Being the grand capital of Austria, Vienna is a classic city where you can enjoy soothing music and life-changing dreams while living within beautifully architected buildings. It is a city stirred with calming nature, inspiring culture, and magnificent historic buildings.
Vienna has an excellent reputation for being one of the greenest and cleanest cities in Europe. According to Mercer’s Quality of Living survey, Vienna has been named the world’s best place to live for eleven consecutive years (2009 to 2019).
Clean and fresh air, affordable housing, safe streets (meager crime rate), reliable and cheap public transportation, and an old-fashioned atmosphere surround the entire city. All these factors make it as easy for tourists to stay in Vienna as easy as for the locals.
Stocked with visit-worthy museums and green parks, Vienna is an excellent destination for singles, couples, families, and basically, everyone looking for a calm and cultural escape. You can also participate in diverse music and dance festivals in the city throughout the year.
In addition to that, you can explore lovely palaces, authentic-smelling bakeries, and opera houses all around the city. So, if you are looking forward to experiencing and exploring the best of Europe, you need to step down in Vienna.
Whether you are traveling alone to this great city or have partners along, here are some of the most fun things you can do in Vienna.
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Top Things to Do in Vienna, Austria
1020 Vienna, Austria
I doubt that I’d ever spend a better time anywhere else than at an amusement park. My reason behind absolutely loving amusement parks is their vibrant LED lights, thrilling swings, aesthetic food stalls, and of course, the Ferris wheel.
All of it feels so euphoric as I immerse myself in the lights and music that seeps into my body when I walk around the rides. How else could you enjoy this fantastic city than having a thrill-filled day tour at the Prater Amusement park?
What once was a royal hunting ground is now an adventure park that covers an area of 3200 acres, filled with adventure, tradition, and Viennese charm.
From free-fall towers to old-fashioned theme park rides, indoor and outdoor roller coasters, as well as the 65-meter-high giant Ferris wheel, you can enjoy over 250 attractions in the Prater amusement park.
Getting into the park costs you nothing. So even if you are not a fan of intense rides, you can have fun strolling around the park, eating at cafes, and enjoying the scenery.
Also, there are many closeby restaurants like Hausegemachte Langos, Knusperhäuschen, and Stadtgasthaus Eisvogel, where you can dine with your friends and family.
Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wein, Austria
Dominating the Vienna skyline, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the most important Gothic edifices and churches in all of Austria.
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the Late Romanesque Giant’s Door and has stood at the very spot for over 800 years, since the 12th century. This massive monolithic structure was first built in the early 1300s and has survived many calamities ever since, including the Turkish Siege and World War II.
Today, it stands as one of Vienna’s famous landmarks, a top tourist attraction, and a place of worship.
Inside the church, you can explore many places, including a total of eighteen altars and a lot of smaller chapels. You can even go underground to find several tombs and catacombs, where the Great Plague of Vienna victims rest.
The top highlight of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the spectacular view you get to enjoy after climbing 343 steps to the South Tower. Since it is 137 meters high, you can easily gaze at the Belvedere Palace and the gorgeous Hofburg.
You can also use the elevator to get to the lookout point at the North Tower, which is home to the magnificent Pummerin Bell.
1010 Vienna, Austria
Described as “a city within a city,” Hofburg is one of the most massive palace complexes in the entire world. It covers an area of 56 acres, which beautifully reflects over 700 years of architectural history.
A day trip to the Hofburg may turn out to be your royal experience in Vienna, as you can explore eighteen groups of imperial buildings, nineteen significant courtyards, and a wide range of 2000+ rooms.
This palace complex houses diverse architectural styles—Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, Rococo, and Classicism. So a single visit to this architecturally significant complex will take you many centuries back.
The most ancient structure in the whole complex is the Royal Chapel (Burgkapelle, since the 13th century), and you can still visit it on Sundays for a musical evening with the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir.
Moreover, you can explore many other attractions, including the Nature History Museum, the Austrian Library, the Spanish Riding School, the Sisi Museum, and the Hofburg Palace Silver Collection.
Most parts of this place are entirely free to visit; however, you’ll need to pay for some exclusive building entries, which is honestly worth it.
Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien, Austria
Every place that you visit in Vienna has some history connected to it. History makes this place lovely for people who like learning about new things, wherever they go.
Located a few miles west of the center of Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace is another breathtaking highlight of this classy city. Its history dates back to the 15th century when Emperor Maximilian II acquired a small summer palace.
The palace went through many alterations between 1696 and 1730. It went through further additions between 1816 and 1819—the reconstruction completed in late 1952, following the severe damage in WWII.
Besides being an excellent showcase of baroque architecture, this massive palace is also home to the Imperial Carriage Museum, the Orangery, Privy Garden and maze, and the Schönbrunn Zoo. A day trip to explore all of these attractions is a must.
You can also tour the ornate rooms and apartments that belonged to Maria Theresa (the only female ruler in the Habsburg empire), Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, and Archduke Franz Karl.
Ensure extending your tour to visit more highlights like the Mirror Room, the Hall of Ceremonies, and the Blue Staircase.
Maxingstraße 13b, 1130 Wien, Austria
One of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Schönbrunn Zoo is the oldest zoo globally, initially built in the mid-15th century. Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, the husband of Maria Theresa, ordered the construction of Tiergarten Schönbrunn.
Initially, the zoo only kept a small collection of animals to serve as a royal vivarium. Schönbrunn’s zoo was reopened for the public in 1779. It has since survived a few shutdowns due to World Wars and the financial crisis in the 1980s.
Today, the Schönbrunn zoo is home to over 700 animal species, including some of the most endangered ones like bamboo bears. From the Siberian tigers to pandas, hippos, and even one-horned rhinoceroses, you can catch glimpses of several gorgeous animals here.
Ensure checking out the zoo schedule to be available for public feeding and training times, where you can gaze at sea lions jumping high out of the water to catch food. Many other animals are on schedule, like Northern Rockhopper penguins, Arctic wolves, Siberian tigers, koalas, and even cheetahs!
After witnessing the wide range of fauna, you can eat ice cream or drink beer at cafes, beer gardens, and ice cream parlors right in the middle of the zoo.
Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
At its core, opera is a story-telling art, where artists convey extreme feelings through music and singing. If you are also a fan of opera and how it feels in the heart, do not miss visiting the Vienna State Opera.
Also known as the “Sunken Box,” the Vienna State Opera is considered one of the world’s most imperative opera houses, given its extensive repertoire. More than 35 opera performers have used this stage for their premieres, including Mozart, Strauss, Kálmán, Lehár, etc.
Attending a concert at the Vienna State Opera would be your most worthy choice if you want to go back with an unforgettable experience. More than 50 operas and ballets perform every season; you can find a show almost every day.
To secure a seat, just purchase your entrance tickets in advance. You can also enjoy a guided opera house tour to marvel at the building’s Renaissance style and take part in the BTS of this artistic landmark.
The best highlight is the Opernball (Vienna Opera Ball), where the building transforms into the city’s most glamorous ballroom for one night.
This beautiful event attracts over 5000 guests to enjoy the most royal of celebrations that happens only once every year, but it is so massive that people worldwide come to participate.
You can either choose to be a part of the ball (by paying an expensive fee) or grab a table, as gowns and tailcoats dance this lovely night away.
Things to Do in Vienna at Night
Who would think that one of the best things to do in Vienna is also the cheapest? The Viennese Tram network is one of the largest train networks worldwide, covering a total distance of 180 kilometers with five underground lines, 29 trams, and 127 bus lines.
One of the best things about these rides is that they haven’t undergone any reconstructions, so they still get that old-fashioned, 19th-century vibe. Also, there’s no limit as to where you can travel through the tram. As long as there are tracks, you can keep sitting inside and gaze at the beauty of this city.
I recommend that you take a ride during the evening when the carriages light up, and the whole city changes its scenery.
You can grab the yellow Vienna Ring Tram from 10 AM to 5:30 PM, and new rides are available every hour or thirty minutes.
On the way, you pass by Vienna’s most important highlights, including Vienna State Opera, Vienna Art History Museum, Natural History Museum, Imperial Palace, City Hall, Burgtheater, and the University of Vienna.
You can learn more about these sites in the Viennese dialect over headsets; the 25-minute ride offers all the necessary information in eight languages.
Moreover, the Viennese Tram network is not only just a means of public transportation. It is the perfect way to turn any occasion into an unforgettable experience. You can also book these trams for unique wedding rides, birthdays, and other such events.
Karlsplatz 13, 1040 Wien, Austria
If you happen to be spending a joyous Christmas evening in the city, coming to this market is one of the best things to do in Vienna during winter.
The Christmas markets are an old-age tradition in Vienna, going back to the Middle Ages, when Albrecht I granted the Viennese citizens the privilege of conducting a December Market.
From that day to today, the entirety of these markets has changed substantially, as over twenty Christmas markets now sell a wide range of seasonal gifts, arts and crafts, handmade toys, jewelry, delicious treats, Christmas food, etc.
Located right in front of the City Hall, the Viennese Dream Christmas Market is sure to ignite the seasonal spirit in every visitor’s heart. The beautiful scenery of this place and the mouth-watering aromas are enough to set you up for a seasonal joy.
If you are with kids, ensure heading inside the City Hall, where various activities take place, including teaching children how to make Christmas cookies and candles.
Moreover, you can enjoy free entrance on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays and listen to the lovely melody of international choirs singing carols.
Many more Christmas markets with unique backdrops include Christmas Village Belvedere Palace, Maria Theresien Square, Christmas village in the Former General Hospital, Schönbrunn Palace Christmas market, and Spittelberg Christmas market.
Peterspl. 1, 1010 Wien, Austria
Located on Vienna’s oldest Christian church site, Peterskirche, or St. Peter’s Catholic Church, is a beautifully architected Baroque building and Vienna’s first domed structure.
It is believed by many Viennese that this religious place goes back to the 4th century AD, where a place of worship stood right where Peterskirche is today. Over the centuries (1600 years), many different churches have been established, making this place a very sacred spot for many Viennese.
In addition to that, Peterskirche is a highly decorated church and looks more magnificent than any other church building you will ever find in Baroque architectural design.
The outer structure of the church looks appealing, with a domed top and two elegant towers giving off a classical look. The colors are white, beige, and sea green(ish), all stunning for worthy pictures.
Heading inside, you will find brilliant paintings (back from the 1700s), wood carvings, altarpieces, and an interior richly adorned with golden stucco. The entry to this considerably prettiest building in Vienna is free, and you can quickly locate it since it is in the city’s heart.
Visiting this church is one of the best things to do in Vienna, to feel the spirit and history of the city deeply. Peterskirche also organizes concerts and organ recitals from time to time, so the place is inspiring for music lovers.
You can enjoy live organ music here each day from 3 PM to 3:30 PM. These live events are free; however, you can donate in an attempt to admire this magnificent piece of art, Peterskirche.
Haidestraße 406, 1110 Wien, Austria
Horse-drawn carriages have been used in Vienna for centuries and remain an exciting way to explore Vienna. No matter the amount of public and private transportation in the city, people from all around the world still wish to tour with a Fiaker.
The best part about these carriage rides is the traditionally costumed coachman and the real stories about diverse places they entertain you with.
Hearing authentic and fascinating information about every place you pass will offer you an experience a guide could never give. These stories help you learn a little more about the mysterious city that Vienna is, revealing the secrets of its years-long history.
You can grab a Fiaker quickly and enjoy a traditional ride at fixed cheap rates. For example, it only costs around $60 for a 20-minute ride, $90 for a 40-minute ride, and $130 for an hour ride.
Wrapping Up Things to Do in Vienna, Austria
Vienna is a year-round destination, but I still urge you to visit the town in the winters. The snow further enhances its historical charm and flawless architecture.
The plethora of things to do in Vienna during December will allow you to celebrate a magnificent Christmas. You will stand close to the Lord in the ancient churches, enjoy the Christmas vibes in the snow-covered aesthetic markets, and dance away the Victorian era in the Vienna State Opera.
The carriage trolley and the whole city’s facade are like an artistic movie; you discover beauty at every corner. It’s heaven for individuals who live for art, architecture, and history.
Every street tells a story that will take you in the past, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to come back to reality.
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Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever