Don’t know what to do in Vienna? Here are 17 must-see tourist attractions in Austria’s capital city
Vienna‘s palaces and buildings keep the memory of the cultural life of a very active city, especially its large halls that still receive the gala dances going back to imperial times. Great museums tell the history of Europe, of Vienna and of the intrinsic relationship of the Austrian capital with music. Still preserving the heritage, the streets and buildings themselves take the tourist on a journey through time.
There are many reasons to visit Vienna and it is easy to fit the stop in your route through Europe. Vienna International Airport is in the city’s suburbs and receives several flights to and from major European and Austrian cities, such as Salzburg and Innsbruck. Vienna is also very well connected with the major cities of Central Europe by train.
Much of Vienna’s attractions are in or around the “Ring”, where the city’s best museums and parks are, so it is best to walk the streets. If you want to get there or access farther points, the city has an excellent public transportation system, with subways, streetcars, buses and trains. Check out Vienna’s must-see attractions.
17 Tours, Attractions & Best Things to Do in Vienna
In the heart of the Austrian capital, St. Stephansdom Cathedral is the main headquartes of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the most important religious symbol of the city. The temple was built on the ruins of a Romanesque church dedicated to St. Stephen, erected in 1147. The cathedral is crowned by a large needle-shaped tower in Gothic style and 137 meters high. Going up a curled staircase, the visitor can access a viewpoint with a unique view of the city.
Inside, the cathedral stores the remains of most members of the Habsburg family. It was also the scenery of Mozart’s wedding and funeral. The church also holds a museum with religious paintings from the 18th century, rustic sculptures from the 16th and 17th centuries and some medieval sculptures showing the Virgin with Baby Jesus.
- Address: Stephansplatz, 3.
- Schedule: Monday to Saturday, from 6am to 10pm.
- Sundays and holidays: from 7am to 10pm.
Museum of Art History
With more than one million annual visitors, the Museum of Art History is Vienna’s most visited museum. Among its walls are the works of art gathered by the Habsburg family over the centuries, with exhibitions dedicated to Eastern, Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities. On the second floor, the exhibition is dedicated especially to painting, with works from the fifteenth century until the nineteenth. Among the great artists whose works are in the collection, we find Velázquez, Canaletto, Tiziano, Rubens, Rafael and Rembrandt.
On the second floor is the Numismatic Office, where one of the largest coin and medal collections in the world is, with more than 700 thousand objects.
- Address: Maria Theresia Platz
- Schedule: Every day, from 10am to 6pm – Thursdays, from 10am to 9pm
Things to Do in Vienna: Vienna Opera
Inaugurated in 1869 with a presentation of Mozart’s work, the Vienna State Opera is the most important and well-known opera company in the world. Visits can only be made through organized tours in groups of different languages.
During the tour, the visitor will see the entrance hall and the auditorium, which can fit 2,800 people. The visit will also include the scenery, the tea room, among other spaces. If the tourist is looking for a more authentic experience, the Vienna Opera House allows anyone to watch a piece in its hall, no matter the budget. Of course, the best seats usually cost more than €150, but you can get standing tickets for € 3 and € 4. But stay tuned, the most affordable tickets only sell at the box office before the show and you will have to face a queue.
- Address: Opernring, 2.
The parliament building in Vienna’s Ringstraße has, during its more than one hundred year history, welcomed several of the country’s parliamentary entities. Since 1920 – except during the Second World War -, the National Council and the Federal Council, federal legislative bodies, have had their headquarters in the parliament building. During the Second World War, the building was seriously damaged by bombing, with half of the building destroyed.
Visitation is open to the public with predefined hours that vary according to the time of year.
- Address: Dr.-Karl-Renner-Ring 3
- Ticket: € 5
The Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn), built in the 17th century, was the summer residence of Vienna’s imperial family for years. The rooms are extremely sumptuous in a Rococo style, especially the official rooms. Among the most interesting spaces in the palace are the Grand Gallery, used to celebrate imperial banquets, the Imperial Chariot Museum and the Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world.
The visit is guided by audio detailing several events that happened in the palace during the time that the court still occupied the halls.
- Address: Schönbrunner Schloss Strasse, 47
- Schedule: Every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Things to Do in Vienna: Visit Hofburg
The Hofburg Palace was the residence of the imperial family, the Habsburgs, for centuries. Today it is the most visited place in Vienna. The castle is in fact a huge architectural ensemble that houses everything from the old imperial quarters, several museums, the Austrian National Library, the Winter Riding School, a chapel and a church to the office of the President of Austria.
Among the attractions of the complex, one of the most complete visits is the one that includes the Imperial Apartments (Kaiserappartements), the Museum of Sisi and the Silver Court.
- Address: Michaelerplatz, 1
- Schedule: September to June, from 9am to 5:30pm. From July to August, from 9am to 6pm
The Hundertwasser haus is a housing complex built between 1983 and 1986. With a very original design, the building is the work of architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and belongs to Austrian cultural heritage. Colored like a puzzle, the building resembles a child’s drawing, where the floor is not straight but wavy, and where trees grow inside the rooms and fall through the windows. Its unusual shapes surprise tourists, not used to such a special architecture.
Beside the buildings, there is also a mall in the same architecture, the Hundertwasser Village, and the Hundertwasser Museum, where other of the artist’s works are exhibited.
- Address: Kegelgasse, 34,38.
Things to Do in Vienna: Albertina Museum
The Albertina Museum has one of the most extensive graphic collections in the world. In downtown Vienna, the museum houses more than 65 thousand drawings and around one million prints in its collection, with works by artists such as Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Miró and Picasso.
The museum in a palace that belonged to Maria Cristina and her husband, Duke Alberto Von Sachsen-Teschen, who gave the gallery its name. For this reason, as well as the various paintings and other works of art, the museum also houses the 22 rooms of the Habsburg, the imperial family of Austria. But it is not always possible to visit them, the rooms are closed when it rains, for conservation, as well as when they are booked for some event, restricting access.
- Address: Agustinerstrasse, 1
- Schedule: Every day, from 10am to 6pm. Wednesdays and Fridays until 9pm.
Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School, created in 1572, is part of Hofburg and is dedicated to riding, based on classic taming, keeping its technique intact for over 400 years. Today, it is one of the most outstanding institutions in Vienna and its horses are famous all over the world.
The school also maintains a tradition of breeding Lipizza’s horses, whose first specimens were brought from Spain centuries ago, at a time when the Austrian imperial court enjoyed the breeding and taming of race horses. Besides the dressage technique, Lipizza’s horses also attract attention because they have black coats until they are eight years old, the age at which most of them turn white.
There are two options to get to know the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. The visitor can buy tickets for one of the equestrian shows of the Lipizzaner horses, or participate in one of the daily guided tours, in which a guide takes the tourists to see the horses in the stables, besides the beautiful Winter School where they perform.
- Address: Michaelerplatz, 1
- Schedule: Guided tours at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm
Austrian National Library
Built in the 18th century in baroque style at the request of Emperor Karl VI, the Austrian National Library is considered one of the most beautiful historical libraries in the world. At the time, the building was a court library.
In the main environment, the Imperial Room, marble statues, paintings and frescoes on the ceiling surround the chestnut wood shelves in which more than 200,000 printed books were preserved between the 1500s and 1850s. In total, the library houses more than eight million books and other objects, as well as the Papyrus Museum and the Globe Museum.
- Address: Josefsplatz, 1
- Schedule: Monday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm / Thursdays from 10am to 9pm From May to October – closes on Mondays
Between 1784 and 1787, Mozart, one of the greatest composers in history, lived with his family in this apartment on Domgasse Street. You can walk through the four floors of the building, starting at the third floor, where you can learn about the years that Mozart spent in Vienna, the places where he performed, who were his friends, his relationship with the Masons or the great passion he had for games.
On the second floor, the composer’s operas are presented, and on the first floor we can see what the artist’s home was like. In the attic, there is a learning center where interested people can learn whatever they want about master Mozart.
- Address: Domgasse, 5
- Schedule: Every day, from 10am to 6pm
The Danube Tower is a 252 meter high structure, opened in 1964, from where one can contemplate a large part of Vienna. Besides an incredible viewpoint, the tower also has a revolving restaurant, which allows the tourist to enjoy a meal while the view is constantly changing.
For the more adventurous, you can go bungee jumping from the top of the tower.
- Address: Donauturmstraße, 4
- Schedule: Monday to Sunday, from 10am to 00am
City Hall (Rathaus)
The Rathaus, where the city hall and city council is, is an old building and palace in Vienna. Designed in Gothic style, the building was built between 1872 and 1883. At the top of the tower is the Rathausmann, one of Vienna’s symbols.
In front of the building there is a large park, the Rathauspark, and the Rathausplatz, a large semi-circular square. In this square, during the summer evenings, there are fairs with typical food and drink, as well as open-air opera performances. In winter, a Christmas market with several culinary delicacies is installed there.
- Address: Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1
- Schedule: individual guided tours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1pm. Except on session days, events and holidays. For group tours it is necessary to schedule one month in advance.
The Belvedere Palace was built as the summer residence of Prince Eugenio de Saboya. The construction is a complex of two palaces, united by a huge French style garden.
At the highest point of the garden is Alto Belvedere, the main building of the architectural complex that houses a museum of a painting collection from the Austrian Gallery, from the Middle Ages until today, as well as masterpieces of baroque and medieval art, and the chapel. On the second floor are exhibited Viennese works made between 1880 and 1900, while the second floor is full of displays of neoclassicism and romanticism, besides the Biedermeier collection. Among the great names in the collection, we find artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt.
In the Belvedere Bass are the exhibitions of Austrian baroque art, where the works of the artists who shaped the city during the Golden Age of Vienna are exhibited.
- Address: Main entrance at Prinz Eugen Street
- Schedule: High Belvedere: every day, from 10:00 to 18:00.
- Low Belvedere and Orangery: every day, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Wednesdays to 10:00 p.m.).
The Prater is a popular leisure space with the oldest amusement park in Vienna. Opened in 1895, the park still keeps some of the original toys in good condition, giving the place a unique charm. The main attraction is, without a doubt, the Ferris wheel. At 60 meters high, the toy has become one of the symbols of the Austrian capital. Its inauguration, in 1897, was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Francisco José I’s coronation.
If the budget allows you, the Ferris wheel also offers a candlelight dinner in one of its cabins.
- Address: Tiefstraße 1020 Wien
- Schedule: every day from March 15 to October 31, from 10am to 1am
The stores, restaurants and some attractions, such as the Ferris wheel, remain open all year round at the same time.
The Museumquartier is a complex of museums, cafes, stores and restaurants. All these attractions are spread across a square where concerts and other events take place, representing Vienna’s modern life.
Among the museums around the square, the visitor finds the Leopold Museum, the Mumok, that has a large collection of modern art, and the Kunsthalle, whose strengths are the photography, video and multimedia art exhibits.
- Address: Museumsplatz 1
Naschmarkt is a large open-air market dating back to the 16th century and it is the best known in Vienna. There are about 120 stalls and restaurants making up a rich and diverse culinary offering, ranging from Viennese to Indian, from Vietnamese to Italian.
Today, Naschmarkt has become a meeting point for young and old because it allows the purchase of fruits, vegetables and various delicacies from all countries, as well as unique gastronomic experiences in the establishments surrounding the stalls.
- Address: Wienzeile, 1060
- Schedule: tents – Monday to Sunday from 6am to 11pm / restaurants – schedule varies according to the establishment.