Top 15 Unique Things To Do in Vienna
Vienna is one of the most popular destinations for a city break in Europe. Internationally, the capital of Austria is especially known for its many historical attractions and the wide range of unique things to do in Vienna. Particularly impressive are the grandiose castles and world-famous baroque buildings of the city center, which inspire with a fascinating architecture. Influenced by artists such as Mozart, Beethoven and Klimt, this city is one of the most attractive and impressive in the world. In addition to the well-known Viennese attractions such as the Giant Ferris Wheel, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Schönbrunn Palace, there are many other interesting places to see, which can be perfectly be visited in summer as well as in winter.
In this travel guide we show you the 15 best things to do in Vienna. In addition, there is a lot of information and tips that will certainly help you plan your city trip.
A visit to Belvedere Palace is one of the ultimate best things to do in Vienna! Actually, the large palace complex consists of 2 castles: The Lower and the Upper Belvedere. They are separated by a magnificent baroque garden with a gorgeous reflecting pond, which was built in the 18th century by Prince Eugene of Savoy. Art lovers should definitely visit one of the world-class art collections inside the Belvedere. Even the world known Gustav Klimt’s Kiss and Judith, masterpieces of early modern art, are displayed inside the museum.
Tip: When visiting Vienna you should definitely try a typical Viennese Schnitzel. You can get one of the best schnitzels in Vienna at the Salm Bräu near the Belvedere!
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The St. Stephen´s Cathedral is Vienna’s most famous landmark and one of the most important gothic churches in Austria. Affectionately called “Steffl ” by the Viennese, it is open to the public. The cathedral’s interior can be visited and is free of charge. If you want to enjoy a fabulous view form above you should climb up the stairs to the south tower or take the elevator to the viewing platform at the northern tower (Pummerin). The picture below was taken from the northern tower. Seeing the city from up there is one of the ultimate best things to do in Vienna.
Rathaus (Vienna City Hall)
The beautiful Vienna City Hall with its Town Hall Square is located directly on the Ringstraße and is certainly one of the most popular attractions of Vienna. During the year, well-known events such as the world-famous Life Ball take place there. In winter, during Advent, there is an enchanting Christmas market here with a huge ice skating rink and countless market stalls.
In summer, on the other hand, the film festival takes place here. The town hall is also probably one of the most spectacular buildings in the city and can also be explored with a guided tour. The Rathaus is one of the best photography locations in Vienna and a must-see on any city trip.
Vienna State Opera
Vienna’s Opera is an outstandingly beautiful building and is located centrally in the first district. It is considered one of the finest Opera Houses in the world. Every night you can enjoy the very best in first-class productions and actually this year the Vienna State Opera is celebrating “150 years of the Opera House on the Ring”. At night the Opera is stunningly lit and best you enjoy the view from the top of the Albertina passage. Visiting the Opera at night is drop-dead gorgeous and surely one of the top things to do in Vienna!
Tip: Read more about attending some of the best classical concerts in Vienna that should not to be missed by music lovers!
The Burgtheater is the Austrian National Theater and belongs to the most important German language theatres in the World. Created in 1741 the theatre has a glorious history. If you would like to learn more about the theater you definitely should take a guided tour, starting daily at 15:00. There you are going to have the chance to see the imposing grand staircase and the famous ceiling paintings by Gustav Klimt. An attraction in Vienna, which certainly not everyone knows!
Vienna Prater & Ferris Wheel
Austria’s most popular and famous amusement park, the Prater has long been one of the best sights in Vienna and attracts many visitors, especially in the evening. Tourists as well as locals love the mix of pure nostalgia and cool dizzying rides. A ride on the Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel is a wonderful experience for adults as well as for children and is definitely recommended on any list of the best things to do in Vienna.
Admission to the Prater is free, only the rides are subject to a fee. But not only children love the Vienna Prater. The amusement park is a unique experience for young and old!
Michaelerplatz, a baroque star square next to the Hofburg is located near the Spanish Riding School, right in the center of Vienna. It is interesting to note that the square was conceived as early as 1725, but was not realized until the end of the 19th century. The buildings around the square are an absolute must-see in Vienna. A really interesting view of the Michaelerplatz can also be seen from the Kohlmarkt. With its magnificent architecture, this is certainly one of the best sights in Vienna. At Michaelerplatz you can also find the famous Fiaker with their horse-drawn carriages that have a long tradition in Vienna.
Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School was built during the Habsburg Monarchy and the world famous white Lipizzaner’s offer highest standard of horse-riding art in a unique location. Visiting a show accompanied by classical music and watching the horsemanship is an unforgettable experience and definitely a must see in Vienna. Our tip: If you want to see the stallions and the noble horses for free and you can peep in at the Stallburg at Reitschulgasse 2! Check out Lipizzaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna for more information.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Natural History Museum & Art History Museum
The Natural History Museum exhibits over 30 million objects, from insect to gemstones, minerals, fossils, skeletons and a huge dinosaur hall. The ultimate showpiece is the 29,500 year-old „Venus von Willendorf”. and the huge collection is one of the most important in Europe and definitely worth a visit.
Just on the opposite side you are going to find the Art History Museum. It’s well known for its fascinating treasure chambers and cabinets of curiosities of the Habsburgs. Also numerous major art works of European art history are displayed inside this museum.
Schönbrunn Palace, Gloriette & Zoo
No sightseeing tour through Vienna is perfect without having seen the dreamlike Schönbrunn. The magnificent palace, where Empress “Sisi” once lived, is one of the most visited sights in Vienna and an absolute visitor magnet. The fantastic gardens, the zoo, the Gloriette and the entire palace park are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also the zoo of Schönbrunn, the oldest zoo in the world is an absolute highlight and should definitely be visited. Here you can spend the whole day.
Austrian National Library (State Hall)
The stunning State Hall of the National Library was built in the 18th century and houses a fascinating collection of ancient writings and volumes. The huge library is 80 meters long and 20 meters high and a beautiful dome characterizes the premises. The Venetian globes, one meter in diameter, are among the highlights of the exhibition. The State Hall of the National Library takes its visitors’ breath away and a visit is also for us one of the most unique things to do in Vienna!
Shopping Streets in Vienna
The Graben, Kohlmarkt and Kärntnerstraße are the most famous shopping streets in Vienna. The 3 streets are connected in a U-shape, with Kärntnerstraße reaching all the way to the Opera House and Graben being the connection to Kohlmarkt. Walking along the vibrant pedestrian zone, one is amazed by the typical Viennese flair, the noble Viennese traditional stores and the elegant boutiques. Among other things, you can see the Ankerhaus, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, Palais Bartolli-Partenfeld, Gerneralihof, Grabenhof and the Plague Column. All these magnificent buildings and attractions can be discovered during a walk along this shopping mile.
A “must see” attraction is the popular Naschmarkt in Vienna, a popular meeting place for locals as well as tourists. The open market has around 120 market stalls offering all types of exotic fruits, fresh vegetables, tasty cheese and meat products. It also offers a wide variety of restaurants from typical Austrian, Italian, and Oriental to Japanese, Chinese and Indian etc.. The market is a great choice for having lunch and a meeting point for both locals and tourists. Every Saturday morning the traditional huge flee market takes place just next to the Naschmarkt.
Kaisergruft (Imperial Crypt)
Eerily beautiful but above all highly interesting is a visit to the Imperial Crypt or also called Capuchin Crypt. It is the last resting place of many famous Habsburgs and is located under the Capuchin church. It is open to visitors daily from 10:00 to 18:00. In the crypt 149 members of the Habsburgs have found their last resting place. Among them are probably the most famous such as Emperor Franz Joseph I, Empress Sisi and Crown Prince Rudolf and Maria Theresa.
The Hundertwasserhaus is for sure one of Vienna’s architectural highlights and one Vienna’s best tourist attractions. This colorful and magical building was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and constructed between 1983 – 1985. The Hundertwasserhouse can only be viewed from outside but the exterior façade draws attention to itself and is therefore a famous attraction in Vienna.
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