When you think of Vienna, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Johann Strauss and the Viennese waltz. After three-four time, the senses are beguiled by the scent in the Viennese coffee houses.
But the Austrian capital not only has a lot to offer its 1.8 million inhabitants and the more than 6 million visitors annually in terms of cuisine. The city on the Danube is also rich in attractions . After all, the eye eats with …
“Vienna, Vienna just you …
… Should be the city of my dreams forever – where the old houses stand… ”, Fritz Wunderlich once sang and set a musical monument for the city. And they are well worth seeing, the buildings of Vienna, which have both Gothic and Baroque elements.
The viewer can feel the flair of the former Danube monarchy when looking at the architecture, which dates from the founding period. But Art Nouveau , which became the symbol of a new era, is also widespread.
And then there are the parks and gardens, the Naschmarkt, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and numerous modern attractions that invite you to sightseeing in Vienna.
A trip with the Fiaker gives you an initial overview of the sights in Vienna. One of the stands of the Viennese coachmen is on Stephansplatz, directly on “Steffl”, as the Viennese affectionately call St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna
He is the symbol of the city. It is often referred to as the national shrine. The beginnings of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, as the official name is, go back to the year 1147, when the church was completed and consecrated. Already at that time the church was oversized as a parish church, which suggests that there was already an ambition at that time to transform the place of worship into a bishop’s church. About 200 years later the church became the seat of the cathedral chapter.
It has been a cathedral since the 15th century and became a bishopric. The church building is 107 meters long and 34 meters wide. The highest of the four towers is the south tower with about 136 meters. In it is the main bell with 13 bells. The arrangement of around 230,000 roof tiles, which create a neat zigzag pattern, is particularly attractive. In addition, on the south side there is the K and K coat of arms, which is provided with the year 1831 and the initials of Emperor Franz I.
On the north side the coats of arms of the city of Vienna and the Republic of Austria with the year 1950 can be seen. In addition to the main portal, the so-called giant gate, there are four other gates that lead into the interior of the church. There are numerous altars, 6 chapels, 2 sacristies, the Turkish monument, 2 organs and the cathedral treasure, which is exhibited in the right Heidenturm.
Residence of kings and emperors: the Hofburg
The Hofburg , which has served the Habsburgs as a residence since the 13th century , is barely a 10-minute walk from the cathedral . Under Ottokar II Premysl it was by no means as representative as it is today, but that changed under Emperor Ferdinand I, who initiated the expansion of the castle in the middle of the 16th century and transformed it into the Hofburg.
Today the building complex has 17 different wings, including the Hofburg chapel , the Amalienburg , the court library and the Redoutensaal wing . Illustrious court balls once took place in the ceremonial hall wing. The largest hall, however, is the ballroom with an area of around 1,000 m².
The areas of today’s official residence of the Austrian Federal President, which are used as museums, are open to the public. In addition to the Sissi Museum and the Imperial Apartments, this also includes the Treasury, the Spanish Riding School, the World Museum and the Austrian Film Museum.
Historical works of art
From the Hofburg you can go through the Volksgarten to Maria-Theresien-Platz, where the Kunsthistorisches Museum is located. The building itself is one of the sights in Vienna that you shouldn’t miss. Only the entrance area with the magnificent staircase and the domed hall, in which there is a café, let the eye pass by. In which place could art history be presented better?
The Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, which opened in 1891, is one of the most important museums in the world. It is admired by over 1 million visitors every year. In addition to the Egyptian-Oriental Collection, the Antique Collection, the Coin Cabinet, the Library and the Vienna Art Chamber, there is also the Picture Gallery, in which you can admire famous works such as the “Tower of Babel”, Titian’s “Nymph and Shepherd” or Albrecht Dürer’s Trinity Altar can. The museum’s collections also include the Imperial Carriage Museum with its over 5,000 carriages, sledges and sedan chairs, which you can visit on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace.
Much more than an amusement park: the Prater
But before you leave the city, it is best to make a detour to the Prater. That is simply part of a real sightseeing in Vienna!
The Vienna Prater, whose name is derived from the Latin “pratum” for “meadow”, extends along the Danube over an area of 6 km².
Emperor Josef II gave the area to the Viennese, which only then became freely accessible to everyone. From then on, the residents of Vienna used the green space for relaxation and fun. Coffee houses and dance halls were established, and fireworks and festivals were held. In 1897 the widely visible Ferris wheel finally opened, which laid the foundation for many other rides.
Today, in addition to the Praterturm, a 117-meter-high chain carousel, there is also a giant swing, the great ghost train, a mirror maze and many other attractions in the so-called “Wurstelprater”, the main season of which is from March to October. Families with children in particular will find plenty of variety here. Depending on the weather, the various attractions are open from 10 a.m. to around midnight.
In addition, the Prater offers all those interested the opportunity to look at stars and starlets: At Madame Tussauds you will encounter wax replicas of Empress Elisabeth of Austria as well as modern greats from art, culture and sport. And the world of astronomy awaits your visit in the Zeiss Planetarium Vienna.
The pleasure palace at the beautiful fountain
Outside the historic old town, in the 13th district of Vienna, is the Schönbrunn Palace with its park and Schönbrunn Zoo. The baroque palace served the imperial family as a summer residence.
It houses a hall of mirrors, a ceremonial hall, the palace theater as well as the red salon, a billiard room, a porcelain room and the Napoleon room. The latter was probably used as a bedroom by Napoleon, who made the castle his headquarters during his occupation.
The palace gardens are also one of the sights in Vienna, as you will find the Neptune Fountain, the dovecote and the palm house as well as various gardens such as the Maze, the Crown Prince Garden and a Japanese garden, which was laid out in 1913.
The oldest zoo in the world
In the palace gardens at Schonbrunn You can pay a visit to the zoo the same name. On an area of 17 hectares, 730 animal species with more than 8000 animals can be admired. – The history of the zoo began with the design of a menagerie. The animal garden was opened in 1752, making it the oldest zoo in the world that exists continuously.
The zoo, which was privately owned by the imperial family until the end of the monarchy, was redesigned to be visitor-friendly in the late 19th century. In the course of this, numerous animal houses were modernized and rebuilt. At the beginning of the 20th century, Schönbrunn was one of the most modern and beautiful zoos in the world.
After the first elephant was recorded in 1770, further wild animals such as polar bears, big cats and kangaroos were added around 1800. The first giraffe , which was a gift from the Viceroy of Egypt, caused a sensation throughout Vienna in 1828.
Today the zoo participates in international breeding programs that make a significant contribution to the conservation of endangered animal species. Pandas, Siberian tigers, anteaters, orangutans and polar bears have now been successfully bred.
Our gastronomic tips
Sightseeing makes you just as hungry in Vienna as anywhere else. That is why we have put together a few gastronomic highlights that you shouldn’t miss:
The typical Austrian pub “Zur Eisernen Zeit” , the veteran at Naschmarkt, is very traditional .
The small café called “15 sweet minutes” reinterprets the traditions and serves sweet and savory sweets away from the mainstream. The “Nautilus” restaurant on the Naschmarkt will spoil you with its fish specialties. And for all those who prefer a relaxed atmosphere, “Garage 01” is recommended, where the weekly changing menu takes the guest on a culinary trip around the world.
Shopping in the old town of Vienna
If you are in the mood for a shopping spree after all the sights in Vienna, we recommend the shops on Kohlmarkt, Kärntner and Mariahilfer Strasse. Jewelers, perfumeries and numerous shops for fashion, jewelry and accessories offer what makes shoppers’ hearts beat faster.
If you are one of those people who likes to stroll through flea markets, Vienna has five flea markets to choose from. One of them is the flea market on Vienna’s Naschmarkt, where around 400 sellers offer their goods every Saturday.
Even if the name “Naschmarkt” suggests that there are sweet delicacies that are so typical of Vienna, this is not the case. The Naschmarkt is the largest food market in Vienna. There are fruit and vegetables from the region as well as international specialties.