Austria’s capital city is as charming and rich in history mainly due to its splendid location on the banks of the Danube River. Vienna has always been the gateway between East and West Europe and still is Austria’s most important commercial and cultural hub. With breathtaking historic sites, great events and awesome entertainment on offer, Vienna is bound to steal your heart.
Top Attractions in Vienna
This was the seat of the Hapsburgs for over 6 centuries, which makes the Hofburg Vienna’s most historically significant palace. The complex consists of various buildings built during different periods like the Gothic Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo movements. Covering over 59 acres of land the complex boasts 18 groups of buildings, 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms in total. The main attractions here are the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum, the Silver Collection, the Imperial Chapel (Burgkapelle), the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum), the Austrian National Library, and the Hofburg Treasury.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral
Dating back to 1722, the Cathedral of St. Stephen is Vienna’s most important Gothic edifice, which makes it a must see site. You can still see the remains of the original Romanesque gate and Heathen Towers standing here today. Some of the best parts of the cathedral today include the massive 137 meter high South Tower, the Chapels of St. Eligius, St. Tirna and St. Catherine, the North Tower with its Pummerin Bell, the 14th century Catacombs and the Cathedral Treasure.
While the 18th century Schönbrunn Palace boasts splendid architectural designs, the beautiful park-like setting surrounding it is the main reason why you’d want to get here. This Baroque palace has more than 1,441 rooms and apartments and some of the tour highlights include views of the Imperial Apartments, the decorated garden apartments and the Schönbrunn Park and Gardens. The park and gardens is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts a collection of great outbuildings like the Palm House and the Children’s Museum.
The Belvedere Palace consists of two amazing buildings; the Lower Belvedere and the Upper Belvedere. Some of the best sights located on the Upper Belvedere include the Ground Floor Hall, the Ceremonial Staircase and the Marble Hall. On the Lower Belvedere you might be interested in seeing its own Marble Hall, the Marble Gallery, the Winter Palace and the Belvedere Gardens and Fountains linking the two palaces.
The Vienna State Opera House
As one of the world’s largest and most majestic theatres, the Vienna State Opera House hosts operatic and ballet performances roughly 300 times a year. Built in 1869, the opera house is best known for its impressive French Early Renaissance architecture. Some of the highlights inside include the grand staircase, the Schwind Foyer and the Tea Room with its breathtaking tapestries.
The Austrian Parliament Building
The impressive Parliament Building is home to Austria’s National and Federal Parliament and has been since 1918. The Corinthian columns, rich décor carvings and the marble statues highlight the exterior of the building. The Pallas Athene Fountain with its massive statue is a great sight to see and you’ll be able to embark on an English guided tour from the Visitor Center.
Built in 1737 and dedicated to St. Charles Borromeo, Karlskirche is Vienna’s most important Baroque religious building. The huge building is crowned by the 72 meter dome and its twin 33 meter Triumphal Pillars are what has made it famous. Inside you’ll find the sites of St. Cecilia with its magnificent frescoes and the Gardekirche to be very impressive.
The Neo-Gothic City Hall of Vienna is the city’s administrative center and is best known for its colossal size, occupying almost 14,000 square meters of the old Parade Ground. Completed in 1883, City Hall is best known for its 98 meter high tower that features the impressive Rathausmann on top. The building also has an arcaded courtyard in the center of the building and is the largest of 7 courtyards in the city. Make sure you check out the Schmidt Halle building, the 2 Grand Staircases, the Assembly Hall, the Heraldic Rooms and the Mayor’s Reception Room.
Maria-Theresien-Platz and Memorial
Empress Maria Theresa has a monument dedicated to her in the aptly named square. It’s flanked by the Museum of Art History and the Natural History Museum. The huge monument depicts the Empress on her throne surrounded by major personages of her day.
Founded in 1752, the Vienna Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world. It boasts plenty of intact Baroque buildings, making it the perfect spot to escape the bustle of the city. The Imperial Breakfast Pavilion houses a splendid café and the zoo is home to more than 750 species that include giant pandas as part of the top sights. The interactive Rainforest House and Aquarium is another unmissable sight.
The Capuchin Church
Vienna’s Capuchin Church was dedicated to Our Lady of the Angles and is best known for its Imperial Vault containing the remains of 145 Hapsburg family members. The 9 vaults are arranged in chronological order and some of the highlights include the Founder's Vault and the Maria Theresa Vault, a domed chamber dominated by a double sarcophagus in the Rococo style and built for the Empress.
Prater Park is a massive natural park located between the Danube River and the Danube Canal, and a trip here is almost like stepping into another world altogether. The park covers an area of 3,200 acres and is one of modern day Vienna’s most popular recreation areas. The Wurstel area has a great old-fashioned theme park that includes dining spots and a dinosaur park for the kids. The Giant Wheel is another highlight of the park to get some of the best views over the city, but be prepared to pay top prices for these luxurious cabins. You might also be interested in the Prater Ziehrer Monumet, the Prater Museum, the Planetarium and the Liliputbahn Miniature Steam Railroad inside the park. Just outside of the park you’ll find Danube Park, covering 250 acres of land and comprising of a miniature railroad, an artificial lake and a theater.
Dating back to 1786, the famous Demel is not only Vienna’s oldest café and bakery, but it promises one of the most delectable food experiences you’ll have in the city. Its official name is Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel and the café specializes in the most traditional of Austrian delicacies. The Emperor Franz Joseph was one of their biggest fans in his time. A visit to Demelinerinnen isn’t complete without a waitress dressed in black with lace collars collecting your order. You HAVE to get the full experience by seeing their drool-worthy cakes and pastries and at least get yourself 2 or 3 samples for the road before heading off again.
If you’re a shopping fanatic, Vienna’s most elegant shopping street, Kärtner Strasse has all you need and so much more. The shopping street links Stephansplatz to the Staatsoper on the Ring and ends at Karlsplatz, and its characterized by the abundant lime tress that line the streets with their pavement cafés, fashionable shops, elegant boutiques and shopping arcades. While you’re roaming the streets make sure you see the 13th century Maltese Church, Palais Esterházy, and the Donner Fountain.