Located in the east of Austria, Vienna is a wonderful place to base yourself if you're interested in taking a day trip or two through this part of Europe. The area around the Danube River offers vineyards and castles galore, making it perfectly suited to a leisurely day of driving or cycling through the lush landscape, but you can also head to charming towns like the spa town of Baden Bei Wien or the traditional wine village of Grinzing. However, you're not limited to staying in Austria, and many visitors also choose to venture out to cities like Prague, Ljubljana, and Bratislava. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Baden Bei Wien
Formerly an imperial summer retreat, Baden Bei Wien is a charming spa town only 16 miles away from Vienna. The therapeutic thermal waters have always been the town's biggest draw, and many visitors come here solely to relax in the luxurious thermal spas, some of which feature special touches like beautifully landscaped gardens and an artificial sand beach. However, there are plenty of other attractions here as well, including the historic castle ruins, the childhood home of the famous composer Beethoven, and a unique Doll and Toy Museum with a collection of more than 1000 pieces.
The capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava isn't nearly as well-known as nearby cities like Prague or Vienna, but it's a wonderful city with ample rewards for visitors who choose to step off the typical tourist trail. The pedestrian-only Old Town is filled with beautiful historic buildings and busy restaurants, and you can get some excellent views from above by climbing up to the reconstructed Bratislava Castle, which is an interesting attraction in its own right. Wine lovers should also stop by the Slovak National Collection of Wines, where 100 of the country's best wines are available to be sampled.
Located in the historical Moravian region of the Czech Republic, Brno is another city that tends to fly under the radar, but most people who come here can't help but fall in love with its magnificent modernist architecture, its cozy cafe culture, and its hip, laid-back atmosphere. Most of the biggest attractions are located in the walkable historic city center, including the Špilberk Castle, the gorgeous Petrov Cathedral, and the 17th century Capuchin Monastery. There are also some excellent museums, including the Mendel Museum of Genetics and the Moravian Museum, the second largest museum in the country.
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Sprawling across both sides of the Danube River, Budapest is one of the most iconic cities in Eastern Europe. There are endless things to see and do here, but if you only have a day, make sure to visit the relaxing mineral baths, stop by the landmark Hungarian Parliament Building, and take the funicular up to Buda’s Old Town to marvel at the castle and the jaw dropping city views. If you love it here so much that you end up deciding to spend the night, you can also take advantage of the city's incredible nightlife, which revolves largely around the eclectic "ruin bars".
If you're interested in Roman history, the ancient fortress of Carnuntum is a must-see attraction. The on-site museum houses a collection of artifacts found at the site, but the real highlights include a 2nd-century amphitheater and a reconstructed gladiators' practice arena. Visitors also have the unique opportunity to step back in time in the Roman City Quarter, where reconstructed houses and public baths have been built and furnished to look exactly as they would have 1700 years ago. Guided tours are available as well, but if you want to ensure that you can take a tour in English, it's best to book in advance.
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Also known as the Wachau Valley, the Danube Valley is a wonderfully lush region of Austria known for its rolling vineyards, its ruined castles, and its opulent baroque abbeys. The best way to travel through the romantic scenery is to take a boat cruise down the river, but make sure to stop at notable sights like the stunning Benedictine Abbey of Melk and the castle where Richard the Lionheart was once imprisoned. The atmosphere here is truly magical, but if you're not afraid to break the spell, you can also pay a visit to the sobering Mauthausen concentration camp memorial.
Surrounded by the wetlands of the Danube and the beautifully landscaped Schlosspark gardens, Eckartsau is a historic hunting lodge. The lodge was used by the Austrian elite as far back as 1720, but it's most famous for being home to Emperor Charles I and his wife during the final days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It fell into disrepair after the fall of the empire, but it's been restored to its former glory by the Austrian National Forests. The lodge is open for guided tours between the end of March and the beginning of November, and the landscape grounds are open to the public year-round.
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Graz is the second-largest city in Austria, but it's also one of the most relaxing, and it's a great place to come for anyone interested in culture and architecture. The city's most prominent feature is the Schlossberg, a large, forested hill that rises up behind the city, and visitors can take the funicular up to the top to explore the historic fortress and admire the spectacular city views. When you come back down, you should still have time to explore some of the city's other attractions, which include the Styrian Armory, the Graz Art Museum, and the fascinating Natural History Museum.
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A traditional Viennese wine village, Grinzing is technically part of Vienna, but it has its own distinct culture and heritage that sets it apart. Aside from its delicious wine, the town is best known for its many Heurigers, traditional wine taverns that serve local wine and delicious food. Lucky visitors will also catch a live music performance while they enjoy their food and drink. Of course, the town is surrounded by acres and acres of grape vines, and it makes a great starting or ending point for anyone who plans on touring the beautiful vineyards.
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Named for its location overlooking the dazzling Lake Hallstatt, the tiny village of Hallstatt is a fantastic place to enjoy the beauty of the mountainous Salzkammergut region. The town is filled with picturesque 16th-century houses and winding alleyways, and one of the most enjoyable things to do here is wander through the streets, snapping photos as you go. However, your trip wouldn't be complete without taking the funicular to Salzwelten, an underground salt mine that has been in use for thousands of years. You can also take the funicular up to a viewing platform that looks out over the mountains and the lake.
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Dating back to the 12th century, the Klosterneuburg Monastery is a stunning piece of Gothic architecture that overlooks the Danube River. It was constructed by the Roman Catholic Church, and highlights include the three-part Verdun Altar and the two beautiful domes, one of which bears the holy crown of the Archduke. In addition to the stunning architecture, the monastery is surrounded by more than 260 acres of vineyards, and it holds the honor of being the country's oldest wine estate. Visitors are welcome to explore the monastery on their own or with a guide, and the wine cellar is open for guided tours.
Stiftsplatz 1, 3400 Klosterneuburg, Austria, Phone: +43-22-43-41-10
Perched on top of an 870-foot hill in the charming town of Leobendorf, Kreuzenstein Castle was built in the late 1800s on the site of a medieval castle of the same name. It now houses a fascinating museum, the highlight of which is the massive armory and weapons collection. The standard guided tour takes between 45 minutes and an hour, but larger groups can also choose to take a longer tour that lasts up to two and a half hours. The castle is open on a seasonal basis between the beginning of April and the beginning of November.
13.Lainzer Wildlife Park/Lainzer Tiergarten
Tucked away in the southwest corner of Vienna, the Lainzer Wildlife Park Lainzer Tiergarten is a massive 6000-acre city park that formerly served as the hunting grounds for members of the imperial family. The park is still home to a healthy animal population, but it's no longer used for hunting, and it has been open to the public for recreational use since 1919. Visitors are welcome to stroll along the peaceful paths and try their hands at wildlife spotting, and educational tours are sometimes offered on topics like bird song and the wild herbs that grow in the park.
1130 Wien, Austria
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Laxenburg is a lovely small town only 12 miles outside Vienna, and its best known for being home to the spectacular Laxenburg Castles, one of which used to serve as a summer retreat for the imperial Habsburg family. The two main spots to visit in town are the main plaza and the massive Schlosspark Laxenburg, a scenic park dotted with ancient castles, wooden pavilions, and the occasional group of deer. The town is at its most beautiful in the summer, but this is also when it tends to be at its busiest, and it's best to come on a weekday if possible.
Schloßpl. 1, 2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Widely recognized as one of the greenest cities in Europe, Ljubljana is the welcoming capital city of Slovenia. The lush Tivoli Park stretches right into the city center, where the pedestrian-only downtown core is intersected by the rushing Ljubljanica River, and during the warmer months, restaurants and cafes cover the riverside walkways with outdoor seating that gives the city an undeniably festive feel. The city is also filled with beautiful pieces of architecture and design work, but none are more worth visiting than the Ljubljana Castle, a 16th-century masterpiece perched on a hill just outside the Old Town.
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If you're in Austria and you're interested in monasteries, the Melk Abbey deserves to be at the top of your to-do list. This colossal abbey was constructed in the early 1700s, and it features frescoes, altars, and sculptures done by some of the most significant Baroque artists in history. Another major highlight of the space is the elegant library, which features a graceful spiral staircase, a beautiful ceiling fresco, and a collection of more than 115,000 volumes, only a fraction of which are in a room accessible to the public. The monastery is open year-round, but guided tours are required between November and March.
Abt-Berthold-Dietmayr-Straße 1, 3390 Melk, Austria, Phone: +43-27-52-55-50
Nestled in the lush vineyards of South Moravia in the Czech Republic, Mikulov is a wonderfully picturesque little town known for its rich history and its delicious wine. Much of the town's historic architecture is incredibly well-preserved, particularly in the central square, where highlights include a Baroque column and a historic fountain. However, the biggest attraction is the Mikulov Chateau, which sits on a hill overlooking the town below and houses a museum with an excellent collection of local artifacts. The town also serves as the starting point for the 40-mile Mikulov Wine Trail, which leads through the beautiful Mikulovská wine region.
With its colorful baroque buildings and its graceful bridges, Prague looks like something straight out of a fairy tale, so it's fitting that it's been given the affectionate nickname "City of a Hundred Spires". This breathtaking city offers an almost overwhelming selection of attractions and activities to choose from, but one of the best things to do is simply wandering through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town to discover treasures like the iconic Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle. However, it's not all about the architecture, and the city also boasts charming cafes, unique art galleries, and bars serving delicious Czech beer.
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Tucked right up against the German border, Salzburg is a breathtaking Baroque city with a vibrant arts scene. The city is split in two by the Saltash River, but try to make time to visit both sides if you can, as both are home to major highlights. The Old Town is where you'll find the birthplace of Mozart, the famed Getreidegasse shopping street, and the iconic medieval Hohensalzburg Fortress, while the New Town is the proud home of the stately Mirabell Palace, which served as one of the backdrops for the movie "The Sound of Music".
19 Best Vienna Day & Weekend Trips
- Baden Bei Wien, Photo: Erika/stock.adobe.com
- Bratislava, Photo: emperorcosar/stock.adobe.com
- Brno, Photo: kaprikfoto/stock.adobe.com
- Budapest, Photo: BRIAN_KINNEY/stock.adobe.com
- Carnuntum, Photo: kobra78/stock.adobe.com
- Danube Valley, Photo: Claudia Prommegger/stock.adobe.com
- Eckartsau, Photo: KajzrPhotography.com/stock.adobe.com
- Graz, Photo: photo 5000/stock.adobe.com
- Grinzing, Photo: MysteryShot/stock.adobe.com
- Hallstatt, Photo: Scirocco340/stock.adobe.com
- Klosterneuburg Monastery, Photo: Pecold/stock.adobe.com
- Kreuzenstein Castle, Photo: majorosl66/stock.adobe.com
- Lainzer Wildlife Park/Lainzer Tiergarten, Photo: mophoto/stock.adobe.com
- Laxenburg Castle, Photo: karaka14/stock.adobe.com
- Ljubljana, Photo: kasto/stock.adobe.com
- Melk Abbey, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- Mikulov, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Prague, Photo: Mari79/stock.adobe.com
- Salzburg, Photo: tichr/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: JFL Photography/stock.adobe.com
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