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Best Things To Do in Vienna

Vienna is a city that relishes its past, and it has the attractions to prove it. Whether you're interested in the long-reigning Habsburg family, classical music composed by Vienna's own Mozart, or antiques; this city has enough to keep you entertained for days. Most sites are located within the Innere Stadt, such as the Haus der Musik (House of Music) and the MuseumsQuartier. However, even those which are not centrally located, such as Schönbrunn Palace, are easy to reach.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Vienna

Free
Towering above the streets of the Innere Stadt, this massive cathedral is the true centerpiece of Vienna. St. Stephen's has stood in this very spot since the early 12th century, but little remains of the original aside from the Riesentor (Giant's Gate) and the Heidentuerme (Towers of the Heathens). The Gothic structure standing today was built in the early 1300s and has survived the Turkish siege of 1683.  It was here that mourners came to pay their respects to Amadeus Mozart in 1791. In 1805, Napoleon used St. Stephen's doors to post his farewell edict. And it weathered attacks from both German and Russian armies during World War II. Today, this stunning cathedral remains an active house of worship, a national icon and a top tourist attraction.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom)
Towering above the streets of the Innere Stadt, this massive cathedral is the true centerpiece of Vienna. St. Stephen's has stood in this very spot since the early 12th century, but little remains of the original aside from the Riesentor (Giant's Gate) and the Heidentuerme (Towers of the Heathens). The Gothic structure standing today was built in the early 1300s and has survived the Turkish siege of 1683.  It was here that mourners came to pay their respects to Amadeus Mozart in 1791. In 1805, Napoleon used St. Stephen's doors to post his farewell edict. And it weathered attacks from both German and Russian armies during World War II. Today, this stunning cathedral remains an active house of worship, a national icon and a top tourist attraction.
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#2

#2 in Vienna

The works at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, or Museum of Fine Arts, range 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. The building itself, which opened to the public in 1891, impresses travelers as well; its facade features ornate sculptures.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum)
The works at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, or Museum of Fine Arts, range 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. The building itself, which opened to the public in 1891, impresses travelers as well; its facade features ornate sculptures.
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#3

#3 in Vienna

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. A tour will lead you through apartments belonging to Maria Theresa as well as Emperor Franz Joseph, his wife Elisabeth, and Archduke Franz Karl. Other highlights include the Blue Staircase, the Mirror Room and the Hall of Ceremonies. 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.
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Castles/Palaces Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Schonbrunn Palace
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. A tour will lead you through apartments belonging to Maria Theresa as well as Emperor Franz Joseph, his wife Elisabeth, and Archduke Franz Karl. Other highlights include the Blue Staircase, the Mirror Room and the Hall of Ceremonies. 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.
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#4

#4 in Vienna

Free
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, and 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. 
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Shopping Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Naschmarkt
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, and 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. 
... more

#5

#5 in Vienna

Vienna has long been a musical epicenter. It was here that renowned composers, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Mahler and Strauss lived, composed and performed. So it's hard not to be tempted to stop in a site known as the House of Music (Haus der Musik) during your time in the city. This small but fascinating museum showcases the works of Vienna's elite musicians with displays featuring manuscripts and sound bytes. Exhibits also explain the evolution of sound and the mechanics behind our ability to hear. Plus, there's an entire floor dedicated to the Vienna Philharmonic where you can even use a virtual wand to conduct the musicians. (Be careful, though, if you mess up they may ridicule you.) Travelers say if you're a classical music fan (or even a fan of the science of sound), a visit to the House of Music should be a priority.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
House of Music (Haus der Musik)
Vienna has long been a musical epicenter. It was here that renowned composers, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Mahler and Strauss lived, composed and performed. So it's hard not to be tempted to stop in a site known as the House of Music (Haus der Musik) during your time in the city. This small but fascinating museum showcases the works of Vienna's elite musicians with displays featuring manuscripts and sound bytes. Exhibits also explain the evolution of sound and the mechanics behind our ability to hear. Plus, there's an entire floor dedicated to the Vienna Philharmonic where you can even use a virtual wand to conduct the musicians. (Be careful, though, if you mess up they may ridicule you.) Travelers say if you're a classical music fan (or even a fan of the science of sound), a visit to the House of Music should be a priority.
... more

#6

#6 in Vienna

It began in 1752 as an exotic menagerie amassed by Franz Stephan, the husband of Maria Theresa (the only female Hapsburg ruler) and the country's Holy Roman Emperor. Today, Tiergarten is the oldest zoo in the world, home to about 750 animal species (around 8,500 animals total) ranging from tigers to lemurs. The zoo hosts daily animal talks and feedings that visitors can watch, with animals like orangutans, elephants, penguins and otters.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Tiergarten
It began in 1752 as an exotic menagerie amassed by Franz Stephan, the husband of Maria Theresa (the only female Hapsburg ruler) and the country's Holy Roman Emperor. Today, Tiergarten is the oldest zoo in the world, home to about 750 animal species (around 8,500 animals total) ranging from tigers to lemurs. The zoo hosts daily animal talks and feedings that visitors can watch, with animals like orangutans, elephants, penguins and otters.
... more

#7

#7 in Vienna

Straddling the southwest section of the Ringstrasse, the MuseumsQuartier is an enormous cultural institution comprising numerous top-notch museums. If you're interested in art, head to the Leopold Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Austrian masterpieces dating from the 19th century to the present. Next door, the Museum of Modern Art is home to the national collection of 20th-century works by famed artists like Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Adjacent to the MUMOK, the Kunsthalle Wien showcases an ever-rotating collection of avant-garde exhibits.
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Museums Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
MuseumsQuartier
Straddling the southwest section of the Ringstrasse, the MuseumsQuartier is an enormous cultural institution comprising numerous top-notch museums. If you're interested in art, head to the Leopold Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Austrian masterpieces dating from the 19th century to the present. Next door, the Museum of Modern Art is home to the national collection of 20th-century works by famed artists like Max Ernst, Rene Magritte, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Adjacent to the MUMOK, the Kunsthalle Wien showcases an ever-rotating collection of avant-garde exhibits.
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#8

#8 in Vienna

Since 1869, this State Opera House has been the city's premier venue for the performing arts and a major focal point of Viennese life. Its directorship is one of the most prestigious positions in Austria. The Staatsoper still hosts performances, but you can also tour this magnificent building on a guided tour. You'll find 40-minute tours run every day (times vary depending on the performance schedule) and allow you a behind-the-scenes look at this beloved landmark. Tours come highly recommended by previous visitors. If you're interested in learning more about the Staatsoper, head over to the Staatsopermuseum, which displays photographs and articles spanning the house's history.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
State Opera House (Staatsoper)
Since 1869, this State Opera House has been the city's premier venue for the performing arts and a major focal point of Viennese life. Its directorship is one of the most prestigious positions in Austria. The Staatsoper still hosts performances, but you can also tour this magnificent building on a guided tour. You'll find 40-minute tours run every day (times vary depending on the performance schedule) and allow you a behind-the-scenes look at this beloved landmark. Tours come highly recommended by previous visitors. If you're interested in learning more about the Staatsoper, head over to the Staatsopermuseum, which displays photographs and articles spanning the house's history.
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#9

#9 in Vienna

If you're can't get your art fix at either the MuseumsQuartier or the Kunsthistorisches Museum, you're sure to find satisfaction at Belvedere. There are actually two palaces here – separated by an ornate 17th-century French-style garden – which some say are the best examples of Baroque architecture in the world. Formerly home to such notable Austrian figures as Prince Eugene of Savoy and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the buildings now house an impressive array of Austrian art from such renowned artists as Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka. Travelers love the gardens, ornate buildings and array of paintings on display at this attraction.
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Castles/Palaces Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere)
If you're can't get your art fix at either the MuseumsQuartier or the Kunsthistorisches Museum, you're sure to find satisfaction at Belvedere. There are actually two palaces here – separated by an ornate 17th-century French-style garden – which some say are the best examples of Baroque architecture in the world. Formerly home to such notable Austrian figures as Prince Eugene of Savoy and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the buildings now house an impressive array of Austrian art from such renowned artists as Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka. Travelers love the gardens, ornate buildings and array of paintings on display at this attraction.
... more

#10

#10 in Vienna

Unlike Vienna's other royal residences, Hofburg is like a city within a city. Sitting on the southwestern edge of the Innere Stadt, the 13th-century palace shelters several individual attractions, and if you want the full royal experience, you'll need to spend at least half a day here.
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Castles/Palaces Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Hofburg Palace
Unlike Vienna's other royal residences, Hofburg is like a city within a city. Sitting on the southwestern edge of the Innere Stadt, the 13th-century palace shelters several individual attractions, and if you want the full royal experience, you'll need to spend at least half a day here.
... more

#11

#11 in Vienna

Judenplatz earned its name back in the 13th century when it was first designated as the Jewish Ghetto. For centuries, this neighborhood remained the epicenter of Jewish life in Vienna, an identity that still lives among the exhibits found at the Museum Judenplatz. This small yet effective branch of the Vienna Jewish Museum (located a little south of Judenplatz) details the role Viennese Jews played in the development of city life, leading up to when they became the targets of violence during World War II.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museum Judenplatz
Judenplatz earned its name back in the 13th century when it was first designated as the Jewish Ghetto. For centuries, this neighborhood remained the epicenter of Jewish life in Vienna, an identity that still lives among the exhibits found at the Museum Judenplatz. This small yet effective branch of the Vienna Jewish Museum (located a little south of Judenplatz) details the role Viennese Jews played in the development of city life, leading up to when they became the targets of violence during World War II.
... more
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