Vienna, capital of the Republic of Austria, is one of the most visited cities of Europe. This charming city is rich in history and has a splendid location on the banks of the Danube River. For centuries Vienna acted as a gateway between West and East Europe and was a natural nucleus for the earlier spread Habsburg Empire.
Even today, Vienna is Austria’s most important commercial and cultural hub. Considered as a famous tourist attraction city, Vienna has many great historical sights to explore. It has a great collection of art and glittering palaces. The excellent musical heritage of Vienna is still carried on in the concert halls and in the great opera houses the world has ever seen.
The cosmopolitan atmosphere of Vienna helps it to retain its unique charisma and elegance. The fine old architecture, the famous horse-cabs called Fiaker, and the splendid coffee houses with mouthwatering Viennese cakes and pastries, adds up to the city’s charm. If you are going for a one-day visit or a planning a holiday, you will find many amazing things to do in this city. Below is the list of top tourist attractions and things you can do in Vienna.
Among all the Vienna’s palaces, the Hofburg has the most historical significance. It has been the seat of the Habsburgs for more than six centuries and was the official residence of every Austrian ruler since 1275. This huge complex has many buildings which reflects various periods and the architecture which flourished during the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo movements. The Hofburg covers 59 acres of land and has 18 groups of building with 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms.
Places to visit in the Hofburg include the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Silver Collection. Other notable sites in the complex are the Imperial Chapel called the Burgkapelle and the Hofburg Treasury where you can see large collection of Imperial regalia and relics of the Holy Roman Empire. You can book a guided tour which are available in English and get the full information about its history.
The Spanish Riding School was established during the rule of Emperor Maximilian II when he got the famous Lipizzaner horses to his court in 1562. This school is one of the leading riding schools in the world and the top tourist attraction in Vienna. Audience gets thrilled with fabulous display of equestrian skills in the Baroque Winter Riding School situated on the ground of the Hofburg Palace. It has been there since 1735.
Tickets are not easily available and sell out quickly. You can book the tickets well in advance to see the popular performances. You can also purchase the full package which includes behind the scenes tours and visit to the stables. You can also get a chance to see the morning training session. There is also a café where you can enjoy the meal.
Belvedere Palace is a two splendid Baroque building with the Lower Belvedere and the Upper Belvedere. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions. In the Upper Palace you will see the amazing Ground Floor Hall with all the statues and the Ceremonial Staircase which is rich in stucco relief and frescos. Other highlights include the Marble Hall which is a stunning two-story hall and has many period sculptures, paintings, and ceiling frescos.
The Lower Palace also has a Marble Hall. The specialty of this hall is its oval plaster medallions and rich ceiling fresco. There is also a Marble Gallery where you can see a collection of historic statues. Other highlights of this palace are the Winter Palace, the Orangery, the Palace Stables, and the Belvedere Gardens and Fountains which links the two palaces. The Belvedere Palace has an art museum called the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere. It is known for its extensive collection of rich arrays of sculptures and panel paintings from the 12th to 16th centuries.
The Vienna Zoo was founded in 1752. Its origin can be traced back to Emperor Francis I’s menagerie. It is one of the oldest zoos in the world and is still operating. It is considered to be one of the most pleasant zoos in Europe and has many original Baroque buildings still intact. The 18th century Imperial Breakfast Pavilion is now converted into a great café where you can spend time and have some refreshments.
There are more than 750 species in the zoo. These species include giant pandas, cubs, and many other fascinating creatures in the interactive Rainforest House and Aquarium. To have a fun family experience with your kids, check the zoo’s official website and see the details of feeding times. You can also check if any special theme and backstage guided tours are available or not. After visiting the zoo, you can also go to the Haus des Meeres, a large public aquarium, and the Butterfly House, which is located next to the Opera house.
The Prater is spread across an area of 3200 acres. It was once a royal hunting ground and is now one of the most popular recreation areas in Vienna. The Prater is a large natural park between the Danube and the Danube Canal. When you visit the place, you will feel like you are stepping into another world.
There is no time for you to get bored here as it has so much thrilling experience to offer in the Wurstel area. It has old-fashioned theme park rides, dinosaur-themed park for kids, and restaurant for you to dine and dance. The Giant Wheel, built in 1896, is the highlight of this place. It is a Viennese landmark and gives the best view of the city. Other tourist attractions include the Prater Ziehrer Monument, the Prater Museum, a Palnetarium, and the Liliputbahn miniature steam railroad.
It was in 1625 when the first Viennese Court Opera was performed in the State Opera House. It is one of the world’s largest and the most wonderful theaters. The Vienna State Opera House is the home to many prominent composers, conductors, soloists, and dancers. In one year, at least 300 operatic and ballet performances are staged here.
In 1869 it was redesigned in Early French Renaissance style. The highlights of the interior are its grand staircase which leads to the first floor, the Schwind Foyer, and the exquisite Tea Room with valuable tapestries. The opera house can accommodate 2211 audience with 110 musicians. It is also home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Housed in a magnificent building, this museum has tremendous art collections of the Hapsburg royal family. The Dutch art featured here has the world’s largest collection of works by Peter Bruegel the Elder. His masterpiece, Tower of Babel, is also present there. Paintings by Raphael, Titian, Bellini, Caravaggio, and Vermeer, and the portraits by Velazquez are also a part of the collection.
The museum specializes in the paintings from the period of late Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and Flemish. You can also book a guided tour. The museum café must be visited as it has elegantly decorated walls and ceilings. The museum has the best view of the Maria-Theresien-Platz. you can also visit the Museum of Applied Arts nearby which features traditional Austrian crafts and arts.
An impressive Neo-Gothic building, the Vienna’s City Hall serves as the city’s administrative center. The construction of this attractive building was finished in 1883 and occupies nearly 14000 square meters of the former Parade Ground. This building is known for the famous Rathausmann on top of its 98-meter-high tower. There are seven courtyards in the building and the arcade courtyard, in the center, is the largest among all. Popular summer concerts are held here.
Highlights of the building are the Schmidt Halle, the two Grand Staircases which leads to the Assembly Hall, the Heraldic Rooms, the City Senate Chamber, and the Mayor’s reception room.
Karlskriche is Vienna’s most important Baroque religious building and is dedicated to St Charles Borromeo. There a huge 72-mter dome crowned above the building. The building is famous for its twin 33-meter Triumphal Pillars. It has spiral bands which depicts scenes from the life of St Charles. Highlights of Karlskriche include the amazing frescos of St Cecilia. There is regular concert program which takes place in the church.
In the magnificent Albertina museum, you will fine modern art works by great artists. French impressionists, Vienna secessionists, the Russian avant-garde, the expressionists, and fauvists can be seen here. There are millions of artworks and more than 65000 drawings in this must-visit tourist attraction. The artwork of this museum is hanged in the splendid 17th century palace where the archdukes of Habsburg lived for a century. Temporary exhibits are also hosted in the museum.
The Natural History Museum is famous for its huge Dinosaur Hall and the world’s largest exhibit of meteorites. The museum has 39 exhibit hall which has subjects that talks about the origin and development of humans and the evolution of human culture from prehistoric times. Venus of Willendorf, a pottery figurine from between 28000 and 25000 BCE, is a rare treasure which can be seen here.
Digital Planetarium with full dome projection is the newest feature of the museum. The building was opened in 1889. It is itself a beautiful piece of art, especially the magnificent ceiling paintings which are above the main staircase.
Hundertwasserhaus, designed by painter Friedensreich Hundertwasserhaus, is a brightly colored landmark which is situated on the corner of Lowengassse and Kegelstrasse. It was completed in 1985 and is known as Vienna’s nature and human-friendly apartment block. The 53-units of this building is mostly occupied by artists, intellectuals, and creative people. You can explore the nearby Kunsthaus Wien which is complex of apartments and has terrace cafes where you rest and enjoy the ambience.
The Capuchin Church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. It is famous for its spectacular Imperial Vault. The Habsburg family vault contains the remains of 145 members of their family. There are nine vaults which are arranged in chronological order which tells how the burials evolved with time. In the Founder’s Vault lied the remains of the Emperor Matthias who died in 1619 and Empress Anna who died in 1618.
The Maria Theresa Vault is also the highlight of the church. It was built for the Empress who died in 1780. It is a doomed chamber which is dominated by a double casket in the Rococo style.
The Museum Quarter was opened in 2001 and has a variety of old and new architecture that once served as the former royal stables. There are many first-rate museums here which are worth exploring. The famous Leopold Museum is known for its large collection of works by Austria’s leading modern artists and the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna features more than 10000 contemporary and modern pieces by Picasso and Warhol.
The popular summertime Vienna Festival is the highlight of the Museum Quarter. The surrounding buildings are used as venues for many cultural events and concerts. Also, the country’s leading dance center, Tanzquartier, is located here.
Peterskirche, modeled as St Peters in Rome, is situated on the site which was earlier occupied by a Roman church and later by Charlemagne in 792 AD. The building was built in 18th century and has a massive dome with wonderful fresco and artistic treasures. Another highlight is the Barbara Chapel which has a magnificent portal. Frequent organ recitals too take place in the church.
If you want to have the most memorable food experience in Vienna, you need to visit the famous Demel café which was founded in 1786. It is the oldest café and bakery in Vienna. The dishes and cakes served here are carefully prepared by traditional techniques from old recipes. Some of these recipes were used to satisfy the cravings of Emperor Franz Joseph who enjoyed Demel cakes and pralines secretly.
The modestly dressed waitresses here wear black dresses with lace collars and address their customers with the formal, “Haben schon gewahlt?”, which means “Has madam/sir already made their choice?”
The Danube Tower, called the Donauturm, stands taller than any other building in Vienna. The 252-meter-tall Danube Tower is a great fanfare which was opened in 1964. It is still one of the most visited sites in Vienna from where you have a spectacular view over the Danube River. There is a speedy elevator ride to the observation deck at 150- meter. From there you can spot many important attractions. There are two restaurants at the Danube Tower. In one restaurant you can have a world-class dining experience and the other is a casual café-style restaurant.
Donauinsel is the Danube Island which separates the Danube River, and a canal called the Donaukanal. The island in 21 kilometers long and 210 meter wide. It is a popular walking spot where locals come to relax. The island is easily accessible via water taxi or bridge. It has interesting dining opportunities and people who want a quiet stroll along the Danube would find the place to be pleasant.
Many adventure sports also take place here like biking, rollerblading, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. The annual fest, Donauinselfest, also takes place here.
The Parliament building, built in 1918, is a home to Austria’s National and Federal Parliament. It was completed in 1883 and boasts many Greek influences from Corinthian columns to its rich decoration. the exterior carvings depict the granting of the Constitution by Franz Joseph and has numerous marble statues and reliefs. The Pallas Athene Fountain is the highlight of the building.
The Karntner Strasse is the most elegant street in Vienna for shopping. The streets are fun to wander about with lime trees, pavement cafes, fashionable shops, elegant boutiques, and busy shopping arcade all around the corner.
The Donner Fountain was exquisitely built in 1739 by Georg Raphael Donner. It reflects the caring and wise city government and was commissioned by those who ran Vienna at that time.
Burgtheater was opened by Emperor Joseph II in 1776 as the Court Theater. In 1945, it was devastated by bombs and fire, and eventually it was reopened in 1955. Since then, it had grown in stature and is the country’s most important theater. It is famous for its productions of German language plays and performances.
The exterior of the building is impressive and has numerous decorative figures, scenes, and busts. The interior of the building is equally impressive and is richly decorated in French Baroque style, and a staircase with frescos by Gustav and Ernst Klimt.
Museum of Military History has a remarkable collection of weaponry and exhibits with details of the events in which the Austrian military was involved from 1600s to 1950s. You will get a chance to see weaponry like muskets, machine guns, cannons, tanks, and vintage aircrafts. You will also get to see interesting dioramas and models with uniforms and medals. Do not forget to enjoy the splendid architecture of the museum.
The Franciscan Church is and early 17th century Roman Catholic church. It has a Renaissance façade, and its interior is decorated in Baroque style which make it unique. The High Altar from1707 and a painting of the Madonna and Child from 1550 are the highlights of the church. The oldest organ in Vienna, Baroque organ from 1643, is also present there. The most famous artifact of the church is a carved image of Madonna with the Axe, which was carried by Austrian soldiers during their campaign against the Turks.
The Jewish Museum was established to celebrate and commemorate Vienna’s Jewish population. It was established in 1986 and is spread across two cities, Judenplatz and Dorotheergasse. It displays and exhibits the history of Jewish culture and religion in Austria,
At Judenplatz, you can see displays of social, cultural, and religious lives of the city’s Jewish population. You can also see the art and photography collection and get a chance to visit an authentic medieval Jewish synagogue. At Dorotheergasse, you can see the main collection, like artifacts and memorabilia which related to Jewish life after World War II, housed in Palais Eskeles.
In this museum, you will have an intriguing glimpse into the life of the most remarkable thinkers of modern era. It is located in Freuds former home and features rooms and exhibits relating to the history of psychoanalysis. In the research library, you will find Freud’s original writings. Apart from personal artifacts and his collection of antiques, you will find an impressive modern art collection on the property.
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