Vienna is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Criticisms of sterility, stuffiness, and dullness abound, but these statements couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Vienna is an amazing city to visit!. The cafe culture is arguably the best in the world, the magnificence of the Habsburgs still astounds, and prices are still very reasonable. Backpacking in Vienna can be fun not to mention affordable; you just have to know where to look.
I visited Vienna recently in search of backpacker gold and I’m happy to say I struck lots of veins. I’m going to share some of my discoveries with you right now.
This Vienna travel guide is going to cover a wide array of topics concerning the city. From where to eat to where to stay to what to do in Vienna, all on a budget of course. By the end, you’ll be equipped with almost everything you could need to really enjoy yourself; so let’s not waste time! We’re off to Vienna!
How Much Does Backpacking Vienna Cost?
Vienna is one of the most liveable cities in the world, so it must be super expensive to visit right? Actually nope; backpacking Vienna is no more expensive than many other European destinations. I think that it’s actually cheaper than many others, like Amsterdam, Milan, or Paris. Check out the details of how affordable Vienna really is.
That being said, there are still plenty of ways to waste money in Vienna. Eating out constantly, shopping in the city center, drinking fine wines and liquors; that’s how you really go broke.
There is a way to visit Vienna on a budget, which we’re going to get into now.
For backpackers, the average daily budget for backpacking Vienna will be around $40-$60 per day. That amount will get you a dorm room, groceries, metro tickets, and some extra spending money. Refer below for brief explanations of common expenses in Vienna:
- Lodging: Hostels in Vienna are cheap! I’ve seen some for as low as 10 euros per night. On the other hand, hotels and apartments are higher and a bit more what you’d expect from a European capital. Staying closer to the city center will drive prices up as well.
- Transportation: At 2.40 euros for a one-way ticket, transportation is a bit pricey in Vienna. Walk as much as possible or rent a bike to save on cash.
- Food: Eating in restaurants is about average. Starters begin at 6 euros and mains go as high as 30 euros. Street food in Vienna is a cheaper way to eat.
- Booze: If you’re drinking, stick to beer. Wine and liquor (when purchased at the bar) are relatively expensive here.
- Attractions: There are a lot of museums and palaces in Vienna. It’d be great to see all of them but tickets are between 8-12 euros for each. Pick a couple and save the rest for another trip to Vienna.
Average Costs of a Trip to Vienna
Here’s a breakdown of individual costs when formulating a daily budget in Vienna:
Hostel Dormitory: $10-25
Basic hotel room for two: $80-120
AirBnB/temp apartment: $50-80
Average cost of public transport: $2-3 one way
City-Airport transfer: $5-7 with train
Sandwich: $ 6-8
Beer at a bar: $3-5
Bottle of wine from the market: $6
Dinner for two: $40-60
Travel Tips – Backpacking Vienna on a Budget
- Eat street food – Vienna is not short on cheap eats. Wurstel, kebabs, street fries, even schnitzel sammies can be found at street kiosks. Grab one of these if you can’t be fucked to cook.
- Stay in the outer districts – The public transport in Vienna is so good that there isn’t a need to stay close to the city center. The closer you get to the central districts, the higher the prices are. Stay somewhere further out, like around Funfhaus or Ottakring, and then take the metro.
- Walk everywhere – Vienna’s must-see attractions are pretty close to one another and are all within walking distance of each other. If you have the energy, just hoof it and save that bus ticket money for beer.
- Drink beer – Beer is the drink of choice in Vienna and it’s damn cheap. On average, a half-liter of beer will cost between 3-4 euro, draft or bottle. You won’t be skimping on quality either as the brews are generally top-notch.
- Buy a Vienna pass – If you’re going to be seeing and doing a lot on your trip to Vienna, it might be best to buy a Vienna Pass. For a flat rate, this will allow free entry to many of the city’s most popular locations, like Kunsthistorisches, Belvedere, and many more.
- Cook your own food – It’s one of the most proven ways to save money while traveling; simply cooking food for yourself and avoiding restaurants could mean all the difference! Go to the store, buy groceries, and make your own schnitzel every now and again. Trust me: this is Backpacking 101.
- Read the Backpacker Bible – It’s free at the moment too!
- Have a water bottle – Don’t waste money on plastic, bottled waters; carry your own and refill it in the fountains and the tap.
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Where to Stay in Vienna on Any Budget
Vienna is a big city, which means that there are lots of different places to stay. There’s something for everyone here, whether they want the sweetest digs possible or prefer to be a dirt bagger in the woods.
Backpackers in Vienna really have it good. Hostels are cheap, comfortable, and fun here; what more could we ask for?! Find a good one that organizes tours of Vienna and you’ll be set. Most of the hostels are located around the districts of Neubau, Margareten, Leopoldstadt, which are very cool areas in their own right.
Airbnbs are a bit pricier in Vienna, but for couples and those who need privacy, they’re probably worth staying at still. From my experience, the apartments are pretty nice too; they’re simply decorated, well-designed, and easy to live in.
Hotels are copious in Vienna, but I’ll be honest, they aren’t my style. I find them to be a bit too sterile and lacking intimacy (but that’s just me). There are still some very nice hotels in Vienna, one of which is shared below.
If you want to save some real cash while backpacking Vienna, then consider urban camping. There are quite a few campgrounds located on the edge of the city and further into the Vienna Woods. If you have your own tent and you’re visiting Vienna during a warmer time of the year, this could be an excellent choice.
I’ve mentioned this already but consider staying in the outer neighborhoods of Vienna. The public transport is so good that you should never be too far away from the action. Funfhaus, Ottakring, and the neighborhoods around Donau aren’t so bad to hang around.
Best Hostel in Vienna – Wombats City Hostel
A poster child of a European hostel that excels in every way. Consistently voted one of the best hostels in the world and reviewed by almost 30,000 people on Hostelworld. It takes a lot for a backpacker to step away from the beer pong and to actually rate a hostel, especially a 9.0 for God’s sake!
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Vienna – Motel One Wien Westbahnhof
A super trendy hotel that could be mistaken for a modern art museum. The rooms are well equipped and the staff is more than amicable. Motel One is also located in the Mariahilf district, which means there are plenty more interesting and artistic places to see nearby.
Best Airbnb in Vienna – Trendy Terrace Suite
This apartment is some seriously sweet digs. It’s stylish, big enough to accommodate five people, and has a sweet balcony that overlooks the city. As the crow flies, it’s located a bit far from the city center but there’s a metro stop nearby that will get you there in 15 minutes or so.
What to Do in Vienna
1. Wander around the MuseumQuartiers
The MuseumsQuartier of Vienna is where you’ll find the greatest concentration of – you guessed it – museums. One could easily spend an entire day wandering around this area, not only because of the galleries but also because the buildings are gorgeous. The Leopold Museum, in particular, is very cool, thanks in part to its large collection of Succession Art.
2. Take a Third Man Tour
This suggestion may only appeal to a small group of people but for those who have seen the tour-de-force that is The Third Man, visiting Vienna takes on a new level. Fans can go for a ride in the iconic Ferris wheel at Prater and tour the underground canals where the final scene was shot. I’ll be frank and say there isn’t a lot of Third Man nostalgia left in the city but is there is still worth seeing.
3. Go full foodie at the Naschmarkt
The Naschmarkt is the largest and also the most trafficked outdoor market in Vienna. On offer are lots of different products from spices to sweets to snacks to trinkets. When you’ve finished shopping, drop by a local beer garden or restaurant for a drink and snack. The food options at the Naschmarkt are quite good actually.
4. Bask in the splendor of the Hapsburgs
The Hapsburgs were one of the greatest dynasties to ever exist on the European continent. The splendor of their reign is still reflected in the city today – palaces, grandiose halls, ornate churches, and domes; all of these iconic features of Vienna are thanks to the Hapsburgs. Just imagine what would’ve been like to be here during the height of Habsburg power…
5. Check out St. Stephen’s Cathedral
It’s one of the most touristy things to do in Vienna, but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular. St. Stephens is an enormous Gothic-style church that could easily compete with the finest in Europe. You can either pop into the main chapel for free or buy a ticket to the top of the steeple for some of the best views in Vienna.
6. Tour Schonbrunn Palace (or any palace for that matter)
If you want an example of how extravagant and rich the Habsburgs really were, then drop by the Schonbrunn Palace. This place, whose size would put most IKEAs or factory outlets to shame, was built just so the royal court could getaway for the summer. When you have over 1,400 rooms to host people on a summer vacation, then you officially have stupid money.
7. Discover Vienna’s trendiest neighborhoods
Vienna is not just regality – Vienna is also gritty and down-to-earth in places. The western districts of Funfhaus, Neubau, and Mariahilf are becoming very trendy these days, and are more well-known for their bars, cafes, and graffiti, then palaces and horse-drawn carriages. So, if you’re looking for something more alternative to do in Vienna, consider visiting one of these neighborhoods.
8. Get sucked into Vienna’s cafe culture
Anything good that has ever happened in Vienna probably started in a cafe somewhere, most likely over a melange and a smoldering cigarette. Vienna’s coffee houses are more than just places where people get their caffeine-fix; they are hubs for conversation, collaboration, and inspiration. Ultimately, they are the heart and soul of the city and my favorite place to hang out.
9. Attend a classical performance
Vienna helped birth the careers of some of the greatest musical minds in history, like Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. As you’d expect, there are many classical music performances held around the city all year long. You can attend one at a local church, concert hall, or, if you’re lucky, on the streets. Street performers in Vienna will often include classical pieces as a part of their set.
10. Get out of town and drink some wine
Did you know that Vienna is considered one of the largest urban wine-producing regions in the world? Yes, there are dozens of wineries located on the fertile slopes surrounding Vienna. There are a multitude of grapes grown at these, none more regarded than the Gemischter varietal. Make a day trip to the hills and go on a wine tour if you have the chance!
Backpacking Vienna – A Sample Itinerary
Three days in Vienna is the perfect amount of time to appreciate the city! To give you a better idea of what to do in Vienna, here is a sample itinerary.
Day 1: The MuseumsQuartier, Neubau, and Mariahilf
Your flight/train/bus probably just arrived in the city and you may be a bit ragged from the journey. So let’s make this a chill day. We’ll start off easy and slowly work our way down the list of Vienna’s must-see locations. No worries; there will still be plenty of things to see and cafes to visit on this day.
Morning: Check into your accommodation and take a deep breath. You don’t need to do anything this morning except maybe order an espresso and a slice of Viennese cake. Relax for a moment and collect yourself.
Early-Afternoon: Ok, now we go! Grab the metro and make a bee-line to the MuseumsQuartier. This is where you’ll find the most significant museums in Vienna, like the opulent Kunsthistorisches, the Leopold Museum (where Klimt and Schiele are displayed), and the Imperial Treasury of Vienna. Nearby is also the former palace of the Hofburg. Spend as much time as you need around here.
Late-Afternoon: If it isn’t too late, grab some lunch from a local spot. For an easy eat, look for one a local weiner cart and have some wurstel. If you don’t mind walking (a bit more), consider stopping by the legendary Cafe Europa.
Evening: Spend the early evening wandering around the hip Neubau and Mariahilf neighborhoods. Go hunting for local Viennese street art and pop into a local bar for a quick beer when you want. Ammutson Craft Beer is a solid spot to take a break.
Night: Head over to the Naschmarkt to have dinner. If you arrive before 9 pm, you can still do a little shopping. Otherwise, most of the eateries here, like NENI, are open until 11 pm.
Day 2: Innere Stadt and Weiden
Early wake-up today! There are lots to do on our second day in Vienna so we need to get a nice, early start. Splash some water on your face and hit the ground running!
Morning: Have a nice hearty breakfast so you’ll be ready for the rest of the day. If you’re staying near Funfhaus, Das Augustin is one of my favorite restaurants in Vienna. Otherwise, Hidden Kitchen near Mitte has bomb quiches.
Early-Afternoon: First, we head to the Belvedere Palace, which hosts some of the most significant art in Austria, including the hyperbolically famous “Kiss” by Klimt. (Remember when this was one of the most expensive paintings ever sold ?) The Belvedere is massive so you’ll easily kill several hours here.
Late-Afternoon: Depart from the Belvedere and walk slightly northwest towards the Innere Stadt. Along the way, you should pass by the Baroque-spectacle that is the Karlskirche, the grandiose Vienna Operahouse, and Albertine before ultimately arriving at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You’ll know you’re at the church because it’s the highest building in the city. Pop in for a moment (it’s free)!
Evening: Head over to the Judenplatz, which was once the center of one of Europe’s most active Jewish communities before one dickhead duke kicked them all out in the 15th century. On a completely unrelated note, there is a very nice pub nearby as well: Mel’s Craft Beers. Drop by if you’re feeling thirsty and grab dinner if you’re ready for some food.
Night: Get some dinner inside you and then consider going out to one Innere Stadt’s many bars or clubs. Porgy & Bess is one of the most famous jazz venues in Vienna PLUS there’s no dress code so no worries about changing out of day clothes.
Day 3: Leopoldstadt and Prater
This is going to be a leisurely day following what could’ve been a whirlwind of an itinerary the day before. We’ll be heading across the Danube today; our main goal: just sit in the park and chill a bit.
Morning: Have a late wakeup and head to the nearest breakfast spot at your convenience. If you’re around Leopoldstadt already, The Cake Tree is a great place to grab breakfast or brunch.
Early-Afternoon: Once you’re across the Danube, head for Prater Park – the largest urban park in Vienna. Go for a walk, take a nap, have a picnic, or drop by the Kunst Haus if you need a bit more stimulation. You could always ride the iconic Ferris wheel here too, which was featured in the film The Third Man.
Late-Afternoon: Are you still lazing in the park? Cool, don’t worry about anything else if you don’t want to. When you’re ready for lunch, simply head to the nearest beer garden or restaurant inside the park itself. They’re super charming.
Evening: When you’re ready, start making your way back to the city center or in whatever direction you’re staying. If you left the park earlier and have some time to kill, consider dropping by the Josefstadt or Alsergrund districts. There are a couple of attractions here that we’ve overlooked so far, like the Rauthaus, Votivkirche, and Sigmund Freud Museum.
Night: Have a casual dinner and then head back to your lodge. Sadly our trip to Vienna is ending tomorrow and we must get ready to leave. Sigh.
This is only one of many ways to experience Vienna; check out our dedicated Viennese itinerary post to get some more ideas!
Day Trips from Vienna
- Vienna Woods – If you need a break from the city, nature isn’t too far away. Just head to the western foothills and the Vienna Woods to find your outdoor escape. If you were planning to hike in Austria, there are lots of trails throughout this region; most are easily accessible by public transport as well. When you’re finished, consider dropping the vineyards around the Nussdorf and Grinzing districts.
- Schönbrunner Palace – It’s technically a part of Vienna but far enough removed from the city that I think it could qualify as a day trip. One could easily spend an entire day exploring the grounds and massive halls of this opulent estate! It is grandiose, regal, a little tacky, and one of the must-see places when backpacking Vienna if you’re interested in the Hapsburgs. Even after you’ve finished touring the halls, the surrounding gardens are still there to see as well.
- Bratislava (Slovakia) – Care to knock out another European capital whilst backpacking Vienna? Bratislava and Vienna are only about 45 miles apart from one another, which means you can travel to the former is only an hour. Thanks to its small size, a Bratislava itinerary wouldn’t be too taxing either; with a full day, you could easily see the likes of Bratislava Castle, and still, have plenty of leisurely time.
- Brno (Czechia) – Want to visit a slightly more upbeat and exciting city than Bratislava? Brno, the historical capital of the region of Moravia, is lowkey one of the most interesting cities in Europe. It’s like Prague without rampant tourism and is no less interesting. We might even suggest you stay in Brno for a night or two if possible. That way, you’ll get to enjoy the rowdy nightlife.
Vienna Travel Guide – Extra Tips and Tricks
Learn more about what to expect when backpacking Vienna by reading the following sections!
Best Time of Year to Visit Vienna
Good question: when is the best time to visit Vienna? Well, you’ll be surprised to hear that you can visit Vienna whenever you want ! Yes, regardless of its frigid winters and dreary autumns, there’s still something to do in Vienna no matter when you’re here.
Let’s be honest though: summer is the most comfortable time to visit Vienna. The weather is reliable, the sun is shining, and people are in good spirits. The Danube is the place to be in the summer as everyone either goes swimming in the river or day drinking at the pop-up bars. (Strandbar Herrmann is a very cool riverside bar.)
There may be times in the summer when Vienna feels quiet, oddly enough. This is because a lot of Viennese go on holiday in the Alps in search of mountains and cooler temps. Even though the city may be empty, prices will still be peaking for tourists though.
The shoulder seasons – spring and autumn – are generally the cheapest time to visit Vienna. Crowds are thinner, prices are lower, and accommodation is easier to find. The spring season is a bit short and autumns tend to be on the misty side but these are still tame compared to the grey purgatories that lie in Northern Europe.
Whilst cold and frigid, winters in Vienna can still be enjoyable. This is the time for some of Vienna’s most iconic sights, including Christmas Markets and Viennese balls! (Waltzing backpackers? I’d have seen everything then.) Viennese winters can be a bit dreary but a quick trip to the Alps will fix any seasonal blues; whilst clouds tend to hang over the city, the mountains are usually clear.
Getting In and Out of Vienna
I think that Vienna may be one of the most well-connected cities on the European backpacking trail. In a matter of hours, you could travel to Vienna from the likes of Munich, Prague, Budapest, and even Slovenia. Whether you arrive by plane, train, or bus, getting to Vienna will be a breeze.
Being a major Western European destination, trains are usually the go-to way to travel to Vienna. The Wien Hauptbahnhof, near Belvedere Palace, is the main station in the city and the grand majority of international lines stop here. Remember though that train travel in Europe isn’t always cheap so plan ahead and always be on the lookout for discounts.
Thanks to local low-cost carriers, like Laudmotion and Wizz Air, flying to Vienna can be super affordable. My inbound flight from Bologna, Italy, and outbound to Rome were less than 30 euros each when I last visited!
The Vienna International Airport (flughafen) is located about 25 minutes outside the city by train. You can take either the S1, S7, or the CAT between the two. I prefer the S1 and S7 because they’re cheaper (a one-way ticket costs 4.20 euro) and only marginally slower than the CAT.
Note that there is no direct line from the Wien Hauptbahnhof to the airport; Wien Mitte is the primary station connecting Vienna to the airport.
At the end of the day, the cheapest way to get to Vienna is, and may always be the bus. Bus travel is super affordable in Europe and relatively convenient. Know that these are no Vietnamese sleepers or dingy Greyhounds around these parts; European buses are very, very nice, especially in Austria.
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How to Get Around Vienna
Vienna has a truly impressive public transportation network. Practically every part of the city is serviced by some sort of transit whether it be by bus, tram, or metro. Such connectivity makes backpacking in Vienna extremely easy.
For a city of its size, Vienna’s underground metro network is very impressive. The metro, or U-Bahn, is composed of six different lines that pretty much cover all of the top sights in Vienna. Even if you’re staying in the middle-of-nowhere Vienna like Donaustadt, you can still be in the city center in a half hour.
When using the metro, note that there are no turnstile kiosks where you would validate your ticket to gain entry BUT you still need to stamp it at a separate machine like it was back in the Industrial Fuckin’ Revolution.
What the U-Bahn doesn’t cover, trams and buses do. The tram network extends very far out into the outer neighborhoods of Vienna -. Ottakring, Funfhaus, and Wahring all have dedicated lines. So, again, don’t feel cut-off if you’re staying further outside the city center.
At 2.40 euro, tickets for public transit are a bit on the expensive side. They’re only good for one ride as well, which is a bit annoying. Since there are very few if any places that require to show a ticket, some people take a risk and ride without one. I’ll let you make that call yourself whether or not it’s worth dodging the occasional tram cop.
If you’re spending more than two days backpacking Vienna and think that it would be worth it, buy a transit pass. You can buy a 48-hour pass for 14.10 euros or a 72-hour pass for 17.10 euros.
Safety in Vienna
I don’t think there was ever a single moment where I felt threatened when backpacking Vienna. Seriously, this is one of the safest, cleanest, and most well-managed cities that I’ve ever visited in my entire traveling career. The only time I felt even remotely inconvenienced was when a punk-bum asked me for some change. Even then a polite “I don’t have any” was enough for him to smile and walk away casually. (I guess that’s Viennese equivalent to “fuck off”?)
If I could digress, I’d rather take a moment to talk about how Vienna’s safety contributes to the city’s sterile reputation. I think that would be a much more stimulating conversation.
People sometimes criticize Vienna for being too clean or too tidy, which then leads to the idea that the city is boring. Some visitors complain that nothing happens in Vienna, for better or worse, which, if I’m being honest, is kinda bullshit.
I think that Vienna still manages to hold onto to some edginess, even if it is not obvious on the outside. As you’ll see later in the “Nightlife” section, you just need to dig a bit deeper into Vienna to really see the grit.
The reverse is that shit can still happen in Vienna as well. No matter where you are in the world, pickpockets still exist and accidents can happen. Vienna is not some Rick and Morty-eqsue Immortality Resort where people can never be hurt, so you need to take the usual precautions regardless of how safe a place might appear.
Although you may not need to be so vigilant when backpacking Vienna, you should still be street smart. Don’t be fooled by con artists or scammers and don’t be 100% trustful of overly enthusiastic strangers.
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
Travel Insurance for Vienna
Traveling without insurance would be risky so do consider getting good backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure.
I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.
If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads. To find out why I use World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Tips for Saving Money on Accommodation in Vienna
Sometimes you need your own roof above your head – we know the feeling. Other times, you’re doing everything you can save a nickel and dime.
If you’re trying to cut the costs of travel when backpacking Vienna, then maybe it’s time to stay somewhere besides a hostel or apartment. If you need to save money, try one of these:
Couchsurf! – Couchsurfing is the best way to save on cash when it comes to accommodation since most of the time you’re crashing for free. Staying with a local host is also a great chance to experience a more authentic side of the city and to visit hidden Vienna.
Problem is Couchsurfing is really popular (duh, it’s free) and demand often outstrips supply. Hosts are picky as well so you’ll need to impress them with an eye-catching message. Definitely try Couchsurfing but be ready to be rejected.
Tap into your backpacker network – You never know when you have a friend in a foreign city! If you’ve traveled a lot, you may have met someone from Vienna or know someone who knows someone.
Reach out to people! Ask to stay with people for a night or two in exchange for cooking dinner or a bottle of wine. If you don’t know anyone in the city, ask your friends if they do – travelers understand the struggle and are usually more helpful than you think.
Camping – Urban camping is a growing trend in many cities. These campsites are comfortable, sociable, safe, and cheap. They are often located on the outskirts of town, which means they are quieter too. Research to see if Vienna has any and be sure to bring your own tent too!
Some Extra Free Things to Do in Vienna
Looking to visit Vienna on a budget? Consider one of these free activities in the city and save some cash!
- Go on a walking tour of Vienna – Many of Vienna’s top sites are free to see at least from the outside. Just go for a walk around the city and enjoy it as is. The Volksgarten, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the gardens at Schonbrunn Palace are all places that you can enter for free.
- Tour the Rathaus – There are free tours of Vienna’s city hall on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
- Check out the annual Open House Tour – Once per year, Open House Vienna leads guests through some of the city’s strangest buildings. Architecture nuts should not miss this one.
- Free museums in Vienna – The MUSA, Bezirksmuseen, Georg Kargl Museum, and Geldmuseum are all free to enter!
- See an opera (kinda) – If you’re visiting Vienna in the summer, be sure to drop by the Operahouse to see free opera shows projected on the walls of the building!
- Donauinselfest – This is the largest FREE open-air music festival in Europe – over 3 million people attend this event over the course of three days! The festival is usually held in June.
- Have a picnic at open-air film showing – Vienna loves outdoors movies. The Music Film Festival, Kaleidoskop, and Volxkino are all totally free to enter.
- Visit the graves of the masters – Tombstone tourism is a real thing and Vienna arguably hosts some of the greatest mortuary attractions in the world. The graves of Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss are all located at the Central Cemetery of Vienna, which is itself one of the largest in the world. Visit if you like but please remember to be respectful of the premises.
Books to Read Before Backpacking Vienna
If you need a little extra info to supplement our Vienna travel guide, try reading one of these books on the city!
- The Broke Backpacker Bible – Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. To inspire and help the next generation of Broke Backpackers, you can now grab ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day’ for free!
- The Third Man – An American expat gets caught up in the seedy underbelly of Vienna’s underground whilst looking for an old buddy who’s gone missing. Adapted into a film of the same name, which features my favorite all-time performance from Orson Welles.
- The World of Yesterday – Considered one of the most famous books concerning the Hapsburg Empire. Not just about the Hapsburgs though; all of early-modern Western European culture is addressed here. The author, Stefan Zweig, partly inspired Wes Anderson to direct The Grand Budapest Hostel.
- When Nietzsche Wept – A novel that reviews the relationship of philosophy and psychoanalysis as well as the works of some of the most prolific minds of the modern era. Told through fictional meetings between Nietzsche and Breuer.
- The Interpretation of Dreams – One of the most significant pieces of written work from one of the most significant minds of the modern age: Sigmund Freud. Freud was from Vienna and began working on this book whilst in Grinzing, Austria.
- Old Masters – A dark comedy about a “musical philosopher” and his friend, who is an academic. A satire that criticizes snobbish, Viennese culture and just people in general.
Still interested in reading more about Vienna? Check out these other awesome books!
Eating in Vienna – The Best Food and Restaurants
If you want another example of how underrated Vienna is, then look no further than its culinary scene. Vienna can sometimes be type casted as offering nothing but standard Austrian fare. Sausages, kraut, potatoes, and stews are all dishes that might spring to mind when one considers eating out in Vienna.
In reality, though, Vienna actually has a much more diverse food scene than it’s given credit for. Little did I know that some of the best Levantine and Middle Eastern food I’ve ever had outside the region was in Naschmarkt. (My God the burnt eggplant at NENI is unbelievable.) For that matter, Asian food, particularly Japanese, is very well represented in Vienna as well. (Go to Kuishimbo for the ramen.)
One type of international food that you should avoid in Vienna is Italian though. Most of the pizza restaurants here are not very authentic and have it on good word from some Italian transplants that it is shit in the city.
Be aware that tipping is expected when eating and drinking in Vienna as well! 10% is the standard amount.
At this point, you’re probably saying “Ralph! I’m backpacking in Vienna; I can’t afford restaurants!” No worries my friends: there’s always a way to save some money.
Street food is popular in Vienna and I’m not just talking about the ubiquitous wurstel that you see on offered every street corner. Kebabs, fried potatoes, schnitzel sandwiches (locally referred to as schnitzelsemmel) and more can all be found in abundance on Vienna’s immaculate streets. Prices are generally reasonable (around 5 euro) though drunchies could lead to an inflated order and indigestion.
Cafe Culture in Vienna
There are few things more respected in Vienna than the exalted cafe. Sigmund Freud, Mozart, Christoph Waltz; all of these people are mere peasants when placed beside the immortal and timeless entity that is the Viennese cafe. These celebrities perhaps owe their livelihoods to these places as how could any of them have achieved anything without a good espresso and the stimulating conversation found in the coffeehouse?
In all seriousness though, the cafes of Vienna are where all of the action happens. They are centers for socializing and are visited every day (maybe multiple times in a day) by the locals. For the casual tourist visiting Vienna, grabbing an espresso or a melange (Viennese cappuccino) is mandatory on your trip.
Viennese cafes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes as well. Hallowed establishments, like Cafe Central and Cafe Landtmann are magnificent to the point of being palace-like and the prices at these will mirror this. Much more enjoyable are the cozier and more-hipster cafes in the Neubau district, which tend to be more casual and much more reasonably priced. Café im Raimundhof is a personal favorite of mine.
Oddly enough, Vienna is one of the few places in Western Europe where people can still smoke inside. I cannot stress to you how smoky some cafes can be – if a cafe is crowded, the smell of burning tobacco will be overpowering. Seriously, we walked into Cafe Kafka and could barely spend 10 minutes in there without feeling the early-onset of bronchitis. Cafes with outdoor seating are sometimes clutch.
Nightlife in Vienna
The nightlife in Vienna is much better than people think. (What’s that? More shocking details that debunk Vienna’s lame reputation? Goooooo ooooonnnn…)
People often criticize Vienna for being too tame or too sterile, at least when compared to other regional capitals like Berlin, Budapest, or Prague. Let me tell you now that comparing Vienna to these places is the wrong attitude. No, Vienna cannot compete with Berlin’s techno clubs or Budapest’s ruin bars, but that’s not to say Vienna isn’t fun at all. The nightlife is just different here.
Behind the facade of squeaky clean streets and early-to-bedders is some pretty decent nightlife in Vienna in actuality. Late-night, the smoked-out cafes turn into bars and doors that were inconspicuous before open to reveal trendy cocktail bars. People crowd into tiny hole-in-the-walls to drink beer and shoot the shit because people in Vienna just enjoy a good kickback in a dingy dive.
Outside of the more glamorous and expensive lounges of Innere Stadt, the coolest bars in Vienna are located in the Neubau. My favorite is hands-down Stehbeisl where you can get a beer and toasty for around 5 euros and some uncommonly friendly banter from the bartenders. Nearby Monami and IF DOGS RUN FREE also get high marks. For music, go to DonauTechno, which has beats playing seven days a week.
It goes without saying that beer is the drink of choice in Vienna and you can find a good draft easily for 3-4 euro. Wine is also relatively affordable thanks to Vienna’s thriving urban-winery scene (drink Gemischter ). Liquor is a bit more pricey here and is sometimes served in smaller portions; somewhere between a full 8-ounce cocktail and a tall shot. Keep this in mind when you see drink specials.
Some Final Thoughts from this Vienna Travel Guide…
I think Vienna may be one of my favorite places in Europe. Contrary to what I’d heard about the city – that it was pretentious, boring, too clean, yadda, yadda, yadda – I actually found Vienna to be very enjoyable. The architecture is gorgeous, public transport is perfect, cafes are stimulating, and the food is more than just sausages. Overall, Vienna is a very easy place to visit and to live in it seems.
For those on an epic backpacking trip around Europe, I highly recommend stopping by Vienna. Take a break from the madness of Berlin, Prague, Budapest, wherever and just take a breather here. You’ll find that three days in Vienna is the perfect amount of time to recharge your batteries. You may even fall in love with the place and stay longer.
Before finalizing your plans and making the trip to Vienna, there are a couple of more things that you should consider. Below we’ve provided some ideas about how to stay in this city longer in addition to some (standard) reminders about how to be a responsible traveler. Take a moment to consider these points.
Volunteering in Vienna
Long term travel is awesome. Giving back is awesome too. For backpackers looking to travel long-term on a budget in Vienna whilst making a real impact on local communities look no further than Worldpackers. Worldpackers is an excellent platform connecting travelers with meaningful volunteer positions throughout the world.
In exchange for a few hours of work each day, your room and board are covered.
Backpackers can spend long periods of time volunteering in an awesome place without spending any money. Meaningful life and travel experiences are rooted in stepping out of your comfort zone and into the world of a purposeful project.
Worldpackers opens the doors for work opportunities in hostels, homestays, NGOs, and eco-projects around the world. We’ve tried and approved them ourselves – check out our Worldpackers in-depth review here.
If you’re ready to create a life-changing travel experience and give back to the community, join the Worldpacker community now. As a Broke Backpacker reader, you’ll get a special discount of $10. Just use the discount code BROKEBACKPACKER and your membership is discounted from $49 a year to only $39.
Make Money Online While Backpacking in Vienna
Traveling in Austria long-term? Keen to make some cash when you are not exploring the country?
Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection.
Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills!
It’s a win-win! Check out this detailed article for everything you need to know to start teaching English online.
In addition to giving you the qualifications to teach English online, TEFL courses open up a huge range of opportunities and you can find teaching work all over the world. To find out more about TEFL courses and how you can teach English around the world, read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.
Broke Backpacker readers get a 35% discount on TEFL courses with MyTEFL (simply enter the code BACKPKR), to find out more, please read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.
Whether you are keen to teach English online or looking to take your teaching game a step further by finding a job teaching English in a foreign country, getting your TEFL certificate is absolutely a step in the right direction.
Being a Responsible Traveler in Vienna
Reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world. Don’t buy one-use water bottles, the plastic ends up in landfill or in the ocean. Instead, pack a tough travel water bottle.
Go and watch A Plastic Ocean on Netflix – it’ll change how you view the plastic problem in the world; you need to understand what we are up against. If you think it doesn’t matter, get off my fucking site.
Don’t pick up single-use plastic bags, you’re a backpacker – take your daypack if you need to go to the shop or run errands.
Bear in mind, that many animal products in countries you travel through will not be ethically farmed and won’t be of the highest quality. I’m a carnivore but when I’m on the road, I only eat chicken. Mass-farming of cows etc leads to the rainforest being cut down – which is obviously a huge problem.
Recently, my gear-venture, Active Roots has started to sell water bottles. For every Active Roots water bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an awesome initiative aimed at educating people on the risk of single-use plastic and helping to clean up our oceans. Help save the planet, whether you take an Active Roots bottle or not – TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your plastic footprint, don’t be a dick.
Need more guidance? – Check out our post on how to be a responsible backpacker.
Visiting Vienna will bring you ample opportunities to participate in debauchery, and it is very important to have fun, let loose, and get a bit wild at times. Most trips I have been on across the world have included at least a few mornings where I wake up knowing I went too far.
But there are some things that will put you in the category of a straight-up jackass if you do them. Being super loud and obnoxious in a tiny hostel at 3 AM is a classic rookie mistake. Everyone in the hostel will hate you when you wake them up. Show your fellow travelers respect whilst traveling in Vienna and anywhere else for that matter!
Vienna is a beautiful place that has touched countless people, so let’s not mistreat it. It clearly inspired the makers of this video, which, not gonna lie, has made me cry (only) a few times.
Want to learn how to travel the world on $10 a day? Check out the Broke Backpacker’s Bible for FREE!
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