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Best things to do in Vienna

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Austria  /  Vienna Region  /  Vienna
From exploring vast collections housed within the city's numerous museums, to enjoying the action-packed rides at Prater park, there are plenty of interesting things to do in Vienna. History buffs can delve into Austria's eventful past at Schonbrunn Palace, once a residence of the Habsburg monarchs. Schonbrunn Zoo, occupying the grounds near the eponymous palace, attracts animal lovers with its themed areas. Wandering through the charming streets of the city center will eventually take you to St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna's most recognizable landmark. Art lovers flock to Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien to marvel at a remarkable art collection gathered by the Habsburg royalty.

Vienna is best known for its Art Museums, Castles, and Architectural Buildings.

Top 15 things to do in Vienna

1. Belvedere Palace

The former residence of Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy, Belvedere Palace represents a historic complex housing important Austrian art. The two Baroque palaces, Upper and Lower Belvedere, are set in a park among decorative fountains and Baroque sculptures. Each palace is home to collections of expressionism, impressionism, contemporary art, medieval art, and Baroque art. The Upper Palace is best known for the Klimt Room, where you'll find an impressive exhibit of the works of Gustav Klimt, including "The Kiss." In addition to the two palaces, visit the orangery and the palace stables for an additional glimpse into Austrian art.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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2. Schonbrunn Palace

A former residence of the Habsburg monarchs, Schonbrunn Palace reflects centuries of imperial Austrian history. Emperor Leopold I commissioned the palace at the end of the 17th century, but it was not for another 50 years that the palace became a focal point of court life, playing host to many European statesmen. The gardens are landscaped according to Baroque standards, forming a unit with the palace, and remain almost unchanged since the 1700s. The grounds include the oldest zoo in the world, Schonbrunn Zoo, home to more than 700 species of animals. You can explore the 1,441-room palace by purchasing a ticket; you'll find many different ticket options, which vary according to how many rooms you want to visit. Whichever option you choose, you'll follow an audio guide through the Rococo-styled rooms, listening to the stories related to each.
Suggested duration: 3h 30 min
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3. St. Stephen's Cathedral

Intricate in design and architecture, St. Stephen's Cathedral is a cultural icon and symbol of Austrian identity. With a multicolored tile roof and tall Romanesque towers, it has become one of the most recognizable images of the city. Consecrated in 1147, the cathedral stands on the remains of former versions, which were destroyed by fire, siege, and World War II. The cathedral's repairs and rebuilding can be seen today in the mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Join a guided tour to learn more about the iconic building's history. Separate tours lead you through the main cathedral, the catacombs, the treasury, or up one of the towers for a view of Vienna from above. Choose an inclusive tour to see all of the parts of this site.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Hofburg

Once home to Vienna's monarchy, Hofburg gives a fascinating look into imperial life through a display of personal items of former Habsburg monarchs. Along with the historical museums, the palace--called the Vienna Hofburg--now houses the president of Austria and offices of the federal government. In the Imperial Apartments, you'll discover the apartments of Franz Joseph and his wife, Elisabeth. Visit the Imperial Silver Collection for a glimpse into the lavish lengths to which the monarchs went to entertain. You'll see about 7,000 relics of the imperial dining culture, such as exquisite kitchen linens, the imperial table, and ornate centerpieces. The Sisi Museum features more than 300 personal items of Empress Elisabeth. Through her parasols, beauty recipes, and death mask, you'll gain an understanding of this often-misunderstood monarch.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

In a palatial building, Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien exhibits the Habsburgs' extensive art collection, which was amassed over centuries. Designed by architect Gottfried Semper, the museum is mirrored by an identical building on the opposite side of the Ringstrasse, which houses the Naturhistorisches Museum. Discover works by artists like Vermeer and Rembrandt, as well as a large collection by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. An audio guide offers an in-depth exploration of close to 600 works in the museum, including commentary on the building itself. In addition to the masterpieces on display, the museum includes a reference library of more than 256,000 manuscripts, maps, and historical prints relating to art and cultural history.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. Schönbrunn Zoo

Located on the grounds of the majestic Schonbrunn Palace, Schönbrunn Zoo mixes rich history and the animal kingdom. Wander through this World Heritage Site for sightings of giant pandas, koalas, orangutans, tigers, penguins, and more.  Visit the Amazon rainforest, or catch a polar bear feeding in the polarium. The zoo, the oldest in the world, opened in 1752 as a menagerie. You'll find an interesting architectural mix here, with original buildings from the Baroque era mingling with modern zoo architecture.The zoo offers several themed tours, as well as the chance to customize a guided tour according to your personal interest, if you book in advance.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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7. Prater

Best known for the Wurstelprater amusement park, Prater is a public park whose history dates back to 1162. The land passed through the hands of noble families for several centuries, until Emperor Joseph II opened the park to the public in 1766. Visit the Krieau, a horseracing track, and see Austria's largest stadium, Ernst Happel Stadium. The main pathway, known as Hauptallee, is closed to vehicles and lined by horse chestnut trees. Take a ride on the park's Ferris wheel or try out bumper cars, carousels, roller coasters, and ghost trains. The amusement park even features a Madame Tussauds wax works cabinet.
Suggested duration: 5h 30 min
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8. Historic Center of Vienna

Boasting Baroque castles and gardens mixed with monuments and parks, the architecture of Historic Center of Vienna, a World Heritage Site, reflects significant cultural and political periods in Europe. Most notably, the center's architecture visually represents the Middle Ages, the Baroque period, and the Grunderzeit. This site was the home of Celtic and Roman settlements before developing into a Medieval and then Baroque city. With the Ringstrasse and its historic buildings and monuments, Vienna's historic core is full of important Austrian museums and government buildings. Walk along the Danube, and look for the different architectural imprints left on this city.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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9. MuseumsQuartier Wien

One of the largest cultural neighborhoods in the world, MuseumsQuartier Wien mixes art galleries and historic buildings with cafes and courtyards. The area, characterized by Baroque buildings and modern architecture, includes 70 cultural institutions, ranging from large art museums to smaller galleries and even outdoor installations. Explore the Leopold Museum, known for its collection of masterpieces by Egon Schiele, or discover modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna. As you walk through the courtyards, you might just stumble upon a dance performance or film festival.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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10. Vienna Naschmarkt

An international food market, Vienna Naschmarkt offers a huge variety of fresh foods, prepared dishes, and cuisines from around the world. More than 100 permanent food stalls fill this 2.3 hectare (5.7 acre) open-air market. Browse the stalls for sauerkraut, olives, and cinnamon sticks to snack on, or sit down for a full meal at one of the restaurants in the market. Whether you're craving Israeli, Thai, Italian, or Austrian specialties, you'll find it here.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. Hundertwasserhaus

Take a journey into a country of creative architecture that stands in harmony with nature at Hundertwasserhaus. Austrian painter Hundertwasser conceived this House for Human Beings and Trees, which opened in 1986. See how the artistic vision came to life in architectural features: undulating floors, indoor trees with limbs extending from windows, and roof gardens. Have a drink in the cafe in front of this expressionist landmark of Vienna. The stores across the street offer artist- and house-related souvenirs. This is one of Vienna's most visited buildings and a part of Austria's cultural heritage.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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12. Albertina

An art museum known worldwide for its collection of graphic arts, Albertina also contains a significant collection of Impressionist art. The museum's graphic arts collection includes approximately 50,000 drawings and watercolors and 900,000 graphic artworks from the late Gothic era to the current day. Leonardo da Vinci, Peter Paul Rubens, and Rembrandt van Rijn are represented in the collection of Old Masters' works. In the modern section, discover artists like Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. The museum boasts a strong showing of architectural drawings, as well as a collection of photographs dating back to the 1900s. Personalized guided tours are offered and include a tour of the Habsburg staterooms.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum)

Housed in an ornate palace, Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum) features a collection of artifacts that has been growing for the last 250 years. Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine is credited with beginning the collection in 1750. Today, the museum is home to about 30 million objects relating to earth and life sciences. The first floor is dedicated to animal life, with exhibit halls focusing on vertebrates, crabs, arachnids, insects, mollusks, and protozoans. In the museum's mezzanine, learn about minerals, fossils, dinosaurs, the earth's history, and anthropology. The museum is best known for its dinosaur skeletons and extensive collection of meteorites. Don't miss the Venus of Willendorf, the nearly complete skeleton of a Stellar's sea cow, an animal that has been extinct for more than 200 years.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Schonbrunner Gardens

The gardens of Schonbrunn palace--Schonbrunner Gardens--are as lavish and intricate as the palace itself. Within the gardens, you'll find a zoo, botanical garden, orangery, palm house, and a maze. Considered an extension of the palace, the gardens are accordingly designed with Baroque principles in mind. Notice the symmetry of the flowerbeds and strips of colored stones, which are inspired by embroidery patterns. Get lost in the maze, which was replanted in 1998 and closely follows the original layout. Find your way to the center, where you'll reach the viewing platform.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Leopold Museum

Explore the world's largest collection of art from Egon Schiele and masterpieces of Gustav Klimt at Leopold Museum. Situated in the museum district of the capital city, this site features more than 5,000 exhibits. Learn more about the 19th and 20th centuries' Viennese art movements. Dwell on art objects and furniture pieces representing Art Nouveau, Vienna Secession, Expressionism, and Wiener Werkstatte. Rest on sofas in the passages between exhibits, and check the views from the top floor. Have a drink at a cafe in the Viennese style. Hold on to your ticket--you will need it to use the restroom.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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