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Are you considering a trip to Vienna, Austria? Or have you already booked your tickets, or arrived at your hotel, and now you’re wondering “What can I do here?“.

Vienna is famous for its traditional cafés, incredible palaces, rich history, and fascinating culture. It is also surrounded by nature, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.

With so much to see in the city center and beyond, it can be tough to narrow down what to do when visiting Vienna.

But, worry not, here are some of the must-see and must-do activities that you simply won’t want to miss to have the most incredible experience in the capital city of Austria.

Things to Do in Vienna: At a Glance

  1. Visit Schönbrunn Palace
  2. Check out Hofburg Palace
  3. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral
  4. Explore the Belvedere Museum
  5. Admire art at MuseumsQuartier
  6. Be enchanted by the Vienna State Opera House
  7. Visit the Museum Hundertwasser
  8. Sample Viennese coffee
  9. Learn more about Mozart
  10. Take pictures of Majolikahaus
  11. Walk along the Ringstrasse
  12. Tuck into Sachertorte
  13. Take in the view from a rooftop bar
  14. Check out the Jewish Museum
  15. Fill your belly at Naschmartk

The 15 Top Experiences in Vienna

1. Visit the impressive Schönbrunn Palace

You really can’t visit Vienna without stopping at the Schönbrunn Palace. This palatial building was the summer residence of the Habsburgs (the rulers of Austria for over 600 years), and today, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This place is HUGE. You can explore many of the 1,441 rooms on a guided tour, learning more about the history of Emperor Franz Joseph and Sisi. You can also admire the lush gardens behind the palace.

Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria

So, what can you expect here?

Intricate decorations, elegant furnishings, impressive artworks, fine tapestries, and incredible architectural details.

And there’s more than just the palace and gardens at this location. There’s also:

  • A zoo
  • The Imperial Carriage Museum
  • The Orangery
  • The Gloriette
Schönbrunn Fountain in Vienna, Austria

This is a great attraction for older and younger kids. There’s even a special children’s museum with a maze, water gargoyles, climbing poles, and a jumping station. Plus, the kids will learn something about Austria’s history!

The Schönbrunn Children’s Museum is really fascinating for adults too. You can watch your kids discover what it was like to be the child of an emperor. The visit includes dressing up and learning court manners.

Skip the line by getting your ticket ahead of time here.

2. Feel even more royal at the Hofburg Palace

I told you Vienna has plenty of palaces!

The Hofburg Palace is yet another impressive building in the city. This palace was once used by the Habsburgs as their winter residence, but today it is the presidential base.

You can walk through the imperial apartments, and visit many of the museums and galleries dotted around the complex.

Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria

Whether you love Renaissance or modern art, you’ll love the works on display here. You’ll get to see works by Klimt and Dürer at the Albertina. Or you can spend time in the Art Nouvaeau-style butterfly house.

And those who love horses must visit the Spanish Riding School.

Back to the main palace. If you adore Empress Sisi, you can view more than 300 of her personal objects (including her dresses) here.

And the palace itself is incredibly impressive. It boasts different architectural styles as it was refurbished and expanded over time, including Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classicist, and Rococo.

Make sure to look up from time to time. You’ll get to marvel at the glorious facades and graceful archways overhead.

So, what are the highlights?

  • The Michaelertrakt Gate
  • Der Burg courtyard
  • Amanda’s Wing
  • The astronomical clock of Amalienburg
  • The Imperial Castle Garden
  • The Temple of Theseus
  • The Augustinian Church
  • The Imperial Apartments
  • The Silver Museum (where you can see the Imperial silver collection)
  • Sisi Museum

You can also skip the line at this palace with this tour.

3. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is considered one of the most important churches not only in Vienna but also in Austria.

The very first cathedral on this site was established in 1147, however, it burned in 1258, and only the west facade remained.

During the Battle of Vienna in April 1945, this cathedral was burnt to the ground, but fortunately, it was reconstructed in 1952.

St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria

When you visit this Gothic and Romanesque religious building today, you get to explore 18 altars, several smaller chapels, tombs, and catacombs. You can ride the elevator to the top for panoramic views of Vienna. I recommend you head over to the South Tower for the best views since it is 136 meters tall.

The South Tower is only one of the four towers, which houses a total of 13 bells. The Pummerin Bell is the second-largest chimed church bell in Europe, located in the North Tower.

The tombs and catacombs are also worth visiting. They house the final resting places of many notable leaders, including Emperor Friederich III and Rudolf IV.

Even the outside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is impressive. Before entering through the Giant’s Door, look up to see exquisite sculptures of St. Stephen and the crucifixion.

St Stephen's Cathedral Interior in Vienna, Austria

Inside, you can’t miss the Byzantine Maria Pötsch Icon, thought to be a miraculous image since it shed tears in 1696. Another notable statue is called “Christ with a Toothache”

You can book a guided tour of the cathedral to learn more about the artworks, statues, and the history of the building.

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.

Enjoy a concert in the cathedral or discover its mysterious secrets with one of these tours.

4. Visit the Belvedere Museum

Back to yet another summer residence!

The Belvedere Museum consists of two palaces (called the Upper and Lower Belvedere) and was commissioned by the Austrian general Prince Eugene of Savoy to be constructed as a summer residence during the 18th century.

When Prince Eugene passed on, Empress Maria Theresa acquired the complex and transformed Upper Belvedere into one of the first museums in the world!

Both palaces feature incredible architecture. Upper Belvedere has the more intricate facade of the two, with green-domed semi-towers.

Belvedere in Vienna, Austria

The museum showcases an impressive collection of artwork and decorated staterooms. The Upper Belvedere Museum is home to the largest collection of artworks by Gustave Klimt, including his famous print, The Kiss. You can also see paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne.

If you’re looking for an in-depth experience at the Belvedere Palace, I recommend checking out this private tour.

5. Marvel at the art at the MuseumsQuartier

History and art lovers rejoice – this one is for you!

The MuseumsQuartier is home to many of the must-see museums and art galleries in the city center. Here you’ll find:

  • Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum)
  • Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum)
  • Leopold Museum (largest collection of Schiele’s artworks)
  • MUMOK (dedicated to modern and contemporary art)
MuseumQuarter in Vienna, Austria

But it is not just the museums and art that will attract you. The area in which it is situated is super trendy, with lots of eateries, boutiques, bars, and street art you can explore in between your museum visits.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend here, I recommend you check out the Leopold Museum. It has a great collection of Austrian Art (including Expressionism and Symbolist pieces) as well as work from the Secession Movement led by Klimt.

You can also admire the world’s largest collection of works by Egon Schiele, a famous Austrian modern art painter.

Have a bit more time to kill? Head over to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, especially if you love the fine arts. This museum showcases portraits, coins, Roman and Greek antiquities, items from the Near East and Egypt, and plenty of sculptures. Even the ceilings are adorned with intricate paintings.

There’s also the world’s largest collection of artwork by Bruegel, and several works by Klimt, Rubens, and Rembrandt.

In front of the Kunsthistorisches Museum is the Natural History Museum. It is a treasure trove of stones, minerals, fossils, animal skeletons, meteorites, and taxidermy (including extinct species).

The MuseumsQuartier is a fascinating place for both adults and children to explore. There’s even a digital planetarium where you can watch interesting films about our solar system. If the weather is a bit bad, then meandering along the many corridors is a good way to keep out of the cold.

6. Watch world-class performances at the Vienna State Opera House

The Weiner Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House) is as beautiful outside as the performers are on the stage.

The building is located in the inner city (Innere Stadt) district and is considered by many to be one of the finest opera houses in the world.

The Opera in Vienna, Austria

There are guided tours of this building daily, which will take you around the many rooms and corners of the opera house, providing you with information on the history of the remarkable building.

But, let’s face it, you’re not just here to marvel at architecture.

If you want to watch a performance (you do!) you can purchase tickets in advance. Popular shows here include operas, classical music concerts, and Mozart tribute shows.

7. Learn more about Hundertwasser

The Museum Hundertwasser is dedicated to one of the most important Austrian artists: Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

The museum displays his unique works over three stories, from his Tellytubby-style housing project to an ever-changing art exhibition on the third floor.

Hundertwasser in Vienna, Austria

You really can’t miss this museum (and I mean, when you walk past it!). There’s no straight line in sight, and the outside building is colorful, contrasting, and just plain unusual. The 200 or so plants growing from the ceiling, pots, and balconies are also sure to grab your attention and draw you in.

You can get your museum tickets here.

8. Sample Viennese Coffee

Even coffee snobs will appreciate the incredible coffee on offer in Vienna. Vienna is a world-famous coffee city. There is a coffee house on almost every corner, and these cafés have become part of the city’s culture.

One place I can recommend is Café Central. This restaurant provides outstanding Viennese cuisine, and they’ve got a special “Coffee Menue” dedicated to breakfasts, coffees, pastries, and light lunches. But, they are usually booked in advance, so you have to plan accordingly.

Coffee cup

Trotsky used to come to this coffee house and read the paper!

Even if you can’t get a seat at Café Central, there are plenty of modern and traditional coffee houses around, so you’ll definitely find your favorite spot for a cup of java.

9. Learn more about Mozart

If you’re into classical music, then this experience is for you.

Vienna is world-famous for producing some of the biggest names in classical music, with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart being but one of the elite. Although he was born in Salzburg, he lived in Vienna for many years when he was a composer.

The Mozarthaus Vienna at Domgasse 5 was his residence for three years in the 1780s. It is the only property where Mozart once lived that still stands today.

Mozart House in Vienna, Austria

The entire building is dedicated to Mozart’s life, filled to the brim with interesting information about how he lived. Its affectionate nickname is the “Figaro House,” as it is in this house that the musical genius composed The Marriage of Figaro.

Fun fact: there are even more classical music geniuses linked to Vienna. Don’t miss the chance to see 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.

10. Take pictures of Majolikahaus

The Majolikahaus was designed by renowned architect Otto Wagner in the 1890s. It is a typical Viennese Art Nouveau building, with a colorful floral motif and tiles on the exterior. The interior is just as remarkable, with a dramatic staircase.

Majolika Haus in Vienna
Image from Wikipedia

You don’t have to go inside, though. The outside has been described as “a remarkably striking innovation,” and you’ll be happy just to have the opportunity to take some creative pictures of the delicate tiles.

While you’re there, glance over to number 38 on the same street – it is right next door. The gold ornaments of this house were designed by Kolomon Moser, yet another impressive name of the Modernism Movement in Vienna.

11. Walk along the Ringstrasse

The Ringstrasse – called just “the Ring” – was constructed during the Habsburg era and encircles the city center of Vienna. It was initially designed to connect the Imperial Center with the suburbs.

This grand boulevard was constructed by decree of Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1847.

But why should you go to some street?

Ringstrasse in Vienna

The Ring is the best way to admire some of the most impressive buildings in the city. You can see the following notable sights:

  • State Opera House
  • Natural History Museum
  • Art History Museum
  • World Museum
  • National Library
  • Burgtheater
  • Parliament
  • City Hall
  • Volksgarten
  • Vienna University

12. Tuck into Sachertorte

Sachertorte is the signature cake of Vienna. This cake is created with a chocolate sponge, a thin layer of apricot jam, and covered in dark chocolate ganache. It is usually enjoyed with whipped cream.

But don’t think of sachertorte as just a dessert. The recipe for this delectable treat is one of Vienna’s biggest secrets. Sure, you will find these cakes throughout restaurants and coffee houses.

Sachertorte in Vienna

However, nothing comes to the sachertortes baked by both Hotel Sacher and Demel. These two establishments have a long-standing rivalry about who created the recipe. It’s so serious that they’ve even been to court!

But, I am not one to judge on whose is best, and neither are you. I guess you’ll just have to grab a sachertorte from both establishments…

13. Take in the view at a rooftop bar

There are plenty of rooftop bars in the city, and stopping by for a drink at one is a must when visiting Vienna.

There’s something for every budget and taste, but they all have one thing in common – incredible views!

Vienna Rooftop View

Some popular bars include:

  • Das LOFT (located on a WWII flak tower)
  • 360 Ocean Sky (located at Haus des Meeres)
  • Sky @ Steffl
  • Oben Kuche und Bar

These bars each have their own vibe. Here, you can find cocktails, coffee, finger foods, and fine dining. It just depends on what you’re in the mood for!

14. Check out the Jewish Museum

The world’s first Jewish museum was established in Vienna in 1895, but sadly it was plundered and all but destroyed by the Nazis in 1938. Most of the valuable items have never been found.

Jewish Museum in Vienna
Image from Wikipedia

The Jewish Museum that stands in Vienna today was originally founded in 1988 and moved to its current position in 1993. The museum tells the story of the Viennese Jews, from the Middle Ages to today.

It also preserves the memory of those killed in the Holocaust and explores the Viennese life of Jewish inhabitants from past to present.

15. Fill your belly at Nachmarkt

This open-air market was founded during the 16th century, and clearly, it has stood the test of time! Through wars and unrest, it has survived.

Nachmarkt in Vienna

You can try incredible local delicacies here, but you’re certainly not limited to Viennese dishes and schnitzel. No, here, your senses will be overwhelmed with flavors from India, the Middle East, Vietnam, and Italy.

At one stall, you can grab stuffed dolma leaves, while you can purchase huge, whole sundried tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella (clearly, they like stuffing things!)

Traveling to the Sites in Vienna

If you’re spending a few days in Vienna and would like to save some money on the attractions listed above, all of the above-mentioned sights and many more can be bundled with the Vienna Sightseeing Flexi Pass.

This pass gives you a discounted rate on 2 – 5 sights (depending on the pass you get). Not only that, but you also get to skip the line and ride the hop-on hop-off bus across the city and more. You can learn more about the Flexi Pass here.

If that doesn’t sound like something that will interest you, you can also get a Vienna City Card, which is the official card that will take you on public transport around the city.

Images 9, 10, and 11 from Flickr Creative Commons.           

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  1. Vienna is high on the bucket list and I love discovering more activities to experience in this city. Cheers!

  2. Recently visited several of these places. Nice to go through your post and still linger in memories. I love Vienna! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi, I visited most of the places mentioned but also visited the Schmetterlinghaus: butterfly house in the Hofburg Palace. I really liked the butterfly house.

  4. I am going to spend my birthday this 2023 in Vienna. Thank you for giving tips. Do you have any restaurant recommendation?