Vienna: Austria’s Capital – the Top 10 Places of Interest
Not sure about you, but we think Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. According to Mercer’s studies, it has even been the most livable city in the world for ten years in a row. As such, the Austrian capital is not only known for its many attractions, but also for offering its residents a high quality of life.
But the metropolis is not only a great place to live in, but also an important center of Austrian culture, business, and politics. Around the world, the city is known by various nicknames, such as “City of Music” and “City of Dreams”.
Of course, Vienna also boasts a wealth of impressive historic buildings, gardens, and facilities. But with so many sights, one weekend is simply not enough to cover all of them.
If you are a fan of history, architecture or street art, then Vienna is one of the best destinations for your next city trip. Every kind of traveler will discover something to their liking in this city. To help you out, we’ll present some of the best activities you can do in Vienna in the following article.
Vienna in a Nutshell
Before we tell you more about the sights in Vienna, let’s go over the basics first.
With 1.8 million inhabitants, Vienna is the capital and also the largest city in Austria. Approximately every fifth Austrian person lives in Vienna. Thanks to its central location in Europe, Vienna is an excellent starting point for city trips. For example, it takes only 3-4 hours to reach the surrounding cities of Prague, Budapest, and Munich.
With its mild climate, the city is a great place to visit all year round. The summer temperatures range from 20 to 30 °C and the winter temperatures are around 0 °C. If your planned activities depend on the weather, take a look at our climate guide for Austria. There, you will find all the information about the weather and the best times for traveling.
Getting around the city is no matter of concern due to the well-structured public transportation system. It’s very easy to reach Vienna by train. Busses, subways, and streetcars will always take you to your next destination.
The food in Vienna is a real treat! Even if you’ve eaten dishes like Wiener Schnitzel or Apfelstrudel before, they taste better and more authentic here. Be sure to try the famous Sachertorte and Kaiserschmarrn as well.
There is always something going on in Vienna. No matter if it’s concerts, theater or sports, you’ll always find something to do. For example, in June the Donauinselfest (Danube Island Festival) – the largest open-air festival in Europe – takes place. The wide range of entertainment means fun for people of all ages. In addition, the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival) – a well-known arts festival focusing on cultural diversity – also takes place in June.
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Vienna
Now that we’ve covered the basic facts, it’s time to show you the best sights Vienna has to offer. Take a look at the top ten places of interest in the Austrian capital!
Belvedere Palace and the Belvedere Garden
The complex of Belvedere Palace is one of the most popular sights in Vienna. The main part consists of two magnificent Baroque buildings, called Lower Belvedere and Upper Belvedere.
Highlights of the Upper Belvedere include the hall on the first floor with its statues and the staircase with its rich stucco relief and frescoes. The Marble Hall, an impressive two-story hall with numerous sculptures, paintings, and ceiling frescoes from that time period, is also worth seeing.
Lower Belvedere also features a marble hall, known for its oval plaster medallions and a rich ceiling fresco. You will also find a marble gallery that was built to house a collection of historical statues.
Other notable buildings include the Winter Palace, a Baroque building that once housed the court treasury, as well as the Orangery, the palace stables, and the Belvedere Garden, which connect the two palaces.
The Belvedere garden is divided into five parts, the largest being the Belvedere Palace Garden, followed by the Secret Garden, the Sculpture Garden, the Alpine Garden and finally the Botanical Garden.
The Vienna Prater
What better way to spend your time in Vienna than with a day of fun in the Prater amusement park? This 3200-hectare large nature park between the Danube and the Danube Canal used to be a royal hunting ground. Today, the Prater is one of the most popular recreational areas in Vienna.
In addition to the extensive green spaces, the Prater is also home to an amusement park. Here you will find numerous snack bars and a variety of rides, including bumper cars, carousels and hair-raising roller coasters.
One of the main attractions is the famous Ferris wheel, which has been offering passengers a magnificent view of the city since the end of the 19th century. It towers 200 meters above the Prater and is one of the city’s landmarks.
The park boasts even more other interesting sights, such as the Ziehrer Monument, built in 1960, a larger-than-life statue of the composer Carl Michael Ziehrer, and the Prater Museum, featuring exhibitions that document the history of the park. You can also visit a planetarium or take a ride on the Liliputbahn, a miniature steam train, running along a 4-kilometer-long route near the main avenue.
The spectacular Schönbrunn Palace is worth a visit not only for its magnificent architecture but also for its beautiful park-like ambiance. This was the Habsburg residence for many years, and Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria was born in this palace as well.
The palace itself is a huge building and designed in Baroque style, with a symmetrical main building that has hundreds of windows and statues on the roof. The beautiful baroque palace is one of the most popular attractions in Vienna and houses more than 1,441 rooms and apartments.
On the tour through the palace, you will have the opportunity to visit the emperor’s apartments. These include the Walnut Room of Emperor Franz Joseph, as well as his bedroom, which still contains the soldier’s bed in which he died.
The rooms used by Empress Maria Theresa are also very interesting. The richly furnished and decorated garden apartments and the breakfast room with the floral artworks created by her daughters are especially noteworthy.
The Schönbrunn Garden – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is also worth seeing. The park stretches over a kilometer from the palace. You can spend many hours strolling through the different areas and exhibitions.
You can also walk through the parterre and admire the uniform flowerbeds, or get lost in the beautiful hedge maze. The Neptune Fountain in particular is a breathtaking work of art, along with an artificial Roman ruin with stone statues.
A century ago, Vienna was the center of a powerful empire, with the Hofburg being the home of the Habsburgs. Today, you could spend days exploring this place.
During the Habsburg monarchy, the ornate Hofburg was the beating heart of the Kingdom of Austria-Hungary until 1918, making it the most historically significant palace in all of Vienna.
All in all, this huge complex extends over 59 hectares with 18 groups of buildings, 19 courtyards and 2600 rooms. In our opinion, it is not only the largest, but also one of the most magnificent castles in the world. Nowadays, it is the official residence of the Austrian President and houses many of the best museums, attractions, and galleries in Vienna.
A walk near the Hofburg offers you an interesting insight into the history of Austria. For example, the Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square), where Adolf Hitler gave his “Anschluss” speech, is nearby. In the castle, you can admire the baroque splendor of the State Hall of the Austrian National Library. The castle complex also houses paintings by famous artists such as Klimt and Dürer, as well as the Spanish Riding School.
Vienna City Hall
Vienna is full of historically significant architecture, and the City Hall on the Rathausplatz is no exception. At first glance, you might mistake this neo-Gothic building for a cathedral.
It is located near the Hofburg and is one of the most monumental buildings on the Ringstraße. This impressive building was completed in 1883 and is characterized by its size of almost 14,000 square meters.
Similar to the City Hall in Brussels, Vienna’s City Hall has five towers, with the middle one being the tallest. The famous Rathausmann – a banner-bearing iron figure that was given to the city as a gift – on its 98-meter-high tower is particularly noteworthy.
Among the most impressive sights of the Town Hall are the Schmidt Hall, the grand entrance and the two grand staircases leading to the assembly hall. However, the heraldic rooms, the hall of the city senate and the mayor’s reception hall are also very interesting. The arcaded courtyard, the largest of the seven courtyards, is located in the center of the building and is used for concerts in the summer.
The colorful Hundertwasserhaus
The Hundertwasser House is an apartment building that consists of different apartments, all of which are designed and colored differently. It is considered Vienna’s “nature and people-friendly” apartment building and is definitely worth a visit. However, only the tenants are allowed to enter the building, so you can only see it from the outside.
This house on the corner of Löwengasse and Kegelstraße was designed by the famous painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the residents of the 53 residential units mainly consist of artists and other creative people.
The tower, which was built between 1962 and 1964 for the Vienna Garden Show, offers you an amazing view! The Danube Tower is the highest building in Austria with 252 meters.
In the tower, there is a café and a restaurant at a height of 160 meters. Various events take place here on a regular basis. If you are a thrill-seeker, you can go bungee jumping from the Danube Tower. For a very special experience, visit the tower on a full moon night! From the top of the Danube Tower, the full moon looks even more magical.
Built in the 16th century, the Naschmarkt is the ideal place for foodies, antique hunters and anyone who just wants to see where the locals go to enjoy delicious food. This open-air market is located on Wienzeile and stretches for about 1.5 kilometers.
The Naschmarkt is a melting pot of culture and cuisine, as well as the oldest and largest market in Vienna. Here you can taste your way through the diverse culinary history of Vienna, but also get to know dishes from all over the world. Many of the vendors also offer free samples of their products. In addition, the market is the perfect place to stock up on edible souvenirs such as cheese, wine and sausages.
No matter what you’re craving, you’ll surely find what you’re looking for here. You better bring enough cash though because many stands still don’t accept payment by card.
The Museum of Art History is not only worth a visit when the weather is bad! It is one of the most important and largest museums in the world.
Not only the building itself is impressive, but also the many different exhibitions. In addition to the seasonally changing exhibitions, the Museum of Art History is home to various collections. Among them is the Egyptian-Oriental Collection, one of the most important collections of Egyptian antiquities.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, affectionately called ” Steffl” by the locals, is a magnificent representation of Viennese architecture and an imposing landmark. The beauty of this building is undeniable. The huge tower dominates the Vienna skyline, while also being the tallest church tower in Austria. You can find the silhouette of the cathedral on most of the souvenirs and postcards.
This church is Vienna’s most important Gothic building and has been the cathedral church of the archbishopric since 1722. The original Romanesque church from the 12th century was replaced in the 13th century by a late Romanesque church, the remains of which are the massive gate and the Heidentürme. In the 14th century, the Gothic style reconstruction took place with the addition of the choir and some chapels. After the Second World War, the entire structure was rebuilt.
The interior of the cathedral is full of treasures, from jeweled relics to holy books. It is also home to the tombs of Viennese luminaries such as Emperor Frederick III and Prince Eugene of Savoy. In total, there are 18 altars inside the church, several smaller chapels and even some tombs.
Here, you have the opportunity to climb 343 steps to the guardroom of the cathedral in order to enjoy a spectacular view of the city. The north tower is also very interesting, as it houses the enormous Pummerin bell.
A trip to Vienna is really worth it. We could write an entire book about all the sights and attractions.
Especially the many castles, like the Hofburg and Schönbrunn Palace, are true masterpieces of Viennese architecture. Our highlight, however, is St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its unique view.
If you are interested in art, then you should definitely visit the Hundertwasserhaus. You can admire the colorful façade of the house while drinking a delicious cappuccino in a nearby café.
You will surely enjoy your time in Vienna as much as we did. You’ll never want to leave. After all, who wouldn’t want to stay in the most livable city in the world? Maybe you will fall in love with the whole country!
In any case, enjoy your time there!