Spending a weekend in Vienna and wandering around the streets of the inner city is like time travelling to 1800s. You’ll admire it’s old cafes, sound of horsecars riding on streets, and well reserved buildings. Listed below are the best things to do in Vienna and should grasp the essence of the city for your perfect weekend.
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Vienna:
Museum of Art History
For all Artlovers out there ! This is by far one of the best museums in Europe for art history. You’ll see it doesn’t fall far behind the Louvre or the Prado. You can spend hours enjoying the wide art collection ranging from ancient Egyptian and Greek objects to masterpieces by numerous European masters, including Titian, Velasquez, Van Dyke and Rubens. In fact, the collection here is so extensive that many people say the walls of the Hofburg Palace look bare in comparison.
Moreover, the museum is known for holding the largest collection of Bruegel’s works. Many art lovers consider this part of the museum as the jewel crown of their trip to Vienna. The building itself, which opened to the public in 1891, impresses travelers as well; its facade features ornate sculptures. For those who would like to enjoy the collection to the fullest we strongly advise to give a break for a cup of Wiener Melange in the museum Cafe.
State Opera House (Staatsoper)
Opera and fine architecture is synonymous with Vienna, and the Vienna State Opera provides both in abundance.
This outstanding building is located centrally in the Innere Stadt district and is considered one of the finest Opera Houses in the world.
The exterior has a Neo-Renaissance style and is characterised by its many arches and arched windows. However the interior is extremely decadent and feels more like a palace than a place of musical celebration.
Daily guided tours are available which last around 40 minutes and give a good overview of the building.
If you are interested we highly recommend seeing a live concert or Opera to enjoy it’s atmoshophere to the fullest. Buying the tickets in advance is always a good idea. You can find the most up-to-date show here and buy the tickets.
The Hofburg Palace
Vienna’s Imperial Palace, the Hofburg, was for centuries the seat of the Habsburgs, rulers of Austria until the end of WWI. A great deal of European history was written here, in particular by Empress Maria and, for a while, the German Emperor (today, it’s the official seat of the Austrian Head of State, the Federal President).
The complex is particularly interesting as its major buildings reflect more than 700 years of architectural history; nearly every Austrian ruler since 1275 ordered additions or alterations. As a result, the Hofburg shows many different architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, Baroque to Rococo, and even Classic.
Together with its many squares and gardens, the Hofburg occupies an area of some 59 acres. It is also called a “city-within-a-city,” comprising 18 groups of buildings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms. Visitors can admire the beauty and style of the baroque architecture, visit the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum, and Silver Collection. Each of which can be toured individually or as part of an extended visit.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom)
This monolithic structure stands proud in the Stephensplatz. The cathedral has been the most important church in Vienna and Austria since its construction.
The beauty of this building is undeniable and its huge tower dominates the Vienna skyline. It is also the tallest church tower in Austria.
Everything about St Stephen’s Cathedral oozes opulence – From the Romanesque and Gothic design of the exterior, to the dominating pointed tower, and the intricately decorated main roof complete with hundreds of coloured tiles forming an intriguing pattern. The roof is made from 230,000 glazed tiles, which shimmers just underneath the North Tower’s viewing platform.
Visitors can best take in the Imperial Eagle mosaics in the North Tower, from Churhausgasse at street level, and from Sky Bar’s roof terrace. Try and catch a service here – during these times, gates that might otherwise be closed are swung open for worshippers.
Inside the church there are a total of 18 altars, several smaller chapels, and even some tombs and catacombs.
As an iconic building of Vienna, St Stephens cannot be missed!
Originally constructed in 1696 as a hunting lodge, Schonbrunn Palace later became the official Hapsburg summer residence. Under the supervision of Maria Theresa (the only female Hapsburg ruler), Schonbrunn evolved into an expansive paradise with ornate rooms and vast elaborate gardens comparable to King Louis XIV of France’s palace at Versailles.
The palace itself is an immense building and designed in a Baroque style with a symmetrical main building that has hundreds of windows and statues on the rooftop.
Inside the palace are an assortment of rooms all fully furnished and decorated in the original style – You can enjoy a tour through the rooms and admire the sumptuous furnishings and see how Austrian royalty lived.
Also plan to spend at least an hour in the gardens, which are connected by shaded promenades that extend diagonally from the Gloriette, a stunning Roman-style arch overlooking a vast pool. Located within the grounds is Tiergarten, the oldest zoo in the world.
But beaware about how crowded this attraction gets. Many suggest visiting first thing in the morning to avoid the congested atmosphere.
Market places often define a city and give a good representation of its heritage and culture. They are engaging places to walk through and provide tourists with an authentic slice of local life.
Every Monday through Saturday, hundreds of vendors flock to this market in the Wieden District (located just south of the Ringstrasse) to sell fruit, meat, dairy products and other local food items. This open-air extravaganza, Naschmarkt, is considered one of the largest of its kind. It’s a great intro into everyday life in Vienna. In addition to shops, you’ll find food stalls and small eateries throughout. Recent visitors said you should come hungry to this market and plan to sample a few things from each stand.
The market is generally open from around 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Also, make sure to keep an eye on your belongings as it gets very crowded.
BONUS – Belvedere Palace Museum
The two Belvedere palaces were built in the early eighteenth century by the famous Baroque architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. They were used as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736). One of Europe’s most stunning Baroque landmarks, this complex comprising the Upper and Lower Belvedere and an extensive garden is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today the Belvedere houses the greatest collection of Austrian art. The collection dates from the Middle Ages to the present day, complemented by the work of international artists such as Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and Max Beckmann. Highlights from the holdings Vienna 1880–1914 are the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings (including the famous golden Art Nouveau icons the Kiss (Lovers) and Judith) and works by Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. Key works of French Impressionism and the greatest collection of Viennese Biedermeier art are further attractions on display at the Upper Belvedere.