The cultural capital of Austria, Vienna is a dynamic city filled with so much history, art and culture. Even so, the city embraces what is new and contemporary, with an appeal to modern day lifestyle and urban pleasures. It is one of those cities that has so much to offer for anyone interested in local art, history, culture, food and the list goes on and on. The Hapsburg dynasty left so much of a huge imprint in Vienna, especially around the Ringstrasse (the Ring is the old historic district) and yet the city has evolved into so much more than Stunning baroque architecture and delicious Viennese pastries.
Top things to do visiting Vienna, Austria
1. Visit any of the amazing museums
Vienna is filled with so many world-class museums, most are centered around the historic district along the Ringstrasse. You can have your pick of natural science, history or royal treasures, impressive art collections and even present day contemporary art and collections. For a more general overview of Vienna’s best art collections, I think the place that you must visit would be the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History, Vienna). It is worth visiting this museum to see some of the world’s best fine art and permanent collections of art, artifacts and current shows housed in this museum. Each distinct section of the museum showcase an outstanding collection of treasures that you should see (depending on personal interest). Upon entry, make sure to drop by the information desk for a map and to preview any of the collections that may be interesting to visit. This is one of those grand museums that you can easily spend a week exploring on its own. To find out more about the Kunsthistoricsches Museum, you can visit their website here. I also did a post about seeing some of the amazing collections at the museum, you can check out my post here.
There is an exceptional room filled with Pieter Brueghel
2. Enjoy a meal in an authentic Viennese brewery or beer garden
Trying a local dish along with a favorite brewery in Vienna is something you need to experience in this city. Even if you are not a beer drinker, there are plenty of choices and the hearty Viennese dishes to sample. It is definitely a great way to enjoy favorite foods and get a good impression of what the locals love to do with their free time after work hours, when these breweries become popular hangouts. My personal favorite brewery was visiting Salm Brau brewery, located close to the Belvedere Palace and outside of the Ringstrasse. You should try some of their local favorites, like the huge pork knuckle or the popular schnitzel and dumplings. Portions are huge at Salm Brau, so come hungry. Or if you are looking for more traditional fare, check out this guide on traditional Austrian foods for inspirations.
3. Travel back in time to any of the Historic palaces in Vienna
The Hapsburg dynasty preserved some of the most incredible palaces in Europe and these mansions are definitely worth visiting. The three major palaces in Vienna include the Belvedere, Schonbrunn and the Hofburg palace. Try to visit them all, but if you only have time for one then going to the summer palace at Schonbrunn is the grandest of the Hapsburg palaces in Vienna. Here are some posts I did below on the palaces I visited during the fall in Vienna along with other related posts:
4. Enjoy a night promenade inside the Ringstrasse (historic center of Vienna)
Night time in Vienna is magical with all the pedestrian zones inside the Ringstrasse. If you are into window shopping, beautiful architecture and attractions all lit up at night-time, then walking along these pedestrian only areas are a fun way to enjoy the evening. Along these areas are many open air cafes and restaurants, just perfect for a nice meal, people watching or taking in a nice snack or dessert like an Austrian punch cake . This goes on late into the evening so all the pedestrian zones are quite festive and fun to explore in the early to late evening time frame. I just did a wonderful post about touring various areas of the historic center of Vienne, you can check out my post here.
5. Try the infamous Sacher cake or Viennese pastry
Vienna and pastries, but of course you need to try them! It’s a must to try any of the famous strudel at any of the local pastry shops throughout the city. Or if you are a chocoholic, a visit to the Sacher cafe is a must to taste their iconic torte with some delicious coffee. The main cafe will always have a line out the door, but if you head next door, the hotel Sacher and restaurant are extra special to experience this cake, which they serve along with other local specialties.
6.Visit the Cathedral of St. Stephens in the historic center
The cathedral of St. Stephens in the historic district of Vienna is stunning especially lit up at night-time. The cathedral, also known as Stephansdom has such a prominent presence along the main pedestrian zone in the historic center of Vienna. It is the most well-recognized symbol of Vienna with its ornately patterned tile roof and its main tower at 446 feet. The church was built on ancient church ruins and is predominantly Romanesque and Gothic in architectural details. It is the most important religious building in Vienna today with a deep history tied to Hapsburg rule. To find out more information on the cathedral, check out the wiki page here.
7. Market shopping at the Naschmarkt
There is nothing like shopping for quality and fresh ingredients at a local market, and the Nashmarkt is the place to experience the best of local Viennese products and produce. Also you can find a variety of eateries along the way for finding some great local specialties made from the region. Weekends include a flea market, so if you are interested in picking up something unique or a nice gift from Vienna, make sure to put this on your calendar of places to visit in the city.
8. Visit the Opera or any performance art venue in Vienna
The Vienna Opera is located along the Ringstrasse in a very elegant neo-classic style building and presents world-class opera regularly performing classics and contemporary pieces by local composers along with visiting performers. It was built in the mid 19th century and is clearly one of the busiest opera houses in the world. The Vienna ballet called the Wiener Staatsballet are also performed in this performance center with an active performance schedule. You can check out the opera and ballet schedules on their current calendar of events here.
9. Shopping in Vienna is world class
Inside the Ringstrasse are many shopping promenades that are only walking accessible zones. These include the busy promenades of the Graben street and the Tiefer Graben (deep ditch). Started initially as a produce and foods market, the Graben has developed into one of the busiest shopping districts and pedestrian zones in all of Austria. Many of the major international and regional brand retailers are prominent along the pedestrian zones of the historic district in Vienna. I did a night-time tour of the historic district and the shopping venues at night-time, you can check out my post about this here.
10. Take a horse-drawn carriage around the historic center of Vienna
A classic experience to the old historic district is to take a horse-drawn carriage around the Ringstrasse. There is something special about taking a carriage ride that transports you automatically into a slower mode and one that perhaps gives you a difference pace and impression of how grand Vienna must have been, when the regular mode of transport was through these carriage rides. It’s quite an experience, especially at night-time when the lights of the city capture the historic district in a romantic mode. And a ride through the historic center with all these beautiful buildings really a wonderful experience of Vienna as a cultural capital.
So this is my top 10 things you should be doing in Vienna. If you have tried something else that was unique for the city, please do share it in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting and hope you do share this post with any of the social media buttons around the post.