Vienna is the capital of Austria and a beautiful city filled with fine art galleries, historical museums, and plenty of tours to see it all. Many travelers go to the city to learn about its rich history and culture. Because of this, Vienna offers several things to see and do, making it a good place for people of all ages to explore.
Things to see and do in Vienna
The city is most known for the beautiful architectural designs of its most famous buildings. Its town hall building is a monumental structure decorated with crystal chandeliers, a set of grand staircases, and statues of important historical figures.
One of the main attractions in Vienna is its center, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There, tourists can find several baroque palaces, public parks, and abundant gardens.
The city offers several dining options, from upscale restaurants to local food stands. Cafe Central is a famous coffee house that serves traditional and specialty coffees and pastries. Also, Kaffee Alt Wien is one of the best places in town to sample a classic, flaky apple strudel. And you can’t forget to try traditional wiener schnitzel while you’re there. The wiener schnitzel from Schnitzelwirt provides an authentic taste of Vienna culture.
If you’re planning a trip to Vienna but are short on time, you can still see plenty of the city’s greatest treasures. Vienna boasts a great public transportation system that can get you from point A to point B in no time. Aside from that, there are several tours you can take for an overview of the city’s history and culture. Here are six places you have to visit with one day in Vienna:
1. Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in Vienna is one of the best places to learn about animals and plants. The large museum houses a collection of geological and zoological artifacts. Its dinosaur galleries are one of the most popular attractions, featuring an animatronic Allosaurus.
Animal lovers will appreciate its zoology collection, with information on insects and animals of every kind. You can go bird watching indoors at the museum’s bird gallery. There, you’ll find a number of bird species, including the skeleton of New Zealand’s massive moa bird.
And no day trip to the museum is complete without souvenirs. Visit the museum gift shop to take home a replica of a T-Rex tooth or a book about bugs.
2. Schönbrunn Palace
The Schönbrunn Palace is a historical building once home to the royals and officials of European history. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited sites in Vienna.
At the front of the palace is the Guards Room, where the royal guards stayed to protect the emperor and other residents of the palace. Other must-see rooms inside the palace include:
- Emperor Franz Joseph’s Bedroom, the emperor’s most intimate room
- The Billiards Room, with its original furnishing and decoration dating back to the 19th century
- The Staircase Cabinet, where the empress escaped to write in her diary
- The Salon of Empress Elisabeth, with its antique floral wallpaper and furniture
- Marie Antionette Room, to see the luxury Viennese porcelain and glass dinnerware used by the royals
Visit their official website for more information on how to see the palace plus the Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments as part of a guided tour!
3. Kunsthistorisches Museum
The Kunsthistorisches Museum, which translates to “Museum of Art History,” is a popular tourist destination. Founded in 1887, the museum serves as a place for tourists to learn about Vienna’s unique history.
Inside the museum are many famous statues and statuettes, including Antonio Canova’s “Theseus and the Centaur” and Pier Jacopo Alari de Bonacolsi’s “Hercules and Antaeus.” You can also find an inventory of hieroglyphics from Giza that date way back to ancient Egypt.
Gamers will enjoy the gallery of Backgammon board game pieces that bear scenes from ancient literature. And the paintings by famed artists like Hans Memling and Gerard David are incredible pieces of history.
4. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of the most prominent buildings in Vienna. Tourists from all over the world flock to the Roman Catholic Church to see its Gothic-style exterior that features an impressive 450-foot spire.
One of the highlights of St. Stephen’s Cathedral is its enormous organ with over 12,000 pipes. To hear the organ, you can sit in on one of the recitals or concerts at the cathedral.
There are many famous statues in the cathedral as well. For example, our Lady the Protectress is a popular tourist attraction at the Women’s Choir. And the High Altar made of black marble is great for photos.
5. Spanish Riding School
At the Spanish Riding School, you can watch a troupe of White Stallions as they perform their famous routine, the Ballet of the White Stallions. The Lipizzan performance is recognized worldwide for its breathtaking stunts and tricks. You can also see the Stallions train for their performance as they prance around to traditional Viennese music.
For a closer look behind the scenes, guests can take a grand tour of the riding school. During the tour, they’ll find the world’s largest oval horse walkers and stables. Also on the tour, they can learn about the Stallions, including insights into their day-to-day schedules and training routines.
6. Belvedere Palace
One of the best things about the palace is its rich history. Built under the instruction of Prince Eugene, the baroque palace offers insight into life in the 1700s. It also boasts an impressive art collection dating back to the Middle Ages. The palace is the perfect place for art lovers to explore, from art pieces inspired by mythology to paintings by famed artists like Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
You can also take a stroll through the Belvedere gardens to see the beautiful plants, trees, and sculpted hedges. And the water fountains are a popular attraction inspired by scenes from the Underworld in Greek mythology.