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Planning your trip to Vienna
The city has been shaped by former residents like legendary composers Mozart, Beethoven and the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Visiting Vienna means exploring imperial palaces, vast green spaces, stunning streets and world-class museums and galleries.
Thinking about how to get to Vienna? It couldn't be simpler – the city's international airport welcomes flights from the UK and beyond. From London to Vienna takes just 2 hours 15 minutes, Manchester flights arrive in 2 hours 25 and Edinburgh connects to Vienna in just 2 hours 35. When you get there, hop on the City Airport Train (CAT) at the airport and arrive in central Vienna in just 16 minutes non-stop.
The most beautiful buildings in Vienna
Its breathtaking Imperial and medieval buildings are one of the things that make Vienna famous. The city's ornate architecture is unlike anywhere else globally, which means exploring these spots is one of the top things to do in Vienna. But with so much beauty at every turn, where's the best place to start?
The Habsburg dynasty ruled as Austria's dukes, archdukes and emperors from 1282 until 1918; Schönbrunn Palace was their principal summer residence. The Rococo-style palace is a stunning sight, one of Vienna's most important historic cultural landmarks.
Schönbrunn Palace is open to visitors between 9am and 5pm daily; the surrounding landscaped gardens are open from 6:30am to 9pm. Embark on a tour of the place to see its ornate rooms up close. Highlights include the Great Gallery, used for balls, banquets and functions, the Hall of Ceremonies and the Mirrors Room.
The Hofburg was once the principal imperial royal palace of the Habsburg dynasty and the winter residence when summers at Schönbrunn Palace ended. Today, the 13th-century landmark is one of Vienna's must-see attractions. It's located right in the city's centre, easy to reach by public transport or foot.
When you visit the Hofburg today, you'll explore the Sisi Museum, Imperial Apartments and the Silver Collection.
The Sisi Museum has been housed in the Hofburg since 2004. It showcases various historical items that once belonged to Empress Elisabeth of Austria, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I. Elisabeth, nicknamed Sisi, famously struggled with royal life and sympathised with the people's struggles in Austria. She's remembered as the empress of eternal youth and beauty and was regarded as the most beautiful queen in Europe for decades. Over 300 objects are displayed at the Hofburg museum named after her, including clothing, fans, cloves, beauty preparations and the original death certificate.
St Stephen's Cathedral
St Stephen's Cathedral is Vienna's most recognised landmark, a 13th-century Gothic church with a colourful tiled roof. The original cathedral dates back to 1137, which means St Stephen's has its roots in the 12th century. Although the first church is gone, today's stunning cathedral retains many features from the 13th-century incarnation. Extensions and new features were added over the centuries, including Baroque touches that contribute to the building we recognise as a symbol of Vienna today.
When visiting St Stephen's Cathedral, choose a self-guided tour or enjoy being led around by an expert, learning more about the building's history. You'll be able to explore the North Tower and South Tower and the catacombs when you pay for a ticket. If you're visiting Vienna on a budget, you can see the outside of St Stephen's and some interior parts for free.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum set inside one of Vienna's most attractive buildings on Ringstrasse. Inside, the museum is home to artworks from Ancient Egypt to the late 18th century, including significant Renaissance and Baroque collections.
The museum was built in 1891 near the Hofburg, Vienna's Imperial Palace, to house extensive royal art collections. The Kunsthistorisches is home to the most extensive Bruegel collection worldwide, the most influential artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting known for his landscapes and peasant scenes. Raphael's Madonna in the Meadow, the Infanta paintings by Velazquez, and works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer and Titian are more highlights.
Vienna City Hall, or Rathaus, is another unmissable building in the Austrian capital. It's the sear of the local government, designed by Friedrich Schmidt in the Gothic style and built between 1872 and 1883. With its towering Gothic spires, the rooftop is a symbol of Vienna around the world.
Vienna Rathaus sits in front of Rathausplatz Square. This open space hosts various public events and celebrations throughout the year, including Vienna's famous festive Christmas markets, Christkindlmarkt.
The Belvedere consists of two picture-perfect Baroque palaces set in a Baroque park landscape, located on the edge of Vienna's city centre. Today, it's home to an excellent art museum, the Austrian Gallery Belvedere.
The Belvedere Museum is a world leader, home to a famous art collection with pieces spanning from the Middle Ages to today. Don't miss the world's most extensive collection of paintings by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt.
As well as exploring the one-of-a-kind art museum, you'll be able to wander around the scenic Belvedere Gardens when you visit. Come rain or shine, the Belvedere gardens are one of the most beautiful surroundings in Vienna. Start with the Palace Gardens, which rank among the best globally, and enjoy symmetrical flower beds, perfectly trimmed hedges and vibrant grassy lawns. The Privy Garden is the former private garden of Prince Eugine, a tranquil setting spread across two terraces. The botanical garden, dating back to 1754, showcases thousands of plant and flower species.
What to see in the MuseumsQuartier
Vienna's MuseumsQuartier is a vast area in the city's centre, home to 60 cultural institutions, making it among the most significant districts for art and culture in the world. If you're planning to visit any museums or galleries in Vienna, chances are they're in the MuseumQuartier.
The Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation Vienna) or MUMOK is the most prominent modern and contemporary art museum in Europe. It's home to a vast collection, including works of modernism, pop art, minimalism and concept art.
The Leopold Museum is home to the most extensive collection of works by Austrian Expressionist painter Egon Schiele. Schiele is known for his unique self-portraits and unique landscapes. See 40 paintings and around 180 drawings from Klimt's student when you visit the Leopold. An exhibition of Austrian Modernist art is the cherry on top.
Vienna's Architecture Centre (Architekturzentrum Wien) shares exhibitions centred around specific themes, plus a permanent collection of Austrian architecture. It also hosts special events and workshops year-round, so there are plenty of reasons to pay a visit.
Vienna State Opera
Vienna State Opera is among the world's leading opera houses and a must-visit for music fans in Vienna. It's known for showcasing performances of Wagner, Mozart, and Strauss compositions.
Today, the Opera offers a diverse programme of operas and ballets. When visiting the Vienna State Opera house, admire the building's beautiful architecture. Erected between 1863 and 1869, the Opera was one of the first prestigious buildings on the Ringstrasse boulevard.
The best restaurants in Vienna
Trips to Vienna mean taking in beautiful architecture, history and contemporary culture. Still, no visit would be complete without enjoying some of the city's excellent eateries. Wondering what to eat in Vienna? Some of the capital's best restaurants are a great place to start.
As a European capital city, it should be no surprise that Vienna is home to many unique, world-class restaurants. From traditional Austrian dishes elevated to international favourites headed by some of the world's best chefs, many Viennese restaurants are perfect for celebrating special occasions. Vienna's 12 Michelin star restaurants include:
- Pramerl The Wolf
- Mraz & Sohn
- Walter Bauer
- Konstantin Filippou
- Silvio Nickol Gourmet Restaurant
- Steireck im Stadtpark
The city is also home to many exciting casual restaurants, perfect for a memorable lunch, dinner or drinks during your stay in Vienna.
- Restaurant and Bar Motto
- O Boufes
- Cafe Phil
- Tian Bistro am Spittelberg
- The Palmenhaus
- Cafe Central
- Neni am Naschmarkt