Take a horse and carriage ride down the royal streets of Vienna, and you will gaze upon Imperial palaces, Baroque streetscapes, and timeless architecture.
“The City of Music” is home to Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach and provides visitors with a cultural experience like no other. Discover the power of music through a performance by world-renowned musicians, see the beauty and strength of dance at the Ballet, and feel the emotions of an Opera. Dress up in your most elegant formalwear and waltz back in time at a traditional Viennese Ball. You will find sophisticated entertainment and seasonal festivities to awaken your soul.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN VIENNA
Hofburg Palace covers an astonishing 59 acres, making it one of the largest and most spectacular palace complexes in the world. Often considered to be a city within a city, the palace is made up of 18 collections of buildings, 19 courtyards, and a staggering 2,600 rooms. Step back in time and meander through the same hallways and rooms that were once home to the Austrian aristocracy
Take a tour and gaze upon the elegant rooms of former Viennese emperors. Journey back into the 17th century and catch a glimpse of how the royals lived.
I recommend the Grand Tour, as you will view all 40 palace rooms. You have an option to do a self-guided audio tour or a guided tour. Guided tours in English are held at 11 am & 3 pm daily. To reserve your ticket for the guided tour, contact the reservation department via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Belvedere in Vienna blends the experience of architecture and art in a unique way. This stunning Baroque Palace is the most visited art museum in Austria – with highlights by Klimt, Schiele, Funke, Monet, and van Gogh.
The State Hall, the heart of the Austrian National Library, is one of the most beautiful library halls in the world. It is the biggest Baroque library in Europe. The impressive state hall of the library is crowned by a dome that is magnificently decorated with frescoes by the painter Daniel Gran. More than 200,000 volumes are exhibited here, among them the comprehensive library of Prince Eugene of Savoy as well as one of the largest collections of Martin Luther’s writings from the Reformation Era.
Admission fee: 8 Euros
Wiener Staatsoper | Vienna State Opera
Wiener Staatsoper is one of the leading opera houses in the world. Each season, the schedule features 350 performances of more than 60 different operas and ballets. Every night, you can witness world-class artists alongside the orchestra of Wiener Staatsoper, whose members at the same time make up the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Recommend a guided tour during the day and seeing a performance in the evening!
Guided Tours - Take a glimpse behind the scenes of the world’s largest repertoire theatre and discover many things that remain hidden from the evening audience. On this approximately 40-minute tour, you will hear many interesting facts about the building’s history, its architecture and how an opera house is run. Guided Opera Tour (Monday to Sunday) Adults: 9,00 € (Purchase tickets at Opera House)
From your first step inside this museum, you will be in awe by its magnificence interior. The Grand Staircase and Dome are spectacular! The Art History Museum was built in 1891 near the Imperial Palace to house the extensive collections of the imperial family. With its vast array of masterworks and the largest Bruegel collection in the world, it is considered one of the most eminent museums in the world. Raphael’s "Madonna in the Meadow," Vermeer’s "The Allegory of Painting," the Infanta paintings by Velazquez, masterworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian, and Tintoretto are housed in the paintings gallery. The Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection contains fascinating treasures from mysterious cultures long past.
Wiener Rathaus | Vienna City Hall
Vienna City Hall is Vienna's most important non-religious building in the Neo-Gothic style. It is the official seat of the Mayor and the meeting place of the city senate/provincial government and the Municipal Council. Free Tour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 1 pm
Email for tour reservation: email@example.com
TIP: Visit the outside central area, where you can capture stunning photos in the interior hallway
The Palace of Justice, or Justizpalast, houses Vienna's Supreme Court and carries out all civil matters, which makes it not so well known to tourists. This is truly a hidden gem in Vienna! Step inside to set your eyes on the melting staircase, dominated by the statue of Lady Justice, pastel colors, and the beautiful light shining in from the glass ceiling… this magnificent architecture will leave you breathless.
Insider's Tips: To capture the amazing shot, head up to the 2nd floor and walk towards the back for a full perspective. Before you leave, take the elevator to the 5th floor to Justizcafe for a spectacular view over Vienna.
Annakirche | St. Anne’s Church
Step inside one of Vienna's most beautiful baroque churches, St. Anne's, for an evening of live chamber music. Each concert is performed by a talented string quartet, and the music varies between Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert — all three of whom lived and composed in Vienna during some point in their careers. Take a seat and admire the church's stunning architecture, then appreciate the impressive acoustics once the music starts.
This church is hidden down an alleyway and has a discreet entrance so not many tourists know to stop in. You could spend hours in here, staring at the beautifully painted frescoes and adornments.
Vienna's Karlskirche Cathedral is a one-of-a-kind architectural hybrid, with a mix of Renaissance and Baroque styles. It was built to give thanks for the passing of the Black Plague that hit central Europe in the early 18th century.
Note: Entrance Fee 8 € (Cash only)
This Baroque Roman Catholic parish church stands on one of the oldest religious sites in Vienna. While St Peter’s Church is smaller than others in Vienna… its stunning interior is worth a visit!
The magnificent Gothic church is one of Vienna’s most culturally significant landmarks. Today the cathedral is something of a symbol of Vienna, with its stunning mosaic roof and the sheer height of its south tower making it one of the most recognizable attractions in the city.
Not too far from Rathaus is another Neo-Gothic building, the Votive Church. This beautiful church was created following an assassination attempt of Emperor Franz Joseph I on February 18, 1853. It was built as a “gift of thanks” for saving Franz Joseph’s life. And, following thousands of donations, the construction of the Votive Church started in 1856 and opened in 1879.
The Albertina has the largest and most valuable graphical collections in the world, with works such as Dürer’s “Hare,” Raphael, Renoir, Michelangelo, Magritte, and Klimt's studies of women. Its latest exhibition collection presents masterpieces of the Modern, spanning Monet to Picasso and Baselitz.
Before you enter, head up the stairs for this iconic view of the State Opera House!
In Vienna, “The City of Music,” it can become overwhelming trying to find which performances to attend. How do I know which ones are the best? We have narrowed down the top events to attend for an authentic Viennese experience.
Attending an Opera or Ballet at Wiener Staatsoper
A night at the opera/ballet is one of the best ways to spend an elegant evening in Vienna. See a powerful performance by world famous opera singers, orchestras, and ballerinas. Its repertoire comprises around 50 operas and 20 ballets per season (September 1st to June 30th). Once the season preview has started you can reserve tickets directly at the Wiener Staatsoper, though you won’t be able to choose your seats. However, as soon as sales start – 2 months before each performance – you can buy and choose your seats. Click HERE to see current and future performances.
Classical Concert at the Musikverein
Musikverein hosts beautiful classical concerts with the world-renowned Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Music-goers worldwide pay thousands of dollars for a ticket to see the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra play live at the internationally televised New Year's Concert. Insider's
Insider's Tip: Save some cash and book your tickets for one of their scheduled concert. We had the pleasure of attending their Christmas concert and this experience was unforgettable! Click HERE for the Musikverein Event Schedule.
Classical Music Concert | St. Anne’s Church
Experience the famous works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert in an exciting way. The unique acoustics in St. Anne’s baroque ambiance unites with the beauty and power of great music. These musicians acquired their art skills at some of the best-known music academies in Europe and play in concerts with renowned Viennese orchestras. Purchase your tickets HERE
Viennese Ball | November-February
For American girls who grew up watching Disney fairy tales like Cinderella, the idea of attending a ball at a royal palace is a dream. For the Viennese, balls are a way of life. Every woman owns a ball gown and both, ladies & gentlemen master the Viennese waltz by adulthood. In Vienna, over 400 balls are staged each winter, frequented by 300,000 dance-loving visitors from all around the world. Last year, we attended the Hofburg Silvesterball for New Years and it was magical, waltzing away at the Imperial Palace ✨
Insider's Tip: Take Viennese Waltz lessons months before attending these elegant balls and you'll fit right in with the locals. Confidence on the dance floor will enhance your fairytale evening.
I've listed the most beloved Viennese Balls and their official website for more info:
Ball of the Viennese Chimney Sweeps | November | rauchfangkehrerball.wien
New Year's Eve Ball at the Hofburg Imperial Palace | December 31 | www.hofburgsilvesterball.com
Confectioners' Ball | January | www.zuckerbaeckerball.com
Flower Ball | January | www.wiens-gartenverein.com
Ball of the Vienna Philharmonic | January | www.wienerphilharmoniker.at
Doctors' Ball | January | www.aerzteball.at
Viennese Ball of the Sciences | January | www.wissenschaftsball.at
Hunters' Ball | January | www.verein-grueneskreuz.at
Vienna Coffeehouse Owners' Ball | February | www.kaffeesiederball.at
Johann Strauss Ball | February | www.johannstraussball.com
Opera Ball | February | www.wiener-staatsoper.at
Bonbon Ball | February | www.bonbonball.at
Lawyers' Ball | February | www.juristenball.at
Listen to Jazz at Porgy & Bess | Vienna’s hottest local Jazz Club
Rated one of the top ten jazz clubs in Europe! Click HERE to view upcoming events and to purchase tickets. Highly recommend seeing Jazzrausch BigBand “Still, Still, Still!” Amazing experience!
Vienna's Christmas Markets “Christkindlmarkt”
From the middle of November until Christmas, Vienna's prettiest squares transform into magical Christmas markets. The aroma of Christmas baking, hot punch, and toasted almonds hangs in the air. The Old City and shopping streets are decorated with festive lights that create a Christmas atmosphere in Vienna. Below are Vienna's top Christmas Markets to visit:
Am Hof Christmas Market
Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz
Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace
Christmas Market & New Year's Market, Schönbrunn Palace
Imperial and Royal Christmas Market
Mugs as Souvenirs
Each Christmas Market carries its own unique mug, and the designs are different each year. Purchase the traditional Glühwein, a heavenly hot punch beverage, and you'll receive a charming mug as a take-home souvenir. After you are finished sipping this delightful drink, you can either keep the mug or return it for the deposit back. (around €3).
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN VIENNA
Experience Viennese classic dishes through their small plated delicacies. They use regional products handpicked to create spectacular flavors. Very elegant & charming, with affordable prices. Reserve a table on their website HERE. I highly recommend trying their sausage platter for a variety of amazing local meats!
Step into this elegant restaurant to dine by candlelight in a vaulted, red-walled space. Beautifully presented food with outstanding flavors. One of our foodie highlights of Vienna!
Only a two-minute walk from the famous St. Stephen's Cathedral, TUYA uses the best products from surrounding areas of Vienna, France, and Italy. They place a special focus on organic, fresh ingredients, creating unique flavors and amazing dishes. Reserve HERE
Ilona Stüberl ètterem
Experience traditional Hungarian food in this local hidden gem, founded in 1957.
Reservation Required- Reserve HERE through Facebook Messenger:
Amazing Japanese cuisine and sushi! Highly recommend!
Offers an exceptional Mediterranean experience with exquisite recipes from Greece. Amazing Greek cuisine!
Excellent French bistro | Make reservation HERE
This restaurant is referred to as the “Home of the Schnitzel.” Since 1905 they have been serving the Viennese highlights. I recommend sharing their famous Schnitzel, as its a huge portions, enough for 2 people and order their famous potato salad. Due to its popularity, it can feel a bit touristy, but the food is exceptional. Make a reservation HERE or you’ll be waiting in a long line.
This historic cafe supplied pastries to the emperor via an underground tunnel system. Whether coffee or hot chocolate, the famous Doboscake, tempting cream slices, tea biscuits, ring cakes or strudel - all are handmade, baked and decorated with love and made for the perfect visit at this famous bakery with the fairytale-like flair of former imperial times.
TIP: Be sure to go upstairs for a beautiful interior view.
Experience the famous Viennese coffee culture with a slice of the Original Sacher-Torte.
Classic Viennese Dishes
Wiener Schnitzel - Made from a thin cutlet of veal that's breaded and then pan-fried in butter or oil, schnitzel is cheerfully served in restaurants and eateries around the capital. Typically garnished with lemon and fresh parsley, it's often served with a simple salad with vinaigrette, Austrian potato salad, and steamed potatoes.
The Sachertorte - a dense, chocolate sponge cake made with thin layers of apricot jam that's topped with a semi-firm chocolate icing.
Melange (Viennese Coffee) - Like Paris and Rome, Vienna is a European coffee capital. The famed Viennese melange, similar to a cappuccino but usually without cocoa powder, is topped with half hot milk and half foamed milk. Cappuccinos in Austria are generally topped with whipped cream, rather than milk. If you're looking for an Americano, ask for a Verlängerter (literally, "longer"); plain coffee with cream is a Brauner, and an espresso or double espresso is referred to as a Schwartzer. Meanwhile, you can also enjoy local specialties with dramatic names: the Franziskaner (Franciscan Monk) is similar to a melange but is topped with whipped cream rather than foamed milk, while a Mozart is a true dessert in its own right: a double espresso served with a big mound of whip cream and served with a small glass of sherry.
Austrian Goulash - A hearty beef stew seasoned with tomatoes, onion, and paprika, and Semmelknödel (dumplings). This is a dish that's perfect for a cold winter's day.
Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) - this is a delicate counterpoint to the slightly heavier and sweeter American apple pie. It's made with light, crisp pastry dough that's stretched and thinned, filled with apples, sugar, raisins, lemon, rum, cinnamon, and cloves. Often, the strudel is garnished with breadcrumbs mixed with nuts and dusted with powdered sugar.
Spargel (Spring Asparagus) - Starting in late April or early May, menus at many local restaurants in Vienna start prominently featuring seasonal specials with Spargel. Sometimes, it's served simply with a bit of butter and lemon and doused in breadcrumbs; other times it's made into deliciously fresh soups or wrapped in prosciutto and slathered with hollandaise sauce. White asparagus, which is larger and thicker, is a particular favorite in the spring.
Erdäpfelsalat (Austrian-style Potato Salad) - Quite different from its North American counterpart, there's no mayonnaise to be found in this fresh, healthy salad. Instead, it's prepared with white wine vinegar, a bit of mustard, red onions, chives, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Powidltascherl (Plum Jam Turnovers) - The delicate pastries, made with a distinctive potato dough, are filled with a combination of plum jam, rum or plum schnapps, then topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs, butter, and walnuts. A bit of cinnamon and vanilla add aroma and a hint of spice. Some restaurants serve them with chocolate sauce or sugar.
Tafelspitz (Beef or Veal Boiled in Broth With Vegetables) - a quintessentially Austrian dish made with tender filet of beef or veal gently boiled in broth. Typically served with seasonal vegetables or with applesauce and horseradish, this dish is enjoyed all across Austria, especially in fall and winter.
I always love visiting the local markets in a new destination and browsing through their regional ingredients and specialties! And fortunately, you can save major cash when alternating between home cooked meals and eating out at your favorite restaurants. Below are the popular local markets in Vienna:
Billa – The most common market you’ll find, with a great selection of items at a good value. Here you can find also fresh food such as salads, sandwiches or cooked food on the first floor. It’s open on Sundays when all other stores are closed.
Merkur –Always large, clean and well-stocked with top quality food. There aren’t too many around though.
The organic food brand for both the above is Ja Natürlich. And, if you really want to save, look for the in-house discount brand, Clever.
Spar – This store has a variety of chain markets. Interspar is the large version, Eurospar the next size down and Spar is the smallest. You’ll also find Gourmet Spar, which is more upmarket in its selection and presentation
Spar also has its own organic food brand – Natur Pur. They now stock pre-packed salads, sandwiches and other items that make creating a packed lunch easy.
Note: Local markets do not bag items for you. As soon as the cashier rings up your groceries, quickly place them in your own bag or purchase a paper grocery bag for 50 cents/per bag. Cashiers do not wait for you to bag your items, and move quickly to the next customer, so this can feel quite stressful your first experience.
There is a cultural difference in Europe, with no paid baggers. One Austrian mentioned being a grocery bagger seems like a “humiliating job,” as if customers themselves are incapable of putting their own items in a bag. Perhaps Austrians have yet to experience the convenience of the bagging system- once you pay for your groceries, they are already bagged and you can leave, allowing the next customer’s items to be bagged. For us Americans, it seems like a smoother system.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN VIENNA
Our Airbnb was absolutely spectacular, located in the center of Vienna! You can't beat the amazing view of Stephansplatz Square and Graben, the luxury street of Vienna. The underground transportation is conveniently located just outside the building, which makes it easy to see all of Vienna, if you prefer not to walk. Caroline’s apartment much more spacious than your average European loft, with comfortable bedding, a well-stocked kitchen with everything you need, and a beautiful bathroom with a washer. Caroline is rated a 5-star super-host! She is kind, generous, and thoughtful, with providing snacks upon our arrival. I highly recommend this Airbnb for the ultimate Viennese experience!
CLICK HERE TO USE MY AIRBNB LINK TO RECEIVE $40 OFF YOUR FIRST TRIP! IF YOU ALREADY HAVE AN AIRBNB ACCOUNT, YOU CAN SIGN UP WITH A NEW EMAIL AND STILL RECEIVE THE DISCOUNT.
Walk inside the Hotel Imperial Vienna and you will feel the romance of this former Viennese Palace. Originally a private residence of Prince Philipp of Württemberg, this luxurious hotel has kept its charm and rich history from the past, yet provides modern comfort of the present. Stroll through the historic lobby, where Prince Philipp was swept away by horse and carriage. Become mesmerized with the magnificent royal staircase, laced in red carpet and dazzling chandeliers. This baroque beauty is one-of-a-kind and will leave you breathless.
Celebrating a special occasion?
Book The Royal Suite, resided by royals, celebrities, and diplomats, including The Rolling Stones, Queen, Michael Jackson, Prince, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Elizabeth Taylor, Walt Disney, Muhammad Ali, Queen Elizabeth II, and many more. The Royal Suite includes a 24 hour Butler at your service and many luxury amenities. Click HERE to view our VIP Tour of this stunning hotel and exclusive access in The Royal Suite!
Many attractions are walkable when staying in central Vienna. If you prefer to ride the Underground (subway), the city’s public transportation is efficient, clean, and affordable. We used the Underground throughout our time in Vienna and found it simple and cost effective.
The four main forms of transport are U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (tram) and bus. Tickets cover all public buses, trains, tram and subway services.
Vienna works on an honesty system. There are no ticket barriers at stations and no formal, permanent ticket checks on local trains, trams, and buses. You just hop on and off unchallenged. This doesn’t mean public transport is free, though. You do need to buy a ticket.
You may be wondering why you’d bother buying a ticket. And you wouldn’t be the first.
Leaving the ethics and legality aside for the moment, a lack of formal ticket checks does not mean there are no ticket checks. You may encounter a conductor wandering down the city train or run into spot-checks at the end of a subway platform. These undercover agents are impossible to spot and they’ve heard all the excuses before. There’s a hefty fine for traveling without a ticket.
Buy your tickets from ticket machines in stations or download the WienMobil app (or the Wiener Linien ticket app) and purchase through your smartphone.
There are many ticket options, depending on your length of stay and how often you will be using transportation. We used the transportation system daily, so we opted for the 7-day unlimited pass.
Single tickets are valid for one journey in one direction from the time of validation. You may change services as often as you like, but you may not interrupt the journey. Ticket cost: $2.66
Tickets for 24, 48 or 72 hours in Vienna allow access to public transport for exact hours purchased after validating your ticket. Ticket costs: 24 hr- $8.87 | 48 hr- $15.64 | 72 hr- 18.97
With the Vienna Card, you can travel around the city for 24, 48 or 72 hours as much as you want. The ticket is valid from the time it is validated and can be used on all means of public transport in Vienna and for an unlimited number of journeys. One child under the age of 15 may travel with you free of charge. This ticket gives you reduced priced at various museums, as well as discounts in selected restaurants and shops. Ticket costs: 24 hr-$18.86 | 48 hr- $27.73 | 72 hr- $32.17
Seven days, seven nights: With the weekly pass, you can travel throughout Vienna for seven full days, i.e. a calendar week. The weekly ticket is transferable, which means that other visitors may also use the ticket. Ticket cost: $18.97
When needing a quick ride, use the Uber app for more affordable "taxis." Use my Invite Code: trishh452ue to receive a discount on your first 3 rides. If you are an existing customer, you can still receive the discount by creating an additional account.
For those who are not familiar with Uber, below is a detailed explanation on how this simple app works.
When a nearby driver accepts your request, the app displays an estimated time of arrival for the driver heading to your pickup location. The app will notify you when the driver is about to arrive.
Immediately after a trip ends, the app will prompt you to rate your driver from 1 to 5 Stars. Drivers who use the Uber app are also asked to rate riders. Uber's feedback system is designed to foster a community of respect and accountability for everyone.
Uber now includes the option to schedule a ride 5 minutes to 30 days in advance using the Scheduled Rides feature. Using this to schedule airport drop-off or pick-up is extremely