Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum
, Austria’s largest art museum, was opened in 1891 along the Ringstrasse. Emperor Franz Josef I wanted a place to showcase the Hapsburgs' extensive art collection, and this palatial building serves its purpose grandly. The Hapsburgs’ dominions included, at various points over the centuries, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and large parts of Italy. The collection reflects this, with important works by Brueghel, Raphael, Titian, and Velázquez, among others.
Take a break from the art with lunch at Glacis Beisl
, just a five-minute walk from the Kunsthistorisches Museum. The menu here sticks to Austrian and Hungarian classics—goulash, wiener schnitzel, dumplings—and there’s a lovely garden open during the warmer months.
This part of Vienna is known, appropriately, as the MuseumsQuartier as there is an abundance of museums here. Decide which ones you want to visit in the afternoon based on your interests. Choose from the Natural History Museum
, facing the Kunsthistorisches, the Architekturzentrum Wien
(with exhibits on leading Austrian and international architects), the mumok
(modern and contemporary art), and the Leopold Museum
, which focuses on early 20th-century artists including Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.
At the end of the day, treat yourself to Vienna’s most famous edible work of art: the Sacher torte. Two businesses have had a long dispute over which one is the true source of this chocolate-and-jam torte. At the end of a 25-year-long legal battle, the Hotel Sacher
triumphed, but Demel
still has its loyal following.