Updated: Oct 5, 2018
The most important part about planning a trip to Vienna is really planning out what you want to see and do beforehand. I am the type of traveller that wants to wander and find things along the way but it's really not possible for Vienna, and in doing so it hindered our experience. Vienna is a pretty big city, with a population of 1,889,083 inhabitants, and if you're unsure where you're going you'll be wandering through streets without anything exciting to see apart from the Romanesque and Baroque style architecture. Which is definitely outstanding if you're interested in that! I want to take you through my experience in Vienna and highlight the importance of the subway system which will help you on your Austrian adventure.
I want to begin by saying 2 nights in Vienna was definitely not enough as it is a big city and there was so much more to see. If you have specifics and plan well you can explore Vienna in 2 days but I would recommend extending your Austrian trip and try to see Salzburg.
Vienna is not incredibly expensive compared to major cities in Europe but it is more expensive than some of the capital cities in the surrounding area (Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, etc.) Austria uses the euro. A typical meal ranged from between €15-25 depending on where you go. Beer was around €4. Apart from transportation to the capital and the hostel we stayed at, I spent under €100 for two nights in Vienna!
We took a €15 train to Vienna through Regiojet from Prague and I was extremely impressed with the service for being a discount train/bus service. We were in a cabin train of 6 people and they offered water for free and cheap snacks. It was shocking because we didn't expect much from a discount train system between two capital cities (and two different countries!)
For €14.10 we purchased a 48 Hour Ticket - This was extremely important as it allowed us to roam the city freely from the moment your ticket is validated. You must validate your ticket before entering the public transportation at the small machines - if you have an extended time ticket you only have to validate once and it's good for the allotted time after the ticket has been validated (NOT after it has been bought unless you choose to validate upon purchase.) The subway is open 24hrs on Fridays and Saturdays!
We spent €47.40 for 2 nights at the Wombat's City Hostel - The Place located in Naschmarkt near the Westbahnhof subway stop (U3). In Vienna, this hostel actually has two locations. The other is called The Lounge and we think our experience might have been better had we been at that location instead. I've stayed in many hostels and although it was clean I was really unsettled with the no-age limit in our mixed dorm. It seemed like a lot of the men in our room were older. For the future: do your research on dorms and make sure there is an age-limit if that makes you uncomfortable or simply choose a same sex only dorm. The location wasn't ideal for coming back at night either but luckily it was relatively close to the subway.
By the time we checked in to the hostel and relaxed a little it was time to get dinner. We ended up at 7Sternbräu (pronounced: siebensternbräu) and we were lucky to find a seat at the bar. This place was packed and it was great. We were so hungry so we immediately ordered the famous austrian/German bretzel (pretzel in English) and beer. We ordered our main entree (the famous wiener schnitzel) and had an all around great first dinner in Vienna for only €18! Keep in mind most bars and restaurants will not accept credit cards - keep cash on you!
Being new in Vienna we didn't know how to navigate breakfast - near our hostel we had a breakfast a the Hotel Westend and it was overall a bad idea. It was overpriced and we spent €11.70 for a coffee and some bread. Vienna and Austrians in general have a huge coffee culture so if you're searching for your morning coffee try to find a cafe.
*Music Lovers: We did the Mozart house for €11 and it was a cool idea to understand a bit of the history.*
Plan a day for Prater Park and go on the rides! You can get here by the U2 subway and head to Messe-Prater. It was out of our budget and we didn't plan for a day of going on rides but it was nice to walk around and we had a nice lunch at Schweizerhaus for €12.20 and really good beer. Yay Bratwurstel! Fun fact: the legal drinking age is 16 and is allowed on the street and in public.
If you take the U2 to Karlsplatz you can go to the Belvedere Palace. Again out of our budget to go inside but we had seen many palaces and art museums so we just enjoyed the view of the Belvedere and the Fountain at Karlsplatz
and on our walk we passed the Saint Elizabeth Church which made for some nice photographs!
Since Austrians love their coffee culture we tried checking out Kleines cafe. This place was crowded and the staff wasn't nice to us but we had good coffee for €4.80. This is where we learned that Austrians tend to be impatient. Although a popular place, we probably could have found a less crowded place for the same experience. Something to note: smoking is allowed in cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. The being said if you drop a cigarette butt on the ground it's a fine of €36 if the police see you!
Also on the U2 at Karlsplatz there's the Albertina Art Museum and the entire area outside of it is beautiful. If you have the time I would recommend going inside!
That being said the Museumsquartier in general is a great area and can be accessed by the U2.
We had been recommended the restaurant Ulrich and it was such an interesting place. We spent a total of €19.90 for great food, atmosphere, and interesting spritz cocktails all while surrounding by a mix of Austrians and foreigners. It was worth it, but I would recommend reservations!
Our last day we were stressed trying to get to the bus terminal on time, and we had so much time to spare. In the area we were able to find the Little Britain Cafe for breakfast which was the only cafe open since it was Easter Sunday! We spent €4.70 on the cutest little breakfast. Croissant, cappuccino, and they gave us a dyed hard boiled egg because it was Easter!
Allergy tip: if you have a food allergy, there are lists on menus with letters associated with each allergen, always tell them you're still allergic.
St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stefansplatz U1)
Stephansplatz (Stefansplatz U1)
Graben (Stefansplatz U1)
Hofburg (Stefansplatz U1)
National Library (Stefansplatz U1)
Karlskirche (Karlsplatz U2)
Gloriette (Karlsplatz U2)
Volksgarten (Volksteater U2)
Kunsthlstorisches Museum (Museumsquartier U2)
Welt Museum (Museums Quarter U2)
Rathaus (Rathaus U2)
Schottentor (Schottentor U2)
Votivirche (Schottentor U2)
Hundertwasser Haus (Landstrasse U3)
Stadtpark (Landstrasse U3)
Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens (Schonbrunn U4)
Naschmarkt (Kettenbruckengasse U4)
I hope you enjoy your time in Vienna!