Art, music, architecture, cultural events, nature, food—Vienna has it all! It’s hard to know what to put on your itinerary when you have so many choices. Our local expert curated this list to help you narrow down the top things to do in Vienna so you won’t miss out on the many wonders that Austria’s City of Music has to offer!
Pro Tip: Planning your trip to Vienna? It’s easier to organize your trip when you have all your resources in one place. Bookmark this post along with our article on the best restaurants in Vienna.
15 Amazing Things To Do and See in Vienna
Despite its size, Vienna is one of the most-visited European capital cities thanks to its incredible concentration of art, imperial palaces, historical sights, and musical heritage.
Part of what makes Vienna a special place to visit is the influences of the Holy Roman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which it was once part of). Not to mention the incredible culture of museums, libraries, opera, and famous art by Klimt, Rodin, Van Gogh, etc.
Time stands still in the cobbled streets of Vienna, where you can still encounter horse-drawn cabs and palatial coffee houses. The monumental architecture and numerous baroque buildings all contribute to the elegant flair the city is known for worldwide.
Austria’s capital awaits and with so much to explore, it can be difficult to narrow down what to do in Vienna. To make sure your itinerary includes the top attractions as well as activities to give you a taste of local culture and modern Viennese lifestyle, check out this list. Here are our top picks for unique experiences in Vienna.
15. Feast Your Eyes on the Stunning Architecture of Innere Stadt
Vienna’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and you’re about to discover why. Take a walk and feast your eyes on the city’s stunning architecture, starting at Stephansplatz. There, you’ll see the impressive St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a Gothic beauty with a multicolored tiled roof. Head towards the neo-renaissance State Opera and the Hofburg imperial palace with its iconic green dome.
Look up but don’t forget to look around! In addition to the iconic attractions, every street in the Innere Stadt is brimming with great architecture. When Vienna became the capital of the Habsburg Empire, noble families built many new palaces. And some of the existing medieval buildings, religious institutions, and administrative palaces were adorned with beautiful baroque features. Together with the art noveau houses and contemporary buildings, they blend together to create what is essentially an open-air museum.
Continue your walk to Ringstrasse boulevard, where the walls of the old medieval city were located. Look out for the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art Museum) building and its mirror image, the Museum of Natural History. Separated by a landscaped square, both are outstanding examples of Viennese architecture. Welcome to stunning Vienna!
14. Eat A Viennese Hot Dog with the Locals
When you get hungry on your walks around the city, stop for a traditional Viennese sausage at one of the würstelstände. You’ll find these small sidewalk kiosks scattered around the city, usually located outside the subway stations or at tram stops.
Viennese sausage is a traditional street food and a pillar of the Viennese lifestyle—to the extent that there’s an extensive local vocabulary to refer to it. These tasty delicacies usually come on a paper plate with bread, mustard, and ketchup, or hot-dog style, tucked into a long roll.
The sausage selection usually includes the classic Käsekrainer, a sausage filled with cheese, and the Frankfurter, a parboiled sausage, which comes in pairs together with a white bun known as semmel. Other specialties include the Bratwurst, fried and lightly spiced, or the curry-flavored Currwurst. Pick your condiments and blend in with the locals at any time of the day.
Address: Albertinapl. 1
13. Feel the Greatness of the Empire in Heldenplatz
Steeped in history, Heldenplatz is the public space in front of Hofburg Palace nestled into the bright greenery of the Volksgarten Park and the Burggarten. Today it’s the preferred venue for any big event or demonstration taking place in Vienna. It’s also known as the location of Hitler’s 1938 balcony speech from the Neue Burg.
Heldenplatz is surrounded by iconic buildings, up to the monumental City Hall (Rathaus) rising skyward. You’ll see two massive equestrian statues honoring Archduke Charles and Prince Eugene of Savoy stand out in this huge space.
While the monuments, statues, and memorials here are impressive, they’re easier to describe than the monumental sense of grandeur you’ll experience the moment you cross the triumphal arches of the Burgtor, a military monument that leads to this vast square. Here, you can sense it all: the glorious past of this city and the greatness of the Empire.
12. Pay Tribute to the Father of the Viennese Waltz in Stadtpark
Stadtpark is the oldest public park in the city and a favorite of Vienna citizens. Designed in the style of English landscape gardens, this park is intersected by the Wien River and extends across the first and third districts.
It is home to the Kursalon, a Neo-Renaissance concert hall that hosts concerts and balls every year. Around the park, you’ll also find many statues of celebrated Viennese artists and composers.
Look for the most photographed attraction in the park—a bronze sculpture gilded in gold and framed by a marble relief. It’s a memorial of the most iconic Austrian composer and father of the Viennese Waltz: Johan Strauss. Then enjoy a peaceful walk or let the kids have some fun at the playground.
Address: Stadtpark, 1030 | Cost: free
11. Live Like an Opera Star at Hotel Am Konzerthaus
Music and art lovers will enjoy staying at this elegant 4-star boutique hotel in the heart of Vienna. It’s surrounded by the city’s impressive art and music houses. But its unique quality is in the hotel’s newly redesigned public areas and interiors.
Inspired by the main cultural sites of Vienna, like the State Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the Belvedere Palace, walking through the corridors to your room will feel like you’re backstage at the theatre. This impressive hotel has a strong personality with tasteful furnishings and classic furniture. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
If that weren’t enough, you can treat yourself to a gourmet dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant, Apron, one of the top restaurants in downtown Vienna. You will be delighted by the modern interpretations of Austrian cuisine and the charming interior design.
10. Fall in Love With Baroque Style at the Austrian National Library
Arguably one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Austrian National Library is a treasure not only for lovers of books but art and history also. When you visit, you’ll learn that Emperor Charles VI ordered the construction of this jewel for his court library in the 1700s. Located in the new wing of the Hofburg, the library complex includes four museums, as well as multiple special collections and archives.
The Prunksaal (State Hall) is the central structure of the old imperial library and deserves special mention. The hall is divided into two opposite sides representing war and peace with a large dome that’s impressively decorated with allegorical frescoes.
The hall also houses life-size marble statues of emperors with the statue of Emperor Charles VI at its center. It’s surrounded by Venetian globes, one for the Earth and one for the sky. You can just see them in the picture above.
The State Hall reopened to the public in January 2023 after 6 months of restoration. When you visit, you’ll have the privilege of enjoying this 300-year-old baroque beauty glow at its best.
Address: Josefsplatz 1 | Cost: Admission tickets from €10
9. Try Sachertorte the Viennese Way at Iconic Café Central
Don’t be intimidated by the long line at Café Central—it goes fast and it’s so worth it! This is probably the best-known coffee house in Vienna and it totally deserves its popularity. It’s the perfect place to taste the legendary sachertorte made the Viennese way.
The café’s façade and interiors are impressive. Located in Palais Ferstel, the elegant building combines elements of Venetian architecture and art from the Trecento period. It’s a feast for the eyes too!
To get your sachertorte, head through the Ferstel Passage (the elegant shopping arcade passing through the building) and join the line just around the corner. When one of the horse-drawn carriages passes by, it really feels like you’re living in another era!
Address: Herrengasse 14
8. Brave the Heights of the Prater Turm For Spectacular Views
You don’t need to have kids to enjoy this amusement park. With a vintage vibe and its iconic Riesenrad (Ferry Wheel), nostalgic merry-go-round, cotton candy stalls, and giant fantasy characters scattered around, Prater is like a wonderful old-timey Disneyland.
Of the 250 attractions that include roller coasters, flight simulators, and ghost trains, don’t miss the Prater Turm. This rotating swing goes high up in the sky to a height of 117 meters. It might not be for the faint of heart, but if you brave the heights, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views of Vienna. It can get cold up there, so dress warmly.
Address: Prater | Cost: All attractions from €2 to €6
7. Be A Duke For a Day at the Albertina Museum
At the Albertina Museum, you may well forget whether you came to see the collection housed in the building or the building itself. Not only can you see one of the largest and most important collections of old master prints and drawings in the world but you can also explore renovated Habsburg Staterooms—with original furnishings on display—in this former residential palace.
The space and the collection deserve at least two hours of exploration, with particular attention to the Batliner collection. You’ll see masterpieces by Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Cézanne, as well as works by Dalí and Picasso, among others.
Another highlight is the Graphic Arts Collection that includes over a million drawings and graphic artworks, according to their official website. From Leonardo da Vinci to Egon Schiele and Andy Warhol, it’s an art lover’s dream.
As you walk through admiring the many masterpieces, you’ll get a feel for the aristocratic life of Duke Albert. And if you have time, don’t forget to check out the temporary exhibitions—they always offer true gems you’ll be grateful to discover.
Address: Albertinapl. 1 | Cost: Admission tickets from €18.90
6. Get Your Modern On at the MuseumQuartier and Neubau
For a different side of Vienna, head to the MuseumQuartier’s courtyard. This cultural hot spot is located in the former imperial stables, bordering the vibrant district 7. The space encompasses modern and contemporary cultural institutions in different fields of art.
The Leopold Museum (boasting the world’s largest collection of works by figurative painter Egon Schiele), the Kunsthalle, and the Mumok are some of the highlights you’ll find here. There’s a vibrant creative energy in this post-modern setting thanks to the busy calendar of events, the many cultural venues, design cafés, and art installations.
Once you’ve explored the MuseumQuartier, go to the city’s trendiest and most dynamic neighborhood away from the tourist crowds—Neubau. You can expect vintage boutiques, historic movie theaters, record and photography stores, and designer furniture shops. Plus a multicultural restaurant scene, hipster cafés, and bars for late-night drinks. Get lost in Burggasse and its surrounding streets and feel the vibe of new Vienna.
5. Swim, Sip, and Stroll on the Banks of the Danube
Vienna enjoys the luxury of a location on the banks of the iconic Danube River. Locals head to the river banks for everything from after-work drinks to sports, hiking, and swimming. Join in the fun and experience the awesome Danube life with locals! There are two areas we recommend: the Alte Donau for summer fun just outside the city or the banks of the Danube Canal that cross the city center.
The Alte Donau, one of the nicest areas, is a recreational lake bustling with beaches, bars, restaurants, water sports, and events. Take a 17-minute metro ride from the city to get there. It’s the perfect place to chill out on the grass in one of the lidos, swim in the river or one of the many public swimming pools, or a take a stroll along the promenade.
In the city center, the banks of the Danube Canal also see sandy beach bars with deckchairs pop up with the nice weather, like at Strandbar. There’s even a swimming pool, the Badeschiff, set up along the canal.
Visiting in winter? You can still stroll along the river banks and stop for a drink at Motto am Fluss, a glamorous boat-like café and restaurant, offering indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the canal.
4. Kiss Your Loved One at Klimt’s Masterpiece
Perhaps you’ve heard of or seen these stunning gold artworks by renowned artist Gustav Klimt? Their popularity has widened thanks to Hollywood’s movie “Woman in Gold” that detailed how a woman reclaimed her family’s portrait that had been stolen by Nazis. Well, you can see numerous Klimt pieces in Vienna for yourself—and see them you must!
The Belvedere Palace is home to one of the most important art collections in Europe. Here, you’ll encounter works by key figures of Viennese Modernism, like Egon Schiele and Helene Funke, together with masterpieces by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Auguste Rodin.
The impressive baroque architecture and interiors alone merit a visit to the palace. The cherry on the cake is the permanent exhibition, which boasts the largest collection of Klimt’s famed artworks.
The Kiss is the quintessential example of Klimt’s depiction of romantic intimacy and is surely his most iconic work. Head to the Upper Belvedere and when you get to Klimt’s masterpiece, take hold of your loved one and give them a kiss. Vienna is for lovers!
Address: Upper Belvedere Museum – Prinz-Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 | Cost: starting from €22.90
3. Admire the Schönbrunn Palace From Atop the Gloriette
You’re definitely going to have to visit Schönbrunn Palace, and when you do, we have an extra tip for you. Don’t miss heading up to the Gloriette (pictured above). It’s a viewing platform where people have been enjoying its breathtaking views of the palace and Vienna since the early 19th century.
Once home to the imperial Habsburg family, Schönbrunn Palace is a must-visit on your trip to Vienna. After your tour of the opulent interior, head out to visit the gardens. The trimmed hedges and geometric flower patterns of the beautiful Great Parterre are quite a sight to behold.
Up on the park’s higher ground, you’ll see an impressive baroque structure—the Gloriette. This panoramic terrace upheld by decorated arches and columns used to be the ballroom for the monarchs, as you’ll learn when you visit. Climb up to the crest of the hill and marvel at the breathtaking views of the palace and Vienna.
Getting to the Gloriette is free of charge, but you’ll have to buy a ticket to go up to the terrace. You can also enjoy one of the delicious pastries at the beautiful Café Gloriette. Their claim to fame: they say it was the breakfast room for Emperor Franz Joseph I.
2. Grab Tickets for a Mesmerizing Lipizzaner Stallion Performance
Ever heard of the Spanish Riding School? How about the Lipizzaner stallions? Maybe you saw the old Disney movie, “Miracle of the White Stallions” that details how these remarkable horses and their riding school escaped Nazi invasion during WWII.
Either way, don’t miss a chance to see this mesmerizing performance that has a centuries-old heritage. There’s nothing quite like witnessing the spectacular Ballet of the White Stallions in the imperial setting of the actual Winter Riding School.
The highlights of the show are the pas de deux (two horses in mirror image), the capriole, the courbette, and many other equestrian acrobatic stunts and choreographies, all performed by the white stallions.
This spectacular show is the result of years of training together and perfect harmony and trust between horse and rider. The uniforms, baroque setting, and music elevate an already enchanting experience. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Vienna—and not just for horse lovers.
If you don’t make it to a show, you can opt to see a training session with a basic ticket. You’ll get to see both the young stallions and the fully-trained “white stars” stallions being exercised to classical Viennese music.
Address: Michaelerplatz 1 | Cost: Tickets from €16
1. Hear World-Famous Opera in the Classical Music Capital
Vienna is the world capital of classical music. As the birthplace of the waltz, the city has been the hub of classical music throughout the 19th century. It has been the home of many great composers and musicians who have contributed to Vienna’s musical heritage including Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, and Haydn, among others.
Every day in Vienna, you’re spoiled for choice with a wide offering of concerts, theatrical performances, and operas hosted in glittering locations. If you only have time for one, don’t miss an event at the Musikverein.
This concert hall is the home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the center of Viennese music culture. If you really want a classical music experience with the wow factor, you can’t beat the Musikverein’s Grosser Saal (Great Hall). The regal golden hall can accommodate an audience of 1,800 people and its spatial acoustics produce an utterly unique sound experience.
If you can’t get tickets, check out the State Opera (Staatsoper) that was filmed during the “Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation” movie, the Volksoper, the Schönbrunn Theater, or the Mozarthaus. But don’t leave Vienna without a night of classical music!