When researching my trip to Bratislava earlier this year I quickly realised how close the city was to the Austrian border and how close it was to the city of Vienna. After some further research I saw how easy it would be to get from Bratislava to Vienna, so there started the planning to spend one of our days away exploring Vienna for the day.
So here is how we managed to spend less than 24 hours in Vienna as part of our trip to Bratislava.
How to get there
This was the first time I had tried to travel between two countries in Europe, I was hoping it would be fairly simple and thankfully it was. There is a company called Flixbus which travels all across cities in Europe and they run between Bratislava and Vienna. A one way ticket cost only 5 Euros each and the buses run every hour from one of the three stops across Bratislava. The bus drops off seemingly outside of the city at a place called Erdberg which is actually on the underground line which takes you straight to Stephensplatz.
We managed to get an early bus to Vienna and a fairly late bus back, so that we got about 10 hours to explore the city.
What to see
There is a lot to see in Vienna as it is a big city which is spread quite far, this makes it difficult to see a lot in a short space of time. My biggest tip if you have less than 24 hours in Vienna is to make an initial plan of what you want to see and do and where possible to use the underground as this will help you travel around the city faster. Being limited with time means you can’t spend too much time in one place and you can not see everything, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your short time in Vienna.
Stephensplatz is where we started our day trip in Vienna, it is the main square and home to the city’s Cathedral which dates back to the 14th century. The Cathedral is incredibly impressive not just on the outside, but also on the inside, which you can visit for free. This part of Vienna is also home to the main high streets of the city and there are plenty of shops to explore, so if you can, make time to walk around some of them. There are also some great souvenir shops here, if that’s your kind of thing.
A ten minute walk through the streets of Vienna will bring you to The Hofburg, this building felt as if it came out of no where, nestled among the little Austrian streets. The Hofburg is the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers and was built in the 13th century. There are some great opportunities to get some photos of this impressive building, this is also a good place to catch a carriage ride if you would rather not explore the city on foot.
If you continue on foot you will soon stumble across a large open space, one of which is Volksgarten, an area of open parks and gardens which used to form part of the Hofburg Palace in the 19th century. If you want to get away from the often busy streets of Vienna then this is a great chance to escape the city for a few minutes, and walk around the gardens and explore the small number of statues that are also present here.
The Rathaus is the City Hall of Vienna and a definite must see. This is a stunning piece of architecture and is surrounded by others such as the Austrian Parliament Building. We only explored The Rathaus from the outside and when we visited there was a german market selling traditional food and drink and a large ice rink right outside the front of the building.
The one place that you will have heard of when researching a trip to Vienna will have been Schonbrunn Palace. The best way to reach the palace is by using the underground as it is located quite far out of the main part of Vienna. Once off the underground it is only a 5 minute walk to the Palaces entrance. The Palace was the summer residence for the Habsburg rulers and the history of the palace and gardens goes back 300 years.
For me I have seen a lot of palaces, houses etc and I now prefer to explore these buildings from the outside, this not only saves time but also money if you are on a budget, as you can often explore the parks and gardens for free or a much smaller cost. The gardens of the Schonbrunn Palace was free so we spent 2 hours exploring. My recommendation is to take the walk to the top of the hill opposite the Palace where you can get amazing views across the city.
Where to eat
Annoyingly with less than 24 hours to explore a city this doesn’t leave a lot of time to try many places for food and drink, much to my dismay. We did however manage to stumble across a great place for lunch and also try out another place that I had found whilst doing research for our trip.
We stumbled across Café Francais whilst we were exploring Vienna by foot as it is only a ten minute walk from the Rathaus. If you haven’t guessed already this is a French inspired café, so not exactly authentic Austrian cuisine, but sometimes you need a break from eating schnitzel. This was quite a classy little café and seemed popular with the locals rather than tourists as its out of the main centre.
Visiting Europe in winter I can never resist a hot chocolate and I know that the French usually do them well, I wasn’t disappointed. To go with this I ordered the club sandwich and it was huge, chicken, bacon, salad, egg all in a triple sandwich and served with chunky chips and salad. It seemed a popular choice in the café and I was definitely glad I opted for it, although the rest of the menu also looked pretty good. Our bill came to around 35 Euros which isn’t bad for the amount of food we had and the lovely atmosphere of the café.
Mels Craft Beers and Diner
After exploring the palace we headed back towards the centre of Vienna to find Mels Craft Beers and Diner. We love to explore smaller independent drinking establishments who specialise in craft beers when we visit any city in Europe. This was a great choice, the beer menu was extensive and the menu gave a lot of information about each beer including its percentage, where its made and a description of the beers taste. As with many places in Europe these beers are usually served as 1/3 of a pint of 2/3 of a pint which is a good job as some of these beers are incredibly strong.
Table service was definitely a plus point, the interior of the bar had a rustic and industrial feel and was incredibly chilled out. We were here for quite a while so checked out the food menu which largely consisted of burgers. We only needed a light bite so opted for the cheese and meat board, four types of cheese, three types of meat served with local bread, chutney, grapes and nuts. This was the perfect accompaniment to some drinks and only cost 13 Euros.
Our time in Vienna was very short and this is by no means a strict itinerary to adhere to as there is a wide range things of things to do in this city. I do highly recommend finding time for Schonbrunn Palace as it really is quite impressive and if you want somewhere for a drink, make sure you check out Mels Craft Beers and Diner. I hope when you read this post you see that it is still possible to explore parts of a city with the limited time that you may have and without spending a fortune doing it. Have you been to Vienna? What did you manage to explore with the time you had in this amazing city?