The Best Things to Do in Vienna
Collected by John Oseid , AFAR Local Expert
Austria's capital was the seat of the Hapsburg dynasty, and its many historic sites and cultural institutions embody an imperial grandeur. The city is not, however, only a showpiece preserved in aspic, and alongside 19th-century wonders there are also contemporary museums and lively neighborhoods. Here are some of Vienna's highlights, from Roman ruins to present-day treasures.
Stephansplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
If any city can be said to have a ground zero, Vienna can. Everything radiates from the great Gothic Stephansdom, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, that lies smack in the center of the Inner City, right in the historic quadrant that's included on UNESCO’s...
Hoher Markt 3, 1010 Wien, Austria
The Celts were in Austria long before the Romans were, but it was the latter who left a more lasting imprint. With a population of 30,000 at its peak, the Roman legion camp of Vindobona was considered the edge of the world. As old as the Roman...
Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
Following its reconstruction in the postwar years, the facade of the venerable Vienna State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) had taken on a black patina, as had all the monumental Hapsburg buildings along the Ringstrasse. In the 1980s, however, the...
Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
In the whole of the German-speaking world, no theater outshines the Burgtheater, the Austrian National Theater. One of the Ringstrasse’s fabulous late-19th-century confections, the theater was built across from City Hall, principally by...
Fleischmarkt 20, 1010 Wien, Austria
The name Fleischmarkt goes back to the medieval butchers who worked along this Inner City street. The surrounding blocks are still home to long-standing merchants like Mühlbauer Hut, a century-old hatmaker. Strolling the area also takes you...
Seilerstätte 30, 1010 Wien, Austria
You might think that in a land of musical geniuses, from Joseph Haydn to Gustav Mahler, that the Haus der Musik (the House of Music) museum, would have been around forever. In fact, it opened only in 2000, under the chairmanship of Zubin Mehta....
Mozarthaus, Domgasse 5, 1010 Wien, Austria
Salzburg was famously Mozart’s hometown, but the musical genius lived in a number of addresses in Vienna over his lifetime, including nearly three years with his family in spacious apartments along the tiny Domgasse alley. This is where he...
Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien, Austria
It’s pretty amazing what you can do with some old stables. Vienna’s vast former quarters for the imperial horses, designed by the great baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, were turned in recent years into the...
Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Wien, Austria
In other cities, Schloss Belvedere would be the grand attraction: The baroque palace turned museum is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its French-style gardens, enormous pools, and upper and lower pavilions are stunning. But in Vienna, a city...
Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Wien, Austria
As you take in its dome made of gold-filigree laurel leaves, the utter modernity of the Secession Building stuns you. Joseph Maria Olbrich’s glorious exhibition hall just off the Ringstrasse is more than a century old, and is one of the most...
Freyung 8, 1010 Wien, Austria
What is historic and what is modern? As you explore the Kunstforum Wien art galleries you may wonder. The original, solid bank building on the elegant Freyung square was built just after World War I. Yet the Kunstforum (Art Forum) now exhibits...
Parkring 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
Just off the Ringstrasse, the Stadtpark gives visitors to Vienna a chance to marvel at the genius of Otto Wagner: The architect's art nouveau U-Bahn metro station is a landmark there. With the little Wienfluss (Vienna River) running through it,...
Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien, Austria
With a sprawling scale that is appropriate given the vast extent of the Hapsburg empire at its peak, the magnificent Hofburg Palace is a city unto itself, with more wings than you could ever explore. With its classic Viennese Fiaker horse...
Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
Are there any nobler or more beautiful horses in the world than the gray-white Lipizzans who wow audiences with their high stepping at the Spanish Riding School? In the 16th century, the Hapsburg empire used Andalusian horses to create the breed...
Karlsplatz 10, 1040 Wien, Austria
Out of the tragedy of the plague arose the Karlskirche, perhaps the most magnificent of Vienna’s baroque churches. One of the final designs by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the genius behind the Schönbrunn Palace, Karlskirche...
Bankgasse 9, 1010 Wien, Austria
The golden carriage in the Palais Liechtenstein’s early-18th-century Garden Palace looks like something right out of a Disney fantasy, and the baroque ceiling frescoes in its lavish Hercules Hall are heavenly. You don’t often hear...
Obere Augartenstraße 1, 1020 Wien, Austria
The Au in the name Augarten refers to old swampy lands in the floodplain of the Danube River. Yet, from those modest roots, this park in Leopoldstadt (also known as the Second District) emerged as one of the finest baroque gardens in the city. One...
Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien, Austria
When Mozart was a child, he performed here for Empress Maria Theresa; Franz Joseph I was born and died here, and his unhappy wife, Sisi, presumably sulked inside. Schönbrunn Palace, in the western Hietzing district, naturally invites...
Lainzer Tiergarten, 1130 Wien, Austria
Vienna’s architecturally rich Inner City can lead to a visual overdose on baroque wonders. Those who venture to districts beyond its historic heart will find a great little discovery in the Hermesvilla in the Lainzer Tiergarten, a...
Baumgartner Höhe 1, 1140 Wien, Austria
Living in an era of artistic and intellectual giants competing for attention, Otto Wagner was a celebrated architect, but his fame beyond Austria is not what it should be. But Wagner’s legacy of breathtaking designs lives on in buildings...
Kegelgasse 36-38, 1030 Wien, Austria
Those who just stumble upon the Hundertwasserhaus apartments in the Third District will likely be wowed by the buildings. Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s funky, mid-1980s organic housing complex is weird and gorgeous with a wavy, eclectically...
Feldmühlgasse 11, 1130 Wien, Austria
For the last seven years of his life, Gustav Klimt worked in a small studio in the leafy Hietzing district in western Vienna. A few years after his death in 1918, the studio now known as the Klimt Villa was turned by its owner from the garden...
Berggasse 19, 1090 Wien, Austria
Berggasse 19 is the address of a modest house on a modest street, but it was there that much of the modern world and culture were changed forever. For nearly 50 years, the Freud house—now, officially, the Sigmund Freud Museum—was the...
Simmeringer Hauptstraße 234, 1110 Wien, Austria
You might think of Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) as a Mittteleuropa Walk of Fame. Some of the city’s most important figures are buried in this graveyard that opened in 1874, from Beethoven (his remains were moved here in 1888) to...
Prater, Wiener Prater 59, 1010 Wien, Austria
Classic-film buffs well know the pivotal scene on the Riesenrad, the giant Ferris wheel in Vienna's Prater park which lies between the Danube and one of its side canals. In the film version of Graham Greene’s noir tale The Third Man, Orson...
Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, Austria
Gottfried Semper and Karl von Hasenauer may not be household names abroad, but in the Vienna of Franz Joseph’s time they were towering architects. The duo was responsible for the soaring cupolas and sweeping staircases of two stunning...
Innere Stadt, 1010 Vienna, Austria
One of the world’s great shopping avenues was pedestrianized in the 1970s, and, of late, the long, wide Kärtnerstrasse hosts a mix of global brand stores and some long-time merchants, such as the venerable Lobmeyr glassware shop and...
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