Short breaks in Vienna – 48 hours of Habsburg palaces, opera and opulent coffee houses

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Imperial palaces, royal parks and groundbreaking art galleries spoil the senses on a short break in Vienna. This inspirational itinerary will help you get the most out of your stay in a Vienna hotel.

Vienna short break day one, morning

Begin your Vienna short break in sweet-toothed Austrian style over espresso and original Sachertorte chocolate cake in chandelier-lit Café Sacher. A quick stroll northeast brings you to the ornate Hofburg Palace, home of Habsburg royals for 600 years. Tour imperial apartments where you’ll be dazzled by Bohemian crystal. and the treasury’s glittering Holy Roman Empire jewels. Right opposite, the sculpture-dotted Burggarten affords postcard-worthy snapshots of the palace. Saunter through the flowerbeds to the Schmetterlinghaus, a graceful Art Nouveau glasshouse where butterflies flutter amid the foliage.

Start: Café Sacher
Nearest U-Bahn Karlsplatz


Under the same roof as the Schmetterlinghaus, the Palmenhaus serves imaginative salads for lunch. Sit on the patio facing the Hofburg when the sun is out. Wander east for window shopping on the pedestrianised Kohlmarkt, lined with boutiques like Bulgari and Chanel. Pause to buy gift-wrapped candied violets at Demel, then continue on to the cobbled Graben, where horse-drawn carriages trot past and street entertainers attract the crowds. Filigree spires guide the eye to gothic St Stephen's Cathedral nearby. Climb the 137m tower for gargoyle close-ups and far-reaching views over Vienna.

Start: Palmenhaus
Nearest U-Bahn Karlsplatz


As Vienna starts to twinkle, hop on tram 1 for a spin around the monumental Ringstrasse boulevard. A two-minute walk west of the Stubenring tram stop lies the medieval Fleischmarkt (meat market), home to 15th-century tavern Griechenbeisl. The inn was once frequented by Beethoven, Wagner and Strauss. Take a pew under the vaults to dine heartily on crisp, golden Wiener schnitzel. 

Start: Ringstrasse 
Nearest tram Kärntner Ring

Vienna short break day two, morning

Kick off your morning at the bustling Naschmarkt food market for stalls loaded with cheeses, spices and fresh produce. Watch the action from a pavement café. Stroll 10 minutes north to the mammoth MuseumsQuartier, a cluster of world-class galleries set around the former imperial stables. The lava-stone MUMOK showcases Warhol pop art and the Leopold Museum has an outstanding collection of works by Viennese expressionists like Klimt and Schiele. Take a light lunch at avant-garde Café Leopold

Start: Naschmarkt 
Nearest U-Bahn Kettenbrückengasse


A speedy U-Bahn ride east takes you to the fantastical KunstHausWien. The curving walls and technicolor mosaics are the handiwork of eccentric Viennese artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Cross the Danube Canal for a stroll along the Prater's chestnut-fringed boulevards. Merry-go-round music and whiffs of candyfloss draw you to the fairground, where the iconic, 65m Riesenrad Ferris wheel turns gently. Take a ride to see whole city spread out before you. 

Start: KunstHausWien 
Nearest U-Bahn Landstrasse Wien-Mitte


Freshen up at your Vienna hotel for a smart night of first-rate opera and ballet at the neo-Renaissance Vienna State Opera . Book tickets well ahead. After the performance, wander north for a champagne cocktail at the violin-shaped bar at La Divina, a theatrical haunt dedicated to soprano Maria Callas. 

Start: Vienna State Opera 
Nearest tram Wien Oper-Kärntner Ring