joining a tour can help save you time waiting in line, allow you to learn more about Vienna from a knowledgeable guide, and introduce you to sights that you may not be able to do on your own. Here are some of the best tours in Vienna.

Tour the Sisi Apartments and the Hofburg Palace with an experienced guide.

Listen to the Four Seasons by Vivaldi at Karlskirche or attend a classical ensemble at St. Peter’s Church.

If you plan to visit Schönbrunn Palace, this skip-the-line-tour gets rave reviews.

You can also go wine tasting, take a walking tour of the city center, or take a World War II Historical Walking Tour.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with one day in Vienna?

Start your day with breakfast at a famous Viennese café. Then tour the Hofburg Palace, Kunsthistorisches Museum, see the Opera House, visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and stroll through the historic heart of Vienna. End your day with dinner and even a performance at the Opera House.

How much time do you need in Vienna?

Plan on spending at least two days in Vienna. This gives you enough time to visit the must-see sights in the historic city center and Schonbrunn Palace. With even more time, you can take day trips to Hallstatt, Salzburg, and Bratislava.

What should you not miss in Vienna?

The must-see sites in Vienna include the Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and Belvedere Palace. Having breakfast in a Vienna coffee house and dining on a slice of Sacher Torte are also must-have experiences.

Where are You Going Next?

If you are just beginning to plan your trip to Vienna, take a look at our 10 Day Central Europe Itinerary, which also includes Budapest and Prague.

VIENNA: Get started with our article about the best things to do in Vienna. Plan your time with our 2 Day Vienna Itinerary. And don’t miss our guide to 10 must-visit cafes and coffee houses in Vienna.

MORE PLACES TO VISIT IN AUSTRIA: Learn how to spend one day in Hallstatt, one day in Salzburg, and don’t miss our guide to the best things to do in Innsbruck.

CHRISTMAS IN VIENNA: Vienna has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. We also have a short but scenic walking tour of the Vienna Christmas lights and top landmarks in the city center.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: Learn how to plan your visit with our 2 Day Budapest Itinerary.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Learn how to day trip to Cesky Krumlov and get a list of the best things to do in Prague.

Read all of our articles about Austria in our Austria Travel Guide.

If you have any questions about this one day in Vienna itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.


One Day in Vienna Austria Itinerary


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