Any visit to Vienna is always a treat. The beautiful city, flush with breathtaking architecture and cultural hotspots at every corner is a top tourist destination for everyone from Europe and beyond. Vienna’s perfect location at foot of the Alps and on the bank of the historical Danube river offers a plethora of beautiful sights to explore and places to see. But, as mentioned, Vienna is now increasingly popular with tourists, so in the busiest periods it can get very hectic.
So, if you’re looking for an escape from all the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s very easy to plan a day-long getaway in some of the lovely nearby places. Using high-speed trains, coaches, and hire cars, a whole world is opening up for you.
Let’s have a look at the best day trips from Vienna:
Often referred to as the “Paris of the East”, the beautiful city of Budapest is easily accessible from Vienna via coach or train. It is one of the longer day trips you can take, however once you do go for it, you definitely won’t regret it. There’s a plethora of architecture to marvel at and winding little streets to explore.
While there, make sure to visit the breathtaking Parliament Buildings, as well as the Heritage Listed Castle Hill, home to the magnificent Buda Castle. Sure, you can spend days in Budapest and it still might not be enough to explore all the cultural treasures, but if you have the time, treat yourself to a hearty goulash in one of the small restaurants just off the main street. It will only make you want to come back to Budapest for longer.
If you’re a fan of The Sound of Music, then you’ll inevitably recognize Salzburg’s sights from the all-beloved film. Just hop on the train and for about 2 hours you’ll find yourself in Salzburg, one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. Huddled on the coast of the river Salzach, it’s also famous as the birthplace of the great Mozart.
Explore the Old Town as well as the Salzburg Cathedral to truly get a feel for the magic and wonderfulness of this city. If you’re up for it, visit Mozart’s Birthplace, as well as the gorgeous Mirabell Palace and its picturesque gardens. Wondering where to begin? A common place to start any walk around Salzburg is Residenzplatz, one of the city’s largest squares. And who knows, maybe you’ll also see the hills come alive with the sound of music?
Situated about 290 kilometers from Vienna, with a lot of trains and coaches to help you get there, Prague is always a must-see for any visit to this part of the world. It’s a long day trip, but undoubtedly worth it to see the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, with its little winding streets and gorgeous architecture you can marvel at for hours on end.
Visit some of the town’s famous spots such as the Tyn Church and the Jewish Quarter. Other must-see spots include Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square, the Old Royal Palace and much more. Really, you could easily just set off on a walk in Prague and something will definitely catch your attention at every corner.
Bratislava is by far one of the easiest day trips from Vienna you can take, and it’s even based in another country. It only takes an hour (and sometimes even less) to get there on the train and Bratislava is in itself very affordable and a great choice for a day trip. The city’s architecture combines picturesque old-style cobbled street with the remnants of the Soviet era to modern day shiny buildings.
A must-see is Bratislava Castle, perched just above the Danube, offering beautiful views for the rest of the city. Don’t miss the Bratislava City Museum and Michael’s Gate, gorgeous remnants of the once medieval town. If you’re looking for a lovely, affordable day trip, with some gorgeous sights, then don’t miss Bratislava.
Hop on the train or get into a car and discover Austria’s Roman past. Just east of Vienna lies the Carmuntum Archeological Park, an impressive reconstruction of a 1st century Roman town. Walk through the past as if you’ve just jumped into a time machine and explore the region’s rich history. A must-see is the reconstructed gladiator arena, only discovered about five years ago.
Many famous battles were fought and won in the region as well, throughout different times in history. Finally, once you’ve had your fill of history, bask in the natural beauty of the surroundings, with rolling hills and beautiful meadows characteristic of March-Donauland.
The picturesque village of Grinzing is situated on the northeast of Vienna and it’s only 17 km from the city centre, so for many it’s a part of Vienna itself. It only takes about 40 minutes on a tram/train combination to get to and its history is incredibly impressive. The current buildings in the village date from the 19th century, but we can find mentions of it all the way back to the 12th century.
Nowadays it offers a quaint environment for peaceful walks among the winding streets and an excellent chance to sample the local cuisine by visiting Austrian restaurants, known as Heuriger. If you’re an outdoors fan, you can easily reach a few nature trails nearby that are great for hiking as well.
7. Laa an der Thaya
The picturesque little town of Laa an der Thaya lies on the Czechian border, just north of Vienna and is easily accessible via train or bus. It’s always fascinating to visit border towns just to see the clash of two cultures, and Laa an der Thaya is no different. It’s a beautiful medieval town, with an impressive moated 13th century castle – Laa Castle.
Enjoy going up the well-preserved towers and battlements of the castle and reveal some breathtaking panoramic views that are certain to leave you flabbergasted. Make sure to visit the Südmährermuseum Thayaland as well to gain an insight for medieval life in the area, with some stunning period costumes on display.
8. Wachau Valley
A wonderful place of natural beauty and breathtaking scenery, the Wachau Valley is easily accessible from Vienna with a quick drive. The valley is a World Heritage Site due to its rich history and spectacular views. It’s one of the most popular day trips you can take out of Vienna and for good reason.
One cannot remain impartial to the wonderful sight of the Danube sneaking its way through the valley, around monasteries that look like they’ve just jumped straight out of a fairytale. The area is very popular with foodies around the world as well. When visiting, make sure to stop by the magnificent Melk Abbey, perched up on a hilltop and overlooking the river.
9. Klosterneuburg Abbey
Situated just north of the city near the Vienna woods, the little village of Klosterneuburg is incredibly easy to get to. Its main attraction is the big 12th century abbey, perched high above the Danube. Lots of newer buildings were added to the Abbey in the 18th and 19th century making it into a true museum of architecture.
The abbey complex boasts wonderful examples of the Romanesques and Baroque styles, as well as a gorgeous courtyard and, for those of us who are fond of mysteries, underground vaults. If you’re feeling adventurous, the nearby town of Kierling has a noteworthy Kafka memorial as well.
This should probably be considered cheating, as it is actually in Vienna itself, so getting to it is as easy as it can get. But once you perch on top of the hill and see the magnificent views, you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere else. Fondly referred to as Vienna’s mini-mountain, Kahlenberg’s views stretch out over the city and the Danube all the way to the Little Carpathians.
A must-see in Kahlenberg is the Stephanie Observatory. Gifted by the Crown Princess Stephanie in the 19th century, its beautiful design is sure to leave you breathless. The climb up is a bit steep – 125 steps – but it’s all worth it for the views. Make sure to visit the Kahlenberg Church too, a place of beauty and rich history.
11. Lainzer Tiergarten and Baden bei Wien
Located just on the outskirts of Vienna, the Lainzer Wildlife Park (Lainzer Tiergarten) is a famous place for rest and relaxation. Easily accessible by car, you can take a walk through the woods and marvel at the beauty of oak and beech trees and enjoy the fresh air. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot some deer and boar.
It used to be a hunting reserve once and afterwards was closed to the public, only to be reopened in 1921. The Tiergarten is a very important conservation area and boasts a gorgeous observation tower as well. If you’re tired after your walk in the park, why not visit Baden bei Wien, a famous spa town dating all the way back to Roman times. Bask in the serenity of the little street and perhaps indulge yourself with some rest and relaxation among the healing water springs.
Now a part of the district of Döbling, Heiligenstadt is most famous for being the place that Ludvig van Beethoven visited several times while working on his Second Symphony. It was in Heiligenstadt that he wrote a letter to his brothers, where he bemoaned his increasing deafness – a letter that was never sent.
Heiligenstadt is also the oldest village in the region of Vienna and its stunning, serene architecture is definitely a must-see. The house where Beethoven stayed is now a museum to the composer, where you can learn more about the life of one of Vienna’s most famous residents.
The little town of Rohrau is just 46 km east of Vienna and is definitely a great way to spend a day away from the city. It’s claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of Joseph Haydn. His birthplace is now a museum to his life and the visit to the small picturesque farmhouse is definitely worth it.
The museum boasts wonderful exhibit and has even restored the room where Haydn was born, so that’s definitely a sight to behold. Another great attraction is Rohrau Castle, once the residence of the Count von Harrach. Due to the Count’s splendid art collection, the beautiful museum is now an art gallery, where you can enjoy more than 200 paintings by famous artists such as Rubens and Van Dyck.
14. Danube Boat Tours
One of the best way to explore the surroundings effortlessly is to book yourself a boat trip on the famous Danube river. Depending on how far you want to go, you can spend up to four days travelling to cities such as Budapest or Bratislava, but likewise you can just go for a one or two-hour sail to see the beautiful nature around Vienna. It opens up some lovely views towards the Wachau Valley and Melk Abbey, as well as beautiful woods and tiny huddled villages. You can take a themed cruise or – if you prefer privacy – hire a river taxi to take you upstream.
Located about an hour south of Vienna, Eisenstadt has yet another connection to Joseph Haydn. The composer lived in the little town for many years and was even buried there. His house is now a museum to celebrate his life and art and you can also go and visit Haydn’s grave in the Bergkirche above Eisenstadt.
Once you’ve had enough of musical history, make sure to head over to the unique Old Town, where you can find a plethora of 17th century buildings and little shops in the cobbled streets. Afterwards, make sure to check out the Schloss Esterhazy, palace of the Princes Esterhazy, one of the most famous royal families at the time. Its mixture of architectural styles is breathtaking and a must-see is the Haydn room with a plethora of colorful frescoes and wonderful busts.