Known for its grand imperial architecture and classical charm, Vienna is a city where a few days of sightseeing will only scratch the surface. That said, one of the best things you can do during your stay in the Austrian capital is to leave it behind, spending a day in one of the many other wonderful destinations nearby. With so many things to see in Austria outside of Vienna and several other major European cities within reach, you should leave at least one day on your Vienna itinerary for day trips. In case you need ideas, we’ve put together this list of the best day trips from Vienna to help get the ball rolling.
How to Get Around
Although you can make many of these day trips with public transport, consider renting a car for the day to give yourself more flexibility and independence. With your own four wheels, you control your time and schedule. Depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car might even work out to be cheaper than other forms of transportation. You can compare car rental deals and find the lowest prices at Rentalcars.com, an aggregation site that searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies, helping you find the best possible car for your budget.
Don’t want to drive or deal with the hassle of public transport? No worries! We’ve listed the best tour for each day trip (where available).
With all the city has to offer, you could easily spend at least three days in Prague, so we recommend making it a separate leg of your Europe trip if possible! However, you can still fit many of the highlights into a day trip if that’s your only option to see the Czech Republic’s beautiful capital.
Start your visit with the Old Town Square, the lively heart of Prague, where you can see the Prague Astronomical Clock, Old Town Hall, and Church of Our Lady Before Týn all in one go. From there, venture into Josefov (the city’s historic Jewish district) to see synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery.
Next, it’s time to see the iconic Charles Bridge, which crosses the Vltava River and is lined with saintly statues. At the end of the bridge, you’ll reach the historic neighborhood of Malá Strana, which will lead you up to Prague Castle. There’s much to see inside the castle grounds, including Vladislav Hall, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the panoramic terrace of Hradčany Square, which lets you see all of Prague at once.
Getting there: The train ride from Vienna to Prague takes up to four hours, so consider a guided tour to streamline transport to and within Prague.
Salzburg is mostly known for its ties to the beloved movie The Sound of Music, but there’s a lot more that makes it one of the best places to visit in Austria. First, visit the beautiful gardens of Mirabell Palace to see its carefully arranged flower beds, statues, and fountains. Next, make your way through the city’s Neustadt (New Town) area to the Mozart Residence, where you’ll find a museum dedicated to the composer’s life in his old family home.
Cross the pretty Salzach River to explore the Altstadt (Old Town), full of quaint cobblestone streets and the faint sound of classical music. You’ll find various landmarks and museums within the spacious Residenzplatz and neighboring Mozartplatz, including the Salzburg Museum, the Christmas Museum, and the majestic Salzburg Cathedral. To finish off the day, venture up to the impressive Hohensalzburg Castle overlooking the city.
Getting there: The quickest way to Salzburg from Vienna is the hourly train, which gets there in 2.5 hours. If you’d really like to understand what makes Salzburg special, though, you’ll need a tour guide to show you around.
While it may seem unlikely, the Hungarian city of Budapest is one of the most popular Vienna day trips. Another dynamic capital city of central Europe, Budapest has plenty of delightful attractions. Start with a trip up to Buda Castle, the complex that dominates the western bank of the Danube. Here you can visit the large central castle, the Matthias Church, several museums, and the Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a photographer’s dream with its lookout towers.
Venturing to the city’s other riverbank, you’ll see the gorgeous Hungarian Parliament Building and magnificent Dohány Street Synagogue. Then it’s time for either a soak in a thermal spring, such as the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath, or drinks in the ruin bars, such as Szimpla Kert. There’s truly something for everyone in Budapest.
Getting there: Hourly trains make the trip from Vienna to Budapest in two hours and 20 minutes. You can also take the bus, which is only a little slower. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to be shown around and relax as you go, a guided tour is your best option.
It’s not every day that you can visit one nation’s capital from another’s, but Vienna and Bratislava are close enough to make it a reality. Located just across Austria’s border with Slovakia, Bratislava is one of the best places to visit from Vienna. Much like Vienna, the Slovakian capital is a historic city centered on its Old Town.
Starting in the Main Square, you’ll immediately find classic architecture and sights, such as the vivid tile roof of the Old Town Hall. It’s just a short walk from there to the Primate’s Palace, where you’ll find the expressive Fountain of St. George and the Dragon in the main courtyard. Continuing through the Old Town, you’ll see the medieval Michael’s Gate.
Once you leave the city center, you’ll soon come across Slovakia’s impressive presidential home, Grassalkovich Palace. Another palatial landmark you won’t want to miss is Bratislava Castle, which overlooks the city and the Danube from its hilltop perch.
Getting there: With frequent buses, trains, and even boats from Vienna to Bratislava, you have plenty of options. The trip usually takes two hours, give or take 15 minutes. For an interesting mix of transport modes and a guide to show you around, though, a tour to Bratislava is what you want.
Austria’s Wachau Valley is surely one of the best side trips from Vienna. This enchanting stretch along the Danube has spectacular landscapes, noteworthy history, and glamorous architecture. Begin at the downstream end with the immense Melk Abbey and its palatial interior. As you head into the quiet valley, you’ll see Schönbühel Castle and the ruins of Aggstein Castle, which provides a superb viewpoint.
Farther on, wander the quaint medieval streets of Dürnstein, stopping to treat yourself to the local apricot liqueur and schnapps. Don’t miss the walk up to the ruins of Dürnstein Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner. Near the other end of the valley, you have your pick of several other stops, including the town of Krems an der Donau and Göttweig Abbey.
Getting there: Either endpoint of the Wachau Valley – Melk or Krems – is about an hour from Vienna by train. Within the valley itself, though, local buses are the only public transport. For a stress-free trip and the chance to see the valley from a riverboat, an organized tour is the best option.
Baden bei Wien
Baden bei Wien makes for an easy train trip from Vienna and a gentle break from city life. This town just beyond Vienna’s city limits has been known for its thermal springs since ancient Roman times. While you could certainly spend all your time here soaking in the restorative waters of one of the various spas, such as Römertherme Baden, there are other things to do in town.
Many of Vienna’s most famous composers throughout history frequently came to Baden bei Wien to focus on their music, and you can find plaques around town showing where they stayed. But the town’s prettiest spot is Kurpark, a formal city garden that gradually merges with the Vienna Woods. The park is a great place for a stroll, and the hilltop offers a nice look at the town below.
Getting there: Baden bei Wien is easy to reach from Vienna, with frequent trains taking only 30 minutes to get there. You can even take a tram there, though that will take closer to an hour.
Although Grinzing is actually one of the outer districts of Vienna, you wouldn’t know it by visiting. Sitting at the base of the hills to the city’s north, Grinzing feels more like a small village than part of the nation’s capital, with traditional houses, smaller city streets, and expansive vineyards surrounding the district.
There aren’t many big landmarks here, so just enjoy wandering the town and sampling local wines. Grinzing is the heart of Vienna’s winemaking industry, after all. The many wine taverns (known as “heurigen”), such as Mayer am Pfarrplatz, are popular drinking spots on weekends and in the summer, when you can enjoy the outdoor seating.
From Grinzing, it’s just a short trip uphill to the Kahlenberg lookout point. With the vineyards around Grinzing in the foreground and the Danube and Vienna in the distance, this is one of the best views in the area.
Getting there: Grinzing is a pretty straightforward trip from the center of Vienna. Taking the metro and then a local bus, you can reach it in 30 minutes. You can also take the tram from just outside the city center or even see Grinzing on a Vienna Woods hiking tour.
For a glimpse of Austria’s history before its grand imperial days, take the short trip from Vienna to the ruins down by the Danube, once part of the ancient Roman city of Carnuntum. In its heyday, Carnuntum was even more important than Roman Vienna, and that still comes across clearly today.
The central focus of the archaeological site is the open-air museum of the Roman City Quarter, where buildings have been reconstructed to show what life was like here. Close by is the Museum Carnuntinum, which houses the most important artifacts discovered from the Roman city.
The other Roman sites are scattered throughout the surrounding countryside. If you have time, seek out the Military City Amphitheater, the Civilian City Amphitheater, the practice arena of the Gladiator School, and the monumental Heathen’s Gate.
Getting there: Unless you rent a car, your only real option is the train to Carnuntum. Fortunately, it leaves Vienna hourly and gets there in an hour and 15 minutes.
Hallstatt is a common bucket-list destination for visitors to Austria, making it one of the most popular day tours from Vienna. Start your visit with a walk through the village to admire the traditional Alpine houses, boat sheds, and stunning waterfront. Major landmarks here include the Marktplatz and Charnel House, a small building of St. Michael’s Chapel completely decorated with skulls.
Many visitors think they can stop with the Old Town, but you have plenty more to see here. There’s the Hallstatt Skywalk, an epic viewing platform in the hills over the town, and the fascinating Hallstatt Salt Mine isn’t far away. For more spectacular views, go around the beautiful Lake Hallstatt to Mount Krippenstein’s famous lookout point, the 5 Fingers.
Getting there: Reaching Hallstatt from Vienna by public transport really pushes the time limits of a day trip, so it’s best to go with a guided tour, which gets you there quicker and helps you maximize your time in the town.
Although it’s Austria’s second-biggest city, Graz tends to be passed over for towns closer to the country’s incredible Alps. That’s a pity, because this city along the Mur River boasts some lovely sights and historical character. In fact, the Old Town of Graz has earned UNESCO World Heritage Site status for its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.
Once you’ve explored the Old Town, head to the top of the Schlossberg, a hill covered in forest and parks where some castle fortifications still remain. You’ll also spy a beloved symbol of the city, the Graz Clock Tower, from here.
Back in town, hit up the Landeszeughaus, a museum with the largest historic armory in the world. It’s then time to cross the river by way of the Murinsel, a fascinating artificial island. On the far bank, you’ll find the Kunsthaus Graz, a wonderfully bizarre museum of modern art.
Getting there: Despite the distance, Graz is easily accessible from Vienna on public transport. Regular buses make the journey in two hours and 15 minutes, and the hourly trains are only a tad slower.
While you can’t go wrong with any of the great day trips and tours we’ve covered here, you can visit many other places from Vienna. Just think of these 10 places as a starting point for exploring this amazing area!
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