What to Do on a Layover in Vienna

Giant Ferris Wheel in Prater Vienna
Giant Ferris Wheel in Prater Vienna | © Diejun/Courtesy of Österreich Werbung
Culture Trip

Vienna is located directly in heart of Europe, and it is a popular country for travellers thanks to its compact size and landmarks arranged in a manner that makes it easy to explore in half a day. Here’s how to best spend a few hours in Austria’s capital while on a layover.

Six hours

Given its small size and close proximity of many of its landmarks, most can pack in a surprising amount in Vienna in six hours. Those catching the train from the airport, change at Landstrasse and take the U4 line to Karlsplatz and the heart of the city. From here, wander around the Karls Church, one of Vienna’s most magnificent Baroque landmarks, and take a peek at the grand golden globe of the Secession Building, a historical art gallery up by a group of artists and visionaries in Vienna in the 1800s.

Afterwards, wander up the main high street to the Stephansdome, the city’s largest and most grand cathedral, and either admire the colourful tiles of the mosaic roof from the outside or head up to the top and admire the city from a bird’s eye view.

Before heading back to the airport, grab a bite to eat at Café Pruckl and try some traditional Austrian cuisine in an iconic setting. Specialities such as wiener schnitzel and tafelspitz are on the menu and be sure to save room for coffee and a slice of cake for afterward.

Landstrasse, Vienna, Austria

Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria

Karls Church, Kreuzherrengasse 1, Vienna, Austria

Secession Building, Friedrichstraße 12, Vienna, Austria

Stephansdome, Stephansplatz 3, Vienna, Austria

Café Pruckl, Stubenring 24, Vienna, Austria

Café Pruckl

12 Hours

Those determined enough can see a vast amount of the city in 12 hours. Starting off at Stadtpark (on the U4 U-Bahn line), rent a city bike, and ride around the surrounding sites. The Opera House, Stephansdome, Karls Church, Hofburg Palace and many of the city’s museums are all close to one another and can be seen within a few hours. Stop off at the Museums Quarter and pick from one of the many incredible galleries such as the Leopold to the MUMOK.

The Opera House, Opernring 2, Vienna, Austria

MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz, Vienna, Austria

Leopold Museum, Museumsplatz 1, Vienna, Austria

MUMOK, Museumsplatz 1, Vienna, Austria

Museumsquartier, the MUMOK

After touring the museums and cultural areas, head to the Bitzinger Wuerstlstand, a well-established hot dog stand serving all the regular varieties of sausage, bratwurst, and currywurst as well as a handful of Viennese specialties. Prepare for the possibility of a long line, however, as this is one of the most popular sausage stands in town.

Bitzinger Wuerstlstand, Währinger Str. 14, Vienna, Austria

Bitzinger Sausage Stand

Next, head over to the Prater Amusement Park (get off at Praterstern on the U2 of the UBahn), a garish yet unmissable attraction in the city’s 2nd District and a great place to catch fantastic views of the city at sunset. Thrill seekers should take a spin on the Prater Turm, one of the world’s highest swing carousels; meanwhile, those who aren’t feeling as brave should play it safe of the Wiener Riesenrad, the city’s iconic pillar box red Ferris wheel.

After that fun, head over to nearby Skopik and Lohn, one of the city’s newly opened restaurants, and sample a variety of traditional Austrian food with a contemporary twist. Finish the day off by having a beer or a glass of wine at Café Alt Wien, a traditional Austrian joint with vintage décor.

Prater Amusement Park, Prater, Wiener Prater 59, Vienna, Austria

Skopik and Lohn, Leopoldsgasse 17, Vienna, Austria

Café Alt Wien, Bäckerstraße 9, Vienna, Austria

The Prater Amusement Park

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