Last updated on March 28, 2023 by Wandering our World
Europe: the continent of culture, art, and beauty. When you’re planning your European holiday, there are so many places to think about visiting. It can be overwhelming, and will probably make your head spin.
And unless you’ve got years, it’s impossible to visit everywhere. However Prague and Vienna are two cities you need to visit, and while these two destinations are only 330km apart and are both home to beautiful buildings and exciting cultural experiences, they are actually very different….
For example, Prague is known for its lively nightlife, budget-friendly accommodation and cheap eats, as well as history and culture.
In contrast the capital of Austria, Vienna, has a more upmarket vibe, is known for its shopping, food scene, and close proximity for a day trip to the mountains or even Slovakia’s capital of Bratislava.
However that’s just the beginning when it comes to how different these two cities are…
Luckily we know Prague and Vienna well and have experienced the best that each city has to offer.
Each place has its own character and charm, and that’s why we’ve put together this honest comparison to show you which one will suit your holiday plans the most. Let’s get started!
- A Quick Overview
- Which Is Better For Nightlife?
- Which Is Better For Food?
- Which Is Better For Families?
- Which Is Better For Culture?
- Which Is Cheaper?
- Where To Stay According To Your Budget
- Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
- Which Is Better For Shopping?
- Which Is Better For Nature?
- Which Is Easier To Get Around?
- Which Is Better For Festivals?
A Quick Overview: Prague vs Vienna
Prague: A Quick Overview
Built on the banks of the Vltava River, Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic.
With around 1.3 million people living there, and more than 8 million tourists visiting each year, it’s the country’s biggest city and is known for its incredible history and culture.
Over the years, Prague has been home to musicians, scientists, authors, and athletes. From Mick Jagger to Albert Einstein, you’ll be surprised by some of the people who have found inspiration in this city!
Nowadays, people come from all over the world to experience the arts and culture that Prague has to offer.
With one of the world’s most prestigious universities, as well as one of the largest nightclubs in Europe, there is truly something for everyone in Prague.
Vienna: A Quick Overview
Vienna is the capital city of Austria, and you’ll find it in the northeastern part of the country, just a stone’s throw away from the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
While some were ravaged previously by war, most of the old buildings still standing in this city were constructed in the Baroque style that swept through in the 17th and 18th centuries.
As a result of this, the streets of Vienna are lined with buildings covered in gold, marble, statues, and frescoes.
This beautiful city didn’t just spawn talented architects but was also the birthplace of classical musicians Motzart and Beethoven, as well as psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.
A visit to this incredible place will fill your eyes, ears, and hearts with art, culture, and inspiration. And, you’ll surely fill your stomach with some of the delicious delicacies that Vienna is internationally known for.
Which Is Better For Nightlife?
In Prague, no matter what kind of night you’re planning to have, you’ll find the right place.
In particular, the famous club Karlovy Lazne is in Prague, and is actually the biggest club in Central Europe: it features 5 stories, each playing different club music!
If that’s not quite your scene though, don’t worry: there are cocktail bars, live music, varied nightclubs, and pubs throughout the city.
For something different, check out the Absintherie. At this bar, you can try more than 100 different types of Absinthe, and learn about the history and culture behind this alcohol at the museum attached.
Vienna is better known for coffee than it is for nightlife, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good clubs and bars there too.
There’s a big techno music scene in Vienna, and the Donaukanal (Danube Canal) is home to bars and clubs that will keep you partying long into the night.
Loos American Bar is a must-visit spot here and is a Viennese institution. This bar opened more than 100 years ago and has been serving cocktails to locals ever since.
However in general, Prague is the better option for nightlife. Both cities have a lot of clubs and bars to choose from, however, Prague stands out.
There’s a club or bar in Prague for everyone, no matter what kind of vibe you want, and with cheaper drinks and entry prices than in Vienna, you’re sure to have a good night out.
Which Is Better For Food?
Prague: The Food
Prague doesn’t have a reputation when it comes to great food, and most people think of stews and potatoes when trying to imagine a typical Czech meal!
If that’s what came to your mind, you wouldn’t be wrong, but there’s also a lot more on offer in Prague.
If you’re visiting Prague, you’ll certainly come across a street vendor selling Trdelník, the “chimney cake”. This hollow doughnut is originally from Romania, but served hot, and rolled in cinnamon and sugar, it’s a treat you can’t miss.
Prague is also known for a chain of local pubs called “Lokal”, where you can find traditional Czech food at a decent price, and fill your belly with bread, stew, meat, and dumplings.
If that’s not what you’re hungry for, you can pick up some international cuisine, either from neighbouring Germany and Austria or places as far afield as Vietnam or India.
Vienna: The Food
Vienna is an excellent city for food (and in our opinion better than Prague in this respect), and whether you’re looking to try some traditional Austrian meals, or visit a more modern, international restaurant, there are many options for you.
As well as suiting any taste, Viennese food also comes available for any budget. You can sit down in a high-class restaurant, or peruse the stalls of a street market to find your dinner.
You’ve probably already heard of Wiener Schnitzel, the breaded veal delicacy originating in Vienna. But that’s not the only food Vienna is famous for and this city has a grand reputation for creating the chocolate jam cake, Sachertorte.
Other local dishes include apple strudel, knodel, kaisershmarrn, and wurst (sausage).
To top it off, Vienna has a reputation for serving some of the best coffee in Europe, and you’ll find great coffee shops dotted all around the city.
You’ll find delicious food in both Prague and Vienna, however, if you’re a foodie then we recommend a visit to Vienna. You can’t go wrong in this city, and you’ll be sure to eat like an Emperor.
Which Is Better For Families?
If you’ve got little ones coming along with you on your vacation, Prague is probably the better choice.
Recently Prague was named by Ovo Network as the “most kid-friendly vacation city in Europe”, because of its museums, water parks, zoo, and other child-friendly attractions.
Vienna also has some great attractions to visit with children, and your children definitely won’t be bored if you visit the Spanish Riding School, House of Music, or the Vienna Zoo. There is also an amusement park in the city, Prater Park, which children will love.
Overall, Prague has been voted the better destination for holidaying with children, and we can see why. There’s plenty to do, it’s a cheaper vacation (so you aren’t limited by what activities you do, or how often), and it’s a very safe and clean city.
Which Is Better For Culture?
Prague and Vienna both have so much to offer if you’re looking for culture and its hard to separate the two cities in this respect.
Prague Castle was first built in the late 9th century, and since then Prague has continued to grow and develop, bringing its fascinating culture and tradition along with it.
On a trip to Prague, you can learn about this city’s roots dating back through the Middle Ages, the Habsburg Empire, the World Wars, and the Velvet Revolution.
Prague is full of buildings dating back to these different periods, as well as museums, the famous astronomical clock, and exhibition halls showcasing the city’s fascinating history.
Vienna has often been called the “cultural heart of Europe”, and it’s known for being a hub of art, music, architecture, food, and of course, coffee.
Starting with the Habsburg Empire, you’ll be immersed in culture on a trip to Vienna, and every corner you turn will offer something new.
Vienna is home to many world-class theatres, including the Bergtheatre, stunning buildings like the Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace, as well as some incredible museums dedicated to the Habsburg Dynasty.
Simply put, you can’t go wrong with either of these cities if you’re planning to soak up the culture on your trip.
Which Is Cheaper?
Prague is known for being one of the cheapest big cities in Europe to visit. There are a lot of cheap hostels here, beer can cost you less than $1, and it’s easy to find cheap, delicious local cuisine anywhere in the city, and sightseeing won’t break the bank.
If you’re travelling on a budget, then Prague is a good choice. And if you’ve got a bit more cash to spare, then it will be easy for you to upgrade to a slightly nicer hotel and have more meals out at restaurants without breaking the bank.
We’ll come right out and say it, Vienna is not as cheap as Prague. When comparing the cost of accommodation, food, drinks, travel, and experiences, Vienna is more expensive in every category.
You’ll still find hostels, cheap drinks, and budget-friendly food in Vienna, but most prices are going to be higher here than in Prague.
We think that if you’re travelling on a budget, you should consider visiting Prague over Vienna.
Where To Stay According To Your Budget
Budget: Situated in the heart of Prague, Old Town Boutique Apartments are beautiful self-contained apartments in one of the best locations in the city. With exposed wooden beams and wonderful city views, staying here feels like luxury but without the big price tag. See photos and rates!
Luxury: Located in the Old Town right on the banks of the river, the 5-star Four Seasons Hotel brings you celebrity treatment, world-class facilities, and superb views of Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge. From the in-house spa to the gorgeous restaurant terrace, this hotel can’t be beat. See photos and rates!
Budget: Hotel Beethoven is a lovely budget hotel set in the city center, just a few steps away from the Naschmarkt Open-Air Market and the Theater an der Wien. Considering its location, the services (they even hold a classical concert every weekend for guests), and the classy interior, the rate may surprise. See photos and rates!
Luxury: It doesn’t get more grand than a stay at the famous 5-star Hotel Imperial. Built during the Austro-Hungarian empire, this hotel is one of the most photographed buildings in Vienna, but it’s those who get to step inside that get to see the real opulence on display. This place is a once-in-a-lifetime stay. See photos and rates!
Which Is Better For Couples & Honeymoons?
Prague: Couples & Honeymoons
When you think of romance, it’s hard not to picture cobbled streets, beautiful buildings, sunsets, and fine wine. Luckily Prague has all of these, and more, to offer couples on a romantic trip away.
As one of Europe’s oldest cities, Prague has a fantastic reputation as a place to visit with your loved one, and you won’t be short of beautiful sights to take in together.
In particular, we recommend that couples in Prague visit the Love Lock Bridge. Just like the one in Paris, this bridge is a popular attraction and a spot for lovestruck couples to seal their love by adding a padlock to the bridge.
This romantic spot originated, so locals say after a couple met here to share a kiss, hiding away from their warring families.
Another spot to visit is the Lennon Wall, just around the corner from the Love Lock Bridge. Since John Lennon’s assassination, this wall has been filled with messages of love and hope, and you can add your message too.
Vienna: Couples & Honeymoons
Vienna is also known as one of the most romantic European cities to visit. Just like Prague, Vienna is full of cobbled streets, incredible buildings, and beautiful backdrops for you to steal a kiss in front of.
In short, Vienna is a wonderful city to visit with your partner, whether you’re going for your honeymoon, or just a weekend away.
As a couple, you can’t visit Vienna without checking out The Kiss, a famous painting by Gustav Klimt that now hangs in the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum.
It’s been exhibited in Austria since 1908, and in its early years was the subject of controversy, as it was considered too “perverted” for public display.
Another romantic activity for your trip to Vienna is to take a boat ride down the Danube River. You can take a cruise either at sunset, during the day, or in the evening, and enjoy the sights of Vienna from atop the water.
We really can’t choose between Prague and Vienna when it comes to picking a holiday destination for couples.
Both of these cities offer a magical escape from reality, and some fairytale sights, so no matter which one you choose, you’ll have a wonderful time together.
Which Is Better For Shopping?
If you enjoy shopping, there’s a lot for you to experience in Prague. This city is full of exciting and eclectic shops, with something to suit everyone’s taste.
The Cerna Ruze shopping centre in Prague’s old town is full of stores worth checking out, whether you’re shopping for clothing or souvenirs.
But if your focus is just on clothing, then Fashion Arena, located 25 minutes outside of the city is a shopper’s paradise, with hundreds of brands to choose from.
Another Prague must-visit store is Shakespeare and Sons, an English-language bookstore with a well-curated collection, and a cozy vibe.
And of course, a trip to Prague wouldn’t be complete without a visit to some of this city’s fantastic second-hand stores. Prague has so much history and culture, and this is reflected in the vintage and second-hand clothing that you can pick up for an absolute bargain.
These stores are found all over the city, so it’s worth investigating a few good spots before you set off.
Most big European cities are home to shopping malls and interesting stores, and Vienna is no exception.
The Ringstrasse Galerien, a collection of stores located in the centre of Vienna’s old town, is the perfect place to start a shopping trip with more than 50 different shops to peruse.
And for luxury brands, look no further than Goldenes Quartier, where a collection of expensive and splendid stores have set up shop.
For a real Viennese shopping experience, Mariahilfe Strasse is also a must-visit place. This street is in the centre of the town and is full of interesting stores, including florists, chocolatiers, and fashion designers.
Prague and Vienna are both excellent cities to visit if you’re in the mood for a shopping trip.
However if you prefer to find a bargain or a one-of-a-kind vintage piece, then Prague is the city for you. But if you’re looking for luxury brands and a more upmarket shopping experience, we recommend a visit to Vienna.
Which Is Better For Nature?
Prague and Vienna are both big cities, which means you don’t choose a holiday in either of these places if you want to disconnect and spend time in nature!
However That doesn’t mean it’s just a concrete jungle, and you’ll be able to spend a quiet afternoon in a peaceful city park in both of these places.
Both cities are built on the banks of rivers after all; you’ll find the Danube in Vienna, and the Vlata in Prague. This means that it’s easy to wander down to the river bank and take in a sunset over the water, no matter which city you choose.
Below we will show you the nature highlights in each city, so you can see which one you think is the best.
Prague: The Nature
Prague has several parks and gardens spread throughout the city, and it’s easy to step away from the traffic and breathe in some clean, fresh air.
On the northwestern edge of the city is Divoka Sarka, a nature reserve with a lake and public swimming pool.
Another spot to appreciate nature is the Prague Zoo. This zoo is situated in the middle of the city, and it’s been open since 1931, housing interesting animals ever since.
To experience some more curated nature, you’ll find the Prague Botanical Gardens the perfect spot to while away an afternoon.
The gardens have a range of different plants, divided into sections depending on their natural climate, and are also home to interesting seasonal displays. No matter which season you visit, there’s something to see here.
Vienna: The Nature
While Vienna is known for its city architecture, there are also some interesting parks and nature reserves in the city, and just outside of it.
For example, if you’re prepared to travel for an hour, then you can reach some Austrian mountains, and go for a long nature hike.
If you’re planning to stay closer to the city, however, then you can visit the Schonbrunner Gardens, the Volksgarten, or even the Zoo, for a taste of nature.
In particular, the Schonbrunner Gardens are worth a visit. If you’re there in summer then the trees and flowers will be in full bloom, but if you visit in winter, you can enjoy the Christmas Markets and a tour through the palace.
It’s a close call, but in our opinion, Vienna is a slightly better city to visit if you’re a nature lover. There are beautiful parks and gardens in the city, and mountains not far outside, so you’re sure to enjoy your time here.
Which Is Easier To Get Around?
Prague is easy to travel around, and because it’s a relatively small city you can get to most places just by walking.
The centre of Prague has been pedestrianised, and it’s easy to go between most of the main attractions on foot. There are cobbled streets and alleys to journey down, and you can either explore by yourself or take a walking tour.
If you don’t feel like walking, you can also use the public transport system in Prague. It’s efficient and easy to use and connects almost every part of the city.
If you’re just visiting for a short time you can buy an all-inclusive transport pass for either 1 day or 3 days, which gives you access to the metro, as well as the large network of trams and buses that connects the city.
Vienna is also easy to walk around. It’s flat, has low traffic levels, and the city centre is quite compact. Because the old parts of the city have been pedestrianised, you can easily walk from place to place without worrying about cars.
If you’re tired, or planning to journey a little further then you’ll also find buses, trams, trains, and subway networks here.
The public transport is all managed by one department – Wiener Linien – and there’s a helpful WienMobile app that lets you book and pay for all the tickets you’ll need easily on your phone.
As a tourist, you can also get a 1, 2, or 3-day Vienna City Card, which will give you all-inclusive travel throughout the city and discounts at different attractions. If you’re staying longer, then consider a weekly or monthly pass from Wiener Linien instead.
Overall, if you’re planning just to walk, then Prague is the easiest city to get around. The lack of traffic and well-pedestrianised streets make Prague a walker’s dream.
But if you’d like to venture a bit further afield, however, or you don’t want to walk so much, then Vienna is easier to get around.
That’s because when you combine the compact, pedestrianised city with the WienMobile App, and the Vienna City Card, you can get anywhere.
Which Is Better For Festivals?
Prague is home to many festivals throughout the year!
And if you time your visit to Prague right, you’ll be able to either attend one of the international music festivals held here or spend a day at the Prague Beer Festival, sampling more than 70 different types of Czech beer.
If you miss either of those, don’t worry, Prague also hosts writing festivals and international film festivals throughout the year.
Vienna also hosts festivals throughout the year, although most of these focus on local and national food, beer, and music.
In particular, Vienna is known for its concerts and opera houses, and the New Year’s Philarmonic Concert is well worth planning a trip around. So is the Christmas Markets that’s held throughout December and January. All of that makes a winter trip to Vienna one of the best times to visit.
If you’re a festival lover, we recommend choosing Prague as your destination. However because the dates of these festivals change each year, you’ll need to plan, but it’s worth it to join the crowds and celebrate with the rest of the city.