10 Best Things To Do In Vienna

Photo: Domenico Laviano, Flickr

Last Updated on May 6, 2022

With the special Viennese charm, Vienna felt like a very welcoming place with its cultural events and imperial sights. It is a clean and green city and has been named one of the world’s most livable cities by The Economist Intelligence Unit, now for the second consecutive year. Vienna is also one of the world’s richest nations, but on the expensive scale is considered just above average, and is said to be less expensive than New York.

Wandering around Vienna, we loved how much history there was to come alive and how picturesque it was. We could have wandered the historic city center for days. The city lit up at night was absolutely stunning. We found the city to be clean, classy, and, of course, architecturally impressive.

All of the gothic, renaissance and modern touches give Vienna great character and charm. It felt like there was something interesting and historical around every corner. It was almost as if we were wandering around a huge open-air museum, packed with historic buildings and pleasant little parks. Vienna is a prosperous, historical city and it really shows in the beauty of the wonderfully maintained architecture and the Viennese’s reverence for the past.

Vienna is a very walkable city and is one of Europe’s top pedestrian-friendly cities. The city center is surrounded by ring road, making it easy to find your way around. If your legs do get tired, you can jump on the U-Bahn, a rapid transit system.

We visited Vienna in the peak season during summer. If you are not one for crowds, we recommend you visit during the shoulder seasons of April-May or September-October.

In the main tourist areas, many people do speak English but recognize that it is a German-speaking country. Learn some basic German words and phrases before you go so that you are able to ask for assistance.

Most supermarkets and shops in Vienna are closed on Sundays and public holidays, but most restaurants, bars, and bakeries are open. If you did not get to buy groceries, you should still be able to find necessities. However, do keep in mind that what you are able to purchase these days is limited by law.

The Vienna Pass – Should You Buy One?

A city pass can be a great way to save some money if you’re planning on seeing a lot of the big attractions. The Vienna City Card offers free travel on public transport, discounted entrance fees, and reductions in shops and restaurants. We found the Vienna Pass helpful for our trip and had some great savings because of it.

These are 10 of the best things we suggest you do in Vienna:

Table Of Contents

The National History Museum

Photo: mendhak – Flickr

The National History Museum in Vienna is one of the largest and most important museums in Austria. Founded in 1876, and opened officially in 1889, the museum houses over 30 million artifacts and specimens, spanning the entire history of human civilization. The highlight of the museum is its prehistoric collection, which includes the world-famous Venus of Willendorf statue. Other highlights include the Egyptian collection, which features a life-sized replica of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and the Greek and Roman collection, which includes a statue of Zeus from Olympia.

We have a huge love for natural history museums, so this was one we could not miss. We were absolutely blown away by how the beautiful architecture of the building, the informative collections, and the interactive elements combined to create a scope of exhibits that can be seen at few science museums.

Vienna’s Museum Of Natural History is one of the most important natural history museums worldwide. The museum has 60 scientists carrying out research related to earth, life, and human sciences. This makes the museum one of the largest non-university research centers in Austria and an important public institution.

The highlights of Vienna’s Museum Of Natural History were its remarkable collection of dinosaur skeletons (big dinosaur enthusiasts here), meteorites, and insects from around the world.

The Museum Of Natural History in Vienna will help you regain your child-like sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. You’ll enjoy wandering through galleries of hundred-year-old cabinets stuffed with incredible oddball specimens. This is truly a place full of wonder and amazement, with beautifully crafted exhibits, charming models, and stunning displays spanning its vast collection.

Schönbrunn Palace

Photo: Domenico Laviano, Flickr

Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria and since the 1960s it has also been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The magnificent architecture and the exquisite décor of its staterooms are what make the 1,441-room  Schönbrunn Palace such a  cultural treasure and tourist attraction today. In 1996, Schönbrunn Palace was put on the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites, further showing the importance of the Palace and its surrounding attractions.

Photo: David Fettback

From the 18th century to 1918, Schönbrunn was the residence of the Habsburg emperors. It was designed by the architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Nicolaus Pacassi and is full of outstanding examples of decorative art. Together with its Gardens, as well as the site of the world’s first Zoo (1752), it is a perfect example of Gesamtkunstwerk (meaning: a total work of art). 

It was quite exciting to be going to such a place of grandeur. Touring the palace, you get an excellent idea about how members of the Habsburg Dynasty lived and worked. What is impressive is the ceiling decoration around the chandeliers because each room has an original gold design. The designs will take your breath away.

Photo: Dimitry Anikin – Unsplash

Exploring the Gardens, you can walk around and get lost, or even walk up the hill and enjoy the view of the Palace from the Gloriette.

Keep in mind that they do not allow photography inside the Palace, so you may want to pick up a couple of souvenir postcards or other memorabilia with images. Between the facade, Gardens, and Zoo, the  Schönbrunn Palace can give you quite a full day of exploring.

Vienna Zoo

Tiergarten Schönbrunn, or the Vienna Zoo, located at Schönbrunn Palace, is one of the oldest zoos in the world. Founded in 1752, it is home to over 9,000 animals from more than 667 species, making it one of the most diverse zoos in Europe. The zoo is particularly well-known for its giant pandas, which arrived in 2016 as part of a conservation partnership with China. In addition to its impressive array of animals, the zoo also features a historic botanical garden, which was founded in 1779 and is home to over 10,000 different plant species. The Vienna Zoo is a must-see for any animal lover visiting the city.

The Zoo believes that its main purpose is to be a center for species conservation, general nature conservation, and the fulfillment of the education mandate requirements.

Völkerkunde Museum

The Völkerkunde Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna. Located in the heart of the city, the museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts from all over the world. Visitors can view items from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as many other cultures. The museum also has a wide range of interactive exhibits, making it a great place to learn about different cultures. In addition, the museum regularly hosts special events, such as talks and workshops, which provide further insight into the fascinating world of anthropology.

When we visited Vienna back in 2008, we really enjoyed the Völkerkunde Museum. Tutankhamun and the World of the Pharaohs ran from March to September and it was said that it became the most successful exhibition in Austria’s history.

We found the exhibit absolutely breathtaking. The exhibit featured artifacts from ancient Egyptian history; many coming from the tomb of King Tut.

One of the most interesting facts we learned was that after someone had passed, the brain was thrown away as it was deemed to be not important. However, the heart and other internal organs were removed carefully and preserved.

How interesting is that?

Whether you’re interested in learning about other cultures or simply want to explore one of Vienna’s most iconic buildings, the Völkerkunde Museum is definitely worth a visit.

Mozart Museum & Grave

Many people know of Mozart the musician, but did you also know that he was born in Austria? In fact, you can visit his birthplace museum, as well as his grave, which is both located in Vienna. The museum is small but intimate, and you can see many of Mozart’s original possessions, including his clavichord. The museum also contains a replica of Mozart’s apartment from when he lived in Vienna. The Mozarthaus Vienna was Mozart’s residence from 1784 to 1787, is his only surviving Viennese residence.  You can also learn about his family life and how his music career began.

If you’re a big Mozart fan, you can also visit St. Marx Cemetery, where he was buried.  As you walk through the cemetery, you’ll see many other famous graves, including that of Beethoven. Unfortunately, the cemetery is not in the most convenient location, as it is sandwiched behind a bend of the A23 Autobahn.

However, once you make it through the main cemetery entrance at St. Marx Cemetery, it is easy to find the grave. Walk down the aisle of trees until it forks and then look left. You’ll also see a  sign pointing to “Mozartgrab” (plot 179).

The Mozart Museum and Grave are a must-see for any music lover!

Walk Ring Road

One of the best ways to see the sights is to walk around the Ring Road. This scenic route takes you past some of Vienna’s most iconic landmarks, including the State Opera House, the Parliament Building, and the Hofburg Palace. Along the way, you’ll also get a chance to enjoy the city’s many cafes, restaurants, and shops. The Ring Road is well-marked and easy to follow, making it a great option for exploring Vienna on foot. Even if you only have a few hours to spare, walking around the Ring Road is a great way to get a taste of what this historic city has to offer.

The Vienna Ringstrasse is known as the “Lord of the Ring Roads” because of its architectural beauty and it is designated by UNESCO as part of Vienna’s World Heritage Site.

This grand boulevard was built to replace the city walls, that were built during the 13th century. The buildings around Ring Road were intended to be a display of the splendor of the Habsburg Empire.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral – Hannes Rada – Flickr

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the most important religious building and Gothic structure in Vienna. The Cathedral has witnessed many important events within Habsburg and Austrian history.

The Gothic structure dates back to the 12th century and features intricate exterior details and a towering spire that reaches a height of nearly 400 feet. Inside, the cathedral is just as impressive, with ornate stained glass windows, marble floors, and an elaborately carved altar. Visitors can also climb to the top of the spire for breathtaking views of Vienna.

The main entrance of the cathedral is free to enter. However, if you want to get into the catacombs or tower, there is a fee. The multi-colored tile roof has become one of the city’s most recognizable symbols. The tiles show the Royal and Imperial double-headed eagle and the coat of arms of the city of Vienna.

Whether you’re admiring the exterior from afar or exploring the interior up close, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is sure to impress.

Walking Tour

Austria’s capital city, Vienna, is a beautiful and historic place to visit. Known for its grandiose architecture, art museums, and classical music scene, there is much to see and do in Vienna. A great way to explore the city is by taking a walking tour. There are several companies that offer guided walking tours of Vienna, or you can opt to go it alone. Either way, be sure to visit some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera House, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. With so much to see and do in Vienna, a walking tour is a great way to get an overview of this amazing city.

Walking tours offer a great way to get to know a city and to start to find your way around.

If you’re doing a free tour, remember to tip your guide. Also, the above companies may offer other tour options that are paid tours.

The Hofburg

Photo: boesijana – Unsplash

The Hofburg is one of the most iconic buildings in Vienna. Located in the city center, it has served as the home of the Austrian royal family for centuries. Originally a medieval fortified castle built in the 13th century and expanded several times after, The Hofburg served as the imperial winter residence of the Habsburg dynasty. Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence. Today, it is also a popular tourist destination, as it houses a number of museums and art galleries. The Hofburg is a must-see for anyone visiting Vienna. Its imposing size and grandiose architecture are sure to impress, and its rich history provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Austrian royalty. Whether you’re interested in art, and culture, or simply want to explore one of Vienna’s most impressive buildings, the Hofburg is sure to not disappoint.

Imperial Palace is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world. Today, The Hofburg is the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria.

Today you can purchase admission to view the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments, and the Silver Collection.  It is also home to the Spanish Riding School, a congress center, and the historic Heldenplatz.

Belvedere Palace

Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik – Unsplash

The Belvedere, a historic building complex. is one of the most iconic buildings in Austria. Built in the early 18th century, it was originally intended as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. Today, the palace houses a museum with a renowned collection of art from the Middle Ages to the present day and is accompanied by famous international artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. Visitors can also enjoy stunning views of the city from the gardens of the Belvedere Palace. Together, the Upper and Lower Belvedere and the substantial garden are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, the palace is surrounded by a park which is perfect for a leisurely stroll on a sunny day. Whether you’re interested in art or simply looking for a beautiful place to relax, the Belvedere Palace is well worth a visit.

 

Is Vienna Worth Going To?

Vienna is a beautiful city with plenty to offer visitors. From its stunning architecture to its rich cultural heritage, there is much to explore in Vienna. The city is also home to a number of world-famous museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Albertina. In addition, Vienna boasts a lively music scene, with a number of acclaimed opera houses and concert halls. With so much to see and do, it is no wonder that Vienna is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Whether you are interested in history, culture, or simply want to enjoy a charming city, Vienna is definitely worth a visit.

We would suggest visiting for three days as a minimum.

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