Famous for its traditional cafés, stunning palaces, rich history and culture, and jaw-dropping natural surroundings, Vienna can be considered as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
As one of Europe’s most beautifully preserved historic capitals, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Vienna and its clean, chilled environment.
For this article, I had the help from the guys at Bonzah to select the top experiences you can’t miss on your trip to this stunning Austrian capital.
1. Feel Like Royalty at Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace is a colossal 1441-room structure and complex. It was the home of The Habsburgs for many years and many emperors were born here as well. Visitors can explore the different rooms in a guided tour and admire their exquisite, original decoration and sumptuous furnishings.
This impressive palace was the summer home of Emperor Franz Joseph and Sisi and it’s the epitome of Austrian lavishness. Don’t miss the chance to take a stroll through the gardens behind the palace.
Their seemingly never-ending gravel pathways, lined with meticulously pruned trees on either side take you back in time to the Imperial days.
Schönbrunn Palace is beautiful and impressive. Expect nice artwork and elegant furnishings, fine tapestries and exquisite antiques and architectural details.
There’s plenty to see and do at Schönbrunn: the Palace itself, a big zoo, the Imperial Carriage Museum, the Orangery or the Gloriette are just some of the things that you can’t miss.
It’s a great attraction to visit with kids. There is a special children’s museum and a fantastic maze that will surely grab their attention with their climbing poles with sound effects, water gargoyles, and a jumping station.
There’s even an Archimedes screw and unique bird climbing frame in the Labyrinthikon playground to make sure that they burn all their energy!
The Schönbrunn Children Museum is fascinating as they can discover what it was like to be the child of an emperor. The visit includes dressing up and learning court manners.
2. Extend Your Royal Experience At The Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg Palace is another impressive palatial complex that used to be the Habsburg’s winter residence. Nowadays, it’s a presidential base. Visitors can walk through the imperial apartments or visit any of the detailed museums in the complex. Many of the city’s top galleries and museums can be found here.
If you love art, get ready to see famous works of art by Klimt and Dürer at the Albertina or spend some time at the stunning butterfly house in Art Nouveau style! And if you love horses, a visit to the Spanish Riding School is a must.
Fans of Empress Sisi can view more than 300 of her personal objects including many of her beautiful dresses.
The Hofburg Palace is absolutely majestic. It boasts different architectural styles as it was expanded over time: Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classicist, Rococo just to mention a few of them. Admire the glorious facades, the graceful archways and cross gorgeous courtyards.
Both the outside and the inside of the palace are impressive and opulent. Some of the most remarkable highlights of your visit are: Michaelertrakt gate, der Burg courtyard, the unique Amanda’s Wing, the astronomical clock of Amalienburg, the Imperial Castle Garden, the Temple of Theseus or the Augustinian Church.
The Imperial Apartments are definitely worth a visit as well as the already mentioned Sisi Museum, the Silver Museum with its 7000 items of fine silver and historic tableware that the Imperial family used daily.
3. Visit St Stephen’s Cathedral
St Stephen’s Cathedral is the most important church in Vienna and Austria. It’s famous for its undeniable beauty and its huge tower is a highlight in the city’s skyline.
It’s an opulent religious building with an intricately decorated main roof with hundreds of colored tiles, its Gothic and Romanesque design in the exterior, its 18 altars, the several smaller chapels, some tombs, and catacombs.
Riding the elevator to the top ensures visitors stunning panoramic views of Vienna, especially from the South Tower that is 136 meters high!
It was renovated many times over the years and this reflects on its mishmash of architectural and decorative styles. There are four tall towers in the cathedral, one of which houses 13 impressive bells. The huge Pummerin bell is the second-largest chimed church bell in the continent and it’s situated in the North Tower.
The onsite crypt and catacombs are also worth visiting. They are fascinating for their notable tombs: Emperor Friedrich III and other imperial leaders are buried here!
The facade of St Stephen’s is spectacular. Before entering through the Giant’s Door, look above and see exquisite sculptures. A guided tour will help you learn more about this fascinating building and its interesting history and its artwork.
The Byzantine Maria Pötsch Icon, thought to be miraculous, cannot be missed as well as the statue known as Christ with a Toothache. There are also minor statues devoted to various saints.
Music lovers will enjoy discovering that Joseph Haydn sang as a choir boy here and that Mozart was married in this religious building in 1782.
4. Visit the Belvedere Museum
The Belvedere Museum is a gigantic palatial complex that used to be the summer residence of Austrian princes back in the 1600s. Now, it’s a stunning museum split into Upper and Lower Belvedere. The two palaces feature amazing architecture. The former has a detailed facade with green-domed semi-towers while the latter has a simpler but beautiful design.
The museum homes a fantastic collection of artwork and decorated staterooms, all surrounded by beautiful gardens. The Upper Belvedere has the largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, including the famous print The Kiss. There are also paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne.
5. Soak in Art at the MuseumsQuartier
Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier houses many of the must-see museums in the city: Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum), the Naturhistorisches Museum (The Natural History Museum), the Leopold Museum with the world’s largest collection of paintings by Schiele or the MUMOK dedicated to Modern Art.
It’s a relatively new and trendy area in Vienna, where tourists can find designer boutiques, trendy bars, and interesting street art.
It’s an area that ‘s definitely worth exploring. Don’t be fooled by the Baroque facades! Inside, the style is contemporary and eclectic, with airy and bright gallery spaces, colorful modern sculptures and an artistic atmosphere everywhere!
Leopold Museum is one of the must-sees. It boasts a great collection of Austrian Expressionist and Symbolist art and has works from the Secession movement led by Klimt. There, you can also admire the world’s largest collection of works by Egon Schiele, a famous Austrian modern painter.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is another must-see for art lovers. Located in a spectacular building, with sweeping staircases, huge rooms, exquisitely carved banisters, and beautiful balconies, it is the home of various types of art from around the world. There are wonderful paintings in the ceilings and the dome so don’t forget to look up!
This splendid art museum is the biggest in Austria. Its collection includes portraits, coins, Roman and Greek antiquities, items from the Near East and Egypt and sculptures so take time to explore it.
There’s also the largest collection of artwork by Bruegel in the world, several works by Klimt, Rubens and Rembrandt as well.
The Natural History Museum located in a sophisticated and stunning building in front of the Kunsthistorisches Museum has a collection of over 30 million precious stones, minerals, meteorites, fossils, skeletons of animals, displays of mammals and insects and even some taxidermy of extinct species. It’s one of the most important in Europe and an interesting place for adults and children alike to explore.
There’s a digital planetarium where you can see interesting films about our planet and its development.
6. See A World-Class Opera Performance
The Wiener Staatsoper or State Opera House of Vienna offers fine architecture and stunning opera performances in abundance. The outstanding building is located centrally in the Innere Stadt district and is considered one of the finest opera houses in the world.
You can take any of the guided tours that are available daily to see this magnificent building! Those interested in attending an opera performance, classical music concert, a performance during the Mozart show or any other performance need to do their research and purchase tickets in advance.
7. Visit the Museum Hundertwasser
The Museum Hundertwasser is devoted to one of Austria’s most important artists: Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Along three different stories, the museum displays his work, including his Teletubby style housing project and the changing exhibition on the third floor.
Hundertwasser House is one of Vienna’s architectural highlights and it will definitely catch your attention. With hardly any straight lines found there, its colors and unusualness, it’s a must-see!
It’s a living, breathing building thanks to the many trees and plants that grow from balconies, on the roof, and in pots. There are more than 200 plants around the building’s exterior!
8. Enjoy the Viennese Coffee Scene!
No visit to Vienna would be complete without enjoying its local coffee scene. Vienna is a world-famous coffee city. There are many coffee houses and they are part of the city’s culture. From modern coffee joints to more traditional establishments, coffee lovers will definitely find their favorite spot in the city!
For the utmost experience, go to Café Central, where Trotsky used to read the papers. The waiting line there can be a turndown, but once you’re inside the stunning decor and the world-class pastries and cakes will blow your mind!
And don’t leave Vienna without trying at least once the delicious Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher or Demel!
9 Get Passionate With Classical Music!
Vienna is world-famous for having produced some of the biggest names in classical music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, despite being born in Salzburg, lived in Vienna for many years during his prolific career as a composer. The Mozarthaus Vienna, at Domgasse 5, was his residence between 1784 and 1787 and it’s the only property where he lived that survives today.
The whole building is devoted to Mozart’s life. It’s filled with interesting information about his life and it provides an interesting insight into life in the XVIII century. It’s also called Figarohouse and it is the place where Mozart composed The Marriage of Figaro.
During your stay in Vienna, don’t miss the chance to see as well: two of Beethoven’s former homes (Beethoven Pasqualati House and Beethoven Residence Heiligenstadt), the house where Franz Schubert was born and the former home of Johann Strauss.
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