Enjoying artistic Vienna – 9 essential things to do in the Austrian capital

Vienna centre

Vienna or Wien, is one of the great historic cities in Europe.

Lying close to the mighty Danube river, Vienna is a popular stop during river cruise itineraries and can also provide the perfect city break escape for holidaymakers looking for a spot of culture.

The capital of Austria is famed throughout the world for its palaces and is a popular stop for tourists seeking a glimpse of some of the greatest works of art ever produced.

As the city attracts tourists in the millions each calendar year and with a varied selection of different holidays currently available visiting the capital, we decided to take a look at what Vienna has to offer.

1. Visit some of Vienna’s famous palaces

things to do in vienna - Schobrunn Palace

Former Imperial summer residence Schönbrunn Palace is one of the many Imperial buildings in the city and a key Austrian icon.

Dating back to the 17th century, the Palace and surrounding grounds are magical.

Once a former hunting lodge, Schönbrunn Palace was transformed into a rather grand Palace.

Since the 17th century, the Palace has undergone a series of transformations with each alteration adding to the Palace’s unique character and appeal.

Listed as a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s most important locations.

View available Vienna holidays

things to do in vienna - Hofburg

Another of Vienna’s great palaces, the dramatic Hofburg dates back to around the 13th century.

The Hofburg complex is a stunning series of buildings, once home to royalty that provided fitting luxury accommodation and crucially hid them away from the hustle and bustle of the busy heart of the city.

Wonderfully preserved, the Hofburg is relatively untouched since its grand unveiling. Historic sections of the complex include the Alte Burg and the old stables of the Lipazzaner horses of Spanish Riding School fame (more on that iconic school later).

Home to the Swiss Guard, the Alte Burg section is often referred to as the Swiss Wing as it used to house this esteemed military unit who once patrolled and protected the palace.

View available Vienna holidays

things to do in vienna - belvedere

Comprised of two palaces, the Belvedere Museum & Palace is another UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.

Instead of housing royalty, the Belvedere now hosts some of the greatest works of art the world has ever seen.

A celebration of Austrian art, visitors will be able to observe some interesting works of art dating back to the Middle Ages.

Gustav Klimt, one of the great Austrian painters, is celebrated with his own special exhibition.

Be sure to look out for some notable works by the world renowned Max Bechmann and Claude Monet.

These works can be found in the Upper Belvedere, a stunning setting where visitors can explore a lavish Marble Hall and Palace Chapel.

Also found within the Belvedere grounds is the historical Orangery. Once used to shield Orange Trees from the elements, the Orangery roof could be removed to let sunlight reach the trees.

View available Vienna holidays

2. Experience a global icon

things to do in vienna - spanish riding school

Dating back to the 18th century, the Spanish Riding School is famous around the planet for its excellent horse displays.

When visiting, guests cans stop by to watch a practice session or if timed correctly, catch a performance or two of displays in which riders don traditional dress and equipment in a nod to the former Imperial Austrian Empire.

With a long history, the Spanish Riding School and its famous white Lipizzan Horses have been perfecting the art of classical equitation since the Renaissance period.

View available Vienna holidays

3. Enjoy some of the city’s most famous historical landmarks

things to do in vienna - st stephens cathedral

One of the city’s greatest landmarks, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a national landmark.

A fantastic example of Gothic architecture, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the tallest buildings in Vienna.

With four towers, visitors can climb the tallest to a room where great views of the city await.

Inside the Cathedral, visitors can find out more about the Cathedral’s history and take in such highlights like the central Cathedral, Catacombs, and Cathedral Treasury.

Underground, the eerie Catacombs await.

A maze of passageways, here you will encounter some ancient tombs and an old cemetery housing some rather scary human bones.

The Cathedral Treasury, found in the west of the Cathedral, house some intriguing exhibits, including some artefacts dating back hundreds of years.

Karlskirche

A wonderful church, Vienna’s Karlskirche can be found in Vienna’s Karlsplatz (Town Square).

Dating back to the 18th century, the church is one of Europe’s grandest buildings with both the interior and striking exterior impressing visitors from all over the world.

Inside, expertly sculptured decorations and religious statues really need to be seen to be believed.

Domed ceilings depict fascinating religious scenes and figures several metres above the main church walkway.

Also worth stopping by in the evening, the church is carefully lighted after dusk in the heart of the Austrian capital – an extremely beautiful building and must-visit during any visit to the city.

View available Vienna holidays

4. Wander around Vienna’s epic Ringstrasse

things to do in vienna - ringtrasse

Vienna’s Ringtrasse or Ring Road is one of the city’s most popular attractions.

A beautiful boulevard found in the city, the Ringtrasse is a great tourist stop and gateway to to some of Vienna’s attractions including the Natural History Museum and Vienna State Opera.

Part of the city’s UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, the Ringtrasse is over 3 miles long, providing a great walking route for visitors in a picturesque setting.

Once the old centre of Vienna, the boulevard was originally constructed to replace the old fortification walls built to defend the city from invading forces.

View available Vienna holidays

5. Take in the views at Danube Tower

things to do in vienna - danube tower

Whilst in the city, we thoroughly recommend visiting the country’s tallest building, the famed Danube Tower.

Named after the nearby major European waterway that holidaymakers can follow on a river cruise, the Danube Tower is the tallest point in Vienna.

Needle-like in appearance, the tower can be scaled and visitors can learn about its construction and take in some great panoramic views of this beautiful city during a visit.

The grounds surrounding the tower are called Danube Park and are ideal for a stroll after the descent down from the tower.

View available Vienna holidays

6. Admire a unique architectural triumph

things to do in vienna - house

Famous apartment house Hunderwasserhaus, conceived by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and architect Joseph Krawina is one of the more modern landmarks in the city.

Attempting to avoid straight lines, Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed this apartment with a unique vision.

A colourful, flowing building, Hundertwasser House lives up to its billing as one of the great pieces of modern architecture in Austria.

Many have noted that the building bears slight resemblance to the works of famed Catalan Antoni Gaudi. Bright and colourful, this memorable building is hard to miss.

View available Vienna holidays

7. Get political!

things to do in vienna - parliament building

The political heart of the country, the Austrian Parliament building, found in Vienna, can be found on the long ring road Ringstrasse.

One of the grandest buildings in the city, the Parliament can be explored during a tour.

A building rich in history, the Parliament Building boasts some wonderful architecture and expert guides will provide plenty of facts and tales that charting the building’s complex history during an insightful visit.

View available Vienna holidays

8. Stop by a golden tribute to a musical genius

things to do in vienna - strauss

One of the key landmarks in Vienna is the Johann Strauss Monument.

Found in the City Park, the statue is hard to miss. One of the most photographed spots in the city, the monument of the famous musician is gold and depicts Strauss playing his violin under an archway.

Famous for his ‘Blue Danube Waltz’, Strauss is renowned throughout the world. This monument is a fitting tribute to the renowned musician.

View available Vienna holidays

9. Enjoy a beautiful city sculpture

Plague Column

An intriguing monument commissioned by an Austrian King to commemorate victims of a terrible plague that swept through the city, the Plague Column (covered in netting to protect it from pigeons) can be located in the centre of Vienna.

Constructed in the 17th century, the column rises out of a street. This fine work of art is a fantastic city sculpture and one of the most eye-catching sights in the city.

An irresistible photo opportunity, be sure to visit the column when in Vienna.

Visit Vienna

Browse all available holidays visiting Vienna here

Have any tips on things to do in Vienna?

Share your tips by contacting us on either facebook or by email.

Similar Features

10 Terrific European river cruises departing in 2020

Prague – 7 Classic Czech landmarks

Budapest – 8 Charming places to visit in the ‘Pearl of the Danube’


Follow us on Facebook or on Instagram @DCThomsonTravel. Got a travel suggestion or story you want to share, email us at holidayenquiries@dcttravel.co.uk.