The Innere Stadt
The Innere Stadt or Inner City, is Vienna’s first district and home to its historical centre. Here you’ll find a maze of alleyways crowded into the protected space, framed by the Ringstrasse (the “ring” street), which follows the course of the former city walls. It is in the district where you will find many of Vienna’s top sights, making this pedestrianized zone the most popular with tourists.
Prime landmarks that can be found here include Mozart’s House, the bustling Graben Street, the Church of St. Peter, and the city’s most recognizable symbol, the Cathedral of St. Stephen, proudly dominating the Stephansplatz in the heart of the Innere Stadt. You’ll also find a tremendous assortment of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops, delighting both visitors and locals alike.
Follow in the footsteps of the Habsburgs as you explore the area of the city best known as Imperial Vienna. Here you will find the imposing and grand Hofburg Palace at its heart, the former winter residence of the imperial family and their administrators.
You’ll also find many other popular sights here, including the 500 year old Spanish Riding School and its famous Lipizzaner Stallions. You can also visit the Imperial Treasury and the Sisi Museum. For those interested in the Arts, visit the nearby Albertina Gallery and State Opera House, which is home to one of the world’s best opera companies.
The Ringstrasse, or the Ring Street, surrounds Vienna’s old town where the old city walls once stood. It is by far one of the most beautiful streets in the city, lined with many of Vienna’s most impressive monumental buildings and well-known sights. Here you can visit the Austrian Parliament building, Vienna’s city hall, and the superb and not to be missed Art History and Natural History museums.
The large park and square in front of the town hall also serves as one of the city’s favourite gathering places, and it is often filled with markets, food festivals or other attractions. For a fun experience, we highly recommend taking the tram ride around the entire length of the Ringstrasse, where you can sit back and soak in the rich spectacle. We love it so much, we include it in all of our Vienna itineraries!
Belvedere Palace & Karlskirche
Vienna contains two of Europe’s most beautiful and finest examples of Baroque architecture – the infamous Belvedere Palace and Gardens, and the Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles). Visit both of the Belvedere’s palaces, connected by one of the most stunning gardens in the city. The Lower Belvedere Palace hosts temporary art and history exhibits, while the Upper Belvedere Palace houses a permanent art museum which includes the most famous works of Gustav Klimt, most notably, The Kiss.
In the Karlskirche, ensure you take a ride on the elevator to the top of the church’s dome. Take a moment to admire the ornate ceiling frescoes up close and the beautiful views over Vienna. Be sure to also take a look at the two columns in front of the church, decorated with bas-reliefs of the life of St. Church Borromeo, whom the church is dedicated to.
Located just a few kilometres from the centre of Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence, is one of the most visited attractions in Vienna. This stunning baroque palace, with its grand staterooms and beautifully manicured gardens is open to visitors, making it a great half day trip out of the city centre.
Take a tour of the palace and admire its gilded halls and chambers that were once home to the famous Maria Theresia. You’ll find numerous reminders of the great Empress on the tour, as well as those of the glamorous Empress Sisi. You may also wish to wander the beautiful park that surrounds the palace, with a mix of formal gardens and woodlands. A labyrinth maze, playground and the famous Schönbrunn Zoo located in the gardens make for an especially fun stop for children.
Naschmarkt & Museum Quarter
The Naschmarkt is Vienna’s best-known and largest open air market and one of our favorites for every Vienna itinerary. Dating back as far as the 16th century, the Naschmarkt attracts both tourists and locals alike to its 120 market stands and restaurants. A walk through the market is a delight to the senses, with an attractive variety of shops selling colorful fruits, cheeses, delectable meats and vegetables, fragrant spices, as well as souvenirs and other interesting tidbits. On Saturday, it hosts a huge flea market as well.
North of the market you will discover a young and vibrant area of cafes and shops, as well as the Museum Quarter, which contains several outstanding museums in one complex. This part of Vienna is so trendy that every evening the Museum Quarter transforms into one of the city’s hippest hangouts, allowing visitors to experience a unique mix of culture, as well as an opportunity to mix with the locals.
Austria is very well known for its wine, and Vienna is one of the only world capitals with a significant wine production within its city limits. Therefore we highly recommend a visit to Vienna’s most famous and charming wine village, Grinzing.
Viennese have come for over two hundred years to while away pleasant evenings drinking wine and listening to local musicians play traditional Viennese tunes (Wienerlieder) in one of the many wine taverns in Grinzing. Despite being only a short distance from Vienna, a visit to Grinzing seems to transport you to another world altogether, as quaint cottages and cosy old farmhouses create a bucolic village atmosphere.
Rising to the northwest of Vienna lay the mystical Vienna Woods. This beautiful green forested area encompasses numerous hiking trails and picturesque vineyard towns, which makes for the perfect half day guided trip from the hustle and bustle of Vienna’s thriving city center.
During your guided trip you can enjoy beautiful vistas across Vienna, a visit to the former Roman spa town of Baden and the memorial chapel in Mayerling, built on the site of a former imperial hunting lodge and scene of one of Europe’s most notorious and lurid crimes. The highlight for many is a visit to Europe’s largest underground lake, the Seegrotte at Hinterbruhl. Travel by boat through the former mine and explore the numerous underground chambers, lighted galleries and tunnels.
Hundertwasserhaus & the Prater
Situated in the 3rd Viennese district just outside of the historical center, the Hundertwasserhaus is a colorful residential building that bears the creative hallmarks of the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, a controversial Austrian artist/architect whose imaginative mind is responsible for several buildings in Vienna. It is noticeable from the street, with its striking pastel colors and more than 200 trees, herbs and shrubs on the balconies and roof terraces.
The nearby Prater is also a great refuge from the historical center, with over 60 sq km of woodlands, children’s playgrounds, a gold course, race track and amusement park. Inside the amusement park you’ll find the Giant Ferris Wheel, a symbol of the city. It was also featured in the movie, The Third Man.
For one of the best views over the city of Vienna, hike up the Kahlenberg Hill and watch the view unfold with every step. The Danube River stretches into the horizon and the whole city of Vienna is laid out before you, surrounded by forests, fields, and vineyards.
After enjoying the view, you can then make a relaxing 2 mile hike down to the river about 1000 feet below. At the bottom of the hill you will reach the village of Kahlenbergerdorf on the Danube River. Its charming village square and tiny but ancient church are both well worth a visit.