Top 20 things to do in Vienna

See our collection of the top 20 best places and things to do in Vienna

Top 20 things to do in Vienna

Vienna has a long history as the largest city and capital of Austria. It is the second largest german-speaking city next to Berlin, and hosts numerous national organizations, so it’s an important city in Europe. Historically, it was a seat of power for both the Habsburg Monarchy, and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city is still popular among tourists, either to see the remains of the great Habsburg family, or to check out the a city of classical music, having been one of the residences of Mozart and others. No matter why you come here, this list of the top 20 things to do in Vienna might prove useful for you.

  1. Hofburg Palace
    The Hofburg Palace has been the seat of power in Austria since the 13th century for the numerous kings and emperors, and now the residence for the president of Austria. The building has numerous wings and other important parts like the imperial chapel, the treasury and the court library.

2. Sisi Museum
Located a the Hofburg Palace, the Sisi Museum is dedicated to Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Sisi, as people called her, has long been a cult figure in the history of Austria, and was very popular while she lived, and she still is even now. The museum tells the story of her life, how she rebelled against court ceremony, her obsession over staying always beautiful and so on. The exhibition has portraits of her and dresses she used, including the dress she wore during the Hungarian coronation. It’s a beautiful museum that lives up to Sisi’s reputation.

3. Austrian National Library
Even if one isn’t interested in books, the Austrian National Library located at the Hofbourg Palace is a spectacular sight to behold. It has more than seven million items in its collection. The central part of the library, the Prunksaal is the main attraction, as this hall is a work of art in itself. The hall is full of sculptures, marble statues and beautiful frescos on the wall. This library is a must-see on the list of things to do in Vienna for both book and art lovers.
4. Naschmarkt
The Naschmarkt is the largest markets in Vienna, and a very popular place for both tourists and citizens for obvious reasons. The market is about one and a half kilometres long, and has lots of food stalls and regular shops. All kinds of fruits, vegetables, cheese and bakeries can be found here, nearly everything one can imagine. If you want to try national foods, you can do that as well at one of the restaurants at the market.
5. Kunsthistorisches Museum
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is the Museum of Fine Arts in Vienna. The museum has countless paintings and others kinds of masterpieces from both ancient civilizations like Egypt and Greece, and more moderns ones from Europe as well. Famous artists whose works can be found here include Rubens, Raphael, Velázquez and Rembrandt.
6. Naturhistorisches Museum
Built around at the same time as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Naturhistorisches Museum is the Natural History Museum of Vienna. The two museums were commissioned as a pair by Emperor Franz Joseph I. The collection of the museum has about thirty million artifacts, and scientits are examining more behind the scenes. Famous pieces include the skeleton of a dinasaur, and the Venus of Willendorf.
7. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is probably the most important of the churches of Austria. It’s part of the Roman Catholic Church, and the seat of the archbishop of Vienna. The cathedral was built around the 14th century, and withstood attacks during the Turkish siege and later the World Wars. It was also wedding place of Amadeus Mozart. The cathedral has become a symbol for the city as one of its centerpieces.
8. The catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Although not as famous as the Catacombs of Paris, the catacombs of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is just as interesting, in a dark way. It was here that the remains of the members of the Habsburg royal family were kept in urns, and victims of the Great Plague of Vienna were also laid to rest here. Bones are stacked high in chambers, so this place is obviously not for those who are easily frigthened.
9. House of Music
As the center for many famous musicians, Vienna has a dedicated museum to these artists in the House of Music. The museum shows the life of people like Mozart, Hayden, Strauss and Beethoven, and there are also exhibitions for the science of sound and hearing. This museum is a must-see for fans of classical music.
10. Tiergarten Schönbrunn
The Tiergarten Schönbrunn is the main zoo of Vienna, and the oldest zoo in the world. It started as a menagerie of the husband of Maria Theresa, but later became a zoo with the main goal of species conservation. It houses around 750 species and 8500 animals. The buildings here were built in a baroque style.

11. Vienna Ring Road
The Vienna Ring Road is a circular boulevard that surrounds the historical venter of Vienna. The ring road has become a tourist attraction as there are both many famous buildings here and the streets itself are beautiful.

12. Urania
Serving as an observatory and a public educational institute, the Urania is popular among tourists. It was named after the muse of astronomy, Urania. The building has been damaged during World War II, but has been repaired since. The technology here is always improving, so it is worth seeing more than once if you come here again. The Vienna International Film Festival is also held here, since the Urania has a movie theater as well.
13. State Opera
The State Opera of Vienna has been the most important venue for the city since 1869. The beautiful building hosts the best performances and is popular among tourists and citizens alike. A few times during the year, live peformances of ballet and opera are also screened outside the building for free.
14. Belvedere Palace
The Belvedere Palace consists of two main palaces, the Lower Belvedere and Upper Belvedere. Both are built in a spectacular baroque style, and tourists always flock here to take photos of the buildings and the surrounding gardens which are full of sculptures, fountains, and beautiful hedges and flowerbeds.
15. Belvedere Museum
Located at the Belvedere Palace, the Belvedere Museum houses the greatest collection of Austrian works of art, both older and modern. This museum is a must-see for those who love art, as the paintings and portraits here are marvelous, to say the least.
16. Jewish Museum Vienna
The Jewish Museum Vienna is located at two places in Vienna, in the Palais Eskeles and at the Judenplatz, the historical jewish district of Vienna. Both of these are dedicated to the history of the jewish people of Austria, including their targeting during World War II. A holocaust memorial is also located not far from the Judenplatz museum.
17. Museumsquartier
The Museumsquartier is a large cultural area in Vienna, where multiple museums and institutions are located. These include the Leopold Museum with its paintings beginning from the 19th century, the Museum of Modern Arts with many 20th century works, and the Kunsthalle Wien which houses avant-garde works of art, among others. The Vienna Festival is also held here every year, which is very popular.
18. Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg family. It’s a spectacular building that could very well rival the Palace of Versailles in Paris. Tours are available that show the residence of people like Maria Theresa, Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. Beautiful halls can be found in every inch of the palace, so this place is absolutely worth seeing.
19. Schönbrunn Gardens
Located at the Schönbrunn Palace, the Schönbrunn Gardens are a spectacular place for everyone visiting Vienna. The garden is full of numerous sculptures, mazes, Roman ruins, fountains, a botanical garden, a palm house, and many others.
20. Rathaus
The Rathaus is the city hall of Vienna, and one of its busiest areas, as there are always lots of people because of its great location and since it’s very good for social gatherings. Events and performances are held here throughout the year. The best and most famous example is the christmas market. Thousands of people come here from both Austria and from other countries to see the spectacular markets and have fun. This christmas market is definitely high on the list of things to do in Vienna, if you come during winter.
If you want to see other beautiful christmas markets in Europe, check out our collection here.