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25 Top Tourist Attractions in Vienna
Last updated on October 3, 2023 by Carl Austin and Alex Schultz - Leave a Comment
One of the most visually stunning cities in Europe, Vienna is full of wonderful art and architecture, with countless museums, palaces, and elegant parks testifying to its wealth and beauty.
Both the capital and culture center of the country, Vienna was once the seat of the Hapsburg dynasty; the Emperors and Empresses were great patrons of the arts, sciences, and music. As such, there are loads of amazing art collections to explore.
Visiting the Vienna State Opera to watch a performance is simply a must when in the city, as Vienna is synonymous with famous composers such as Beethoven, Strauss, and Schoenberg.
See also: Where to Stay in Vienna
A great and easy way to see many of the most famous tourist attractions in Venice in one go is to wander along the Ringstrasse taking in all the fantastic buildings as you go, before heading into the center of the city itself.
It is a city that represents refinement and culture to visitors, who will not lack for things to see and do:
In this post, we'll cover:
25. State Hall (of the Austrian National Library)
Built in the eighteenth century, the stunning State Hall of the Austrian National Library needs to be seen to be believed; a wonderful statue of Emperor Charles VI, who commissioned it, stands at its center.
A delightful dome with fantastic frescoes lies above, and countless old tomes and books line the shelves; wonderfully carved wooden handrails, columns and banisters complete the refined look of the place.
A veritable feast for the eyes, the State Hall is definitely worth stopping by when in Vienna – you can almost feel the wealth of knowledge emanating from the bookshelves.
The most popular market in Vienna, the Naschmarkt is fun to wander around. Its plethora of stalls, stands, and shops sell everything from spices and vegetables to seafood, meats, and clothes. Trawling the lively market is a lovely way to spend the afternoon.
Several cafes and restaurants here offer up Viennese classics, with Kaiserschmarrn and Palatschinken being particularly popular amongst tourists and locals alike. A great place to buy either souvenirs or fresh fruit and vegetables; the Naschmarkt has it all.
23. Parliament Building
Located on the Ringstrasse, the elegant Parliament Building was built in Greek Revival style. It is here that the Austrian Parliament holds its sessions.
Classic Greek architecture was decided upon due to democracy’s link with Ancient Greece; its brilliantly white columns and marvelous bronze statues are wonderful to behold, while the lovely Pallas Athene Fountain stands in the foreground of the building. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna, the Parliament Building is well worth visiting for its spectacular design and importance to the country.
22. Kaiserliche Schatzkammer
The Imperial Treasury is located at Hofburg Palace and its extensive collection of valuable treasures is dazzling. Its twenty-one rooms cover 1000 years of history. Among its many highlights are the Imperial Crown of Austria and the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire.
Divided into a secular and ecclesiastical collection, the crowns, scepters, and jewelry of the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer invariably astound visitors with the opulence and decadence on display.
St. Peter’s Church (as it is known in English) is located on Petersplatz; numerous churches have existed on the site, with the earliest dating back to the Early Middle Ages. The current baroque church was completed in 1733 and is modeled on St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. While the interior is pretty, the undoubted highlight is its stunning interior, with its wonderful frescoes.
The pulpit, organ, and altar feature equally delightful artistry. What makes the church particularly great to visit is that it is largely hidden away behind the surrounding buildings and appears majestically before you as if out of thin air.
Designed by esteemed architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the KunstHausWien is mesmerizing to behold due to its eclectic exterior – sure to look unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; straight lines hardly feature at all.
The interior is equally bewitching to wander around with its undulating floors, and Hundertwasser’s art pieces are fascinating for their unique look and design. Temporary exhibitions mean that many local residents return time and time again to this special museum.
Bordering the Ringstrasse, the large Stadtpark is divided in two by the Vienna River running through it. The park is a relaxing spot to head to if you’ve had enough sightseeing for one day. With numerous statues and monuments of renowned Viennese scattered about, visitors will come across such famous figures as the composer Strauss and the painter Schindler amidst the greenery on show.
Alongside the plethora of fauna and flora, a children’s park, concert hall and landscaped gardens make it well worth stopping by.
Located at the heart of the city, Stephansplatz is one of the most important squares in Vienna. The center of the square is dominated by the enormous St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which towers to an impressive 136 meters. The mix of old and new architectural styles on show in Stephansplatz is dazzling.
With lots of shops, restaurants, and bars on offer nearby, as well as many attractions, most visitors to the city pass through at some point for the myriad of things that it has to see and do.
17. Naturhistorisches Museum
Vienna’s Natural History Museum is one of the most important of its kind in the world and is remarkably home to over 30 million objects.
The 39 exhibition rooms cover everything from precious stones and dinosaurs to prehistoric art and stuffed animals. Visitors will learn a lot from its fascinating displays and exhibits. Just as stunning as the extensive collection is the beautiful palace itself, featuring elegant galleries, staircases, and lobbies. Built in the late nineteenth century, the Natural History Museum is located on the Ringstrasse and is identical to the Kunsthistorisches Museum which lies directly in front of it.
An intriguing place to visit, the MuseumsQuartier boasts an intoxicating mix of art, architecture, culture, and leisure; one could spend a lifetime exploring all that it is has to offer. The beautiful buildings are home to numerous museums, artist studios, and cultural initiatives, while the exhibitions and festivals that it hosts draw yet more people to the complex.
With renowned art museums such as the Leopold Museum and the Kunsthalle Wien lying next to the Tanzquartier dance center and the Q21 artist’s group, MuseumsQuartier has a plethora of things for visitors to see and do.
This wonderful baroque church is widely considered to be amongst the city’s most impressive buildings. Consequently, a visit to Karlskirche is a must when in Vienna.
Its beautiful dome is flanked by two columns and the dazzling white facade is adorned with angels from both the Old and New Testaments. Inside is just as fabulous, with a marvelous fresco covering the ceiling and an ornate altar and elegant canopy sitting alongside the towering marble columns. Commissioned by Emperor Charles VI, Karlskirche was completed in 1737 and dominates the huge Karlsplatz on which it lies.
Prater is a large public park located in Leopoldstadt. Its huge green spaces make it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. While many people visit to relax and unwind amongst the greenery, an amusement park, museum, and even a disco are situated within the park.
While wandering around the park, make sure to take a ride in the huge Ferris Wheel that towers over Prater – the views are breathtaking.
13. Kunsthistorisches Museum
Opened by Emperor Franz Josef I in 1891, the stupendous Museum of Art History (as it is known in English) is located on the Ringstrasse in a magnificent palatial building that dominates its surroundings.
The museum was established to house the Hapsburg’s extensive art collection, and the lavish interior is befitting of all of the wonderful masterpieces on show. Exploring the endless galleries is fascinating, and the list of renowned artists rolls off the tongue as you pass works by Caravaggio, Tintoretto, van Dyck, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Rubens.
Located in Vienna’s Innere Stadt, the Albertina hosts an amazing collection of artworks, including drawings, paintings, and sculptures.
Once part of the city’s old fortifications, the Albertina has stood since the 17th century and was renovated into a palace before becoming an art museum. Home to one of the most extensive and important print rooms on Earth, the collection is wonderful to explore. Masterpieces by da Vinci, Bruegel the Elder and Toulouse-Lautrec are on display.
In addition to its delightful permanent collection, temporary exhibitions ensure that this is a place worth returning to for both locals and tourists.
11. Vienna State Opera
No visit to Vienna is complete without going to see an opera. The city is synonymous with the majestic art form and the Vienna State Opera is the perfect place to go and watch a performance.
Opened in 1869 on the Ringstrasse, much of the opera house was destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War and it was rebuilt in 1955 in the form of the elegant high Renaissance building we see before us today. The interior is equally opulent, with its marble staircases, luxurious lobbies and the breathtaking auditorium itself.
With numerous operas, ballets and classical concerts being performed daily, the Vienna State Opera has something for everyone to enjoy.
10. Wiener Rathaus
The Wiener Rathaus isn’t a place where visitors can eat wieners, though a notable restaurant serving Vietnamese delicacies is located on the premises. Rather, it serves as Vienna’s town hall, as well as the seat of government for the State of Vienna.
The Gothic-style building, constructed in the 1880s, features the Rathausmann that sits on top of the tower and is a symbol of Vienna. The Wiener Rathaus is currently undergoing an extensive renovation that is expected to be completed in 2023.
9. Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses that offers public performances in the Winter Riding School in the Hofburg. The Riding School calls these performances classical dressage, but most viewers would call it magic.
The school has been training horses like this for more than four centuries. The 68 stallions – their ancestors came from Spain – have trained and performed at the Winter Riding School since about 1735. Horses and riders both undergo special training that lasts for many years.
Graben is one of the most famous streets in central Vienna. The word Graben means “trench” in German, and dates back to an old Roman encampment in the Austrian capital. Back in those days, Vienna was surrounded by a city wall, with a trench alongside of it.
The trench was later filled in and became one of the first residential streets in Vienna. Craftsmen originally lived in wooden houses on the Graben, but it gradually evolved into a market place and later residences for the city’s elite. Today it is an up-scale shopping promenade, with many local specialties such as Wien Porzellan.
7. St Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known as Stephansdom, had humble beginnings as a parish church in the 12th century. Today, it is the home church for the Catholic archbishop in Vienna. The church was destroyed in World War II but was rebuilt in seven years, with worship services still held daily.
The cathedral, one of the city’s most important landmarks, reaches high into the Viennese skyline. Its impressive roof is covered by 230,000 glazed tiles. The cathedral has more than 18 altars, all built at different times, and contains precious works of art as well.
The Burggarten is a once-royal garden that is a bit of England in Vienna, as it is patterned after English gardens. The Burggarten was the court garden for the Hapsburg rulers. One Austrian ruler, Kaiser Franz II used to work in the garden, which is now a place where people can enjoy outdoor lunches on pleasant days.
A memorial to that great Austrian composer, Mozart, can be found in one corner of the garden, while the Palmenhaus, a magnificent glass palm house, is located in the northern part. The left part of the Palmenhaus houses the Schmettlerlinghaus where visitors can see tropical butterflies and even bats.
The Ringstrasse is a road, slightly more than 5 km (3 miles) long, that circles Vienna’s inner city. Ordered built by Emperor Franz Joseph in the mid-19th century, many of the most important buildings in Vienna line both sides of the street: palaces, museums and stately homes.
Buildings along the road include the State Opera, the Natural History Museum, City Hall and the Vienna Stock Exchange. The buildings represent various architectural styles, and are all considered architectural masterpieces. Construction of the Ringstrasse started in 1857, with the street opening in 1865.
The Belvedere is an integral part of Vienna’s historic scene, consisting of several palaces and an orangery that dates back to the late 17th century. It consists of the Baroque palaces, the Lower and Upper Belvedere; palace stables and the Orangery, all set in a Baroque-style park. Prince Eugene of Savoy had the complex built for this summer home.
During the French Revolution, the palaces served as home to French royalty fleeing their country. The Belvedere is stunning to look at during the night when it is all lit up, and well as provides great views of Vienna.
The Hundertwasserhaus is a colorful apartment building near Vienna’s center in the Landstraße district. It is named after Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who developed the concept in the 20th century, with noted architect Krawina doing the building’s design.
Each of the 52 apartments is a different color; some just out from the building proper, with several trees covering the roofs, while more trees grow inside other units, their limbs sticking out windows. Construction on the innovative apartment building ended in 1985; today, it is an intrinsic part of Vienna’s cultural heritage.
2. Hofburg Imperial Palace
The Hofburg Imperial Palace has played an integral part of the Austrian government scene since it was built in the 13th century. It has been home to some of Europe’s most powerful royalty over the centuries, including the Hapsburgs and rulers of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires.
Today it is a museum and home to the president of Austria. The palace has numerous wings and halls built by various royalty over the centuries, but only three parts are open to the public today: the Imperial Apartments; the Sisi Museum, dedicated to Elizabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, and the Silver Collection, a collection of Imperial household objects.
24. Schonbrunn Palace
The 1,441 room Schönbrunn Palace, comparable in grandeur to Versailles, is one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I and turned into the imperial summer palace by Maria Theresa.
The Palace Park offers a lot of attractions, such as the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette, a marble summerhouse, situated on top of a 60 meter (200 feet) high hill.
Map of Tourist Attractions in Vienna
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27 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Vienna
Written by Bryan Dearsley Updated May 25, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )
Capital of the Republic of Austria and one of Europe's most visited cities, Vienna (Wien) owes much of its charm and rich history to its splendid location on the banks of the Danube River. For centuries the gateway between West and East Europe, it was the natural nucleus of the once sprawling Habsburg Empire, and to this day remains Austria's most important commercial and cultural hub.
Vienna continues to attract over 17 million visitors each year with its many great historical sightseeing opportunities, its fabled collections of art, glittering palaces, and exceptional musical heritage. This appreciation of the nation's rich culture is still very evident in Vienna's magnificent museums, its fine concert halls, and one of the world's great opera houses.
With an unmistakably cosmopolitan atmosphere, Vienna retains a distinctive charm and flair. This is very much accentuated by its fine old architecture; its famous horse-cabs, known as Fiakers; as well as its splendid coffeehouses with their famous Viennese cakes and pastries.
Whether you're looking for great places to visit in Vienna for a single day, or multiple things to do over several days, you'll have plenty of choices in this elegant city. If time permits, consider taking some day trips to explore the beautiful surroundings and nearby cities . And be sure to refer often to our exhaustive list of the top tourist attractions and things to do in Vienna, Austria.
1. Explore Imperial Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens
2. visit the historic hofburg, 3. kunsthistorisches museum and maria-theresien-platz, 4. a baroque masterpiece: belvedere palace, 5. take the kids to vienna zoo (tiergarten schönbrunn), 6. get your art fix at the albertina museum & albertina modern, 7. the vienna state opera house, 8. see st. stephen's cathedral, 9. see the dinosaur relics at the museum of natural history (naturhistorisches museum), 10. vienna city hall (rathaus) in the historic city center, 11. visit the prater and ride the giant ferris wheel, 12. take in a performance at the spanish riding school, 13. see the royal burial vaults in the imperial crypt and the capuchin church, 14. visit the leopold museum & vienna's museum quarter, 15. st. peter's catholic church (peterskirche), 16. dine like royalty at the famous demel: vienna's ultimate café, 17. st. charles church (karlskirche), 18. see the city views from the danube tower (donauturm), 19. walk by the colorful homes of hundertwasserhaus, 20. take a stroll on donauinsel (danube island), 21. learn about the austrian parliament building, 22. kärntner strasse and the donner fountain, 23. take in a show at the burgtheater: austria's national theater, 24. museum of military history, 25. the franciscan church: st. jerome, 26. jewish museum & judenplatz holocaust memorial, 27. sigmund freud museum, map of tourist attractions & things to do in vienna, vienna, austria - climate chart.
The spectacular 18th-century Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) is worth visiting not only for its magnificent architecture, but also for its beautiful park-like setting. One of Vienna's top tourist attractions, this beautiful Baroque palace contains more than 1,441 rooms and apartments, including those once used by Empress Maria Theresa.
Tour highlights include a chance to see the Imperial Apartments, including Emperor Franz Joseph's Walnut Room and his Bedroom, which still has the small soldier's bed in which he died. Of Empress Maria Theresa's rooms, highlights include her richly furnished and decorated garden apartments, along with her Breakfast Room with its floral artwork created by her daughters.
Schönbrunn Park and Gardens is another must-see here. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site , the park, with its sweeping vistas and sumptuous Baroque gardens, is one of several top free things to do in Vienna (although you will have to pay to enter the maze and some of the adjoining buildings, such as the 1883 Palm House). If traveling with kids, visit the Children's Museum for a chance to see them dressed up as a prince or princess.
A good way to get to the palace and avoid the wait at the entrance is on a Skip the line: Guided tour of Schönbrunn Palace and Vienna Historical City Tour . These popular tours begin with a handy pickup from your central hotel or the Opera House. After a narrated drive along the famed Ringstrasse, past major attractions like the Hofburg Palace, City Hall, and the Vienna State Opera, you'll tour Schönbrunn Palace without having to wait in line. The tour continues to Belvedere Palace, where you can see Gustav Klimt's The Kiss and other famous Austrian art with a discounted admission.
Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna, Austria
- Read More: Visiting Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace: Highlights, Tips & Tours
For more than six centuries the seat of the Habsburgs – and the official residence of every Austrian ruler since 1275 – the Hofburg is perhaps the most historically significant of Vienna's palaces. The official seat of the Austrian President, this sprawling complex consists of numerous buildings reflecting various periods, including architectural flourishes from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo movements.
All told, this vast complex covers 59 acres with 18 groups of buildings, including 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms. Its main attractions are the Imperial Apartments , the Sisi Museum , and the Silver Collection , while other notable sites within the complex include the Imperial Chapel (Burgkapelle) and the Hofburg Treasury with its large collection of Imperial regalia and relics of the Holy Roman Empire. Informative guided tours are available in English.
You can stop at the Hofburg and the city's other important tourist attractions on the Vienna Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Tour . This is by far the best option for first-time visitors who want to see the major sites and get acquainted with Vienna. One-, two-, or three-day options are available.
Address: Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna, Austria
- Read More: Exploring Vienna's Imperial Hofburg Palace: A Visitor's Guide
Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien) is housed in a magnificent building created expressly to show off the tremendous art collections of the Hapsburg royal family. The superb collection of Dutch art features the world's largest collection of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, including his masterpiece Tower of Babel .
There are also paintings by Raphael, Titian, Bellini, Caravaggio, and Vermeer, plus portraits by Velazquez. While the museum's specialties are late Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and Flemish painting, the collections go far beyond those with classical Greek and Roman art and Egyptian artifacts.
English language guided tours are available and can be tailored to your specific interests. The museum's café is also worth a visit, especially for its atrium setting and tall, elegantly decorated walls and ceiling.
The museum overlooks Maria-Theresien-Platz, the focal point of which is the grand monument to Empress Maria Theresa. The statue was commissioned by Franz Joseph I and was unveiled in 1887. This massive monument depicts the Empress on her throne while surrounded by major personages of her day, including a number of generals on horseback. The high reliefs depict illustrious figures from the fields of politics; economics; and the arts, including Haydn, Gluck, and Mozart.
If you're able to squeeze in a little more gallery hopping, head over to the Museum of Applied Arts (Museum für angewandte Kunst), or MAK. This superb museum features traditional Austrian crafts and arts along with contemporary art, design, and architecture.
Address: Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.khm.at/en/
Among Vienna's most popular attractions, Belvedere Palace is really two splendid Baroque buildings: the Lower (Unteres) Belvedere and the Upper (Oberes) Belvedere. Highlights of the Upper Palace include the Ground Floor Hall with its statues, and the Ceremonial Staircase with its rich stucco relief and frescoes.
Also worth seeing is the Marble Hall. This stunning two-story hall features numerous period sculptures, paintings, and ceiling frescoes. The Lower Palace also boasts a Marble Hall, this one noted for its oval plaster medallions and rich ceiling fresco, as well as a Marble Gallery built to house a collection of historic statues.
Other must-see buildings include the Winter Palace, a Baroque building that once housed the Court Treasury; the Orangery; the Palace Stables, home to the Medieval Treasury; and the Belvedere Gardens and Fountains linking the two palaces.
If there's time left in your Belvedere itinerary, be sure to include the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere. This popular art museum in the Belvedere Palace is well known for its extensive collections, including a rich array of sculptures and panel paintings from the 12th to the 16th centuries. But it is perhaps best known for Austrian Symbolist artist Gustav Klimt's The Kiss , a masterpiece of early modern art.
Address: Prinz Eugen Strasse 27, A-1037 Vienna, Austria
- Read More: Exploring Vienna's Belvedere Palace: A Visitor's Guide
The origins of the Vienna Zoo – also known as Schönbrunn Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn) – can be traced to Emperor Francis I's menagerie. Founded in 1752 it's the oldest continually operating zoo in the world. With many of its original Baroque buildings still intact, it's one of the most pleasant zoos in Europe to visit, particularly if you spend a little time seeking refreshment in the original 18th-century Imperial Breakfast Pavilion that now houses a great café.
A highlight of the zoo's more than 750 species are its giant pandas, including cubs, as well as the many fascinating creatures housed in the interactive Rainforest House and Aquarium. If you're traveling to Vienna with children, be sure to check the zoo's official website for details of feeding times, always a fun family experience. Also worth checking into is the availability of special themed and backstage guided tours.
If after visiting the zoo, you've still got time in your Vienna travel itinerary for more critters, check out Haus des Meeres , a large public aquarium situated in a WWII flak tower. Also worth seeing is the Butterfly House (Schmetterlinghaus), located next to the Opera house and a pleasant place to unwind after all that sightseeing.
Address: Maxingstraße 13b, 1130 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.zoovienna.at/en/zoo-and-visitors/visitor-information/
All the great names in modern art are represented, often by multiple works, in the magnificent Albertina museum. Representative examples from all the various schools and movements are to be found here, including French impressionists, Vienna secessionists, the Russian avant-garde, the expressionists, and fauvists, represented by their greatest artists.
These include important works by the likes of Chagall, Picasso, Cezanne, Degas, Magritte, Vlaminck, Modigliani, Klimt, Munch, Kandinsky, Münter, Miró, Brach, and Ernst - all are here to compare and admire. All told, this must-visit Vienna attraction is home to over a million works of art plus in excess of 65,000 drawings.
Many of these masterpieces hang in a splendid 17th-century palace where the Habsburg archdukes lived for a century, and their sumptuous State Rooms have been restored to their original glory. In addition to these permanent displays, temporary exhibits are also available for viewing. English language guided tours are available, along with informative audioguides. If traveling with kids, be sure to look into one of the private children's tours, which can also include a fun workshop.
If there's time in your Vienna itinerary, be sure to add the brand new Albertina Modern to your list of must-sees. Located an easy 10 minutes' walk away on Karlsplatz, the Albertina's large collection of post WWII and contemporary art by Austrian and international artists is housed in this newly renovated neoclassical building.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.albertina.at/en
One of the world's largest and most splendid theaters, the Vienna State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) has hosted many of the world's most prominent composers, conductors, soloists, and dancers. Operatic and ballet performances are staged at least 300 times a year, fuelled by an obsession with music that goes as far back as 1625 when the first Viennese Court Opera was performed.
The current massive Opera House was built in 1869 and is notable for its French Early Renaissance style, while interior highlights include a grand staircase leading to the first floor, the Schwind Foyer (named after its paintings of famous opera scenes), and the exquisite Tea Room with its valuable tapestries.
Capable of accommodating an audience of 2,211 along with 110 musicians, the Opera House is also home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. English language behind-the-scenes guided tours are available.
If music is your thing, you may also want to pay a visit to Wiener Musikverein , a concert hall that serves as home for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (tickets can be booked online in advance). And the House of Music (Haus der Musik) offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into sound and music through interactive displays and demonstrations.
Address: Opernring 2, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.wiener-staatsoper.at/en/
Vienna's most important Gothic edifice and the cathedral church of the archbishopric since 1722, St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) sits in the historic center of Vienna. The original 12th-century Romanesque church was replaced by a Late Romanesque one in the 13th century, the remains of which are the massive gate and the Heathen Towers (Heidentürme).
Next came reconstruction in the Gothic style in the 14th century, along with the addition of the choir and the chapels of St. Eligius, St. Tirna, and St. Catherine. The famous 137-meter high South Tower (Steffl) belongs to the 15th-century.
Improvements and further construction followed from the 17th to 19th centuries, and the whole structure was rebuilt after World War II. Highlights include climbing the 343 steps to the Steffl's Watch Room for the spectacular views, and the North Tower, home to the massive Pummerin Bell. For those not wanting to tackle the stairs, a fast lift takes visitors to a viewing platform.
Other features of note are the 14th-century catacombs and the Cathedral Treasure, containing many of the cathedral's most important artifacts. Interesting English language guided tours are available, including an unforgettable 1.5-hour evening tour that takes in the cathedral's superb city views.
Address: Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Read More: Exploring St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna
Best known for its huge Dinosaur Hall and for the world's largest exhibit of meteorites (which includes the Tissint meteorite from Mars that fell in Morocco in 2011), Vienna's Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) is a fascinating place to visit. Its 39 exhibit halls trace such subjects as the origins and development of humans and the evolution of human culture from prehistoric times.
One of its rarest treasures is the so-called Venus of Willendorf, a pottery figurine dating from between about 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. The museum's newest feature is its Digital Planetarium with full dome projection. The building opened in 1889 and is itself a work of art, especially the magnificent ceiling painting above the main staircase.
A variety of fun workshops and guided tour options are available, and audioguides are provided upon request. The museum's latest addition, "Deck 50," features workshops and lectures, as well as fascinating "meet a scientist" sessions that provide a unique opportunity to ask questions of leading experts in a variety of disciplines.
Address: Burgring 7, 1010, Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.nhm-wien.ac.at/en
Located in the heart of historic Innere Stadt and overlooking Rathausplatz, Vienna's City Hall (Weiner Rathaus) is an impressive Neo-Gothic building that serves as the city's administrative center. Remarkable for its size, it occupies nearly 14,000 square meters of the former Parade Ground.
This attractive and much-photographed building was completed in 1883 and is notable for the famous Rathausmann on top of its 98-meter-high tower, a banner-carrying iron figure presented to the city as a gift from its master locksmith.
The arcaded courtyard in the center of the building is the largest of seven courtyards and is used for popular summer concerts. Highlights of a guided tour of the building include the Schmidt Halle, the large entrance into which carriages would once drive to deposit their passengers, and the two Grand Staircases leading to the Assembly Hall.
Other sights included in the tour are the Heraldic Rooms; the City Senate Chamber, notable for its coffered ceiling decorated with gold-leaf and its huge Art Nouveau candelabra; and the Mayor's reception room. Tours are free and are available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1pm, and audioguides are also available.
Try to time your visit to coincide with one of the frequent festivals or events held in Rathausplatz. The old City Hall makes an extremely romantic backdrop for everything from colorful Christmas markets to summer music concerts.
Address: Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.wien.gv.at/english/cityhall/tours.htm
Visiting the Prater (Wiener Prater), a large natural park situated between the Danube and the Danube Canal, is a little like stepping into another world. Covering an area of 3,200 acres, this vast park - once a royal hunting ground - has long been one of Vienna's most popular recreation areas. There's something here for everyone, from thrills and spills in the Wurstel area, with its old-fashioned theme park rides, to dining and dancing, to the dinosaur-themed park for the kids.
A highlight for sightseers is taking a ride on the famous Giant Wheel (Wiener Riesenrad), a Viennese landmark that has provided fine views over the city since 1896. If you can afford it, go for the super luxurious cabin, suitable for parties of up to 12. Other park highlights include the Prater Ziehrer Monument , a larger-than-life statue of composer CM Ziehrer built in 1960; the Prater Museum with its displays documenting the park's history; a Planetarium ; and the Liliputbahn miniature steam railroad traversing a four-kilometer line near the main avenue.
Elsewhere in this vast park there's room enough for horseback riding, swimming in the stadium pool, football, cycling, tennis, and bowls. Also worth visiting is nearby Danube Park (Donaupark). This 250-acre open space is also home to a fun miniature railroad, an artificial lake (Lake Iris), and a theater. Visiting Prater park at night is also fun, and is highly recommended.
Address: 1020 Vienna, Austria
Official site: https://prater.at/en/park-information/
Dating back to the time of Emperor Maximilian II, the superb Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule) was established after the ruler had the famous Lipizzaner horses introduced to his courtesans in 1562.
Today, it's one of Vienna's leading attractions, and one of the leading riding schools in the world, thrilling audiences with fabulous displays of equestrian skills in the Baroque Winter Riding School in the grounds of the Hofburg Palace, where it has been located since 1735. Tickets to these popular performances sell out quickly, so be sure to book as far in advance as possible.
If available, purchase a package that includes a behind-the-scenes tour and the chance to visit the stables, along with a morning training session. An on-site café ensures you can linger a little longer-you'll certainly want to.
Address: Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.srs.at/en/
Dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels, Vienna's Capuchin Church (Kapuzinerkirche) is best known for its spectacular Imperial Vault (Kapuzinergruft). This stunning edifice is home to the Habsburg family vault containing the remains of 145 members of the family (almost all Austrian Emperors since 1633 are buried here).
The nine vaults are arranged in chronological order, making it easy to trace the evolution of taste, at least in burials. A highlight includes the Founder's Vault , the final resting place of Emperor Matthias who died in 1619, and Empress Anna, who died in 1618.
Also of interest is the Maria Theresa Vault , a domed chamber dominated by a double sarcophagus in the Rococo style and built for the Empress, who died in 1780. The sarcophagus takes the form of a bed of state, at the head of which is the Imperial couple with an angel and a crown of stars, while along the sides are numerous reliefs depicting scenes from Maria Theresa's life.
Address: Neuer Markt, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.kapuzinergruft.com
Since opening in 2001, Vienna's Museum Quartier (Museumsquartier, or "MQ") has been home to a variety of first-rate museums that are well worth exploring. A mix of old and new architecture centered around an area that once served as the former royal stables, it's easy to spend the best part of a day (or two) here.
Must-visits include the famous Leopold Museum , noted for its large collection of works by Austria's leading modern artists, such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, and MUMOK , the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna, featuring more than 10,000 contemporary and modern pieces by renowned artists including Picasso and Warhol.
Another highlight of a visit to the Museum Quarter includes the popular summertime Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen). The event's main offices are located here, so it's a hub of activity once tickets become available, and many of the surrounding buildings are used as venues for a variety of cultural events and concerts. Also located here is the Tanzquartier , the country's leading dance center, along with artists' studios and galleries.
Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien, Austria
Official site: www.mqw.at/en/
Modeled on St. Peter's in Rome, Peterskirche – the Collegial and Parish Church of St. Peter – is built on a site originally occupied by a Roman church and later by one founded by Charlemagne in 792 AD. The present edifice was built in the 18th century and boasts a massive dome with a superb fresco and many artistic treasures.
Other highlights include the Barbara Chapel with its magnificent portal, and in which Franz Karl Remp's Decollation of St. Barbara is found, and the choir with its High Altar and painting of the Immaculate Conception. The church is also noted for its frequent organ recitals.
Also of note is the nearby Plague Pillar , a 21-meter-tall Baroque pillar built to commemorate the end of the devastating plague of 1679 that cost at least 75,000 Viennese their lives. The nearby Abbey of the Scots (Schottenstift), built in the 12th century and extensively renovated and enlarged since, is also worth popping into. Its school included Johann Strauss and Austria's last emperor, Charles I, among its pupils, while its fine collection of artwork includes pieces from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Address: Petersplatz 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.peterskirche.at
Founded in 1786, the famous Demel is not only the oldest café and bakery in Vienna, it's perhaps the most memorable food experience you'll have in this wonderful city. Officially known as Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel – shortened to "Demel" by those in the know – this exquisite café serves dishes and cakes carefully prepared by hand to traditional centuries-old recipes.
Some of these delicious treats were once used to satisfy the cravings of Emperor Franz Joseph who secretly had Demel cakes and pralines served during his tête-à-têtes with his lover. Apparently, his unhappy wife, Sisi, was addicted to their legendary violet sorbet.
A highlight of a visit is the Demelinerinnen, the modestly dressed waitresses wearing black dresses with lace collars who still address customers with the formal, " Haben schon gewählt ?" ("Has Madam/Sir already made her/his choice?").
The other highlight, of course, is drooling over the mouthwatering displays of cakes and pastries, including special creations resembling characters or creatures from history and mythology, each a work of art. Reservations can be made in advance online, and are recommended.
Address: Kohlmarkt 14, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, a saint invoked during times of plague, St. Charles Church (Karlskirche) was built in 1737 and remains Vienna's most important Baroque religious building. This vast building is crowned by a magnificent 72-meter dome and is famous for its twin 33-meter Triumphal Pillars, based on Trajan's Column in Rome, with their spiraling bands depicting scenes from the life of St. Charles.
Interior highlights include the fabulous frescoes of St. Cecilia. Be sure to check the church's official website for details of its regular concert program.
Also worth visiting is the Gardekirche , built in 1763 in the city's southern outer district as the church of the Imperial Hospital and later serving Polish congregations. Of particular interest is the painting above the High Altar.
Address: Kreuzherrengasse 1, Vienna, Austria
Few European capital cities in the 50s and 60s were left without that definitive mid-20th-century landmark, the telecommunications tower, and Vienna is certainly no exception. Standing taller than any other building in the city and in fact the tallest structure in Austria, the 252-meter-tall Danube Tower, the Donauturm, opened to great fanfare in 1964 and continues to attract visitors for its spectacular view over the Danube River.
Highlights of a visit include the speedy elevator ride to the observation deck at 150 meters, from which you can also pick out many of Vienna's most important attractions. The other big draw here actually combines two of a traveler's favorite things to do: enjoying incredible views and partaking in world-class dining experiences.
The Danube Tower is in fact home to two restaurants, one fine dining and the other a casual café-style establishment.
Address: Donauturmstraße 8, 1220 Wien, Austria
Official site: https://www.donauturm.at/en/
Famous as Vienna's "nature and human-friendly" apartment block, the decidedly odd (yet fascinating) Hundertwasserhaus is well worth a visit. Designed by painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this brightly colored landmark on the corner of Löwengasse and Kegelstrasse was completed in 1985, and the occupants of its 53 units-perhaps unsurprisingly-consist mostly of artists, intellectuals, and creative types, much like the architect himself.
Although the brightly colored building can only be enjoyed from the outside, you can explore the nearby Kunsthaus Wien, a complex of apartments containing a terrace café where you can rest while soaking up the ambience. Afterwards, pop over to the similarly styled shopping arcade.
Address: Kegelgasse 36-38, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.hundertwasser-haus.info/en/
If you took the time to enjoy the views from the Danube Tower, you'll have noticed that the city appears to have not just one, but two rivers running through it. No, you're not seeing double. In fact, what you're seeing is the Danube River (the wider of the two) and, running parallel to it, a canal known as the Donaukanal, or "new Danube." Separating them is a long stretch of land known as Danube Island (Donauinsel), and a sightseeing opportunity you won't want to miss.
Although only 210 meters wide at its widest point, the island is over 21 kilometers in length and is a popular spot to walk and relax for locals. Easily accessible via water taxi or bridge, the island is dotted with interesting dining opportunities (both casual and upscale), and is particularly pleasant for those wanting a quiet stroll along the Danube.
Sports enthusiasts are also drawn here, partaking in activities as diverse as biking and rollerblading, along with canoeing, kayaking, and swimming at one of the many beaches . Danube Island is also the scene of the annual Donauinselfest , Europe's biggest open-air festival, and one so popular an estimated three million visitors drop in to enjoy it each September.
Home of Austria's National and Federal Parliament since 1918, the Parliament Building impresses with its vast dimensions. Completed in 1883 for use by the Imperial and Provincial delegations, it boasts many Greek influences, from its Corinthian columns to its rich decoration. Of particular note are the exterior carvings depicting the granting of the Constitution by Franz Joseph I to the 17 peoples of Austria, along with numerous marble statues and reliefs.
Another highlight is the splendid Pallas Athene Fountain with its four-meter-high statue adorned with a gilded helmet and lance, along with figures symbolizing the Rivers Danube, Inn, Elbe, and Moldau.
English language guided tours are available from the Visitor Center where you can also enjoy displays and multimedia presentations about the history of the building and Parliament itself. (Editor's Note: Please be aware that there may be some restrictions regarding tour access due to ongoing renovations.)
Address: Dr.-Karl-Renner-Ring 3, 1017 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.parlament.gv.at/ENGL/
Looking to do a little window shopping after all that museum and gallery hopping? Then head to Vienna's most elegant street, Kärntner Strasse. Linking Stephansplatz to the Staatsoper on the Ring and ending at Karlsplatz, this (mostly) pedestrian-friendly area is fun to wander thanks to its lime trees, pavement cafés, fashionable shops, elegant boutiques, and busy shopping arcades.
Although most of the buildings you see today are 18th-century, the Maltese Church still has a few features dating from the 13th-century when the street served as an important trade route (take a peek inside for its coats of arms of the Knights of Malta).
Other notable buildings are Palais Esterházy , built in 1698 and now home to an upscale restaurant, while nearby buildings house high-end clothing stores. Also of note is the exquisite Donner Fountain , built in 1739 by Georg Raphael Donner to reflect the 'caring and wise' city government; it was, of course, commissioned by those who ran Vienna at the time.
The Burgtheater, Vienna's superb National Theater, has long been famous for its productions of German-language plays and performances. Many famous names have acted on its four stages since its founding by Emperor Joseph II in 1776 as the Court Theater. After devastation by bombing and fire in 1945, the theater eventually reopened in 1955 and has since grown in stature as the country's most important theater.
In addition to its size and the caliber of its performances, the building's exterior is impressive on account of its numerous decorative figures, scenes, and busts. Equally as impressive is its interior consisting of rich decoration in the French Baroque style, and a staircase with frescoes by Gustav and Ernst Klimt. Behind the scenes, guided tours are available in English and are well worth the cost.
Address: Universitätsring 2, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Whether you're a military history buff or are simply interested in learning more about Austria's place in the history of European conflict and warfare, be sure to schedule a visit to The Museum of Military History: Military History Institute (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum - Militärhistorisches Institut).
This remarkable collection is all too often overlooked, but those who do venture here are rewarded by the chance to peruse an immense collection of weaponry and exhibits detailing events in which the Austrian military was involved from the 1600s up to the 1950s. Along the way, you'll see weaponry, from muskets to machine guns, cannons to tanks, as well as vintage aircraft. Add to this interesting dioramas and models, along with uniforms and medals, and you'll want to stay right through until closing.
And be sure to spend time enjoying the splendid architecture, too. The museum is located in the city's sprawling Arsenal, and in places, the lavish interior-such as in the memorial hall-rivals that of any of the city's palaces. English language guided tours are available and come highly recommended.
Address: Arsenal 1, 1030 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.hgm.at/en
The early 17th-century Roman Catholic Franciscan Church (Franziskanerkirche), also known as the Church of St. Jerome, is unique in Vienna for having a Renaissance façade, while its delightful interior is decorated in Baroque style. Highlights include the High Altar from 1707 and a painting of the Madonna and Child from 1550. Other paintings are the Martyrdom of St. Capristan and one of the church's patron saint.
Also of interest is the carved Baroque organ from 1643, the oldest organ in Vienna, notable for its folding doors with their fine carved and painted saints. The church's most famous artifact, however, is a carved image known as the Madonna with the Axe , known for having been carried by Austrian soldiers during their campaign against the Turks in Hungary, and credited for their victory.
Address: Franziskanerplatz 4, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Established to both celebrate and commemorate Vienna's Jewish population, The Jewish Museum (Jüdisches Museum Wien) does a stellar job of both. Established in 1986 and spread across two locations in the city-in Judenplatz and Dorotheergasse-the museum features displays and exhibits relating to the history of Jewish culture and religion in Austria over the centuries.
The Dorotheergasse location consists of the main collection, housed in Palais Eskeles, including artifacts and memorabilia relating to Jewish life in the post-WWiI period. A café and bookshop are also located here.
The Jewish Museum Vienna at Judenplatz houses displays relating to the social, cultural, and religious lives of the city's Jewish population. Highlights include a chance to visit an authentic medieval Jewish synagogue, along with art and photography collections. Afterwards, be sure to spend time in Judenplatz itself and visit the Holocaust Memorial located in the heart of the square.
Address: Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.jmw.at/en
Established in 1971, the Sigmund Freud Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the most remarkable thinkers of modern times. Located in Freud's former home (it was built in 1891, the year he moved in, and was his home for 47 years), the museum features rooms and exhibits relating to the history of psychoanalysis, including its influence on art and society as a whole.
Many of Freud's original writings are housed in the museum's research library, considered one of the most important such facilities in the world. In addition to personal artifacts from his life, along with his collection of antiques, an impressive modern art collection is housed on the property, too.
Address: Berggasse 13, 1090 Vienna, Austria
Official site: www.freud-museum.at/en/
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Things to Do near Vienna : A delightful two-hour road trip from Vienna, Graz is Austria's second biggest city and is popular for its many well-preserved Baroque buildings, especially those located in the Old Town area. Two hours west, and you're in lovely Linz . Also on the magnificent River Danube and once home to such luminaries as Wolfgang Mozart, Linz boasts numerous great museums and art galleries. For more ideas of great day trips from Vienna , be sure to check out our list of the top excursions to destinations such as the Wachau Valley and Melk Abbey.
Head for the Hills : Widely regarded as one of Europe's most attractive cities, Salzburg sits under the shadow of the 1,853-meter-tall Untersberg, adding a distinctive character to the city's old medieval city center. Innsbruck is another city that's beauty is enhanced by its mountain scenery, and is a special favorite of those who enjoy superlative skiing. Also popular with ski enthusiasts, the dramatic scenery of Kitzbühel is the perfect backdrop for hiking and biking adventures in summer.
Austria Vacation Ideas : The lovely shoreline of the Hallstätter Sea is where you'll find the pretty town of Hallstatt , one of the loveliest destinations in Austria and one that offers a variety of great vacation experiences. The medieval town of Klagenfurt is another great option and is famous for its charming Old Town center with its many galleries, shops, and cafés (and be sure to wander along its old canals, too). Exploring the sites of Bregenz is another good option, and is especially popular for sightseeing due to its location on the shores of Lake Constance.
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18 top things to do in Vienna
Jul 1, 2021 • 8 min read
Cycling on Danube Island in Vienna's Donaustadt district. © Balakate/Shutterstock
Museums filled with masterpieces, brilliant baroque streetscapes, sumptuous palaces and epicurean delights, naturally Vienna is an unmissable stop on your Europe adventure.
Now with street art, craft beer brewing, an analogue-only hotel stay, and summer ‘beach bars’, contemporary Vienna continues to flourish as a creative cultural hub.
Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
The jewel in Vienna's artistic crown is its Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna . As well as accumulating vassal lands, the Habsburgs assembled one of Europe's finest collections of art and artefacts. Housed inside a majestic neoclassical building, the highlight of this incredible cache is the Picture Gallery, an encounter with a vast and emotionally powerful collection of works by grand masters, such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder's evocative and 'industrial' Tower of Babel from the 16th century or the bright plenitude of Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Summer.
Vienna’s coffee houses
Great works of art have been created in these 'living rooms' of the Viennese. Patronised by luminaries such as Mahler, Klimt, Freud, Trotsky and Otto Wagner in their day, Vienna's Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses) were added to the Unesco list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011. Many retain their opulent original decor, and often specialise in a particular cake, such as the Sacher Torte, an iced-chocolate cake with apricot jam once favoured by Emperor Franz Josef, at Café Sacher. New-wave coffee houses are putting their own twist on the tradition.
Have you had enough of culture yet? No? Good, because the MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is a 90,000 sq metre exhibition space encompassing 60 cultural institutions ranging from fine art, music, theatre, and dance to game culture, street art and photography. Highlights include – including the Leopold Museum , MUMOK , Kunsthalle Wien , Architekturzentrum and Zoom but there are multiple micro-museums and creative spaces to explore. It’s also one of the key locations for the annual Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) held over six weeks in May and June.
The annual Calle Libre street art festival focuses on one guiding theme as celebrated artists respond across curated walls for a week each summer. Founded almost a decade ago by Jakob Kettner, the festival brings together live paintings, street art works, guided tours, film screenings and workshops for urban aesthetics. You’ll get the chance to learn more about Vienna’s burgeoning street art scene, discover works from local and international artists, and find out what issues are shaping and challenging the city today.
Ringstrasse Tram Tour
For a spin around Vienna's architectural highlights, jump on a tram and travel along the Ringstrasse , one of Europe's most magnificent streets. The circular boulevard of imposing state buildings was carved out of the space once occupied by fortifications protecting Vienna from Ottoman Turk attack in the 16th century. You’ll pass the Monument to the Victims of Fascism at the former Gestapo headquarters site, the neoclassical facade of Parlament, Austria’s parliament, the Athena Fountain, and Äusseres Burgtor (Outer Palace Gate). The Roman gate leads the way to the Imperial Palace, the Hofburg.
The magnificent rococo former summer palace and gardens of the Habsburgs are a perfect place to experience the pomp, circumstance and gracious legacy of Austria's erstwhile monarchs. A visit to 40 of the palace's lavishly appointed rooms reveals the lifestyle and the eccentricities of Europe's most powerful family. Beyond the Unesco-listed palace, Schloss Schönbrunn Gardens invite a stroll past pseudo-Roman ruins, along bucolic paths winding through leafy woods and a stopover in the gardens' highlight, the Gloriette, with mesmerising views of the palace and city beyond.
The former wintering ground of the Habsburg monarchs for over 700 years, Hofburg is a living palace today. One of the biggest palace complexes in the world, it now houses a fine collection of museums, is home to the Austrian president, Austria's National Library and public offices. It is also the temporary home of the Austrian Parliament while the main building undergoes renovations expected to be completed in 2024.
The newly renovated 1960s modernist Donauturm tower offers panoramic views across the city and the Danube river. It’s also located in one of the most beautiful and largest parks in the city, the Danube Park making it doubly worth a visit. From the top you’ll see the entire surrounding region of Vienna on a clear day. Who can resist booking a sunset meal at a rotating restaurant at 170m high? This is peak tourist, and we love it. The set-price Viennese three-course meal includes lift tickets.
Whether it's coffee houses, local dining, or a pub crawl, there are a host of tours on offer to the best places to eat and drink in Vienna. Bi-lingual local tour guides guide visitors to different, seasonally appropriate (Christmas market foodie tour anyone?) locations to show off the best the city has to offer. One popular outfit founded by local couple Melinda and Thomas, Vienna Food Tours covers the variety of cuisines that influenced Viennese food: sampling appetizers, a sausage stand, mains, and of course something sweet to round it off over a whole afternoon.
Riesenrad Giant Ferris Wheel
It’s famous among cinephiles as the place Graham Greene sent his fictional character Harry Lime for a slow rotation in the 1949 film The Third Man. The 1897-built Riesenrad , otherwise known as the Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel, rises above the beautiful green open spaces of the Prater in Vienna’s 2nd district. A ride takes you high above the city and the wooded parkland and meadows below. Save some time to explore the Prater by foot or bicycle after you return to ground level.
Living up to its Italianesque name 'beautiful view', this 18th-century palace and garden ensemble is deceptively close to Vienna's city centre while still creating a feeling of being worlds apart. Symmetrical, finely sculpted and manicured gardens overlooking Vienna's unfolding skyline connect two exquisite palaces dedicated to a who's who of Austrian art. Gustav Klimt's painting The Kiss is a highlight. The masterpieces on display are complemented by interiors so stately that they're worthy of a visit in their own right.
A Gothic reminder of another age, the Stephansdom is Vienna's heart and soul. The awe-inspiring cathedral lords over the city, topped by an intricately tiled roof, with its distinctive row of chevrons and Austrian eagle. Below the cathedral are the Katakomben (catacombs), with their eerie collection of the deceased; inside, a magnificent Gothic stone pulpit presides over the main nave; and rising above it to dizzying heights is the South Tower with its viewing stage offering dazzling panoramas over town.
Copa Cagrana Beach
Just beyond the city centre, nestled by the Donauinsel, lies Copa Cagrana Beach , a stretch of sandy beach bars, pop-up food stalls and a large open-air TV viewing area that locals flock to in the summer months. Only open between June and September Vienna makes the most of the holiday atmosphere with volleyball courts, trampolines and green space beside the water. Nibble on delicate Trześniewski sandwiches (open finger sandwiches) as you look across the Donaukanal, or satiate your summer cravings with a fresh spritzer.
The hills surrounding Vienna are awash with vineyards and views, ripe for hiking and tippling in equal measure. Held in autumn (typically late September or October), the annual wine hiking day sees over 190 winemakers set up small wooden huts along the popular walking paths above Vienna, where thirsty hikers can stop in to try the fresh wine harvest of the year. Pick up your glass from one of the hiking-day stations at the bottom of the trail, and meander your way from Neustift to Nussdorf, Strebersdorf to Stammersdorf, or the shorter Ottakring to Neuwald route. The ‘hikes’ themselves are quite low impact and allow plenty of time to stop, sip and enjoy the fresh air.
VHS, vinyl and typewriters
Seeking a true digital detox can be challenging, with a constant barrage of tech an unavoidable part of our daily lives. To help you stay offline and relax, 25 Hours hotel has collaborated with Supersense cafe to create the first ‘analogue hotel room’ for your perfectly curated escape from modern life. Replacing wi-fi and wide screens with a typewriter, VHS player and vinyl records, the suite offers a stylish retreat to the simpler technologies of decades gone by. Perfect for a truly unplugged weekend getaway. If you want to explore further, book a bicycle from their friends at Schindelhauer.
Craft beer has come of age in Vienna with a number of bars specialising in locally made brews. Just off Mariahilferstrasse, Ammutson Craft Beer Dive 's commitment to fresh tap beer from local microbreweries is a welcome addition to the scene. While stalwart craft beer venues like Beaver Brewing Company continue to provide a hearty mix of delicious food, alongside their expansive and regularly changing craft beer menus. Beer drinkers, on your marks...
Vienna's much-loved Christmas market season runs from around mid-November to Christmas Eve. The Christkindlmärkte atmosphere is magical with stalls in streets and squares selling wooden toys, festive decorations and traditional food such as Würstel (sausages) and Glühwein (mulled wine). The centrepiece is the Wiener Weihnachtstraum Christkindlmarkt on Rathausplatz but you'll find Christmas markets across the city including at Schloss Schönbrunn.
Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus: 15th district
The 15th district is experiencing a rejuvenation thanks to community driven events, interesting stores and markets. Brunch and coffee lovers can get their fill at Landkind , Das Augustin and Turnhalle im Brick 5 , and see Austria’s best barista slinging lattes at GOTA Coffee Experts . Hidden down the district's side alleys is the unique indie art gallery, Improper Walls , and quirky stores such as Metaware , a ‘gift shop for nerds & geeks’.
In the evenings, there’s a wealth of food and drink options to explore in the district, from Das Eduard’s pita burgers on its outdoor terrace, to indie bar ein affee and wine haven Reinwein . Vegetarians can enjoy the secluded delights of restaurant and art gallery Hollerei , a short walk from Meidling Hauptstrasse station.
This article was first published in May 2019, last updated by Tasmin Waby on 29 June 2021.
Free things to do in Vienna Best day trips from Vienna The 7 best things to do in Vienna with kids
This article was first published May 2019 and updated July 2021
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The 18 best things to do in Vienna
Vienna may trade on its imperial past but scratch the surface and you’ll find there’s a lot more here than first meets the eye
Perhaps you know Vienna for its renowned Kaffeehaus culture (the city is said to have the best cafés in Europe), or you’re there to sample hearty Austrian fare at one of its best restaurants . Or maybe you’re ready to spend the week sauntering around the many museums on offer.
The city is fast establishing itself as one of the world’s best travel destinations , and it has been regularly crowned one of the world’s most liveable cities. So if you’re headed to the Austrian capital for a city break, do it right. From fine art to fine wine, here are the very best things to do in Vienna this year.
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Best things to do in Vienna
1. Gaze at Klimt’s famous painting ‘The Kiss’
What is it? ‘The Kiss’ is the final painting of Gustav Klimt’s Golden Period and forms the centrepiece of the world’s most significant collection of the artist’s works, housed in Vienna’s beautiful 300-year-old Upper Belvedere Palace. Depicting two lovers locked in an embrace in a meadow of flowers, it stands out thanks to Klimt’s use of gold leaf and a background suffused with gold, silver and platinum flakes. Some think it is representative of the artist himself with lifelong partner Emilie Flöge.
Why go? One of the world’s most instantly recognisable paintings, ‘The Kiss’ marked a significant watering down of the erotic intensity Klimt’s earlier works had been criticised for. Thousands flock here each year to see this revolutionary work. Make sure you also admire some of the other art on show and take a stroll through the gardens of the Baroque palace complex.
2. Walk the Ringstrasse
What is it? Wrapped around Vienna’s historic city centre, the Ringstrasse – or the Ring as it’s more commonly known – is the result of a Habsburg-era initiative that sought to connect the suburbs to the imperial centre. Work began on the grand boulevard with a decree by Franz Joseph I in 1857, and today it still serves as the main orientational aid for any Vienna visitor.
Why go? Built to show off the best of the Habsburg empire, a stroll around the Ring is the easiest way to admire some of the city’s grandest buildings. Travelling the relatively short distance between Karlsplatz and Schottentor alone allows you to take in the State Opera House, the Burggarten, the Hofburg, the National Library, the Art History, Natural History and World museums, Parliament, the Volksgarten, the Burgtheater, the Town Hall and the University. Phew.
3. Explore the MuseumsQuartier
What is it? The MuseumsQuartier Wien , or MQ as it’s more commonly known, offers everything from the world’s finest Egon Schiele collection to an array of trendy bars, cafés and restaurants to a sculpture park-slash-mini golf course . The MQ Libelle rooftop terrace provides some of the finest views of the city centre.
Why go? The Leopold Museum , home to 42 Schiele paintings and various works by Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and members of the Wien Werkstätte movement, is one of Vienna’s finest art museums, while the MUMOK boasts the city’s premier contemporary art collection, including works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Even if art’s not your thing, it’s worth heading to the courtyard to hang out with locals on one of the eye-catching geometric blocks or enjoy one of the outdoor cafés.
4. Check out the Sigmund Freud Museum
What is it? Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, lived and worked at Berggasse 19 until 1938 when the Nazis’ persecution of the city’s Jews forced him and his family to flee to England. Having undergone a significant expansion and renovation, you can now visit all of the family’s private rooms and both Sigmund and Anna Freud’s practices, alongside exhibitions on the family’s life, psychoanalysis and the history of the building itself.
Why go? As well as being a fascinating window into life during Vienna’s intellectual golden age, and its subsequent downfall, the Sigmund Freud Museum hosts events and has a tremendous gift shop.
5. Try Vienna’s signature cake
What is it? Vienna’s signature cake the Sachertorte, a luxurious combo of dense chocolate sponge, dark chocolate ganache and finely-spread apricot jam, traditionally served with unsweetened whipped cream, is more than just a dessert – its recipe is a closely guarded secret. Sure, you’ll find versions of this sweet treat in cafés across the city, but there’s a fierce rivalry between the Hotel Sacher and Demel over claims to the original recipe. They’ve even gone to court over it…
Why go? Which Sachertorte is best? There’s only one way to find out – and that’s by sampling both. Let the cake wars commence.
6. Stroll through Hofburg Palace
What is it? Back in the days of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the ornate Hofburg Palace was its beating heart. Today it’s the official residence of the country’s president and is home to many of Vienna’s top museums, attractions and galleries (and some famous dancing horses, too).
Why go? A walk through the Hofburg offers a potted history of Austria itself. See the Roman ruins, learn all about the life and macabre death of Empress Elisabeth – the ‘Princess Diana’ of the Habsburg Empire who was recently immortalised in Netflix drama ‘The Empress’ – at the Sisi Museum, admire the Baroque splendour of the newly-refurbished Prunksaal (State Hall) at the Austrian National Library and see where Adolf Hitler held his Anschluss speech. Head to the Spanish Riding School to watch the Lipizzaner horses perform their nifty dressage work.
7. Hang out in the Neubau district
What is it? This used to be Vienna’s edgiest up-and-coming neighbourhood, but now it’s settled into a comfortable kind of cool – think London’s Clerkenwell crossed with the best bits of Berlin. The rents are still reasonable here in the 7th district, which means it’s home to several one-of-a-kind boutiques, bars and restaurants.
Why go? Well, the food’s fantastic, for starters. There’s Erich , a subterranean taqueria with one of the city’s best drinks lists and its sister restaurant Ulrich , which does a banging brunch. Meanwhile, TIAN Bistro am Spittalberg is one of the city’s foremost vegetarian and vegan establishments. If you fancy a cocktail, pop up the road to Moby Dick , which prides itself on innovative cocktails and food pairings.
8. Take in the view from Vienna’s rooftop bars
What is it? Vienna has seen something of a boom in rooftop bars and terraces in recent years, catering for a wide range of budgets, tastes and views. From the brightly-coloured and opulent interiors of Das LOFT to the al fresco panoramas from the top of a WWII flak tower of 360º OCEAN SKY at Haus des Meeres, there really is a view for everyone.
Why go? Visitors to Vienna have long been told to always look up to admire the architecture, but the influx of rooftop venues has flipped that on its head. Nowhere is this more true than at the Lamée Rooftop bar where you gaze side-on at the Stephansdom cathedral’s single tower, which feels so close you can nearly touch it. If you fancy something a little more relaxed, the living room-like interior of the Dachboden bar of the 25hours Hotel may be more your thing.
9. Mooch around the Albertina Modern
What is it? The Albertina Modern – an offshoot of the long-established Albertina museum – is Vienna’s newest major art museum and holds two of the most important collections of post-1945 Austrian art, the Essl and Jablonka collections, alongside works by other famous international artists.
Why go? Counting more than 60,000 works by over 5,000 artists on its books, the Albertina Modern is committed to presenting Austrian art on equal footing with works by important international artists such as Andy Warhol. Since its opening in the historic Künstlerhaus in 2020, it has exhibited works by renowned artists such as Egon Schiele, Ai Weiwei and Jackson Pollock.
10. Dine in the world’s grandest greenhouse
What is it? Beautifully located in the pretty Burggarten park by the Hofburg, the Palmenhaus might be the world’s grandest greenhouse. Home to towering tropical trees and plants from around the world, the Palmenhaus doubles as a restaurant and bar, serving modern Austrian specialties with locally-sourced ingredients, as well as lighter bites and cocktails. If nothing else, be sure to try the cheeseboard with a glass of local wine.
Why go? It’s super-central, so wherever you’re staying, this is a fabulous spot for a memorable first-night dinner or drinks. Plus, it’s sehr photogenic both inside and out, and a great place for people-watching.
11. Ride the Wiener Riesenrad
What is it? Standing proudly at the entrance to Prater amusement park , the 126-year-old Riesenrad Ferris wheel is to Vienna what the London Eye is to London. Constructed in 1897, the landmark starred in the 1940s thriller ‘The Third Man’, and a ride in one of its 15 stately gondolas feels like stepping back in time.
Why go? There’s no better way to see Vienna than from the top of this 200ft-high landmark, although for €89 (£79, $94) the more adventurous can take a full spin in the open air while harnessed to the glass-bottomed carriage Platform 9 . After a ride on the Riesenrad, stroll through the antiquated, not to mention in places rather macabre, historic funfair.
12. Have a coffee at Café Central
What is it? Vienna’s most venerable café commands a queue to rival any London hotspot. Opened in 1876, this typical Viennese Kaffeehaus has always been a favourite with brainy locals; Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky and Stefan Zweig are all known to have taken their coffee here. Its cathedral-like domed ceilings and accomplished patisserie selection are just as much of a draw now as they were then.
Why go? Waiting in line may be a bore, but once you’re inside, the glittering décor and world-class cakes and pastries make it all worthwhile. Feeling peckish? Tuck into a hearty potato soup, apricot jam pancakes or a warm Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce.
13. Sample local wines at the Vienna vineyards
What is it? Vienna is one of the few cities in the world to grow enough wine within its boundaries to warrant a visit to its vineyards. Light, fresh and fruity, Austrian wines are reliably delicious. Head up to the hills and you can both sample their delights while also admiring stunning panoramas of the city.
Why go? The 38A bus runs to the top of Kahlenberg and through much of the city’s main wine-making districts, where you can stop off at Viennese wine taverns known as Heuriger. In the summer, stroll back down the Wanderweg 1 walking route – along the way, you can sample wines from local producers in their own vineyards, all while admiring the view.
14. Visit the Jewish Museum
What is it ? It’s never been more important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. The world’s oldest Jewish museum was founded in Vienna in 1895 but was closed and plundered by the Nazis in 1938; many valuable objects are still missing. The present-day Jewish Museum was founded in 1988 and moved to Dorotheergasse in 1993. A second site above the remains of the medieval synagogue in Judenplatz was opened in 2000. The two locations tell the story of the city’s Jews from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Why go? As well as preserving the memory of the 50,000 Austrian Jews killed in the Holocaust, the museum showcases the extraordinary contributions made to every aspect of Viennese life by Jewish citizens throughout the ages. A must-visit.
15. Sip on craft beer at Mel’s Diner
What is it? You’re never far away from a Vienna-style lager here – even the sausage stands sell them – but a good craft beer can still be harder to come by. Mel’s Diner is a modern-style tap room tucked away in a quieter part of the city centre and offers an extensive range of ales and beers, both bottled and on tap.
Why go? Mel’s impressive 40-plus page menu lists dozens of ales, beers and ciders both from Austria and further afield, alongside more unusual offerings such as Slovak craft tea liqueur Tatratea. If you can’t make your mind up, try the tasting rack of six on-tap beers or ciders for €10. The food menu of handcrafted burgers and hearty salads isn’t half bad either.
16. Go for an outdoor dip
What is it? Vienna is impressively equipped with pools – the Art Deco Amalienbad is definitely worth a visit – but nothing beats an open-air dip in the river. Just seven stops from central Stephansplatz, the lakeside Alte Donau (Old Danube) area is where locals flock during the warmer months. There, you’ll find idyllic bathing beaches, good fish restaurants, and places to hire boats and SUPs.
Why go? Vienna’s waterways really come alive in the summer. But if you don’t fancy going chlorine-free, try the Badeschiff Vienna , a super-cool pool on a boat with a DJ and cracking food and drink, courtesy of the Speisen Ohne Grenzen menu produced by refugees. These are largely summer activities, of course, although the Badeschiff now offers winter swimming at your own risk.
17. Eat your way around Naschmarkt
What is it? Constructed in the 16th century, this open-air market feels like a cross between London’s old Covent Garden and Dinerama. Taste your way around Vienna’s diverse culinary history as you work through everything from barrels of sauerkraut to shawarma and Tel Aviv-style sabich at Neni Am Naschmarkt.
Why go? Whatever flavours your taste buds are calling for, you’ll find it here. It’s also a great place to stock up on edible souvenirs, like cheese, wine and sausages – but be sure to have some cash on you.
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20 Must-Visit Attractions in Vienna, Austria
Famous for its classical music and opera, Vienna is home to spectacular architecture and rich cultural offerings with an undeniable charm. Brimming with ornate palaces, traditional coffee houses, art galleries and museums, the city is the jewel in Austria’s crown.
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This former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire boasts spectacular buildings in various architectural styles, ranging from Baroque to Art Deco and the colourful, modern Hundertwasserhaus. Experience the beauty of the city, while staying at one of its best hotels , with Culture Trip’s guide to the must-visit attractions in Vienna.
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Concert Hall, Building
One of Vienna’s most respected concert halls, the Golden Hall invites guests to a two-hour concert by local and international opera singers. Here, you’ll be able to listen to the likes of Mozart and Strauss performed by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra in a 19th-century Neoclassical building.
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Amusement Park, Park
The Prater is perhaps best known for its iconic Ferris wheel, which has featured in films such as Before Sunrise (1995), The Third Man (1949) and James Bond’s The Living Daylights (1987). Built in 1897, the historic Riesenrad offers sweeping views over Vienna. If the funfair rides and attractions of the Prater amusement park do not appeal, nearby are acres of woods and meadows with many hiking trails, bike paths, cafés, sporting facilities and playgrounds. The five-kilometre (three-mile) tree-lined Hauptallee route through the Prater is particularly popular with joggers and cyclists.
Spanish Riding School
Dazzling white Lipizzaner horses are famous around the world for their balletic performances to classical music. Dressage performances take place in Vienna’s Spanish Riding School , located in the glamorous setting of the Hofburg, the former principal imperial palace of the Hapsburgs. In the morning, watch as the horses exercise to build up their strength to perform pirouettes and jumps at the afternoon performances.
Natural History Museum
For a complete change of scenery from Habsburg grandeur, visit Vienna’s Hundertwasserhaus near the Danube Canal in the 3rd district. Designed by the eccentric and visionary Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this colourful, undulating social housing development has a forest of trees planted on its roof and barely a straight line in sight. Nearby is the Museum Hundertwasser, where you can find out more about Hundertwasser’s work, philosophy and beliefs, from art and architecture to environmentalism.
Sigmund Freud Museum
Stroll around in Vienna’s 9th district until you reach Berggasse 19, the former house and office of Sigmund Freud. Giving a glimpse into the Austrian neurologist’s life, the museum houses original furnishings throughout the various rooms. Existing exhibits showcase Freud’s work, including signed copies and first editions.
Austrian National Library
A visit to Vienna’s famous Naschmarkt is a must for both food lovers and those interested in Secessionist architecture. The outdoor market features a lively collection of over 100 stalls selling an array of spices, meats, dried and fresh fruits, cheese and many other delicacies. Dating back to the 16th century, the market is surrounded by gorgeous buildings of the Secessionist movement, including Otto Wagner’s Majolica and gold-leaf houses.
Haus des Meeres
Aquarium, Architectural Landmark
Housed in a World War II flak tower in the hip Mariahilf district, Vienna’s Haus des Meeres aquarium offers you the chance to see the city from its viewing platform. A staggering 10,000 sea and land animals are housed within 11 stories of the building, with examples of coral reef, Amazon rainforest and tropical habitats. As the largest aquarium in Austria, it’s home to monkeys, birds, crocodiles and more, as well as sharks swimming in a 300,000-litre (79,252-gallon) pool.
For a stunning collection of Modernist art in a former Habsburg palace, visit the Albertina Museum to view the world-renowned Batliner Collection, which features artists such as Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin, as well as Picasso’s early Cubist works. Located in the beating heart of the 1st district, the Albertina is home to one of the world’s most impressive graphic art collections and has 20 staterooms spread across two floors.
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20 Exceptional Attractions in Vienna [with Map]
Are you looking for exciting attractions in Vienna?
Here we have compiled a list of the top 20 attractions that are interesting in both winter and summer.
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1. Prater & Vienna Ferris Wheel
A classic Viennese attraction is Prater in Vienna with its Ferris wheel. This Viennese landmark in the heart of the city provides ultimate fun , especially with Wurstelprater amusement park, which has been around since the early 19th century.
Be sure to take a ride on the iconic Vienna Ferris Wheel and look out over the rooftops of Vienna. Schweizerhaus serves typical Austrian cuisine and takes care of your physical well-being.
But Prater is much more than just an amusement park. It is one of the city's "green lungs" and a popular recreation area for locals and tourists alike. At the same time, it is also a popular sports facility and even offers "excursions into space" with the planetarium.
2. Time Travel Vienna
At Time Travel Vienna, you are taken back to Vienna's fascinating past. During a virtual journey through time of about 50 minutes, you can travel through Vienna's rich history at eight different stations. Thanks to the multimedia experience with special effects and innovative technology, the informative journey becomes an exciting history lesson that even children will be enthralled with.
Highlights include an original wartime air raid shelter, a 5D cinema and the Virtual Reality Music Ride in Walzer Hall. Time Travel Vienna, which is located in the historic vaults of Michaelerkloster in the center of Vienna, is a real highlight for the whole family.
3. Vienna Philharmonic C oncert
Anyone who visits Vienna also know as the city of music, should definitely attend a classical concert. What would be better suited than one of the best orchestras in the world?! The Vienna Philharmonic is one of the best in the world. The regular events offer the perfect setting to hear masterpieces of Viennese classicism by Mozart, Beethoven or Strauss in a breathtaking atmosphere.
At the Schönbrunn Summer Night Concerts, which takes place every year, you can even see the orchestra play for free against the picturesque backdrop of Schönbrunn Palace .
4. Vienna Heurigen Express
This attraction is not only a highlight for lovers, but also for families with children. During a romantic and relaxed ride on the Vienna Heurigen Express, you will be taken through picturesque wine villages, past idyllic vineyards and old winegrowers' houses. At the end of the trip you will experience a real Viennese Heurigen.
The route leads from the bus stop in Nussdorf via Kahlenberg to Grinzing and back to Nussdorf. The hop-on/hop-off system offers the option of getting on and off at Kahlenberg or in Grinzing. The Express runs on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from the beginning of April to the end of October.
Naschmarkt on the edge of Vienna's old town is a true foodie paradise! At around 5 kilometers long, it is the largest inner-city market and one of the most popular attractions in Vienna. The must-see offers you a wide range of national and international gastronomic offers in an incomparable atmosphere. The Naschmarkt is therefore also perfect for a gourmet tour. There is also a flea market on Saturdays at weekends.
6. Danube Tower & Danube Park
Austria's tallest building is an experience for young and old! The 252 meter high Danube Tower on the edge of the Danube Park was built between 1962 and 1964. The Viennese landmark is a popular destination. On the viewing terrace at a height of 150 meters, you can enjoy a breathtaking 360° panoramic view of the Austrian capital. You can indulge in culinary delights in the tower café at 160 meters or in the rotating tower restaurant at 170 meters.
As one of the largest parks in the city, the Donaupark also offers numerous attractions, children's playgrounds, climbing combinations, ball courts, gaming tables with chess boards and skater facilities.
7. Schönbrunn Zoo
As the oldest zoo in the world, Schönbrunn Zoo is one of the highlights of Vienna. The zoo on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace was opened in 1752 by Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine, Maria Theresa's husband, as an imperial menagerie. Not only is it part of the Schönbrunn UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has also been named “Best Zoo in Europe” five times in a row.
An area of 17 hectares is home to 700 animal species, some of which are endangered. These include pandas, tigers, orangutans, polar bears, koalas and elephants. A train commutes between the zoo, the Emperor's breakfast pavilion, the elephant house and the Tyrolean Court.
8. Museum of Illusions
This attraction is very popular with young and old! In the Museum of Illusions you can put your brain to the test. This interactive museum will amaze you with extraordinary illusions and exhibitions. In addition to optical deceptions, illusions and holograms, you can also expect a rotating tunnel through which you can defy physical forces, as well as an anti-gravity room.
9. Spanish Riding School
The magic of the world-famous Lipizzaner, the oldest and most elegant horse breed in Europe, awaits you at the traditional Spanish Riding School . During a visit to the "morning work," the daily morning training of the Lipizzaners, you can see these "dancing" horses train to classical music. At the evening performances, which are very popular, you can marvel at a breathtaking equestrian spectacle.
The horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School has been part of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2015. T he Spanish Riding School is the only institution in the world that preserves old horsemanship traditions by dedicating itself to classic training and dressage of Lipizzaner horses, for 450 years.
10. House of Music
In the Haus der Musik sound museum in the Palais Archduke Carl, children and adults can transform themselves into composers. The museum in the historic old town was opened in 2000. It presents the history of music in a multimedia and interactive way, starting with the first human musical instruments up to the present day. Here you not only learn more about the grandiose composers, you can become one yourself! Compose your own music and conduct the Vienna Philharmonic yourself. A sensational experience for young and old.
11. Maze, Labyrinth and Labyrinth Icon at Schönbrunn Palace
There is much more to the grounds of the picturesque Schönbrunn Palace than many visitors think. In addition to the castle and zoo, a visit to the maze, the labyrinth and the labyrinth icon is an experience for the whole family.
Whoever finds the right way through the high hedges in the maze will be rewarded with a viewing platform. In the labyrinth opposite, a bridge has to be crossed and a hall of mirrors provides a lot of fun. The Labyrinthikon has various playgrounds for running around and playing, including a climbing frame, a hall of mirrors, a large xylophone and a water playground.
12. Palm House & Butterfly House
Palmenhaus is a unique place is hidden in the middle of Vienna. The Art Nouveau influenced steel glass construction was commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1882 and is one of the largest of its kind in the world. In the green oasis there are three pavilions where you can admire Mediterranean, tropical and subtropical plants.
Here you can also visit the Butterfly House , a butterfly zoo that takes you to the tropics. With a humidity of about 80% and a temperature of about 26 degrees, you can explore the colorful world of butterflies. Around 400 tropical butterflies flying freely represent 150 different species.
After your walk, Café Palmenhaus offers the perfect place to take a breather. Enjoy a coffee and homemade pastries in a unique ambience surrounded by exotic plants. The sun terrace offers a magnificent view of the castle garden.
13. Hohe Wand Nature Park
Hohe Wand Nature Park in the Gutenstein Alps in Lower Austria is about an hour from Vienna. With its animal and natural world, it is the perfect destination for nature lovers, sports enthusiasts and families. From a llama and alpaca hike to the "Skywalk Hohe Wand" viewing terrace, numerous experiences and activities are offered in the park. In winter, the park also offers ski courses for beginners.
14. House of the Sea
An adventurous journey into foreign animal and plant worlds awaits you in the House of the Sea . About 10,000 tropical and native animals and plants are presented on more than 4000 square meters, spread over ten floors. In addition to Austria's largest aquarium, there is a glass tunnel that you can walk through and the "Brandungsriff" adventure aquarium. Haus des Meeres is housed in an anti-aircraft tower from World War II.
15. Vienna State Opera
The Vienna State Opera is one of the most important international opera houses and a symbol of the city. The world-famous opera house in Neo-Renaissance style impresses with its magnificent architecture. It was inaugurated on May 25, 1869 with a premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni . The State Opera is also known for the Vienna Opera Ball, which takes place here every year. With its sensational interior, it offers the perfect setting for an unforgettable experience. The diverse program, which consists of 60 different operas and ballets per season, promises the finest musical enjoyment.
16. Zeiss Planetarium
Visitors of all ages can take an exciting journey through the world of astronomy in Zeiss Planetarium. The journey through the starry sky lets you look into the infinite worlds of space. You are invited to dream and gaze at the stars, be it with multimedia shows or with special programs for children and families.
17. Dschungel Vienna
Dschungel Vienna in the Museums Quarter deals with the performing arts. The ensemble includes artists from more than 20 nations. As a theater for children, teenagers and young adults, it is aimed at people aged 0-20 with various events. Each season, 60 productions are realized and played in over 500 performances. The program is supplemented by various workshops.
18. Viennese Heurige
Heurige is a Viennese institution and an important part of Viennese eating and drinking culture. Young wine is served in a wine bar called Heurige , . The name of the wine has its origin in the word Heuer , which means this year . A real Viennese Heurigen can be recognized by a pine bush above or on the door. In addition to local wines, regional dishes are also served. A particularly large number of wine taverns can be found in the Vienna area, for example in Nussdorf Heiligenstadt, Sievering and in Grinzing. An evening in one of the wine taverns , which are characterized by a rustic and cozy atmosphere, should not be missed during your trip to Vienna.
19. Danube Cruises
A Danube cruise is a great experience for young and old. It's one of the most leisurely and enjoyable ways to explore Vienna. During a wonderful trip through the Danube Canal, you can enjoy the imperial city from the water and relax at the same time. Alternatively, you can go on a tour of the Wachau, which is very popular with the Viennese themselves.
20. Madame Tussauds Vienna
This branch of Madam Tussauds wax museum has been delighting visitors of all ages since 2011. It is located in Vienna's well-known amusement park, Wiener Prater . Get up close and personal with international stars, personalities from Austrian history such as Emperor Franz and Sisi and stars from the music industry such as Falko and Mozart. The highlight for many visitors is the interactive Sisi world of experience.
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20 Top Things to Do in Vienna, Austria
TripSavvy / Christopher Larson
One of Europe’s most beautifully preserved historic capitals, Vienna is a destination every traveler should aim to see at least once. Situated at the edge of Western Europe, only miles from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the opulent, old-world metropolis manages to feel at once timeless and boldly contemporary.
It’s the sort of city where, in a single stroll, you might pass by horse-drawn carriages and stumble on the coolest contemporary art museum you’ve ever visited. And while the pace in Vienna is certainly more relaxed than more frantic Berlin, Paris or London , there’s a ton to see and do. Admire opera houses and imperial palaces; party in nightclubs, or hunker down for an afternoon in an ornate museum or gourmet coffee house.
Visit the Hofburg Palace Complex
Ursula Schmitz / TripSavvy
Situated in the historic center of Vienna, the Hofburg Palace is a stunning testament to the former Imperial power that once led much of Europe from the Austrian capital.
The vast complex—extending over 2.5 million square feet to comprise 18 wings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms—offers a glimpse into both the history and present day of Vienna. It has evolved from a medieval fortified castle into an imperial palace and is now one of the seats of democratic government, making it one of Europe's oldest and most enduring places of power.
Until 1918 and the end of World War I, the Palace was the headquarters and main winter residence of the Imperial Monarchy; the powerful Habsburgs reigned here for some six centuries starting in the 13th century. Today, the Hofburg remains central to the Austrian government, housing the offices of the President as well as state ministers and secretaries of state.
Most of the complex is worth exploring on a first visit, but there are three main highlights to focus your attention on:
Imperial Apartments: If you've visited Versailles in Paris , you can already imagine the sort of opulence that awaits in the historic Imperial apartments of the Austrian emperors and empresses of old. The current furnishings, which mostly date to the mid-19th century and 18th century, are spread across several incredibly lavish rooms . Visitors can get a good sense of how Imperial rulers spent their days, exploring rooms such as the study, lavatory and bathroom, dining room, salons, audience chambers, and bedrooms.
Sisi Museum: Named after the beloved Austrian Empress Elisabeth whose nickname was "Sisi," this collection of some 300 artifacts pays tribute to a powerful ruler whose legend has only grown over the decades. It traces the life of the empress from her childhood in the Imperial court to her death at the hand of an assassin in Switzerland in 1898. Elegant dresses and jewels, parasols, fans and gloves, and even her personal medical trunk and death certificate make up the intriguing permanent collection.
Silver Collection: Some 7,000 items of fine silver and historic tableware are displayed in this collection, inviting visitors to close their eyes and imagine the lavish, elaborate banquets that took place for many centuries on the same premises.
If you're also planning on visiting Schönbrunn Palace , the opulent historic abode of the imperial Hapsburg clan, you may want to consider purchasing a "Sisi Ticket." The ticket gives you combined entry to the Hofburg Palace and Schönbrunn Palace which houses the Imperial Furniture Collection. Overall, this reduces entry prices by about 25 percent, so it's well worth it.
Getting There: The Hofburg can be accessed from the U3 (Orange) underground line; get off at Herrengasse and follow the signs to the entrance. You can also take Tram line 1, 2, D and 71 (get off at Burgring).
Explore the Museumsquartier
Although Vienna is deeply associated with classical traditions in art, music, and architecture, it's also a hotbed of current artistic creation, home to an unusual number of modern art museums, theaters, and art schools. The Museumsquartier is definitely the place to be if you want to experience the city's vibrant contemporary art scene, as well as take in modern masterpieces from Austrian artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.
Around 70 different museums, galleries, theaters, dance halls, cultural associations, cafes, and restaurants make up this vast complex in the city center, warranting a full morning or afternoon of exploration. Don't let the Baroque-era facade fool you: Inside, the style is far more eclectic and contemporary, with airy, bright gallery spaces, colorful modern sculptures, and spaces to sit, lounge and soak up some artistic inspiration. Frequented by students and young people, the Museumsquartier is usually packed, especially in the summer months when the long days draw locals to come to hang out for hours in the outside areas.
Must-see museums in the complex include the Leopold Museum, which boasts a collection of Austrian Symbolist and Expressionist art and works from the famed Secession movement , led by Gustav Klimt. The museum also holds the world's largest and most precious collection of works by Egon Schiele, one of Austria's most beloved modern painters.
To plunge into Vienna's vibrant current-day artistic scene, meanwhile, the Kunsthalle Wien holds regular exhibits highlighting some of the most innovative and talented contemporary artists, both from Austria and from around the globe.
Spend an Afternoon at a Cafe
TripSavvy / Dorian Lee
Coffee and traditional coffeehouses are very serious business in Vienna. In 2011, UNESCO even named the city's centuries-old cafe culture a World Heritage Site.
There's something charmingly old-world about enjoying a strong coffee, whether black or a melange (a local drink resembling a cappuccino), while reading a newspaper and taking in the low din of chatter and clanking dishes that fill Vienna's classic old cafes. Enjoying a slice of cake is also a strong tradition at these institutions (when in Vienna, counting calories is not a good idea if you're after an authentic experience).
Traditional marble tables or cozy booths, heavy curtains to keep out the cold, oh-so-civilized coatracks, warm woodwork, old photos on the walls, and vintage lamps are typical fixtures in most traditional Viennese cafes. Some of the more popular, and iconic, coffeehouses to beeline for include Café Prückel, Cafe Central (whose famous patrons have included Sigmund Freud) and Cafe Ritter .
Taste Two Rivalling Viennese Cakes
Igor Golovniov / EyeEm / Getty Images
Remember that eating cake is an essential part of any first trip to Vienna? One delicious task is to compare rival chocolate cakes at Hotel /Cafe Sacher and Cafe Demel . This is a decades-long rivalry that the Viennese love to cultivate since it fuels tourism—not to mention obliging us to compare ultra-rich tortes.
Here's the story in a nutshell: The Hotel Sacher claims to have invented the signature "Sachertorte" that bears its name, a dense chocolate sponge cake with thin layers of apricot jam, topped with a cold, firm chocolate icing. This seems legitimate; Chef Sacher is believed to have concocted the cake for the first time in 1832.
Later, the Cafe Demel, known for its own luxurious baked goods and excellent tearoom, created its version of the quintessential Viennese cake, dubbing it Demels Sachertorte. Legal disputes followed, but after a while, Demel had gained a dedicated following convinced that this version of the cake, featuring one rather than two layers of apricot jam, was superior to Sacher's original. Long before reality television, this was perhaps the very first "cake war" and it continues to this day.
Visit St. Stephen's Cathedral
This breathtaking Gothic cathedral is one of Europe's loveliest. It boasts an eclectic mish-mash of architectural and decorative styles that reflect many renovations over hundreds of years. Most recently, the interiors were modified during the Baroque period.
Construction began during the 12th century, and the flamboyant high-gothic style is readily apparent in the Cathedral's four towers, one of which houses an impressive 13 bells. The enormous Pummerin bell is the second-largest chimed church bell in Europe and is situated in the North Tower. Remarkable views over the entire city can be appreciated from the towers, especially the South.
The Cathedral's distinctive colored tiles that decorate its roof form the pattern of the Vienna coat of arms and the Imperial double-headed Eagle.
In addition to visiting the Cathedral and its lovely towers, the onsite crypt and catacombs are fascinating for their notable tombs. Emperor Friedrich III and other Imperial leaders are buried here, alongside numerous cardinals and bishops.
Getting There: From the city center, Take the U-Bahn Line U3 to Stephansplatz.
Watch a Performance at the Vienna State Opera
Ursula Schmitz / TripSavvy
For anyone with a passion for opera, Vienna is an essential destination. A reigning symbol of the Austrian capital's distinguished musical heritage and elegance, the State Opera stands proudly on one of the city's busiest and most central streets. As home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, some of the world's finest classical music, opera and ballet performances are staged here.
Whether you choose to simply admire the neoclassical facade (built in 1869 under the reign of Emperor Francis Joseph I) or enjoy one of the 350 performances that animate the stage each year, the Opera remains an essential sight in a city passionate about classical music.
Getting There: The Opera is served by tram lines 1,2, 62, 71 and D; the stop is Kartner Ring-Oper. You can also take the U-Bahn Line U2 to Karlsplatz, then walk about five minutes.
Sample Local Treats at Naschmarkt
Ursula Schmitz / TripSavvy
This permanent open-air market is one of the coolest (and tastiest) places to hang out in the city, beloved by all age groups and frequented morning, noon and night. If it's fresh produce, cheese, meat, bread, or high-quality spices you're after, the market stalls here offer some of Vienna's very best. Dozens of vendors peddling everything from fresh fruit to olives, kraut and sausages, and other local specialties have been joined in more recent years by stalls selling international delicacies (Japanese, Turkish, Moroccan, Eastern European, and many others).
This is also a favorite local spot for coffee or a casual evening meal; several laid-back restaurants and cafes operate on the premises, many with outdoor seating in the warmer seasons. In the spring or summer, enjoying a beer or casual dinner at the Naschmarkt is one of the most authentic things you can do. Just try to arrive on the early side to secure a table; it's not unusual to see crowded tables even on weekdays.
The market is open Monday to Saturday, with most stalls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m. (5 p.m. on Saturday). Onsite cafes and restaurants have separate opening times, but many are closed on Sunday as well.
Getting There: Take the U-Bahn (Underground) Line U4 to Karlsplatz and follow the signs to the market.
Tour Schönbrunn Palace
TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris
Often compared to Versailles, Schönbrunn Palace served as the summer residence of the powerful Habsburgs and exemplifies the wealth and power enjoyed by the Royal Imperial family.
First established as an Imperial hunting lodge in the late 17th century, it was significantly expanded upon during the 18th to become a permanent summer residence under the powerful Empress Maria Theresa, mother of Marie Antoinette.
The Grand Tour of the palace takes you through some 40 opulent rooms and offers an in-depth look at the life and reign of the Hapsburgs, from their most private daily affairs to the political intrigues that filled the palace walls. The Imperial Apartments are especially striking.
The lovely, expansive formal gardens at the palace are also essential, particularly in the spring, when thousands of flowers and trees blossom and bring to life the eye-catching landscapes. The gardens were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996. There's even an onsite vineyard, reflecting Vienna's history as a maker of distinctive local white wines.
Tickets & Getting There: Visit the official website for practical information on the Palace and to purchase tickets online. Three forms of public transportation take you right up to the palace and have Schönbrunn-marked stops.
- Underground: U4
- Trams: 10 and 60
Relax in the Prater, Vienna's Biggest Park
Taylor McIntyre / TripSavvy
This vast, leafy park is the biggest within Vienna's city limits and is a favorite place for locals to head in the summer for picnics, Ferris wheel rides, and other amusement park attractions. The enormous complex also boasts an onsite cinema, Madame Tussauds wax museum, cafes and restaurants, a nightclub, and a bowling alley.
Dominating the park and the skyline of the adjoining Leopoldstadt neighborhood, the enormous Ferris wheel dates to 1897, and is one of Europe's largest. Entry to the Prater is free; individual rides and attractions will set you back a few Euros but are reasonably priced.
Head here in the warmer spring and summer months to get some outdoor activities in and enjoy a lazy picnic on the grass, or rent bikes for a morning or afternoon, taking advantage of the bike paths that wend through the park. The park is open year-round, and in the autumn and winter months can still offer a pleasant walk or a day of fun and distraction for the whole family.
Getting There: The main entrance to the Prater is located on an enormous traffic circle known as the Praterstern ; get off at this station from Metro lines U1 or U2. You may also take tram line O and 5 to the end of the line to reach the park.
Cruise the Danube River
A boat cruise of the Danube river allows you to see the city from a different vantage, appreciating its lovely architecture and intriguing blend of Western and Eastern European cultural influences. You can either take a short sightseeing cruise that keeps you more or less within the Viennese city limits or opt for a full day on the water. Many tourists opt to stop in the lush Wachau Valley 30 minutes outside the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From there, wine tasting and bike tours, a visit to a medieval Abbey, or tours on foot of the breathtaking valley make for an ideal day trip.
Take the opportunity to see the nearby Slovakian capital of Bratislava , traveling from Vienna to its sister capital only 34 miles away by boat. Particularly if you don't have time for another day trip, this can be an excellent way to make a short foray into Eastern Europe.
Several companies offer boat cruises and high-speed catamaran trips from and around Vienna, but DDSG Blue Danube is the most popular and trusted.
See the Lipizzaner Stallions Perform
The world-famous Lipizzaner Stallions put on a show of equestrian excellence set to classical Viennese music at the Winter Spanish Riding School ( Spanische Hofreitschule ) located in the Hofburg Palace.
These performances are the culmination of years of training for both the rider and their horses. Visitors can see a performance and take a guided tour of the Winter Spanish Riding School. You'll find the visitor center at Michaelerplatz in the Hofburg (under the Michaelerkuppel).
Tickets: Tickets for performances and tours are available online . Getting There: The Hofburg can be accessed from the U3 (Orange) underground line; get off at Herrengasse. You can also take Tram line 1, 2, D and 71 (get off at Burgring). The entrance to the Spanish Riding School is at Josefsplatz.
Visit the Neo-Gothic City Hall
Vienna's town hall ( Wiener Rathaus ) was built in the 1800s in a Neo-Gothic style similar to the Brussels town hall. The Rathaus has five towers, with the iconic Rathausman statue topping the tallest.
You can take a free guided tour of the inside of the lavish Town Hall on designated days, usually Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 1 p.m. The Information Center in the town hall is open Monday to Friday from 07:30 a.m.– 6:00 p.m.
Getting There: Take the Metro U2 and get off at station Rathaus.
Spend Time at the Zoo
On the grounds of the Schönbrunn Palace, you'll find Vienna's Zoo ( Tiergarten Schönbrunn), the oldest continuously operating zoo in the world originally founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752. You can stroll the lovely grounds and see some of the original buildings as well as modern animal habitats and displays.
Approximately 8,500 animals live in the zoo representing more than 700 animal species including a giant panda, giraffes, and sea lions as well as smaller beings such as ants and exotic spiders.
The zoo has scheduled educational sessions, a simulated Amazon rainforest environment to walk through, and snack bars and cafes where you can rest.
Getting There: Schönbrunn Zoo has several entrances. The main entrance— Hietzing —is close to the U4 underground station Hietzing. The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens are reached via the Hietzinger Tor and then you just follow the pathway between the Palm House and the Desert House.
Stroll the Gardens at Belvedere Palace
TripSavvy / Deanna Mazzola
Visit the beautiful French gardens and ornate buildings of Belvedere Palace where such notable Austrians as Prince Eugene of Savoy and Archduke Franz Ferdinand once lived. The impressive Baroque buildings house a collection of Austrian art including works by Gustav Klimt.
Belvedere Palace and grounds are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided tours are available. Tickets can be purchased online .
Getting There: Belvedere Palace is located southeast of the Innere Stadt, between the Wieden and Landstrasse districts. The nearest public transportation is the tram where you'll get off at Quartier Belvedere .
Dine With a View
Sofitel, Accor Hotels
Das Loft on the Sofitel Hotel's 18th floor is a glass-walled restaurant and lounge with an amazing bird's eye view of Vienna. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows make it easy to see Vienna’s iconic St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Danube river, and the city skyline. At night the amazing 21,500-square-foot illuminated ceiling swirls like a piece of impressionist art.
Get Sweet at the Honey Boutique
TripSavvy / Dorian Lee
Those who adore local honey won't want to miss the Wald & Wiese specialty boutique where honey and honey-related products are sold. But what's really interesting is where the honey comes from. Over 5,000 bee colonies and 600 bee-keepers harvest honey from Vienna's rooftop hives including from the Rathaus, Staatsoper, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna , and some of the famous hotels. You can shop for honey and products made with honey (as well as seasonal truffle-related products) and taste honey-based beverages including mead and honey-and-whiskey liqueur.
Getting There: Wald & Wiese has four locations in Vienna.
Enjoy Wiener Schnitzel
Wiener schnitzel, the national dish of Austria, is known far and wide as a staple in German-American restaurants. But you can have the real thing in Vienna. You'll find veal or pork schnitzel with sides of lettuce salad, potato salad, boiled potatoes or fries and usually accompanied by a slice of lemon. Restaurants with traditional Austrian food will have Wiener schnitzel on the menu. Schnitzelwurt at Neubaugasse 52, 1070, serves some 15 varieties of schnitzel including pork, chicken, and turkey and is a favorite of both locals and tourists.
Go Wine Tasting
Vienna's winemaking history dates back to the twelfth century and today, Vienna's wine country produces mostly crisp whites such as Riesling. To go wine tasting, you don't need to leave the city as there are an estimated 180 wine taverns and wine bars around the city and in the suburbs.
The Vienna Heurigen Express, which looks like a little train, offers a Hop-on, Hop-off tour through the vineyards and wineries close to Vienna.
Bike Around Vienna
Rent from City Bike Vienna and your first hour of exploring the city on two wheels is free with the second costing only €1 (there's a one-time registration fee of €1). Pick up a bike at a street rack and then carefully return the bike to another rack. You can use your credit card at over 120 bike stations. Vienna has bike lanes, making it fairly easy to get around.
Get Romantic on the Ferris Wheel
George Pachantouris/Getty Images
Wiener Riesenrad, Vienna's giant Ferris wheel, will give you some great views but it can also be the setting for a romantic evening. The wheel, located at the fairgrounds, has a special cabin that couples can rent for an hour or so, sip some Champagne, and even have a romantic candlelight dinner served.
For something really special, book a romantic crystal dinner for two in the Crystal Wagon decorated with Swarovski crystals and, before you leave, open your little Swarovski crystal gift.
Getting There: Take the Metro: U1, U2 - (Praterstern station), the urban railway: S1-S3, S7, S15 Wien Nord (Vienna North) or the tram: 0, 5.
Vienna Guide: Planning Your Trip
Getting Around Vienna: Guide to Public Transportation
The Top 10 Museums in Vienna, Austria
The Best Time to Visit Vienna
48 Hours in Vienna: The Ultimate Itinerary
Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral: The Complete Guide
The 10 Best Day Trips From Vienna, Austria
The 13 Best Things to Do in Salzkammergut
The Top 10 Austrian Foods to Try in Vienna
The 10 Best Restaurants in Vienna
Vienna's Naschmarkt Market: The Complete Guide
The 10 Best Places to Taste Wine in Vienna, Austria
Weather in Vienna: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperatures
Getting Around Frankfurt: Guide to Public Transportation
Regensburg: Planning Your Trip
The 10 Most Elegant Cities in the World
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Home » Travel Guides » Austria » 15 Best Things to Do in Vienna (Austria)
15 Best Things to Do in Vienna (Austria)
The Capital of Austria is home to nearly one third of the county’s inhabitants and is its primary city. This metropolitan city hosts the United Nations organisation and is a major centre for Austria’s culture, economy and Politics. With many different names like the City of Music and the City of dreams, Vienna is renowned throughout the world and has a plethora of stunning historical buildings, gardens and establishments.
Ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world with its inhabitants enjoying a high quality of life, Vienna is a haven in central Europe and remains a popular tourist destination. Listed below are the top must do’s in Vienna and should provide you with more than enough information to plan your trip.
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Vienna :
1. Schönbrunn Palace
Standing since the 1600’s and holding a major role of cultural importance in Austria, the Schonbrunn Palace is a colossal 1441 room structure and complex that is the main tourist attraction in Vienna.
The Habsburgs have held residence here for many years and indeed emperors of Austria have been born in the palace too.
The palace itself is an immense building and designed in a Baroque style with a symmetrical main building that has hundreds of windows and statues on the rooftop.
Inside the palace are an assortment of rooms all fully furnished and decorated in the original style – You can enjoy a tour through the rooms and admire the sumptuous furnishings and see how Austrian royalty lived.
2. Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg Palace is another huge palatial complex that pays tribute to the power and influence of the Habsburg dynasty and served as the main winter palace for the rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for hundreds of years.
Today the complex is home to offices of the president of Austria and serves as a presidential base.
The buildings have undergone many additions since their creation in the 13th century and the most impressive of which is the fabulous semi-circular Neue Burg.
Visitors can admire the beauty and style of the baroque architecture, take a tour through the imperial apartments or visit one of the detailed museums in the complex.
3. St Stephen’s Cathedral
This monolithic structure stands proud in the Stephensplatz and has been the most important church in Vienna and Austria since its construction.
The beauty of this building is undeniable and its huge tower dominates the Vienna skyline and stands as the tallest church tower in Austria.
Everything about St Stephen’s Cathedral oozes opulence – From the Romanesque and Gothic design of the exterior, to the dominating pointed tower, and the intricately decorated main roof complete with hundreds of coloured tiles forming an intriguing pattern.
Inside the church there are a total of 18 altars, several smaller chapels, and even some tombs and catacombs.
As an iconic building of Vienna, St Stephens cannot be missed!
4. Schonbrunn Gardens
Another exceptional part to the Schonbrunn Palace Complex and worthy of a separate visit in its own right, the gardens at Schonbrunn are simply magical.
The grounds of the park extend from the Palace for over a kilometre and you could spend hours walking through the various sections and displays.
You can walk through the Parterre and admire the uniform flower beds, or get lost in the beautiful hedge maze and labyrinth; Neptune’s fountain is a stunning piece of artwork, while there is even an artificial Roman Ruin complete with stone statues.
The crowning glory to all of this is the Gloriette which stands opposite the palace and features a pool and a classical colonnaded long building – Enjoy a drink here in the cafe or simple admire the views of the whole gardens in front of you.
Vienna is full of historical and significant architecture and the Town Hall located on Rathausplatz is a fine addition to this collection.
A later addition to the city, the Rathaus was constructed in the 1800’s in a Neo-Gothic style to accommodate the offices of the mayor for an ever increasing city population.
Similar in style to the town hall in Brussels, the Rathaus has five towers, the middle of which is the largest and is topped by the iconic Rathausman statue.
Guided tours are available of the inside of the Town Hall on certain days, and this is well worthwhile just to see the extravagant style of the rooms and what it must be like to work inside such a wonderful building.
6. Tiergarten Schonbrunn (Vienna Zoo)
Located within the grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace, the Tiergarten Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world and touts itself as a centre for species preservation and educational fulfilment.
Originally built as a menagerie, the Zoo has several original buildings from that era and mingled together with more modern structures, create a pleasant place to walk through.
The Zoo is home to a myriad of animals from the endangered giant Panda, to Giraffes, Sea Lions and Sloths – There are many talks throughout the day by experienced Zookeepers and even a simulated Amazon rainforest environment to walk through.
As Zoos go, the Vienna Zoo is one of the finest in the world and you can see the care the animals receive.
Tip : The Vienna Zoo is included in the Vienna PASS
7. Belvedere Museum
This gigantic palatial complex and gardens is split into Upper and Lower Belvedere and served as a summer residence for Austrian princes in the 1600’s.
The two palaces themselves feature amazing architecture and stand out royally in the gardens – Upper Belvedere has a detailed façade with green domed semi-towers while Lower Belvedere has a simpler design; both palaces face the stunning gardens.
Sights at the Belvedere Museum include the two palaces which hold a staggering collection of artwork and decorated staterooms and the expansive landscape gardens complete with pools and an Orangery.
8. Vienna State Opera
Opera and fine architecture is synonymous with Vienna, and the Vienna State Opera provides both in abundance.
This outstanding building is located centrally in the Innere Stadt district and is considered one of the finest Opera Houses in the world.
The exterior has a Neo-Renaissance style and is characterised by its many arches and arched windows, while the interior is extremely decadent and feels more like a palace than a place of musical celebration.
Daily guided tours are available which last around 40 minutes and give a good overview of the building.
If you wanted to see a live concert or Opera, you would need to research what is showing before your visit and buy tickets.
Available activity : Mozart & Strauss Concert at the Vienna State Opera
9. Vienna Natural History Museum
Housed in a sophisticated palace complex that is typical of the historical architecture in Vienna, the Natural History Museum has a huge collection of minerals, precious stones, meteorites, fossils, skeletons of animals, displays of various insects and mammals and even some taxidermy of extinct species.
With over 30 million objects the museum’s collection is one of the most important in Europe and new additions are arriving all the time.
This fascinating venue also has a digital planetarium where you can see intriguing films about the earth and its development.
Adults and children alike will love the sheer amount of information and eye-boggling displays in this epic museum.
10. Prater Amusement Park
What could be a more enjoyable way to experience Vienna than having a fun packed day at the Prater Amusement Park? The Wiener Prater Park was once a hunting ground that developed into a public space for food stands and small amusement stalls, it now hosts the impressive Amusement Park and is free to enter (You pay for the individual rides instead). Inside the park is a multitude of rides and stalls including a huge Ferris wheel, bumper cars, carousels and hair-raising rollercoasters.
There are also such things as shooting ranges, a wax works display and a light gauge railway to keep you entertained.
If rides and thrills are not your kind of thing, there are several restaurants and cafes in the park to sit back and enjoy the scenery in.
11. The Spanish Riding School
One of the finest institutes for classical dressage in the world, and a long-standing renowned tradition In Austria, The Spanish Riding School has been responsible for training horses in the art of dressage for hundreds of years.
The riding school as built during the Habsburg Monarchy and has stood ever since.
The building is open to the public and you can watch demonstrations and in some cases training sessions too.
For anyone who loves riding this is a must see in Vienna, while even for non-riders you can still appreciate the passion and love that is put into this art form.
Available activity : Spanish Riding School 2-Hour Morning Exercise
12. Donauturm (Viewing tower)
Listed in the tallest 75 free-standing towers in the world at a whopping 252m, the Donauturm stands as an observation tower in the Donaustadt district of Vienna.
The Donauturm stands out against the relatively low-rise skyline of Vienna and is easily recognisable; the structure contains radio transmitters and cell phone antennae, two revolving restaurants, and observation platform and even a bungie jumping gangway.
The tower provides a fantastic and different way to see Vienna and it is easy to see why it draws so many visitors.
Market places often define a city and give a good representation of its heritage and culture, they are engaging places to walk through and provide tourists with an authentic slice of local life.
The Naschmarkt is held on the Wienzeile street and stretches for around 1.5km, full of stalls selling anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to herbs, cheese and seafood.
The atmosphere, sounds, sights and smells are tantalising and the grand scale of the market make it famous world-wide.
14. Vienna Ring Road
The opulent Ring Road that surrounds the Innere Stadt district of Vienna was especially constructed in the 19th century after the removal of the city walls.
It features eclectic architecture and has many famous buildings lining its pavements.
The road itself is wide and is framed by the cities tram line which remains an important mode of transport, there are also sections lined with trees and the road proves a great cycle route.
It is well worth walking on parts of the ring road to see its importance and also the beautiful buildings that frame it.
15. Vienna Woods
At the foothills of the Northern Limestone Alps, the Vienna Woods lie to the west of the city and span some 45km.
Several rivers form the boundaries of the woods or Wienerwald and the area is popular with both Austrians looking to escape the city, and tourists looking to enjoy the beautiful Austrian countryside.
The woods are full of hidden gems from underground boat rides (The seegrotte) to Hunting Lodges and small villages untouched by the expanse of Vienna.
There are companies that provide half day tours, or you could simple do some research and form your own itinerary – The possibilities are endless in this alluring part of Austria.
15 Best Things to Do in Vienna (Austria):
- Schönbrunn Palace
- Hofburg Palace
- St Stephen’s Cathedral
- Schonbrunn Gardens
- Tiergarten Schonbrunn (Vienna Zoo)
- Belvedere Museum
- Vienna State Opera
- Vienna Natural History Museum
- Prater Amusement Park
- The Spanish Riding School
- Donauturm (Viewing tower)
- Vienna Ring Road
- Vienna Woods
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This Gorgeous European City Is Known for Its Fairy-tale Palace, Wiener Schnitzel, and Christmas Markets
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Things to know, how to get around, best hotels, best restaurants, things to do, best shopping, neighborhoods to know, apps to download.
Vienna (Wien in German), Austria's capital city, is rich in history, architecture, art, music, food, and wine. Located on the River Danube, Vienna dates back to a Roman era settlement. Most of the city's many Baroque buildings were created under Empress Maria Theresa (18th century) and Emperor Franz Joseph (19th century), and today they stand in contrast to modern glass and steel structures.
Beautiful buildings, walkable streets, delicious food, and lots to do both indoors and outdoors make Vienna a wonderful vacation destination. Voted one of the most livable cities in the world, Vienna's city limits include vineyards, parks, and the forested Vienna Woods (Wienerwald in German), a protected natural landscape. A dog-friendly city, Vienna permits dogs on public transportation as well as in restaurants and shops. The "coffee culture" features prominently in Viennese life, and coffee houses are places to relax, socialize, and enjoy the city's famous desserts.
Called the "City of Music," Vienna was home to classical composers Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, Brahms, and Beethoven. Vienna is known for its Ball Season when, from November until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, nearly 500 balls take place—with the Viennese Waltz and elegant formal attire in full display.
Central European Time Zone (CET) UTC +1
Seasonally: Central European Summer Time (CEST) UTC +2
For mild, although sometimes chilly weather, spring and fall are pleasant times to be in Vienna. Fewer tourists make it easier to see the city's attractions, and hotel rates are lower. Summer is warm and sunny with temperatures in the high 70s and perhaps a bit more rain. It's also a lovely time there, but the city sees more visitors during the high season, reflected in hotel prices.
Christmas markets and magical decorations attract tourists in winter, despite colder temperatures. The ball season from November until February can be fun even if you're not ready to waltz onto the dance floor. Ball gowns, traditional Austrian dirndls, live music, and the festive atmosphere create memorable experiences.
So it seems that there's no wrong time to visit Vienna. Take a travel umbrella, warm clothing, and remember the well-worn adage, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes."
(Check the current exchange rate )
Hello - Hallo Good Morning - Guten Morgen Good day - Guten Tag Good Evening - Guten Abend My name is… Ich heiße… What is your name? - Wie heißen Sie? How are you? - Wie geht's? I'm well - Mir geht's gut. How much is that? - Wie viel kostet das? Where is the bathroom? - Wo ist die Toilette? Men - Herren/Männer Women - Damen/Frauen Please - bitte Thank you - Danke
Calling Code: +43
The letter ß, unique to the German alphabet, is used in many words to replace "ss."
Snow globes, a favorite souvenir of Vienna, have been produced there for more than a hundred years by the Perzy family in their 17th district factory. They depict St. Stephen's Cathedral, landmarks, animals, cakes, and more. The snow globes, made in a variety of sizes, are favorites at Vienna's Christmas markets.
Vienna is the only world capital with wineries within its city limits. In the city's outskirts of Grinzing, visitors can hike, bike, or visit a Heuriger, a seasonal wine tavern. Most of the wineries produce white wines, mainly Grüner Veltliner, Weissburgunder, Rheinriesling , and Gemischter Satz .
Danube Island, built as part of a flood protection system, has become a major recreation center with a beach, waterpark, restaurants, and nightclubs. An annual open-air music event, Danube Island Festival ( Donauinselfest ) is held there.
Austria's national dish is Wiener Schnitzel , thin cutlets of veal, breaded and fried. It's usually served with parsley potatoes or potato salad. Veal is most commonly used, but chicken may also be prepared as schnitzel.
Sacher Torte , one of Vienna's most famous desserts, is a rich chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam, covered with chocolate. It's said to have first been prepared by Franz Sacher, a 16-year old apprentice, for Prince Metternich in 1832 when the head chef was ill. National Sachertorte Day in Austria is December 5.
In addition to coffee and sweets, Vienna is known for hot dog stands where you can choose either sweet ( süss ) or spicy ( scharf ) mustard.
If you live outside the European Union and your single local Vienna shopping bill exceeds EUR 75.01, you can claim a refund of the Austrian value added tax. Ask the seller for a Global Blue Cheque and the Global Blue Envelope that includes a list of all refund offices. (Global Blue is an international payment provider for tax free shopping.) While you are buying, make sure the original invoice is stapled to the Global Blue Cheque.When you leave Austria (or the European Union), go to the customs officer at the eValidation service counter at Vienna International Airport and get your Global Blue Cheque stamped on presentation of your purchase. Then cash your refund at one of the more than 700 refund offices world wide, including at Vienna airport. Alternatively, send the Global Blue Cheque of your Vienna shopping to Global Blue and they will transfer the money to you.
Vienna's public transportation network is extensive. Buses, trains, trams, and underground lines operated by Wiener Linien make getting almost anywhere in the city quite convenient. Ticket machines are located at underground stations, tobacconists, online, and on board (with a slightly increased rate.) In addition to single tickets, passes are available for longer periods of time.
The subway is called U-Bahn; local trains are Schnellbahn or s-Bahn; the tram is the Straßenbahn, and Autobus is the bus.
Taxi stands can be found throughout Vienna.
Uber operates in Vienna for ridesharing.
From Vienna International Airport , there is bus, train, and taxi service into the city as well as Uber for ridesharing.
The Vienna City Card provides discounts on tours and attractions as well as free public transportation on most lines. CityBike Wien operates approximately 120 bike stations around Vienna, one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe.
Grand Hotel Wien
Address: Kärntner Ring 9 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 51580-0 Website
This opulent hotel dating to 1870 offers luxurious furnishings, five restaurants, two bars, and the Grand Spa No.605. Their elegant rooftop terrace, open from March through October, features panoramic views along with cocktails, bar snacks, and traditional breakfasts. The hotel is centrally located near the Vienna State Opera and Kärntner Straße shopping.
Address: Schubertring 5-7 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 31188 Website
Located in downtown Vienna, the luxury hotel features 201 guest rooms including 43 suites. The historic building was once four palaces that have been connected, and modern amenities include fitness center, indoor pool, and spa. An excellent steakhouse, Italian restaurant, cocktail lounge, and seasonal Atmosphere Rooftop Bar provide a range of dining offerings.
K & K Palais Hotel
Address: Rudolfsplatz 11 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 53313 53 Website
This centrally located hotel is housed in the former residence of Emperor Franz Joseph. Modern air-conditioned rooms include flat-screen TV's, coffee machines, minibars, and elegant furnishings. Family-friendly amenities include playground, laundry facilities, snack bar, and available child care.
Address: Kärntner Ring 16 1015 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 501 100 Website
Built for the Duke of Wurttemberg in 1863, the palatial building offers 76 rooms and 62 suites, all elegantly furnished with authentic antiques. Conveniently located near Vienna State Opera and St. Stephen's Cathedral, the hotel is also ideal for designer shopping. Family-friendly options include babysitting service, connecting rooms, and children's menus.
Hotel Sacher Wien
Address: Philharmoniker Str. 4 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 514 560 Website
This classic Victorian-era hotel features 152 exquisitely furnished rooms and suites that combine tradition with modern amenities. Fine dining restaurants and cocktail lounges are available, and guests should not miss Café Sacher 's world famous Sacher-Torte. Child care is available, and the "Petit Sacher" program provides a welcome gift and special amenities for children.
Park Hyatt Vienna
Address: Am Hof 2 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 22740 1234 Website
Set in a 100 year old former bank, the elegant hotel features 143 spacious guest rooms including 42 suites, as well as a spa with a sauna and pool. The hotel's location in the Goldenes Quartier is convenient to shopping, museums, churches, and attractions. In keeping with the theme, The Bank Brasserie & Bar presents exceptional dining and relaxed ambiance.
Hotel Daniel Vienna
Address: Landstraßer Gürtel 5 1030 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 90 131-0 Website
This centrally located hotel features 116 contemporary style rooms with modern amenities at a budget-friendly price. Their onsite bakery, restaurant, and breakfast buffet are popular with guests and locals. Pets are welcome, and bicycles are available to rent when weather permits.
Mraz & Sohn
Address: Wallensteinstraße 59 1200 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 3304594 Website
This family-run fine dining restaurant has received two Michelin stars for its creative approach to Austrian and internationally-influenced cuisine. Multi-course tasting menus offer an experience that's both sophisticated and casual, with friendly, attentive service. Reservations recommended.
Address: Am Heumarkt 2A, Innere Stadtpark 1030 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 71 33 168 Website
Located in Vienna's Stadtpark and set in a modern mirrored glass building, the restaurant features rural Austrian cuisine in creative presentations. Fresh seafood, produce from the terrace gardens, wild boar, and more are treated in novel ways. Choose the tasting menu or dine a la carte, and call ahead for a reservation.
Address: Burggarten 1 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 533 10 33 Website
Set in an 1822 greenhouse overlooking Hofburg palace gardens, the updated modern glass and steel structure is stunning, offering both indoor and outdoor dining. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, and the dinner menu includes seafood, steaks, and (of course) schnitzel. Reservations are suggested.
Address: Burggasse 2 1070 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 5222520194 Website
The Michelin Guide describes the restaurant's cuisine as modern Austrian which can be ordered a la carte or as a tasting menu, with wines that focus on Austria's vineyards. Indoor and outdoor tables are available, and the menu includes traditional wiener schnitzels, veal, bisque, and desserts. Located near Vienna's museums; reservations are recommended.
Address: Praterstraße 1 1020 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 906168110 Website
Located on the 18th floor of the modern hotel SO/Vienna, Das Loft offers panoramic views of the city through expansive windows, while a colorful illuminated ceiling created by multimedia artist Pipilotti Risi shimmers overhead. International fare is served starting with breakfast, and innovative dishes match the decor in creativity. Cocktails and a selection of wines from Austria and around the world are available.
Address: Ecke Herrengasse, Strauchgasse 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 5333763 Website
Established in 1876 and set in Palais Ferstel , a palatial Italianate mansion, Café Central attracts tourists and locals who dine on Viennese dishes, coffee specialties, and bakery items in the historic setting. Through the years famous figures like Freud and Trotsky as well as poets and writers have dined there, so a stop at Café Central should be on every visitor's itinerary.
Address: Mariahilf, city center 1060 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 400005430 Website
Vienna's largest and best known food market is located on the Vienna River, with more than 120 market stands selling produce, fish, cheese, international street foods, sweets, snacks, local products, and sit-down restaurant meals. The market dates to the late 16th century, and some stalls have been there for over 100 years. On Saturdays, a flea market next door offers books, record albums, antiques, and more. Closed on Sundays.
Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraß 47 1130 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 81113239 Website
This magnificent 18th-century palace is one of Vienna's top attractions for its architecture, history, and Baroque gardens. Tours take visitors through the rooms once used by Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Maria Theresa to see the furniture, art, and sumptuous décor.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
Address: Stephansplatz 3 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 515523054 Website
Also called Stephansdom , the cathedral was built as a 12th-century Romanesque church, and it has been reconstructed several times as recently as post World War II, combining its original design with Baroque and Gothic architecture. Visitors can tour the 14th-century catacombs in an underground labyrinth or climb one of the towers for a view of Vienna from the roof walk.
Address: Museumsplatz 1 1070 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43/1/523 5881 Website
Located in central Vienna, the complex includes 60 cultural institutions covering contemporary art, history, architecture, music, fashion, theater, dance, literature, photography, street art, and children's culture. Guided tours are available, and the exterior courtyard is designed for visitors and locals to enjoy with unique furniture, cafés, and restaurants.
The Spanish Riding School
Address: Michaelerplatz 1 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 533 90 31-0 Website
The riding school was established with the introduction of the famous Lipizzaner horses from Spain in the 16th century. Today, a variety of tours and performances demonstrate equestrian skills and take visitors behind the scenes for exercise and training sessions.
Vienna Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
Address: Maxingstraße 13b 1130 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 87792940 Website
The world's oldest zoo dating back to the mid-18th century, the Vienna Zoo was built in the Gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. Visitors can enjoy the exhibits on their own or choose from a variety of tours that include backstage tours, themed tours focusing on a favorite animal, and morning experiences in the rainforest or aquarium followed by breakfast.
Address: Riesenradplatz 7 1020 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 7280516 Website
With a history that dates back to the 18th century, the 3,200-acre amusement park was rebuilt after World War II. The Prater is home to roller coasters, old-fashioned theme park rides, the Giant Ferris Wheel, Haunted Castle, the Prater Museum, Planetarium , 5-D cinema, and more.
Address: Kohlmarkt 14 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 535 1717 0 Website
Vienna's oldest café and bakery is an experience as well as a place to indulge in cakes, pastries, strudels, petit fours, and coffee. The experience is the opportunity to enjoy the same recipes loved by Emperor Franz Joseph served in traditional style by Demelinerinnen , waitresses in black dresses with white lace collars. You can also watch through a glass wall as bakers work, marvel at the window display, and take home a classic sacher torte to enjoy later.
Ringstrassen-Galerien (Ringstreet Galleries)
Address: Kârntner Ring 5-7 and 9-13 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 51 25 181 Website
Two buildings connected by a glass bridge creates a unique atmosphere for the 16-floor mall that includes offices, luxury apartments, and restaurants as well as retail shops. Stores offer clothing, accessories, jewelry, toys, art, gifts, flowers, and more in a gorgeous setting.
Donau Zentrum (Danube Center)
Address: Wagramer Strasse 94 1220 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 20347 22222 Website
This huge mall includes more than 250 stores and a multiplex cinema as well as at least 50 restaurants. Conveniently linked to the city center via metro, Austria's second largest shopping center is popular among locals and tourists.
Address: Inner City 1010 Vienna, Austria
One of the oldest and most elegant streets in Vienna, Kohlmarkt is home to jewelers and international luxury fashion brands including Cartier, Chanel, Armani, Burberry, Gucci, and more. Browse the high end shops and enjoy the grand historical architecture of the area.
Hamtil & Sôhne
Address: Herrengasse 2 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 532 1803 Website
This store offers unique souvenirs, gifts, lamps, and locally-made products. An interesting selection of children's toys, games, and puzzles make clever gifts.
Steffl Department Store
Address: Kârntner Straße 19 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 930 56 0 Website
This upscale department store features a wide variety of clothing and accessory brands including Dolce & Gabbana, Furla, Chloe, Patagonia, in a convenient location. Rest a bit after shopping at the SKY Café and enjoy views of St. Stephan's cathedral and Vienna's skyline.
Address: Schottengasse 3a 1010 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 533 533 1 Website
This is the best place to purchase locally made traditional Austrian clothing. In business for more than 60 years, Tostmann offers dirndls for ladies and lederhosen for gentlemen. Choose from a variety of styles for adults and children.
Address: Obere Augartenstraße 1 1020 Vienna, Austria Phone: +43 1 211 24 200 Website
Europe's second oldest porcelain manufacturer and purveyor to the Habsburg court, Augarten still produces timeless objects meticulously designed and painted. Dinnerware, vases, figurines, teapots, and collectible objects are available at the shop.
Innere Stadt (1st District) is the city center where most hotels, stores, restaurants, and attractions are located. St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Vienna Opera House, Parliament, and many museums are located in this district. The Ringstrasse, once the city's fortifications and now a fashionable boulevard, circles the district.
Leopoldstadt (2nd District) , once Vienna's Jewish quarter, is now a trendy area a short subway ride from the central city. Prater Park, Vienna's amusement park, is in this district as is the modern art museum and Augarten porcelain factory.
Landstrasse (3rd District) includes Stadtpark, Schwarzenberg Palace, Belvedere Palace, and several embassies and consulates. Stadtpark features lush lawns, playgrounds, and the excellent restaurant Steirereck im Stadtpark for Austrian cuisine.
Mariahilf (6th District) features the busy Mariahilferstrasse shopping street and the Naschmarkt produce and dining market as well as theaters and pubs. Vienna's aquarium is in this district, housed in a World War II air defense tower built by Hitler's engineers.
Neubau (7th District) includes the Spittelberg quarter, a lively cultural and upcoming trendy area. Bordering the MuseumsQuartier, this neighborhood's Christmas market is a popular winter destination. The large museum complex, formerly Imperial Stables, features bars, restaurants, shops, and an appealing outdoor area that attracts locals and tourists.
Hietzing (13th District) is home to Vienna's most popular tourist attraction, Schönbrunn Palace, and the Vienna Zoo. An elegant residential area with gorgeous 18th- and 19th-century summer residences, the district includes the Klimt Villa , with an exhibition of the artist's life and work.Döbling (19th District) borders the Vienna Woods and is home to exclusive residences as well as lush woodlands, wineries, and vine covered hills. Explore wineries or stop at a wine tavern. Hiking among hilly trails is popular here as well.
The climate of Vienna is continental with cold winters and moderately warm summers. Winter is cold and gray, with an average of 21 inches of snowfall each year. Snowfall is frequent, but generally not abundant.
January is the driest and coldest month, and July is the warmest and wettest. Hurricanes do not occur in Austria, and there is a chance of tornadoes during summer. Winter, December through February, is quite cold, and the weather starts warming in late March. Spring is mild and pleasant, and summer temperatures are warm, reaching into the 80s at times. Fall is mild, an ideal time to visit Vienna.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month. Average annual precipitation is 23.9 inches, with somewhat more rain occurring between May and August.
January 27°F - 37°F February 29°F - 42°F March 34°F - 50°F April 42°F - 61°F May 50°F - 69°F June 56°F - 75°F July 60°F - 80°F August 59°F- 79°F September 52°F - 69°F October 44°F - 58°F November 36°F - 47°F December 29°F - 38°F
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Sightseeing in Vienna
It’s quite hard to discover anywhere in central Vienna that doesn’t have something worth pointing at while going “Ooooh”.
But for a few ideas on how best to use your time in the city, try the reviews, descriptions, insider tips, photos and links in the articles below.
- An introduction to Vienna for tourists
- My personal top 10 for Vienna
- Museums in Vienna
- Churches in Vienna
- One-day itinerary suggestions
- What to do for free
- Vienna with kids
- Sightseeing buses
- Tours overview
- Follow in famous footsteps
- Movie locations
- Vienna then and now: historical photos
Jump to sections on:
- Old town & Hofburg
- Around the Ring
- Schönbrunn Palace area
- Danube & waterways
- Other major sites
- Seasonal sites (Christmas, etc.)
- Following the famous (musicians, artists, etc.)
The map shows you the five main sightseeing areas, with more detail below (with some extra bonus areas thrown in). Also consider my suggested self-guided walking tour route , if you want to take in many major sites in around 90+ minutes.
The old town & Hofburg Palace
(The Neue Burg)
This is the partly-pedestrianised historic centre of Vienna (purple in the map), where you’ll simply want to walk around and soak up the atmosphere and beautiful architecture.
Notable highlights are:
- Imperial Apartments (inside the Emperor’s home)
- Sisi Museum (the story of Empress Elisabeth)
- Silberkammer (full of court silver and porcelain)
- Imperial Treasury (with its royal jewels and religious relics)
- Heldenplatz and the Neue Burg (home to the national library, various museums, and important collections)
- Burggarten (park area with the Mozart monument )
- The Volksgarten park (with a beautiful rose garden)
- …and much more .
- Spanish Riding School (where you can see the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions train or perform)
- Albertina (a palace and renowned art museum – view the staterooms and the various top exhibitions on at any one time)
- Stephansdom cathedral (which dominates the city center landscape and is free to go partway inside, with ticketed options for full access , the South and North Towers, and other attractions)
- The Haus der Musik (museum dedicated to sounds and music, with dedicated small exhibitions on the Wiener Philharmoniker orchestra, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and other great “Viennese” composers)
- The Michaelerplatz square with its surrounding historical buildings, including the Loos House, Palais Herberstein, the Michaelerkirche, and one magnificent entrance to the Hofburg palace area. Consider, also, the Freyung , Am Hof , Josefsplatz and Judenplatz squares.
- A plague column (a curious-looking monument and the historical equivalent to antibiotics, but remarkably less effective in containing disease)
- Peterskirche (a beautiful baroque church just a short walk from Stephansdom)
- The Ankeruhr (an Art Nouveau mechanical clock and quite the curiosity)
- The Imperial Crypt (a little macabre, but the Kapuzinergruft houses the tombs of dozens of Emperors, Empresses and their relatives)
(The Kunsthistorisches Museum)
The grey area on the map covers a range of sights built around the giant Ringstraßen boulevard that encircles most of the old town. You can walk the more interesting parts fairly easily.
- The Kunsthistorisches Museum (one of the world’s greatest museums of art history, packed with various treasures from hundreds of years of Imperial acquisitions)
- The Natural History Museum (everything from geology to giraffes in one of the world’s most beautiful museums)
- The Staatsoper (the State Opera House and a splendid building in its own right)
- The Stadtpark (a lovely park with its own Otto Wagner-designed station and the famous golden Strauss statue)
- The MAK (museum of design and contemporary art, with wonderful temporary exhibitions, too)
- The Rathaus (the town hall, with the square in front a common venue for major events like the open-air summer film festival) with the Burgtheater national theatre opposite
- Parlament (Austria’s national parliament building)
- The Museumsquartier (modern art quarter with various museums and cultural spaces, including the Leopold Museum, Kunsthalle, Architecture Centre, and Museum of Modern Art)
- The old city walls (what’s left of the great fortifications that protected Vienna in centuries past)
(The main entrance to Schönbrunn Palace)
The astonishing summer palace of the Habsburgs, with a surrounding park and numerous surprises for the visitor (marked in yellow on the map).
- The palace gardens (a feast of colour and horticultural craftsmanship)
- Vienna Zoo (the world’s oldest zoo and home to giant pandas )
- The Gloriette (a lovely building put up mainly to improve the view from the palace)
- The Maze (probably don’t need to explain what this is)
- The Desert House (plants and animals from more arid parts of the world)
- The Palm House (a tropical house full of exotic plants)
- Wagenburg (the Imperial carriage museum)
- The Children’s Museum (where, for example, kids and adults can dress up as Archdukes and Archduchesses)
- …and much more
- The Technisches Museum (a museum of science and technology just outside the Schönbrunn complex)
(The Christmas market in front of Karlskirche)
Art lovers, in particular, will enjoy the Belvedere complex and surrounding area, full of Baroque palaces, gardens and art collections (marked in blue on the map).
- Upper Belvedere (palace, art museum and home to Klimt’s The Kiss)
- Lower Belvedere (ditto, but without The Kiss)
- Belvedere 21 (contemporary art)
- The Gardens (beautifully laid out between the palaces)
- The Botanic and Alpine Gardens (next to Belvedere and somewhere to find Edelweiss)
- Karlskirche (a giant baroque church. The square in front of it also hosts numerous seasonal events)
- Schwarzenbergplatz (the huge Soviet memorial and a wonderful lighted fountain )
- The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum (museum of military history with some historic exhibits, such as Napoleon’s coat and the car in which Franz Ferdinand was assassinated)
(The giant Ferris wheel)
The Prater is a huge parkland area and entertainment complex popular with locals (marked in red on the map). Notable highlights:
- The Riesenrad (the famous giant Ferris wheel and star of various movies like The Third Man)
- Madame Tussauds (the wax figure museum)
- A planetarium
- Open park area with long walks and cycle paths, meadows, water features, skateboard & mountain bike parks, playgrounds, and similar
Danube & other waterways
If you’ve been counting, this is area six and not marked on the map. But it’s worth mentioning that various water features and rivers provide opportunities for visitors: from simple hiking paths to watersports and beach bars.
- The Danube passes through the city a little away from the central area and has a long island running through its middle known as the Donauinsel.
- The Donauinsel is a popular recreational area, particularly in combination with the stretch of river (known as the Neue Donau) between the island and the northeast bank of the Danube. The Neue Donau has weirs at either end that stay closed except during major floods, so is like a giant lake.
- The self-contained and large Alte Donau lake adjacent to the Danube has several public lidos, boat hire, lakeside walks and restaurants, and more.
- In the centre, you have the Donaukanal (an arm of the Danube), home to street art, open-air bars (in summer), some unique architecture, landing stages for river trips, as well as cycling routes and footpaths.
Other major sights
(The Danube Tower)
There’s a lot to see in Vienna, and here are some other popular places to grab a sight to savour, perhaps a holiday snap or two, and even a snack to stave off sightseeing fatigue.
- The Donauturm observation tower (if you want to see everything in one go, then visit this for views across the river )
- Zentralfriedhof (the main cemetery, where the likes of Beethoven, Schubert and others are buried)
- Hundertwasserhaus (Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed several stand-out buildings in Vienna. This is the most famous. And, of course, there’s the Hundertwasser Museum , too)
- Haus des Meeres (an aquarium and vivarium in a converted flak tower)
- Hirschstetten Botanical Gardens (a free gardens with numerous themed areas, plenty of animals, playground, maze, tropical house and other surprises)
Visiting at christmas.
(Christmas lights on the Rathausplatz)
The city is hugely popular with visitors during late November and December. Discover seasonal events and attractions, explore Christmas customs, get visitor tips and shopping suggestions, and more in the Christmas in Vienna section.
For example, enjoy an insider view of the Christkindlmarkt and other main Christmas markets , or discover which one is best for your needs. Then get handy tips on how to make the most of your market visit. And once you’ve finished your Christmas punch , you can take a look at the city’s Christmas lights .
Visiting at New Year
(Fireworks at New Year)
Vienna fills up at the end of December, too. Get an overview of all the fun, games, events and more at the New Year in Vienna section.
For example, discover the Silvesterpfad trail used by revellers on New Year’s Eve, and then enjoy the New Year markets the next day (or before).
Visiting at Easter
(Decorated Easter egg at a market)
And no surprise to discover that the city attracts plenty of interest around Easter, which is why I have an Easter in Vienna section for you.
For example (and equally unsurprisingly), there are several Easter markets .
Finally, if you’re interested in all the locations associated with the great names that lived or worked in the city, such as Beethoven’s grave , then there are various musician, artist and imperial trails to follow. Notable examples:
- Strauss (II)
- Empress Elisabeth
- Otto Wagner
Last modified: August 28, 2023
Vienna Travel Guide
Courtesy of Christoph Hetzmannseder/Getty Images
Why Go To Vienna
History is at the heart of Vienna both literally and figuratively. The narrow streets of the Innere Stadt (Inner City) snake through antiquated buildings, providing an atmosphere so authentic that you almost expect a Vienna native like composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or psychologist Sigmund Freud to round a cobblestone corner and greet you with "g uten tag ." Extravagant baroque palaces from the Habsburg Monarchy loom over the city, just as Mozart's classical arias pour from contemporary cafes. If it's culture you seek, you'll find it here.
But there's more to this city than just music and monarchs. Vienna is also a great place to spend some cash, with independent bookstores competing for business alongside haute couture. There are also a surprising number of attractions for young ones, including an amusement park and a top-notch zoo. And although many Viennese retire early in the night, that doesn't mean you have to; sneak out to one of the bars along the city's Bermuda Triangle, or drop by one of the wine taverns skirting the Vienna Woods.
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- # 8 in Best Winter Vacations in Europe
- # 8 in Best Cheap European Honeymoon Destinations
- # 9 in Best Family Vacations in Europe
See All 8 Rankings
Best of Vienna
Best hotels in vienna.
- # 1 in Hotel Sacher Wien
- # 2 in Park Hyatt Vienna
- # 3 in Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere - a concept by Hyatt
Best Things to Do in Vienna
- # 1 in St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)
- # 2 in Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum)
- # 3 in Schönbrunn Palace
Chocolate workshop in Chocolate Museum Vienna BO-YO
from $ 38.01
Vienna Classical Concert at St. Peter’s Church
from $ 36.93
Hallstatt Day Trip from Vienna With Skywalk or Admont Abbey
from $ 145.54
Vienna Travel Tips
Best months to visit.
The best time to visit Vienna is from April to May or September to October. The mild weather in spring and fall brings mild crowds. Most visitors aim to enjoy the warm, sunny weather that Vienna experiences in the summer months. Between June and August, you can expect the city to fill up and room rates to skyrocket. December also sees a spike in tourism since many Europeans flock to the city for a taste of Christmas spirit served Viennese-style, but chilly temperatures can be a deterrent.
Weather in Vienna
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
What You Need to Know
Don't forget your dictionary German is the official language of Austria, and while it is possible to find English speakers in touristy areas, a dictionary or phrasebook will help lower the language barrier.
Forget the car Driving in Vienna can be a nightmare thanks to narrow streets, heavy traffic and limited parking. Unless you are planning to explore the Austrian countryside, you're better off forgoing the car in favor of public transit.
Sample the street food Street vendors in Vienna are known to offer exceptional quality food. Try a Viennese sausage – you won't regret it.
How to Save Money in Vienna
My home is your home Many Viennese rent out their houses to visitors as a means of making extra money, and often rates are much lower than hotel rates. This is especially true for longer stays.
Widen your hotel search Avoid properties within the Ringstrasse since they are the priciest. You'll find plenty of affordable digs scattered throughout the inner and outer suburbs.
Spring for the Vienna Card For 21.90 euros (or about $25), the Vienna Card lets you experience more than 200 city sites, restaurants and live performances (not to mention public transport). Each card is valid for 48 hours.
Culture & Customs
You will find that most Viennese tend to dress conservatively. If you are traveling on business, make sure to wear proper business attire, such as a dark-colored suit or dress.
If you're dining out in Vienna, it is polite to eat most of your food with your fork; a knife is used to hold food in place while using the side of a fork in place of a knife. If you are dining alongside Austrians, do not begin eating until the host says " Gesegnete Mahlzeit " (bless this meal) or " Guten Appetit " (enjoy your meal). It's not polite to leave food on your plate; however, if you're full, make sure to leave your knife and fork side by side on your plate. If you are invited to dinner, don't fight for the bill. Your host expects to pay. If you are paying the bill, gratuity – normally 10 percent – is usually already included. However, it is polite to round the bill up or leave an extra 5 percent for good service.
What to Eat
Dining on delectable Viennese cuisine is one of the city's major must-dos. But vegetarians beware: Much of Austrian cuisine centers on meat. Traditional Austrian taverns (known as beisls) serve up hearty portions of Tafelspitz (boiled beef), g o ulash (a rich stew made primarily from beef and potatoes) and w iener schnitzel (deep-fried, breaded veal). If you're looking for an authentic Austrian meal, recent visitors recommend Lugeck and Ofenloch , both of which are located in Innere Stadt . If you're looking to save some coin, though, you may want to avoid the Innere Stadt neighborhood. Instead, check out the streets just beyond the city center. Travelers recommend Motto in Weiden and Gmoakeller in Landstrasse. Over the past few years, Vienna has also seen the rise of international cuisines as well, ranging from Asian to Italian fare. No matter where you decided to dine, carry cash; some Viennese restaurants do not accept credit cards.
When it's time for dessert, cafes cater to customers with a sweet tooth, serving wide assortments of pastries like g ugelhupfs (marbled bundt cakes) , sacher-faschingskrapfens (sugared doughnuts) and apple strudel. The Viennese are also big fans of wine (more than 1,700 acres of vineyards exist within the city limits and the wine can be enjoyed in tasting rooms, bars and eateries) and strong beer.
Vienna is considered one of the safest capitals in Europe and it often appears highly on many best quality of life rankings. Still, travelers should use common sense and keep an eye out for petty theft. The Prater amusement park and mass transit are popular hunting grounds for pickpockets.
Getting Around Vienna
The best ways to get around Vienna are on foot and by public transportation. Many historic attractions can be found within the compact Innere Stadt and are easy to reach with just a sturdy pair of walking shoes. But if you are interested in exploring some of the more remote districts, the city's subway, bus and streetcar routes will get you where you need to go. Taxis are abundant as well. There are also several methods of public transportation connecting Vienna to the Vienna International Airport (VIE) – about 12 miles southeast of the city center – including the City Airport Train (which costs 11 euros for a one-way ride).
Entry & Exit Requirements
U.S. citizens can enter the country for up to 90 days without a visa. If you plan to stay longer, you must obtain the proper visa from the Austrian Embassy prior to departure. You will need a passport that is valid for at least six months after your return, however. For more information concerning entry and exit requirements for Austria, visit the U.S. State Department's website .
Beautiful Vienna is full of historic churches, insightful museums and colorful markets.
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Tourist Places in Vienna
Vienna, famous as the city of music, boasts of a rich musical legacy and some visually enthralling architecture. The magnificent architectures, lakes, vineyards and churches are among the best places to visit in Vienna. Also, the capital city of Austria is a must visit for cycling lovers and those connoisseurs of art. Go through the famous tourist attractions in Vienna and embrace an enchanting natural canvas.
St. Stephan’s Cathedral is one of the must visit Vienna tourist attractions. It is a very important religious place, standing on the ruins of two earlier churches. It is the place that has the seat of Vienna’s ArchBishop and is called mother church of Vienna’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese. The ancient gothic architecture of the church, inspired by the Romans is an awe-inspiring visual delight one must not give it a miss.
Prater is one of oldest public as well as amusement parks in the world, with its mention dating back to 1162 A.D. Also called wiener Prater, it features a Prater Stadium aka Ernst Hoek Stadium, Hauptallee - main alley, and the Krieau Stadium. It is a one-stop destination for art, rides, museums, fun games and much more.
A museumsquartier, which stands eighth in the list of the largest areas in the world, imparts a rich cultural heritage and magnificent artefacts in the form of Baroque structures as well as the latest architectures. The 60, 000 sq.m. area boasts of both ancient and modern museums like Natural History Museum, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Leopold museum, Albertina etc. are must visit tourist attractions in Vienna for the art lovers. The contemporary art lovers have an option to choose between the Mumok museum and Secession Building. Besides, there is a dance school, art, music studios and newsrooms, art learning classes for children etc.
Burgtheater forms another must visit Vienna tourist attractions. Moulded in ancient Italian style from the Renaissance era, this is Europe’s largest theatre. About 800 seasonal performances lure over 4, 00,000 people to this place. Besides the theatre artists, the magnificent architecture of the building also attracts historic art lovers to the Burg Theatre.
The imperial Crypt, the beautiful Donauturm, the famous public squares of Maria-Theresien-Platz and Heldenplatz, KunstHausWien etc. are the other must visit tourist attractions in Vienna. Capuchin Church and the Church of Jesuits are other best places to visit in Vienna for the religious pals.
The ancient palaces are other famous tourist places in Vienna. They include palaces like Hofburg – a building housing many museums while flaunting its baroque architecture , art collection at the 18 th Century Belvedere palace - and Schoenbrunn – another baroque masterpiece architecture featuring opulent interiors.
Other famous places in Vienna are Vienna State Opera , Mozarthaus and the Austrian National Library etc. Besides, there are other amazing places to visit in Vienna like the flea markets , exhibitions and art galleries, Naschmarkt – the humongous food market, Rathaus – the gothic styled city hall,
The picturesque landscapes here are a perfect natural canvas, having a perfect rejuvenating aura. Take a walk by the Oxbow lake surrounding, Kurpark Oberlaa, the beautiful gardens, which are one of the famous tourist attractions in Vienna. For those lovers, an evening walk across the mesmerising landscapes is preferred. Music and theatre shows, gardens and lakes here are the best honeymoon places in Vienna.
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Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien, Austria
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Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
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Austrian Parliament Building
Dr.-Karl-Renner-Ring 3, 1017 Wien, Austria
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Kreuzherrengasse 1, 1040 Wien, Austria
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Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
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Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria
St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna is also known by the name of Stephansdom, and is one of the most religious buildings in Austria . Built in Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles, it has been witness to many important events in the history of Austria and is one of the popular symbols of Vienna .
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Belvedere Palace in Vienna
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Wien, Austria
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National Theatre in Vienna
Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
The National Theater also goes by the name of The Burgtheater. It is located outside of the city hall at the famous Ring Boulevard. A tinge of history is attached to the formation of this place. Empress Maria went on to hand over this unusual dance parlour to a theatre owned company referred to as Sellier. In the year 1888,...
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Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
As remarked, the height of the tower is a whopping 97.9 m, and no way denying the fact that it is a symbol of Vienna. Vienna city hall is the official residence of the mayor and is the destination where the municipal and local government meeting. It is estimated that this building was built between the years 1872 to 1883 an...
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By Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN
Published Nov 13, 2023 11:31 AM PST | Updated Nov 13, 2023 1:04 PM PST
(CNN) — There’s nothing quite like a festive market to bring out the Christmas spirit in people.
While these events can be traced back to Vienna – the city’s first recorded December market was in 1298 – the tradition has spread across the world over the centuries.
From Germany, to Switzerland, to Singapore, to New York, it’s difficult to find a coveted destination that doesn’t hold an impressive annual advent market.
In fact, some have grown so popular, they’ve become tourist attractions in their own right.
Here’s our rundown of some of the top Christmas markets that are taking place around the world this year.
Wiener Christkindlmarkt, Austria
Christmas decorations and traditional Christmas market in front of Viena City Hall in Vienna, Austria. December 17, 2018. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
With reindeer rides, a giant Ferris wheel and a classic nativity scene to marvel at, Vienna’s magical spectacle encapsulates the festive spirit fantastically.
Although there are around 20 Christmas markets in the Austrian capital to choose from, Wiener Christkindlmarkt, or Rathausplatz, is one of its oldest and most traditional events.
Held in front of City Hall, the event, also known as Viennese Dream Christmas Market, also features a 150-square-meter children’s ice rink, while the famous Tree of Hearts, a giant maple tree decked out with hundreds of glittering hearts, is a hot favorite with visitors and a great photo opportunity.
There are also plenty of stallsoffering up tasty treats like Austrian sausages and gingerbread cookies, along with homemade Christmas punch.
Wiener Christkindlmarkt runs from November 10 to December 26.
Basel Christmas Market, Switzerland
Basel Christmas Market is made up of decorated stalls selling Christmas spices, decorations and candles. (Flavio Vallenari/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images)
It’s hard to find a destination that does Christmas better than Switzerland.
Most Swiss towns are pretty much taken over by festive markets at this time of year and the atmosphere is incredible. But Basel Christmas Market is the biggest and arguably the best around.
Separated into two different sections at Barfusserplatz and Munsterplatz, it’s made up of around over 150 fabulously decorated stalls selling Christmas spices, decorations and candles.
Family attractions include the Christmas fairytale forest at Munsterplatz with activities such as gingerbread and candle decorating, a star workshop and a festive train.
Attendees can also take a walk up the stairwell of St. Martin’s tower for incredible views of the lights illuminating the old town, or sip on some mulled wine at the 13-meter high Christmas pyramid on Barfusserplatz.
Basel Christmas Market opens on November 23 and is scheduled to run until December 23.
Strasbourg Christmas Market, France
One of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets, Strasbourg began back in 1570, but it’s evolved considerably since then.
Spread over more than 10 locations, including a section of the UNESCO world heritage site of Grande Île, the hugely popular market lights up the city with thousands of twinkling Christmas lights and festive ornaments.
Drawing in over two million people a year, the festive market features hundreds of wooden chalet stalls selling everything from decorations and presents to local Alsatian wine.
Place Klebe is probably its most popular spot thanks to the Great Christmas Tree on display.
But visitors will be treated to countless magical sights while wandering through the city’s narrow alleyways and pretty squares.
Strasbourg Christmas Market begins on November 24 and closes on December 24.
Brussels Winter Wonders, Belgium
This annual festive event has been lighting up the Belgium capital for over 20 years. (Laia Ros/Getty Images)
Brussels really comes to life at Christmas time thanks to Winter Wonders, which is more akin to a festival than a market.
One of Belgium’s biggest and most popular events, the annual extravaganza extends across the Bourse, Place de la Monnaie, Grand Place, Place Sainte Catherine and Marche aux Poissons.
A light and sound show, ice skating, and fairground rides are among the activities to enjoy, while visitors can also browse through about 200 or so chalets serving glühwein, Belgian beers and waffles and stare in wonder at the enormous Christmas tree erected in Grand Place.
Brussels Winter Wonders will run from November 24 to December 31.
Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square Christmas markets, Prague, Czech Republic
To say the city of Prague goes all out at Christmas is something of an understatement.
The Czech capital is the very definition of a winter wonderland during the festive period.
While there’s no shortage of markets throughout the city, the main ones can be found in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.
Thankfully these spots are only a few minutes’ walk apart, so revelers can easily visit both in a day.
Old Town Square provides endless entertainment in the form of live shows, dance performances and creative workshops, while Wenceslas Square is great for handmade gifts and local treats like klobasa (Czech sausage) and mulled wine.
The markets will be open from December 2 to January 6, 2024.
Fira de Santa Llucia, Barcelona
Set around Barcelona Cathedral, Fira de Santa Llucia has been around since 1786. (Cisco Pelay/Alamy Stock Photo)
Dating back to 1786, Fira de Santa Llucia has grown from a one-day event to commemorate the feast day of Santa Llucia, which falls on December 13, to a three-week fair.
Held right outside Barcelona Cathedral, the bustling market is separated into four different sections.
The first is nativity and figurines, where visitors can pick up nativity scene type decorations and figurines. Greenery and plants is packed with both natural and artificial trees and various types of plants.
The crafts section features handmade products and jewelry, while simbombes is designated for musical instruments.
There are also many festive activities like storytelling, a Christmas parade, and the caga tio, an enormous pinata-style Christmas log that spills out candy and gifts when beaten with a stick.
Fira de Santa Llucia will be taking place from November 24 to December 23.
I Mercati Natale, Piazza Santa Croce, Florence
The Christmas market in Santa Croce square, Florence, Tuscany, Italy, Europe. (Photo by: Stefano Cellai/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
There’s much to see at this enchanting market, but nothing can top the beautiful backdrop supplied by Santa Croce’s Franciscan Basilica.
Although this traditional fair is transported from Heidelberg, Germany to Florence every year, it’s a very Italian affair in many ways thanks to the scenery and the many Italian treats, such as panforte, for sale.
However, there’s certainly no shortage of gingerbread, strudel and traditional Heidelberg Lebkuchen cookies.
Those who take a walk to the nearby Piazza del Duomo will be treated to a magnificent nativity scene, as well as an impressive Christmas tree that’s lit up ahead of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
I Mercati Natale begins on November 18 and runs to December 17.
Advent in Zagreb, Croatia
It’s easy to see why Zagreb was voted the “best Christmas market destination” in travel portal European Best Destinations’ online poll for three consecutive years.
Made up of around 25 Christmas markets spread across the Croatian capital, Advent in Zagreb is a magical sight.
Think live nativity scenes, ice sculpture carvings, outdoor gigs, pop-up bars and a Christmas tram complete with Santa and his elves.
Advent in Zagreb also has an area devoted to “fooling around” (or “fuliranje”) where you’ll find delighted revelers dancing in the street while eating street food and listening to live entertainment.
Advent in Zagreb 2023 is scheduled to run from December 2 to January 7, 2024.
Christmas in Tivoli, Copenhagen, Denmark
Rumored to be the inspiration for Disneyland, this Danish amusement park and pleasure garden is a dazzling place to visit any time of year.
But you’ll struggle to find anywhere as enchanting as Tivoli Gardens during the festive period.
With over 1,000 beautifully decorated Christmas trees adorning the beautiful grounds, and everything from fairground rides to a traditional Pixie Band for entertainment, it’s a winter experience like no other.
The annual Lucia procession on December 13, where more than 100 girls process through the gardens carrying candles and singing to mark St. Lucia’s Day, is a particular highlight, along with the firework displays that take place between December 25 and 26, as well as New Year’s Eve.
Christmas in Tivoli is taking place from November 19 to December 31. (The park will be closed on December 24).
Tallinn Christmas Market, Estonia
Estonia's Tallinn Christmas Market has been held in the Town Hall Square since 1441. (jaanalisette/iStockphoto/Getty Images)
The Estonian capital’s annual affair is one of the more modern European Christmas markets.
Set inside Tallinn’s Town Hall Square, it’s packed full of stalls with traditional Estonian cuisine, artisan bread and handicrafts for sale.
On the entertainment front, there are carousels, a winter grotto and a Santa who rolls up on a sleigh complete with reindeer.
Visitors are also treated to regular performances by dance troupes and choirs.
But as with many such markets, the Christmas tree is the main event. Tallinn’s tree has been displayed here since 1441.
Tallinn Christmas Market 2023 is due to take place from December 1 to January 7, 2024.
Skansen’s Christmas Market, Stockholm
Stockholm isn’t exactly lacking when it comes to Christmas markets, but none are more traditional than Skansen.
Set on the island of Djurgarden in the world’s oldest open-air museum, it’s a wonderful exhibit of Swedish culture with some added yuletide magic.
The historical houses on display in the museum are decked out in colorful decorations for the occasion and all the tables inside are set up for Christmas dinner.
Visitors can make their own decorations at Christmas workshops, take part in regular craft demonstrations or join in with the dancing games around the tree at Bollnäs Square, Skansen’s main site .
Skansen’s Christmas Market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 24 until December 17.
Tuomaan Markkinat, Helsinki
Tuomaan Markkinat -- the oldest outdoor Christmas market in the Finnish capital. (Ryhor Bruyeu/Alamy Stock Photo)
This wonderfully Scandinavian Christmas market is held in Helsinki’s Senate Square, near the Emperor Alexander II statue.
Tuomaan Markkinat’s centerpiece is a vintage carousel, but the countless vendors selling traditional Christmas delicacies, glogi, Finland’s take on mulled wine, and handicrafts are also a big draw.
Younger attendees can visit Santa Claus, who has his own wooden cabin here, and join festive activities like Christmas cookie decorating.
The market’s food court is particularly impressive, with a host of top eateries to choose from.
Tuomaan Markkinat is set to run from December 1 to December 22.
Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas Market, Budapest, Hungary
Budapest has two main festive markets – St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas market, or Advent Bazilika , and Vorosmarty Square Christmas market.
The former takes place in front of the famous basilica, where crowds gather to watch the regular 3D light shows that are projected onto its facade.
In addition, there are around 150 stalls with vendors selling sweet treats, wine and arts and crafts.
Meanwhile, the Vorosmarty Square market is positioned in the heart of the city and attracts over 800,000 visitors annually.
Its main highlight is usually a giant advent calendar that reveals a new window display on a daily basis from December 1 to 23, although the fantastic Hungarian foods that line its stalls – langos and chimney cake are also particular standouts.
The markets will open on November 17 and close on January 1, 2024.
Christkindlesmarkt and Gendarmenmarkt, Germany
Gendarmenmarkt is one of Berlin's most enchanting annual festive markets. (Massimo Borchi/Atlantide Photo/Stockbyte Unreleased/Getty Images)
Open-air winter street markets have long been associated with Germany, and the European country is home to some of the oldest and most visited festive markets.
Capital city Berlin has around 80 to choose from, but Gendarmenmark is perhaps its most renowned.
Positioned between the Franzosischer Dom and Deutscher Dom, it’s a maze of wooden huts with Bratwurst, mulled wine and ginger bread for sale, along with unique Christmas gifts.
At night, visitors can enjoy nightly concerts with dance and musical performances.
Over in Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second-largest city, the famous Christkindlesmarkt has been around since the 16th century.
During the Christmas period, around 200 stands are erected in the city’s central market square and the whole area is abuzz with activity.
The market usually draws in around two million people every year and is undoubtedly one of Nuremberg’s annual highlights.
Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt 2023 kicks off on December 1 and ends on December 24.
Gendarmenmarkt opens on November 27 and is set to close on December 31.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, London
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the most highly anticipated winter events in the UK capital.
The festive favorite, which began in 2005, brings in huge crowds every year thanks to its 200-plus rides, including a 70-meter-high big wheel, mulled wine stations and an outdoor skating rink, which happens to be the largest in the UK.
Visitors can also take part in ice sculpting workshops, watch a circus troupe, listen to live music at the lively Fire Pit bar, or tuck into some of the many foods on offer at the Street Food Village.
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is scheduled to open on November 17 and will continue until January 1, 2024
Krakow Christmas Market, Poland
Krakow Christmas market, held in Rynek Glowny near St. Mary's Basilica, draws in big crowds every year. (Matyas Rehak/Alamy Stock Photo)
Stretched across a huge section of Rynek Glowny, the Polish city’s central square, Krakow Christmas Market is among the largest in Europe.
Historic landmark St. Mary’s Basilica serves as a stunning backdrop to the yearly event, which has been around since the early 14th century, as does the Renaissance Cloth Hall.
Revelers can tuck into Polish delicacies such as kieÅbasa (sausage,) shop for handcrafted gifts or treats, while taking in live music from folk bands and carol singers.
The market also hosts a nativity competition in which participants, including school children and local artists, create small nativity scenes, or cribs, which are displayed at the statue of Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, situated in the square, before a winner is chosen.
Krakow Christmas Market will be held from November 24 to January 1, 2024.
Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Visitors walk through a tunnel of lights during Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore on December 11, 2020. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Now in its 10th year, Singapore’s Christmas Wonderland is continuing to grow in popularity.
Staged at the famous Gardens by the Bay nature park, the annual event, which lasts for around four weeks, covers more than 27,000 square meters and is separated into three areas – Supertree Grove, Frosty’s Fairground at The Meadow, and Gingerbread Grove – all packed with attractions.
From fairground rides, to a Christmas train, to light and sound shows, to carnival games, to a life-sized gingerbread house lit up by candy canes, to live performances, there’s plenty of activities to choose from.
The 20-meter tall Spalliera, a magnificent design inspired by Mesola Castle in north Italy is one of the main highlights, along with the stunning Walk of Lights, which is illuminated by around 75,000 bulbs.
Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay opens on December 1 and closes on January 1, 2024
The Distillery Winter Village, Toronto
The Distillery District Winter Village in Toronto will kick off with a tree-lighting ceremony on November 16. (Scott Heaney/iStock Editorial/Getty Images)
Formerly known as the Toronto Christmas Market, the Distillery Winter Village is an intimate and charming take on the traditional European festive market.
Held in the historic Distillery District, it features outdoor shopping cabins and food vendors, Christmas carol sing-a-longs, a gingerbread hunt and a 50-foot Christmas tree.
Visitors will be able to find everything from artisanal food, handcrafted gifts and festive drinks at the numerous stalls here.
The Distillery Winter Village 2023 will be open daily (other than December 25) from November 16 to the New Year.
Winter Village at Bryant Park, New York
People ride ice-bumper cars at The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park on January 14, 2022, in New York City. Despite a rise in COVID-19 cases, the bumper cars season, which usually happens in January-February, returned at Bryant Park in 2022 after being canceled in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
Each and every year, Manhattan’s Bryant Park is transformed into a magnificent wonderland for the Winter Village.
The renowned open-air market is a wonderful sight to behold, with over 150 custom-designed kiosks and a 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink that’s free to use provided you have your own skates.
Its rinkside bar and food hall The Lodge provides an eclectic mix of eateries, along with an outdoor beer garden and a cocktail bar.
Outside the Winter Village, the Josephine Shaw Lowell Fountain is at its most beautiful during winter time, when it regularly freezes over.
The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park opened on October 27 and is scheduled to run until March 3, 2024.
Wayne Wietbrock, a retired farmer from Lowell, Indiana, shops for Christmas ornaments at Christkindlmarket Chicago on December 4, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois. Christkindlmarket Chicago is a German-themed outdoor market open during the Christmas shopping season in Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop. Vendors sell gifts, crafts, ornaments and traditional German food at the market. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
First launched in 1996, Christkindlmarket Chicago takes inspiration from the historic Christkindelmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, bringing a taste of traditional German Christmas markets to the ‘Windy City’.
Now staged across three locations around Chicago, Daley Plaza, Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field and RiverEdge Park in Aurora, the hugely popular market provides live entertainment alongside a multitude of stalls selling everything from bratwurst and hot spiced wine, to hand-crafted ornaments.
Admission is free, but those attending the Daley Plaza market who are keen to skip the crowds have the option to purchase a $25 fast-entry pass on weekends.
Christkindlmarket Chicago runs from November 17 to December 24.
Information correct at the time of publishing.
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The Happiness Function
15 Best Places in Europe to Experience the “Christmas Feels”
Posted: November 10, 2023 | Last updated: November 10, 2023
Summer may still be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for Christmas’s festivities.
These 15 European places offer only the best and most vibrant “Christmas feels” that will have you singing Christmas carols days later.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is up there as one of Europe’s best Christmas destinations. The Christmas markets are open daily, plenty of pubs and restaurants to dine at, and the grand concert halls, churches, and concert houses host festive performances over this time of year.
2. Vienna, Austria
If Vienna doesn’t give you those warm “Christmas feels,” no European city will. There are busy and exciting Christmas markets to browse and Advent concerts to watch. What makes this city a top choice is Austria’s heart winter cuisine.
3. Salzburg, Austria
With a glass of Glühwein to warm your belly, walking the Christmas markets in Salzburg is the ultimate Christmas destination. Take a walk around the Old Town, enjoying the beautifully decorated homes along the streets, ice skating in Mozart Square, and find Salzburg’s largest Christmas Market at the Salzburg Cathedral.
4. Krakow, Poland
Christmas is a significant festival in Poland and holds an important religious significance to the citizens. Although it is a great country to visit any time of the year, its Christmas markets and warm mulled wine make it the perfect Christmas destination.
5. Innsbruck, Austria
Bite into a warm, fresh donut flavored with sauerkraut, take in the jolly Christmas carols, and marvel at the festive tree lights. The medieval alleys of Innsbruck are turned into a magical winter wonderland, and the Christmas lights cast their magical glow.
6. Munich, Germany
Bratwurst and mulled wine leave their scents along the Munich streets, the shop windows glisten with Christmas lights, and festive craft stalls beckon you to find a Christmas keepsake. Munich is also home to the world’s most extensive collection of nativity scenes.
7. Nuremberg, Germany
Christkindlesmarkt is one of the world’s most famous and oldest Christmas markets. The stalls sell gingerbread, delicious Spekulatius, almond cookies, and handmade Christmas decorations, creating that happy holiday feeling.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
A very merry place to visit during Christmas is Copenhagen. Spend a morning at Broen’s Ice Rink, which overlooks the harbor, and stuff yourself with delectable Christmas Danish food. Christmas beer is a must when visiting this city for the holiday.
9. Bavaria, Germany
Christmas in Bavaria is a truly festive affair. Whether held next to a peaceful lakeside or a princely castle, each market has its own magical feeling. When the mountains are snow-capped, and the old buildings are twinkling light-adorned, you can’t help but get into the Christmas spirit.
10. Berlin, Germany
One traveler described Christmas in Berlin as “so incredibly magical, warm (despite the cold), and awesome. I really thought I had hit the maximum Christmas wholesomeness.” Berlin transforms into a Christmas wonderland with its markets, decorated squares, streets, and concerts.
11. Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, highly regarded as a Christmas destination, is known as the ‘Capitale de Noel. Twinkling lights adorn the streets, 13 markets to wet your Christmas appetite, and you may even spot a polar bear if you’re lucky.
12. Zurich, Switzerland
Described as ‘enchanting,’ Zurich is as Christmassy as they come. Let the mulled wine warm your belly, the Christmas carols set the mood, and visit a pageant or two because it’s Christmas!
13. Rovaniemi, Finland
There is no more festive place to spend Christmas than in Santa Clause Village, also known as Rovaniemi. It has been dubbed Santa’s official hometown, and you can meet Santa every day of the year, dine at the Christmas House Restaurant, and spend a night in his Igloos.
14. Colmar, France
Colmar is one of the best Christmas destinations in France, with six Christmas markets with unique specialties and attractions. You must visit Petite Venise, where the streets and buildings are lined with stunning and festive lights.
15. Brussels, Belgium
The light display at Brussel’s Grand Place will leave you breathless. The Grand Place is beautiful year-round but never as magical as it is during Christmas.
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Where indicated, some images courtesy of Depositphotos.com .
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