Vienna: An Overview and Tips

Belvedere Castle

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A brief overview of Vienna

Vienna is the capital city of Austria.  It’s also the largest city, with a population of around 1.8 million people. Citizens of Vienna enjoy a high quality of life, and it has consistently been ranked among the top most liveable cities on the planet.  It is otherwise known as the “City of Music”, due to the history of and passion for classical music in the city.

There are plenty of things to see and do during your time in Vienna.  It has an incredible royal history, and is home to a large number of palaces and royal buildings.  You can check out the opera house, and catch all or part of a live performance.  If you feel like exploring a little further, jump on a bike and check out the districts and countryside on the outskirts of the city.  And to wind down, enjoy a drink in one of the various pubs or restaurants throughout the city.

We’d recommend spending at least 3 nights in Vienna, to make sure that you see and explore all that the city has to offer.

Our top tips and things to know

  • Do a Free Walking Tour when you first arrive. it’s a great way to orientate yourself to the city, and you can get handy tips from the tour guides about where else to go and what to do. Read more about them in our article on things to do in Vienna.
  • If you’re not staying in the old town, make sure you stay close to either a U-Bahn or S-Bahn station so you can get there easily.
  • Visit a Viennese coffee shop – they’re a huge part of the city’s culture and a great place to relax.
  • You can download an offline map of Vienna on google maps before you go. Zoom to Vienna, search ‘okmaps’, and then download the area you have selected.
  • Vienna’s underground metro system isn’t linked with google maps for some reason, so if you’re looking for directions you’ll have to use something else or just ask.
  • Austria uses the Euro as its currency


Other tips and info: Where to stay in Vienna


Vienna is divided into 23 districts, with District 1 being the most central. As you move further out from the city centre, the districts then increase numerically. With a great public transport network, it doesn’t matter too much where in the city you stay, and you can walk through the inner city districts from 1-9 in around 40 minutes.

  • If you want to be close to all of the main sights, stay in District 1 of Vienna, the inner city. You’ll be within walking distance of most of the well known sights and entertainment precincts. try booking close to Stephansplatz or Schwedenplatz.
  • If you want something a little cheaper, stay around either Wein Westbahnhof and Wein Hauptbahnhof stations.  They’re only about 10 minutes on public transport from the city centre
  • Tip: When you search for your accommodation, change to a map view so you can see where the clusters of hostels or hotels are – these are generally the popular areas to stay.

Other tips and info: Using public transport in Vienna

There are four main options for public transport:  The U-Bahn (underground subway), S-Bahn (above ground local train), Strassenbahn (the tram) or the bus.  Check out the Vienna Public Transport website for specific details.

  • You can buy tickets from the main U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, from either manned ticketing booths or machines. You can also buy tickets from some small businesses such as newsagents and tobacconists. If you have the right change you can buy your tickets from coin operated machines on trams and buses.
  • There are a number ticketing options available to suit the length of time of your stay in Vienna, including single tickets, day or multi-day passes, and specific tourist cards called the Vienna Pass with Travel and the Vienna Card.  The Vienna Pass and Vienna Card get you discounts and entry to some of the attractions as well, so look at their website to see if you think they’re worth it.
  • You need to validate your ticket before starting your journey. You do this by using the blue coloured boxes with small yellow slots, that you’ll find at the start of the platforms at the U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, and on board trams and busses. Be sure to do this, as undercover ticket inspectors regularly patrol popular routes.
  • Check out the Network Map to help figure out what the closest stations are to your accommodation and to where you need to go.

More reading on Vienna

If you’re looking for more info and things to do, check out these articles we’ve written:

  • Things to do in Vienna
  • A brief history of Vienna

If you’re looking for ideas for places to go before or after your visit, have a look at:

  • Country overview: Austria
  • Journey Idea: Central Europe: Heading East