Vienna is a city full of history, beauty, and culture. Here, you’ll find exquisite palaces, world-class museums, and hours of recreational fun. Let this be your guide to the the top attractions in Vienna.
Top Attractions in Vienna
The massive Schloss Schönbrunn is so awe-inspiringly large, it’s hard to believe this was the home of just one family. The Habsburgs had Schönbrunn and its sweeping grounds as their summer residence, and today you can walk through 40 of the palace’s 1,400+ rooms. Outside, wander through the 435 acres of gardens and paths. The sprawling garden is home to eye-catching fountains and endless paths, as well as the Vienna Zoo and Schönbrunn Spa.
Another Habsburg property, the Belvedere now houses one of the world’s best museums. Start with the Lower Belvedere at the south side, which hosts intriguing art exhibitions, as well as the Orangery and Medieval collection. Then, stroll through the manicured garden to the main palace, the Upper Belvedere. Here you’ll find exquisite Baroque architecture framing masterpieces of European art. The Belvedere collection includes Van Gogh, Monet and most importantly, Klimt; be sure to the ponder his most famous work, “The Kiss”. You can also continue to the Belvedere 21 for the museum’s contemporary collection.
Vienna has over 100 museums, and fortunately, it’s simple to take in as much as possible. The MuseumsQuartier is a large complex housing 10 institutions. The most popular are the three large art museums: The Leopold, home to Austrian greats like Klimt and Schiele, as well as mumok and the Kunsthalle, for European and international contemporary art, respectively. There’s also centers for architecture, dance, theater, and even a children’s museum. You can customize your ticket to visit as many as you’d like.
The Hofburg is yet another decadent Habsburg palace, right in the city center. Visiting the Imperial Apartments, you’ll get to see how the Habsburgs really lived, particularly Empress Elisabeth. “Sisi”, as the Viennese call her, was one of Austria’s most iconic rulers. The Sisi-Museum is dedicated to her, housing countless artifacts and tracing her life from coronation onwards. You’ll also see the Silver Collection, with over 7,000 precious items. Just next door is the ever-popular Spanish Riding School, offering performances with their famed Lipizzaner horses.
For a city escape, the Viennese head to the river. The Donauinsel, has everything you’d expect from a seaside getaway. Sunbathe on the man-made beach, or grab a drink at one of the waterfront restaurants and bars. The recreational paradise also has boat rentals, a mini-water park, and even a surfing school. Don’t feel like getting wet? Try out the rock climbing centre or rent a bike for a ride around the island. Donauinsel is perfect for all ages, and any time of day.
An absolute must with any visit, Stephansdom is the crowning cathedral of Vienna. In the center of downtown, the Gothic architecture is a striking contrast to the surrounding boutiques and designer stores. Despite it’s intimidating exterior, the cathedral is warm and welcoming on the inside. Wander amongst the exquisite art and architecture before you dive into the eerie catacombs. Then, hike up the towers for a spectacular view of the city and the colorful tiled roof.
The Prater is another sign that the Viennese know how to have fun. An amusement park within the city, the Prater has been a symbol of Vienna for over a century. It’s main attraction is the Ferris wheel, which stretches 60m above the park for impressive views. You can also find numerous roller coasters, arcades and street food. If you’re not an adrenaline junkie, hop on the Liliputbahn for a relaxing ride through the park on a historic steam-engine train.
A smaller but no less impressive museum is the Albertina, which really does have everything. The permanent collection houses one of the greatest private art collections in the world, with French impressionists Monet and Gauguin, and modernists Kokoschka, Chagall and Picasso. Also on display are exhibitions on photography and contemporary art, and 20 restored Habsburg staterooms.
Kunst- & Naturhistorisches Museums
Two of Austria’s largest museums, the Museums of Fine Arts and Natural History, are some of Vienna’s oldest cultural institutions. The two mirroing museums house state-of-the-art collections and gorgeous palatial architecture. The former houses the Habsburg art collection, featuring countless Renaissance masterpieces, as well as a grand stairwell with paintings by Klimt. The Naturhistorisches Museum has over 30 million items ranging from fossils and prehistoric artifacts to exhibits on every animal imaginable. It’s sure to delight kids and adults alike.
Use this guide and we are sure you will find attractions in Vienna that you can enjoy. Let us know what else you see when you spend a weekend in Vienna.
Featured image by archer10 on flickr
Sarah is a college student and avid traveller, who’s cracked the budget travel formula and backpacked solo across 15 European countries