One of the most visually stunning cities in Europe, Vienna is full of wonderful art and architecture, with countless museums, palaces, and elegant parks testifying to its wealth and beauty.
Both the capital and culture center of the country, Vienna was once the seat of the Hapsburg dynasty; the Emperors and Empresses were great patrons of the arts, sciences, and music. As such, there are loads of amazing art collections to explore.
Visiting the Vienna State Opera to watch a performance is simply a must when in the city, as Vienna is synonymous with famous composers such as Beethoven, Strauss, and Schoenberg.
A great and easy way to see many of the most famous tourist attractions in Venice in one go is to wander along the Ringstrasse taking in all the fantastic buildings as you go, before heading into the center of the city itself.
It is a city that represents refinement and culture to visitors, who will not lack for things to see and do:
Built in the eighteenth century, the stunning State Hall of the Austrian National Library needs to be seen to be believed; a wonderful statue of Emperor Charles VI, who commissioned it, stands at its center. A delightful dome with fantastic frescoes lies above, and countless old tomes and books line the shelves; wonderfully carved wooden handrails, columns and banisters complete the refined look of the place.
A veritable feast for the eyes, the State Hall is definitely worth stopping by when in Vienna – you can almost feel the wealth of knowledge emanating from the bookshelves.
The most popular market in Vienna, the Naschmarkt is fun to wander around. Its plethora of stalls, stands, and shops sell everything from spices and vegetables to seafood, meats, and clothes. Trawling the lively market is a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Several cafes and restaurants here offer up Viennese classics, with Kaiserschmarrn and Palatschinken being particularly popular amongst tourists and locals alike. A great place to buy either souvenirs or fresh fruit and vegetables; the Naschmarkt has it all.
Located on the Ringstrasse, the elegant Parliament Building was built in Greek Revival style. It is here that the Austrian Parliament holds its sessions. Classic Greek architecture was decided upon due to democracy’s link with Ancient Greece; its brilliantly white columns and marvelous bronze statues are wonderful to behold, while the lovely Pallas Athene Fountain stands in the foreground of the building. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna, the Parliament Building is well worth visiting for its spectacular design and importance to the country.
The Imperial Treasury is located at Hofburg Palace and its extensive collection of valuable treasures is dazzling. Its twenty-one rooms cover 1000 years of history. Among its many highlights are the Imperial Crown of Austria and the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Divided into a secular and ecclesiastical collection, the crowns, scepters, and jewelry of the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer invariably astound visitors with the opulence and decadence on display.
St. Peter’s Church (as it is known in English) is located on Petersplatz; numerous churches have existed on the site, with the earliest dating back to the Early Middle Ages. The current baroque church was completed in 1733 and is modeled on St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. While the interior is pretty, the undoubted highlight is its stunning interior, with its wonderful frescoes. The pulpit, organ, and altar feature equally delightful artistry. What makes the church particularly great to visit is that it is largely hidden away behind the surrounding buildings and appears majestically before you as if out of thin air.
Designed by esteemed architect and artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the KunstHausWien is mesmerizing to behold due to its eclectic exterior – sure to look unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; straight lines hardly feature at all.
The interior is equally bewitching to wander around with its undulating floors, and Hundertwasser’s art pieces are fascinating for their unique look and design. Temporary exhibitions mean that many local residents return time and time again to this special museum.
Bordering the Ringstrasse, the large Stadtpark is divided in two by the Vienna River running through it. The park is a relaxing spot to head to if you’ve had enough sightseeing for one day. With numerous statues and monuments of renowned Viennese scattered about, visitors will come across such famous figures as the composer Strauss and the painter Schindler amidst the greenery on show. Alongside the plethora of fauna and flora, a children’s park, concert hall and landscaped gardens make it well worth stopping by.
Located at the heart of the city, Stephansplatz is one of the most important squares in Vienna. The center of the square is dominated by the enormous St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which towers to an impressive 136 meters. The mix of old and new architectural styles on show in Stephansplatz is dazzling.
With lots of shops, restaurants, and bars on offer nearby, as well as many attractions, most visitors to the city pass through at some point for the myriad of things that it has to see and do.
Vienna’s Natural History Museum is one of the most important of its kind in the world and is remarkably home to over 30 million objects.
The 39 exhibition rooms cover everything from precious stones and dinosaurs to prehistoric art and stuffed animals. Visitors will learn a lot from its fascinating displays and exhibits. Just as stunning as the extensive collection is the beautiful palace itself, featuring elegant galleries, staircases, and lobbies. Built in the late nineteenth century, the Natural History Museum is located on the Ringstrasse and is identical to the Kunsthistorisches Museum which lies directly in front of it.
An intriguing place to visit, the MuseumsQuartier boasts an intoxicating mix of art, architecture, culture, and leisure; one could spend a lifetime exploring all that it is has to offer. The beautiful buildings are home to numerous museums, artist studios, and cultural initiatives, while the exhibitions and festivals that it hosts draw yet more people to the complex. With renowned art museums such as the Leopold Museum and the Kunsthalle Wien lying next to the Tanzquartier dance center and the Q21 artist’s group, MuseumsQuartier has a plethora of things for visitors to see and do.
This wonderful baroque church is widely considered to be amongst the city’s most impressive buildings. Consequently, a visit to Karlskirche is a must when in Vienna.
Its beautiful dome is flanked by two columns and the dazzling white facade is adorned with angels from both the Old and New Testaments. Inside is just as fabulous, with a marvelous fresco covering the ceiling and an ornate altar and elegant canopy sitting alongside the towering marble columns. Commissioned by Emperor Charles VI, Karlskirche was completed in 1737 and dominates the huge Karlsplatz on which it lies.
Prater is a large public park located in Leopoldstadt. Its huge green spaces make it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. While many people visit to relax and unwind amongst the greenery, an amusement park, museum, and even a disco are situated within the park. While wandering around the park, make sure to take a ride in the huge Ferris Wheel that towers over Prater – the views are breathtaking.
Opened by Emperor Franz Josef I in 1891, the stupendous Museum of Art History (as it is known in English) is located on the Ringstrasse in a magnificent palatial building that dominates its surroundings. The museum was established to house the Hapsburg’s extensive art collection, and the lavish interior is befitting of all of the wonderful masterpieces on show. Exploring the endless galleries is fascinating, and the list of renowned artists rolls off the tongue as you pass works by Caravaggio, Tintoretto, van Dyck, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Rubens.
Located in Vienna’s Innere Stadt, the Albertina hosts an amazing collection of artworks, including drawings, paintings, and sculptures.
Once part of the city’s old fortifications, the Albertina has stood since the 17th century and was renovated into a palace before becoming an art museum. Home to one of the most extensive and important print rooms on Earth, the collection is wonderful to explore. Masterpieces by da Vinci, Bruegel the Elder and Toulouse-Lautrec are on display.
In addition to its delightful permanent collection, temporary exhibitions ensure that this is a place worth returning to for both locals and tourists.
No visit to Vienna is complete without going to see an opera. The city is synonymous with the majestic art form and the Vienna State Opera is the perfect place to go and watch a performance.
Opened in 1869 on the Ringstrasse, much of the opera house was destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War and it was rebuilt in 1955 in the form of the elegant high Renaissance building we see before us today. The interior is equally opulent, with its marble staircases, luxurious lobbies and the breathtaking auditorium itself.
With numerous operas, ballets and classical concerts being performed daily, the Vienna State Opera has something for everyone to enjoy.
The Wiener Rathaus isn’t a place where visitors can eat wieners, though a notable restaurant serving Vietnamese delicacies is located on the premises. Rather, it serves as Vienna’s town hall, as well as the seat of government for the State of Vienna. The Gothic-style building, constructed in the 1880s, features the Rathausmann that sits on top of the tower and is a symbol of Vienna. The Wiener Rathaus is currently undergoing an extensive renovation that is expected to be completed in 2023.
The Spanish Riding School is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses that offers public performances in the Winter Riding School in the Hofburg. The Riding School calls these performances classical dressage, but most viewers would call it magic. The school has been training horses like this for more than four centuries. The 68 stallions – their ancestors came from Spain – have trained and performed at the Winter Riding School since about 1735. Horses and riders both undergo special training that lasts for many years.
Graben is one of the most famous streets in central Vienna. The word Graben means “trench” in German, and dates back to an old Roman encampment in the Austrian capital. Back in those days, Vienna was surrounded by a city wall, with a trench alongside of it. The trench was later filled in and became one of the first residential streets in Vienna. Craftsmen originally lived in wooden houses on the Graben, but it gradually evolved into a market place and later residences for the city’s elite. Today it is an up-scale shopping promenade, with many local specialties such as Wien Porzellan.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known as Stephansdom, had humble beginnings as a parish church in the 12th century. Today, it is the home church for the Catholic archbishop in Vienna. The church was destroyed in World War II but was rebuilt in seven years, with worship services still held daily. The cathedral, one of the city’s most important landmarks, reaches high into the Viennese skyline. Its impressive roof is covered by 230,000 glazed tiles. The cathedral has more than 18 altars, all built at different times, and contains precious works of art as well.
The Burggarten is a once-royal garden that is a bit of England in Vienna, as it is patterned after English gardens. The Burggarten was the court garden for the Hapsburg rulers. One Austrian ruler, Kaiser Franz II used to work in the garden, which is now a place where people can enjoy outdoor lunches on pleasant days. A memorial to that great Austrian composer, Mozart, can be found in one corner of the garden, while the Palmenhaus, a magnificent glass palm house, is located in the northern part. The left part of the Palmenhaus houses the Schmettlerlinghaus where visitors can see tropical butterflies and even bats.
The Ringstrasse is a road, slightly more than 5 km (3 miles) long, that circles Vienna’s inner city. Ordered built by Emperor Franz Joseph in the mid-19th century, many of the most important buildings in Vienna line both sides of the street: palaces, museums and stately homes. Buildings along the road include the State Opera, the Natural History Museum, City Hall and the Vienna Stock Exchange. The buildings represent various architectural styles, and are all considered architectural masterpieces. Construction of the Ringstrasse started in 1857, with the street opening in 1865.
The Belvedere is an integral part of Vienna’s historic scene, consisting of several palaces and an orangery that dates back to the late 17th century. It consists of the Baroque palaces, the Lower and Upper Belvedere; palace stables and the Orangery, all set in a Baroque-style park. Prince Eugene of Savoy had the complex built for this summer home. During the French Revolution, the palaces served as home to French royalty fleeing their country. The Belvedere is stunning to look at during the night when it is all lit up, and well as provides great views of Vienna.
The Hundertwasserhaus is a colorful apartment building near Vienna’s center in the Landstraße district. It is named after Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who developed the concept in the 20th century, with noted architect Krawina doing the building’s design. Each of the 52 apartments is a different color; some just out from the building proper, with several trees covering the roofs, while more trees grow inside other units, their limbs sticking out windows. Construction on the innovative apartment building ended in 1985; today, it is an intrinsic part of Vienna’s cultural heritage.
The Hofburg Imperial Palace has played an integral part of the Austrian government scene since it was built in the 13th century. It has been home to some of Europe’s most powerful royalty over the centuries, including the Hapsburgs and rulers of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Today it is a museum and home to the president of Austria. The palace has numerous wings and halls built by various royalty over the centuries, but only three parts are open to the public today: the Imperial Apartments; the Sisi Museum, dedicated to Elizabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, and the Silver Collection, a collection of Imperial household objects.
The 1,441 room Schönbrunn Palace, comparable in grandeur to Versailles, is one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I and turned into the imperial summer palace by Maria Theresa. The Palace Park offers a lot of attractions, such as the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette, a marble summerhouse, situated on top of a 60 meter (200 feet) high hill.