Is Vienna Overrated?

When I wasn’t having the greatest time in Vienna, I tried to figure out why by running a simple Google search:

“Is Vienna overrated?”

Not surprisingly, this question had been widely searched with mixed responses. 

My personal answer to whether or not Vienna is overrated is “jein”, which means “yes and no” in German. It depends on what your travel goals are and what you value in a city. For me personally, Vienna was my least favorite spot on my Europe trip.

Don’t get me wrong, Vienna is a beautiful city with a rich history of culture and art. The city offers a wide assortment of museums, most of which are worth seeing. Even if you aren’t a fan of classical music or museums, the city still warrants a visit – especially if you are already in the region.

A lot was going on during the time of my visit. Preparations for the Life Ball were underway, which is Europe’s largest HIV/AIDS charity event.  The second day of my visit was the popular Summer Night Concert at Schoenbrunn Palace featuring the Vienna Philharmonic. Preparations for the concert made it difficult to enjoy the palace and gardens during the daytime and the event itself attracted masses of people.

Life Ball Festivities

The impact of these events probably factored into my less than perfect visit. However, they do reaffirm Vienna’s role as a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Another possible reason Vienna didn’t particularly excite me is because I lived in Bavaria for nearly a year. Parts of Southern Germany are culturally very similar to Austria – nothing in Vienna felt new or offbeat to me. 

With all of this being said, Vienna is lovely. I will not be returning anytime soon though. Here’s my reasoning:

Vienna is Touristy

This is to be expected, given that it is a major European capital. When I was there in mid-May, the city was packed with tour buses, large tour groups, and selfie sticks. 

I couldn’t enjoy the attractions I was excited to see because they were simply too crowded. I had to opt out of cafe suggestions from a friend because lines were forming out the door.

Consult this list from Virtual Tourist for tips on avoiding overrated, overly-touristic attractions in Vienna.

Vienna is Expensive 

This is also to be expected for a European capital. For example, a 4-bed dorm in a hostel in Vienna costs around €21 per night while I was there. The same style accommodation in either Berlin or Prague would have respectively cost approximately €16 or €10.

It’s cheaper than Paris or London of course, but I didn’t feel like it was worth the expense. I didn’t get the sense that Vienna is an affordable or enjoyable place for young people, even though the city has several universities.

I Found Myself Feeling Bored

This was partially my fault as well.  Maybe I should have sought out more fun accommodation, or tried harder to connect with locals and other travelers. However, I didn’t find Vienna enjoyable to walk around or simply explore like other cities. Maybe I just didn’t know where to look?

Exploring Schönbrunn

The city shuts down at night as well. There is some nightlife near the Schwedenplatz area, but not as much as you would expect in a city as large as Vienna.

Vienna is a Cultural (Guilt) Trip

I felt like I had a checklist of things I had to see or do just because others said I couldn’t miss them. Trying to clear my Vienna bucket list felt tedious and that’s not how I want to spend my time or money traveling. 

There is almost too much to see in Vienna. This isn’t a bad thing per say, but it left me feeling rushed and unsatisfied by the fact I wasn’t able to see everything I wanted to.

Things to do in Vienna AustriaOne of the many museums in the city’s Museum Quarter

Going back to my last point, it’s hard to just go out and have a good time in Vienna. Vienna is cultural trip more than anything else – which also isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on what you’re hoping to experience. 

Maybe I visited at the wrong time, was with the wrong people, or checked out the wrong things. Lots of factors go into making a trip wonderful, horrible, or just meh.

Others, including several of my good friends, love Vienna. Please don’t let my experience influence your opinion of Vienna – go decide for yourself.

Vienna 12 ED

Based off this visit alone, I’m going to say Vienna just isn’t for me. Not every trip can be perfect, and I’m okay with that. Despite my lackluster time, Vienna is still beautiful and charming.

I’m going to mentally catalog Vienna among my list of cities I want to visit or revisit when I’m older (and hopefully wealthier – I would love to do a Danube river cruise).  I’ll save the more challenging, less-expensive destinations for now. I may be young with limited funds, but I have plenty of energy and time.

Have you been to Vienna? Did you share my experience, or have you felt the same way about another city? I would love to hear your opinions and insights.

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  • Reply
    May 21, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    I haven’t been to Vienna before, but one of my friends just got back from a trip there and loved it. She was on a tour so maybe she liked the structure. I’d still like to visit but it’s nice to hear the pros and cons.

    • Reply
      May 21, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      I’m glad your friend loved it! I have a friend who spent all summer there and loved it as well. Different strokes for different folks maybe? I hope you can see Vienna for yourself soon though 😀

  • Reply
    May 21, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I was in Vienna last summer and I agree with a lot of the points you made. I feel that one day is enough in Vienna but I was there for three. I mean it definitely is beautiful, but I think there are more beautiful European cities to visit.

    • Reply
      May 21, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Good to know I’m not the only one who felt this way. I felt a bit guilty for being so bored in such a beautiful city, but you’re right that there are definitely better cities our there. I spent four days there and it was more than enough. Luckily, I liked Slovenia a lot better and it was a good break after Vienna.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Such a shame you didn’t like Vienna! I’ve heard only good things about the city, but it still remains yet to be visited. But it’s always good to have a few different prespectives. (:

    • Reply
      May 22, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      So had I, I was so disappointed 🙁 You can’t love everywhere though!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    That’s fine, not every place is going to be interesting but what really matters is that you explore and you try to visit these places.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! I totally agree, maybe I’ll revisit it in a few years and love it. You never know!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Wien is nice but it does not sparkle. It is comfortable but more like a big town than a city. It is worth a trip, but of course, there’s better. The city life style is inflated and the result is good. Pity, Wien is adynamic and does not look like hosting 2m people

  • Reply
    March 1, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Im on a Euro trip where I have visited:
    France: Paris, Lyon
    Spain: Barcelona
    Italy: Napolis, Pompeii, Rome, Bologna, Modena, Venice
    Vatican: Vatican City
    Slovenia: Ljubljana, Bled, Postjona
    Croatia: Zagreb
    Austria: Vienna

    So far, Vienna has been my least favorite. Im fact, I’m leaving to Prague early.

    I decided to do the same as you, google as to why but I already knew the answer. Vienna is amazingly beautiful architecturally speaking. But, what the city lacks ( for me! ) is a soul. It’s impossible to feel a connection here, too big, too flashy, too much. I don’t regret visiting the city by any means but I’ll continue on to better places. I never planned on visiting Vienna but my travels are all in buses and I felt it would be missed chance to drive through a whole country without stopping in one of it’s cities.

    For travelers looking to travel to Vienna I must recommend to have all the Logistics ready. Vienna is big, walking from one point to another can get tiring. They do offer incredible public transportation system which I used very often.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2017 at 1:27 am

      Gabriel, thanks for checking out my blog! That sounds like a fabulous itinerary, I bet you had an amazing time! I totally agree with your sentiments on Vienna, and hope Prague was a better destination for you! If you’re still traveling, I hope you enjoy the rest of your time in Europe!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I was very interested in what you said. I few years ago we visited Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava over two weeks and Vienna was definitely our least favourite. My cousin did the reverse trip a year later and felt the same. We’re going back to Vienna in a month’s time and it’ll be interesting to see if we still feel the same.

    Thanks for your views. You have a very interesting website,


    • Reply
      June 22, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Iain! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind feedback 🙂 I’m definitely curious to hear if you still feel the same, please keep me posted! Either way, I hope you have a great time!

    • Reply
      Elena Biasi
      December 29, 2017 at 5:41 am

      Hi Iain! Any new thoughts after your second trip to Vienna? 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary Blue
    September 22, 2017 at 5:05 am

    Thanks for your honest review! I’ve been to Vienna a couple of times and I find it OK at best and hardly bearable to look at at worst.
    There are A couple of nice buildings, surrounded by gross, UDSSR like monstrosities. Nothing achitecture-wise makes sense there. And nowhere do you actually feel like staying because nowhere is it actually cosy and warm and friendly.
    Also the People just walk around like savages, so every few seconds you run into someone who walks completely disorientated without a clear direction. I swear, last time I watched two people walking into the opposite direction and two meters before passing each other nicely, one of them made a step the other side WHERE THE OTHER PERSON WAS WALKING. Talking about making bad desicions. That is just one of so many things that annoy me here…

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