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Vienna. A really cool place. Maybe a little underrated. There’s plenty to do, and here are our top picks for things to do in Vienna.
Free Walking Tour
A great thing to do in Vienna when you first arrive is a free walking tour of the city. It’s a good way to orientate yourself and find out a bit more about the history of the city. These tours are based on tips, meaning that you don’t pay anything upfront, and at the end of the tour you give the guide a tip, based on both how much you think the tour was worth and how much you can afford.
Hofburg Palace and Surrounds
Hofburg Palace was the ruling home to the Habsburg dynasty, which controlled Austria and at times Hungary for over 600 years. Each ruler added more grand and extravagant architecture, meaning the area is very impressive.
There is plenty to do within the palace itself. From the wings of the main palace you can visit the famous Spanish Riding School and National Library. You can do guided tours of the interior, and see the enormous wealth that the Habsburgs amassed over the years.
We recommend spending at least half a day here, as there is so much to see and do. After this, it’s easy to pay a quick visit to Old Town Hall or Parliament which are located very nearby. The palace is situated in the middle of town and is accessible by the ring road in District 1
St Stephen’s Cathedral
Located in St. Stephen’s Square in central Vienna sits St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Known to the locals as Stephansdom, this enormous Gothic church has grand stained glass windows with a breathtaking mosaic tiled roof.
It’s worth the visit just to see the stunning exterior of the building. However, we encourage going inside for a look, and also climbing the main tower, which is known as Old Steve. The top of the tower has a great view over the city. It’s also worth exploring the church’s catacombs. They contain the tombs of many of the Habsburg rulers, as well as some of Austria’s most famous religious figures.
Visit a Viennese coffee shop
One of the most popular things to do in Vienna is to visit one of the famous coffee shops. The coffee shops in Vienna have long been an important part of the culture of the city. They have a really distinct style, and a fantastic atmosphere. They are a great place to relax, do some people watching or sit and read a book.
There are quite a few coffee houses in the old town of Vienna. Cafe Hawelka is one of the most popular – it’s located on Dorotheergasse, just off Stephansplatz. If you want to visit a few different Viennese coffee houses, the Vienna tourist information website has a great list of coffee houses you can try.
The Opera House
If you’re ever going to go to the opera, anywhere in the world, Vienna is the place to do it. The city’s world famous Opera House is located in the city centre on the main ring road in District 1. It seats up to 1200 people and was first opened in 1863. You can do guided tours, or buy live performance tickets online, which cost anywhere from €8-130.
- Tip: You can buy cheap standing only tickets at the main door 60 minutes prior to the show starting. They only cost 2-3 euros, and are good for those who want a taste of the Opera the commitment and price of a full show
Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens
Without doubt, visiting Schonbrunn Palace is one of the highlights was one of our favourite things to do in Vienna. The grounds of the palace were first used in the middle ages and were then taken over by the Habsburgs in 1569. Over the centuries each Habsburg ruler added more and more to the palace and gardens. The palace gained particular prestige under the rule of Maria Theresa in the 1700’s and Franz Joseph the First in the 1800’s, two of Austria’s most famous rulers.
Visitors are able to wander around most of the gardens and palace grounds free of charge. To see the inside of the palace, you need to do a guided tour for around €13. It’s well worth it for the 1,441 rooms the palace contains! If you are really trying to budget, it’s still worth a visit to the grounds, which are spectacular themselves.
To get there, take the U4 Metro to Schonbrunn.
Just a couple of blocks away from the inner ring road to Karlplatz, you’ll find a great local market known as the Naschmarkt. It’s a produce market that has been in operation since 1780 and is over a kilometre long. There is a lot to enjoy here, from great coffee to delicious local produce. It’s a great place to explore if you are sick of the tourist trail and need to unwind for a while.
Located on the main ring road in central Vienna the Museum Quarter is a large square that is home to a number of different and interesting museums. These include The Museum of Natural History, The Art History Museum, The Leopold Modern Art Museum and The Mumok Museum. As well as the museums themselves, the gardens that are situated amongst the them are fantastic, and include a great statue of Empress Maria Theresa.
Vineyard Bike Tours
One of the more popular and unique things to do in Vienna is to do a vineyard bike tour. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the countryside, as well as sample some Austrian wine. The tours generally last an entire day, but it’s well worth it if you have the time. Companies such as Pedal Power offer great tours.
Vienna Pub Crawls
If you are keen on experiencing Vienna’s nightlife, but don’t know where to start, there are a number of different pub crawls offered throughout the city. Some are run by hostels themselves, while others are run by dedicated companies.
A couple of the pub crawls we have enjoyed and recommend include Vienna Pub Crawl and International Pub Crawl Vienna. Hostel staff and tour guides should be able to give you more information on different pub crawls that are on offer.