Vienna is considered one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe, with a long list of top attractions, including elegant palaces and cathedrals world-class museums, lush parks and more. But it’s also perfectly situated for some great day trips. While you’re here, don’t miss the opportunity to explore other destinations both in Austria and beyond, including these.
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The “Paris of the East”, Budapest is Hungary’s capital located less than three hours south-east of Vienna. Budapest boasts a wide range of cultural attractions, including multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites like Castle Hill with its history dating back to the 11th century. The 18th-century Buda Castle is a huge 200-room palace that looms over the Danube River, today serving as the Budapest History Museum and Hungarian National Gallery. Visitors can also enjoy dining in fabulous outdoor cafes, taking in a classic concert, embarking on a river cruise and soaking in thermal baths, among a long list of other options.
Just a little over an hour east of Vienna is the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. Especially picturesque, its Old Town is filled with neo-Renaissance homes, mansions and palaces. From the historic ruins of Devin Castle, you’ll be able to see the entire city unfold before you as well as explore an interesting museum. In the Main Square and Hviezdoslav’s Square, you can shop for souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, ceramics and more. Head to St. Michael’s Street and you’ll find lots of restaurants and cafes serving authentic Slovakian cuisine.
Salzburg is one of Austria’s most alluring small-town gems and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Central Europe. Just three hours west of Vienna, Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the place where the “Sound of Music” was filmed. There are tours that will take you to see the filming locations, or you might want to join a bicycle tour to visit the city’s most popular sights. Mozart’s birthplace is now a museum, a must-visit focused on composer’s life and work. If you’re here during the month of August, big-name international orchestras and soloists are featured in operas and plays that are staged both in, and in front of, many of the city’s landmark buildings as part of the Salzburg Festival.
Český Krumlov, Czechia
About 130 miles northwest of Vienna, Český Krumlov is a medieval town that looks as if it stepped from the pages of a storybook with its narrow cobblestone roads, pretty bridges and a 13th-century castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. It managed to stay unscathed by war, with the walled city home to multiple well-preserved religious sites too, like the Minorite Monastery and the magnificent Church of St. Vitus. There are plenty of museums and art galleries to explore along with scenic trails nearby on Mount Klet.
St. Gilgen, Austria
St. Gilgen is an especially picturesque village that lies along the northwestern shoreline of Lake Wolfgangsee, surrounded by the Salzkammergut Mountains. About three hours from Vienna, it offers a wide variety of water sports like sailing, windsurfing and cruises, as well as activities on land like the cog railway at Mount Schafsberg and the famous cable car that will bring you to Mount Zwolferhorn. The medieval village itself is fun just to wander around with its colorful historic buildings.
While Hallstatt is a little over a three-hour drive from Vienna, it’s worth the trip to experience what’s often ranked as one of Europe’s, and the world’s, most fairytale-like small towns. One of the oldest settlements in Austria, Hallstatt was originally founded in 5000 BC for exploiting salt reserves in the surrounding mountains. Thousands of years of salt mining resulted in the enduring prosperity that this village enjoys today, something that can be seen in its beautiful square ringed with ivy-draped buildings. Explore its rich history while taking in the extraordinary scenery.
Baden Bei Wien, Austria
If you want to explore a town close to Vienna, you might want to head to the spa town of Baden Bei Wien just 30 minutes south. Formerly an ancient Roman town named Aquae, it provides the ideal destination for relaxing in warm, soothing waters known for their healing properties. In fact, both visitors and locals have been coming here for a soak for some 2,000 years. It’s also home to the Congress Casino Baden, one of Europe’s largest casinos, and one of its prettiest with its fairy-tale good looks.
Only 25 minutes south of Vienna is the market town of Laxenburg. This small town has multiple parks and castles, with the very best considered to be Schlosspark Laxenburg, home to a beautiful swan-filled lake, ancient castles, royal palaces and rotundas with painted domes Enjoy walking the scenic trails, strolling through postcard-perfect gardens or glide across the water in one of the boats available for rent. There are restaurants dotted across the grounds for enjoying lunch as well.
Prague is famously beautiful with its majestic fairy tale-like castles and tableau of red-tiled roofs, Gothic churches and picturesque bridges, making it worth rising early for the three-and-a-half-hour drive from Vienna. Visiting Prague Castle is a must – the large castle complex is a UNESCO-protected site featuring stunning Gothic and 10th-century Romanesque architecture. The castle grounds are also home to the Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, and St. Vitus Cathedral. The city has a modern side worth exploring too, with fine restaurants and a wide range of shops.
Another fabulous city in Czechia is the country’s second largest, Brno. While it doesn’t have the beautiful St. Charles Bridge, it offers plenty of its own and it’s just an hour and 40 minutes from Vienna. You’ll find a wide range of historical and cultural attractions as well as more of a laid-back, small-town feel. With thousands of students here, there is also practically an endless number of lively cafes along with a thriving club scene that rivals even Prague’s for those who want to stick around well after dark. Visitors can explore the Brno Underground, a maze of cellars that includes Europe’s second-biggest ossuary, as well as Spilberk Castle, formerly the major royal castle in Moravia, the seat of the Margraves of Moravia and once the seat of the King of the Holy Roman Empire.