From sipping on local wines to ice skating in front of a historic concert hall, Vienna is an affordable city with a rich cultural heritage. Find out how to maximise your stay with Culture Trip’s list of the best experiences in the Austrian capital.
Travellers yearning for an adrenaline rush will find what they’re looking for at the rope park in Kahlenberg, a hill up in the forest offering spectacular views of Vienna. Located on the very edge of the city, the park has 17 courses that reach up to 20 metres (66 feet) into the air, as well as a thrilling zip line. Beginners are welcome, as the courses range in height and difficulty. Hungry after the workout? Josefinenhütte, next to the rope park, offers a pub garden and home-made Viennese cuisine.
Want to kayak or go white-water rafting where the Austrian Olympic team trains? Located on Danube Island, the 250-metre-long (820-foot-long) artificial white-water course invites participants to get an adrenaline kick by taking part in numerous water activities. Beginners can opt for short and long courses, while those interested in white-water adventure can participate in an hour-long lesson and paddling practice, followed by guided tours through the river.
To challenge your mind while exploring Vienna, join in on this clue-driven tour that requires only a smartphone to complete. The answers to each of the 12 riddles will take you to secret locations around the city, as well as the filming locations for the movie Before Sunrise (1995). From historical landmarks to unfamiliar spots, discover the best of the Austrian capital with this easy but fun game.
Founded in 1867, the Vienna ice-skating club has placed a rink directly in front of the historic Wien Konzerthaus each winter season for more than 100 years. One of the largest rinks in Europe, its location creates a charming atmosphere that’s perfect for couples looking to skate together for the price of one on Friday evenings. To get an even lower price, visit the rink two hours before closing, as the entrance fee halves. For a festive moment, visit on a Friday evening when the rink turns into a disco with DJs spinning tunes, or on Thursdays when hits from the ’70s and ’80s are played on request.
With Austria being the home of classical music, one of the best things to do when visiting Vienna is to attend a music concert. Performed by Orchestra 1756 – an ensemble that plays historical instruments – this 75-minute performance showcases Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
The Spanish Riding School in Vienna has been training Lipizzans, Europe’s oldest domesticated horses, for more than 450 years, earning its spot on UNESCO’s list for intangible cultural heritage. Each horse prepares for years for the ballet at Hofburg Palace, which used to be the principal palace of the Habsburg ruling family. Special lights and Viennese music accompany the once-in-a-lifetime 90-minute gala performance.
A landmark in Vienna, the Giant Ferris Wheel has adorned the city skyline since 1897 and has even made appearances in movies like The Third Man (1949) and The Living Daylights (1987). The candlelight dinner for two includes an aperitif, two bottles of wine, a three-course dinner and, of course, 360-degree panoramas of Vienna. Admire the views from above while indulging in a tantalising dinner with options such as beef tartare, home-made pasta, smoked trout, wiener schnitzel and dark chocolate mousse.
Schönbrunn Palace is one of Europe’s most famous Baroque palaces. It’s where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made music as a six-year-old, where Napoleon held conferences, and where the world’s first zoo opened. The famous UNESCO World Heritage site is also where you can learn how to make apple strudel, a classic Viennese dessert that’s popular among residents. After the show, you’ll receive the recipe, which will allow you to make the dessert in the comfort of your kitchen.
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When it comes to relaxation and self-care, Therme Wien is the place to visit. Home to multiple pools, saunas, a spa, restaurant, café and bar, it has enough activities to fill several hours. Pools with thermal water are heated between 28C and 36C (82-97F) and filled with water coming from a source that has been used for wellness purposes since 1969.
Wine has been produced in and around Vienna since the Roman Empire. Local wines in Austria include blaufränkisch (an indigenous red grape), zweigelt (a newer variety that’s a cross between blaufränkisch and St Laurent) and grüner veltliner (Austria’s most widely planted grape). Step back in time by going into Vienna’s deepest wine cellar where you’ll try three Austrian wines along with snacks from the in-house family-owned delicatessen.