Vienna had been on my travel bucket list for such a long time so when I finally visited this beautiful city just over a month ago, it felt all the more special. We spent four nights in Vienna, which gave us three days to explore and see the sights. I wish we had stayed longer as we ran out of time to do everything we wanted. However, I can honestly say I had the best time exploring this charming Austrian city and hope to return in the near future. Until then here is my ultimate city guide to Vienna for wheelchair users, including where to stay, what to see and do, where to eat and how to get around.
Where to Stay
Vienna has some of the most beautiful architecture, art nouveau and gothic styles. It’s one of my absolute favourite cities for its charm and beauty. So when it came to the type of hotel to stay in, we were lucky to experience two different hotels with very different styles. One being authentic Viennese and the other being trendy and modern. Regardless, both hotels were amazing in their own rights and I’d definitely stay at them again when I return to Vienna.
Boutique Hotel Donauwalzer
Dating back to 1901, Hotel Donauwalzer is a real art deco gem with so much charm and authenticity. Being a family-run hotel you get a true sense of tradition, hospitality as well as love. All the staff are very friendly, helpful and genuinely happy to be there. Our accessible room was lovely and had so much space for moving around in my power wheelchair. The breakfast was amazing and incredibly fresh. Aside from that, the hotel was within walking distance of the city centre but also had great public transport links.
Location: Hernalser Gürtel 27, 1170 Wien
Amenities: Free WiFi, Breakfast Buffet, Concierge, Pets Welcome, Bar/Lounge, Garden, Private Spa
Having just opened in 2015 Hotel Schani is aimed at tourists looking for convenience and modern technologies. The hotel bed is amazing and I had the best sleep I’ve ever had in a hotel. The décor is super cool and the deliciously healthy breakfast will have you revitalised for a busy day of sightseeing. You can’t go wrong with this hotel as it’s in an excellent location for public transport with Vienna’s Central Railway Station right across the street. With tram line D on the hotel’s doorstep catching a tram into the city centre couldn’t be easier and you’ll be off exploring the attractions within 7 minutes.
Location: Karl-Popper-Straße 22, 1100 Wien
Amenities: Free WiFi, Breakfast Buffet, Pets Welcome, Bar/Lounge, Garden, Self Check-In
What to See
The Stephansplatz is the main square in the heart of Vienna. Filled with restaurants, shops, musicians and street performers. You’ll never be short of things to see and do. The outdoor restaurants provide the perfect setting to people watch while enjoying the beautiful sounds of live music. I’ll never forget the calm feeling of listening to an amazing young girl playing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ on her violin one night. It was so good! A little boy around three years old became besotted with her and kept running up and dancing in front of her playing. It was adorable.
Top Tip: Need the toilet while strolling through, but not sure where has an accessible toilet? Head for the Stephanplatz U-bahn via the lift (directly across from St Stephens Cathedral). The accessible toilet is locked, so if you don’t have a Euro Key then the attendant will unlock it for you.
St Stephens Cathedral
Another reason to roll along the Stephansplatz is to admire the 14th century St Stephan’s Cathedral. One of the city’s most important and recognisable buildings due to its history as well as its Romanesque and Gothic appearance. Part of what makes it most recognisable is its multi-coloured chevron tiled roof, providing a stunning contrast against the blue sky. If you’re feeling a bit lost and not quite sure where you are, just look for its 137-meter-high spire and head in that direction bringing you back into the centre of the city. (We relied on this handy technique many times)
The main entrance is wheelchair accessible and guided tours of The Cathedral are available. However, tours of the catacombs and evening tours include a tour of the roof which is only accessed via steps, therefore they are not wheelchair accessible. Don’t let this deter you from visiting this stunning Cathedral as you’ll still be able to admire inside and get a sense of how old this beautiful building is. There was mass taking place when we arrived, so it’s important to be quiet and respect others.
Top Tip: Visit later in the day or at night for fewer crowds.
Fun Fact: Mozart was married here in 1782.
Admission: Free for disabled and carers.
The Albertina is one of the best art museums in Vienna with an incredible collection of over 60,000 drawings and one million prints. This impressive collection includes art pieces from Monet, Picasso, Da Vinci, Cézanne and Egon Schiele, whose exhibition we were practically interested in seeing.
Wheelchair access is available throughout the museum, restaurant and shop. You’ll find accessible toilets located on Level 1 and Level -1, which are accessible via lifts.
Admission: Reduced admission for people with disabilities €7.
No matter where I go or city I visit, I always find myself heading for some greenspace to relax and take a break from the crowds. Vienna was no exception with so many beautiful parks to choose from such as Burrgarten which is situated right next to the Imperial Palace Hofburg in the 1st district. Not only is this one of Vienna’s most beautiful parks, but it also contains the famous monument of Mozart. Burrgarten is the perfect spot to relax or enjoy something to eat or drink at the Palmenhaus, a large art nouveau glass house which is also home to hundreds of exotic butterflies.
Nothing worse than a bumpy uneven path while you’re trying to relax, but thankfully Burrgarten has smooth accessible paths throughout which helps with the feeling of pure relaxation.
Top Tip: Roll up the sloped path on the right-hand side of the park to reach the Palmenhaus and enjoy a drink in the sunshine.
Admission: Free admission to Burrgarten Park. The butterfly house is free for disabled visitors and carers.
Accessible Walking Tour
Walking tours are a great way to get an overview and see the main sights during a city break. They are particularly helpful if you’ve only got a few days to explore the city and want to squeeze in as much as possible. I know we do! At the same time, we also don’t want to be rushing about frantically trying to tick off “Vienna’s top attractions”. Instead, we like to explore parts of the city that tourists typically don’t see. That’s where an accessible walking tour comes in.
We had a fantastic tour guide, Gabriela Steiner-Scharfetter who took us on a 3-hour tour covering ‘accessible Vienna’ and it was the best city tour I’ve ever been on. Gabriela was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and charismatic. We covered the main sights within the centre and out with the ‘typical’ tourist routes. We saw buildings, streets and learned so much more than we ever would have if we hadn’t been on the tour. It was fascinating to listen to Gabriela’s stories of Vienna, giving us a real insight and appreciate into Vienna as well as advice on the best restaurants and cafes where locals go. It would be lovely to go on another tour with Gabriela when we return to Vienna.
Haus Der Musik
If you’re looking for a fun and interactive museum then the Haus Der Musik (House of Music) is for you. As the name suggests this museum is all about music and sound, but it’s displayed in a really cool and interactive way that encourages visitors to experiment with the different exhibits. There are lifts throughout the four floors as well as a staircase which acts as a piano as you step on it. This in itself can be a lot of fun, even to watch others creating a tune as they climb the stairs.
Top Tip: Open daily until 10pm – we visited at 8pm and there were fewer crowds.
Admission: Reduced admission for people with disabilities €9, carers receive free admission.
The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular market with over 120 market stands and restaurants. You’ll find everything from fruit, vegetables, spices, baked goods, souvenirs, clothes, home goods and more. There are three lanes of stalls and each is quite long so you could easily spend a while looking at everything. The Naschmarkt can get very busy, so we arrived around 11am when it was still quite quiet which was easier for me to move around in my wheelchair. We left just before 12pm and noticed it was starting to get busier for lunchtime. There is a flea-market on every Saturday, which has become part of Vienna culture.
Top Tip: Visit outwith usual meal times for a quieter experience.
Located in Vienna’s 7th district, Museumsquartier is one of the world’s largest art complexes. Packed full of great museums and culture all in one area. With museums such as Leopold, MUMOK and Kunsthalle as well as a selection of trendy restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. You’ll enjoy complete wheelchair access throughout Museumsquartier with lifts and accessible toilets. The inner courtyard is lovely and perfect to relax after hours of exploring the museums. Its modern look is a stark difference from the Gothic architecture throughout the rest of Vienna.
Top Tip: Don’t miss the Street Art passageways at Museumsquartier for public exhibitions from art & graffiti artists.
Admission: Free to enter the courtyard, but there is admission to each museum. Discounts apply with the Vienna City Card.
Where to Eat
I have to admit we ate pretty well in Vienna as the food was amazing. I’d go back to Vienna just for the food alone. As breakfast is the most important meal of the day and because we had busy days ahead of us, we took full advantage of the amazing breakfasts at the hotels. Breakfast was included in both of our hotel reservations, which was good because it meant we didn’t have to rush to get ready in order to leave the hotel and hunt for somewhere to eat.
For lunch and dinner, we didn’t have to look too hard as there were so many lovely Viennese cafes, restaurants as well as street food on every street. Some restaurants had a step up and we couldn’t see any visible ramp, although there might have been. Although we always managed to find somewhere we wanted to eat and since the weather was so good we enjoyed sitting outside whenever we could. We enjoyed eating at the following restaurants and cafes:
We enjoyed a nice lunch at this Italian near State Opera
- Da Mortiz Huth
Dinner at this lovely restaurant was amazing.
- Chilai Ringstrassen
I had a few people comment on how good my falafel salad looked.
- Da Gennaro
A nice little restaurant along a little side street off Stephansplatz
- Café Bellaria
Stopped off at this authentic Viennese coffee house before heading into Museumsquartier. The waiter was amazing and thought I was asking for apple strudel when in fact I was asking for a straw for my drink. #ScottishAccentProblems
- Hotel Schani
The best vegan lentil stew I’ve ever tasted.
How to Get Around
We had airport transfers booked as part of our organised trip. The company that transferred us to and from the airport was called Blaguss, who specialise in travelling and transportation. The Blaguss minibus driver was waiting for us in the airport’s arrivals area holding a sign with our name. The minibus offers great accessibility for wheelchair users and equipped with a foldable ramp. I was impressed by its high standard and approach to wheelchair securement and safety. The drivers were also very good and ensured I was okay at all times. I’d definitely use Blaguss again when I next visit Vienna.
One of the things I dread when visiting a European city is the cobblestones. Thankfully, there aren’t many in Vienna. The streets and paths throughout the city of Vienna are in excellent condition. I was able to easily and comfortably get around in my powered wheelchair without any problems. I believe the best way to get a true sense of a city is to walk or roll through it, wander along little side streets, seeing and experiencing things rather than whizzing by in public transport.
Top Tip: Explore the side streets and admire the authentic Viennese cafes and shops.
We only used the bus (autobus) once during our trip but found the experience absolutely fine. “Low floor” accessible buses are in use on all bus routes and have folding ramps, as well as priority wheelchair spaces. It’s important to make yourself visible to the driver so they are aware you wish to board and press the wheelchair button when you’d like to exit.
Top Tip: Prepare yourself for a loud bang when the ramp unfolds and hits the ground. Some bus drivers are gentler than others.
Once we figured out the tram line map and understood which line we needed, it became our preferred method of getting around Vienna. The tram journeys always seemed very quick and took us only 7 mins to get into the city centre from Hotel Schani. Most trams are accessible, but you may have to wait for the second tram for it to be an accessible (low floor) tram. You’ll see a display at each tram stop showing a blinking wheelchair symbol indicating how many minutes until an accessible (low floor) tram will depart. We never had to wait too long.
Before boarding the tram, make sure you position your wheelchair in line with the first car and make yourself visible to the tram driver. The driver will then come out and unfold the ramp to allow you to board the tram. The wheelchair space is directly in front of the door, so you may want to manoeuvre and reverse into the space as this may make exiting easier. Just press the wheelchair button when you want to exit as this will alert the driver who will then unfold the ramp again.
Top Tip: Once you board, position yourself quickly as the tram pulls away sharply (I quickly learned my lesson on this when I began skidding down the tram car in my powered wheelchair – not my proudest moment, but at least I can now look back and laugh about it).
Underground subway (U-bahn)
We didn’t use the U-bahn during our time in Vienna, but we are likely to try it the next time as the newer trains are accessible. Almost all stations are wheelchair accessible however it’s important to check that all stations involved in your journey are accessible and in working order on the day of travel. Unlike boarding a tram, you will board the U-bahn from the last car.
You can find more information on Vienna’s public transport HERE.
Vienna City Card
The Vienna City Card is a great way to save money during your trip to Vienna. Free travel on public transport such as subway, bus and tram as well as discounts on tourist attractions. Opt for a 24, 48 or 72 hours card and enjoy over 210 benefits. To find out more about the Vienna City Card and to buy the card click HERE.
Most of the main tourist attractions will have accessible toilets. However, if you’re not at one of these attractions and need the toilet, don’t panic! Just head for the nearest U-Bahn station by looking for the big blue ‘U’ sign. You’ll find an accessible toilet there. The toilet may be locked, so just ask an attendant to unlock it if you don’t have a Eurokey.
3 Days in Vienna
So there you have it, my 3 days in Vienna ultimate city guide for wheelchair users. I hope some of the tips and suggestions are helpful when planning your Vienna itinerary so you get the most out of this amazing accessible city. Vienna is doing a fantastic job at making the city “barrier-free and accessible” for wheelchair users and I highly recommend you visit. You won’t be disappointed!
Have you been to Vienna before? If not, I hope after reading this city guide that you now want to visit as much as I want to go back.
My trip to Vienna was organised by the Vienna Tourist Board. I was kindly welcomed as a guest by Boutique Hotel Donauwalzer and Hotel Schani. As always, all views and opinions expressed here are my own and have not been influenced or approved.
Main image via flickr (Miroslav Petrasko)