Where to go
Things to do in Vienna
Vienna sits at the heart of Europe, boasting a glorious imperial past and a grand city centre recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It’s a regal city of elegance and faded glory, with impressive cultural clout and many architectural gems. Schloss Schönbrunn and Belvedere are just two of the best-known examples of baroque opulence, but the Viennese Secession has also left its mark on the city, with a flavour of art nouveau apparent in many districts. And the culture doesn’t stop with art and architecture – Vienna is equally associated with music. Strauss and Schubert were born here, while Mozart and Beethoven both lived here for several years. What’s more, the refined café culture and distinctive gastronomy are the icing on Vienna’s cake.Top six things to do in Vienna1. Admire Schönbrunn Palace and its gardensA baroque masterpiece, an icon of Vienna and a palace brim-full of history – the unmissable Schloss Schönbrunn was the summer residence of the Habsburg emperors. This sumptuous palace dates back to the 1740s and has no less than 1,441 rooms. Of these, visitors can see around 40. The most impressive rooms include the Hall of Mirrors – where Mozart gave a concert at the age of six – the apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and the Rococo salon of Empress Sisi, a flamboyant, floral space where she received her guests.It’s well worth taking the time to visit the palace gardens, too. A stroll through the formal French gardens is a study in immaculate symmetry and intricate planting. Beyond this, the major eye-catchers in the huge park include the Gloriette, right at the top of the garden, the Neptune fountain, and the fake Roman ruins. If you’ve time to spare, head to Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the oldest surviving zoo in the world.2. Discover the MuseumsQuartier art districtArt lovers flock to Vienna and the MuseumsQuartier should be top of their list. The hub of the city’s cultural scene is housed in the former imperial stables and includes some 60 museums and institutions. Among several must-sees, the Leopold Museum is dedicated to modern Austrian art and features the largest collection of works by Egon Schiele. At neighbouring Kunsthalle Wien, you’ll see varied exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, while the Austrian Architecture Museum showcases the best of 20th and 21st century architecture.3. See more art at Belvedere PalaceAnother of Vienna’s crowning glories is Schloss Belvedere, an 18th century palace complex built in florid baroque style. The Belvedere actually consists of two palaces – the Untere Belvedere and the Obere Belverdere – connected by an ornate garden. Today, both palaces house museums which display an important collection of Austrian art. In the Untere Belvedere, once the residence of Eugene of Savoy, you’ll find art spanning several centuries, and a collection of medieval exhibits in the palace stables. But it’s mainly the Obere Belvedere that steals the show, with renowned works by Van Gogh, Schiele and Klimt, among others. Be sure to make time to see Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss – one of Vienna’s art highlights.4. Take time out in the Prater for relaxation and funVienna’s biggest public park is also its most exciting. Enjoying a great central location, this is a park with a twist – the lively Prater amusement park takes up the corner of the park closest to the city. It’s home to 250 rides and attractions, tempting locals and visitors alike to join in the fun. The entertainment zone is free to enter, but you pay for each attraction, so you’re free to walk through and watch the action even if you’re not a fan of speed and height. You’ll come across carousels, roller-coasters, splash rides and much more, but the most famous attraction is the Wiener Riesenrad – of the Third Man fame. Hop on this historic Ferris wheel for a fantastic view of the city, and to tick off one of Vienna’s most iconic experiences.If you need a rest after all that adrenaline, head to the calmer side of Prater Park, Der Grüne Prater, stretching for 5km southeast from the amusement park. Here, you can walk among the trees and lawns or settle down on the grass for a picnic. Soak up some classic Austrian vibes in the Habsburgs’ former hunting lodge, now the Lusthaus restaurant, where you can enjoy a meal.5. Stroll through the Innere StadtOne of the best things to do in Vienna is to simply stroll through the historic centre of the city. The entire district is of such importance that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it won’t fail to impress. Due to its central position, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards St Stephen's Cathedral as you wander the city. This Gothic monument boasts ornate altars, several side chapels and the highest belfry in the country at 136 metres. Also worth a visit are the imposing Rathaus overlooking its appealing park, and the Hofburg Palace – formerly the main residence of the Habsburgs, now the seat of Austria’s president. While you wander, be sure to stroll down Graben, Vienna’s grandest street, then head for the Vienna State Opera House. This is not only a splendid example of neo-Renaissance architecture, but also hosts music, dance and opera performances every night.6. Experience the atmosphere of Viennese café cultureCoffee houses and cafés are an integral part of everyday life in Vienna, and the perfect place to relax after all that culture. The most famous Kaffeehaus is Café Central. You might have to queue for a while before you’re seated, but the beautiful décor and sumptuous pastries are worth it. Who wouldn’t want to eat apple strudel where Freud used to drink his coffee? Another Viennese treat that you must try is the rich and fruity Sachertorte. This chocolate cake with apricot jam is a coffee time classic and can be found all over the city, but you’ll find the most celebrated slices at Hotel Sacher and Demel.