19 Best Things to Do in Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria from above

For anyone considering exploring Vienna, you’ll be pleased to know that the list of things to do is diverse and plenty! The Austrian capital, Vienna, really is a city that has it all. Any traveler will find something within the city, or its surrounds, that can build towards a most memorable trip.

History buffs can delight in the many museums and historical landmarks scattered across the city. Foodies can delight at open-air markets or lounge the day away with sweet treats in the trendy coffee scene.

Those who like adventure can take day trips up to the mountains or explore the enchanting countryside, while families can make the most of theme parks and cultural events throughout the year.

From wandering through grand palaces, exploring local top spots, or enjoying the numerous museums and artistic venues waiting to entertain you, Vienna is a cultural jewel of Austria.

If you’re planning to visit this wonderful city, take note of this list of some of the absolute top things to do in Vienna that can make any trip memorable and worthwhile.

TL;DR

Category Top Recommendation
Most Significant Landmark St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Best Park Prater Park
Best Free Activity Exploring Innere Stadt (Old Town)
Activity for kids House of Music (Haus der Musik)
Activity for adults Vienna State Opera
Best Food Sachertorte at Café Sacher
Place to stay Hotel Sacher Vienna

Things to Do in Vienna, Austria

1. Visit Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace from the Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien, Austria

Schönbrunn Palace is a highly recommended destination for anyone visiting Vienna. Put aside a full day to visit the once-summer palace of the Habsburg emperors. Once you’re done with the interior, you will most definitely want time to walk around Schonbrunn’s beautiful and enormous palace gardens.

The palace is vast, and I mean vast! This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts 1,441 rooms, all lavishly decorated with elegant furnishings. Moreover, its gardens span 1.2 square kilometers. So put on some comfy shoes and be prepared to up the step count exploring this top-tier tourist spot and journey into Austria’s regal past.

This charming Baroque palace offers several kinds of tours, depending on your interest, and they’re conducted either with a guide or a handy audio guide for walking around solo. Or, pick a pass package of your choice and wander around unaided.

What’s more, visit Vienna in June and treat yourself to the annual open-air Summer Night Concert at the palace featuring the outstanding Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

For an extra treat, if it’s in your budget, you can even stay over in a section of the palace grounds! The Schloß Schönbrunn Grand Suite offers top-tier luxury on the palace’s eastern wing.

It’s one of the best places to stay in Vienna, and the location can’t be topped. The nearest train station can be reached within ten minutes on foot and can get you to the inner city center within ten minutes.

2. Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Burgring 7, 1010 Wien, Austria

The Natural History Museum is a top family-friendly activity amongst the many different things to do in Vienna. It’s an excellent choice for families who want to entertain their kids without breaking the budget.

The Natural History Museum is a hit for any traveler wanting to learn more about the world around them. The museum houses some world-famous objects alongside dinosaur skeletons and the world’s largest public collection of meteorites.

Flying into modern times, the museum also provides a modern touch to opening up the world of natural history to visitors. Most notably, its Digital Planetarium features full-dome projection technology that brings the realm of space travel to your attention in a most entertaining way.

For a unique experience for you during your time in Vienna, spend a night at the museum. They have different programs for children and adults, but both provide a torch-lit museum tour. Kids can enjoy a show at the planetarium and pizza, while adults can attend an evening gala ending with drinks on the roof.

3. Naschmarkt

Dining at Naschmarkt, Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: 1060 Vienna, Austria

The open-air market of Naschmarkt first graced Vienna with its presence over a century ago and today features around 120 market stands and restaurants stretching along the Wienzeile. Today, it’s one of the best places to visit in Austria.

Make sure to visit Naschmarkt with an empty tummy! Within its stalls, you’ll find all sorts of delectable treats like artisanal cheese, Italian pastries, or maybe some savory falafels. The diversity of cuisine on offer is a positive reflection of the multicultural personality of Vienna.

But, there are not just food stalls at the market. It’s a great spot to visit if you’re after souvenirs, fabrics, trinkets, and throws you might want to take home as momentous from your time in Vienna. Also, consider visiting on a Saturday for the weekly flea market to see what bargains you can find!

If hoping for a repeat visit to the market, maybe for daily breakfast options, consider staying at the highly rated and sustainable Boutiquehotel Das Tyrol. This 4-star boutique hotel sits on Mariahilfer Straße shopping street and is just a short walk from Naschmarkt.

4. Vienna State Opera

Vienna State Opera at night, Vienna, Austria.
Tryfonov / AdobeStock

Address: Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria

It’s a little more on the pricey side compared to other things to do in Vienna, but checking out the Vienna State Opera House is an absolute must if you love classical music.

Concert tickets aren’t hard to come by and are a worthwhile purchase to get some Austrian culture into your stay. If traveling with children, you’ll be pleased to know their tickets are half-price. If you want to go all out, the Opera House offers Concert and Dinner packages to make a night of it.

If attending an event within the Opera Building isn’t in your travel budget, make sure to visit Vienna in April, May, June, or September, as they screen live opera and ballet performances on the front of the Opera Building for free!

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in the World to Visit

5. Cycle Through the City

Danube embankment in autumn, Vienna, Austria
Mistervlad / AdobeStock

One of the best introductions to a city is a bicycle tour. It’s more fast-paced than a walking tour, so you get to cover much more ground and learn much more on the way, too!

Then, once you’ve got your bearings from the tour, you can spend the rest of your visit with a little more awareness of everything on offer for you to see and do solo. The city of Vienna is a great and safe city for cycling.

There is an impressive route of cycle networks spanning over 1,720km. Plus, the city boasts over 56,000 spots to park your bike if need be.

If you’re in the mood for a little light exercise before stuffing your face with local delicacies, I would recommend popping along on a cycle tour of Vienna to see some of the highlights with a reputable and knowledgeable guide. They really can elevate your overall experience when visiting the city.

See Related: The Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary

6. Take in the Viennese Coffeehouse Culture in the City Center

Customers in Traditional Viennese Coffee House
Creativemarc / AdobeStock

The coffee culture in Vienna is strong. Tucked away among the city’s historic heart lie a range of coffeehouses well worth popping into during your visit.

These aren’t simply places to grab a coffee and run out the door but are instead places deserving of intentional visits. Many feature artwork and cultural touches that will have you wanting to sip your coffee a little slower so you can stay and enjoy the ambiance.

Vienna has quite a few coffee specialties that you might want to savor while visiting one of its coffee houses. Most notably, the Viennese Melange or Einspänner are great choices, especially when paired with a nice Apfelstrudel.

City breaks are usually all hustle and bustle and going around at top speed. Taking some time out to indulge in a coffee house, which encourages unhurried conversations and tranquil rest bites, is a great idea to avoid burnout during your time in Vienna.

If you’re interested in seeing what the Viennese Coffee culture has to offer, consider visiting top-rated spots like Café Central, Café Schwarzenberg, or Demel.

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in Europe

7. Prater Park

Ferris Wheel in the Prater in Vienna - Riesenrad
Redfox1980 / AdobeStock

Address: Prater 7/1 Riesenradplatz 1, Vienna 1020 Austria

Prater Park was opened for recreational use in the latter half of the 18th Century. Then, in the following years, it opened up to festivals and the theme park that still stands today.

To find Prater amusement park (or Wurstelprater), take yourself to Vienna’s second district and head to the northwestern tip of the Grüner Prater. Once nearby, watch for the giant Ferris wheel teetering from the tree tops.

The park is accessible 24/7, and each ride determines its opening hours individually. Some follow regular hours; however, some, especially in the off-season, will follow good weather or shut down until the end of February.

The Wurstelprater area is free to roam without paying for admission. If you want to get on a ride or two, it’s worth noting that the cost of rides will depend on the individual attraction.

See Related: Vienna vs Munich: What’s the Difference?

8. St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna, Austria
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria

If you’ve seen photos of Vienna, then you’ve probably already caught a glimpse of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It is one of the most memorable landmarks of my visit to Vienna, with its intricate and unique roof tiling contrasted with everything around it.

The cathedral sits in the city’s historic center and is an iconic symbol of Vienna. At 136 meters in height, it’s the tallest church in all of Austria.

On the roof of the cathedral lies numerous colorful tiles that were once placed in a mosaic pattern to create the Royal and Imperial double-headed eagle and the coat of arms of Vienna. Such fine art and craftsmanship are incredible and not something you see daily! This makes it a must-see when visiting Vienna.

What’s more, the cathedral can serve up some of the absolute best views of the city. If you can take the 343 stairs to get to the top, an amazing view of Vienna awaits you up in the tower room of the cathedral.

Travel to Vienna at the right time of year to catch a concert held at the cathedral. Dates and events will vary, so it’s worth having a snoop around to see if anything suits your travel dates. Otherwise, you could delve below the cathedral and take a tour of the eerie catacombs that lie beneath it.

9. MuseumsQuartier

MuseumsQuartier at Sunset in Vienna, Austria
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien, Austria

One of the largest cultural quarters in the world, and indeed Vienna’s largest museum complex, the MuseumsQuartier, is a cultural gem in Vienna. It’s an impressive ensemble of modern & contemporary art museums, alongside shops for souvenirs and restaurants.

The MuseumsQuartier is great for those on a budget, as entry is completely free, and there’s plenty to do and see! The area was opened in 2001 and provides cultural immersion and the ability to relax with a modern artistic backdrop.

Along with static exhibits, the MuseumsQuartier holds numerous events throughout the year. This brings in fresh, temporary modern art installations, exciting concerts, or other unique festivities to enjoy.

For instance, you could enjoy the outdoor cinema in the summer, view daily fashion shows during fashion week in September, or enjoy one of the many concerts or design exhibitions throughout the year.

10. Danube River Cruise

Aerial drone view of Danube river in Vienna Austria cityscape with danube island
MysteryShot / AdobeStock

The mighty Danube River cruises its way through a total of ten European countries, Austria being one of them! So, why not take the opportunity to take a nice leisurely cruise and enjoy Vienna from the water?

A cruise along the Danube provides ample opportunity for local sightseeing, all in the comfort of your seat. So, if you’ve already pounded the pavements of Vienna enough and want a break, cruising can still provide a local experience but allow you to sit back and do nothing but enjoy the view.

If you’re after a dinner experience with a twist, take a 3-course dinner cruise to see the sights beside the river at night. This can provide an alternative view of the city and its beauty washed in evening illuminations.

See Related: Best River Cruises in Europe

11. Austrian National Library

National Library of Austria in Vienna
suronin / AdobeStock

Address: Josefsplatz 1, 1015 Wien, Austria

Within the Imperial Palace of Vienna, you will find the Austrian National Library. For any book nerd, this place is a little slice of heaven.

A total of 128 bookshelves house over 200,000 works! The books in this library date back to 1501 and go up to 1850. In fact, some are so fragile that they can no longer be read without risking further damage.

The library itself is beautiful, even if you couldn’t care less for books. I thought it was something so stunning it could have leaped from the fairytales of the books themselves. It somewhat resembled the library from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, just so much better.

The library has enjoyed a bit of a facelift as recently as 2022. Timber surfaces were given a deep clean, while many paintings and sculptures received careful restoration. Because of these restorations, there’s never been a better time to visit the library and admire its timeless beauty.

12. Visit the Butterfly House

Schmetterling Haus (Butterfly House) Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Palmenhaus, Schmetterlinghaus Hofburg Burggarten, 1010 Wien, Austria

Of all the things to do in Vienna, a trip to the Butterfly House is a wholesome treat for all the family. Forming part of the Imperial Palace complex, hundreds of stunning butterflies fly freely for your admiration.

Take yourself out of the city and pop into a mini tropical rainforest for a quick change of scenery. A visit to the Butterfly House makes for a wonderful stop off on a day filled with visiting other nearby sights such as the Opera House or the Albertina Museum.

If you’d like to stay nearby the Butterfly Museum, you can’t go wrong with a stay at The Guesthouse Vienna, just a short walk away. This pet-friendly spot is situated in the city’s center and serves as a great base for a trip filled with as many sightseeing ventures as you can squeeze into your visit.

13. Make a stop at the Jewish Museum

Jewish Museum on Judenplatz square
Mistervlad / AdobeStock

Address: Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Wien, Austria

Take yourself over to the historic center of Vienna into Old Town, and you’ll find the Jewish Museum. This is a great spot that displays the history of the city’s Jewish population and depicts Jewish life through a range of exhibits. It would be worth taking a guided tour to soak in all the in-depth information on display.

Many brilliant displays are on at the museum, such as the remains of a medieval synagogue and galleries exploring the rebuilding of the community after World War II. The Jewish Museum is a great way to learn how this part of Vienna’s population has helped shape its past, present, and future.

See Related: What If Germany Won WWII? Here’s What To Know

14. Take a Tour of the Vienna City Hall

Aerial view of Vienna City Hall
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

Located within the city center of Vienna, the town hall is open to tours. However, solo-tour audio guides are available in numerous languages if you can’t speak German! If you would prefer a guided tour, though, many tour operators offer great Vienna city tours that visit the Vienna city hall in English.

The town hall (or Rathaus – make any joke you want) is an iconic landmark within the city. Completed back in 1883, it’s a must for lovers of gothic-style architecture.

Throughout the year, the Rathausplatz also hosts various concerts and festivals. For example, you could enjoy the Rathaus Film Festival if visiting in the summer or get stuck in with Vienna Ice World if visiting during the winter months.

15. Visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum

Front of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, Austria

The Kunsthistorisches Museum opened its doors in 1871 and is a must-visit spot in Vienna for those who appreciate high-quality art history. Over the centuries, the museum has collected some truly brilliant pieces of Austrian art and works from further afield.

You might want to set aside a bit of time to wander the halls of this grand building, as the gallery houses no less than 100,000 pieces in total. Among the items on display are medical armor, Egyptian artifacts, Greek artistic works, and various other stunning antiquities.

Just around the corner from the museum is the Sans Souci Vienna Hotel. A luxury hotel with a swimming pool, spa, and exceptional breakfast, the Sans Souci is a great place to stay if you want to take in as many of the best museums in Vienna as possible.

16. Vienna Woods (Wienerwald)

Panorama of Mödling (Austria)
Creativemarc / AdobeStock

Stretching across Vienna’s western outskirts, you can hike or cycle through lush greenery to embrace the region’s diverse natural amenities.  The woods are also not at a loss for top local attractions either. Most notable would be the memorial chapel of Mayerling.

It was originally a hunting lodge for the former Crown Prince Rudolf. After the bloody tragedy of January 1889, where the Prince met his end, Emperor Franz Joseph I converted the lodge into a monastery. Visit the museum to learn about this tragic royal history.

For something a little more light-hearted, you could also stop off at many charming villages, such as Baden and Mödling. You can savor regional dishes or even indulge at a local winery there.

Kids can also be very well catered for with a trip to Vienna Woods. Like the Sparbach Nature Park, nature parks allow learning about local flora and fauna. While local thermal baths, playgrounds, and museums dish up varying activities to suit the whole family.

See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in Austria

17. Visit Melk Abbey and the Danube Valley

View of the melk abbey in austria from a boat deck
dudlajzov / AdobeStock

Going on a boat tour of the Danube River to see local sights in Vienna is a great shout. But staying on the boat that little bit longer to meander down to the Danube Valley is a brilliant treat. The Danube Valley is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, so visiting this natural wonder, with a stop at Melk Abbey, is a solid plan.

You can’t miss Melk Abbey, which sits proudly elevated over the River Danube. An unwavering testament to classical Baroque architecture, the abbey boasts intricate interiors and wonderful gardens. Amble around the grand imperial rooms of this 11th-century abbey during your boat trip to the Danube Valley.

A guided tour will highlight the historical significance of the areas you visit. But, for those who have no interest in a history lesson, the idyllic Austrian countryside floating by is more than enough to make this a worthwhile day out when visiting Vienna.

See Related: Vienna vs Prague: What’s the Difference?

18. Visit Salzburg on a Day Trip

Aerial View of Salzburg Old Town
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Salzburg is only a few hours away on the train, making it a great day trip from Vienna. Being the birthplace of Mozart himself, Salzburg is bursting at the seams with notable musical history alongside impressive architectural beauty that enriches any visit. 

Wander through its streets to find old Baroque buildings lined up on charming cobbled streets. Take a break at iconic landmarks such as Hohensalzburg Fortress and Salzburg Cathedral. Take in one of the many art galleries and museums, or even go for a stroll around the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens.

Fans of the classic movie, The Sound of Music, can divulge into complete fan mode in Salzburg and take a tour along some of the famous filming sites for the movie! During a tour, as well as reveling in seeing some spots from your favorite movie, you can learn more interesting historical background about the area outside of the story of the Von Trapps!

Or maybe you would prefer an evening of classical music? In which case, maybe dinner and a show would be most up your alley. The 900-year-old Salzburg Fortress (or Festung Hohensalzburg) often features Mozart-themed dinner evenings where you can enjoy Austrian cuisine and a medley of Mozart’s best pieces played by a live orchestra.

For those wanting something a little more fast-paced or traveling with short-attention-spanned children, the Bavarian mountains are your saviors!

On your doorstep in Berchtesgaden, you have a historical landmark of Hitler’s mountain retreat; the Eagle’s Nest. Otherwise, go underground and explore 450-year-old salt mines for something different!

If you want to stick around in Salzburg, Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron is a top choice (we know; we’ve been there!). Offering mountain views on the annex of the Leopoldskron Palace, you’re not too far from the historic city center but far enough away from the city hustle and bustle for a peaceful stay.

See Related: Vienna vs Salzburg: What’s Better to Visit?

19. Take a Trip to the Alps

Small village of Hallstatt, Austria - alps mountain range
MehmetYunus / AdobeStock

Another worthwhile day trip to consider taking when visiting Vienna would be to see the undeniably stunning Alps. It’s by no means a quick trip to the Alps from Vienna, and you should prepare for a long day if opting for this experience, but you will not regret it!

No day trip to the Alps would be complete without braving the Hallstatt Skywalk. Here, you will get unmatched panoramic views of the mountains and a perfect opportunity to nab the perfect Instagram shot to show off back home.

During a day trip to the Alps, you could also visit one of the best castles in Austria, the Seeschloss Ort Castle. In addition, maybe you could see about taking a train ride through the very heart of the Austrian Alps on the Semmering Railway.

If an authentic Austrian experience is what you seek, then stopping off at one of the many picturesque Alpine villages is a must. Spots like Hallstatt or St. Wolfgang can welcome you into authentic local cultural experiences or provide great stop-offs for enjoying authentic cuisines with awe-inspiring mountain backdrops.

Vienna is a brilliant city, but you won’t regret taking a day to witness the grand natural splendor that Austria serves so well. A day trip to the Alps is one of the top things to do in Vienna for those wanting to get beyond the city limits.

See Related: Best Adventure Vacations Around The World

FAQs

When is the best time to visit Vienna in terms of weather and events?

The weather in Vienna is most agreeable from April – May or September – October. The summer months can often be too hot for a comfortable visit, but the milder temperatures experienced during Vienna’s shoulder seasons of spring and fall still come with reasonably sunny days.

Christmas time in Vienna is worth putting up with a chillier climate. For one, you have the amazing Christmas markets, but you could also attend the Silvester Gala and enjoy New Year’s Eve listening to the Wiener Hofball Orchestra.

Other events throughout the year in Vienna that might sway your decision about when to visit would include the Donauinselfest—a great opportunity to enjoy a free open-air music festival if you can handle the heat. Or maybe you could put a note in the diary to visit in early September, for the famous Vienna Film Festival.

What are some traditional Viennese dishes, and where can I try them?

Probably one of the most famous meals of Viennese cuisine, the Wiener Schnitzel, should be on your to-eat list if you’re keen to try traditional Viennese food. The highly-rated restaurant, Wiener Wiaz Haus, would be a great spot to try this dish.

For something a little sweeter, treat your palette to a Sachertorte. This famous chocolate cake is a dense sponge cake filled with apricot jam and topped with more chocolate. To try this classic Viennese dessert, Café Sacher or Café Diglas should be on your radar.

What is the best way to get around Vienna?

The public transport system in Vienna is reliable and convenient. If you need to get around the city quickly to all the great tourist hot spots, look to the subway as your best option.

It’s the fastest way to zip across the entire city. Otherwise, you do have buses and trams. In fact, the tram system in Vienna is the sixth largest in the world and covers a length of 225km.

Consider getting a Vienna city card for an easy and convenient public transport experience when visiting Vienna. Great for city sightseeing or that much-needed airport transfer, these run from 24-hour to 72-hour validity at a reasonable cost.

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Lisa Ward
WRITTEN BY

Lisa Ward

Lisa Ward is a travel writer based in Jersey. She loves hiking and adventure travel and has hiked to Everest Base Camp and Machu Picchu, as well as through Patagonia and up several volcanoes across the world. Lisa cycled down Death Road in Bolivia, went canyoneering in Costa Rica, climbed canopies in Honduras. That school trip to Honduras sparked Lisa’s interest in the underwater world. She has since undergone basic training in biological research concerning marine conservation, most notably that of coral reefs. She is a PADI qualified Rescue Diver with a specialty in underwater photography. So far, she has dived in Jersey, Honduras, Indonesia, and the Great Barrier Reef.

After gaining her law degree and falling into the world of finance, Lisa gained a qualification in digital marketing before deciding to take the leap into writing full time. Lisa is also a trained English Language tutor with a TEFL qualification and specialty qualifications in teaching online and 1-1. Other interests include playing the clarinet, which Lisa played in orchestras from the age of 10 to 19, martial arts (black belt in karate), and quite literally anything outdoors.