The Austrian capital has something to offer everyone! There are so many things to do in Vienna that making a selection of only a few activities is difficult. So to help you plan your Vienna trip here are the 10 best things to do in Vienna.
Insider Tip: If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing while in Vienna we highly recommend getting the Vienna City Card. The card gives you discounted access to dozens of museums and attractions, and unlimited access to Vienna’s public transportation.
Stephansdom or St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the Gothic pride in the heart of Vienna, and can only be described in superlatives. It is the number one attraction in the city for a reason. I just loved the pastel-colored windows, the incredible paintings, the detailed portals and the colored tile roof. Just go and check it out yourself.
Did you know you can take the elevator in the North Tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the city? When the weather is favorable, you can even see the Alps!
2. Imperial Treasury of Vienna
Vienna has several museums to choose from, but in my humble opinion the Imperial Treasury Museum (aka Wiener Schatzkammer) in Hofburg Palace is the one you definitely have to visit. This museum showcases crowns and jewels that represent the might and dignity of Austria. Ever heard of Holy Lance? Or the treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece? You will find all these legendary treasures in the Imperial Treasury Museum.
3. Hundertwasser House
Who doesn’t have to smile if (s)he sees the multicolored Hundertwasser House? This extraordinary apartment was created by Mr. Friedensreich Hundertwasser in collaboration with Joseph Krawina. I was most impressed by the trees on the balconies that make the visit also a green getaway from the city center. Strolling around the Hundertwasser Village to buy souvenirs or visiting the Hundertwasser Museum in the Kunst Haus is a must if you are in the neighborhood anyway.
4. Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna has more than 450 years of experience in training Lipizzaner stallions. You can attend morning exercises, performances or guided tours the entire year, which are all magical. Schedules and prices can be found on their website.
Traveling on a smaller budget? Why not admire the historical sights of Vienna from a horse-drawn carriage?
5. Austrian National Library
Vienna is home to the Austrian National Library, which is one of the most beautiful historic libraries in the world. The library contains over 600 years of history and the baroque State Hall is really breathtaking. I have not even mentioned the magnificent frescoes, the Venetian globes, the marble statues or the smell of the leather-bound books. What more do I have to say to convince you to add the Austrian National Library to your list of best things to do in Vienna?
6. Viennese Coffee Houses
You cannot leave Vienna without tasting the special atmosphere of the Viennese coffee house culture, which goes back to the late 17th century. You’ll find both traditional and more modern coffee houses dotted all over the city. A coffee, tea or hot chocolate with a pastry of your choice is the perfect afternoon break. Interested in the best places for drinks or traditional Viennese food? Continue reading here.
7. Schönbrunn Palace
If you have done your homework about your upcoming city trip to Vienna, then of course you have heard of Schönbrunn Palace. It’s on everyone’s list of the best things to do in Vienna, so you know you have to order your tickets in advance, as the queue can be very long. My parents and I weren’t prepared very well and didn’t have the time to wait in the queue (as we had to catch a flight in the late afternoon), so we decided to visit the gardens instead. And ooh boy, we weren’t disappointed. The garden is very charming with giant statues, colorful flowers, sparkling fountains and beautiful avenues.
The garden is freely accessible during opening hours, however, for the special attractions like the Private Garden, the Orangery Garden, the Maze, the Palm House, the Desert House and the Zoo you have to pay.
8. The City of Music
In Vienna, music is in the air! Several composers were attracted to the city (Gluck, Beethoven, Brahms and Mozart to name a few) and you have the opportunity to experience live music every evening. Many churches have their own concert or on Sundays you can opt to go to the Vienna Boys’ Choir at the Holy Mass in the Hofburg Chapel.
9. Wotruba Church
Ready to see something totally different? One of the best things to do in Vienna is visit the Wotruba Church for a clear statement of modern sculpture. For me, the asymmetric pile of concrete blocks resembles Stonehenge. I would not directly call the church beautiful, but it is unique for sure.
10. Danube’s Wachau Valley
Maybe you feel the need to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city, just like I did? Then a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wachau Valley is the perfect day trip from Vienna! A boat will bring you in about 90 minutes from Melk to Durnstein, and along the way there are plenty of activities to choose from: visiting a Benedictine abbey in Melk, hiking in the green hills, climbing to the castle ruins on a nearby hill in Durnstein, tasting wine, exploring all the local apricot products, strolling in the cozy towns, etc.
You can either explore the Wachau Valley independently with the help of this guide or you can book a guided day tour from Vienna. On the day tour you visit the world-famous Melk Abbey, taste local specialties such as schnapps and apricot jam, eat lunch at a typical wine tavern, and sample Wachau Valley wines at family-owned wineries. Regardless of which option you choose the Wachau Valley is a must visit.
The above are just a few of the best things to do in Vienna. For more information on things to do, what to eat, where to stay and how to save money check out our in-depth travel guide to Vienna.
Where to Stay in Vienna
- Best Hostel: Hostel Ruthensteiner
- Best Budget Hotel: Motel One
- Best Mid-Range Hotel: Hotel Stefanie
- Best Luxury Hotel: Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof
- Best Airport Hotel: NH Vienna Airport Conference Center
Don’t forget to also take a look at Airbnb. They have many accommodation options available in Vienna, and many of them are cheaper than your average hotel. For recommendations take a look at our list of the best Airbnbs in Vienna.