This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase. Read Disclosure.
Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a place that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re into history, music, food, or art, there are plenty of things to do in Vienna to keep any traveler busy.
The city is known for its stunning architecture, elegant coffee houses, and rich cultural heritage. It’s also a great destination for anyone interested in classical music, with famous composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss having lived and worked here.
In this guide, Doris Neubauerwho who grew up in the countryside about 40 minutes away from Vienna, has shared with us her insider travel tips and knowledge on what to do in Vienna. We alos visited Vienna on our 8-day Europe river cruise.
- Is Vienna, Austria Worth Visiting?
- Things to Do in Vienna
- 1. Check Out Schönbrunn Palace
- 2. Check Out Hofburg Palace
- 3. Explore The Neighborhoods
- 4. Try Some Viennese Pastries
- 5. Have A Night on the Town
- 6. Visit the Markets at Shopping
- 7. Attend a Festival in Vienna
- 8. Take A Day Trip to Am Himmel
- 9. Spend A Day At The Museums
- 10. Watch A Concert At The Vienna State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper)
- 11. Visit the Oldest Zoo in the World (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
- 12. Play at Prater Amusement Park
- 13. Check Out The Austrian National Library
- 14. Take A Cruise on the River Danube
- 15. Check Out Vienna City Hall (Rathaus)
- 16. Marvel at Belvedere Palace
- 17. Visit St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)
- Best Time to Visit Vienna
- Getting To and Around Vienna
- Where to Stay in Vienna
- Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Vienna
- More Austria Travel Inspiration
- More Tours of Austria
Is Vienna, Austria Worth Visiting?
There are many reasons why to visit Vienna. For some it’s one of the historically important old cities in Europe, for others the core of the classical music scene, for others a place famous for its architecture such as Jugendstil, for others a must-go in terms of theatre and culture.
And all of them are right.
But Vienna is more.
The clean, functioning, a little bit slow and old city has a unique charm.
Within and behind the old walls, there is a young heart pulsating, vibrating and showing its creativity. And if you listen and watch carefully, you can experience it yourself.
Things to Do in Vienna
Whether you’re looking to uncover Vienna’s exciting history or you want to mingle with the local culture, below are some of the top attractions in Vienna you cannot miss.
The Vienna Pass gives you free entry to 60+ top Vienna attractions, Hop on and Off sightseeing tours, and fast track passes at popular Vienna attractions. Get yours and save money on travel to Vienna here.
1. Check Out Schönbrunn Palace
Anyone visiting Vienna must visit the iconic Schönbrunn Palace as it is one of the most historical and important buildings in the country.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 18th century and was used as the summer residence for the Habsburg monarchy.
Visitors can explore its many rooms, which are filled with beautiful artwork, intricate furnishings, and ornate decorations.
The palace also boasts expansive gardens which are breathtakingly beautiful and are perfect for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
2. Check Out Hofburg Palace
Another must-see attraction is the Hofburg Palace, where you can learn about the history of the Habsburg dynasty.
The Hofburg Palace is a grand palace complex that was once the imperial residence of the Habsburg dynasty and is now home to several museums, including the Imperial Apartments and the Sisi Museum.
Visitors to the Hofburg Palace can explore the many rooms and halls, which are filled with opulent furnishings, priceless artwork, and historical artifacts. Be sure to check out the Imperial Silver Collection.
The palace also boasts beautiful gardens and courtyards that offer stunning views of Vienna.
You can do a guided tour and learn about the residents of the palace, including Emperor Franz Joseph and Archduke Franz Karl.
3. Explore The Neighborhoods
You cannot and should not avoid the 1st district with all the historical buildings along the Ring or around the St. Stephens Square.
But you should also go further.
To the Naschmarkt area, not only looking at the market stands but also a bit up to all the beautiful Jugendstil buildings of the right and left.
On both sides of the Naschmarkt, both in the 6th and in the 4th and 5th district, you can find nice restaurants to eat and sometimes tiny, interesting boutiques.
I also like the 2nd district, the former Jewish district with its reminders of this very important group in Vienna.
If you love the countryside or greener areas, don’t miss going up on one of the hills such as Kahlenberg or Cobenzl and to explore a bit of the Wienerwald (Viennese forest) – passing by you can go the Heurigendorf Grinzing, which is more a touristy spot now but still quite lovely. Just don’t eat or drink anything there as it is more expensive than in other places.
If you really want to go to a Heuriger, the typical wine tavern with home made food and home made wine, you should definitely try to go to the countryside (Lower Austria) or in the outer districts such as the 23rd or 21st district of Vienna.
4. Try Some Viennese Pastries
For me, one of the best things to do in Vienna is sit in one of the typical Viennese coffee shops such as Hawelka, Sperl or Rüdigerhof, order a coffee like Melange or Cappuccino – no, not the Italian one – and watch the people and eat local desserts.
I am sure you get a feeling of the city and its inhabitants by spending an afternoon like this imagining that philosophers, students, musicians, politicians have been sitting exactly where you are sitting now centuries ago and that the most important movements and decisions were given birth to in coffee shops.
Some sweet desserts to try are Apfelstrudel, Topfenstrudel or some of the cakes in a Viennese café.
But please, don’t take the highly overrated Sacher Torte, almost every desert is better than this dry chocolate cake which is only pricey because of the name.
For people who are not vegetarians like me, there is another typical Viennese dish – especially after a long night: The “Eitrige”, a hot sausage with cheese you get on the many stands everywhere in the city.
5. Have A Night on the Town
A great area to spend a night on the town is the 7th and 8th district, as lots of bars but also nightclubs are located here.
Or to say it with the words of a friend: from the pre-drinking to dancing the night away, here you can find everything. And everything is within walking distance.
For the pre party, I can recommend either the “Dachboden” at the 25hrs Hotel or the more traditional Café Europa, also the quite interesting Donau or Café Leopold are good for pre-glow as well as the later part of the night.
For clubbing and partying, go to Grelle Forelle, Pratersauna or – for a little unique experience – to Tanzcafé Jenseits.
Spottedbylocals is a good source for bars and clubs in Vienna.
6. Visit the Markets at Shopping
You should never visit Vienna without going to the Naschmarkt, the oldest market area.
You can find everything from organic bread to Asian food supplies to Turkish delights. If you want to go for vegetable-fruit-or spices-shopping, that is the right place.
Smaller versions of these traditional Viennese markets are Rochus Markt, Freyung or Karmelitermarkt.
And on Saturdays, there is a huge flea market on the Naschmarkt area as well.
The big shopping street is Mariahilfer Straße, and, of course, you can also go high-end shopping for Gucci & Co. in Kärntner Straße and around St. Stephens Church.
But if you are interested in unique clothes, you should go a little further within the 7th district.
Just behind the big commercial shopping street Mariahilfer Straße, you can find small boutiques as well as Austrian and international designers in Lindengasse, Siebensterngasse, Kirchengasse and this neighbourhood.
A good source for shops is Die Stadtspionin, only in German though.
7. Attend a Festival in Vienna
Vienna has some incredible festivals and events all year round, so if you happen to be in the city when there is something on, be sure to check it out.
A good source for festivals and events in Vienna is the official website of the city http://www.wien.gv.at/english/.
Some of the major events or festivals are the Vienna City Marathon, the party against HIV/ AIDS Life Ball, the famous Opernball, the biggest European open-air festival Donauinselfest, the theatre festival Wiener Festwochen and Viennale, the movie festival – but there is something going on all the time.
8. Take A Day Trip to Am Himmel
I would recommend nothing less than Am Himmel – which means “in paradise” or “in heaven” in English.
I actually don’t know if this place is part of the guidebooks, but even if it is, I recommend going there – especially if the weather is nice.
I hosted a lot of couchsurfers and got plenty of visitors from foreign countries, and usually, as a tourist you hardly go there as it is not as easily accessible as other places.
Am Himmel is an outdoor area where you not only have a great view at Vienna, you feel like on the countryside even though its in the city.
I said it’s not as accessible as other places, but it still is accessible without car: Just take the bus 38A from the U4 stop in Heiligenstadt to Cobenzl.
Then you have to walk a bit up the hill and at the crossing of Himmelstraße / Höhenstraße there´s the entrance to the restaurant Oktogon Am Himmel.
I usually get lost there, but in the end, I always find my way.
A little bit passed the restaurant Oktogon, you can find a celtic tree horoscop or Lebensbaumkreis as it is called in German.
While resting and preparing a picnic, you can search for YOUR tree which symbolizes your life, tells you more about your personality … and by the way, I am a fig.
9. Spend A Day At The Museums
Vienna is famous for its many world-class museums, and a visit to this beautiful city wouldn’t be complete without exploring some of its cultural treasures.
Some museums that are not to be missed are the Albertina Museum, Natural History Museum, Sigmund Freud Museum and Kunsthistorisches Museum.
The Albertina Museum is home to an impressive collection of artwork, including works by famous artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Dürer.
The museum also boasts stunning architecture and beautiful gardens.
The Natural History Museum offers visitors the chance to learn about the natural history of Austria and the world through exhibits on geology, botany, zoology, and more.
Highlights include a vast collection of dinosaur skeletons and a display on the evolution of humans.
The Sigmund Freud Museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous Austrian psychoanalyst.
Visitors can explore Freud’s former office and living quarters, as well as exhibits on his theories and impact on psychology.
The Kunsthistoriches is the Historic Art Museum in Vienna and is home to some of the world’s most impressive masterpieces.
See works by Raphael, Rembrandt and Rubens as well as many other European artists.
10. Watch A Concert At The Vienna State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper)
The Vienna State Opera House is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, and attending a performance here is an unforgettable experience.
The building itself is a masterpiece of architecture, with beautiful interiors and breathtaking acoustics that make it the perfect setting for a night at the opera.
The venue hosts performances by some of the world’s most talented singers and musicians, as well as regular ballet and classical music performances throughout the year.
Attending a concert at the Vienna State Opera House is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Austria and experience the very best of the performing arts.
11. Visit the Oldest Zoo in the World (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
Tiergarten Schönbrunn, or Schönbrunn Zoo as it’s commonly known, is a popular attraction in Vienna and also the oldest zoo in the world.
This historic baroque-stule zoo was founded in the 18th century and is home to over 700 species of animals from around the world.
In addition to its impressive collection of animals, the Tiergarten Schönbrunn also offers a range of educational programs and activities such as animal feedings and wildlife talks.
12. Play at Prater Amusement Park
Prater Amusement Park is a historic amusement park that dates back to the 18th century and is home to a variety of rides and attractions that are sure to thrill visitors of all ages.
One of the highlights of a visit to Prater Amusement Park is the famous Wiener Riesenrad, or Giant Ferris wheel.
This iconic attraction offers stunning views of the city and has been featured in numerous films and TV shows.
There are also plenty of other rides, including roller coasters, bumper cars, and water slides.
13. Check Out The Austrian National Library
If you’re interested in history, art, and literature, then be sure to check out the Austrian National Library.
This beautiful Baroque-style library was founded in the 18th century and is one of the largest and most impressive libraries in the world.
Visitors can explore its many collections, which includes over 10.9 million books, manuscripts, maps, and artifacts.
The library also boasts stunning architecture, with its grand hallways and ornate decorations.
14. Take A Cruise on the River Danube
If you’re looking for relaxing things to do in Vienna, consider a cruise on the Danube.
This majestic river is one of the most famous waterways in Europe, and a cruise along its banks offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
One of the highlights of a Danube River cruise is the chance to see the city of Vienna from a different perspective.
15. Check Out Vienna City Hall (Rathaus)
Vienna City Hall, also known as Rathaus, is one of the most iconic and impressive buildings in Vienna.
This grand Gothic-style building was built in the late 19th century and has been the center of local government for over a hundred years.
You can take a guided tour of the building and explore its many rooms and halls, which are decorated with beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and paintings that celebrate the history of Vienna and Austria.
The building also houses a range of offices, meeting rooms, and other facilities used by the city’s government.
If you’re looking for things to do in Vienna in the winter, be sure to head here to check out the annual Christmas Market or the Vienna Ice Dream skating rink outside.
16. Marvel at Belvedere Palace
Belvedere Palace is one of Vienna’s most beautiful and historic landmarks.
This magnificent Baroque-style palace was built in the 18th century and is famous for being home to an impressive collection of artwork and historical artifacts that go back for more than 800 years.
The complex is home to two main palaces, Upper Belvedere and Lower Belvedere, as well as an orangery and garden.
One of the highlights of a visit to Belvedere Palace is the chance to see its famous art collection, which includes works by some of the most famous artists in history, such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka.
17. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
Another iconic landmark in Vienna is St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This stunning Gothic-style cathedral was built in the 14th century and has since become a symbol of Vienna’s rich cultural heritage.
Visitors can explore its many halls and chapels, which are adorned with beautiful stained glass windows, sculptures, and other works of art.
The cathedral also boasts stunning architecture, including its famous multicolored roof tiles and towering spires.
One of the highlights of a visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the chance to climb up 343 steps to the top of its South Tower, (or take an elevator up North Tower) which offers breathtaking views of the city. See our Reel of the views.
Best Time to Visit Vienna
There is hardly a best time of year to visit Vienna. Personally, I am enchanted by the winter time right before Christmas as there are lots of traditional (and touristy) Christmas markets everywhere in the city, everything illuminated and has a special old charm.
But then, I also adore spring and autumn when the first sun rays are out and – as if everyone was hiding during the sometimes harsh winters – now, there are people everywhere.
It feels like an awakening of the city, especially here in Vienna.
Getting To and Around Vienna
Vienna is often mistaken for being one of the Cities of Eastern Europe, but it’s exactly in the heart of Europe and easily, directly accessible via train by other “old” cities such as Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Munich.
As a traveller, I would never rent a car going to or from Vienna to any of these cities – even though it might be easy, it definitely is expensive and not worth the trouble.
If you want to get there by air plane, the airport for the cheap airline Ryanair actually is not in Vienna but in Bratislava (even if you book “Vienna” for example, the airport is Bratislava).
That´s not a problem, as there are buses waiting for you at the airport in Bratislava to take you to my city.
Getting there by the way, you can either take the – expensive – CAT (city airport train) or the – cheaper – bus from the city centre or train from Landstraße-Hauptstraße (U4/ U3 station).
When visiting a city, I LOVE to walk – it is a big part of the experience of the adventure for me: getting lost in the city.
In Vienna, everything (touristy) is within walking distance. And if you are tired of walking around, you can take the underground or the buses or trams.
You can find your way either by asking around or by planing in advance via http://www.wien.gv.at/englis.
Unfortunately, the better version is the German one where you can also find out your exact route and which public transport you should take to getting there: http://www.wien.gv.at/
Where to Stay in Vienna
If you’re in need of somewhere to stay in Vienna, then I recommend the following hotels.
- For the high-end range, a great hotel is Das Triest Hotel in the 4th district, which is close to Karlsplatz.
- Or there is the hip Hotel Daniel, which is modern and comfortable.
- If you want to save money AND meet locals, I can recommend CouchSurfing – you stay with locals on their couch, in their homes, and most of the time, the experience is less touristy than in a hostel or hotel.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Vienna
Many people ask me why do I love Vienna, and I have to quote a friend answering this question: “Vienna, you can love or hate it. It depends if the sun is shining or not.“
Today, the sun was shining, reflecting images in the golden ornaments of the old buildings, and I loved Vienna sitting in the Stadtpark, watching students having a picnic in the grass, busy suit-wearers talking on the phone and old ladies walking their dogs chatting about the latest disaster with their neighbours.
And all this took place in the green heart of this city of old buildings and piles of history, which sometimes seems to never change but in the end really does.
More Austria Travel Inspiration
Need more inspiration for a trip to Austria? Here are some other resources that may be helpful..
- Check out this gorgeous ski resort village of Kitzbuhel in Tirol outside located outside of Vienna.
- Area 47 in Otztal – the world’s most extreme water park
- Check out this Alpine village that made this list on destinations in Europe on a budget!
More Tours of Austria
Below are other recommended tours and Vienna attractions from our partners at Get Your Guide:
- Vienna sightseeing tour in an electric vintage car!
- Day Trip to Mauthaunsen Concentration Camp Memorial
Save This To Pinterest:
BIO: Coming from a small Austrian village, Doris feels most at home on the road. Her list of things to be seen and experienced is endless. And when her feet get too itchy again, she packs her backpack and moves on to the next adventure. Doris is interested in movement, development, news, different things, connecting on- and offline – but also in sustainability, environment, new energies, social things, fascinating people, who are doing something. You can read about both at Tripwolf and at Little Miss Itchy Feet or via twitter.