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50 Top Things to Do in Vienna When You Visit Austria’s Imperial Capital!

50 Top Things to Do in Vienna When You Visit Austria’s Imperial Capital!

Filled to the brim with Imperial architecture, first-rate museums, refined Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses), and an air of elegance, it’s easy to see why Vienna is frequently called one of the most beautiful capitals in the world.

In Vienna, you can also find modern dining, high-fashion, a cutting-edge art scene, and a nightlife scene to rival the best in the world.

A city as much in touch with its past as it is looking to the future, it’s guaranteed you will find something to love about Vienna and will return time and time again. 

fun things to do in austria - Vienna City Hall (German: Rathaus)

As you might be able to tell already, I absolutely love Vienna. It is one of my favorite cities on earth, and besides living here for a short stint in my student years, I return frequently – be it for a short stopover, three days, or even longer. 

Captivated by its modern elegance and rich history – yes, Vienna was for a long time one of the most influential cities on Earth! – as head of the Hapsburg and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Vienna is often overlooked for the cheaper Eastern Europe capitals of Prague and Budapest, but there is no other city on early like it.

Vienna holds close it’s past and incorporates it into everyday life, keeping the good and reinventing traditions which no longer are fit for purpose while retaining a deep sense of self.

In Vienna, imperial trappings still linger in the air, people still greet each other with a casual Grüß Gott (May God be with you), and many grand palaces and museum complexes still dot the skyline.

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Yet hipster cafes and galleries inflict every inch of this city -reaching contagion level in Freihausviertel neighborhood. Art, fashion, and food are simultaneously trendy yet reverent; pop-up markets take over old hidden courtyards and nightclubs hold sway in abandoned subway stations.

Expectations are meet, destroyed, unearthed, and forgotten – often all at once. 

Exhausted? Confused? So was I – in all the right ways!

Vienna is a city so full of contradictions, refusing to let itself be boxed into any one category. At once, Vienna is both thoroughly modern yet ridiculously orthodox. And I think this is what has lead to my love for it.

I had an exchange semester here in 2013 and have now been back every year since. History is what infuses this city with universal appeal, whether you come to hear a classic rendition of Mozart, wander the world-class MuseumsQuartier, or attend epic clubbing parties in the City Hall.

A truly global city that has not only stood the test of time but prospered – But in such a city you can be overwhelmed, so without further ado, I give you my take on the Top 50 Things to Do in Vienna! Enjoy…

Free Things To Do In Vienna - Vienna Roadsign

50 Top Things to Do in Vienna When You Visit Austria’s Imperial Capital! 🇦🇹

 

Page Contents


 

1. Visit The World’s Top Museums At MuseumsQuartier

Conveniently located all in one compact area, Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier houses most of the must-see museums – in the old Hapsburgian Imperial stables of all places. The top finds here are the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum), the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum), and the Leopold Museum with the world’s most extensive Schiele collection.

If modern art is your thing, you can’t go past the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art) filled with 20th and 21st-century contemporary art, including a large collection of nouveau realism and pop art. If you tire of some of the huge art collections, you can find plenty of designer boutiques and trendy bars in the surrounding nearby backstreets.

MuseumsQuartier Things to Do in Vienna - What To Do in Vienna Austria

2. Shop Up A Storm On Mariahilferstraße

Forget the luxury boutiques – with price tags to match – off Kärntner Strasse and Kohlmarkt in the inner city, Mariahilferstraße is where the Viennese head for all their shopping needs. Going for what seems like miles and miles, this is Vienna’s High Street with practically every big name you could want, and corresponding crowds on the weeks.

There are also plenty of ornate window displays, pop-up stores, and dining options on Mariahilferstraße. If it all gets too much, you can duck down Kirchengasse, Lindengasse, or Neubaugasse for more hipster concept stores and hidden gems without the crowds.

Mariahilfer Strasse Shopping - best area to stay in vienna

3. Stay In The Uber Trendy 25hours Hotel Vienna

Locally known as the ‘it’ spot, the 25hours Hotel Vienna is a perfect antidote to Viennese Classism – young, hip, irreverent and fun. Themed around the Viennese Circus of old, the location of 25Hours Hotel Vienna truly cannot be beaten just a stone’s throw from the Museums Quartier and Old Town while overlooking the Austrian Parliament.

With spacious, modern rooms and fun amenities like complimentary use of a Mini, access to the mega-popular Dachboden rooftop bar, and Mermaid’s Cave sauna area. With bold colors, zany catch-phrases, and over-the-top design, the staff are quick to say they are not ‘luxury.’

Still, I can’t imagine a more romantic escape in Vienna than their designer suites with exterior bathtubs with views of the Hofburg. Classy without pretense, come as you are, and discover the best place to stay in Vienna!

25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier - best area to stay in vienna
25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier - best area to stay in vienna
25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier - best area to stay in vienna
25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier - best area to stay in vienna
25hours Hotel Vienna at MuseumsQuartier - best area to stay in vienna

4. Get Excited At A Game Of Ice Hockey In Vienna

The excitement is palpable here, and if you are lucky enough to get to see an ice hockey game in Vienna, you can watch on with glee while the locals forget their usual reserved ways and scream their hearts out for the home team – The Vienna Capitals.

Wondering where to watch Ice Hockey in Vienna? You can see games played at the Albert Schultz Eishalle. The Austrian Hockey league (also including teams from neighboring countries) starts from mid-September and really is one of the top things to do in Vienna.

Vienna Ice Hockey Match

5. Cultivate A Taste For The Classics In St Anne’s Church

Few buildings in the world come close to St Anne’s church. Completely with frescos painted across its broad soaring ceiling, there may be no better place to soak up the music of Austria’s past glory.

Many of the great classical pieces that classical music fans love today were composed in Austria. Sitting and listening to orchestras play the great classical pieces in a setting with so much history will have you forgetting that it’s the 21st century.

Whether you just want to close your eyes and allow the music to echo around the hollow space of St Anne’s or you’re looking to enjoy the full pomp and circumstance of the occasion, visitors are sure to be amazed by the sweeping grandeur.

Watch black tie-clad guests take in the sounds of some of Europe’s finest composers plaid by an exceptional orchestra.

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6. Experience The Spice And Sizzle Of Austria’s Markets

There are loads of classic coffee houses, pastry shops, and hotels dotted throughout the Vienna, and you can join a delicious walking food tour to explore the best of them. You may know Austria for its exceptional chocolatiers.

Still, at the height of its imperial power Austria and especially its capital, Vienna was hosting flavors and tastes from around the world. But to find the best ones, you will need a guide – and honestly, with the proliferation of tourism here, you won’t want to chance it with one of those high street imposters. 

Many great artists, poets, philosophers, and politicians would have been found soaking up the smells and tastes of Austria’s markets and coffee houses. Mozart, Klimt, and Freud all lived in this grand city at one time or other and surely would attest some of their creative genius to the wonderful taste of its coffee.

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7. Pop Into The Stephansplatz Manner Concept Store

As cliched as it might seem, you really can’t miss the opportunity to visit the flagship store of Vienna’s favorite sweet snack – Manner – a delicious hazelnut cream wafer dating back to 1989.

Somewhere between an eye-sore and a city icon,  missing the Manner store’s trademark peach-pink color would be rather tricky – even in the crowded Stenphanplatz. Once inside you will be immersed in every conceivable variant of the product, most you will never find anywhere else.

Think cereals, liquors, new flavor combinations, and more. It’s all at prices similar to an average store as well, which makes it great for getting your Vienna souvenirs.

Manner Flagship Chocolate Store Vienna Centre - What To Do In Vienna In 3 Days

8. Try The Famous Vienna Schnitzel For Yourself

Wiener schnitzel, possibly one of the best-known specialties of Viennese cuisine, is a national dish of Austria and no visit to this time-warped city would be complete without enjoying a meal of this thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet

Traditionally served in Austria with Kopfsalat (lettuce tossed with a sweetened vinaigrette dressing), potato salad, cucumber salad, or parsley potatoes. In essence, you can now find as many variations are places serving it, which is to say many. It can also be served with rice, french fries or roasted potatoes, but a good restaurant would always serve it with a slice of lemon, to give the breadcrumbs more taste, and a sprig of parsley.

A popular variation – both locally and globally – is for schnitzel to be made with pork instead of veal because pork is significantly cheaper than veal. Still, an authentic Wiener Schnitzel must be made of veal. Which begs the question, with so many options and types – where is the best place for Wiener schnitzel in Vienna?

This is going to be controversial, but I’d recommend (based on local tips) Lugeck, in the heart of the Vienna downtown, which offers Austrian cuisine in one of the most picturesque buildings in Vienna, lovingly restored and now famed for its modern style. For something more traditional, you could also try nearby Beim Czaak, a Rustic tavern with a large garden offering classic Austrian dishes, including Wiener schnitzel with local draught beers and wines.

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9. See A World-Class Vienna Opera Performance

Check out a world-class opera or ballet at the Vienna State Opera at a fraction of the price. Standing room tickets here go for as little as 3 euro and are relatively easy to get – Just follow this easy guide to getting Vienna Opera standing room tickets on the cheap!

The city has a strong musical history that continues today, and its performances reflect this. The building itself is stunning, and a night here will be absolutely unforgettable. Be sure to dress up and get ready to see how seriously Austrians take their opera!

vienna opera guided tour - World Class Vienna Opera Performance
grand opera house vienna - World Class Vienna Opera Performance
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cool things to do in Vienna

10. Walk Between The Mountains And Lakes In Ancient Hallstatt

Hallstatt is a small mountain village in Western Austria, roughly an hour from the second city of Salzburg as you head through the mountains, you will be confronted with stunning forests and cliffs. In the winter, the snow-tipped peaks of the alps are tempting for those looking to ski and snowboard in the small Austrian resorts, but in the summer, they show their true beauty.

The small town of Hallstatt has gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful villages in the world. You may recognize images of it from guide books and travel articles. The town has become an Instagram goldmine, and it’s easy to see why.

The classic wooden buildings overhang the lake, tucked precariously between the blue water and soaring cliff faces. In summer, this town is a paradise, just be aware of the other visitors who are looking to grab a piece of this mountain utopia.

Sure, we will admit this is not in Vienna – but with an easy day trip possible, how could we not include this fantastic spot!

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11. Take A Walking Tour Through The Ancient Beauty Of Vienna’s Centre

There are few cities in the world, where classical buildings still stand alongside cobblestone streets, so really, it’s a must to take a walking tour through the city center.

Whether you imagine yourself in the mind of a great composer or the grandfather of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, you can walk down the streets as they did. It’s a strange feeling to stand in a place and know that as you look around, you can see all the same sights as people standing there over one hundred years ago.

The best way to explore the streets is with a guide, who can help draw your attention to notable spaces and landmarks, and fill you in on information and history that you have no idea about. There may be some famous residents that you know, but there are bound to be many more you don’t.

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12. Tour The UNO-City

UNO-City, or the Vienna International Centre, houses the third largest UN offices in the world. The UNO-City is worth a visit if only to see the wholly modernist design constructed in 1979 when Vienna was seen as somewhat of a neutral point between Soviet and NATO powers.

Whatever your views on the current functionality of the  UN, a guided tour of the Vienna UN do give an intriguing glimpse into the work done here behind closed doors and the relevance of the UN today, be sure to bring your passport for the curious experience of entering the extraterritorial complex.

UNO-City activities in vienna austria

13. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth At The Sacher Cafe

Probably the most famous cafe in all of Vienna, the Sacher Cafe houses in the historic Sacher hotel, is famed for the Sacher Torte, invented by the hotel creator and beloved by Emperor Franz Josef.

A delicious iced-chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam, the Sacher Cafe with its opulent interior and elegant old-world charm is undoubtedly the best place to try the Sacher Torte – best enjoyed with a melange coffee.

Recently renovated, the Sacher Eck spinoff has just opened its doors within the same building as beautifully modern space with traditional styling, helping to secure the relevance of Sacher for the next 100 years.

Sacher Hotel And Cafe in Vienna - Things to do in vienna today
Sacher Hotel And Cafe in Vienna - Things to do in vienna today
Sacher Hotel And Cafe in Vienna - Things to do in vienna today
Sacher Hotel And Cafe in Vienna

14. Admire The Classical Beauty of Belvedere Palace

Probably the most beautiful baroque palace in existence – and gives Versailles a run for its money – there is no excuse for not visiting the Belvedere Palace and Gardens being so close to the city center.

The Belvedere Gardens are free to walk around day and night, offering a jaw-dropping view of the Vienna skyline – but for a complete visit, you need to pony up to see it’s famed frescoed halls adorned with works by Vienna’s own Klimt and Schiele.

If you’re visiting Vienna in December, the Belvedere Christmas markets are amongst some of the most beautiful -, and yet somehow local secret tourists have yet to find while in the summer the Belvedere Gardens come alive with bright flowers and is perfect for a romantic stroll.

Belvedere Palace - hidden gems in vienna

15. Immerse Yourself In The Musical Styling Of Mozart

Austria is not short of beautiful locations to host incredible live music; you could fill a week in the city just heading to classic performances in incredible buildings.

Vienna’s Musikverein is one such setting that harks back to Austria’s glorious past. A highlight of the music calendar and likely to sell out so pick up tickets fast is the Vienna Mozart Concert at the incredible Wiener Musikverein.

Take your seats and let the orchestra, all dressed in period costume, take you on a journey back through Mozart’s most famous works. The event can also be paired with a four-course meal and a carriage ride to the concert for those looking to bask in the period drama of Mozart’s Vienna.

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16. Meander Around The Historic Ringstrasse 

All of Vienna highlights on one street; you can’t miss a wander along the Ringstrasse – one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Encircling the Old Town of Vienna, you can find plenty of grand palaces, hotels, and stately buildings on this land once used for walls to protect against invaders.

The great divider between the inner and outer suburbs in Vienna, you can’t miss the Hofburg Palace, the State Opera, and the Vienna Rathaus, amongst many others. The best way to see it is by walking, but there is a Ring Tram complete with commentary if you prefer.

Vienna Ringstrasse - hidden gems in vienna