Welcome to Vienna, one of the most elegant capitals in Europe. Cared for and quiet, the city of Waltz has hosted the lives of illustrious people, from Klimt to Freud, from Mozart to Strauss, from Beethoven to Princess Sissi.
If you have organized an exciting escape to the Austrian capital you could not make a better choice: you will be surprised by its beauty! Mark these 5 top things to do in Vienna that will make you fall in love at first sight with this wonderful city.
- Admiring the Schönbrunn Palace and its Gardens
- The free Schönbrunn Palace tour
- The paid visit: Tickets and guided tours to Schönbrunn Palace
- Imperial Tour or Grand Tour?
- The other attractions of Schönbrunn
- Useful information for Schönbrunn Palace
- Reliving the splendour of Princess Sissi in the Hofburg
- Tickets to visit the Hofburg Imperial Palace
- Walking in the Old Town
- The panoramic Hop off Hop on Vienna bus and the Danube Tower
- Admiring the "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt in the Belvedere Museum
- What to see at the Belvedere Palace
- Tickets to the Belvedere Palace: All queuing up for "The Kiss"
- From Vienna to Bratislava: 1 day tour
Admiring the Schönbrunn Palace and its Gardens
Schönbrunn Palace needs no introduction: a blaze to Princess Sissi and the majesty of the Hungarian Empire, you can't leave Vienna without having gone there. Super crowded all year round, the Palace is divided into areas to visit for free and others to pay.
The free Schönbrunn Palace tour
The park outside the building, partly open to the public, houses beautiful gardens and fountains. Considering that the Palace deserves every single euro spent, it must be said that the price of the ticket to visit it is quite high. If you are travelling with your family and you don't want to spend too much, or if you don't have so much time, you can see it from outside only and rather explore the really wonderful Schönbrunn palace gardens.
- In spring and summer the gardens are in full bloom, an exceptional mix of colors and scents; definetely it's the best time to visit them!
The paid visit: Tickets and guided tours to Schönbrunn Palace
The palace with its 40 rooms and its gardens, the zoo in the park, the Gloriette and the Labyrinth are all paid attractions so you need a ticket.
You can choose to buy separate tickets for each attraction or to take combined tickets to access to multiple experiences. In our opinion, the best option is the Classic Pass, a unique ticket that includes the palace tour, the visit to the gardens and access to the panoramic terrace of the Gloriette.
- The Classic Pass lasts about 3-4 hours, ideal if you go to Vienna for a few days. The pass also offers discounts for holders of the Vienna Card, for the disabled, for students and for Under 25.
- If you love the history of Princess Sissi, we recommend the "Sissi Ticket" valid for three imperial attractions including the Hofburg, the historic residence of the Habsburgs.
Imperial Tour or Grand Tour?
If you prefer to focus your visit only on the interior of the Palace, we suggest two types of tours: the fastest and cheapest (Imperial Tour, 22 rooms, 30/40 minutes) and the complete one, obviously more expensive (Grand Tour, 40 rooms, 50/60 minutes). According to many visitors, the shortest tour is already exhaustive but for a few more euros maybe you should buy the Grand Tour ticket.
- The audioguide in English is free and included in the ticket of the Palace tour.
The other attractions of Schönbrunn
We recommend to purchase the full pass but if you are thinking of buying individual tickets here are some mini tips:
- The climb to the loggia Gloriette deserves for the breathtaking view of Vienna. The walk is a bit tiring because there's enough to walk on but it's worth it. Stop for a treat at the bar, but I warn you that the prices are dizzying.
- The zoo in the free entry park is very well maintained. If you are a lover of the genre go there, otherwise focus on other things to do. The same goes for the maze, funny but recommended only if you travel with children.
- A fabulous thing to do is attending an evening concert, with dinner often included in the ticket. Consider that you are in the hometown of Mozart and Strauss.
Useful information for Schönbrunn Palace
Based on the time you can dedicate to the Castle and the budget you can spend, consider what experiences to keep and which ones to exclude from your list of things to do. Regardless of your choice, consider at least half a day for the tour. We also remind you that:
- At the entrance of the Palace you must leave your backpacks in the wardrobe so it is better to have a handbag at hand to put the necessary.
- It is forbidden to take pictures inside the Palace.
- Saying that queues are long is a euphemism. Keep in mind that Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is the most visited tourist attraction in Austria so it is important to book tickets for a specific time well in advance. You'll avoid waiting in line for several hours.
How to get to Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace is easily accessible from both the city centre and the outskirts of Vienna, stop Schönbrunn by any public transport. Metro line U4, Tram numbers 10 and 60, Bus line 10A.
Reliving the splendour of Princess Sissi in the Hofburg
For several centuries the Hofburg was the residence of the Habsburgs and setting foot in the Imperial Palace means to immerse oneself in the splendour and the weirdness of the life in the court. The tour of the Hofburg focuses on the figure of Emperor Franz Joseph and the myth of Princess Sissi and it is divided into 3 areas:
- The Imperial Silver Collection, with a truly impressive collection of porcelain and cutlery;
- The Sissi Museum that tells the life, secrets and personality of the historical princess;
- The Imperial Apartments, very similar to those visited in Schönbrunn Palace.
As with the Schönbrunn Palace, photography is also prohibited in the Hofburg, except for the collections in the Imperial Silver Collection. It is not possible to store luggage, umbrellas or clothing so go there with the minimum necessary.
Tickets to visit the Hofburg Imperial Palace
The ticket to enter the Imperial Palace costs around 15€ with English audioguide included.
By spending a few extra euros you can book a guided tour of the Palace that takes you between the rooms of the imperial residence and the landmarks of Vienna such as the famous Spanish Riding School.
The Hofburg Palace is well maintained and perfectly organised but the beauty of Schönbrunn Palace is unmatched. According to many, the visit of the Silver Collection is a bit heavy but on the other hand the imperial rooms are interesting.
Walking in the Old Town
Strolling through the streets of central Vienna is a pleasure. Despite the tourists crowds and a cosmopolitan character, a sense of cleanliness, elegance and romance reigns in the city.
Absolutely worth half a day, there's plenty of things to do and see in the Old Town of Vienna. Some examples? The famous museums including the Albertina and all the monuments along the Ringstrasse. Historical buildings such as the Opera House or the Rathaus, the Vienna City Hall in neo-Gothic architecture. Churches and religious buildings, including the St. Stephen's Cathedral, the symbol of the city.
The pedestrian area is quiet and monitored, there are many bike paths for cyclists and while walking you may happen to see tourists going around on horse-drawn carriages. Sit down and have an aperitif or ice cream in one of the many historical bistros and cafes along the way. Get lost in the narrow streets of Vienna while you stroll between luxury shops and boutique with exclusive shop windows. In addition to a free walk without timetables, there are also some guided tours of the city in English:
- Tour of the romantic Old Town, a journey through legends, squares and hidden courtyards in the heart of Vienna.
- Private half-day walking tour, a guided walk among the main tourist attractions of the Austrian capital
- Gastronomic tour of 4 hours, if you are a picky eater. An experience through Austrian food culture, with tastings of cheese, sausages, wine and local specialties.
If you are well-versed in German, consider also the following low-cost tours to discover the historic center:
- Tour on foot of the city of Vienna, which in 2 hours and a half takes you to the main attractions of the city center, including the Cathedral and the Sacher Cafe, known for its famous chocolate cake.
- Vienna Classica: 3-hour guided bike tour, a ride through Vienna's most beautiful sites. Starting at the State Opera (Staatsoper), passing through the Hundertwasser House and going along the Danube Canal.
The panoramic Hop off Hop on Vienna bus and the Danube Tower
The tour of the city on board of the Hop off Hop on tourist bus is the most chosen option for visitors who stay a few days in Vienna. This is for 3 reasons:
- You are not subject to any restrictions or timetables and you can get off and on the bus whenever you want. There are 50 stops available and they are close to the most famous attractions.
- The audio guide is available in 16 languages and you can choose from several routes covering different areas of Vienna.
- The tickets are valid also for more than one day and the costs are low. If you have a few hours to visit the city but want to see a bit of everything, the tourist bus is the best choice to see as much as possible in the shortest time.
Our favourite itinerary with top things to do? We recommend the Blue Route, for a more sparkling and alternative Vienna. The myth of Sissi and the Castle of the Habsburgs are wonderful experiences, but you may want to consider some other exciting experiences: a ride on the giant Ferris wheel of the Prater, a photo under the Hundertwasserhaus or a view from the Danube Tower!
The view from the Tower is impressive and the ticket costs less than 15€.
You can go there even if there is bad weather or strong wind, in addition to the outdoor terrace there is a glass section inside the building.
Stop by the café or restaurant inside the tower and order a slice of Sacher, great!
Admiring the "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt in the Belvedere Museum
Who doesn't know "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt? Well, the famous work is located in the halls of the Belvedere Castle in Vienna and it is obviously the main attraction of the site. The Belvedere consists of two buildings called "upper" and "lower" and linked by a beautiful park with French-style gardens.
What to see at the Belvedere Palace
The upper building houses the museum's flagship paintings, namely "The Kiss" and "The Judith" by Klimt, and "Napoleon at the Saint Bernard Pass" by David, paintings by Monet and Van Gogh and works by other Austrian painters including Schiele and Oskar Kokosch. The lower structure is poorer, has temporary exhibitions and tourists generally advice against it who prefer to concentrate their visit in the upper Belvedere.
- Unlike the other attractions of Vienna, in the Belvedere Castle you are allowed to take pictures.
- Audioguide to be paid separately, 4€ but fundamental to understand the history of the works.
Tickets to the Belvedere Palace: All queuing up for "The Kiss"
"The Kiss" by Klimt is the museum's top attraction and the reason why thousands of tourists visit the Belvedere.
Usually the line is not long and runs fast enough: at worst, you have to wait for 20/30 minutes.
You can buy a single ticket at a reduced price that includes the entrance to both buildings; if you are in a hurry and you have little time, just take the ticket for the Upper Belvedere, richer in works than the other building.
- Consider a maximum of 3 hours for getting around the museum also taking into account the possible queue to enter the room of "The Kiss" and the time lost because of groups who want to take a selfie in front of the most famous paintings.
- Thanks to the Vienna Pass, admission to the Belvedere is free.
How to get to the Belvedere Palace
The Palace is a little off the beaten track and we recommend you to go there by public transport. You can use the tram, D line, Schloss Belvedere stop, or 18/0 line, Südbahnhof stop. Alternatively you can get there by bus, 13A, 69A lines, getting off at the Südbahnhof stop or by metro with the U1 line, Südtirolerplatz stop.
From Vienna to Bratislava: 1 day tour
One last tip if you stay in Vienna for several days. Given the proximity you could think of Bratislava for a concentrated 24-hour out-of-town trip.
The capital of Slovakia is not big and the main areas can be easily visited on foot in a day. The capital of Austria is about one hour far by train but there are many ways to get around; take a look at these day tour of the main attractions.