1. Tour the State Opera House
Taking in a concert at Vienna’s State Opera House is likely the highlight of any Vienna visit. The city has such a strong musical heritage and the Opera House is at its center. It holds concerts 300 days a year but if you can’t get a ticket, consider getting one of the standing-room only tickets that are available each day and are significantly discounted. From April to June, and in September, there are giant screens outside the Opera House which show live ballet and opera.
Address: Opernring 2, 1010 Vienna Opening hours and tickets: Tours offered daily at 9am for €7.50 (Dh32) per adult, €3.50 (Dh15) per child
2. Take a tram around the Ringstrasse
This 5.3 kilometer boulevard is lined with some of the city’s most impressive and beautiful buildings. You can take a 30-minute tram trip along the route and see some of Vienna’s favorite parks, as well as important state buildings such as the Parliament, Museum of Fine Arts, City Hall and the Hofburg Palace.
3. Treat yourself at a Vienna coffee house
Vienna’s coffee houses are such an important part of life here that UNESCO includes them on its list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ as something which should forever be preserved. People spend hours at the coffee houses, many of which are in stunningly ornate buildings, chatting with friends or simply watching the world go by. There’s often a huge coffee menu, and an irresistible selection of Apfelstrudel and Sachertotre!
4. Visit Hofburg Imperial Palace
Nowhere in the city is the imperial might of the Habsburg dynasty more evident than at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the focus of the empire until as recently as 100 years ago. The Palace is now the official seat of the President of Austria, but also home to the national library, the Hofburg choir (where you can hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir), and a beautiful art deco house with hundreds of species of exotic butterflies.
Address: Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna Opening times and tickets: 10am – 5.30pm, entry is €10.50 (Dh45) per adult
5. Climb St Stephen’s Cathedral
This huge Gothic building sits at the heart of the city and dominates the skyline with its 136 meter-high Stephansdom tower and brightly colored roof tiles. You can climb the 343 steps up to the top of the south tower and get a panoramic view of Vienna. You’ll also be able to see the amazing roof and the mosaic of the double-headed eagle and the Vienna coat of arms. Down at ground level, take a look around the cathedral and at the Gothic stone pulpit which features a rather unusual decoration of a battle between toads and lizards to signal the battle between good and evil.
Address: Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Vienna Opening times and tickets: 7am – 10pm, entry is €5.50 (Dh24) per adult, €2 (Dh9) per child
6. Marvel at the practice at the Spanish Riding School
The Spanish Riding School, also at the Hofburg, is where Europe’s oldest horse breed is put through its paces. The white Lipizzaner stallions perform a sort of ‘ballet’ in time to the music in the 1729 Baroque hall. The gala performance tickets can be hard to get hold of and are expensive, but the next best thing is watching the morning practice, which is much cheaper but almost as impressive.
Address: Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Vienna Opening times and tickets: Live shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am, tickets cost between €20 (Dh87) and €100 (Dh433), depending on the seats
7. Take a Third Man tour
Trace the steps of Harry Lime (Orson Welles), the star of the 1949 classic movie The Third Man. The story is set in grisly post-war Vienna, when it was still occupied by the Allies. As well as lots of Third Man tours (one of which takes you down into the city’s sewers to see where some of the most famous scenes were shot), there’s the Third Man Museum.
Address: Preßgasse 25, 1040 Vienna Opening times and tickets: 2am – 6pm on Saturdays, entry costs €8.90 (Dh39) per adult, €6.90 (Dh30) for concessions
8. Wonder at the Hundertwasserhaus
This brightly colored building was designed by artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser in the early 1980s. The first residents were allowed to decorate their exterior around their windows in any style they wanted, giving it its eccentric and quirky patchwork effect. There’s more than 200 shrubs and trees on the terraces and balconies adding to the quirky effect. You’re not allowed into the building but there’s a permanent Hundertwasser exhibition at the nearby Kunst Haus Wien.
Address: Untere Weißgerberstraße 13, 1030 Vienna Opening times and tickets: Daily 10am – 6pm, tickets are €12 (Dh52) per adult
9. Enjoy Prater park
The Prater public park is home to one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks and is just a short trip out of the city center. There’s more than 250 rides and attractions – including the Giant Ferris Wheel that starred in The Third Man. Locals go the park to run, hire bicycles, play tennis and skateboard.
Address: 1020 Vienna, Austria Opening times and tickets: 24 hours. Entry is free, rides cost €4 (Dh17) per person
10. Cruise on the Danube
Sit back and relax on a day trip cruise on the Danube through the splendid Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll float past fairytale castles and vineyards, and can hop off to visit highlights such as the Baroque Melk Abbey.
Address: Boats depart from Café & Restaurant Motto am Fluss, Franz-Josefs-Kai 2, 1010 Opening times and tickets: Hop On Hop Off Boat tours depart throughout the day between 9am – 5pm. Costs €22 (Dh95) per person
11. Find Klimt in Belvedere Palace
The stunning Belvedere Palace houses some of Austria’s best art, including a very impressive collection of works by Gustav Klimt (including The Kiss), and Egon Schieles. The gardens are particularly pretty in spring, and the cafe serves excellent cake!
Address: Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna Opening times and tickets: Daily 10am – 6pm, entry is €20 (Dh87) per adult, children go free
12. Explore Schönbrunn Palace
This former Baroque residence of the Austrian emperor has some wonderful gardens and a zoo, so is a good place to visit if you have children. The Palace Grand Tour takes visitors to 40 of the state apartments and rooms, before exploring the English-style gardens.
Address: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Vienna
13. Learn history at the Kunsthistorisches Museum
The History of Art Museum in Vienna is just as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside, and well worth a visit. You can learn all about the imperial rule of the Habsburgs, before stepping into the maze of the Arab World and the oldest gold mine in Europe.
Address: Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna Opening times and tickets: 10am – 6pm (9pm on Thursdays), closed on Mondays. Entry costs €15 (Dh65) per adult, €11 (Dh48) per child
14. Visit the Vienna Rathaus (Town Hall)
The Neo-Gothic Rathuas in Vienna holds a huge Christmas market in December where you can feast on meats from all over Austria, locally-brewed drinks and pretzels sprinkled with seasalt. It’s a wonderful place to visit if you’re staying in Vienna in the winter.
Address: Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Vienna
15. Explore the MuseumsQuartier
If the Leopold Museum features on your list of top places to visit in Vienna, save some time to spend in the MuseumsQuartier. It’s the world’s eighth latgest cultural district, and occupies 60,000sqm² of space with art, architecture and museums. Make sure you tick off the Museum of Modern Art, and Kunsthalle.
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*Published October 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.