Vienna is a beautiful city, with the most incredible architecture and buildings. There’s a whole host of things to do, but here are my top 8:
The Palace was one of my highlights of Vienna; unlike most of the other attractions it’s not in walking distance, but it’s easy to get to on the U4 metro line (the stop is called Schönbrunn so you really can’t go wrong).
There are different tours you can go on, including a guided tour and an audio tour. I chose the Imperial Tour which was an audio tour of 22 of the rooms, which was €12. I would recommend it but try and pick a time when there are no guided tours going on at the same time – I got caught up in the German one, and the rooms were sooo full of people that you couldn’t always see the things the guide was telling you about! The final rooms you get to see are incredible, the splendor of the ballroom was incredible.
There’s also a labyrinth and orangery you can look around but you have to pay. Instead, try visiting the free park behind the Palace, which is hands down one of the nicest and most peaceful places I’ve ever been to. You can also walk up the hill and have great views over the Palace.
I would probably schedule 3-4 hours to enjoy the tour, the gardens and the hill, although you could easily spend a lot longer there on a nice day with a picnic…
St Stephen’s Cathedral
If you go into the centre of Vienna, it’s going to be pretty hard to miss the Cathedral! It rises above you as you exit the Stephansplatz underground station. St Stephen’s is an impressive building and pretty much the centre of the city – I can’t imagine anyone would visit and not want to see it! It was free to enter and the inside is equally as spectacular as the outside.
Hochstrahlbrunnen (Fountain) in Schwarzenbergplatz
This one won’t take you a huge amount of time to see, but it’s well worth it. Although surrounded by some very busy roads it has a very peaceful vibe, and the Soviet Memorial is also in this square to commemorate the 17,000 Soviet lives lost in the Battle of Vienna. You also tend to get hit a lot with the water spray so it’s ideal for a hot summer’s day!
I can’t tell you what this one is like inside as, being a bit of a cheapskate, I didn’t want to pay to go in after visiting Schönbrunn. This one is the former imperial palace and winter residency of some of Austria’s rulers, and certainly has a regal air (even if you only see it from the outside!).
The Museum Quarter
There are a LOT of museums in Vienna and, rather unsurprisingly, most of them are around the Museum Quarter (I know! Shocking!). From art galleries to natural history, you can find buildings dedicated to all sorts of things in the Quarter. Museum fans could easily spend days looking around them all but if you’re on a tight schedule, the surroundings are pretty amazing just to wander through. Amongst the incredible architecture you can also admire the accordion players wearing plastic horse heads – I have no idea why, but it’s a strange sight. Intriguing, yes, but also very strange.
Explore Vienna by night
I am sure the majority of sights in Vienna look even more beautiful at night than they do in the day, but the Rathaus and the Parliament Building really stood out. They are only about two minutes apart and only a couple of minutes from a number of metro stations, so a great way to spend 20/30 minutes in the evening.
Vienna is one of my favourite cities to just wander around because all of the buildings are so beautiful. I really recommend just dedicating an hour or two to strolling around from the Cathedral and seeing where you end up – there’s always a metro station nearby so it would be quite hard to get TOO lost…
You can find the ‘big wheel’ in Prater amusement park from the Metro line U1 to Praterstern. €10 gets you a good 10/15 minutes to enjoy the beautiful view over the city, as well as the museum which tells you the history of the wheel. One of the surprising highlights was a display of the old carriages that were destroyed in the war – they’ve now been redesigned to house miniature scenes of the wheel through the ages. You’re best off going up late afternoon or evening as the sun starts to set, as the view is even more spectacular.
Vienna Circle Tram
This is a 15/20 minute long journey setting off from Schwedenplatz (a five minute walk from the Cathedral – yes, everything is that close). It takes you past and tells you about a whole host of important/famous buildings, monuments, hotels and streets – I wouldn’t have known about the Rathaus and Parliament Building without the tram, so it was definitely worth the €8 fee. I think they depart every half an hour or so, although it may well be more frequent in the summer.