What to visit in Vienna?
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Rich history and culture, beautifully preserved architecture, a lot of greenery, and various things to do - that is what attract tourists to visit Vienna. Famous for its opera, royal palace, and elegant coffee shops. Considered one of the best European cities to travel to. Perfect for couples, groups of friends, and families but also solo travelers. There are so many reasons to visit Vienna and we are sure this article will convince you to plan your trip there right away. Learn about the top things to do in Vienna and useful tips on how to travel there.
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What not to miss?
Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens
One of the most iconic buildings of Vienna is Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn). The royal palace is an example of stunning baroque architecture with beautiful details. It was built in XVII–XVIII century and it’s not only a monument that amazes with its outside but it is also a very important object for the history of Austria. This palace was a place where all the important political events happened and decisions were taken. Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria used Schloss Schönbrunn as a summer residency. The palace is surrounded by splendid gardens designed in the french style which are one of the top places to visit in Vienna. The palace has 1441 rooms and 45 are open to the public. The interiors are in the Rococo style and decorated with Czech crystal mirrors. Some of the rooms are considered to be one the most beautiful in the world. In 1996 the palace was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is definitely a place that you can’t miss when visiting Vienna!
Another palace was very important for Austrian history, politics, and culture. It was used as winter residency and the main place of work for emperors and politicians
Today, the Hofburg Palace is the seat of the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, great museums, and other cultural world famous institutions. The construction of the Hofburg palace and the park that surrounds it began in 1240. Since 1275 it was the seat of the Habsburgs (for more than six centuries) and the official residence of every Austrian ruler. This very famous construction and the vast complex of buildings, parks, and museums are perhaps the most historically significant Vienna and Austria palaces.
Belvedere Palace consists of two buildings separated by a French-style garden and a series of statues of sphinxes. Upper Belvedere (Oberes) was a place dedicated to official events, celebrations, and banquets. Lower palace (Unteres) was a summer residency for the rulers. Inside we can visit the wonderful Marble Hall, Golden Gabinet, Marble Gallery, and other rich and beautiful rooms. During the second world war, a great part of the building was demolished but then reconstructed amazingly.
Vast public square with a great monument of Empress Maria Theresa which is a characteristic point on the map of Vienna. It is located in the neighborhood of Hofburg Palace and has two of the most important museums in Austria - Kunsthistorisches Museum and Naturhistorisches Museum. The tribute to the Empress is a statue of her situated on the throne and surrounded by great personages of her times such as Gluck, Mozart, Haydn, and numerous generals on horseback.
Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) is a house for the Habsburg Royal Family art collection that contains world-class masterpieces. In the museum which is also an incredibly marvelous building, we can see a great collection of Dutch, Italian, and Spanish paintings. In Kunsthistorisches we can admire the art pieces made by Raphael, Titan, Velazquez, Bruegel, Caravaggio, Vermeer. Most of the masterpieces are Baroque, Flemish, and late Italian Renaissance paintings, however, the museum offers also a collection of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts.
Museum of Natural History
Naturhistorisches Museum is a great collection of around 30 thousand artifacts that previously were bought by the imperial family. The exhibitions contain different natural and human-made relics like extinct species, fossils, shells, and figurines. The most famous and attractive visitor is the 29,500-year-old small (11 centimeters) figure "Venus of Willendorf". It was founded in 1908 in the Wachau of Lower Austria. This Stone Age relic is one of the most important archaeological findings. You can admire this “pearl” in the "Venus Display" next to another breathtaking relict - the 36,000-year-old statue of “Venus from Galgenberg” discovered in 1988 also in Austria.
Vienna State Opera
Wiener Staatsoper is one of the most famous and most important opera houses in the world. It offers a diverse opera and ballet program. The most famed names perform on the Vienna Opera stage. The Vienna Philharmonic has been awarded the title of one of the five best orchestras in the world. The building’s construction started in 1861 and it was a very controversial project for the Viennese. Many did not like it, but over the years it gained importance and its neoclassical style became an icon of Vienna. During the war, the building was bombed but later with the financial help of the townspeople was rebuilt. Today, you can not only go for a spectacle but also visit the interior of the Vienna State Opera. It is one of the favorite attractions of tourists.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
Stephansdom is the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, the most important religious building in the city, and a famous tourist destination. This church has a multi-colored roof and stunning architectonical details. It’s located in the city center so it’s very easy to see while walking around the most important attractions of Vienna.
St Charles’s Cathedral
Karlskirche was built in 1737 and it’s another very important church in the capital of Austria. Its baroque style leaves the visitors amazed. The characteristic two columns are a reference to Solomon’s Temple and are inspired by the Roman style. St Charles’s Cathedral is another outstanding and very important monument in Vienna.
One of the most famous, beautiful but also busiest streets in the capital of Austria. Graben Street is known as the shopping street with a lot of famous brands and fashion houses. Located between elegant and magnificent buildings is a perfect avenue for a walk. On Graben Street is also located the Plague Column also known as Trinity Column which is a memorial to the Great Plague epidemic in 1679.
Vienna City Haul
Weiner Rathaus is a neo-gothic building that catches the eye with its amazing architecture. It is one of the most important and monumental buildings and also the seat of the actual city government.
Vienna's Museum Quartier
Last but not least - Vienna's Museum Quartier! It’s the perfect place for anybody that likes museums, galleries, and the art atmosphere. But not only! This great place offers also restaurants, coffee shops, book shops, and art-connected events. The complex of museums, art galleries, and restaurants is 60000 m² which makes it the biggest place of this kind in the world. Every year over 3 million of tourists visit Vienna's Museum Quartier so make sure you will not miss it. It is a very popular attraction for a reason!
What else to visit?
The Prater or The Wurstelprater is an amusement park with history. It is dating back to the time of the Austrian Empire. It is a great place to have fun and experience something different than historical monuments. You can find their various rollercoasters, rides, and much more. Also, you can enjoy great street food and buy some souvenirs. The great thing about the Prater is that you don’t pay the entrance fee but each attraction has its price. If you are not a fan of adrenaline you can just go there and watch other people having fun and feel the atmosphere of the place.
The most famous market in Vienna with around 120 stands that offer various dishes from around the world. You can try amazing Austrian cuisine but also other very good quality food from Asia, Europe, and South America. It’s a place to enjoy and hang out with friends. It became very popular not only among young people. Saturday in Naschmarkt became a tradition for all.
A house with a colorful and a bit witty look designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It is located in the Landstraße. It’s a very interesting place to visit, very different from all other tourist spots in Vienna.
Vienna Zoo is the oldest existing zoo in the world and also the most modern and considered the most beautiful. In 1996 it was even inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It’s famous for having over 700 species of animals and the gift from the People's Republic of China - the giant pandas. Visitors can see also giraffes, lions, turtles, crocodiles, monkeys, hundreds of fish species, and endemics from Australia. Vienna Zoo is a place with a mission and anyone who likes this kind of attraction should visit it,
How to travel there?
As Vienna is the capital city it’s quite easy to travel there depending on which is your “point A”. The fastest way is of course by plane. The airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat) operates low-fare and national airlines and the choice of destinations is very wide. You can easily find the flight all year round adjusting it to your price range and the dates. Once you get to the airport you can find trains and buses that will take you to the city center.
Vienna also offers a lot of national and international bus connections. The best option is to travel from neighboring countries or big cities in central Europe. If you are traveling from farther destinations consider catching a plane as the bus journey might be very long and tiring.
Another great option if you travel from central Europe is a train. The biggest cities like Berlin, Warsaw, Cracov, Prague, and Bratislava offers comfortable train connection. If you book your ticket early enough you can get it at a lower price. Also, Interrail pass is a great option and if you want to have a great adventure visiting top cities in Europe you should also put Vienna on your list.
Going by car to Vienna could also be a good idea if you are coming from nearby cities or countries. It’s a great option to do a road trip and visit Vienna among other places. However, coming with a car you should consider traffic in the city and paid parking so moving inside the city might be more comfortable and cheaper with public transportation.
When to travel there?
Vienna is a great option to travel all year long however summer months are the most crowded ones. According to that spring and early autumn would be the best time to go there. Although winter time is also a very wonderful idea because of Vienna's famous Christmas markets that create an amazing atmosphere in the city. So whenever you find an affordable offer to travel - Vienna is always a good idea!
It is commonly known that Vienna is not the cheapest destination to travel to in Europe. However, these big cities still give a lot of options. Depending on your preferences you can find as well a hostel which price starts at around 20€ and a hotel for 150€. For public transport, you will pay 2,40€ per ride or 8€ for 24h ticket. Restaurants are not very cheap there and the meal will cost you 15-20€ in an average good restaurant. For entrance to the museums and tourist attractions, you will pay also from 10€ to 20€. Although Vienna is a must-see in Europe and it is possible to visit it not spending a lot of money if you choose budget options.
What to eat?
The Schnitzel - is one of Austria's national dishes and probably the most famous. It’s a crispy big veal cutlet. Fired on a pan with bread crumbs until golden. Very simple and delicious. Typically garnished with lemon and fresh parsley. It’s a must-try in Vienna.
The Sachertorte is next to the schnitzel another proud symbol of Vienna’s food. Dense, very chocolate sponge cake. Thin layers of cake are covered with apricot jam and the whole cake is covered with chocolate. In 1832, Prince Metternich asked his court kitchen to create a special dessert. Due to the illness of the chef, it fell to the 16-year-old apprentice Franz Sacher to invent something. He created the Sachertorte, which now is famous all over the world.
Vienna is a very lively city which offers a lot of cultural events. It is known as the city of music and culture. Every month has something to discover and so in every part of the year, you can find exciting events that await you in Vienna. Here you can learn about the most interesting and famous ones.
New Year in Vienna
If you think about spending New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day in the capital of Austria it’s a very good idea because of the numerous events that take place there at that time. For New Year’s Eve, you can buy an entrance for the Rathaus ball but be ready to pay at least 300€ which of course not everyone can afford. Another great idea is just to wander around the city and the main street as a lot of concerts and events are organized on the street for free. On the first day of the year in Vienna Opera House take place the world-famous New Year's Concert in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. The event is transmitted in over 90 countries in the world and to buy the tickets which prices range between 35 € and 1200 € and there is a lottery to buy them. But at that time you can find a lot more classical music concerts for example in St Charles’s Cathedral or in St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Vienne Ice World
While visiting Vienna, between mid of January to early March, one of the best things to do is to go ice-skating! This Viennese traditional winter activity is even more than being on ice but the whole atmosphere around. The big ice rink is located in front of Rathaus and in the area you can find a lot of food and hot wine stands.
The Vienna Marathon
Anyone who likes sport can join the Vienna Marathon. A big event that unites running lovers. If you are one that would be a great idea to combine visiting the city with this sports activity. But you don’t have to run marathons to participate. There are also different distances like the half marathon and 10km. The Vienna Marathon takes place every year in April.
Summer night concert
Classical music is not only for ones that can afford to go to concerts in State Opera. During the summer the city of Vienna organizes a Summer night concert which is an event of classical live music performances for free. The world-class musicians come to Schönbrunn Palace’s Garden to give a great concert to everyone that can come. It’s a great opportunity but as it’s free you should come a bit before - the park closes if it reaches its capacity. Save the date 8.06.2023!
Wiener Symphoniker at the MQ
Another fee-free concert by the world-famous orchestra. It is located in a lively, artsy area of MuseumsQuartier. The MQ courtyard has plenty of bars and restaurants, too so you can enjoy not only great music but also amazing food.
Rathausplatz Film Festival
Another amazing event during the summer is - Rathausplatz Film Festival. Located in front of Rathaus big screen with a lot of seats where free showings of opera, concerts, and gigs are emitted. This free event is a great alternative for summer nights in Vienna not only for locals but also tourists.
The Vienna Beer festival
It is commonly known that Austria has to offer a wide range of great beers. In September in Vienna is organized the Beer Festival which is simply an outdoor event with a large number of brewery stands, food, and music. This event is a great opportunity to try local beer and food, explore new tastes, and simply have fun with friends.
The Viennale Film Festival
One of the most famous and Europe’s top film festivals. It takes place at the end of October. During the event, a lot of award-winning and alternative movies are emitted. Don’t worry if you don’t speak German - films are usually in English or at least with English subtitles. If you love watching movies The Viennale is an event to attend!
We can’t imagine Vienna without Weihnachtsmarkt. Cold December evenings spent wandering around Christmas markets. The event is full of great food, hot wine, and a Christmas atmosphere. The tradition of Weihnachtsmarkt is long and every year it attracts a lot of tourists that want to feel its wonderful vibe.
This is the end of the Vienna guide. We believe that you got inspired to travel and this article will help you to plan your trip there. It's a great city and we are sure you will be amazed by it. We also have other places for you to explore, see our guides to Bern, Zurich, or Sevilla. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases.