Are you looking for some exciting day trips from Vienna? Excellent! You have arrived at the right place.
Vienna is a beautiful city full of palaces, pedestrian streets, and music in every corner. If you have spent 1, 2 or 3 days in the city and have some additional time, I can understand your desire of seeing a little bit more of the surrounding area.
In terms of Vienna day trips, there is a wide range of options. The most complicated thing is deciding where to go.
Before moving on, I want us to be on the same page. In this guide, I am covering day trips to destinations that can be reached from Vienna in 1 to 3 hours. Also, I am highlighting sites with major appeal since I want to give you a “wow” factor. There are way more interesting places located close to Vienna but a visit to them is more suitable if you are spending an extended period of time in the city.
Well, seems like we have discussed what needed to be discussed. Let dive straight into the best day trips from Vienna!
Day Trips from Vienna
In my opinion, the best day trip from Vienna is the UNESCO listed Wachau Valley. This 25 miles (40 km) stretch of the Danube is as pretty as river valleys come.
For some inexplicable reason, this area is not very well known. A lot of people have no idea it exists and, as a consequence, do not have interest in planning a day trip when in Vienna (big, big mistake!)
Well, if you haven’t heard of the place, you have now! Believe me, you want to visit this area full of red-roofed towns, castles, vineyards and stunning abbeys.
The Wachau Valley goes from Krems to Melk. The town of Krems is located about 40 miles (70 km) from Vienna. There are at least two ways to plan your day trip:
- Take the train to Krems, check out the town, take a bus to the town of Durnstein, check out the town, take a boat ride to Melk, tour the abbey, check out the town and take the train back to Vienna
- Or, take the train to Melk and do the abbey first thing in the day, take the boat to Spitz or Durnstein and continue moving by bus or train. Return to Vienna in the evening
- Whatever you do, do not miss the boat ride!
- The boats are quite nice. You can sit in the open-air area and admire the great vistas while enjoying your favorite drink. Check times and fares here or here.
- If you choose to book a tour for this day trip, I would recommend a company that works with small groups
Here is a short description of the main towns located in the Wachau Valley:
With about 24,000 residents, Krems is the biggest town in the Wachau Valley. The oldest part of town used to be surrounded by a defensive wall. Nowadays, Krems is famous for its 15th-century gate, Steiner Tor. The gate was restored to its former glory in 2005 to celebrate the 1,000-year anniversary of the city.
While in Krems, you can walk the old streets, buy pastries at a local bakery, indulge in a glass of wine produced in the area and try the famous peach liqueur.
Durnstein is notorious for two things, its blue church, which can be toured for a small fee, and its castle ruins. The visit to the castle is free but get prepared since it is a steep ride to the top. Once on the castle grounds, get prepared for gorgeous views of the Danube and nearby towns. King William Lionheart was a castle prisoner in 1192 during the third crusade.
Spitz is very small and it appeals to those who enjoy outdoor (walking, hiking, biking) or gastronomic (fine dining, wine tasting) activities. The Hinterhaus Castle is located in the south part of town. In addition, it is a popular place to take the boat to Melk.
A visit to the Wachau Valley is better savored from the water. A 1.5 to 2 hours ride will pass by the famous Agsstein Ruin and Schönbühel Castle.
You will see multiple resort towns and market towns too.
Melk Abbey is one of the biggest and most beautiful European Baroque ensembles. The Abbey was constructed over a rock overlooking the Danube.
A visit of the monastery includes the Imperial Staircase, the Imperial Corridor, the abbey museum, the Marble Hall, the balcony, the library and the abbey church as well as the abbey park with its Baroque pavilion and many other accents, the Northern Bastion with the Wachau Lab and a panoramic terrace, the mineral collection, and special exhibitions.
Visits to the Abbey are only possible with a guided tour. Check out times before stopping by (especially if you speak a language different from English).
During your visit, you can check out the Abbey grounds and the town of Melk.
Read more about the Wachau Valley on my post summarizing my visit.
Another day trip option consists of visiting the town of Krems and the Gottweig Abbey.
Göttweig Abbey is a baroque Benedictine monastery and often referred to as Austria’s Monte Cassino because of its fantastic location. Austria’s Monte Cassino watches over the southern entry to the Wachau south of Krems like a sacred fortress.
Göttweig Abbey was founded in 1083 as a proprietary monastery and became a Benedictine monastery in 1094. It was newly built in its current baroque form in the early 18th c according to plans by J.-L. von Hildebrandt.
The Abbey is part of the Wachau Valley UNESCO inscription. Guided tours are offered daily. To reach the place from Vienna, it is easier to take the train to Krems (hourly trains depart from Vienna’s main station) and then, take the bus to the Abbey.
Photo by arcomonte26
Seems like people living close to the Austrian capital had an affinity for abbeys. Well, we cannot blame them. The landscapes surrounding Vienna have a big spiritual touch.
This abbey is special since it was founded in 1114 by Saint Leopold III, the patron saint of Austria. The abbey church dates to the foundation years but the rest of the structure was constructed between 1730 and 1834.
The abbey has a 36-meter deep wine cellar and offers wine tasting to visitors. The Abbey can be easily reached from the center of Vienna using a combination of trains (U4, Heiligenstadt stop) and buses (238 or 239).
Bratislava is the capital and largest city of Slovakia. The city is one of the four European capitals cut by the legendary Danube River. In addition, the city occupies the left bank of the Morava River.
The city has been affiliated to the Kingdom of Hungary, the Austrian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia and other entities. Slovakia became an independent country in 1993.
Since the city was under Habsburg rule for centuries, the architecture is similar to other cities you will find in Central and Eastern Europe. However, there is a certain quirkiness and uniqueness that distinguishes Bratislava. I found the city regal and fun at the same time.
Bratislava is another great day trip from Vienna. Hey, you got to visit an entirely different country from a city you are staying on!
The train connecting Vienna and Bratislava takes about an hour to travel the distance between the cities. You do not need to make reservations since multiple trains depart Vienna’s Main Train Station (Hauptbahnhof) every day.
From Bratislava’s Main Train station, you will need to take a bus to the Old Town. Make sure you have coins in order to buy tickets at the machines. I recommend stopping by the tourist information center at the train station (second floor). They can provide a free map and specific instructions on how to move around the city.
My post about 14 things to do in Bratislava gives you plenty of ideas to spend a day in the city.
Vienna Woods, Modling and Liechtenstein Castle
The Vienna Woods is a large belt of woodland full of historical towns, vineyards, hiking trails, spas, and castles. Because of its proximity to the city, it is a favorite weekend destination for Vienna residents.
You can spend half or the entire day in the Woods visiting towns such as Perchtoldsdorf, Modling, Baden, Gabltz, Stammersdorf, and Purkersdorf.
The Liechtenstein Castle and the Seegrotte, an underground lake, can be accessed from the town of Modling. This area is best seen by rental car or private tour.
Photo by Bwag
Salzburg can be reached from Vienna by train in less than 3 hours. If you have a desire to visit this beautiful city located at the foot of the Alps, you can have the experience but it will require a very early departure in order to maximize the day.
Salzburg’s train station is located within walking distance of the train station. Pick up a map from the tourist center before moving on. Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the Center.
A day is enough to visit Schloss Mirabell and Gardens (of The Sound of Music fame), the Cathedral, St. Peter’s Abbey, the Mozart House and the Hohensalzburg Castle. Do not miss the castle! Everything about it is incredible.
You should have some time to walk the narrow streets of Old Town, take the views from the river and eat Salzburger Nockerl (a meringue dessert).
Budapest is located about 160 miles (250 km) from Vienna. A fast train will travel that distance in 2.5 to 3 hours. That means it is possible to visit Budapest from Vienna as a day trip if you get an early (very early) start. I will recommend spending more than one day in each city but, I know time may be limited.
The train stations in both cities are not a stone throw from the centers or main attractions. You have to factor the time it takes to travel from say your hotel to Vienna’s train station and then from Budapest’s train station to the Center.
Once in Budapest, start by visiting the sights on the Buda side (Castle, Church, Fisherman’s Bastion). Then, cross the Chain Bridge and visit the most notorious sites on the Pest side (Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Inner City and Vaci Street). Visit one of the cafes and try to fit a boat ride along the river. Those sites should keep you busy for the entire day.
For more ideas on what to see and do in Budapest, check out my post full of idea.
More of Vienna
- Even if you are short on time, you can enjoy the best of Vienna in one day
- If you have more than one day in the city, I encourage you to read my post on what to do in Vienna in 1, 2 or 3 days
- Schonbrunn– Habsburg’s Winter Palace
- Naschmarkt – Vienna’s Largest Outdoor Market
- Hundertwasserhaus – one of the unique places in Vienna
- The official tourism site is a great source of information
What day trip from Vienna would you like to do? Do you have different recommendations?
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