9 Things You Must See In Vienna, Austria
Wilkommen in Wien!
Are you excited about planning your trip to Vienna? As the capital of Austria, and one of Europe’s most significant hubs for culture and history, Vienna is a must see city. Vienna was home to some of the world’s most brilliant talents such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Freud, and was the seat of the Habsburg royal family (also spelled Hapsburg) until 1918. Visit Vienna in either winter or summer and I know you will love the architecture, food, and the people. Use this guide to make sure you experience all the city has to offer and don’t miss any of the must see Vienna sites. Also check out some tips here if you are short on time in Vienna.
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Now, lets get down to the Must See Vienna Sites!
#1 The Stephansplatz or St. Stephen’s Cathedral
The Inner Stadt is the city center and features one of the most important, must see, places in Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Originally built in 1147, it is one of the tallest churches in the world and is famous for its catacomb burial sites, church treasures, and Gothic architecture. The Pummerin Bell, the biggest bell in Austria, is rung on special occasions. Feel free to climb 343 steps to the top of the Steffl, the highest point of the church tower.
#2 The Heldenplatz or Hofburg Imperial Palace…
is the winter palace of the Habsburg dynasty and currently houses the offices of the president of Austria. The 13th century palace is filled with art, silver, and royal stories of the iconic Elizabeth and Franz Joseph Habsburg. The Imperial Apartments and the Sisi Museum, dedicated to the empress Elizabeth, are both available for touring.
#3 Art Museums
No trip to Vienna is complete without at least one visit to an art museum. I’m recommending the Albertina Museum because it offers important masterpieces from my favorites, such as Picasso and Monet, as well as Klimt. It’s not overwhelming and has pieces the whole family will enjoy. The World Heritage Site complex of the Belvedere or the Kunsthistorisches Museum are also fantastic because the palace architecture is as important as the art within. You will be able to see Klimt, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio. (One of the most famous works of Klimt, The Kiss, is in the Belvedere. )
Vienna Fun Facts
Vienna is nicknamed the City of Dreams because Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis lived there.
The oldest zoo is in Vienna, built in 1752, at the Schönbrunn Palace.
The original Vienna snow globe was invented in 1905 by Erwin Perzy.
Sachertorte, the famous chocolate and apricot cake, was invented in Vienna in 1832 by Franz Sacher for Prince Wenzel von Metternich.
Know before you go
When To Go
Vienna is gorgeous all year round. The summer is obviously popular, but I did not find the crowds unbearable, and the weather was lovely both day and night. Plan ahead, however because booking a place to stay may be challenging. I also visited in December and highly recommend being there for the Christmas markets, the cold air on your face, and the festive lights lining the streets. The spring is a wonderful time because Vienna is less busy and the temps are very mild. The fall is also a great time to visit Vienna because the temperatures are in the high 60’s and the height of the tourist season is over.
Where To Stay
Vienna’s city center, Inner Stadt, is the area known as the first district and is where most of the main tourist attractions are. When booking a rental or hotel, I recommend you try to be as close to this area as possible. You’ll be able to walk to the sites and will be in the heart of one of Europe’s most revered cultural cities. Check out Expedia for some great choices. If you are choosing the VRBO route, be sure to check the reviews!
- The Euro is the official currency of Austria.
- Plug types are types C and F. Type C is the one with two round pins and Type F is the plug with two round pins and two earth clips on the side.
- The language of Vienna is German. Many people speak English, and other European languages, however.
- Cafes, coffee, pastries, cafes, coffee, pastries.
How To Get Around
Your visit to the must see sites in Vienna will include a lot of walking. If you prefer to ride, the Vienna Hop On and Hop Off sightseeing bus tours allow access to many attractions. A Vienna City Card will give you free public transportation for the day, and offers discounts to some attractions.
Take a Free Walking Tour. (Actually, a pay-what-you-can tour). There are over 100 guided walking tours offered in Vienna! Some with themes and others are more basic. I chose the Vienna City Classic Walk.
#4 The Vienna State Opera
The world famous Vienna State Opera is unlike anything you have experienced. Make your plans early enough to buy tickets to the opera. Built in 1869, in the Neo-Renaissance style, the opera house opened with Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Emperor and Empress, Franz Joseph and Elizabeth. Whether you are a fan of opera or not, make this part of your must see in Vienna list. Dress up and enjoy the show. You will not be sorry! Ticket prices range from €15 – €215. So plan ahead!
#5 Spanish Riding School
Vienna’s Spanish Riding School is famous for its Lipizzan horses. This is the 450 year old training center for the famous stallions. It is the only institution in the world that continues the Renaissance tradition of training the stallions. Check the calendar before you visit because the morning exercises are a great opportunity to see the Lipizzaners. Tickets cost about €16.
#6 Schloss Schönbrunn Palace
Schloss Schönbrunn Palace was the summer home for the royal Habsburg family just outside of the city. The palace was built in the Baroque style in the 1600’s and has 1441 rooms! You can take a tour and enjoy the stunning gardens in the summer for €36 p/adult and €23 p/child.
The Strudel Show
Watch and learn how to make the traditional apple strudel, Vienna’s most famous desert. Every hour a professional strudel chef bakes an apple strudel for a small audience in the palace. For only €11.50 p/person you can watch a delightful show, eat a delicious piece of fresh apple strudel, and sip coffee or hot cocoa! It’s a legendary hoot! More fun than you can imagine.
Pro Tip: The palace is a 15-20 minute ride outside the city center. You can take a taxi, rideshare app, or the subway. For a family of 4 it’s cheaper, quicker, and much more convenient to call an Uber.
#7 Mozart’s House
The Mozarthaus Museum is a small and simple look into the genius’ life for the three years he lived in Vienna. Visiting the very modest apartments gives you a glimpse into Mozart’s world and his music. The ticket price is €12 per adult or €25 for the whole family.
#8 Café Central
Café Central is inside the Palais Ferstel, a Venetian mansion. Trotsky and Freud and friends would gather there for coffee and strudel and conversation. There are many wonderful cafes in Vienna, but this is the most famous and the most beautiful. Well worth the wait in line to be seated. If you are lucky, like us, you will be pulled out of line, Studio 54 style, for a table! Go for a full meal, or just coffee and desert, just go!
Naschmarkt is on my must see in Vienna list because it gives every visitor a great sense of the link between culture and food in this city. Located on Wienzeile street for about 1.5km, this open air market has plenty of restaurants and stalls selling everything from fruits and vegetables to cheeses and pastries. If you are cooking at home, be sure to pick up fresh fish and meat.
And, if you are lucky enough to visit Vienna during the holiday season, be sure to spend time in the Christmas markets around the city center for the magical holiday treats that Austria is known for.