Top 10 Things To Do In Vienna

Travel guide for planning a vacation or trip to Vienna, Austria, including top tourist attractions and things to do.

Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a city of art, culture, rich history, and vibrant contemporary life. Situated on the Danube River with a population of about 1.6 million people, Vienna was once the center of the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it embraces a wide variety of cultures while retaining its historic roots.

Whether you enjoy music, museums, shopping, or dining, Vienna is an ideal travel destination. An efficient public transportation system makes it easy to get around, even if you don't speak a word of German. Visitors have plenty of choices, and it would be easy to spend a couple of weeks seeing the sights. If you only have a day or two, plan your itinerary to include at least a few of the these tourist favorites:

1. Ride the streetcar around the Ring, a series of roads that encircle the old city, or Innere Stadt. A city wall once stood here, but the Ring now forms a grand border around the most historic area of Vienna. Lining this route are the Hofburg (Imperial Palace), the Museum of Natural History, the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), the Burgtheater, and the State Opera House, as well as Vienna's City Park.

2. Explore the world of the Hapsburgs at their Imperial Palace, the Hofburg. The Hapsburgs ruled the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire for centuries and influenced much of Europe through political marriages. Take a tour of the Imperial Apartments for a glimpse of the Hapsburg version of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." Also visit the Treasury to see the crown jewels of the empire.

3. Tour St. Stephen's Cathedral, or Stephansdom. Built originally in the twelfth century, it was rebuilt after a fire in 1258. Heavily damaged during World War II, the restored cathedral is considered one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, and is home to a rich treasury of exquisite religious art and carved altars. Climb 343 steps to the top of the south tower, or Steffl, for a breathtaking view. Or go underground for a guided tour of the catacombs.

4. Enjoy a performance of the famous Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School, a unique ballet accompanied by classical music. You may purchase tickets to see a performance, or to view one of the morning training sessions. Check for times and availability.



5. Visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) to see some of the art treasures collected by the Imperial family. The wealthy Hapsburgs amassed a collection which included works by Bruegel, Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Durer, Titian, Vermeer, and many others, as well as artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

6. Browse the shops on Mariahilferstrasse, the trendiest shopping area in Vienna, for fashions, jewelry, accessories and everything else. Department stores and shops line the street for about a mile between the city center and Westbahnhof.

7. Stroll the gardens at Schonbrunn, the baroque palace that was the summer home of the imperial family. Take the palace tour to see some of the lavish rooms, including the Hall of Mirrors, where six-year-old Mozart gave a concert for Queen Maria Theresa. The vast grounds encompass classically landscaped gardens, a zoo, and a maze. Overlooking the park is the grand Gloriette, a monument to Queen Maria Theresa. Climb to the top for breathtaking views of Schonbrunn and Vienna.

8. Take a coffee break at one of Vienna's famous coffee houses. There are many to choose from, but the most famous is probably the Café Sacher, home of the notoriously rich Sacher cake.

9. Experience the rich multiculturalism of Vienna on Saturdays at the Naschmarkt, the largest open-air market in Vienna. This is a flea market as well as a food market, where you'll find everything from fruits and vegetables to baklava and strudel.

10. Attend an opera or a concert. Music is the heartbeat of Vienna, and it's easy to find an event that fits your taste. The State Opera House, the Volksoper Wien, the Musikverein, and the Konzerthaus are just a few of the many venues available. Hear the famous Vienna Boys Choir in the chapel at the Hofburg. Or, if you prefer more contemporary music, there are many clubs throughout the city.

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