What to do in Vienna
To visit Vienna , Austria is to discover a city rich in history and culture . And I reassure you right away, no need to be a fan of Sissi the Empress to appreciate the beauty.
With its majestic palaces, its museums , and all the historical center of the city a World Heritage Site by UNESCO , the ancient capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire kept its pomp and splendor.
Start now and discover all of Vienna’s must-see places with our top 20 things to do and see. You will also find our suggested itineraries to visit Vienna in 1, 2, 3 or 4 days and our selection of the best hotels.
Visit Vienna: the must-sees
1. Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace is one of the places of interest not to be missed during your stay in Vienna.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , often compared to the Palace of Versailles, it has long been the Habsburg’s summer residence, the Austrian imperial family.
Today, guided tours are organized in this sublime Baroque building of the eighteenth century. Perfect to discover the extremely rich history!
Inside you can tour the imperial apartments and the many state rooms to immerse yourself in the daily life and even the intimacy of emperors and empresses . The large gallery with its mirrors, high windows and magnificent frescoes is particularly impressive, as are the Chinese cabinets, richly decorated with precious Chinese porcelain .
At Schönbrunn Palace, I also advise you to stroll through the large park. It is over 1 km long! To see in the park:
- The Palm House , the last building of this type in Europe. Inside, several climates (cold, temperate and tropical) are reconstituted to maintain optimal conditions for the development of flora.
- The zoological garden that caused a sensation in 1828 by hosting the first giraffe on Austrian soil. She even launched a fashion with clothes, accessories and hairstyles way “giraffe”.
- The many fountains dotted in the park.
- The Imperial Coach Museum in Vienna , a remarkable collection of coaches, ceremonial cars and sleighs regularly used by members of the royal family.
Another activity that I advise you to do in Schonbrunn is to attend a classical music concert in the famous Orangery room. An exceptional place that once welcomed the grand banquets of the courtyard. On the concert program: Mozart’s most famous operas followed by Strauss waltzes . Do not wait to live a memorable evening, book your tickets now.
Find all the information on timetables and access to Schönbrunn on the official website .
2. The Hofburg Imperial Palace
We continue this tour in Vienna, visiting the Hofburg Palace.
Like Schönbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Palace has been home to the powerful Austrian emperors for more than 6 centuries! Each one going from its personal enlargement, adding a wing here and there, the palace is today the largest of the city and certainly the most impressive historical building of Vienna.
During your visit, you will be able to admire the imperial apartments and especially the bedrooms, the toilets and gym, the large living room of the empress or the office of the emperor.
Only part of the palace is accessible because it now houses the offices of the presidential administration and several museums including the Albertina (I tell you about it below).
Speaking of museums, I recommend visiting the museum dedicated to Sissi the Empress . It traces the life (quite hectic) of the famous Empress to the tragic attack in Geneva where she lost her life. You will find many objects that belonged to him as well as some of his most beautiful dresses and jewels.
Another wing of the palace also houses an important collection of silverware with nearly 7,000 pieces related to the art of the table.
The entrance fee to the palace includes visiting the Royal Apartments, the Sisi Museum (I have not forgotten a “s” that’s the real name of the museum) and the silverware collection.
To know all about rates and schedules, it’s on the official website .
3. The Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace is the 3 rd largest baroque palace in Vienna. It is actually two palaces linked together by a large French garden.
In the first, located in the upper belvedere , painting enthusiasts can admire the largest collection of works of the famous Austrian painter Klimt and paintings by Monet and Van Gogh.
The lower belvedere is used for the organization of temporary exhibitions . To know everything about current and upcoming exhibitions, I invite you to visit the Belvedere Palace website . And if you want to avoid the queues, you can take your tickets here .
4. Stephansdom, Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral is located in Vienna’s central square, Stephansplatz. It is one of the most touristic places of interest in the city.
Built from the 14th century on the ruins of an ancient church, the cathedral is a magnificent example of Baroque and Gothic architecture . Its roof, with colorful tiles depicting the two-headed kuk eagle and the coat of arms of Vienna and Austria, is truly impressive.
The interior of the cathedral is well worth a visit to admire relics adorned with gold and precious materialsand the catacombs where the tombs of Emperor Frederick III and Prince Eugene of Savoy are located.
Finally, to end your visit in beauty, I recommend you climb the 343 steps to access the Turmerstube, which offers a breathtaking view of all Vienna.
To not miss anything during your visit to the cathedral, I advise you to buy this ticket all inclusive , which will avoid you in addition to queuing at the entrance!
5. The Vienna Prater
The Prater is a large public park in Vienna.
It is especially famous for sheltering another of the symbols of the city, its big wheel, the Riesenrad . High of 64.75 meters (to be precise), it is one of the oldest wheels still in activity. You can take a ride in one of the 15 wooden cabins in 20 minutes to admire a beautiful panorama of the whole city.
In addition to the Ferris wheel, you will also find other rides in the park as it hosts a permanent fair with more than 250 attractions.
Another part of the park, the “Prater vert”, is a paradise for walkers and cyclists. Many trails to walk in this area of forests and meadows. And for those who do not wish to walk, a small train will take you around.
To find out everything you need to know about Prater, check out the official website .
If you are a museum lover, the MuseumsQuartier is for you. It is Vienna’s cultural quarter par excellence.
Built on the site of the former imperial stables, this pedestrian area offers a varied choice of interesting museums on nearly 60,000 m². It is also full of restaurants, cafes and bookstores.
Among the most famous museums, do not miss to visit:
- The Leopold Museum houses the largest collection of works in the world by Egon Schiele and some works by Gustav Klimt (whose other works are on display at the Belvedere Palace).
- The MUMOK , the Museum of Modern Art focuses mainly on the art of the 20 th century with works by Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono. There are also paintings by Pablo Picasso.
- The Kunsthalle Wien focuses on international contemporary art.
The map of the MuseumQuartiers and museums to visit is here.
7. The Staatsoper, Vienna State Opera
It is impossible to visit Vienna without at least going to the Staatsoper, the temple of classical music where world-renowned operas and concerts are performed.
If you have time, I also advise you to attend an opera . Contrary to popular belief ticket prices are not higher than that when you consider the exceptional quality of the proposed show . And if you do not speak German or Austrian, the original language of most operas, you will be able to activate the subtitles available in all languages!
The Staatsoper also hosts live operas, including in April, May and June. The performances are projected live on a giant screen in front of the Opera . A really great idea to allow everyone to enjoy it, and for free !
Finally, the Vienna State Opera also organizes guided tours of the interior and backstage on days when there are no rehearsals. If you can not afford to watch a show, you can at least admire the place.
Other venues in Vienna are also famous for their music show, such as the Musikverein, Schonbrunn Palace Orangery , and Vienna Volksoper . Rates are often lower than for the Staatsoper.
You can find all the music programming in Vienna on this site really very well done. Book your place now.
8. The Naschmarkt
The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s permanent market.
Open from Monday to Saturday, you will find all the local Austrian products but also products from all over the world. Indian, Italian, Vietnamese, you will be spoiled for choice.
Saturday is also the day of a huge flea market to find lots of great finds or just something to clutter your house a little more! 🙂
The place is very lively and really nice with many cafes and restaurants to eat. The DO-An and the Naschmarkt Deli are particularly famous.
9. L’Eglise Saint-Charles-Borromée
During your trip to Vienna, I recommend that you take a walk through Karksplatz where the Church of St. Charles Borromeo (also called Karlskirche in German) is located.
Built from 1713 by Emperor Charles VI to symbolize the end of the plague epidemic, the church is a very fine example of Baroque architecture and personally I find it very photogenic.
Surprisingly, inside the church, a panoramic elevator takes you up close to the magnificent frescoes on the ceiling to admire the smallest details. Do not hesitate to try the experiment, I am not sure that it exists elsewhere.
The church is open Monday to Saturday from 9h to 18h and Sunday and during the holidays from 12h to 19h.
10. The Hundertwasserhaus
The Hundertwasserhaus is a place of unusual interest in Vienna . The house attracts visitors from all over the world.
The building was built by the architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (to your wishes! :), which, it must be admitted, had rather special tastes. With its multicolored facade, its odd floors and its plant walls, the whole is not really describable, you will have to go see for yourself!
You will not be able to get inside, but a cafe on the ground floor offers to watch a movie where the architect in person is showing his work.
The building is located at 37-39 rue Kekelgasse.
11. The National Library of Austria
The National Library of Austria is the largest Baroque library in Europe . I recommend you to go for a walk during your stay in Vienna.
In total the library has more than 7 million books, books and papyrus!
In addition to being the largest, the library can also boast one of the most beautiful halls in the world, the ceremonial hall. With its 80 meters long and 20 meters high, its dome adorned with frescoes and its collection of 200 000 old volumes , the room is really impressive.
12. The Museum of Art History
The Museum of Art History or Kunsthistorisches Museum is one of the most prestigious in the city.
Built at the request of Emperor François Joseph in order to bring together his personal collections, the museum now houses a very rich collection of works by Rubens, Vermeer and Rembrandt.
The Kunstkammer, the cabinet of art and curiosities also located inside the museum presents a collection of precious objects that belonged to the Habsburgs, among the richest in the world.
Find all the practical information to visit the Museum of Art History of Vienna on the official website . And to avoid hours of waiting, remember to take your starters .
13. The Albertina
Abertina is located in the historic center of Vienna and is part of the Hofsburg Palace Museum.
The museum offers permanent and temporary exhibitions covering a period from the 15th century to the present day . You will find works by Cézanne, Picasso, Monet or Chagall and Renoir.
In addition to these masterpieces, the entrance to the museum will allow you to visit the 20 recently restored ceremonial rooms whose original furniture will bring you back to the lavish era of the imperial family.
Tickets are here .
14. The Spanish Riding School of Vienna
The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is a very old institution. The classical art of dressage of the Haute-Ecole has been practiced since the Renaissance.
Even today, the school is a world-renowned training center. Squires train there every day on their thoroughbred lippizzan stallions. Years of training are necessary before arriving at a perfect result.
Attending their morning training is one of the most popular tourist activities in Vienna. It must be said that the place where dressage takes place, the imperial winter carousel , is really worth seeing with its impressive chandeliers and balconies.
If you want to attend the morning training, you must remember to book on this site .
15. The Mozart House
The famous composer resided at number 5 of the Domgasse from 1784 to 1787. It is the only remains of Vienna of Mozart still existing today, on the dozen where he lived.
You can visit the rooms of his apartment , and enter into the intimacy of this fascinating and brilliant artist. With a little imagination, you can even represent it in the place, where, at the time, he composed one of his finest operas: The Marriage of Figaro.
Schedules, access and fare are on the official site of the Mozart house .
16. Vienna City Hall
If you visit Vienna, I suggest you pass the Vienna Hotel or Rathaus. You will not be able to miss it, its high tower of almost 100 meters surmounted by the Rathausmann (the iron man) is an emblem of the city.
The building, due to its Neo-Gothic style, is the most important non-religious building in Vienna . Built between 1872 and 1883, it took almost 30 million bricks and 40,000 cubic meters of stones! Its inner courtyard is one of the largest in Europe and has a huge ballroom.
The Rathaus is the seat of the municipality of Vienna and thus houses the offices of the mayor and his advisers. Some tours are possible on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 13h reservation only.
Many events are organized every year on the square in front of Rathausplatz . For example, you can find the Christmas market , the screening of Vienna’s New Year’s concert or an ice rink in January and February.
17. The crypt of the Capuchins
If you are interested in Imperial Vienna, I recommend visiting the Capuchin Crypt or Kaisergruft.
The crypt is located under the Capuchin church and is home to many tombs of the Habsburg family . A total of 149 family members are buried including 19 empresses and 12 emperors . And it is here that you can admire the tomb of Sissi.
18. Go shopping in Vienna
Do you want to do some shopping in Vienna ? No problem it is on the streets Graben and Karntner that it happens.
Graben Street is the most popular for shopping with its clever mix of modern and traditional shops . It is Vienna’s busiest pedestrian street. Remember to lift the nose of your bags to admire the beautiful architecture of buildings that borders.
The Karnter is also a pedestrian commercial artery of Vienna . It runs from Stephansplatz to Karlsplatz . It is a must in Vienna for fans of shopping.
19. Have a break in a Viennese café
And now is the time to taste is (finally) arrived, it’s time to go to one of the famous Viennese cafes to taste the local specialties. The Viennese coffee culture is even part of the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO.
Among the most famous , I advise you:
- Sperl coffee for its apple strudel
- Sacher coffee and its unmissable Sachertorte, a homemade chocolate cake
- The Hawelka, one of the oldest in Vienna
- Central Coffee and its choice of homemade pastries
For the list of all the best Viennese coffees, I recommend you to consult the website of Vienna Tourism .
20. Take a cruise on the Danube
Last activity that I propose in this top 20 things to do and see in Vienna, a cruise on the Danube.
A boat trip on the river will allow you to admire unique views of Vienna . Several formulas are proposed at the level of duration. You can also opt for a cruise with concert and romantic dinner.
Some also combine the climb to the top of the Danube Tower , an observation platform located 150 meters high to admire the city.
How many days to visit Vienna?
As you have seen, there is a lot to see in Vienna . Most tours can easily take you 2 to 3 hours, which quickly limits the number of places to visit during the day. I advise you to stay at least 4 days in Vienna if you want to go around the essentials without hurry and giving you a few coffee breaks Viennese!
Here are 2 tips to save money when you stay in Vienna:To visit Vienna by public transport , I recommend you get the Vienna City Card ( you find it right here), from 13.90 € for one day but there are also 48h and 72h packages. You will be able to move for free by metro, bus and tram!
Another card that can be useful: the Vienna Pass , which, in addition to free access to public transport, includes access to about sixty things to see in Vienna . Count 59 € per person for one day. The map is useful if you plan to visit a lot of museums. Book your card online here .
Visit Vienna in 1 day
If you want to visit Vienna in 1 day, I suggest the following route:
- Visit of Schönbrunn Palace
- Lunch break at Naaschmarkt
- Passage through the Saint-Charles-Borromée Church
- Walking tour in the historic center to admire monuments such as the Opera and the Rathaus
- At the end of the day, climb to the tower of the Saint-Etienne cathedral to admire the sunset over the city
To visit Vienna in 1 day, you can also opt for a multi-stop bus if you do not want to walk too much. Some tours even offer an extra boat ride , which can be a really nice activity to do in Vienna. I put you the link here if you want to book.
Visit Vienna in 2 days
To visit Vienna in 2 days , take the one-day itinerary and add:
- Training of the Vienna Riding School
- Visit of the Hofburg Palace
- Lunch break
- Discovery of the impressive National Library of Vienna
- Albertina Museum
- Attend an opera or classical music concert
Visit Vienna in 3 days
To visit Vienna in 3 days , I suggest you take the 2-day itinerary and add:
- Discover the MuseumsQuartier with the choice to visit the MUMOK or Leopold Museum
- Lunch break in one of the many restaurants in the neighborhood
- Descent into the crypt of the Capuchins to admire the tombs of the emperors and Sissi the Empress
- Passage through the Hundertwasserhaus
- Late afternoon at the Prater with a big-wheel ride at sunset
Visit Vienna in 4 days
To visit Vienna in 4 days , take again the itineraries of visit in 1, 2 and 3 days then add:
- Visit of the museum of the history of the art
- Shopping on Karnten and Graben Streets
- Lunch break
- Discovery of Mozart’s house
- Cruise on the Danube and climb to the Danube Tower
And you ? What do you plan to visit in Vienna?
Where to stay in Vienna
- Wombat’s CITY Hostels Vienna – Naschmarkt : Hostel next to the Naschmarkt. Bed in dormitory from € 18, breakfast € 4.90. Pros: the ideal location to reach the main points of interest on foot, cleanliness, spacious rooms, good breakfast.
- Debo Apartments Schönbrunner Strasse : Ideally located between Schönbrunn Palace and the Naschmarkt market. All apartments are modern, spacious, bright and composed of a living room, a bedroom and a fully equipped kitchen. Night from 45 € (provide 30 € extra for the cleaning fee per stay). Most: the situation with subway and shops nearby, the cleanliness and size of the apartments. Even with the cleaning fee, it’s still a great choice for a cheap stay in Vienna.
- Urban Stay Hotel Columbia : Hotel located just 5 minutes walk from City Hall. Modern double room, comfortable and cozy from € 100 a night, breakfast included. Goodies: the location to visit Vienna on foot, friendly and welcoming staff, varied and hearty breakfast with good local products. This is our favorite in Vienna for its benefit / price ratio!
- The Harmonie Vienna : 4 * Hotel located 10 minutes walk from the city center. Comfortable room, design and warm from 180 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the comfort of the rooms, the excellent breakfast, the atmosphere and the calm of the hotel, the tea and the cupcakes in the late afternoon, the geographical situation. To make you a little pleasure in a beautiful hotel, I highly recommend you book at The Harmonie!
I then propose a small selection of apartments that I could not separate because quite similar in terms of characteristics and budget. Prices vary between 110 and 140 € per night, cleaning fees included. They are all modern, fully equipped and very well located.
- Vienna Mariahilfer Apartment : 70m² for just € 110 a night.
- Apartments Spittelberg Gardegasse : from 120 € the night.
- HeyMi Apartments in City Center : several apartments all more beautiful than each other, from 130 € per night. Big favorite for their benefit / price!
- HeyMi Apartments Opernring : Same chain as before, but in a different neighborhood.
Where to eat in Vienna
- Plachutta : This restaurant is located a hundred meters from the Mozart house (but there are several others in Vienna). I highly recommend it to taste typical Austrian cuisine in a really nice setting. The tafelspitz, a kind of casserole slow cooked and served with a multitude of accompaniments is the specialty of the house. A very hearty dish! Reservation recommended.
- Zum Alten FassL : Located at Ziegelofengasse 37. This typical Viennese restaurant offers very good traditional dishes for a very reasonable price. In addition to that, you can enjoy your dishes in a beautiful inner courtyard.
- The burger : Located Mariahilfer Strasse 114. No local specialties but a very good burger for really cheap! The quality of the burgers is excellent, the meat is tender, the chips are homemade and the setting is super warm. Ideal for a midday meal on the go.
How to go to Vienna
Vienna is about a 2-hour flight from France . Many European national companies and low cost companies offer several round trips a day.
A good plan: I also advise you to watch the prices to land in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, which is only 60 km from Vienna. The 2 cities are connected by bus, so it is very easy to reach Vienna while saving on the price of the flight!
Tourist map of Vienna
To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a tourist map of Vienna listing the places to visit I’m talking about in this top 20 things to do. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow.