The Austrian capital may very well be the most beautiful city in all of Europe. While there is no shortage of things to do in Vienna, if you’re visiting the Imperial City, you still may find yourself in need of a day trip or weekend getaway. Given its central location, Vienna is well-connected to many other European cities. Whether you visit in the winter or in the summer, you’ll find the perfect option for your getaway here. Enjoy!
Bratislava is the capital of neighboring country Slovakia, and a popular day trip from Vienna, given its close proximity.
Be sure to visit Michael’s Gate, which serves as the entrance to the city’s Old Town. Once you’re under Michael’s Gate, look for the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle depicts the distance from Bratislava to other capital cities in Europe – how cool!
Visit beautiful Hviezdoslav Square full of trees and often a place for art exhibits. Here you’ll find the Slovak National Theatre if you’re in the mood for an opera or ballet.
Grassalkovich Palace is home to Slovakia’s president. Its gorgeous baroque garden is open to the public even when the president is in residence. Grassalkovich Palace is located in Hodza Square, and is particularly beautiful during the Christmas season, when it is elaborately decorated for the holidays.
Bratislava Castle is one of the main attractions of the city. Here, you can find stunning views of the entire city.
Given its close proximity to Vienna, it’s ideal for a day trip since most of the city sites can be seen in a day. If you find yourself here for a weekend, get out of the city and visit Devin Castle. One of the three oldest castles in Slovakia, Devin Castle should absolutely be on your Slovakia bucket list.
While in Bratislava, you must try some authentic Slovak cuisine. While on the heavy side, it’s stick-to-your-ribs good.
A train ride from Vienna to Bratislava takes only an hour.
Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, is located only 150 km away from Vienna and is easily reachable by public transport. You can get there by either train or bus, the connections are frequent and the journey should take around 1,5 hour.
Brno is yet another perfect Central European city, with pastel houses, charming squares and lanes and impressive churches. Be sure to go up to the Spilberk Castle hill to enjoy a beautiful panorama of the city, the castle itself is nice too.
Brno is also home to the UNESCO gem – the modernist Villa Tugendhat from the 1920s. It is possible to visit it inside, however, you need to book the ticket in advance.
Brno has a large population of students and is one of the most vibrant cities in the region. You can find there numerous cafes, pubs and restaurants that are busy all day long. While Brno deserves more than a day, it is a perfect side trip from Vienna.
A list of day trips from Vienna would be incomplete without mentioning the Queen of the Danube. While Budapest is worth much more than just a day, if 24 hours are all you have, it’s a short two and a half hour train ride away from Vienna.
Visit one of the famous thermal baths for some much-needed relaxation in Budapest. Széchenyi and Gellért are the most famous, but if you’re looking for something more off-the-radar, try Rudas or Király.
Take a boat ride on the Danube river to see gorgeous views of the Hungarian Parliament building, explore Fisherman’s Bastion, and see Buda Castle all on the Buda side of the Danube.
In Pest, you can visit the Terror House, Dohány Street Synagogue, or one of the famous ruin bars.
There are too many beautiful places in Budapest to list in this short excerpt, check them out for yourself!
Český Krumlov, Czechia
Prague, Vienna and Budapest is the most popular Central European itinerary for many travelers. While there are hundreds of reasons to spend all your time in these three cultural cities, there are hundreds of reasons to also spend time outside them, and Český Krumlov is one of them.
Located in the south of The Czech Republic, Český Krumlov is one of the country’s most beautiful, small fairy-tale towns and many tourists flock here every year to visit its cobbled streets, pastel colored houses and grand castle. Because of its convenient location close to the Austrian border, Český Krumlov is a popular stopover destination for those traveling between Prague and Vienna, but it can also easily be done as a day trip from Vienna too!
There are many things to do in Český Krumlov and you can visit all year around. Explore the castle and its beautiful gardens where you’ll find the best view over Český Krumlov and the u-shaped Vltava River that wraps around the historic centre that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the summer, you can rent a raft and even set off on an adventure down the Vltava River! If you visit in December, you may even be lucky enough to see Český Krumlov covered in snow and visit its popular Christmas Markets.
You can reach Český Krumlov by bus from Vienna which has several departures daily or you can take a private shuttle. The drive to Český Krumlov is approximately 3 hours each way, but the drive is definitely worth it!
Cieszyn, which is pronounced as che-sin, is probably one of the best day trips from Vienna that should not be missed. Once an Austrian capital and a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known as Duchy of Teschen, the town of Cieszyn is now shared by two countries, Poland and the Czech Republic.
A tour of this small town, however, still shows a lot of its Austrian roots in the form of its picturesque Market Square, which is surrounded by colorful buildings and cafes that serve amazing coffees. Not far, you will find the Hapsburg’s former hunting palace, which is now used by the National Music School and a major design center.
Delve deeper into Cieszyn’s past to find its Slavic roots by visiting the Three Brothers Well, where the town was founded by three Slavic brothers. You can also visit Cieszyn’s medieval past on Castle Hill where the chapel of an old castle and a tower still stands
Aside from its history, which makes the town of Cieszyn special is its food. Begin with the Cieszyn Brewery whose beer was once solely made for royalty. It is also in Cieszyn, where you will find a good mix of different cuisines derived from its multinational heritage.
A few hours’ drive from Vienna through the E57, the city of Cieszyn is worth the trip. Perhaps you might even be tempted to stay.
Graz is a lesser-known city in Austria, the second biggest after Vienna. Named European Cultural Capital in 2003, Graz is a quaint city whose beauty is reason enough alone to plan a visit.
Known for its incredible architecture, Graz was also named City of Design in 2009.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Old Town of Graz boasts beautifully-preserved medieval and Italian renaissance buildings. Hauptplatz is the heart of the city, flanked by the stunning Rathaus (town hall). In the winter months, you can enjoy the magical local Christmas markets, sip some Glühwein and peruse the stalls for beautiful handcrafted items. Other places of importance include the Schlossberg, Herz Jesu Kirche and Eggenberg Palace. Visit the Graz Clocktower to see one of Austria’s most famous landmarks!
Need a reprieve from the city? The Austrian Sculpture park is found just outside Graz, where you can see more evidence of the area’s penchant for design. Bärenschützklamm gorge and Kesselfallklamm are good options if you’re up for a hike.
If you’re visiting in the winter, there are plenty of ski resorts in the vicinity of Graz, including Weinebene and Krvavec Ski Resort.
Music lovers can enjoy a night at the Opera House or, for something a little less formal, check out the Royal Garden Jazz Club.
Graz is just a two and a half hour train or bus ride outside of Vienna, making it a good option for a day trip.
If you’ve ever had an aspiration to go to a surreal fairy tale village that’s kissed by stupendous natural beauty, then Hallstatt is the place to be. It is the most popular village in Austria that has to be included in your Europe trip itinerary. It’s located in the Gmunden district, surrounded by the picturesque mountainous region of Salzkammergut. For sure, Hallstatt is definitely a place that needs to be included on your Austria bucket list.
The fact that it’s literally on the shore of Lake Hallstatt makes it an aesthetically stunning place. Most people visit the place on a day trip from Vienna. You can get to Hallstatt both by car/traveller coach and train.
Hallstatt is a three and half hour drive away from Vienna by car. A train journey (4 hours), on the other hand, would require you to board from Wien Hauptbahnhof, transfer at Attnang-Puchheim and finally arrive at Hallstatt central station.
The best things to do and see in Hallstatt are Hallstatt Skywalk, Salzwelten Hallstatt (salt mines), Central Market Square, Hallstatt Lake and the promenade, Catholic Church of Hallstatt, Welterbemuseum Hallstatt (local museum) and the Welterbeblick World Heritage View.
Enjoy walking and exploring the town on foot. The traditional wooden houses with the alpine view just steal your heart and make you want to settle there! The ultimate blockbuster experience, however, is riding a boat on the Hallstatt lake. The views from there are just breathtaking.
If you’re seeking a great food place with a view, then check out the Braugasthof Hallstatt restaurant. The apple strudel, fish soup, and freshly grilled seafood dishes there are a must-try!
Innsbruck is an Austrian city nestled in the Austrian Alps, the capital of Tyrol. Best known for its idyllic location in the valley of snow-covered mountains, Innsbruck is the perfect winter escape from Vienna.
Explore the Old Town on foot, a charming and colorful area that serves as the perfect backdrop to catch a street performance and drink some Glühwein while people-watching.
If you happen to be visiting for New Years Eve, the city is bustling with outdoor events and concerts in the squares.
Innsbruck is well known for its sporting opportunities, especially alpine sports, as it is in the Alps and surrounded by mountains. Several ski resorts are situated inside the city territory or within short distance.
As host of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, Innsbruck still enjoys the use of the sports complexes at Olympiaworld. Check out some ice hockey, ice skating, soccer, and music events while you’re visiting!
If you are interested in churches, Hofkirche is home to the tomb monument of Emperor Maximilian I, one of the most important tomb monuments in all of Europe. While visiting Hofkirche, be sure to check out the larger-than-life bronzes (schwarze Mander) that depict members of different dynasties.
Innsbruck is ideal for a weekend getaway from Vienna, accessible in just over four hours by train.
Klagenfurt, on the eastern shore of the popular Lake Wörthersee, is located in the southern Austrian province of Carinthia. The city itself offers a variety of activities, ranging from culture, adventure, and relaxation.
Lake Wörthersee is without a doubt the main draw to Klagenfurt, being one of Europe’s largest and warmest alpine lakes. There are a wide range of activities and things to see both in the water and on shore.
Another popular thing to do while visiting Klagenfurt is visit the small village of Hochosterwitz, a mere 20 minute drive from the city. Here, you’ll find Hochosterwitz Castle, an impressive example of medieval architecture.
If you’re not afraid of heights, make the ascent up 100m to climb the tallest wooden viewing tower in the world. Pyramidenkogel offers stunning views of the epic scenery of the Austrian Alps and Lake Wörthersee.
Visit the main square, Neuer Platz, to see the iconic Dragon fountain. The beautiful Town Hall is also located in Neuer Platz, where you can find a range of different shops, restaurants and a tree-lined seating area.
The train ride to Klagenfurt takes four hours, making for a great weekend getaway from Vienna. By car, it is reachable in just over three hours, and would be a doable day trip.
Linz is a lovely city in Northern Austria located on the Danube River. It is the third largest in Austria, and has no shortage of things to do to occupy a day or weekend away from Vienna. The second European Capital of Culture on our list, Linz was given the prestigious designation in 2009.
While in Linz, you can enjoy an interesting tour that’s given on the rooftops of the city – Höhenrausch. Since 2014 Linz has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network and this is apparent with the brilliant array of museums you can visit here.
Enjoy a linzer torte at K & K Hofbäckerei! A linzer torte is a layered cake made of nuts and jam, widely considered to be one of the oldest desserts in the world! If you’re interested, you can also participate in the baking process to discover what makes the linzer torte so extraordinary.
While you’re in town, be sure to visit the Mariendom. It is the largest church in Austria, boasting a capacity of 20,000 people! While it is the largest in area, it is not the highest church in Austria. Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire it was forbidden to erect buildings taller than St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.
Getting to Linz takes just an hour and a half by train, making for an easy day trip from Vienna.
Maribor is a Slovenian city nestled in the wine-region hills on the Drava River. Despite being somewhat more of an industrialized city, the area is surrounded by nature and offers an extraordinary inner city wine culture.
Pay a visit to Piramida, a vine-covered hill with a small chapel overlooking the city. Until the late 18th century, the old Maribor Castle was once situated on the top of the hill. Today all that is left are the remains of a well and part of the castle floor plan. The small chapel, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built in the early 19th century.
Maribor has had a long history of winemaking. As a matter of fact, the city is home to the Old Vine. The Old Vine is the oldest known producing vine in the world, dating back 400 years. It grows on the front of a building that was once part of the city wall along the Drava River, now affectionately known as The Old Vine House. Today, The Old Vine House serves as a wine museum and tasting room.
Before or after wine tasting, wander around the district of Lent, the oldest neighborhood in Maribor. Lent is situated along the banks of the Drava and was historically used as a trading port, delivering products to shops and inns.
Lent is home to defensive towers, ancient churches, as well as the city’s old Jewish Quarter. It is here that you’ll find the best cafes, restaurants and bars in the city. For picture-perfect views of Lent, head across the river to take your photos.
Maribor is reachable from Vienna in just over three hours by train or just over two hours by car.
Olomouc is a city in the eastern province of Moravia in Czechia. The history of Olomouc dates all the way back to Roman times. Littered throughout the city are numerous monuments that have remained through hundreds of years of unrest and social discord. Despite being the home of a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, Olomouc is still relatively under the tourist radar.
In many cities throughout Central Europe you’ll find plague columns that were erected to pay tribute to the victims of outbreaks and merit God for stopping them. Olomouc is no exception, and its Holy Trinity Column is certainly one of the most resplendent. The column is a source of pride for the city, as it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
Like it’s big sister city, Prague, Olomouc also has an astronomical clock. Initially built in the 15th century, it had to undergo renovation after damages during WWII. Since Communism had just landed in Olomouc, the clock was renovated in the social realist style. Laborers replace saints, and the birthdays of both Lenin and Stalin are displayed on the dial – as well as the International Day of the Worker.
While in town, see if you can visit each of Olomouc’s six grandiose fountains, the oldest of which dates back to the late 17th century.
From Austria’s capital city, Olomouc is just over three hours by train, making it a doable day trip or an easy weekend getaway from Vienna.
Vienna is conveniently connected to yet another capital – of the Czech Republic. It takes 4 hours to get to Prague, either by train or by bus.
If you want to get just a glimpse of Prague, you can visit it on a day trip. It’s mostly Prague’s Old Town that you’ll be able to cover, but that’s okay, since its charm is well worth the journey.
You can walk from the bus/train station through Wenceslas Square and from there straight into the Old Town Square with its iconic Astronomical Clock. Stroll the little streets of the historical center towards Charles Bridge, another must see in Prague. The view will open onto the Prague Castle, the largest castle complex in the world. These are the top sights you cannot leave out in Prague, especially if it’s your first time in the city of a hundred (some say thousand) spires.
Whether you visit Prague in winter or summer, you’re sure to fall in love. Bring a toothbrush with you, in case you like it so much that you’ll want to stay overnight.
Famous for being the birthplace of Mozart, and the filming location of The Sound of Music’s movie scenes, Salzburg has long held a reputation as a must-visit city in Austria. It’s a doable day trip from Vienna, being just a 3-hour drive or direct train ride away. Or you can take the more relaxing option of an organized full-day tour from Vienna.
Once you reach Salzburg, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for the day. Walk around the old town, indulge in coffee and cake in the iconic Café Tomaselli, walk up to the magnificent Salzburg Fortress, go shopping in the boutiques and high-end stores, sample homemade schnapps at a distillery, and take a stroll around the hilltop gardens.
Those wanting to up their art appreciation will love the Museum of Modern Art. Music lovers will have their pick of Mozart concerts to enjoy.
Visit Salzburg in winter to see the city at its snow-capped finest. When the Christmas markets turn every square and garden into a magical fairytale land.
Sopron is a highly underrated city in Hungary, on the train route between Vienna and Budapest. Despite the government trying to turn Sopron into an industrial center during the Socialist Era, the medieval center is still largely preserved, providing an aesthetic backdrop for visiting tourists.
Hungary as a whole is an underrated producer of wine, but the city of Sopron has something special going for it. Sopron is one of the only wine regions in Hungary to produce both red and white wines. Head to a bar or restaurant in the Old Town and enjoy a tasting of some of Hungary’s finest varietals.
In need of any dental work? Sopron is a hot spot for dental tourism. With over 300 dental clinics within the city limits offering affordable dental care, Sopron has become known as the ‘dental capital of the world.’
Aside from getting drunk and getting your teeth cleaned, there are many other notable sites to visit. The Baroque City Square is where you can find the Firewatch Tower, City Hall, Sopron Catholic Church, and Storno House. The Firewatch Tower offers stunning views from its balcony, as well as views of the Austrian Alps.
If you’re into museums, check out the Pharmacy Museum or the Bakery Museum for something a little more unique. Or, stay outside at Fertőrákosi Steinbruch, Sopron’s open-air museum.
Sopron even has a casino, where you can indulge in American Roulette, Black Jack, or poker.
Reach Sopron from Vienna in less than an hour and a half by train, stopping over on your way to Budapest, for a day trip, or weekend getaway.