Last updated on April 1st, 2023 at 04:54 am
After living in Vienna for 5 years while I pursued my Bachelor’s and also worked at the Vienna Tourist Board for some time, I got to experience 5 unforgettable summers in Vienna. With a hand on my heart I can say that during the summer months this city turns into magic like no other.
From swimming in the second-longest river in Europe, sipping cocktails overlooking the rooftops of Vienna, attending the largest open-air festival in the world or enjoying a free concert of the legendary Vienna Philharmonics – the Austrian capital offers endless opportunities for a great summer vacation.
In this blog post you’ll find my top tips on what to do in Vienna in the summer (beyond exploring the city’s main sights), a list of the best rooftops bars in the city, as well as the major events happening at this time of the year. Be sure to save this article for later in case you get overwhelmed with the amount of information!
Getting to and around Vienna
Depending on where you’re traveling from, you can get to Vienna either by car, train or plane. If you’re traveling by car, I strongly encourage you to leave it at one of the parking lots for the duration of your stay here. I can assure you that the public transport here is so good that you won’t need it. It will most probably just cause you headache due to the lack of street parking.
If you’re coming by train, you’ll find yourself directly in the city where you can easily get on a bus, tram or the metro. Arriving by plane is the slightly more tricky part.
The Viennese airport is located slightly outside of Vienna, so the best way to reach the city is to take the train. There are two different companies that operate from the Vienna Airport.
- CAT (City Airport Train) – €11 single ticket, €19 return ticket – takes 16 minutes to the city center (Wien Mitte) without having any stops along the way
- ÖBB – this is the local train company and you have to get the S7 or Railjet (RJ) train. For this option you are going to need two tickets – one for Vienna, and one for the couple of stops outside of Vienna, but this is still the cheapest option. The total price is €4,20 and the trip is not longer than 25 minutes till the central station Wien Mitte. I find the ticket machines to be a bit complicated, so I recommend you to get yours from the ÖBB office.
How does public transport in Vienna work?
- €2,40 single ticket – if you buy it from the machines in the metro stations
- €2,60 single ticket – if you buy it on the bus or tram
- Daily tickets – €8 for 24 hours; €14,10 for 48 hours, €17,10 for 72 hours (unlimited travel within the city limits) – depending on how long you’re staying, this is the best option!
- Vienna City Card – this mobility card allows you to use unlimited public transport within the city for up to 72 hours, and it gives you discounts for over 200 places around Vienna – from the palaces, museums and attractions, to coffee houses, restaurants, as well as many adventures.
Where to stay in Vienna
Vienna is quite big and there are many hotels and apartments you can choose from. It’s also a city with a very good public transport system, which makes getting around very easy. However, I recommend you to pick an accommodation that’s either in the city center or has a direct connection to it.
During our last trip to Vienna we booked this place and we were very happy with it. We usually book apartments, as hotels tend to be slightly more expensive, but it all depends on your preferences and your budget. I strongly recommend Vienna Stay Apartments, as the location was very good (just a few stops away from the city center by tram), and you can pick from numerous different apartments in the same building.
Best things to do in Vienna in the summer
Explore the beautiful old town
The magic of Vienna can be felt around every corner in the historic part of the city, and it’s definitely something you need to explore if you’re visiting for the first time.
Usually 2 days in Vienna are just about enough to see the major highlights, but since we want to experience some of the summer magic here, make sure you have a bit more time on your hands.
In this guide I talk in detail about all the places you must visit in Vienna, such as the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg, Belvedere Palace and many more!
Cool off at the Danube river
One of the most charming features of Vienna is the Danube river that flows through – it provides amazing opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, having a barbecue by the river, or even renting a paddle boat and enjoying some time in the water.
Just head to the Alte Donau (Old Danube) metro station of the U1 line where you can find numerous boats and kayaks, and enjoy your day by the riverside.
Visit the oldest zoo in the world
The Schönbrunn Zoo is actually the oldest functioning zoo on the planet and it’s a must-see, especially if you’re visiting Vienna with kids.
More than 700 animal species live here, some of which are highly endangered. From pandas, koalas and Siberian tigers, to hippos and one-horned rhinoceroses, you’ll find just about anything.
P.S. For the sixth time in a row, British zoo expert Anthony Sheridan named Schönbrunn Zoo the best zoo in Europe in January 2022. (source: Wien Info)
daily, 09:00 – 17:30 (varies depending on the season)
Regular ticket: €24
Children (6-18): €14
Your benefit with the Vienna City Card: -15%
Have fun at Prater – Vienna’s “Disneyland”
Though it’s not as exciting as the actual Disneyland, the Prater has its own charm. The summer is the prime time to visit Vienna’s attraction park and get on some of the rides.
Here you can get on the infamous Giant Ferris Wheel and enjoy the breathtaking views over the roofs of Vienna. The Giant Ferris Wheel was built in 1897 and has turned into the symbol of Austria’s capital city, while also creating an unmistakable silhouette on the Vienna skyline, clearly visible even from afar.
Rent a bike for free
For many years locals and visitors of the city have been able to enjoy moving around Vienna on a bike pretty much for free! The local service CityBikes provides hundreds of bikes which can be found in many places around the city (mainly at metro stations) and can be used by anyone. This is just one of the many free things you can do in Vienna! If you’re curious about the rest, you can read my full guide here.
To use the city bikes, all you have to do is register (either online or at any citybike station in the city) with a credit card. The registration will cost you 1 euro, but afterwards you can rent a bike from any station in the city, ride it for 1 hour for free, and drop it off at another station of your choice. Keep in mind that for every new rent, the first hour is for free, and afterwards you get charged a small amount for every new hour.
If you happen to need the bike for longer than 1 hour, then just return it halfway through your journey, and get a new one – the time will then restart. Use the app CityBike station finder to locate the next free bike stations.
Go to an open-air event
The summer season in Vienna allures with its numerous open-air festivals and events that are happening all throughout the warm season.
If you’re coming in June, you most definitely need to visit the Summer Night Concert – a free concert by the Vienna Philharmonics, held in the gardens of the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace. In 2022, the concert will take place on June 16th.
Another highlight is the Donauinselfest – the largest open-air music festival in the world, with around 3 million visitors during its 3 days. In 2022, Donauinselfest will take place between June 24th and 26th, and the best part is that the entrance is free.
There are so many exciting events happening in Vienna in the summer, and if you keep reading, I have prepared an extensive list with the events and festivals for this year.
Sip on an aperol spritz under the stars
One of the most traditional summer drinks in Austria is the Aperol spritz (along with the Weisser Spritzer, which consists of white wine and sparkling water).
During the summer there are many opportunities to enjoy a drink or two in an open bar, enjoying the warm weather and looking at the stars.
Below you will find a list of the best open and terrace bars you can visit in Vienna in the summer!
Where to go for drinks in Vienna in the summer
Atmosphere Rooftop Bar
Making for the perfect sunset spot, the Atmosphere Rooftop Bar is one of the best rooftop bars in all of Vienna. It’s located on the roof of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and offers a breathtaking view over Vienna and its major landmarks. Keep in mind that it’s on the pricier side.
Address: Schubertring 5/7 (Google Maps)
Aurora Rooftop Bar
Another bar offering a beautiful view of the city is the Aurora Rooftop Bar at the Hotel Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere. From here you can look over Belvedere while sipping on a cocktail on the 16th floor.
Address: Arsenalstraße 10 (Google Maps)
Right in the heart of Vienna, with a view straight towards the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, you’ll find the beloved Lamée Rooftop Bar. This is also where numerous Instagram photos of Vienna are being taken.
Address: Rotenturmstraße 15 (Google Maps)
mariatrink Drinks & Views
Last but not least, located in the middle of the Mariahilf district you’ll find Mariatrink – a newly opened rooftop bar in the Jaz in the City Hotel. If you’re looking for uninterrupted, far-reaching views of Vienna’s beautiful city center, this is the spot for you.
Address: Windmühlgasse 28 (Google Maps)
Events in Vienna in the summer
Summer Night Concert (16 June 2022) – an annual free entry outdoor concert in Vienna held by the Vienna Philharmonics in the gardens of the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace.
Donauinselfest (24-26 June 2022) – the biggest open-air music festival in the world, taking place on the Danube Island. You will find numerous stages with different types of music. Entrance is free.
Rathaus Film Festival (2 July – 4 Sept) – A free annual event by the City of Vienna, which takes place in front of the city hall (Rathaus). You can watch music and movie productions being streamed on the facade of the city hall while enjoying a meal or a drink from one of the food stalls.
Vienna Jazz Festival (not taking place in 2022, but be on the lookout for 2023) – an annual event that ranks as one of Europe’s top jazz festivals. It’s usually a full programme of performances across anything up to four weeks and usually held in early summer.
Vienna Festival/Wiener Festwochen (13 May – 18 June) – Works from the fields of theater, music, dance and visual arts.
Frameout (8 July – 27 August) – Open-air cinema in Vienna’s Museumsquartier (MQ). Free entry.
Sommer im MQ (12 May – 1 Sept) – live music, theatre, dance, open air cinema, literature and more in the Museumsquartier (MQ) Free entry.
Do you need more inspiration to plan your trip to Vienna? You might also read: