Vienna is one of my favorite cities, as you already know. While there are numerous things to see and do in Vienna, there are also great day trips from Vienna you can take. This article covers what to do near Vienna, Austria.
Read the recommendations from Rand from Well Traveled Mile and discover where to go near Vienna.
Unmissable Day Trips From Vienna, Austria: Where to go near Vienna
Vienna, the capital of Austria, has so much to offer, for residents as well as for visitors. Exploring the city itself, you will be stunned by its historical buildings to be discovered in the inner city and castles like Schönbrunn – read here our guide to visiting Schönbrunn – or Belvedere.
With its 21 km long island in the Danube, the Donauinsel, Vienna also provides a spacious recreation area in nature within the city.
Spring and summer are the best seasons to visit Vienna, although the magical Christmas markets in Vienna in winter also make for a trip highlight.
In warmer weather and less rainy months, you can enjoy the multiple parks, outdoor cafes and Austrian cuisine in the many restaurants, stroll through picturesque streets, visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Karlskirche, the Vienna State Opera or the many fascinating museums – here are the 5 not-to-miss museums in Vienna.
After exploring the city of Vienna, there are numerous options of day trips from Vienna to venture outside the city and explore more of Austria. Thanks to the excellent public transportation system and incredible highway system in Austria, it is pretty easy to get around.
As a side note, if you are looking for more inspiration for Vienna, these are my 6 places to visit in Vienna.
Getting around by train is one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to travel within Austria. You will find that you can get almost anywhere in the country by train. One thing to note a foreigner is that you will need a credit card that has a chip and PIN to purchase rail tickets from the kiosks in the train stations.
Whether you are planning on a hiking trip to the mountains, a boat trip along the Danube to the Wachau Valley, exploring ancient castles, a day trip to Salzburg or relaxing in the vineyards, there are plenty of day trip options from Vienna.
The Wachau Valley
The Valley of the Wachau is one of the most beautiful landscapes of Austria and also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You will find the stretch of the Wachau along the Danube between the cities Krems and Melk, west of Vienna.
Whether you go by train, car or take a tour on a ship on the Danube, you won’t be disappointed with the stunning scenery. From spring to fall you will find spectacular views of the Wachau’s rolling hills with its famous vineyards and apricot trees as well as historical ruins, castles, and monasteries next to the river.
Take your time to explore the region with its charming villages, ancient churches, old cobblestone streets, farmer’s markets, and typical local restaurants. Hike to the top of the hills to the ruins of Dürnstein or Aggstein to get even a better feeling and a stunning view of the Wachau Valley. And before turning around visit one of Austria’s most impressive monasteries, the abbey of Melk.
A couple of kilometers north of Vienna you will feel like in medieval times when exploring the castle of Kreuzenstein. Take a tour through centuries of history and visit the buildings and interiors of the fortress, its armory, the courtyard and more.
Only by booking a tour you are allowed to walk through the castle’s gate and explore everything behind the mighty walls, but it’s worth it. The Castle Kreuzenstein is open daily from April 1st to October 31st.
If you are not in a hurry, you also have the possibility of watching a show of flying raptors right next to the castle. The show will last a little less than an hour and is taking place 2 or 3 times a day.
National Park Donau-Auen
Are you a nature lover? If so, the Donau-Auen national park is the right place for you and one of the best things to do near Vienna. East of Vienna, between the Austrian capital Vienna and the Slovakian capital Bratislava, you have plenty to discover in the last surviving major wetlands environment of Central Europe, the Danube wetlands.
Explore the national park by foot, by bike or even on a guided tour in a boat. It is up to you if you get to know all the fascinating details of the Danube wetlands by a ranger or by your own. Just make sure to stay on the marked hiking routes or biking trails to preserve this untouched landscape.
The Monastery of Klosterneuburg
Just a short trip north of Vienna is the city Klosterneuburg with its impressive monastery of the twelfth century.
Because of the short distance, you could even rent a bike and bike to Klosterneuburg, along the Danube water channel, the Donaukanal. Next to Klosterneuburg monastery, you will also find Austria’s oldest wine estate.
Visit the Monastery Klosterneuburg and its treasure chamber or book a guided tour to see the imperial rooms of the abbey and the marble hall. If you interested in the history of the wine, you can additionally purchase a ticket for a guided tour of the baroque cellar, including wine tasting. This is one of the best places to visit near Vienna.
Designer Outlet Parndorf
In Parndorf, about 30 to 40 minutes south of Vienna, you can shop till you drop and satisfy your desire for fashion at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet. At this shopping center, you have a wide choice of more than 160 different designer brands.
The McArthurGlen Designer Outlet in Parndorf is one of the largest outlet shopping centers in Europe. Its unique design and architecture let it even appear as a little Austrian village.
Easy to access, directly next to the highway, free parking, and open doors from Monday to Saturday. Shopping has never been easier, plus it’s one of the shortest day trips from Vienna.
Relax at the lake Neusiedler See
Either as a full day trip of its own or adding it to your shopping tour at the Designer Outlet in Parndorf you can continue on the highway to the lake Neusiedler See. There are many charming villages around the lake.
Podersdorf, for example, is known for its red, white striped lighthouse tower and it is the only village on the lake Neusiedler See which is located directly on the water.
In summer you could cool off in the lake at the many public beaches, like the Strandbad in the village Neusiedl. You can also rent a boat, a stand-up paddleboard or try windsurfing.
The lake Neusiedler See is not just famous for its shallow water and perfect wind conditions, but also for being the host of the Surf Worldcup, which takes place every year in spring.
After enjoying the lake, you can book a table at the restaurant Mole West. It is a trendy spot, with its deck and jetty built directly on the Neusiedler See.
Enjoy the view onto the lake and in the evening of the sunset with a cocktail or dinner. If you prefer local food for a little bit lower prices, I would recommend a traditional, local Heuriger instead. There is plenty of Austrian Heuriger in the neighboring villages around the lake.
Photo from Unsplash
The picturesque town Hallstatt
One of Austria’s most charming towns is Hallstatt and it’s also one of the best 1-day trips from Vienna. It is very scenic with its traditional architecture and 16th-century Alpine houses built into the mountain along the western shore of the lake Hallstatt. Until the 19th century, Hallstatt was only accessible by boat. You should take a tour on a boat to gain a different view of this beautiful village, located between the mountains.
It is one of the most picturesque and most photographed villages in the world and even the Chinese built a copy of this quaint mountain village. When walking through the old streets and tiny alleyways to the market square of Hallstatt, you will know why.
The salt mine in Hallstatt is considered the oldest in the world, as it is over 7000 years old. You should check out a guided tour through the tunnels deep inside the mine, which you will access by sliding down a wooden slide into the mountain.
The wooden slide exists since 5000 BCE and has been used for salt mining since then.
Salzburg – the city of Mozart
Still wondering what to do near Vienna? How about a trip to Salzburg?
Castles, museums, churches, parks, and nature, the beauty of Salzburg is diverse. Immerse yourself in Austrian history and get to know the world-famous city of its charming, historical and cultural side.
About 3 hours west of Vienna (and just 1 hour away from Hallstatt) you have the chance to visit the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. W. A. Mozart was born in 1756 in house number 9 of the street Getreidegasse in Salzburg. Today, Mozart’s birthplace is one of the most visited museums in Austria.
It is not only Mozart’s birthplace that makes Salzburg one of the most popular tourist destinations, but the Old Town of Salzburg is also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The street Getreidegasse is the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town and attracts visitors with its distinctive charm.
Characteristic of the architecture of the houses in the Getreidegasse is the beautiful house portals and windows, which are smaller from the first floor up. Besides, the old houses are often decorated with year dates, the name of the previous residents or the eye of God.
On the mountain Mönchsberg, above the roofs of the baroque old town, you will catch sight of the iconic Hohensalzburg Fortress, built in 1077.
As the largest completely preserved castle in Central Europe, the landmark of Salzburg attracts millions of tourists every year. You can either walk up the mountain or take the cable car and enjoy the scenery.
Another must-see of Salzburg is the Mirabell Palace, which was built in 1606. It is home to the Baroque Mirabell Gardens, the location of one of the most famous scenes from “The Sound of Music”. Because of its unique beauty, the Mirabell Hall in the Palace is called to be one of the “most beautiful wedding halls in the world”.
Although Salzburg can be visited in one day, if you plan on additionally visiting Hallstatt, making an overnight stop in the city is a great choice.
There are plenty of wonderful hotel options, including smaller boutique hotels and also larger brand hotels such as the Hotel Goldener Hirsch, which is part of Marriott Bonvoy.
Day Trip to Bratislava
A pleasant and relaxing way to get to Bratislava from Vienna is by hydrofoil along the Danube, leaving from Vienna’s inner city from the Schwedenplatz. The trip offers lovely views of the river, its houseboats, and fishermen houses along the banks.
The Twin City Liner leaves multiple times a week and up to three times daily. A ride with the high speed catamaran takes about 75 to 90 minutes one way. Make sure to know the departure time for your journey back to Vienna before exploring Bratislava’s old town.
Once arrived in Slovakia’s capital explore the beautiful Old Town with the last original city gate of Bratislava, the Michael’s Gate and other architectural gems. You will find a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants in the Old Town. You also sure don’t want to miss out taking a photo of or with Cumil. Cumil is a statue of a worker sticking his head out of the underground sewer system in Bratislava’s Old Town. This bronze figure of a man is not the only one in the city, but it seems to be the most photographed statue in Bratislava.
Don’t miss out on today’s symbol of Slovakia’s capital, the Bratislava castle. It sits above the Old Town on a hill and will offer you an impressive view after a short hike. Enjoy strolling through the Baroque gardens and visit the Museum of History which is located directly in the castle.
Other top attractions are the Rococo-style Grassalkovich Palace from the 18th century, which serves nowadays as the Presidential Palace, the fairytale-like Blue Church, ant the iconic UFO Tower at the SNP Bridge on the Danube.
Day trip to Prague, Czech Republic
About 4 hours north of Vienna you will reach Prague, the capital of Austria’s neighboring country the Czech Republic. With multiple trains or buses leaving early from Vienna it is possible to visit Prague during a day trip.
Prague is also called as the “City of the Thousand Spires” with its rich historical culture. The most significant symbol of Prague is probably the Charles Bridge.
Enjoy the moment walking across this picturesque bridge of the 14th century. During high season it can often be crowded, thanks to a large number of visitors, but still it is worth visiting.
Make sure to visit also the Hradčany Prague castle, another famous attraction for tourists and the residence of Czech’s president. It’s amazing to see it at night with lights illuminating it’s hundreds of spires.
Explore the historic Old Town Square of the 10th century with its beautiful architecture. Thankfully, the striking beauty of this square survived almost unscathed during World War II.
While at the Old Town Square walk to the Old Town Hall where you will see the impressive astronomical clock. The 15th-century clock was supplemented with movable figures of the twelve apostles who appear every full hour for a small procession.
If you still have time you could take a walk through Letná Park. The vast park area with its tall trees offers not only pleasant seating under a shady tree but also a unique view of Prague, especially from the Hanavský Pavillion. Enjoy the time in the park and visit the summer garden restaurant, which is located at the Letná Castle.
About the author:
First introduced to travel at a young age, Rand Shoaf got hooked on exploring the world and never looked back. He has traveled to 45+ countries and writes about maximizing credit card rewards, airline miles and hotel points, and other ways to save money on travel at the Well Traveled Mile.