Baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna's artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes.
Vienna's imperial grandeur is the legacy of the powerful Habsburg monarchy. Their home for more than six centuries, the Hofburg palace complex, incorporates the Burgkapelle (Imperial Chapel), where the Vienna Boys' Choir sings Sunday Mass, and the famed Spanish Riding School, where Lipizzaner stallions perform elegant equine ballet, along with a trove of museums, including in the chandeliered Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments). Other immense palaces include the baroque Schloss Belvedere and the Habsburgs' 1441-room summer residence, Schloss Schönbrunn, while 19th-century splendours such as the neo-Gothic Rathaus (City Hall) line the magnificent Ringstrasse encircling the Innere Stadt (inner city).
One of the Habsburgs' most dazzling Rinsgstrasse palaces, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, houses the imperial art collection. It's packed with priceless works by Old Masters, and treasures including one of the world's richest coin collections. Behind the Hofburg, the former imperial stables have been transformed into the innovative MuseumsQuartier, with a diverse ensemble of museums, showcasing 19th- and 20th-century Austrian art at the Leopold Museum to often-shocking avant-garde works at the contemporary MUMOK. Meteorites, fossils and prehistoric finds fill the Naturhistorisches Museum, while exquisite furnishings at the applied-arts Museum für Angewandte Kunst are also among the artistic feasts in store.
With a musical heritage that includes composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss (father and son), Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, among countless others, Vienna is known as the City of Music. Its cache of incredible venues where you can catch performances today include the acoustically renowned Musikverein, used by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the gold-and-crystal main opera house, the Staatsoper, and the multistage Konzerthaus, as well as the dedicated home of the Vienna Boys' Choir, MuTh. Music comes to life through interactive exhibits at the captivating Haus der Musik museum.
Renowned Drinking & Dining
The Viennese appreciation of the finer things in life extends to its opulent coffee-house 'living rooms' serving spectacular cakes; its beloved pub-like Beisln dishing up hearty portions of Wiener schnitzel, Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) and goulash; elegant restaurants; and its fine Austrian wines served in vaulted Vinothek (wine bar) cellars, and in rustic vine-draped Heurigen (wine taverns) in the vineyards fringing the city. Local and international delicacies fill the heady Naschmarkt stalls, and creative chefs are experimenting with local produce and fresh new flavour combinations in innovative, often repurposed venues.
Discover some of the most unique and fulfilling experiences your next destination has to offer.
Tips & Travel trends to help you pick the perfect time to visit this destination.
Add visiting these must-see local hot spots and culture centers to your next travel itinerary.
Plan a day trip full of local flavor and get back in time with these same-day options.
Browse the various transportation options to make your trip that much easier when you arrive.
Ways to maximize the fun without spending a dime on your next great adventure.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Vienna.
A masterpiece of total art, Schloss Belvedere is one of the world’s finest baroque palaces. Designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt (1668–1745), it was built for the brilliant military strategist Prince Eugene of Savoy, conqueror of the Turks in 1718. What giddy romance is evoked in its sumptuously frescoed halls, replete with artworks by Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka; what stories are conjured in its landscaped gardens, which drop like the fall of a theatre curtain to reveal Vienna's skyline. The first of the palace's two buildings is the Oberes Belvedere (Upper Belvedere), showcasing Gustav Klimt's The Kiss (1908), the perfect embodiment of Viennese art nouveau, alongside other late-19th- to early-20th-century Austrian works. The lavish Unteres Belvedere (Lower Belvedere), with its richly frescoed Marmorsaal (Marble Hall), sits at the end of sculpture-dotted gardens.
Rising splendidly above the gardens and commanding sweeping views of Vienna’s skyline, the Oberes Belvedere, at Schloss Belvedere, is one of Vienna’s unmissable sights. Built between 1717 and 1723, its peerless art collection, showcased in rooms replete with marble, frescoes and stucco, attests to the unfathomable wealth and cultured tastes of the Habsburg Empire.
Spread across 60 sq km, central Vienna's biggest park comprises woodlands of poplar and chestnut, meadows and tree-lined boulevards, as well as children's playgrounds, a swimming pool, a golf course and a race track. Fringed by statuesque chestnut trees that are ablaze with russet and gold in autumn and frilly with white blossom in spring, the central Hauptallee avenue is the main vein, running straight as a die from the Praterstern to the Lusthaus. Twirling above the Würstelprater amusement park is one of the city's most visible icons, the Riesenrad. Built in 1897, this 65m-high Ferris wheel of The Third Man fame affords far-reaching views of Vienna.
The superb Heeresgeschichtliches Museum is housed in the Arsenal, a large neo-Byzantine barracks and munitions depot. Spread over two floors, the museum works its way from the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48) to WWII, taking in the Hungarian Uprising and the Austro-Prussian War (ending in 1866), the Napoleonic and Turkish Wars, and WWI. Highlights on the 1st floor include the Great Seal of Mustafa Pasha, which fell to Prince Eugene of Savoy in the Battle of Zenta in 1697. On the ground floor, the room on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 – which set off a chain of events culminating in the start of WWI – steals the show. The car he was shot in (complete with bullet holes), the sofa he bled to death on and his rather grisly blood-stained coat are on show. The eastern wing covers the republic years after WWI up until the Anschluss in 1938; the excellent displays include propaganda posters and Nazi paraphernalia, plus video footage of Hitler hypnotising the masses.
MAK is devoted to craftsmanship and art forms in everyday life. Each exhibition room showcases a different style, which includes Renaissance, baroque, orientalism, historicism, empire, art deco and the distinctive metalwork of the Wiener Werkstätte. Contemporary artists were invited to present the rooms in ways they felt were appropriate, resulting in eye-catching and unique displays. The 20th-century design and architecture room is one of the most fascinating, and Frank Gehry’s cardboard chair is a gem. The collection encompasses tapestries, lace, furniture, glassware and ornaments. The basement Study Collection has exhibits based on types of materials: glass and ceramics, metal, wood and textiles. Here you’ll find anything from ancient oriental statues to unusual sofas (note the red-lips sofa).
Opened in 1862, the Stadtpark is a tranquil pocket of greenery, with winding paths and willow-tree-rimmed duck ponds. It's great for strolling or relaxing in the sun and a favourite lunchtime escape for Innere Stadt workers. The park spans the Wien River, which empties into the Danube Canal. The most famous of the several statues inhabiting the park (including Schindler, Bruckner and Schubert) is the much-photographed Johann Strauss Denkmal, a golden statue of a violin-playing Johann Strauss the Younger under a white arch.
The KunstHausWien, with its bulging ceramics, wonky surfaces, checkerboard facade, technicolor mosaic tilework and rooftop sprouting plants and trees, bears the inimitable hallmark of eccentric Viennese artist and ecowarrior Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000), who famously called the straight line 'godless'. It is an ode to his playful, boldly creative work, as well as to his green politics. Besides quality temporary exhibitions featuring other artists, the gallery is something of a paean in honour of the artist, illustrating his paintings, graphics, tapestry, philosophy, ecology and architecture. On two floors you can contemplate how the artist's style evolved over the years – from early watercolours and portraits to brightly hued, more abstract paintings inspired by his travels from 1949 onwards. Works such as The Miraculous Drought (1950) and the Land of Men, Trees, Birds and Ships (1949) reveal childlike forms, intense colours and a fascination with water, while the high-rises in Bleeding Houses evoke his dislike of urban conformity. Among Hundertwasser's later works are a tapestry of the Krka waterfalls and a model of a utopian city, the rooftops overgrown with trees and meadows. Guided tours in German of the permanent exhibition leave at 3pm on Tuesdays and are included in the price. Audio guides cost €3.
Restored to its former glory and reopened in 2011, this imperial pleasure palace harbours a new museum dedicated to exquisite Augarten porcelain. Founded in 1718, Augarten is the second-oldest porcelain manufacturer in Europe. An engaging chronological spin of the museum takes in lavish rococo creations, boldly coloured Biedermeier pieces, Spanish Riding School equestrian figures and the simpler porcelain fashionable in the 1950s: ceramics may never have got you so fired up! One-hour tours of the premises are available at 2pm and 3pm on Saturdays, when you can learn about the process of turning white kaolin, feldspar and quartz into delicate creations through the process of moulding, casting, luting, glazing and painting. It's free to get a glimpse of some of Augarten's fabulously detailed creations in the shop, open during the regular opening hours. There is also a nice restaurant facing the adjoining park.
The modernist, glass-and-steel Austria Pavilion, designed by Karl Schwanzer for Expo 58 in Brussels, has been reborn as Belvedere 21, with exhibitions devoted to 20th- and 21st-century art, predominantly with an Austrian focus. Adolf Krischanitz left his clean aesthetic imprint on the light-filled, open-plan gallery, which sits just south of the Oberes Belvedere in the Schweizergarten. The gallery's dynamic approach embraces an artist-in-residence scheme and a changing rota of contemporary exhibitions. On permanent display is a peerless collection of sculptures by Viennese artist Fritz Wotruba (1907–75), many of which deconstruct the human form into a series of abstract, geometric shapes that have more than an element of cubism about them. Top-ranking and often thought-provoking rotating exhibitions of art, photography and sculpture also feature.