Romanticism, imperialism, epicureanism: Vienna’s artistic and intellectual legacy has been shaped over time by famous residents such as Mozart, Beethoven, Gustav Klimt and Sigmund Freud. A perfect mix of the historic and the contemporary, 21st century Vienna is a smart cosmopolitan capital with perfect infrastructure and forward-looking mobility.
There are many reasons to visit the Austrian capital. Located between the northern foothills of the Alps in the east of the country on the banks of the Danube and Wien Rivers, life in Vienna plays out amongst diverse architectural styles from imperialist to Baroque to Jugendstil (art nouveau). The imperial grandeur of Vienna is the architectural bequest of the powerful Habsburg monarchy, which made the city its home for more than six centuries.
A metropolitan capital with a grand cultural heritage, the Viennese cityscape is punctuated by immense palaces such as the Hofsburg complex. Currently the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria, the palace incorporates the Burgkapelle (castle chapel), where the Vienna Boys’ Choir sings Sunday Mass, and the Spanish Riding School, where the famed Lipizzaner stallions perform classical dressage in the Winter Riding School. Revered for inspiring the creation of musical masterpieces and known for its high quality of life, Vienna was voted most livable city by “The Economist” in 2018.
Visit the “City of Musik” and book your flight to Vienna now.
How do you get to Vienna from the airport?
Vienna Airport (VIE) is located approximately 20.3 km (12.6 miles) from the city center. The City Airport Train is located under the airport terminal. The non-stop journey time is only 16 minutes, arriving at Wien Mitte train station, and is the easiest way to reach central Vienna. City Airport Train services depart approximately every 30 minutes and run from 6:09 AM until the last train at 11:39 PM. The Air-Liner bus service runs from outside the arrivals hall seven days a week from 6:30 AM to 11:45 PM. There are also always plenty of taxis at your service outside the terminal.
What about getting around the city?
Vienna has an extensive unified public transportation network that is one of the most efficient is Europe. Flat-fare tickets are valid for the five subway (U-Bahn) trains, 28 trams lines and 128 bus routes. Each stamped single ticket is valid up to the destination, including multiple transfers. Services are frequent and you’ll rarely wait longer than 10 minutes. The S-Bahn is the overland regional rail network.
What else is good to know about Vienna?
You may want to consider getting a Vienna City Card – a low-cost option available in durations of 24, 48 or 72 hours. Packed with more than 210 benefits including museums, galleries and hop-on hop-off bus tours, the Vienna City Card enables you to experience the best of Vienna with free travel on public transport and more. It is available from hotels, tourist information offices, the airport, online or in an app for your convenience. Note that the Vienna City Card does not include airport transfers.
Fall in love with Vienna’s attractions
Take a stroll along the banks of the Danube and soak up the culturally refined atmosphere, while marveling at the jaw-dropping architectural impressiveness that is around every corner. Central Vienna is quite compact, making it highly amenable to walking, and here is where you’ll find most of the major attractions.
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral
- Haus der Musik
Southwest of the Ring Road and behind the Hofburg, the heart of Viennese cultural life is centered in the innovative MuseumsQuartier. A diverse collection of museums and galleries housed in the former imperial stables, the complex includes 19th and 20th century Austrian art at the Leopold Museum, through to deliberately shocking avant-garde art at the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art), home to a 10,000-piece collection. The MUMOK is known for its large collection relating to Viennese Actionism and also includes major works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. The MuseumsQuartier is enhanced by several striking contemporary additions and the complex houses more than 700 artists, who live and work in the studio spaces as part of a residency program. There are plenty of cafes with outdoor seating and a varied and interesting calendar of events during the year.
Embark on a walking tour of central Vienna, starting at the pedestrianized square smack-bang in Vienna’s geographical center Stephansplatz, which is the location of the 136-meter (446-foot) Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its two Romanesque towers. One of the most recognizable silhouettes in the Viennese cityscape, St. Stephen’s Cathedral stands on the ruins of two former churches, under which lie the catacombs that are the final resting place of the remains of the eminent Habsburgs, housed in bronze caskets. The colorful tiled roof consists of 230,000 tiles, of which those on the south side of the building above the choir form a mosaic of the double-headed eagle symbolic of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. Take on the 343 steps to the top of the south spire and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular Instagram-worthy vistas across Vienna.
From Stephansplatz follow pedestrianized Kärtnerstrasse south to Seilerstätte 30, location of the 5,020 m2 (54,000 ft2) Haus der Musik, which opened in 2000. A tribute to the pedigree of the musical genius of Austria, it is the country’s first museum of sound and music and features a wide range of state-of-the-art and high-tech interactive and multimedia presentations on the world of music.
Attractions in Viennas Ringstrasse
The elegant “Lord of the Rings Roads”, Ringstrasse encircling the Innere Stadt (inner city) is located at the site where medieval fortifications once stood and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Home to government and public buildings including the impressive 18th century Burgtheater, where the Austrian National Theater is resident, and the venue at which the Vienna State Opera hosts the annual Vienna Opera Ball. Ringstrasse is also where you’ll find the 19th century neo-Gothic Rathaus (Town Hall) and Austria’s largest art museum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) – one of the most dazzling Habsburg palaces packed with an impressive collection of works by Old Masters and one of the world’s richest coin collections.
Vienna – Capital of music
Vienna aka the “City of Music” also has an enviable musical pedigree that includes the composers Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms and father and son, Schubert and Strauss. Vienna is also home to musical venues such as the Wiener Musikverein (Viennese Music Association), home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House), resplendent in its gold and crystal, and the multi-stage art nouveau Konzerthaus, home to the Vienna Symphony and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
Discover more of the City of Musik and Vienna's attractions in our guide.
Dining in Vienna
Appreciation of the finer things is central to life in Vienna, with an underlying dynamic of refinement, sophistication and cultivated class that extends into its culinary heritage. Dining in Vienna gives you a taste of the grand history of the city. The spectacular, mouth-watering delights in Vienna’s famed coffee houses will have you salivating like one of Pavolv’s dogs. There’s something on the Viennese menu to satisfy everyone.
Visit a traditional Beisln (bistro pub) for a hearty serving of Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef with radish) or goulash. If you prefer something a little more refined, sample Austria’s finest wines in a candlelit vaulted cellar wine bar or a rustic, vine-covered wine tavern in one of the vineyards on the city fringe.
In Vienna the humble Wurst (sausage) is something of a national treasure. Available in many different varieties at street-side sausage stands dotted throughout the city, they are served in a roll like a hot-dog or sliced and accompanied by cut bread and sweet or hot mustard. Also available fried, spicy or infused with cheese.
For an authentic Viennese experience, pop across the Wien River to the city’s most popular market Naschmarkt at the Wienzeile. Extending over 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles), Naschmarkt has existed since the 16th century. Today you’ll find a heady mix of international and local cuisine including Viennese rolls (kaiser rolls), Kaiserschmarrn (shredded crepes) and Palatschinken (rolled crepes). There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes if you prefer to let someone else do the prep work. The Naschmarkt atmosphere is famous far beyond the borders of Vienna and has become a legend in its own right, attracting large numbers of tourists every year.
Find out more tips about eat and drink in Vienna.
Shopping in Vienna
If Euro-style retail therapy is what you seek, Vienna will not disappoint. Marching to its own tune, Vienna is a shopping destination with it all. Known to the locals as the “Golden U”, the high-end, prestigious shopping zone in downtown Vienna runs from Hofburg Palace and Kohlmarkt to Kärtnerstrasse. The upmarket Kohlmarkt is home to the exclusive Viennese jewelers Wagner, Buchere and Schullin. The Kohlmarket extension between Tuchlauben, Bognergasse and Am Hof aka “Goldenes Quartier” is home to international luxury flagship brands including Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Miu Miu and Prada.