Vienna, Austria

So, you have decided to visit Vienna. Excellent choice! The hard part is selecting the amazing places you want to see and then designing a logical walking tour. No problem! Just follow this printable Vienna travel guide for the perfect itinerary. Also use the interactive map and direction features so you never get lost. Enjoy Wien!

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1 Capital City of Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the capital of Austria. With almost three million residents, Wien (in the native German language) is often ranked first among the world’s most livable cities. The core was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. Vienna is also ranked among the top 20 European cities to visit. These distinctions speak volumes. You will thoroughly enjoy your vacation here. This travel guide describes the highlights of Innere Stadt (Inner City), the equivalent to old town. Seen here is Stadtpark. The 16 acre park is filled with statues of famous Austrian composers, writers and artists. Especially attractive is the long Art Nouveau promenade along the Wienfluss (Vienna River).

Stadtpark 3210, 1030 Wien, Austria

2 Stephansplatz in Vienna, Austria

Stephansplatz is the epicenter of historic Vienna, making it an excellent place to start your walking tour of the city (or a day of shopping). The square hosts an eclectic blend of architecture spanning over 800 years. The most prominent is the Gothic design of the 12th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral (off camera). On the left is Palais Equitable, built in 1891 for an insurance company. At street level of the building is Stock im Eisen. This oddity is a seven foot tree trunk with hundreds of nails pounded into it for good luck. The tree dates back to 1400. Contrast these to the Haas House, a glass Postmodern design constructed in 1990.

Stephansplatz 12, 1010 Wien, Austria

3 History of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria

The history of St. Stephen’s Cathedral reflects the history of Wien. The site was a burial ground for Romans two millenniums ago. Construction of the first St. Stephan’s Church began in 1137. The second occurred in the early 13th century. Sections of that Romanesque structure are still standing, most notably the front door (called Riesentor meaning Giant’s Door). An enormous fire occurred in 1258. This citywide tragedy prompted considerable restoration of the Catholic church. The most significant expansion transpired over two hundred years, from 1304 to 1511. An example of the project’s complexity was the North Tower. It took 65 years to build (1368 – 1433). Stephansdom suffered other adversities that also befell Vienna. These included the bubonic plague in 1679, the Siege of Vienna by Napoleon in 1809 and war damage in 1945. Every crisis was met with renewal of the beloved St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna. Finally, world-famous composers attended Stephansdom including Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria

4 Façade of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria

St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a joy to behold. The magnificent South Tower initially grabs your attention. The 447 feet of Stephansturm (locals call it Steffl) qualifies as the ninth tallest cathedral in Europe. The North tower is half the size at 223 feet but contains Europe’s second largest bell. The Pummerin (St. Mary) weighs 44,380 pounds. That is 22 tons! The clapper is an additional 1,800 pounds. The twin Roman Towers (left) flanking the Giant’s Door are each 213 feet tall. Before rushing inside, spend time appreciating the ornate subtleties. These include the lancet windows with ornamental tracery. The delicate soaring pinnacles. Sculptures of saints staring back at you from niches. The 364 foot roof contains 230,00 colored glazed tiles. The majority form zigzag and diamond patterns. But on the north roof is a huge double-eagle mosaic (representing the Habsburgs) and the city’s coat of arms.

Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria

5 Inside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria

If your eyes got tired admiring the exterior of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, they will be overwhelmed by the interior. This is a masterpiece of Middle Age craftsmen and artisans. The sweeping arches form dramatic rib vaults accented with candle chandeliers. The floor is a marble checkerboard. Full-size statues and religious paintings are everywhere. There are 18 altars counting the High Altar (center) which dates from 1647. On the left is the stone pulpit carved by Nikolaus Gerhaert, a master Dutch sculptor from the 15th century. The tourists are staring at reliefs of the Four Doctors of the Church. Encircling the nave are six side chapels. The tombs and catacombs contain emperors and empresses, dukes and duchesses, other members of the Habsburg dynasty, bishops, saints and ancient Romans. There are approximately 11,000 people buried in the catacombs. Admission to St. Stephen’s Cathedral is free but guided tours are highly recommended. They include a visit to the North and South Towers.

Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria

6 Description of Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria

The House of Habsburg started in the 11th century. The powerful family lineage evolved into rulers of Austria and several other European countries, including the Holy Roman Empire, until 1918. In 1279, Austrian monarchs began ruling from Vienna. During the next 600 years, their small castle grew into a palatial estate. Hofburg Palace has over 2.5 million square feet of space in 2,600 rooms within 18 wings! Today, Hofburg Wien is a disjointed network of museums. Since WWII, Hofburg has also been the office and official residence of Austria’s president. Frankly, Hofburg Palace can be difficult to navigate. This guide will walk you around several of the major structures. Your first stop is St. Michael’s Wing. Emperor Charles VI commissioned this project in 1730. The Baroque design of architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach was not finished until 1893. St. Michael’s Wing served as a ball room and then a theatre. Below this magnificent 164 foot dome are three museums. One displays the Imperial Silver Collection. The Sisi Museum showcases the personal effects of Elisabeth of Austria, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Austria’s longest reining empress (1854 – 1898). You can also visit the former royal couple’s 24 room Imperial Apartments.

Michaelerplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

7 Power at Sea in Michaelerplatz at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

Flanking the edges of St. Michael’s Wing are two extraordinary fountains. This is Power at Sea (Macht zur See). The marble figures encircling a ship are an allegory for the Austro-Hungarian Empire marines. The ensemble was created by Rudolf Weyr in 1897. The complimentary fountain is called Power of Land. The St. Michael’s Wing of Hofburg Palace faces Michaelerplatz. Across the way is Michaelerkirche. St Michael’s Church originated in the 13th century. In the center of the square are ruins of a 2nd century Roman settlement.

Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Wien, Austria

8 Joseph’s Square at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

A half block west of Michaelerplatz is Joseph’s Square (Josefsplatz). Here you will encounter the equestrian statue by Franz Anton von Zauner of Joseph II. His mother, Maria Theresa, had a 40 year reign as queen. Her death in 1780 ended the Austrian Habsburgs line. This made Joseph II the first ruler of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. He was also Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria from 1765 until 1790. Also in Joseph’s Square is Augustinian Church. Augustinerkirche became the church of the imperial court in 1339.

Josefsplatz 2, 1010 Wien, Austria

9 Austrian National Library at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

The highlight of Joseph’s Square is Prunksaal. The State Hall was added to Hofburg Palace in 1723. Inside of this Baroque wing is the Austrian National Library, originally called the Imperial Court Library. Many of the books and manuscripts date back to the Middle Ages. A few are from the 4th century. The library also registers all works of contemporary Austrian authors. Even if you have no interest in libraries, step inside. You will be awed by the frescos and 65 foot dome.

Josefsplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

10 Danubius Fountain at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

When the old city walls were torn down in 1860, the Augustinian Bastion also fell. This left a gaping hole in Archduke Albrecht’s palace, an 18th century section of Hofburg Palace. So, an access ramp was created. In the center of the elaborate base below Albertina Terrace is this fountain. The bearded male is the river god Danubius. He personifies the Danube River. His arm is around Vindobona. This was the name of a Roman settlement over 2,000 years ago that evolved into Vienna. So, she represents the city. At their feet is an attending cherub. Supporting the pedestal are three mythological mermen (half-men, half-fish). The statuary was carved from Carrara marble by Johann Meixner in 1869. Equally interesting are the eight female figures inside niches flanking the Danubius Fountain (also called Albrecht Fountain). They are allegories for major tributaries of the Danube. If you have time, take the ramp up to the Albertina. The art museum houses an impressive collection of over one million old master prints.

Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

11 Tourist Information Centre in Vienna, Austria

Before leaving Albertinaplatz, look up and spot the copper cupola with two bronze sculptures holding a globe advertising for Generali insurance. On the first floor of this building is the Tourist Info Centre of Wien. Their trained and multilingual staff can answer questions, book accommodations, provide maps, sell tickets, arrange sightseeing and help you optimize your time in Vienna. You can also access their free WiFi. Now, let’s take a quick detour from Hofburg Palace to visit the opera house. The famous Wiener Staatsoper is only a few steps away.

Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

12 Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria

Emperor Franz Josef and his wife, Empress Elisabeth, attended the premier performance at the Vienna Court Opera (Wiener Hofoper) in 1869. This is the oldest opera house in Germanic countries. After the property was devasted by Allied bombing in 1945, a decade was required to restore the opera house. Today, Wiener Staatsoper is home to the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna State Ballet. Collectively, they stage over 350 performances a year. The Renaissance Revival façade features bas-relief medallions including cupids. The five bronze statues by Ernst Julius Hähnel represent love, comedy, fantasy, tragedy, and heroism. Behind them on the loggia ceiling are frescos by Moritz von Schwind. They portray scenes from the Magic Flute. This Mozart opera has been performed here over 1,000 times. On the rooftop are two winged horses. The 1,700 seat interior is more opulent. If this all sounds expensive to attend, you are right. Most performances are also sold out. But try purchasing standing tickets before each show for only a few eros.

Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria

13 Fountains outside Vienna State Opera in Vienna, Austria

On the sides of the Vienna State Opera are fountains (Opernbrunnen) created by sculptor Josef Gasser. On the west is this female figure holding a lyre. She is an allegory for music and dance. Along the opposite façade is a portrayal of Lorelei. According to legend, she is a siren responsible for sinking ships along the narrowest section of the Rhine.

Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria

14 Palm House in Burggarten at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

Now, meander back to Albertinaplatz where you admired the Danubius Fountain. Look for an archway gate into Burggarten at the corner of Goethegasse and Hanuschgasse. This Art Nouveau greenhouse is Palmenhaus. Inside the Palm House is a quaint restaurant. The unique feature is hundreds of butterflies fluttering among exotic plants and trees in the Imperial Butterfly House. You will enjoy the Palm House experience as much as Emperor Franz Joseph I did when it opened in 1906. An even grander experience is awaiting you at the Palm House at Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Goethegasse 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

15 Putti Sculpture in Burggarten at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

The Palm House defines the northwestern edge of Burggarten. Originally called Kaisergarten (Emperor’s Garden), the 9.5 acres were designed by royal gardener Franz Antoine the Elder in 1818. The imperial family enjoyed the botanical solitude for a century before Burggarten opened to the public. The park contains several interesting statues including those of Francis I (Holy Roman Emperor 1745 – 1765), Franz Joseph I (Emperor of Austria 1848 – 1916) and composer Wolfgang Mozart (1756 – 1791). The most interesting artworks are the putti sculptures lining the Neue Burg Wing terrace. Versions of these sweet chubby children plus cherubs can be found playing on building facades and monuments throughout Vienna.

Burggarten 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

16 Neue Burg Wing of Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

In 1869, Emperor Franz Joseph I had a grand goal to significantly expand Hofburg. The Kaiserforum plan envisioned building three massive extensions to the palace that would connect to two new museums. The museums opened in 1891. But the rest of architect Gottfried Semper’s blueprint was scaled back while suffering considerable delays. By 1913, the only completed wing was Neue Burg. Today, Neue Burg houses the National Library plus the Weltmuseum (ethnographic displays from around the world), Papyrus Museum (ancient documents spanning 3,000 years) and the Ephesus Museum. The latter contains artifacts from the ancient Greco-Roman city in present-day Turkey. You will also find a collection of historical armor and arms plus musical instruments. Finally, the Hofburg Vienna Conference Centre is located here.

Neue Burg, Heldenplatz, 1010 Wien, Austria

17 Neue Burg Statues at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

There are twenty statues on the façade of Neue Burg. They portray the evolution of Vienna from a Germanic tribesman in the 2nd century until a prosperous citizen in the late 19th century. Near the rooftop are four likenesses of Nike (Roman goddess of victory) holding laurel wreaths and Roman helmets. In the center is a gilded, double-head eagle below a crown. This is the coat of arms of the Austria-Hungary Monarchy. In the center is an equestrian monument to Prince Eugene of Savoy. His successful military career from 1683 – 1735 made him one of the most celebrated field marshals in the Austrian Habsburg dynasty. Even Napoleon named Eugene as one of history’s best commanders. This bronze tribute was created by Anton Dominick Ritter in 1865. You will also enjoy seeing two stone lions guarding the entrance of Neue Burg.

Neue Burg, Heldenplatz, 1010 Wien, Austria

18 Squares in front of Neue Burg at Hofburg in Vienna, Austria

In front of Neue Burg is Heldenplatz. Heroes’ Square was created in the early 19th century, shortly after Napoleon’s siege of the city in 1809. In the center is an equestrian monument to Archduke Charles. Karl von Österreich-Teschen was an Austrian army commander during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The sculpture was created in 1859 by Anton Dominik Fernkorn. This vantage point offers a tremendous view of the Rathaus Vienna (City Hall). Hero’s Square is the frequent scene of festivals and public demonstrations. The most historic occasion occurred here on March 15, 1938 when Adolph Hitler declared Austria was part of Nazi Germany. The event is called Anschluss Österreichs meaning the Annexation of Austria. Next to Heldenplatz is Volksgarten. The People’s Garden was the city’s first public park when it opened in 1823. The relaxing greenspace is filled with statues, fountains, pavilions and flower beds including over 3,000 rose bushes.

Neue Burg, Heldenplatz, 1010 Wien, Austria

19 Art History Museum at Maria Theresa Square in Vienna, Austria

Adjoining Heldenplatz is another impressive square you will definitely want to explore: Maria-Theresien-Platz. You can’t miss it. In the background is the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Emperor Franz Joseph I commissioned the Museum of Art History in 1857 to display some of the Hapsburg’s art. Architect Gottfried Semper finished the palatial Renaissance Revival showcase in 1891. Of course, the collection includes Austrian and European paintings. Unexpected are royal jewels, coins and armor plus artifacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman cultures plus Ephesus, the former grand capital of Asia Minor about 2,000 years ago. Now notice the baby elephant in the foreground. Of all the magnificent sculptures around Vienna, tourists seem most delighted by this playful bronze by Gottfried Kumpf. Many more of the Austrian artist’s animals can be found at Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Vienna Zoo) at the Schönbrunn Palace.

Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, Austria

20 Triton and Naiad Fountain in Maria Theresa Square in Vienna, Austria

This is one of four marble Triton and Naiad Fountains in Maria Theresa Square. Triton was a merman, the Greek god of the sea and son of Poseidon. Notice the conch shell. Triton blew it like a trumpet to control the seas. A naiad is a mythological nymph of fresh water. This fountain in front of the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches) was sculpted by Edmund Hofmann von Aspernburg in 1890. The other three fountains were created by Anton Schmidgruber and Hugo Haerdtl.

Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, Austria

21 Monument at Maria Theresa Square in Vienna, Austria

The centerpiece of Maria-Theresien-Platz is a monument to the namesake of the square: Empress Maria Theresa. She was the only woman from the Habsburg dynasty to rule Austria (reign 1740 to 1780) plus several other countries. She was also the Holy Roman Empress from 1745 to 1765. This 66 foot tribute was sculpted by Caspar von Zumbusch and unveiled in 1888. The four horsemen were her military commanders. Look closely at the bas-relief in the center. The child is Wolfgang Mozart. He performed a concert for the royal family in 1762 at the age of six. Standing behind him is Joseph Haydn, another favorite composer of the empress.

Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, Austria

22 Natural History Museum at Maria Theresa Square in Vienna, Austria

Directly across from the Museum of Art History is the Museum of Natural History. The buildings are almost identical. Both have a 200 foot high dome yet slightly different sculptures, friezes and bas reliefs. Children definitely favor the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien. The collection consists of over 20 million items. The 39 exhibition rooms show the evolution of the earth, animals, insects and humans. Displays range from tiny organisms to fossils and gems to giant dinosaur skeletons. You can also explore the universe in the Digital Planetarium plus marvel at a range of meteorites.

Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Wien, Austria

23 Volkstheater in Vienna, Austria

Members of the Habsburg dynasty owned a theatre attached to Hofburg Palace starting in 1741. The venue precluded the middle and lower-upper classes who also wanted to enjoy the performing arts. So, in 1889, plans were made to construct Volkstheater (People’s Theatre). Each year, playbills include classical and modern works, usually by Austrian and German playwrights. In addition to the 900 capacity main stage, alternative music is offered at the smaller Dunkelkammer stage and the café format Rote Bar.

Neustiftgasse 1, 1070 Wien, Austria

24 Palace of Justice in Vienna, Austria

The Palace of Justice has been home to the Supreme Court of Austria since 1881. It also provides courtrooms for regional and city courts. Justizpalast was gutted by a fire set during the July Revolt of 1927. When the riot was finally suppressed by armed police, 89 protestors were dead and another 600 were injured. Four years of restoration were required to repair the damage to the Neo-Renaissance building.

Schmerlingpl. 10, 1010 Wien, Austria

25 Caryatids at Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna, Austria

There is something innately appealing about caryatids. If you feel the same way, you are in for a treat. There are eight of these columns resembling robed women supporting a portico on the south side of the Austrian Parliament Building. They bear a striking resemblance to the Porch of Maidens of Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens. There are additional caryatids and atlantes (male columns) inside the former House of Representatives chamber. The rest of the façade along Schmerlingplaz is rather bland. Now turn the corner.

Dr. Karl Renner-Ring 3, 1017 Wien, Austria

26 Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna, Austria

The Austrian Parliament Building reflects the Golden Age of Greece from around 500 to 300 BC. The templelike design of architect Theophil Hansen is exceptional. Massive Corinthian columns frame the entrance. The pediment showcases allegorical carvings resembling an ancient royal court attended by cherubs. Along the roofline are 76 marble statues. In the corners are griffons (half-lion, half eagles) and quadrigas (horse-driven chariots) with Nike, the goddess of victory. The dominant figure is the 18 foot statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. Her most characteristic features – helmet, spear, Gorgoneion chest plate and miniature of Nike standing on an orb – are all gilded.

Dr. Karl Renner-Ring 3, 1017 Wien, Austria

27 Athena Fountain at Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna, Austria

The base of the Athena Fountain at the Austrian Parliament deserves a closer look. The man and woman in the foreground are respectively allegories for the Danube and Inn Rivers. Behind them are two female sculptures representing legislation (right) and executive powers (left). They were all carved from Lasa marble. The Pallas Athene Fountain was designed by Parliament architect Theophil Hansen. The sculptors were Carl Kundmann, Hugo Haerdtl and Josef Tautenhayn. The project was finished in 1902.

Dr. Karl Renner-Ring 3, 1017 Wien, Austria

28 Burgtheater in Vienna, Austria

Maria Theresa, the Archduchess of Austria from 1740 until 1780, sponsored the construction of Burgtheater. The national theater of Austria opened in 1741 adjoining Hofburg Palace. Hofburgtheater (the name at the time) became a passion for her son, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. The performing arts venue hosted numerous premieres by famous Vienna composers, including those of Mozart and Beethoven. In 1888, Die Burg reopened at the current location. After suffering extensive damage during WWII, Burgtheater was rebuilt in 1955. Since then, the stage has displayed the artistic talent of acclaimed actors, designers and directors.

Universitätsring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria

29 City Hall in Vienna, Austria

If you want your new city hall to resemble a Gothic cathedral, then you hire an architect who specializes in Gothic cathedrals. That is exactly what the city council did when they commissioned Friedrich von Schmidt, the same man who restored nearby St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Since 1883, Wiener Rathaus has officed the mayor, council and other municipal functions. At the top of the clock tower is a 17.7 foot statue of Rathausmann (Town Hall Man). If you are squinting to see the sculpture, you will find a full-size replica in Rathauspark. Consider having a regional meal or at least a beer in Wiener Rathauskeller. Rathskellers in the basement of town halls has been a German tradition for centuries. The word means council’s cellar.

Rathauspl. 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

30 City Hall from Rathauspark in Vienna, Austria

The best view of Vienna City Hall is from Rathauspark. This tranquil setting lets you admire the 328 foot central clock tower plus the four smaller towers encircling it. This city park was designed by Rodulph Siebeck and constructed in 1873, a decade before Rathaus Vienna was finished. The ten acre greenspace is a picturesque setting to rest on a bench, enjoy the shade beneath diverse mature trees and watch the mesmerizing action of the spraying fountains.

Rathauspl. 1, 1010 Wien, Austria

31 Votive Church in Vienna, Austria

At this site on February 18, 1853, Emperor Franz Joseph I was stabbed in the neck. To give thanks for the failed assassination attempt, donations poured in from around Europe to build a church as a votive offering. The lacelike Gothic design of Votivkirche was created by Heinrich von Ferstel. He was one of the most influential architects in Vienna during the mid-19th century. Votive Church was consecrated in 1879 in time for the silver wedding jubilee of Franz Joseph and his wife Empress Elisabeth. The twin towers of this Roman Catholic church soar an impressive 325 feet.

Rooseveltplatz, 1090 Wien, Austria

32 Collegiate Church in Vienna, Austria

The collegiate barracks dates back to the 17th century when it began as a summer retreat for orphans. The walled-in structure evolved into an academy for teaching young men engineering and military operations. By 1848, the officers’ training school became a military facility for the infantry. During the 20th century, Stiftskaserne was a military hospital in WWI, a Nazi stronghold in WWII and housed U.S. troops after the war. In the southwest corner of this historic site is Stiftskirche. The Collegiate Church was built in 1739. This decorative clock tower was added in 1772. Since 1921, Holy Cross Church has been the garrison church of Vienna.

Mariahilfer Str. 24, 1060 Wien, Austria