Known for its splendid baroque palaces, remarkable music heritage, magical Christmas markets, and much more, the Austrian capital city of Vienna has heaps to offer to travellers. Being located close to the border of numerous nearby countries at the Danube, it is also a convenient base to explore more of Austria and Eastern Europe.
Vienna is home to accessible train and bus stations that have great connectivity to the rest of Austria, as well as the neighbouring countries of Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Whether you would like to amble around the storybook village of Hallstatt for a few hours or admire the orange topped roofs of Cesky Krumlov, the opportunities for unforgettable day trips from Vienna are nearly endless.
To bring you the best places, I asked other professional travel writers to recommend a destination they have personally visited and loved. In this article, you will find ideas for 15 best day trips from Vienna that are less than 3 and half hours away, along with how to get there. I hope it inspires you to spend more time in Vienna and explore its surrounding area to the fullest. There really is so much to see!
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Salzburg is one of the most charming cities in Austria. Home to an otherworldly fortress, glistening lakes, romantic bridges, and a quaint Old Town, it is a popular day trip from Vienna for those who do not have time to stay any longer. The journey takes around two and a half hours one-way, but the Alpine scenery of the city is reason alone to make the trip!
Start your day in Salzburg by wandering around the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, Altstadt, and admire its unique design and setting. Most of the famous landmarks of the city such as the Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart’s Birthplace, St. Peter’s Monastery, and the incredible Hohensalzburg Fortress are located in this area. You can easily get to all of them by foot. Just make sure to buy the Salzburg Card which includes free admission to these sights as well as other places and all public transport in the city.
When visiting the Hohensalzburg Fortress, take the funicular up the hill as the climb is quite steep. But for the way back, make sure you walk down as the views are stunning and there are many picture opportunities throughout. There are also numerous hiking trails near the fortress that offer a great view if you like to be more active.
Salzburg is also widely known for The Sound of Music. This classic film was set in the city and you can find many iconic sights from it in Salzburg. The Mirabell Palace and Gardens are the most impressive, but other places like Nonnberg Abbey, Schloss Leopoldskron, and Schloss Hellbrunn are worth checking out too. This Sound of Music tour is perfect if you would like to see the filming locations for yourself.
Getting to Salzburg from Vienna: Salzburg can be easily reached by train, bus or car from Vienna. There are multiple trains and buses connecting the two cities per hour. The Railjet express going directly from Wien Hauptbahnhof to Salzburg takes less than two hours, while the regional trains take around two and a half. You can also rent a car in Vienna and drive the distance, the journey typically takes around three hours.
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Another must-see Austrian destination to visit is the picturesque village of Hallstatt. Located in the Salzkammergut region of the country, it is not only an amazing day trip from Vienna, but one of the most magical places to see in Austria. Every corner in Hallstatt feels straight out of an alpine fairy-tale!
One of the best things to do when in Hallstatt is to stroll around Marktplatz, the main square, and explore the quaint alleys around it on foot. The lakeside promenade housing hotels, cafes, bakeries, souvenir shops, and unbelievable viewpoints, in particular, make it a treat for walking around. There are also many hiking trails offering breath-taking scenery to embark upon if you like.
Next, take the funicular up to the Salzwelten Hallstatt, which is the oldest salt mine in the world and learn about its 7000-year-old history. Hallstatt Skywalk, the viewing platform located right outside the funicular station at the top offering unbeatable views of Hallstatt village, Hallstätter See, and the gigantic Dachstein mountains around, is also worth-visiting. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even skip the funicular and hike up there.
Once back down in Marktplatz, head to the Aussichtspunkt viewpoint to admire Hallstatt from another perspective and take the postcard perfect shot of the village. On your way back, stop at the 18th century Evangelical Church and take a closer look at this Neo-Gothic cathedral by the lake. Some other spots to not miss in Hallstatt are Five Fingers Viewing Platform, Dachstein Ice Caves, and The Bone House and Cemetery.
Getting to Hallstatt from Vienna: From Vienna, Hallstatt can be reached via train in around three and a half hours. You can take the OBB train line to Attnang-Puchheim and then switch once to hop on the local REX to reach Hallstatt Station. The station in Hallstatt is located across the lake, so you will need to take a short ferry to go on the other side. Tickets for the ferry can be bought on arrival. You can also rent a car and drive to Hallstatt directly, just try to reach early as parking can be an issue later in the day.
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Although Budapest is the capital city of Austria’s neighbouring country of Hungary, it is one of the easiest day trips from Vienna. Located at a distance of 240 kilometres from the Austrian capital, it is a beautiful city that can be conveniently reached in approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Begin your time in Budapest by admiring the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, one of the most iconic bridges in Europe. Spanning along the River Danube, it was the first bridge to link the two sides of the city, Buda and Pest seamlessly. Next, from the Buda side of the bridge, take the historic Castle Hill Funicular, which will drop you in the heart of Budapest’s Castle District.
Being the oldest locale housing some of the most visited sites and attractions in Budapest, Castle District is an unmissable area on any trip to the city. Some prominent landmarks you can’t miss whilst there include Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, Mattias Church and the Hungarian National Gallery. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to also pay a visit to Ruszwurm – a centuries old pastry shop serving homemade Hungarian delicacies.
After being on foot for the majority of the day, end your time in Budapest with a relaxing visit to the city’s most sought-after experience, thermal baths. There are various ones to choose from, however the Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the most known and visited. Home to multiple indoor and outdoor pools, it is the city’s largest and possibly most picturesque bath complex. Just purchase your tickets online as the queues can be really long at arrival.
Getting to Budapest from Vienna: Frequent direct trains and buses depart from Vienna to Budapest every day and take around 3 hours to reach. You can also rent a car and drive yourself, the journey typically takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. Alternatively, this guided tour from Vienna to Budapest comes with transport for a hassle-free day trip.
Currency: Hungarian Forint
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Located halfway between Vienna and Budapest (120 km away from each city), Gyor in Hungary is one of the easiest yet overlooked day trips from the capital of Austria. It is one of the oldest cities in the region and is known as the pearl of Baroque architecture – you will quickly understand why when walking around the place.
The Old Town of Gyor is small, which makes it perfect for wandering around and enjoying the atmosphere of the city centre with all its winding lanes. There are numerous buildings with the “monument” title, the most impressive ones being the two main churches of Gyor- Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint Ignatius Benedictine Church (it’s worth stepping inside to see the beautiful interior of both).
Once done strolling around the Old Town, if you would like to relax over a cup of coffee and people-watch, there are plenty of cafes with outdoor sitting areas serving homemade Hungarian delicacies. For street food lovers, make sure to try freshly made Lángos – a deep-fried Hungarian flatbread that is similar to a pizza. You will find many vendors selling it on Baross Gábor street in the city.
Some other places to check out in Gyor are Gyor Town Hall, Gyor Synagogue, Bishop Lookout Tower, and Szechenyi Square. With so much to do and see, Gyor truly is a Central European hidden gem that is impossible not to fall for.
Getting to Gyor from Vienna: There are frequent trains between Vienna and Gyor (once per hour for most of the day) with a journey time of 1 hour and 10 minutes. In Gyor, the city centre with most of the attractions is located around 10 minutes walking from the train station. If you would like to have your vehicle with you, you can also drive from Vienna to Gyor.
Currency: Hungarian Forint
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Located unbelievably close to the Austrian capital, Bratislava is probably the easiest and most popular day trip from Vienna. An interesting fact is that it is the only capital in the world located on the border of three countries – Slovakia, Austria and Hungary.
The city is rather compact and spending one day in Bratislava is the perfect time to see its highlights. Among the most interesting sites are the Bratislava Castle, the Old Town Hall, the picturesque Blue Church, Michael’s Gate, and the UFO Observation Deck.
The best and fastest way to get to know Bratislava is by taking a free walking tour, where a local guide will take you to the main attractions and share a lot about the history and culture, as well as some interesting facts. When walking around the city centre, you will come across different statues that have been put all around. Keep an eye out because some of them might surprise you.
A visit to Bratislava wouldn’t be complete without a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. Some good options are Slovak Pub and Urban Bistro. And don’t worry about changing money – just like in Austria, Slovakia’s currency is Euro, which makes everything much easier.
Getting to Bratislava from Vienna: You can reach Bratislava in just one hour by either car, bus, train or ferry from Vienna. There are many frequent public transport options between the two cities, but renting a car is also a great choice if you would like more flexibility.
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Mikulov is one of the most beautiful towns in the South Moravia region of the Czech Republic. Located just after the Austria – Czech Republic border, you can actually see the Mikulov Castle whilst you are still in Austria.
Mikulov is a compact small town with a beautiful castle which has a gorgeous garden. You can visit the grounds of the castle free of charge. There are also temporary exhibitions inside the castle worth visiting, such as the one dedicated to the history of wine in the Czech Republic.
South Moravia is Czech Republic’s largest wine producer, with over 96% of the production coming from there. Make sure to taste the local wine in Mikulov, as well as visit one of the local vineyards for a tasting. Another thing you must try when there is any of the native dishes cooked with the local Palava wine. This grape variety was created in Moravia and goes really well with spicy food, desserts, cheese and more.
For a panoramic view of the town, you can climb the Holy Hill just before sunset. The hike up takes only around 20 minutes. Along the way you will stumble upon different statues depicting the path of the cross, culminating with the chapel of St. Sebastian at the top. On the other side of the hill, you can even see some beautiful vineyards and tree orchards.
Getting to Mikulov from Vienna: The journey from Vienna to Mikulov takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes by car and two hours by train. The trains from Vienna leave from the main train station in the city, but to reach Mikulov you will have to change at Breclav. Alternatively, you can also book a guided tour to Mikulov from Vienna and have them take care of the transportation.
Currency: Czech Koruna
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Brno is one of the easiest and best day trips from Vienna. Located just across the Austrian border in Czech Republic, it is the second largest city in the country. Whether you plan to explore the city or the scenic surrounding area known as Morovia, there are many incredible things to do in Brno that make it worth visiting.
Brno is home to St. James Ossuary, the second largest ossuary in Europe which was only discovered in the 2000s and opened to the public in 2012. Besides that, the city itself is a charming place to visit. The historic city centre features cobblestone streets, colourful buildings and lively plazas filled with cascading flower baskets and vendors selling homemade goods and fresh produce, making it wonderful to amble around.
Perched upon Petrov Hill overlooking Old Town Brno, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is another top attraction in the city. Also known as Petrov Cathedral, this beautiful landmark dates back to the 11th century and is one of the most unique cathedrals to visit in Europe.
Unlike most churches, the church bell at Petrov Cathedral tolls at 11am rather than noon. The reason for this dates back to the Thirty Years War, when the city escaped a siege as the attackers promised to retreat if they did not capture the city by the time the church bells rang at noon. Those defending the city rang the bell one hour early, possibly saving it from being conquered.
Getting to Brno from Vienna: There are several direct trains and buses between Vienna and Brno. The fastest train takes around 1 hour and a half to reach there and the bus takes around 30 minutes more. You can also rent a car in Vienna and drive to Brno yourself. Otherwise, guided tours between the two cities are a great choice if you don’t want to worry about transport.
Currency: Czech Koruna, but some places also accept small Euro bills.
8. Cesky Krumlov
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Cesky Krumlov is a charming little town located in the Southern Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. It is a picturesque destination that is a treat to walk around and explore in a day’s time.
There are plenty of things to do in Cesky Krumlov to keep you busy for a day. The first thing you will notice when you reach there is the maze of cobblestone streets. As you take a stroll, you will discover art galleries, lively bars, cute cafes, and small eateries serving local delicacies. This guided walking tour takes you to the best spots!
Across the river Vltava, sitting on a small hill is the majestic 13th century Cesky Krumlov Castle. For a small fee, you can tour the interiors. The highlight of the tour includes the Rosenberg Ballroom, the Baroque theatre, and the Royal Apartments.
But if you are on a strict budget, you can still explore the grounds and walk over to the Cloak Bridge for free. From the bridge, you will get sweeping views of the Old Town dotted with red brick roofs. Spread over 27 acres, the lovely castle gardens are also free of charge for visitors.
Another interesting way to explore the town is by a boat ride on the Vltava River, a relaxed option to take in the historical sights and end your day in the Czech Republic.
Getting to Cesky Krumlov from Vienna: Cesky Krumlov is located just over 200 km from Vienna and it takes around 3 hours to get there by car. To truly experience this atmospheric city, consider staying for the night.
Currency: Czech Koruna
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Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is a scenic three and a half hours from Vienna. It is a small yet charming city that is ideal for a day trip.
One place you shouldn’t miss when visiting Ljubljana is its old town streets, where many attractions, including the main square await travellers who venture off into exploration. The city centre is a captivating place for those who love charm and discovery. There are several bridges to explore, as well as streets filled with small shops and cafes that will satisfy your every need!
Also, make sure to check out the views from Ljubljana Castle, which are known to be stunning. To reach this incredible site, walk any of the available paths or take a scenic funicular ride up, before returning down again safely at your own pace. There are also guided tours and exhibitions of the castle, providing an opportunity to learn more about its history if you are interested.
Lastly, grab a local lunch and go for a stroll in the renowned Tivoli City Park before heading back to Austria.
Getting to Ljubljana from Vienna: The fastest way to get to Ljubljana from Vienna is by car, but several trains also run daily between the two cities. If you are driving there, make sure to park your car in the outskirts of the city as many streets in the city centre are car-free and parking can be hard to find. You can easily get to Ljubljana via public transport and explore the area on foot too.
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Ptuj is a city in the East of Slovenia, close to the border with Austria, Croatia and Hungary. It is the oldest recorded city of Slovenia, known for its history dating back to the Stone Age. If you are looking for places that are great to explore in a day, Ptuj is a perfect choice as you can see the entire city in a day if you want.
Begin your trip in Ptuj by visiting Ptujski Grad, the castle that dominates the town. Built in the 11th century, it is an iconic and prominent landmark of the city. If you like visiting museums, the Museum of Regional History housing an exhibition on the Ptuj carnival with the “Kurenti” masks is also located there. Though the grand views of the Drava River and the red-roofed houses of Ptuj’s Old Town are enough reason to go!
Next, stroll around the old town of Ptuj and spend some time admiring its beautiful medieval buildings and Roman monuments. Along with being the oldest city, Ptuj is also a city surrounded with vineyards, and is home to the oldest wine cellars of Slovenia. Make sure to try some Slovenian wines while you are there.
If you have more time, you can make your way to Terme Ptuj – a spa resort with a water park to recharge your batteries and end the day on a relaxing note.
Getting to Ptuj from Vienna: From Vienna, it takes around 3 hours to reach Ptuj by car. Although several trains, buses, and flights are available between the two cities, the journey is the fastest when driving. You can rent a car and take the B227, A23, E59, and 454 to reach Ptuj on toll roads.
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Another great place to visit on a day trip from Vienna is Graz in the state of Styria. Considered one of the most important cities in Austria, it is a destination with lots of interesting sights as well as gorgeous buildings that are just perfect to visit on a day trip.
There are so many amazing things to do in Graz! Highly impressive is the city’s historic Old Town with numerous attractions, museums and shopping opportunities. An absolute highlight and the landmark of the old town is Schlossberg with its clock tower, which stands high above Graz. You can have the best view of the city from up there and get some great pictures.
In any case, you should also take a look at the main square, where several colourful buildings conjure up a particularly pretty backdrop. The small alleys leading to the square are also beautiful, housing noble boutiques and fabulous restaurants. The city centre of Graz is truly Instagrammable!
The museums in Graz are also worth visiting, especially Zeughaus, Joanneumsviertel and the futuristic Kunsthaus an der Mur. If visiting more than one, you can even consider getting the Museums-Card that will allow you to visit all the important museums in Graz for only 12 Euros.
Getting to Graz from Vienna: This romantic city is located in Styria and is only about 2 hours away from the Austrian capital, Vienna. The best ways to reach Graz is by car, bus or even more conveniently by train, which connects Graz with Vienna directly. You can also take a guided tour to Graz with transport included.
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Sopron is a Hungarian city by the Austrian border, and it’s one of those adorable towns that is still mostly known and loved by locals and visitors from the neighbouring countries.
As small as Sopron is, it’s an exciting and pretty place to visit for a short trip. You can stroll the cobbled streets of its pastel-coloured Old Town, marvel at the mixture of Roman ruins, medieval, renaissance and baroque structures, sit in the lovely cafes and pubs, and taste the local red wines from the vineyards of Sopron Hill. A day trip from Vienna is enough to experience the best of this enchanting city!
Beginning from the Main Square, you can get lost on the narrow, cobblestone streets and old squares of the old town. Sopron dates back to Roman times when it was known as the walled city of Scarbantia, and you can see the ruins of those walls near the old town’s Main Square even today. The city’s iconic Firewatch Tower and stunning baroque palaces are also located there.
The 58 meters tall Firewatch tower is the symbol of Sopron. Standing on Roman foundations, it blends several architectural styles, and you can climb it for a bird’s eye perspective of Sopron. Other than taking numerous panoramas, make sure to count the church towers from up there too, there are surprisingly many.
Lastly, if you are an art lover, don’t miss Painters’ Alley (Festőköz in Hungarian), a romantic street that inspired many painters. This in-depth guide about Sopron has many more such recommendations.
Getting to Sopron from Vienna: Sopron is only 75 km from the Austrian capital, which is about an hour drive on the A2, followed by the A3 highway that exits directly onto Sopron. If you don’t have a car, choose the direct train from Vienna to Sopron that leaves every hour. The journey will take about 2 hours.
Currency: Hungarian Forint
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Eisenstadt in Austria is another beautiful place for an unforgettable day trip from Vienna. This city is the political and cultural centre of the province of Burgenland and is located near the romantic Lake Neusiedl.
During your day trip, you can expect an ingenious mixture of long history and tradition as there are often cultural events and concerts taking place in Eisenstadt. Also, the modern aspects have their charm too. Don’t forget to take a walk through the city centre and admire the many romantic sights that are there to see in the city.
The pedestrian zone with its many boutiques and cafes is really beautiful, as is the gorgeous castle park with its old trees and lakes, and the parliament building. The entire city centre of Eisenstadt is peppered with lovely details and there are numerous highlights to photograph.
A must on any day trip from Vienna to Eisenstadt is a visit to the Esterházy Castle. Its history dates back to a fortified Gothic castle from the 13th century. For more than 40 years, the world-famous composer Joseph Haydn was inspired by the special atmosphere of Esterházy Castle to write his extraordinary music. The Haydn Hall, named after the composer, is still one of the acoustically best and most beautiful concert halls in the world!
The castle park itself is another highlight in Eisenstadt. Spend some time there to enjoy the scenic botanical garden, small lakes and even a public swimming pool. Some sights to not miss are the Gloriette (the former hunting lodge of the Esterházys), Haydn House and Haydn Church, where Haydn’s mausoleum and Stations of the Cross are located.
How to get there: It is easy to get to Eisenstadt from Vienna. You can either take a car, bus or train. There are several direct buses and trains available between the two cities daily and the journey typically takes less than an hour. Otherwise, you can get a rental car or take a guided tour.
14. Vienna Woods
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There are so many wonderful things to see and do in Vienna, it can take at least a week for first-timers to experience all the music, art, history, and culture that the capital of Austria has to offer. But, if you are looking for a short getaway from the city centre and its crowds, then Vienna Woods is a wonderful choice to be amidst nature.
Located about 50 kilometres away from Vienna’s city centre, Vienna Woods is a city known for its wine gardens, vineyards, walking trails, and picturesque villages. When visiting, start your day with a wine tour in a vineyard and have a sip or two of some world-class liquor. For something more active, you can also go kayaking on the Danube or take a scenic walk through the magnificent historic forest, which was once a hunting ground of the Viennese royalty.
Next, grab lunch in the town centre and spend some time ambling around the area. Vienna Woods is home to plenty of historic sites including the Mayerling Hunting Lodge and Heiligenkreuz Abbey – one of the oldest Cistercian monasteries in the world.
Getting to Vienna Woods from Vienna: There are a number of train and bus routes that connect Vienna to Vienna Woods within an hour. But if you would like to have more freedom, you can also consider renting a car and exploring the area on your own. Alternatively, this guided tour is also a great option to see the highlights.
15. Wachau Valley
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Only an hour out of Vienna by train, the Wachau Valley makes for a perfect day trip from the city. Located on the banks of the Danube River, the Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can expect to get a small peek of Austria’s castles, sweeping landscapes, charming villages and towns when there. While the scenery is stunning, what the region is really known for is its wine.
The terraced vineyards in the Wachau Valley have views of the hills and river and are known for their dry white wines. Visiting a few of them makes for a very pleasant day. There are also a number of lovely towns to explore, out of which Melk and Dürnstein are two of the prettiest. Melk has a fascinating abbey to visit, while above Dürnstein sits the ruins of a famous castle where King Richard of England was once imprisoned.
If you’re travelling by a car or bike, you can stop by some of the smaller towns too – Spitz is near the wineries and is very charming.
Getting to Wachau Valley from Vienna: From Vienna, take the train to either Melk or Krems. Dedicate a couple of hours to seeing the town, then you can spend the rest of the day exploring the valley, either by bike, car or bus. If you want to visit the wineries, cycling is a great option and there are also cycling tours which leave from Vienna. For a different view of your surroundings, you can also take the ferry between Krems and Melk and enjoy the lovely perspective.
I hope this post about the best day trips from Vienna gave you inspiration to check out some nearby places while there. In case you have any questions or a suggestion to add, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or reach out to me via email or Instagram DM. I always love hearing from you!
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