While you’ll want to spend money on coffee and sachertorte in the elegant old high-ceilinged cafes scattered across Vienna, there’s tons to do here that won’t cost you a (coffee) bean. Here are the most awesome things to do in the Austrian capital for free.
Austria’s capital is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – rich in centuries-old architecture, from Medieval, ornately baroque and whimsically art nouveau to Cubic and millennial. Read on to find out how to get access to free live music, mouthfuls of delicious food, picture-perfect gardens and public buildings.
Known as the Donauinsel, this slip of an island serves chiefly to reinforce Vienna’s flood protection system; but it also has an impressive host of accessible sports and leisure facilities. You can sunbathe on urban beaches and walk, run, roller skate or cycle the extensive network of paths before a hearty barbecue or a picnic in a designated area. Better still, there are sailing facilities and natural meadows (the island is purpose-built). Every year, the (free) Danube Island Festival attracts partygoers for alfresco shenanigans. This year, it’s from 17 to 19 September, with a roster of mainly local artists.
If you fancy spending a balmy evening al fresco, under clear skies, as strains of Puccini fill the air, get the Rathaus Film Festival in your diary. In 2021, it runs from July 3 to September 4. It’s called a film festival, but it’s all about music – all kinds of operas, classical-music performances and rock concerts will be screened in the evenings in front of Vienna’s Rathaus (or City Hall). It’s free – you only need to pay for food and drinks, dispensed from stalls all around. Top tip: don’t leave it until an hour before you arrive. This thing gets busy.
Burn off those buttery Viennese pastries with a morning (or more) of sightseeing on two wheels. The public bike rental service in Vienna is a municipal sharing scheme that is very easy to use. Register online, and you can rent a bike from about 110 stations across the city. In order to register (and hire), you need a credit card (Visa or Mastercard; one bicycle per credit card). The first hour is always free, so, if you’re keeping an eye on the time, you can return your trusty steed to one of the designated stations for 15 minutes and release it for another 60 minutes without paying a cent.