29 Fun Things to Do in Vienna, Austria
Last month my partner, Arturo, and I visited Vienna and we really fell in love with the city. Arturo works for an Austrian company whose head office is in Vienna so we got lots of tips from locals about things to do, places to go and food to eat while we were there which was great! Arturo spent a good two weeks in Vienna while I spent about 6 days there since I also visited some other cities while he was working. If you’re trying to come up with a Vienna itinerary for your trip then you’re in the right place. I’ve included the best things to do in Vienna plus some hidden gems, itinerary plans, and more in this post for you.
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Interesting Facts About Vienna
- Vienna is home to the oldest operating Ferris wheel in the world, the Wiener Reisenrad.
- Vienna’s Museum Quartier is Europe’s largest museum complex.
- Sachertorte, a famous kind of chocolate cake, was invented in Vienna.
- Snow globes were invented in Vienna.
- Vienna is often referred to both as the City of Dreams and the City of Music.
- 1/3rd of Austria’s population lives in Vienna. That’s 2.3 million people!
- Vienna is home to some of the cleanest drinking water in the world. There are over 1000 drinking fountains throughout the city so it’s easy to fill up your water bottle while walking around.
Where to Stay in Vienna
Located at the top of Vienna’s newest Ikea, the Jo&Joe hostel has beautiful dorms and private rooms along with a rooftop biergarten! The biergarten on the roof also has some insane views of the city and is conveniently located right next to a metro station.
The Novum Hotel Congress is conveniently located near the Belvedere Palace, which is a must visit while in Vienna. The rooms have light pastel accent walls and comfortable beds with white bedding. There’s a restaurant as well as multiple room options to choose from and it’s quite affordable too.
The Grand Ferdinand is a luxurious hotel in Vienna home to a beautiful rooftop swimming pool with space to sunbathe as well. With elegant beds and furniture, a fitness center, restaurant, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, you will be living like a king at the Grand Ferdinand.
How to Get to Vienna
If you’re coming from outside of Europe or from quite far away, you can search for cheap flights here.
You can take a train to Vienna from many different cities in Austria and nearby countries. To find cheap train tickets you can search here.
There are many bus companies you can get tickets from within Europe, but I found the cheapest tickets here.
The main river that runs through Vienna is called the Danube and it runs through 10 different countries and 4 capital cities. You can get boat tickets from cities like Bratislava and Budapest to Vienna here.
How to Get Around Vienna
Vienna has an excellent public transportation system. The main ways to get around are by subway (U-Bahn), train (S-Bahn), tram, and bus. When you enter the station you can purchase one-time tickets, or tickets that will last a few days, a week, or more.
I would highly recommend buying the tickets that last longer. Just get them for the period of time you’ll be staying in Vienna because that way you won’t have to buy a new ticket every time you enter a station and they work out to be much cheaper than purchasing multiple tickets.
Museums to Visit in Vienna
I had heard really good things about the Albertina Museum and I’m really glad I went. It’s a huge art museum housing important European and international collections of modern art. There’s a permanent collection as well as special shows displaying work by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Edvard Munch, and Vincent Van Gogh. I also saw a few pieces by Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet and other incredible artists. Plus the whole building is filled with incredible statues and architecture to admire as well.
Opening hours: 10am -6pm daily
I, unfortunately, didn’t make it to the Chocolate Museum during my stay but I’m planning to visit next time as I’ve heard such good things about it. The Vienna Chocolate Museum hosts displays on cocoa cultivation, chocolate history, and even workshops and tastings. They have some huge chocolate sculptures to admire as well!
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm daily
Related activity: Vienna Chocolatier Workshop with Chocolate Tastings
National History Museum
The National History Museum in Vienna is one of the most important history museums in the world. The museum houses extensive collections covering earth sciences, biology, anthropology, and archaeology in a beautiful building. It’s also a research museum and holds a focus on sustainability and climate change research. There are exhibitions exploring caves, wilderness and geology among many others.
Opening hours: 9am – 6:30pm daily; 9am – 9pm on Wednesdays; (closed on Tuesdays)
The Mumok is a must-visit if you’re in Vienna! It’s a modern and contemporary art museum with around 10,000 important artworks. Pieces by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, June Paik, Jasper Johns and more can all be found in the Mumok. It’s conveniently located in Vienna’s Museum Quartier so you can do some museum hopping after your visit too!
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm daily (closed on Mondays)
The Freud Museum is located in Sigmund Freud’s old home and practice. He lived there for 47 years before fleeing from the Nazis in 1938. Known as the birthplace for psychoanalysis, the museum features all of the family’s rooms and both Freud and Anna’s practices along with a collection of conceptual art and other exhibitions.
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm daily (closed on Tuesdays)
Museum of Art Fakes
I didn’t get the chance to go to this museum but I’m planning to go next time. The concept just sounds so interesting to me! It’s a museum full of faked and forged artworks along with supporting information about the art of forgery and its’ consequences.
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm daily (closed on Mondays)
The Beethoven Museum is actually in Beethoven’s old apartment! I only got to see the exterior when I visited because I showed up at the lunch hour that the staff take off for lunch, so don’t make my mistake, and make sure you don’t show up between 1pm and 2pm. If you visit the Beethoven museum you will also have the chance to visit the nearby apartments of Johann Strauss, Franz Schubert, and Joseph Haydn too.
Opening hours: 10am – 1pm & 2pm – 6pm daily (closed on Mondays)
The clock museum houses one of the largest collections of timepieces in Europe. The unique collection consists of clocks made as far back as the 1400s in a lovely Viennese house. There is also hourly ‘chiming’ to listen to when visiting.
Opening hours: 10am – 6pm (closed on Mondays)
Other Fun Things to do in Vienna
Visit Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace was the main residence (also sometimes referred to as the summer residence) of the Habsburg rulers in Vienna. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and is famous for its baroque architecture and beautiful sprawling gardens. It has been in the possession of the Habsburgs since 1569. Maria Theresa, Emporer Franz Joseph, and Empress Elisabeth among others have all resided there.
When I visited Schönbrunn I chose not to go inside the palace as I didn’t have a lot of time and I mainly wanted to see the exterior of the palace and the gardens. Walking around the gardens and palace exterior is free but you can pay to enter and see the magnificent palace interior if you want to as well.
Visit Hofburg Palace
While the Schönbrunn Palace was the summer palace for the Habsburgs, the Hofburg Palace was their winter residence. Its location is much more central than Schönbrunn so if you’re strapped for time, visit the Hofburg Palace and skip Schönbrunn.
The Hofburg was built in the 13th century and expanded many times since. The Palace is now home to many different museums and gardens.
Visit Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace was the first place we visited when we arrived in Vienna. We were pretty jet-lagged so we mainly enjoyed relaxing in the gardens. The Belvedere is a beautiful palace and is home to many pieces of Baroque and Austrian art as well as the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, including ‘The Kiss’.
Check out the Rathaus
The Rathaus is Vienna’s City Hall government building and is surrounded by gardens. When I visited I happened to stumble upon a kind of market event taking place there. I got really lucky as I was able to listen to live music and eat some pastries from a food stand. The Rathaus has some incredible architecture and the gardens are quite lovely too.
Go on a Free Walking Tour
Free Walking Tours can be found via a simple Google search for any city you plan to visit. A lot of companies host free walking tours and the tour guides make money solely in tips. While I didn’t do a free walking tour in Vienna, I have done them in other places and I always learn a lot. It’s a great way to see the city from a local’s perspective and learn about some of the history that you may not have learned if you just explored on your own.
Ride Vienna’s Famous Ferris Wheel at the Prat
The Prater is a huge and famous park in Vienna. The park is also home to the Wurstelprater Amusement Park where you can find Vienna’s famous Ferris wheel, Weiner Reisenrad. It’s kind of like the London Eye but on a smaller scale. If you ride it you can get some incredible views of the city. You can get a Ferris Wheel Skip the Line ticket here.
Check out the Famous Hundertwasser Haus
The Hundertwasser Haus is a famous building designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The building was constructed between 1983 and 1985. With the collaboration of architects Josef Krawina and Peter Pelikan, the building features a myriad of different shapes, colors, and unique structures. The roof of the building is covered in trees making the building an early example of sustainable European design.
Nearby the whimsical Hundertwasser Haus, which unfortunately you cannot go inside of, is the Kunst Haus Wien. The Kunst Haus Wien is home to a museum of Hundertwasser’s life and art as well as a famous cafe.
Go to the Opera
There are three major opera houses in Vienna which is no surprise since artists such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss all called Vienna home at various times. The three main opera houses are the Staatsoper, the Volksoper, and the Theatre An Der Wien. You can read more about the different Viennese opera houses here.
Relax at Stadtpark
Stadtpark is a large municipal park divided into two sections by the Wienfluss river. Throughout the park, you can find statues of famous Viennese composers, artists, and writers. While traveling in Vienna I stopped by Stadtpark multiple times to just relax in the shade of the trees before going on to see more of Vienna’s incredible sights.
Sunbathe by the Danube at Copa Beach
While Vienna does not have an ocean beach, there are a few man-made beach areas and grassy spots to sunbathe by the Danube. One of these is Copa Beach which is home to a sandy area with beach chairs, paddleboat rentals and various spots to buy drinks and food. There’s also a giant floating trampoline (pictured above) and a floating dock. You can also walk along the river on winding pathways to enjoy the views and get a little further away from the crowds.
Visit St Stephen’s Cathedral
St Stephen’s Cathedral is located in the bustling Stephansplatz and is surrounded by shopping centers, food stalls and people hurrying about. It’s one of the most important Gothic buildings in Austria and construction began in the 12th century.
Entry into the cathedral is free although there are some areas inside such as the catacombs and a few of the towers which require visitors to pay an entrance fee. While I didn’t go inside the cathedral myself I really admired the blue and yellow tiles on top of the cathedral and enjoyed spending time in the square.
Enjoy Great Views & Drinks at the top of Ikea
This might be the strangest thing to do in this whole post but I promise you it’s worth it! While I never thought I would want to visit an Ikea while traveling abroad, Arturo’s coworkers told us to check it out since there are amazing views from the top. I mean look at that photo! The views were seriously incredible and there are a bunch of spots to order drinks up top too.
We got to the top by going inside Ikea’s stairs during the store’s opening hours but it looked like you could also go up through elevators on the outside of the building. The rooftop and Biergarten are part of the Jo&Joe hostel which looks like an amazing place to stay.
Go on a Danube Boat Tour
This is one thing that we didn’t have time to do but that I really want to do next time we go to Vienna. There are multiple companies that offer sightseeing boat tours of the Danube. Some of them offer a boat cruise plus schnitzel, while others offer a boat cruise plus a 3 course meal. There’s even one that offers a boat cruise with live music and a buffet.
Explore the Museums Quartier
The Museums Quartier is one of the largest cultural centers in the world. With art, architecture, design and even a children’s museum, there’s something for everyone in the Museums Quartier. There are plenty of comfortable seats and cafes to relax at between museum hopping in the courtyard too.
Take a Day Trip to a Nearby City
There are so many incredible day trips you can do from Vienna. It’s very easy to take a train, bus or even boat to other Austrian cities or even to cities in nearby countries. While we were based in Vienna we took day trips to Brno, Budapest, and Salzburg!
Where & What to Eat in Vienna
Taste Famous Viennese Sachertorte at Demel
Sachertorte is a kind of chocolate sponge cake that was invented in Vienna. It typically has apricot jam mixed into the sponge cake and chocolate icing on top. It’s super delicious and you can get it at a variety of different cafes. It was invented at Cafe Sacher, but I had heard that Demel had a better sachertorte so I tried it there and it was incredible!
Enjoy Breakfast, Pastries, and Desserts at Cafe Diglas
One spot famous for pastries and desserts is Cafe Diglas. The interior of the cafe is very charming. There’s a piano inside, red plush booths, and a small selection of books lining a few shelves inside as well. The pastries and desserts are really the stars of the show at Cafe Diglas but they also serve good breakfasts.
Related activity: Vienna Original Viennese Wafers Traditional Craft Workshop
Eat and Wander through Naschmarkt
Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular market and dates back to the 16th century. Back then, milk bottles were the main item sold there. Now, you can find sweet shops, restaurants, lots of Middle Eastern food, clothing, and more! You can explore the market on your own or go on a market tour led by a local.
When we visited Nashmarkt we ate at a restaurant called Neni which serves modern Telavivian food. It’s a family-run restaurant chain and they have multiple locations (including a location at the Prat). I’d highly recommend eating there as the food was so delicious! I had the Mezze Trio which came with roasted cauliflower, pita bread, and multiple kinds of hummus (my favorite was the beet hummus).
Try some Weiner Schnitzel (Veg Option Included)
Schnitzel is essentially breaded and fried meat that was invented in Germany. The term ‘Weiner Schnitzel’ refers to Viennese style schnitzel. If you eat meat then you will have no trouble finding schnitzels at various bars and restaurants. I’m vegetarian so I opted to try a vegan version of Weiner Schnitzel at a restaurant called Velani.
Go for Food & Drinks at a Boat Restaurant on the Danube
There are a few different restaurants housed on boats that you can drink and eat on while enjoying the Danube. The drinks we had were great (you can’t go wrong with Austrian beer) and the atmosphere was very fun. There were lots of twinkling lights reflecting off the river under the dark sky and we had a lovely evening there. Two boat restaurant options on the Danube are Badeschiff Wien (which also features an onboard swimming pool) and the Cafe and Restaurant Motto am Fluss.
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