Thanks to the excellent network operated by Austrian Railways (ÖBB), these day trips are easy to do by train and public transport. Here’s a taste of what to expect –
- The Danube river
- Vienna Woods
- Wachau Valley
- Klosterneuburg Abbey
- Roman Ruins of Carnuntum
- Baden bei Wien
Whatever you're looking for on a day out from Vienna, we're sure you'll find something here that fits the bill.
Austria and Hungary used to be part of the same empire, so it should be no surprise that their capitals are friendly neighbours. High-speed ÖBB Railjet trains run between the Vienna Hauptbahnhof and Budapest Keleti stations about every hour from 05:00 until 22:00, covering the 214km journey in just under 2h 40m.
Provided you get moving early, you should have plenty of time to explore the "Paris of the Danube". Brimming with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, incredible riverside architecture spanning every period from Baroque to Neoclassical, grandiose castles, and world-famous thermal springs, Budapest is truly one of Europe's most beautiful cities.
2. Bike along the Danube
The network of paths between Vienna and Passau along the banks of the Danube river is one of Europe's most famous cycle routes. However, cycling 200 miles upstream is a lot to take on in a single day! Instead, we recommend taking the 1-hour train from Vienna Westbahnhof to Krems and biking back to Vienna along one of the most picturesque stretches of the entire route.
Trains depart every half hour and you're allowed to take your bikes on board from Vienna, so you don't need to worry about hiring a bike upriver. Just make sure you buy a ticket for your bike, usually costing 10% of the price of a standard ticket.
3. The Vienna Woods
The Vienna Woods hold endless choices for interesting day trips from Vienna. Visit the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, the oldest operating Cistercian monastery in the world. Take a boat ride on Europe's largest underground lake, Seegrotte, a flooded gypsum mine or walk to the top of Kahlenberg, Vienna's 484m-high miniature "mountain", for sensational views over the city, the river, and the start of the Carpathian Mountains.
The easiest way to get to the Vienna Woods is by suburban train from Vienna Mitte to Liesing, then bus towards Giessbuehl, Hinterbruehl, and Sparbach on the southern fringes of the woods.
4. Hike in the Wachau Valley
Just outside Krems is the pristine Wachau Valley, about an hour north of Vienna. This World Heritage Site is rich in culture, cuisine, and scenery. The best way to explore it is on foot.
The magnificent Wachau World Heritage Trail winds its way through forested hills, vineyard-laden valleys, Renaissance villages, and ruined castles for over 100 miles. But don't worry - on a single day you can walk a beautiful 5-mile section between Krems and Duernstein which passes through ancient wine-growing areas, palace ruins, thick forests, and rocky landscapes for an enchanting medley of natural beauty.
5. See Salzburg
Two and a half hours from Vienna by either ÖBB Railjet or WESTbahn services, Austria's fourth-biggest city is known for its perfectly-preserved Baroque city centre, its scenic alpine surroundings, and its most famous son: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Of course, this is also where you can do your best Julie Andrews impression at one of many The Sound of Music filming locations around Salzburg, including the famous fountain at Mirabell Palace Gardens where Maria and the children sang 'Do Re Mi.' Trains back to Vienna run until 23:15, so you've even got time to enjoy an interactive Sound of Music dinner show.
6. Klosterneuburg Abbey
Vienna's answer to the Palace of Versailles, Klosterneuburg Abbey is a grand, sprawling building on the city's outskirts surrounded by immense gardens. Sure, the building is not technically a palace (it’s an abbey) and the gardens are more like wild green landscapes. But this vast complex of Romanesque and Baroque churches, vaults, lavish apartments, and marble hallways is royally impressive.
Both the German Imperial Crown and the Lower Austrian Archducal Bonnet seals adorn the abbey's impressive copper domes, hinting at its regal importance since its founding in the 12th century. Klosterneuburg is 15 minutes from Franz-Josef station on Vienna's regional S-Bahn train line.
It takes just over one hour from Vienna to reach Bratislava. Slovakia’s capital city contains plenty of belle époque charm and some 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces to compete with those of Vienna and Budapest. But alongside this are Brutalist monuments of Soviet influence, some proud icons of Slovak heritage, and a medieval old city replete with fortified walls and city gates.
Fancy greener surroundings? The Little Carpathian mountains that overlook the city offer an escape into nature.
8. The Roman Ruins of Carnuntum
Today, Carnuntum it is characterised by rolling meadows, pretty woodlands, and age-old vines of the March-Donauland region, but this land to the east of Vienna was the site of battles against invaders for millennia - from Romans and Hungarians to Napoleon and the Ottomans.
An important strategic location, the Romans decided it was worth building a fortified town here, one big enough to accommodate 50,000 people. The spectacular remains of this ancient city include dwellings, ancient baths, and even the practice arena of a gladiator school. ÖBB operates several trains a day from Vienna Rennweg station to Petronell-Carnuntum station, with a journey time of 45 minutes. Once you arrive, the ruins are a 15-minute walk away.
9. Relax in Baden bei Wien
Vienna's in-crowd have been retreating to the pretty spa town of Baden bei Wien for centuries - going all the way back to the Romans, who called this town Aquae. While the town contains many architectural gems, the main attraction is without doubt the many hot pools and thermal spas full of warm, therapeutic water that spill from Baden's sulphur springs every day. The easiest way to get here is by bus from either Vienna Hauptbahnhof or Vienna Meidling station. Either route should take about 45 minutes.
10. Escape to Eisenstadt
One hour south of Vienna, Eisenstadt is best known for its connection to the composer Josef Haydn, who is buried here and whose former house is now a museum celebrating his life. Another residence well worth a visit is Schloss Esterhazy, the magnificent former palace of Princess Esterhazy. This ornate Baroque behemoth used to be a medieval fortress. Rebuilt in 1672, it is full of exquisite furnishings and ornamentation typical of Austria's high society in the 19th century.
ÖBB operates an hourly Regional-Express service from Vienna Hauptbahnhof to Eisenstadt with a journey time of 1h 7m.
If we've whetted your travel appetite with our selection of day trips from Vienna, you can go ahead and book tickets in advance online. With so many great choices, the question is which one to go for!