Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a city that effortlessly blends its rich history with a vibrant contemporary scene. Known for its opulent palaces, grand architecture, and thriving arts and music culture, Vienna offers an array of remarkable experiences for travellers. From immersing oneself in the city's musical heritage to indulging in Viennese cuisine, here are Vienna's top five must-have experiences.
Get arty at the MuseumsQuartier
Vienna's MQ is an excellent place for modern and contemporary art. The Leopold Museum is the ideal spot for those interested in the modernist Vienna of the early 20th century. It houses fleshy Schiele paintings, Klimt's artworks, and bold-lined Wiener Werkstätte designs. The MUMOK is a contemporary gallery that features works from Pop Art to radical 60s movements such as Vienna Actionism and Fluxus. It showcases works by renowned artists like Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Duchamp, and Rauschenberg. ZOOM is an experimental playground for children up to 14 years of age. It offers animation, painting, and glue, an ocean-themed room, a water grotto, a mirror tunnel, and a ship's deck. Don't forget to take the lift to the top of the Leopold Museum for a rooftop drink. Read more about it here.
Address Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien, Austria
Cool off in the Danube
During the scorching summer of 2022, one of the best ways to stay cool in Vienna was by taking a dip in some cold water. For private swimming options, the Schönbrunner Bad, located in the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace grounds or KrapfenwaldBad, which offers fantastic city views are great choices. Gänsehäufel is a popular lido located on Alte Donau (Old Danube), where you can enjoy wave machines, children's playgrounds, and ample access to the river. Alternatively, you can head to the Alte Donau, now a lake accessible via the U1 metro, and rent a pedalo, SUP, or boat from Marina Hofbauer or Eppel. For a tropical experience, consider renting one of the "island" pedalos, complete with ladders and tropical foliage.
Go for a ride in the Wurstel Prater
The Prater amusement park is surrounded by greenery and was once a hunting ground for the Habsburgs. Its famous Riesenrad Ferris Wheel, built in 1897, stands 65 metres high and is featured in The Third Man. Along with vintage rides like the pony carousel, the Mecky Express, and one of the world's oldest ghost trains, the park also has modern rides that spin and drop you from dizzy heights. Entrance is free, but cash is needed to purchase tokens for rides and games. For a quieter and more suitable experience for young children, Böhmischer Prater is recommended. Read about it here.
Address Wurstel Prater, 1020 Vienna, Austria
Sip Wine In A Viennese Vineyard
Viennese heurigen, or wine taverns, offer a glimpse into the past with their traditional wood-lined interiors, vine-covered courtyards, and live music. They champion biodynamic vine-to-glass drinking, with Vienna being the only capital city in the world with vineyards within the city limits. Gigerl, located in central Vienna, offers a great introduction to Viennese wine and cuisine. For the full experience, venture out to Grinzing and visit village vineyards such as Mayer am Nussberg. Enjoy long, slow wine-tasting with scenic city views while indulging in local sausage, pickles, sauerkraut, and cheeses.
Become A Film Auteur Watching 'The Third Man'
Vienna is a classic city with few globally known films set on its streets. However, two that stand out are Before Sunrise, a slow-burn girl-meets-boy romance set across a single day, and The Third Man, a 1949 film-noir constantly referring to Vienna. While some locations from Before Sunrise have changed, it is easy enough to take a self-guided walking tour through most of them. If you have yet to see The Third Man, it's worth watching and recognizing the zither theme by Anton Karas and Orson Welles' famous Cuckoo Clock speech in the Prater Park Ferris Wheel. You can catch it at the charming Burg Kino cinema. Seeing a movie abroad is a treat in itself, and Vienna is perfect for that.
Address Burg Kino, Opernring 19,1010 Vienna, Austria
Tour The City By Tram
Many cities have public transportation routes that double as informal sightseeing tours. Like London's 73 bus route that passes through Hyde Park and other central hotspots, Vienna's red-and-white Tram D travels through the 10th to 19th districts, passing the Belvedere palace, the State Opera, Burgtheater, and Parliament. The route ends at Karl Marx Hof, a massive social housing project built in the 1930s. The trip is quite affordable at just two euros and thirty cents, although it's advisable to purchase a Vienna City Card if you plan to explore the city extensively. The card is available for 24, 48, or 72 hours. Read more about it here.
Meet the Habsburgs In An Underground Crypt
Vienna has an underground world that includes tours of the sewers from The Third Man and the catacombs beneath St Stephen's Cathedral, dating back to the 14th century. The Capuchin Crypt, located near Neuer Markt in the city centre, is the most impressive showcase, housing the remains of 149 members of the Habsburg dynasty in elaborate sarcophagi spanning four centuries. The tomb of Marie Theresa and Franz Stephan, with scenes from their lives and a grinning death's head wearing a crown, is particularly noteworthy. This is an eerie yet fascinating memento mori history lesson that provides insight into Austria's imperial past, perfect for fans of Iron Maiden or Sepulchre album covers. Read more about it here.
Address Capuchin&rsquos Crypt, Tegetthoffstraße 2,1010 Wien, Austria
See A Concert In Konzerthaus
Vienna's muscial history boasts of world-renowned composers such as Mozart and Beethoven. The streets are filled with incredibly skilled buskers who have received classical training, lending a beautiful and unique touch to the city's ambiance. While wandering, you may catch a glimpse of a violin or even hear a piece of opera sung by these talented individuals. However, be cautious of touts dressed as Mozart attempting to sell tourist concert tickets. Instead, we recommend purchasing tickets for the Konzerthaus. Although the State Opera and Musikverein are popular choices, the Konzerthaus is a hidden gem. This stunning Art Nouveau building has been offering exceptional performances since 1913, with its debut featuring a specially written piece by Strauss. The program offers a delightful mix of classical, jazz, and contemporary music that will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted. We highly recommend experiencing the magic of the Konzerthaus.
Address Konzerthaus, Lothringerstraße 20, 1030 Wien, Austria
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