You must see these places in Vienna
The most beautiful places and sights in Vienna
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Vienna is the capital of Austria and the biggest city in the alpine region with over 1.8 million inhabitants. For visitors, the city has a lot to offer, like Schönbrunn Palace, the Naschmarkt, the Hofburg or the Stephansdom. You have only one or two days to discover the city? Then our top sights in Vienna are perfect for you. If you have more time, you’ll also be interested in our other sights that you’ll find after the top highlights. But we wouldn’t be the Phototravellers if we didn’t have some insider tips for you as well. Have fun with our trip to the beautiful Danubian metropolis.
Schönbrunn Palace & Tiergarten Schönbrunn
Schönbrunn Palace is, without a doubt, one of the top sights of Vienna. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is Austria’s most visited tourist attraction. The Baroque palace and its vast gardens used to be in the possession of the Habsburg rulers and was their main summer residence for centuries. Schönbrunn Palace invites you onto a journey into the past – after all, the whole complex is mostly in its original historic state even today. You simply have to visit Schönbrunn Palace. The entry to the palace gardens, where you can easily spend half a day, is free. However, if you want to see the Great Gallery or the bedroom of the Emperor Franz Joseph, who married the beautiful Sisi and was on the throne from 1848 until 1916, you’ll need a ticket to the palace. If you don’t want to queue up for hours, you should order the tickets online beforehand. Another highlight is the Tiergarten Schönbrunn, also known as Vienna Zoo, which is the oldest zoo in the world and lies within the imperial summer residence. By the way: with the Vienna Pass* you get free entry to Schönbrunn Palace.
Useful Links: Schönbrunn Palace | Online tickets Schönbrunn Palace | Tiergarten Schönbrunn | Schönbrunn Palace Tour and Concert*
The Vienna Hofburg was the centre of the Habsburgs’ circle of influence for centuries. Until 1918, the imperial palace was the monarchy’s political centre. Nowadays, it serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria, as well as the chancellery minister and the secretaries of state. The Hofburg is also home to various institutions like the Spanish Riding School and the Austrian National Library. Fans of Sisi should take a look inside the Sisi Museum. But the Imperial Apartments and the Silver Collection, a unique collection of items that were required for the court household and its organisation, could also be worth a visit.
Useful links: Hofburg
The Stephansdom with its catacombs
The Stephansdom (technically called St. Stephen’s Cathedral) is located in the heart of the city and is the city’s most famous landmark. The south and main tower stands 136 metres tall. If you’re already fascinated by the cathedral’s impressive exterior, your jaw will drop once you enter the building. If you’re interested in the Stephansdom’s history, you can find all the details on Wikipedia. The entry is free. We strongly recommend the guided tour of the catacombs (6€, retrieved May 2019). Below the church, there are about 30 burial chambers, where the remains of many members of the Habsburg dynasty are buried (those of Napoleon Franz Bonaparte, for example), as well as those of the cardinals and archbishops of Vienna and members of the cathedral chapter. Below the Stephansplatz, there are even more crypts – more than 10.000 people were buried here in plague pits. An eerie experience for the young and the old.
Useful links: Stephansdom | Catacombs |
The Prater (Wurstelprater)
If you hear someone talk about the Wiener Prater, they most likely mean the amusement park Wurstelprater. The Prater itself is a meadow landscape of six square kilometres. However, one of its top sights is, of course, the Wurstelprater with its best-known attraction, the Wiener Riesenrad. This Ferris wheel was built in 1897 in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Emperor Franz Joseph I. – back then, it was one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the world with 65 metres in height. The Prater attracts around three million visitors per year and has a lot more to offer than just the historic Ferris wheel. Rollercoasters, ghost train rides, bumper car rides and countless other rides and booths make the Prater a fun time for the whole family. By the way: with the Vienna Pass*, you can use the Ferris wheel for free.
Useful links: Wiener Prater | Skip-the-Queue Ferris Wheel Ride*
The Vienna City Hall
With a height of 103 metres and a neo-Gothic façade, the Vienna City Hall is for sure among the most impressive city halls in the world. In summer, countless visitors gather in the shade of the trees on and around the Rathausplatz and enjoy the unique atmosphere. A visit to the Vienna City Hall is an absolute must on every trip to Vienna. A guided tour through the building is also worth it.
Useful links: Vienna City Hall | Guided tours
The Belvedere is a beautiful Baroque building complex. You can visit the rooms of the palace, as well as alternating exhibitions at the Belvedere. The beautifully designed landscaped garden is publicly available and very appealing with its large lawns, impressive fountains and countless park benches.
Useful links: The Belvedere | Exhibitions
The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most famous market. Around 120 stalls and small restaurants treat the visitors to a varied culinary range of fruit, vegetables, cheese, fish, cold cuts and other delicacies from all around the world. When strolling through the Naschmarkt, you won’t be able to avoid tasting some of the little titbits. But that’s what makes the Naschmarkt so special. There’s absolutely no chance you’ll be leaving empty-handed. However, the prices are quite high – after all, the Naschmarkt has become a staple destination for tourists. Thus, you shouldn’t really go on a shopping spree there. Unfortunately, many of the merchants also offer the same products. Even though the Naschmarkt has lost some of its splendour over the years, it’s still a must see on every trip to Vienna.
Useful links: Naschmarkt
The Karlskirche – St. Charles Church – is one of the city’s landmarks and catches the eye immediately due to its extraordinary architecture. The church’s interior is equally palatial. If you want, you can use the panoramic lift, which takes the visitors up to a platform at a height of 32.5 metres. From the platform, you can look at the frescos and the interior of the church from a unique perspective.
Useful links: Karlskirche
The Hundertwasserhaus is among the top sights as well. Even in its close proximity, small shops sell souvenirs and all kinds of trinkets. The Hundertwasserhaus was once designed by the architect Josef Krawina and adorned by the painter Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It sticks out like a sore thumb, even though its façade is not as vibrant as on many posters and postcards anymore. In front of the house, there’s always a bunch of tourists that probably really annoy the residents of the house. Because of that, entering the house is understandably prohibited. Unfortunately, you don’t really have a great view of the house from the street – but you should go see it either way. There’s also a little shop on the ground floor where you can buy souvenirs.
Useful links: Hundertwasserhaus
The Kärtner Straße with the Hotel Sacher & Sacher-Torte
It’s part of every visit to Vienna to try a slice of Sacher-Torte at least once. And where else to do that than at the Hotel Sacher’s Café Sacher on Kärntner Straße? The Sacher-Torte was invented in 1832 an has been the world’s most famous cake ever since. A dense chocolate cake, apricot jam on top and dark chocolate icing make the Sacher-Torte what it is. A culinary delight, which, unfortunately, isn’t cheap. But hey, how often do you come to Vienna?
Useful links: Sacher-Torte
The Austrian Parliament Building on the Ringstraße is where the two houses of the Austrian Parliament conduct their sessions. It was built between 1874 and 1883 in a neoclassicist style and is a popular tourist destination. One of the highlights is the Pallas Athena Fountain in front of the building, as well as eight marble statues. Visitors can go on a guided tour through the building or even attend a session.
Useful Links: Austrian Parliament
The Votivkirche is of course one of the most popular sights – and incidentally, one of the most significant neo-Gothic sacred buildings. With 99 metres, the Votivkirche is the second highest church in Vienna. Even from afar, the impressive church towers stand out. But also the church’s interior with the impressive high altar and countless chapels is absolutely worth a visit.
Useful links: Votivkirche
The amply designed public park with the white Theseus Temple at the centre of the beautiful park and the rose gardens is a green oasis in the heart of Vienna. In summer, you can pass the time on one of the shadowy park benches. Since 2001, the Volksgarten has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, as well as the Historic Centre of Vienna.
The Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum (Verb fehlt!) is one of the most important natural history museums in the world and one of Austria’s biggest museums. Especially in bad weather, you should consider visiting the Natural History Museum. Even its façade is impressive. In the exhibition rooms, you can then see all kinds of things such as dinosaur skeletons, minerals and prehistoric artefacts.
Useful Links: Natural History Museum
Art enthusiasts will love the Vienna Museumsquartier. In this huge area, you can find gems like the Kunsthalle Wien for international contemporary art, the mumok for modern art or the Leopold Museum with exhibits from the Wiener Moderne and Austrian expressionism.
Useful links: Museumsquartier
The KunstHausWien is another building designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and also exhibits some of the artist’s works. The museum is in close proximity to the Hundertwasserhaus and hosts regularly changing exhibitions with the works of other artists as well.
Useful links: KunstHausWien
If you’ve had enough of the busy city life, you can escape to the Donauinsel, which literally translates to Danube Island. This area was created between 1972 and 1988 and separates the Danube river from its side channel Neue Donau. The Donauinsel is part of Vienna’s highly sophisticated flood protection system and a popular recreational area. If you feel like enjoying the sun or gather your friends for a nice barbecue, this is the place to be. A special highlight for children is the world’s largest swimming trampoline.
Useful links: Donauinsel
Our insider tips for your city trip to Vienna
Creepy underground cellar tour
The city is riddled with tunnels like a Swiss cheese. If you ever feel like going underground, you can turn to Peter, who will take visitors down into the darkness. You can see lots of old cellars and Peter has a funny or creepy story about each of them. If you’re looking for a different kind of sightseeing, this is a perfect alternative.
Useful links: Cellar tour with Peter
The waste incinerator Spittelau
When walking through Vienna, you will often see the huge tower with the golden ball in the distance. This tower is part of the waste incinerator Spittelau, whose façade was also designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. It’s definitely worth taking a look at the building – also because the incinerator, which was built between 1969 and 1971 and rebuilt after a big fire in 1987, attracts much fewer tourists than other sights in Vienna.
Useful links: Waste incinerator Spittelau
On our stroll through the city centre we stumbled upon the Confiserie de Vienne. If you like marzipan, nougat and delicious chocolate, you should definitely pay a visit to this lovely confectionery on Friedrichstraße 8.
Useful links: Confiserie de Vienne
Burg Kreuzstein is located a few kilometres north of Vienna and was a medieval castle. However, the original fortifications are gone – in their place, you can now see a reconstruction that was built between 1874 and 1906. Is it all fake, you ask? If you have no idea that Burg Kreuzstein isn’t a real knight’s castle, you would never guess. Because the castle was constructed on the remains of the original structure, it seems very authentic. Apparently, many filmmakers also really like it – Burg Kreuzstein has been the set of many productions. The beer garden at the castle’s entrance offers an amazing view and is also worth a visit.
Useful links: Burg Kreuzstein
Vienna is always worth a visit
Whatever the season: a city trip to Vienna is always a great idea. There are countless sights to discover and if you’re ever tired of strolling through the city, just stop by at one of the many cafés and enjoy a hot chocolate and a slice of Sacher-Torte. The parks, museums and palaces are also really impressive, especially Schönbrunn Palace, which no visitor can walk past without stopping. Or you just stroll around and let the city work its magic. There will be something to discover – always and anywhere. However, a trip to the Austrian capital isn’t cheap. With the Vienna City Card*, you can at least save a bit of money. It allows you to use busses and trains and grants you many discounts for museums, exhibitions, theatres or concerts as well as some shops, cafés, restaurants or the Heurige, the typical Viennese wine taverns. Order your Vienna City Card here*. There’s also the Vienna Pass*, which is more expensive but includes free entry to countless sights like Schönbrunn Palace, the Ferris wheel, the Belvedere or the Hofburg. In addition, you can use the Hop-On/Hop-Off busses for free. Order your Vienna Pass here*.
This post is also available in: German