Famous for its classical music and opera, Vienna is home to spectacular architecture and rich cultural offerings with an undeniable charm. Brimming with ornate palaces, traditional coffee houses, art galleries and museums, the city is the jewel in Austria’s crown.
This former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire boasts spectacular buildings in various architectural styles, ranging from Baroque to Art Deco and the colourful, modern Hundertwasserhaus. Experience the beauty of the city with Culture Trip’s guide to the must-visit attractions in Vienna.
One of Vienna’s most respected concert halls, the Golden Hall invites guests to a two-hour concert by local and international opera singers. Here, you’ll be able to listen to the likes of Mozart and Strauss performed by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra in a 19th-century Neoclassical building.
The Prater is perhaps best known for its iconic Ferris wheel, which has featured in films such as Before Sunrise (1995), The Third Man (1949) and James Bond’s The Living Daylights (1987). Built in 1897, the historic Riesenrad offers sweeping views over Vienna. If the funfair rides and attractions of the Prater amusement park do not appeal, nearby are acres of woods and meadows with many hiking trails, bike paths, cafés, sporting facilities and playgrounds. The five-kilometre (three-mile) tree-lined Hauptallee route through the Prater is particularly popular with joggers and cyclists.
Dazzling white Lipizzaner horses are famous around the world for their balletic performances to classical music. Dressage performances take place in Vienna’s Spanish Riding School, located in the glamorous setting of the Hofburg, the former principal imperial palace of the Hapsburgs. In the morning, watch as the horses exercise to build up their strength to perform pirouettes and jumps at the afternoon performances.
For a complete change of scenery from Habsburg grandeur, visit Vienna’s Hundertwasserhaus near the Danube Canal in the 3rd district. Designed by the eccentric and visionary Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, this colourful, undulating social housing development has a forest of trees planted on its roof and barely a straight line in sight. Nearby is the Museum Hundertwasser, where you can find out more about Hundertwasser’s work, philosophy and beliefs, from art and architecture to environmentalism.
Stroll around in Vienna’s 9th district until you reach Berggasse 19, the former house and office of Sigmund Freud. Giving a glimpse into the Austrian neurologist’s life, the museum houses original furnishings throughout the various rooms. Existing exhibits showcase Freud’s work, including signed copies and first editions.
A visit to Vienna’s famous Naschmarkt is a must for both food lovers and those interested in Secessionist architecture. The outdoor market features a lively collection of over 100 stalls selling an array of spices, meats, dried and fresh fruits, cheese and many other delicacies. Dating back to the 16th century, the market is surrounded by gorgeous buildings of the Secessionist movement, including Otto Wagner’s Majolica and gold-leaf houses.
Housed in a World War II flak tower in the hip Mariahilf district, Vienna’s Haus des Meeres aquarium offers you the chance to see the city from its viewing platform. A staggering 10,000 sea and land animals are housed within 11 stories of the building, with examples of coral reef, Amazon rainforest and tropical habitats. As the largest aquarium in Austria, it’s home to monkeys, birds, crocodiles and more, as well as sharks swimming in a 300,000-litre (79,252-gallon) pool.
For a stunning collection of Modernist art in a former Habsburg palace, visit the Albertina Museum to view the world-renowned Batliner Collection, which features artists such as Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin, as well as Picasso’s early Cubist works. Located in the beating heart of the 1st district, the Albertina is home to one of the world’s most impressive graphic art collections and has 20 staterooms spread across two floors.