Austria’s capital city, Vienna, is one of the most breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and majestic cities on Earth. Little wonder it is known by many as “The City of Dreams”.
Vienna is home to exquisite architecture, terrific museums, landmarks and attractions, art, music, superb food, world-class hotels, and fascinating history stretching back over 2,000 years – all while being surrounded by the simply heavenly Austrian countryside.
A vacation to Vienna should be on every traveler’s bucket list, not just to immerse yourself in this fairytale metropolis, but also because Vienna is one of the most convenient places to use as a striking out point for brilliant day trips around the Austrian nation as a whole as well as other parts of Central Europe.
If you’re planning a trip to Vienna and are toying with the idea of spending a day or two (or ten!) out of town, check out this list of the best day trips from Vienna and bring those ideas to life!
1. Wienerwald (Vienna Woods)
Creeping into the edges of this magical city is the even more magical Wienerwald, or Vienna Woods. Popular for centuries among hunters, poachers, and woodsmen, as well as inspiration for artists of all disciplines, the Vienna Woods is a popular getaway for locals in need of a break from city life.
This tranquil forest is one of the easiest day trips from Vienna and is filled with hidden gems. It’s stunning any time of year, as the forest almost vibrates with anticipation come spring, offers welcome shade from the fierce Austrian sun in Summer, romantic strolls among red and gold in fall, and a positively ethereal atmosphere with the winter frosts.
This protected woodland site is great for hikers and bikers to wander the leafy trails, and for young kids craving a little adventure on a Vienna day trip. It’s not short of its own attractions too, as Wienerwald is home to the beautiful Baroque Kahlenberg Church, Liechtenstein Castle, the Mayerling imperial hunting lodge, the Leopold Figl Observatory, and the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, which is the oldest continuously occupied Cistercian monastery in the world, built-in 1133.
If that’s not enough, book yourself a boat trip around the Seegrotte; Europe’s largest underground lake for a truly eerie experience.
Then there’s the Lainzer Wildlife Park, which we’ll talk about in just a little bit…
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2. Lainzer Tiergarten (Lainzer Wildlife Park)
I get it, you went to Wienerwald, got a taste of nature and you’re hungry for more. Well, dauntless travelers, keep on exploring their forest, because tame deer await at this beautiful conservation site.
Don’t forget your camera! A good 24 square kilometers of the Vienna Woods is devoted to the Lainzer Tiergarten. Once the most fruitful hunting grounds of the forest, rich with deer and wild boar, Lainzer Wildlife Park is a great choice for Vienna day tours.
Reserved for royalty until 1921, this grand section of the Wienerwald is famous for its huge oak trees, many of which are centuries old. It’s still home to tons of deer and boar and (as you can see from the picture) many of the deer are pretty chill now no one is trying to shoot them, and are quite tame.
The boar is still pretty wild, so try and keep your distance, and they’ll do the same! For the best views of this glorious park, you can climb the 14-meter Hubertuswarte observation tower on the Kaltbründlberg hill and take in this green heaven from on high.
Lainzer Wildlife Park is one of the best day trips from Vienna for hikers who can enjoy 80+ kilometers of trails, young families who want to rub noses with nature, and shutterbugs looking for Disney-level imagery.
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3. Klosterneuburg Abbey
Another one of the easiest day trips from Vienna can be found north of the city, bordering the Wienerwald. Here lies the town of Klosterneuburg, home of the splendid Klosterneuburg Abbey, built in the late 1100s.
This 12th Century behemoth was extensively remodeled and added to over centuries, giving it the unique and opulent aesthetic it is famous for. This consists of Baroque, Romanesque, and neo-Gothic architecture.
As incredible as this vast abbey is for its huge copper domes and tall twin steeples, it’s just as spectacular on the inside. Intricate frescoes and sculptures, beautiful wall and ceiling paintings, and a magnificent pipe organ can be admired here not to mention the Verdun Altar, found in the Chapel of St. Leopold.
This gleaming altar consists of 51 gilded copper plates modeled on ancient Byzantine heroes. Aside from the amazing architecture and decor, the abbey is also home to the Imperial Apartment, the Tapestry Room, and the fascinating Monastery Museum which tells the full story of this breathtaking building.
Not only that, but Klosterneuburg Abbey is also home to Austria’s oldest wine estate, established in 1402. They still make some fabulous wines here today, many of them award-winning and available for purchase at the abbey’s wine shop.
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4. Baden bei Wien
On the edge of the Vienna Woods, you’ll find the ancient Roman bath town of Baden bei Wien.
Compared to most European civilizations of the period(s), the Romans were a pretty clean bunch and throughout all of their major settlements, they built magnificent public baths.
Some settlements sprang up because the water there went above and beyond what the Romans looked for in a good soak – one such place, home to warm, sulphuric springs was Aquae, the ancient Roman name for what is now Baden bei Wien.
Baden bei Wen is one of the most beautiful urban spots just outside of Vienna, notable for its postcard surroundings, stunning architecture, and immaculate gardens and boulevards.
Baden bei Wien is still a spa town to this day, and one of the best day trips from Vienna for anyone looking for a bit of therapy and pampering. It’s also home to the world-famous Casino Baden, one of the world’s most beautiful gambling houses.
If you’re looking for relaxing or romantic day trips from Vienna without straying too far from the city, look no further.
Just on the outskirts of Vienna is the cute little village of Grinzing; a prime destination for short day trips from Vienna. This quaint little town is a perfect place to start a hiking trip into the Wienerwald or indulge in some superb traditional cuisine.
Grinzing is also a part of Austria that celebrates traditional living, and by that, I mean local law allows (if not outright encourages) residents to purchase land for the purpose of growing grapevines. Perhaps that’s why Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Gogol, Mahler, Einstein, Freud, Pippal, and many others have visited Grinzing or lived here!
The village is famous for its wine and grape juice which can be enjoyed at virtually any of the village’s traditional taverns and cafes, most of which are covered in grapevines. The village is also home to Grinzig cheese, a delicious semi-soft dessert cheese known for its mild, buttery notes, similar to Danish or German Tilsit.
Strolling the streets and sampling wine and cheese all day is a great way to experience Grinzing, but if you take a walk out into Grinzing’s vineyards, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve been transported to Burgundy or Alsace.
Take this opportunity to wander amongst miles and miles of hillside vines, commanding sumptuous views of Grinzing and Vienna.
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Another gorgeous little village, famous for its wine is Dürnstein. Found on the banks of the Danube, this scenic town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Wachau region of Lower Austria, and is only just over an hour’s train ride east of Vienna. It’s also accessible via boat tour along the Danube for a super single-day trip from Vienna.
Dürnstein is just postcard pictures from every angle and is a great place for people looking for the perfect pic to encapsulate what Austria is all about. Don’t forget your camera!
Overlooking the town, you can find the ruins of Dürnstein Castle. This old fortress once imprisoned English King Richard I, (commonly known as Richard The Lionheart) amidst an inter-monarchy dispute during the Third Crusade.
It was destroyed by Swedish troops in 1645 during the Thirty Years War but still remains an impressive and imposing sight to this day.
Apart from the castle and the superb wine you can find here, Dürnstein is well known for the Baroque, blue towered Dürnstein Abbey, which may be one of the most beautiful churches on Earth. Seriously, seeing this thing from the Danube on a sunny day might actually make you cry.
Among the best places to visit near Vienna is the town of Melk.
Melk is a charming little market town with a storied history, about an hour’s train ride east of Vienna. Melk has been settled for well over 1,000 years and is home to a wide variety of different architecture from across the ages, including medieval, Gothic, and Baroque.
This is another Austrian town surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, given life by the magnificent River Danube.
Key sights include the tiny-turreted Old Bread Store, the Rathaus (town hall) with its ornate wooden door accented with copper, and the Sterngasse, which is the oldest street in town.
This medieval cobbled street is known for its wall paintings running along with the buildings, indicating what the structures were used for back in the day.
Melk would have the grim distinction of being home to an overflow concentration camp during World War II, harboring over 10,000 prisoners destined for slave labor or execution. Most of this former camp is now an Austrian Army barracks, but poignantly the former crematorium is now a museum dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.
Melk is most famous for its pristine Melk Abbey. It’s almost 1,000 years old and has been added to over centuries, resulting in this monumental Baroque-style Benedictine abbey on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube. The abbey contains the tombs of St. Coloman and several members of the House of Babenberg, the first ruling family of Austria.
The abbey has also been dubbed the Best Historical Destination in the World, likely because it is beyond stunning and totally worth including on your list of day trips from Vienna just to catch a glimpse of this giant yellow marvel and its incredible ceiling art.
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8. Danube Valley
One of the best side trips from Vienna is taking a boat tour along the Danube Valley, located about an hour’s drive from the city. This valley is about 40 kilometers long and feeds into other valleys along the river’s winding route.
Feel free to hop on a boat from Vienna or from any of the larger river towns along the way to enjoy some of the most stunning natural scenery Austria has to offer.
There are all sorts of cruises you can book along the Danube. There are short sightseeing trips that take an hour or two, boats that serve romantic lunches and dinners as you cruise, glitzy trips that include traditional Austrian ballroom dancing (typically to the notes of The Blue Danube), and even multi-day cruises that can take you to the Hungarian capital of Budapest and the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.
If you’re looking for a day trip from Vienna, I’d recommend taking a cruise through to the Wachau Valley to see the beautiful village of Dürnstein and the picturesque town of Melk, both famous for their colorful churches, both visible from the river.
9. Archaeological Park Carnuntum
History buffs and fans of all things Roman will really enjoy a day trip to the ancient Roman town of Carnuntum. As well as being home to detailed exhibits and ancient landmarks, it is still an active dig site.
Many Austrian villages, towns, and cities that are inhabited today were first settled by the Romans. Curiously, Carnuntum (or Carnuntinum), a vital Roman garrison and trading town with a population estimated at around 50,000 is not one of them.
Sacked and destroyed by Quadi and Iazyges invaders in 374, it never regained its significance as a major settlement, its area was now made up of small villages and farmland.
In the early 2000s efforts were made to excavate and renovate parts of the old city into museum sites. Today you can visit Archaeological Park Carnuntum and learn more about the city and Roman life.
The ruins of the Heidentor or “Heathens Gate” are particularly striking as are the ruins of the amphitheater, where the people of Carnuntum would have watched gladiators battling it out.
The gladiators themselves would have been trained and housed at the recently discovered ludus (gladiator school), which was mapped out and partially excavated in 2011.
Visitors should also pay a visit to the recreated Roman Quarter to find beautifully restored and recreated villas, baths, and the fascinating Museum Carnuntinum in the spa and market town of Bad Deutsch-Altenburg, which displays hundreds of ancient Roman artifacts discovered from various dig sites.
The Roman Quarter also hosts frequent reenactments and the annual Roman Festival making Carnuntum one of the best day trips from Vienna for families with young kids.
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If you’re planning day trips from Vienna to other large cities, don’t forget to include Salzburg! Home to the looming Hohensalzburg Fortress atop the mighty Festungburg, Salzburg is one of Austria’s cultural capitals and less than 2.5 hour train ride away from Vienna. Surrounded by majestic mountains and rolling green hills, Salzburg’s own jaw-dropping aesthetic may rival Vienna’s!
You may have heard of Salzburg already, as it was one of the main shooting locations for The Sound of Music. One glance at the city makes that decision seem quite obvious; beautiful is too mean a word to describe Salzburg.
If you’re a fan of the beloved musical, check out Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron, a palatial hotel that was used heavily in the film, which also offers a comprehensive The Sound of Music Tour. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even book a room at this literal palace and spend a night or two like royalty.
Music fans can get more kicks out of Salzburg, as it’s also the birthplace of musical mastermind Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can check out his birthplace and see how the Mozarts lived in old Salzburg while you’re in town.
The aforementioned Hohensalzburg Fortress is unmissable (literally) and is well worth the visit. Apart from being almost 1,000 years old and home to 3 fascinating museums, it’s one of the largest intact castles in Europe. It also affords unparalleled views of the city and the soul-moving Austrian countryside.
If you need a place to stay, check out these best hotels in Salzburg, Austria.
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As the nation’s 5th largest city, Innsbruck is the state capital of Tyrol and one of Austria’s biggest tourist destinations.
If you’re looking for more long-winded day trips from Vienna, Innsbruck is a good choice as it is between a 4-5 hour train ride from Vienna.
Innsbruck is home to beautiful medieval, renaissance, and Baroque architecture, as well as several academic institutes, winter sports, extreme sports, and breathtaking natural surroundings.
Getting a cable car ride on any of Innsbruck’s cable cars is a life-changing experience, even if you have no intention of doing any snowboarding. Try the Top of Innsbruck: Round Trip Cable Car Ride for some of the most incredible views.
For other more relaxed activities, there are a ton of museums, galleries, and marvelous old buildings to admire, not to mention some of the best Austrian cuisines in the country.
Among the most significant old structures in Innsbruck is the Hofburg (Imperial Palace) of Innsbruck which is considered one of Austria’s 3 most culturally important buildings, along with the Hofburg Palace (it’s a different Hofburg) and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Innsbruck is also home to the headquarters of Swarovski for any of you looking for something sparkly to take home!
Being home to several universities and colleges, and being a great base camp for people looking to hit the slopes, Innsbruck feels like a younger, more energetic town than others on this list, particularly when it comes to the nightlife.
Like what you are hearing? Check out these best things to do in Innsbruck to make the most of your visit.
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12. Prague – Czechia
Fed up with Austria yet? Impossible; no one gets fed up with Austria, but we at ViaTravelers do appreciate those who enjoy exploring new lands and traveling further afield; after all, travel broadens the mind!
In this case, hop over the border of the Czech Republic (or Czechia) and pay a visit to the incredible Czech capital city of Prague.
If you’re planning on Prague as one of your day trips from Vienna, bear in mind that train rides are between 4.5-7 hours long. Flights are just under an hour but are a little pricier.
If you want to visit in style and have time and money on your hands, consider a 4-day cruise along the Danube from Vienna to Prague. Prague’s architectural tapestry ranges from the modern to the medieval. Most of these older attractions have been so lovingly preserved that it is easy to forget that you’re living in the 21st Century.
The best cross-section of this incredible array of architecture can be found in Old Town Square. The Old Town Hall, the Golden Angel House, the Ox House, the Red Fox House, and the National Gallery Prague – Kinsky Palace are just a few of Old Town Square’s remarkable historic buildings.
Perhaps the most famous and awe-inspiring landmark in Old Town Square is the 14th Century Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orloj, which is the world’s oldest clock still in operation.
Prague is also home to a plethora of museums and galleries I could spend days talking about, not to mention being a Nirvana for beer lovers!
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13. Bratislava – Slovakia
This is also a totally realistic goal for a short day trip, as Bratislava is a paltry 50 miles from Vienna making them the two closest national capital cities on Earth, and about an hour’s train ride away.
Again if you’re feeling fancy and really want to make it an extended trip, take a cruise along the Danube from Vienna to Blava. Bratislava’s history is enthralling and its culture is surprisingly diverse. It’s also a great place for some serious photographic action.
Michael’s Street is one of the top tourist spots to hit up in Bratislava as it’s home to tons of fantastic bars, cafes, restaurants, and retailers. Arguably the most stunning of all of Blava’s landmarks is St. Elisabeth’s Church, also known as the Blue Church (wait; another blue church?)
This delightful church, built in the early 20th Century, is painted white and blue, with shimmering blue-glazed roof tiles, and features a unique and eclectic mixture of styles including Art Nouveau, Asian, Baroque and Romanesque aesthetics.