The Austrian capital of Vienna rivals other European cities with its grandeur, artistic sensibilities, and history. It goes by many nicknames, including “the City of Music” and “the City of Dreams.” True enough, Vienna is the launchpad of many of the world’s greatest composers (Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and Brahms, to name a few) as well as intellectuals (Sigmund Freud). But that’s the past. What about the present?
Today, Vienna is a well-preserved and dynamic city, one of Europe’s cultural powerhouses. There is a great balance between old and new, from architecture to art and music. Contemporary architectural works stand alongside 17th to 18th-century Baroque buildings and splendid Hapsburg palaces. And when it comes to food, you can find both traditional and modern takes on Viennese and Austrian cuisine. Walk its streets and discover a rich city. Read below to learn about the things to do in Vienna, Austria.
While you’re in the City of Music, attending a concert in Vienna is a must. One of the best places to do so is the Schönbrunn Palace, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used to play back in the 18th century. The Palace plays host to a series of concerts held at the Palace Orangery daily. Let the orchestra delight your ears as they play the best works of Mozart and Johann Strauss, complete with vocal performances.
Schönbrunn Palace Concert in Vienna
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
With over 12 million items housed here, the Austrian National Library is a must-visit for every bibliophile. Its walls are covered from floor to ceiling with a wide variety of tomes, some of which date back to the 16th century (and even earlier.) If you’re not a fan of books, a visit to the Austrian National Library is still a must. The grandiosity alone of the State Hall and its Baroque architecture will leave you in awe of the library.
Vienna: Private Walking Tour
Duration: 2 hour
3. Head to Wien Mitte for some retail therapy
No trip to Vienna is complete without heading to Wien Mitte. Although smaller than most malls in other parts of the world, Wien Mitte is compact and always worth the visit. To date, it has 48 shops which cover everything, from high-street fashion to electronics and sports.
Wien Mitte The Mall
Address: Landstrasse Hauptstrasse 1b, 1030 Wien, Austria
Website: Wien Mitte The Mall
Opening hours: 9:00 am - 8:00 pm (Monday-Wednesday), 9:00 am - 9:00 pm (Thursday-Friday), 9:00 am - 6:00 pm (Saturday)
4. Drink coffee and eat apfelstrudel at Cafe Central
If there is one cafe in Vienna you shouldn’t miss, it’s Cafe Central. This iconic Viennese landmark opened in 1876 and has since been a favorite among the city luminaries, including Leon Trotsky and Sigmund Freud. History aside, Cafe Central serves really good coffee and traditional Viennese pastries and desserts. There is also the crowd favorite: Kaiserschmarrn, a shredded, fluffy pancake.
Address: Herrengasse 14, 1010 Wien, Austria
Website: Cafe Central
Opening hours: 7:30 am - 10:00 pm (Monday-Saturday), 10:00 am - 10:00 pm (Sunday & public holidays)
5. Get in touch with Vienna's Jewish heritage
Take a trip down memory lane and learn about Vienna’s Jewish past at the Jewish Museum Vienna, the oldest of its kind in the world. Since it opened in 1896, it has amassed a large collection of Jewish-Viennese cultural objects and artifacts. Their other location at Judenplatz houses an impressive library of manuscripts that lets visitors take a peek into the world of medieval Jewish Vienna.
The Jewish Museum Vienna
Address: Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Wien, Austria
Website: The Jewish Museum Vienna
Opening hours: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm (Sunday-Friday)
Price: €12 (USD 13.43) for adults, €10 (USD 11.19) for seniors and club members, €8 (USD 8.95) for students, free for children age 18 and below
Now that you’ve treated yourself to the musical heritage of Vienna, it’s time to go on a food tour. Skip the usual restaurant crawl and visit Naschmarkt in Mariahilf. Naschmarkt is a sprawling outdoor market where you can find over 100 stalls selling fresh produce and even luxurious food products. Sample the fare and pick up a couple of Viennese recipes along the way.
Bonus: Naschmarkt is said to have been established in the 16th century, making it a historical destination as well.
Vienna Small-Group Food Tour of Naschmarkt
Duration: 2 hours
Right at the heart of Vienna is the Naturhistorisches Museum, also known as the National History Museum (NMH). Although particularly distinctive for its impressive Beaux-Arts architecture, the real treasures of the museum are located within its revered halls. This includes the Venus of Willendorf, a 29,500-year-old artifact made of limestone and red ochre. Explore its 39 exhibit halls and journey through time and space.
Vienna Natural History Museum Entrance Ticket
Duration: 2 to 5 hours
Located within the Schönbrunn Palace complex is the Vienna Zoo. Dating back to the mid-18th century, it is the oldest zoo in the world. Giant pandas aside, Vienna Zoo, set in 42 acres (16.9 hectares) of land, is also home to polar bears, rhinos, and 747 other animal species. If you’re planning to go to Vienna in July and August, it’s best you reserve your zoo tickets in advance.
Vienna Card to Zoo, Prater Ferris Wheel, and Madame Tussauds
Duration: 3 days
Head to Leopoldstadt for some fun at Prater Park, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. A visit to Prater Park is free; you’re only charged at the attractions and rides you want to try out. Speaking of rides, don’t miss the Giant Ferry Wheel. Up top, you’ll get a beautiful, panoramic view of Vienna and beyond, such as the hills and even the famous Danube river.
Vienna: Skip-the-Line Giant Ferris Wheel Ride
Duration: 1 day
Built in 1869, the Vienna State Opera plays an important role in Vienna’s musical heritage and history. It is also one of the busiest, with 50 to 60 operas and 350 ballet performances scheduled throughout the year! If you’re a fan of architecture, Vienna State Opera’s Renaissance Revival architecture will be a delight. The facade of the Opera alone is a feast for the eyes.
Vienna State Opera House Mozart Concert in Historical Costumes
Duration: 2 hours
Vienna: truly a world-class destination
While the activities listed above are the essential things to do in Vienna, don’t hesitate to stray from the conventional recommendations for a unique and authentic experience. After all, Vienna has so much to offer! Browse our website for more Vienna travel guides.
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