If your visit to Vienna lasts long enough to tire of coffee and Sachertorte (is that even possible?), then you might want to escape on a day trip outside the city.
- Melk Abbey
- Klosterneuburg Abbey
- The Alps
- Roman Carnuntum
- Schloss Hof
- Guided bus tours to Hallstatt, Prague etc.
Day trip suggestions
Even if you don’t want to hire a car*, then trains, buses and boats get you to many places quickly and easily. This includes travel to other countries and organised tours leaving from Vienna.
One of the joys of the city, for example, is the close proximity to Slovakia, Hungary, Czechia, and even the likes of Germany and Italy.
I’m working to bring you helpful articles on travelling to all these places and others more local. Here my tips so far…
(The Salzach flows through the city)
It takes just over 2 hours to reach Salzburg by rail from Vienna, with frequent departures. So the city certainly qualifies as a day trip destination.
The Salzach river runs alongside the beautiful old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Wander between the historic buildings on the famous Getriedegasse street, for example, then pop into Mozart’s birthplace.
(Salzburg and Vienna have a tacit agreement to share Mozart; you might argue that Salzburg gave birth to the man, while Vienna gave birth to the legend.)
- More info: How to visit Salzburg from Vienna
(The abbey looks down over the River Melk)
The small town of Melk lies about a one-hour train journey west of Vienna. And perched on a hill above the old town is the magnificent Stift Melk, an abbey rebuilt in the 1700s with a history that goes back over 1000 years.
Stift Melk has much to offer the visitor and all wrapped up in remarkable Baroque architectural splendour. Ticketed parts include a museum, a library of the “you never want to leave” kind, the abbey church, a garden & park, and views across the Danube valley.
Figure on two to three hours for looking around. Combined with lunch on site or in Melk itself, and you can be back in Vienna for late afternoon coffee and cake.
- More info: How to visit Melk abbey from Vienna
(Another glorious abbey with baroque elements)
Another abbey and another small town, except Klosterneuburg is just a few minutes outside Vienna by bus or train. The abbey there dates back to the early 12th century.
Stift Klosterneuburg has a small treasury with some quite astonishing exhibits within, including the archducal coronet from the early 1600s.
A tour takes you into a Baroque wing built for Emperor Charles VI in the 1730s, but also the church, cloisters, and chapels. Much of the medieval architecture remains visible. A particular highlight is the Verdun Altar, one of the most prestigious pieces of medieval art in the world.
- More info: Klosterneuburg Abbey
(I should get a better photo!)
Austria is 99% mountains, 1% chocolate. Possibly.
The Alps stretch almost the entire length of the country, only petering out just before they reach Vienna. Which means the mountains aren’t that far away from the city.
Vienna even has a “local” ski resort: Semmering is close enough to make a day’s skiing a reality, and you can still be back in time for dinner.
- More info: How to visit the Alps from Vienna
(The Roman reconstructions)
Back in the mists of time, Vienna was Vindobona: one of the chain of locations established to guard Rome’s frontier with those pesky German tribes.
Remarkably, follow the Danube downriver out of Vienna for about 40km and you reach the location of an even bigger Roman town and military base.
Carnuntum is where, for example, the 14th and 15th Legions kept the German tribes at bay (think the opening scenes of Gladiator).
This architectural park has various historical sites to visit, including extensive reconstructions, a museum, and two amphitheatres. And, for some reason, an awful lot of ground squirrels.
- More info: Carnuntum Roman archeological park
Schloss Hof Palace and Gardens
(The view from outside)
Two Viennese palaces and a city palais proved too little for Prince Eugene of Savoy, a man whose modesty seems to have grown smaller as his wealth grew bigger.
The baroque Schloss Hof might be considered Eugene’s “little place in the country”. If by “little place” you mean a large estate.
Fill a day trip with a palace to tour, gardens to admire, and a set of outbuildings full of surprises (wandering turkeys, Lipizzaner horses, and hidden rose gardens, to name but three).
- More info: Schloss Hof
Guided tours by bus
Various tour operators have special one-day excursions that leave from the centre of Vienna to popular destinations, taking the hassle out of travel arrangements.
These link to my affiliate partner, Tiqets, but a quick Google will throw up various alternative suppliers, too…
- Hallstatt*: one of Austria’s most picturesque towns on the banks of a lake and at the foot of the mountains. The area is a UNESCO world heritage site.
- Salzburg*: take an organised bus tour to Mozart’s city of birth, if you prefer to let others worry about travel planning
- Bratislava*: another city on the Danube, the capital of Slovakia is just over an hour away and reachable by bus and boat
- Prague*: demands an early rise but the capital of Czechia rivals Vienna for historical beauty (I’m not supposed to say that)
- Budapest*: the capital of Hungary and another gorgeous former Habsburg city. Unlike Vienna, the Danube passes right through the city centre