The Best 20 Things to do in Vienna
Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a city that perfectly marries its storied past with a dynamic and modern present. Often referred to as the “City of Music” because of its rich musical heritage, Vienna offers a unique blend of imperial traditions and stunning modern architecture. Here are 20 must-do activities when visiting this Central European masterpiece.
Schönbrunn Palace Tour: This former imperial summer residence boasts a whopping 1,441 rooms. With its exquisite Baroque architecture, the palace and its gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dive into history or simply marvel at the beautifully manicured gardens.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral: As one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, this cathedral is a testament to Gothic architecture. Climb its tower for an unforgettable panoramic view of the city.
Vienna State Opera: Attending an opera or ballet performance here is a must. If you’re on a budget, standing tickets are available at a fraction of the usual price.
Belvedere Palace: This historic building complex consists of two Baroque palaces and houses the Austrian Gallery. Be sure to see Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” a world-renowned masterpiece.
Indulge in Coffeehouse Culture: Spend an afternoon in iconic coffeehouses like Café Central or Café Sacher. Enjoy a slice of the famous Sachertorte with your melange (a traditional Viennese coffee).
Ride the Giant Ferris Wheel: Located in the Prater amusement park, this wheel offers a romantic view of the city, especially during sunset.
Hofburg Palace: Explore the winter residence of the Habsburg dynasty and visit the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection.
MuseumsQuartier: Dive into contemporary art and culture in this complex, which houses renowned institutions such as the Leopold Museum and MUMOK.
Vienna Woods: For a change of pace, venture into this forested highland that was once the hunting ground for royalty. It’s perfect for hiking and appreciating nature.
Hundertwasserhaus: Admire this apartment house’s unique and colorful architecture, a delightful departure from the city’s predominant Baroque and Gothic styles.
Danube Island: Stretching 21km, this island offers a plethora of activities, from cycling and rollerblading to swimming and sunbathing.
Visit a Heuriger: Traditional wine taverns where you can taste local wines, often accompanied by live traditional music and hearty Austrian dishes.
Albertina Museum: Home to one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world, it has works ranging from Monet to Picasso.
Attend a Ball: If visiting during the ball season (January to March), attending one is a unique experience. The Opera Ball is the most prestigious, but numerous other balls offer a similar magical experience.
Kunsthistorisches Museum: One of the world’s foremost museums, it holds the Habsburgs’ extensive collections, including pieces by Vermeer, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Velázquez.
The Spanish Riding School: Watch the world-famous Lipizzaner horses perform in a ballet of equestrian skill.
Naschmarkt: Vienna’s largest and most traditional market offers a mix of Austrian and international specialties.
Karlskirche: This Baroque church features a grand dome and a panoramic elevator, offering spectacular views.
Vienna Zoo: Located within Schönbrunn Palace gardens, it’s the world’s oldest zoo. It’s home to giant pandas, tigers, orangutans, and many more.
Burgtheater: Attend a performance at the Austrian National Theatre, one of the most important German language theatres in the world.
Vienna is a city of grandeur, history, and vibrant life. From the echoing footsteps of emperors to the melodies of world-class orchestras, every corner has a story. Whether you’re wandering through historic streets, attending a glamorous ball, or simply enjoying a slice of Sachertorte in a classic coffeehouse, Vienna offers an unforgettable experience that resonates deeply with all who visit. This list captures just a glimpse of the myriad of attractions the city holds. Dive in, and let Vienna reveal its many treasures to you.
While the aforementioned landmarks and activities are quintessential to any Vienna trip, there’s more to discover. Here are a few lesser-known, yet equally mesmerizing, experiences that deepen your connection to Vienna:
The Clock Museum: A haven for horologists, this museum, tucked away in the city’s heart, features a mesmerizing collection of timepieces spanning centuries.
Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery): It might seem grim, but it’s one of Europe’s largest cemeteries and is the final resting place for famous figures like Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert. Its leafy avenues are a serene place for a reflective stroll.
Kunst Haus Wien: Founded by the artist Hundertwasser, this museum celebrates his unique architectural and artistic style, combining color, whimsy, and environmental awareness.
Third Man Museum: A tribute to the classic 1949 film “The Third Man,” which was set in Vienna. Dive deep into film memorabilia and the post-war history of the city.
Freud Museum: Visit the former practice and home of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Dive deep into his life, works, and the evolution of his groundbreaking theories.
Augarten: This Baroque park, while being a peaceful retreat, also houses some of the city’s WWII flak towers – massive concrete fortifications that serve as a stark reminder of the city’s tumultuous 20th-century history.
The Vienna Woods Thermal Spa: For relaxation, head to this spa, which offers therapeutic thermal waters, steam baths, and various wellness treatments, ensuring you’re rejuvenated for further adventures.
The Imperial Butterfly House: Located within the Hofburg complex, this tropical greenhouse is home to hundreds of butterflies floating amidst exotic plants. A tranquil oasis in the heart of the bustling city.
Take a Vienna Greeters Tour: Instead of a traditional guided tour, these are free tours given by local volunteers who share their personal insights, stories, and favorite spots in the city.
Madame Tussauds Vienna: Meet lifelike wax figures of famous personalities, from Mozart to Empress Sisi and modern celebrities. It’s a fun detour from the traditional historical venues.
Engage with the Viennese Life
Attend a Local Festival: Depending on when you visit, immerse yourself in local celebrations. From the Christmas markets in winter to the Danube Island Festival in summer, there’s always something happening.
Taste Local Delicacies: Apart from the famed Sachertorte and strudel, be sure to try local dishes like Goulash, Apfelstrudel, and Marillenknödel at traditional eateries.
Wine Tasting in Local Vineyards: Vienna is one of the few world capitals that boasts significant vineyard acreage within its city limits. Sample local wines and enjoy the picturesque settings.
Explore by Bicycle: Rent a “Citybike” and navigate through Vienna’s numerous cycle paths. It’s an eco-friendly and active way to explore the city.
Street Art in the Donaukanal: A contrast to its imperial architecture, the Danube Canal area showcases modern murals and street art, offering a different artistic perspective of the city.
Jazz and Blues Clubs: Beyond classical music, Vienna has a thriving jazz and blues scene. Venues like Porgy & Bess or Jazzland are worth a visit for music aficionados.
Vienna’s Underground: Discover the city’s underground world with guided tours that explore old wine cellars, forgotten crypts, and even wartime bunkers.
Attend Workshops: Engage in local crafts and arts by attending workshops. From traditional baking to waltz dance classes, immerse yourself in Viennese culture hands-on.
Kärntnerstraße Shopping Street: For shoppers, this pedestrian-friendly zone offers both international brands and local boutiques. Be sure to pick up unique souvenirs!
Local Farmer’s Markets: Dive deep into the culinary soul of the city. Markets like Brunnenmarkt or Karmelitermarkt are perfect to sample local produce and interact with locals.
Vienna’s charm lies not only in its palatial splendors and historic sites but also in the heartbeat of its streets, the smiles of its people, and the hidden corners where stories come alive. With every step, Vienna offers something new, something intriguing. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or returning for the umpteenth time, the city ensures there’s always something waiting to be discovered. From its majestic opera to a simple, delightful cup of coffee, Vienna resonates with memories, melodies, and moments that linger long after the journey ends.