The possibilities for DIY day trips from Vienna are extensive. I will draw from my traveling experience, both general and from Vienna, to make a few suggestions and practical tips.
Visit to Bratislava
Currently Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, interestingly enough the city has also been the capital of Hungary a few hundred years ago. It is a smaller capital with a population of less than half a million. But Bratislava is also an old city with lots of history.
Why visit Bratislava?
Why a day trip to Bratislava you ask? The city is very easy to reach from Vienna and lets you explore another city and even country. Maybe Bratislava or Slovakia is on your bucket list and this will give you a chance to cross it of. There are several interesting places to see and visit in, and if you have the time I do recommend a day trip to Bratislava.
How to get there
There are at least three different ways to get to Bratislava from Vienna.
With prices as low as less than 6€ Flixbus is by far the cheapest option. Flixbus has tens of departures each day from Vienna Erdberg and Central Station and the travel time is just an hour or slightly longer. This is the economical choice.
By train you can either choose to go to Bratislava trainstation that are located to the north of the city center or to Bratslava-Petržalka which are located to the south on the other side of Danube. For 16€ you get a return ticket that includes all public transportation on the first day in Bratislava. Great value in that! If you choice to go the Bratislava trainstation you can also get on the train in Vienna Simmering, Vienna Stadlau and Aspern Nord. Check which are closer to your location. And do not forget to print your ticket before entering the train!
The slowest but also the by far most scenic route is to go by ferry. Head over to Twin City Liner to check prices and availability. This is both far more expensive and slower, but I highly recommend that you take the ferry one way. By sure to reserve you seat well ahead since they will sell out.
Day tours from Vienna
An alternative is to book an day tour from Vienna, where you will get everything planned for you. It is not an DIY-tour anymore, but still an valid choice.
What to do in Bratislava? A short overview
As in many other cities there are lots of things to do in Bratislava. When looking for tours I was surprised by the amount of different tours for a city of this size. The old town is interesting and a tour of that area might interest you. Or why not a tour about the Soviet and communist era, hidden gems of the city or even my favorite, a food and beer tour!Or you can look through the complete list of tours in Bratislava.
I always try to have a guided tour of each city I visit, to learn more about the history and interesting views and things to do. Do it early on your trip and spend the rest of your time exploring everything that interested you from the tour. A food or drinks tour can be as enlightening and will give you a different perspective.
An easy walk from the old town on a high hill you will find Bratislava Castle, and the castle ground. The grounds have free access and the views from here are beautiful. Entrance to the castle are 10€. At least visiting the castle grounds are something that should be obligatory when you visit Bratislava.
A few km outside of Bratislava you will also find the ruins of Devin Castle. It is a little to far to walk, but you can get there by bus or joining a three hour group tour of the castle.
The Blue Church
Or St. Elizabeth’s church as it really is named, is an unique and very beautiful church. Completely made in blue and built in the Art Nouveau style, I have never seen anything like it.
Local food and drink is a passion for me. I do avoid the most strange and unusual things, but there are still lots of unique foodstuff and beverages to try out all over the world. For genuine Slovak food I’d recommend Flag Ship Restaurant. A large restaurant with local food, good prices and great atmosphere.
Walking through Vienna vineyards
Vienna is the only capital with vineyards inside its city limits. Only this is pretty unique and fascinating. If you are in Vienna look to the northwest and you will see lots of high hills, you will find he vineyards on the slopes on these hills. The nature here are beautiful with lots of walking trails, ranging from easy to medium hard I’d say. You could probably walk here for days without walking the same trails twice. From here you will get the best views of Vienna and you can also visit a genuine Viennese heuriger for some local wine and food.
How to get there
From wherever you are in Vienna take the u-bahn to Heiligenstadt and from there jump on the 38A bus-line. Enjoy the ride up through the hills, pass Grinzing and leave the bus either at Cobenzl or Khalenberg, whichever you prefer. From here either have a planned route or do as I tend to do, walk aimlessly in the general direction you want to go in. Maybe find some higher hills that you want to hike, just for the fabulous views. Either way I would end my hike which walking downslope from about Khalenberg to Grinzing. You will then walk through several vineyards and pass several heuriger. Are you thirsty or hungry? Then visit one of the heuriger or eat at any one restaurant in Grinzing before jumping on the 38A bus back to Heiligenstadt.
You can do the vineyards either as a full day trip or just for half a day. If you choose half a day I highly recommend afternoon and evening since the heuriger otherwise will be closed.
Hiking at Schneeberg
Schneeberg is the largest mountain in lower Austria, with the highest peek reaching 2076 meters height. On a good day you can see the mountain all day way from Vienna. This enticing view will of course just make you want to hike to the top and look back at Vienna! Hiking in Schneeberg is a perfect all day day trip from Vienna.
Why would you want to do that?
You love nature? Maybe hiking or even mountain hiking? You want new exiting adventures and experiences? The hiking at Schneeberg is the thing for you. It will be a nice retreat from the stressful life of the large city. Instead of getting tired by all the people you will instead get exhausted by hiking for hours at an end. Could it ever get better than that? I do not think so!
How to get there
Getting to Schneeberg is not that quick or easy, so I recommend that you plan it way ahead and have an early morning. I got up at five in morning and arrived at Puchberg am Schneeberg around nine o’clock. My recommendation is that you head out to Vienna Meidling or Hauptbahnhof to get on the train there. Book a train for Wiener Neustadt where you will have to change for the last leg of the trip to Puchberg am Schneeberg.
From here you can either start your hike to Schneeberg, or get a little closer. If you want to start here it will be rather long hike, 4-6 hours to the top. But the nature is wonderful and doing it one way might be worth it. But if you want to get closer you can either take the bus, and still have to hike all the way up the mountainside Or you can take the salamander train and in 40 minutes get to 1800 meters altitude. Make sure you book this train well ahead of your trip to ensure that you will get a ticket. Hiking at Schneeberg is not a spontaneous activity.