Things to do in Vienna

Things to do in  Vienna

Welcome to Vienna

Once one of Europe’s great Imperial cities, Vienna still bears the hallmarks of its glory years: opulent baroque palaces, prestigious opera houses, and high society balls held during its annual Carnival celebrations. The Austrian capital remains an enchanting place, elegant but not showy, romantic but still reserved, and oozing with old-world charm. The most striking monuments are congregated in the historic center of Vienna—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and along the Ringstrasse, the historic ring road that loops around the Old Town and Museum Quarter (MuseumsQuartier). Impressive buildings abound, from the grand Rathaus, or Vienna City Hall, to the Austrian Parliament Building and the Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to the magnificent halls of the Burgtheater and the Vienna Opera House (Staatsoper). Just outside of the center, the imperial palaces of Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schonbrunn) and Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) are the city’s most prized attractions, while the legendary Spanish Riding School shows off Lipizzan horses. Vienna’s strategic location, close to the borders of Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, makes it a great base for exploring other European cities on day trips to Bratislava, Budapest, Salzburg, and beyond. Closer to home, opt for a romantic Danube River cruise, enjoy wine tasting in Wachau Valley, or take a hiking or bike tour through Vienna Woods.

Top 15 attractions in Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn)

Built to rival the opulence of Versailles, Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) was once a summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs. Today, this baroque palace is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in Austria.More

Hofburg Imperial Palace (Hofburg Wien)

Formerly the winter residence of the Austrian royal family, the Hofburg Imperial Palace (Hofburg Wien) is now a lasting tribute to the glory of the Habsburg Empire. It’s one of Vienna’s most magnificent baroque palaces, located within Vienna’s UNESCO-listed historic center. Visitors to the Hofburg can explore the Imperial Apartments, visit the Sisi Museum and the Silver Collection, or watch a performance at the world-famous Spanish Riding School.More

St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)

With its dark Gothic spires, intricately tiled roof, and imposing bell tower, St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom) is one of Vienna’s star attractions. Centrally located on Stephansplatz square in the city’s UNESCO-listed historic center, the cathedral is architecturally stunning both inside and out. It’s also a site of great historical significance—Emperor Friedrich III and numerous other Habsburg dignitaries were buried here.More

Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere)

Built in the 18th century as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the magnificent Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere) is among the many treasures of Vienna’s Baroque era and a UNESCO World Heritage–listed monument.More

St. Peter's Church

Also known as Peterskirche, St Peter's Church in Vienna is the second oldest church in the city. The original church building was rumored to have been established by Charlemagne, but it burned down in 1661. The new church, inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, was consecrated in 1733 and a relief plaque on the outside of the church tells the legend of Charlemagne. St Peter's Church was the first domed structure in Vienna and features an ornate interior with colorful frescoes and gold stucco. Most notable for visitors are the gilded pulpit with a representation of the Holy Trinity atop the canopy, a gold and silver sculpture of the Martyrdom of St. John opposite the pulpit and the fresco in the cupola depicting the Coronation of the Virgin.Over the years, the 18th-century paintings in the church grew darker and the interior began to turn gray, but a massive renovation project from 1998 to 2004 restored the frescoes to their original bright colors.More

Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper)

A masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world, the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) is a hallowed venue for opera fans. Each year, the auditorium hosts 350 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Vienna State Ballet (Wiener Staatsballett) performances, as well as the Vienna Opera Ball.More

Historic Center of Vienna

The Historic Center of Vienna is the beating heart of Austria, and the home of top attractions such as Vienna’s city hall, Parliament, and the lively Museum Quarter. Also known as the First District or Inner City and preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area is rich with baroque castles and gardens, as well as the 19th-century Ringstrasse, a beltway of grand buildings, monuments, and parks that encircles most of the inner city. There are enough landmark sites here to keep you snapping photos all day long.More


If you’re looking to sample authentic Viennese cuisine or soak up local culture, head to the 16th-century Naschmarkt—the oldest of Vienna’s many markets. Located just south of Vienna’s historic center, Naschmarkt hosts a week-long food market and a Saturday flea market.More

Vienna Musikverein (Wiener Musikverein)

Among the most striking neoclassical buildings in Vienna, Vienna Musikverein (Wiener Musikverein pays homage to the city’s music-infused past and present. The concert hall is home to the renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and boasts some of the best acoustics in the world.More


Marking the boundary of the First District where the old city walls once stood, the grand boulevard of the Ringstrasse traces a 3-mile (5-kilometer) scenic ring around the historic Innere Stadt (Inner Town) of Vienna. Follow the Ringstrasse loop on a sightseeing tour of Vienna to take in some of the city’s top attractions along the route.More


The spires and stonework of Vienna’s city hall have a commanding presence on the Ringstrasse, an impressive feat given the boulevard’s other landmarks. Five adorned towers look out over Rathausplatz, and the nearby Rathauspark is an inviting patch of green with broad walkways, fountains, and park benches.More

Schlosspark Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Palace Garden)

Schönbrunn Palace was once the royal summer residence, and its spectacular baroque-style garden, or Schlosspark Schönbrunn, has been open to the public since the late 1700s. Today, the UNESCO-listed grounds are a popular venue for concerts and scenic strolls, and include an iron-and-glass palm house, hedge maze, and viewing terrace.More

Kursalon Vienna (Kursalon Wien)

Vienna’s most beautiful concert hall, the 19th-century Kursalon Vienna (Kursalon Wien sits on the edge of the Stadtpark (City Park near the gilded statue of composer Johann Strauss, whose music is enjoyed in the concert hall each evening. Recently given a facelift, the Kursalon’s lavish interiors have returned to their former glory.More

Sisi Museum

See an intimate side of Empress Elisabeth of Austria—a fascinating 19th-century monarch often known as Sisi—at a museum that covers her groundbreaking life and death. The personal items on display here include regal clothing, jewelry, and accessories in exhibits inspired by Sisi’s own poetry.More

Church of St. Charles (Karlskirche)

An elegant dome and slender columns hint at the rich interior of the Church of St. Charles (Karlskirche), with large windows illuminating its marble surfaces and gilded details. The baroque masterpiece was built to celebrate the end of a devastating plague, and its treasures include an elaborate pulpit, religious paintings, and sculptures.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Vienna

Vienna City Center Walking Tour

Vienna City Center Walking Tour

Vienna's Highlights: Food, Coffee and Market Walking Experience
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Vienna City Highlights Private Tour

Vienna City Highlights Private Tour

Hallstatt Day Trip from Vienna
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Hallstatt Day Trip from Vienna

Salzburg Day Trip from Vienna
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Salzburg Day Trip from Vienna

Budapest Small-Group Day Trip from Vienna
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Private Day Tour of Salzburg, Hallstatt and Melk from Vienna
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Countryside Half Day Wine Tour near Vienna
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Vienna City Bike Tour

Vienna City Bike Tour

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All about Vienna

When to visit

Winter is a magical time to visit Vienna, with its UNESCO-listed palaces lit up with festive illuminations, atmospheric Christmas markets, and the New Year’s Eve Imperial Ball marking the start of the ball season. After a long winter, spring is the time for sipping Viennese coffee at a terrace café and strolling beneath the cherry blossoms in Stadtpark.

Getting around

The best way to get around Vienna is by public transportation. The city and its suburbs are well connected by bus, streetcar, U-Bahn (metro), and S-Bahn (commuter train). You can purchase a 1-, 2-, or 3-day transportation pass that will give you access to public transportation in Vienna’s central "core zone" or choose a pass that includes attractions, as well as unlimited transport access. Note that this does not include airport transportation.

Traveler tips

Vienna has long been celebrated for its rich desserts, the most famous of which is the Sacher torte, a rich chocolate cake laced with apricot jam. While variations of the treat are available at cafes and supermarkets across the country, The Hotel Sacher claims to have the original recipe, which they guard carefully. You can try Sacher torte by the slice at the hotel’s Café Sacher or by an entire prepackaged cake to bring home with you.

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People Also Ask

How can I spend 3 days in Vienna?

Three days in Vienna will give you enough time to see many of the city's highlights and still have time left over to check out a classical music concert, spend time sampling coffee drinks in local cafes, and take a day trip out into the Austrian countryside.

What are two things Vienna is famous for?

The two things Vienna is perhaps best known for is its baroque architecture and its long association with classical music. Baroque highlights include the famous Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere. The city is also a great place for classical concerts, with regular live performances at the famous Musikverein and at churches across the city.

What are popular recreation activities in Vienna?

While Vienna proper is a great place to explore by bike, fans of outdoor recreation who want something a bit more vigorous will find better cycling still in the narby Wachau Vallwy, a popular spot for bicycle wine tours. Not far from Vienna, the Ötscher-Tormäuer Nature Park is a great spot for summertime hiking.

What can I do for free in Vienna?

Vienna is full of free things to do, from wandering Schönbrunn's Palace Park to visiting the interiors of St. Stephen's Cathedral. Many of the city's top museums are also free on the first Sunday of the month, including the Wien Museum Karlsplatz and the Römermuseum (Roman Museum).

Is Vienna worth visiting?

Vienna is absolutely worth visiting, particularly if you're a fan of architecture and the arts. It's full of museums, historical palaces and churches, and entertainment options (particularly of the classical music variety) and makes an excellent base for visiting other nearby spots such as Bratislava and Salzburg.

Is 2 days in Vienna enough?

While Vienna merits plenty of time, two days is definitely enough to get a sense of the city. You’ll have enough time to visit the historic Schönbrunn Palace and Hofburg Imperial Palace, see “dancing” Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School, and check out a museum or two.

Frequently Asked Questions