Surrounded by a wonderfully landscaped garden, the Schonbrunn Palace is one of the most visited cultural attractions in Vienna. There are 1441 superb rooms, forty of which are open to the public for visits and a beautiful, classically landscaped garden. Many extravagant balls like the one for the delegates at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 were held in the Great Gallery at the Palace, which features gilded scrolls, ceiling frescoes, huge crystal mirrors in gold frames and chandeliers. This impressive summer residence of the imperial family is maybe one of the most beautiful and majestic baroque edifices in Europe. Emperor Franz Joseph, who later married the beautiful Sisi and reigned till 1916, was born here in 1830. Only a couple of years after his death the palace became the property of the new Republic of Austria. Today, because of its historic significance, unique grounds and sumptuous furnishings this great structure is listed as in UNESCO’s cultural heritage. The Mirror Room, with its fine ornamentation, was mainly used for social events and public audiences. It was here that the 6-years old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played his first royal concert in front of Maria Theresa and the royal family in 1762. In the Round Chinese Room, a hidden spiral staircase led to Empress State Chancellor and personal advisor, and here they held secret negotiations. A totally loaded table could be drawn from the floor and the dignitaries could dine without being bothered by the servants. The Great Gallery is maybe the most interesting sight in the palace - ceiling frescoes, chandeliers, gilded scrolls, and enormous crystal mirrors create an unforgettable impression. Besides, additional places of interest are the maze and the oldest zoo in the world (separate entrance fees apply).
The opening times of the Schonbrunn palace are: April – June; September-October 8:30am - 5:00pm, July - August 8:30am-6:00pm, November - March 8:30am-4:30pm.
Donaupark & Donauturm
This amazing, nearly hundred hectares park is located between the Danube Canal and the Old Danube. It was created in 1964 with beautiful flowers, shrubs, walks, waters and a bird sanctuary. For sure the most impressive feature of the park is the Donauturm (Danube Tower), which with its two hundred and fifty meters is the tallest building in Vienna. One could even bungee-jump from it at heights. Two exclusive rotating cafe-restaurants allow the visitors to enjoy a magnificent panorama of Vienna, while having a dinner and behold an unforgettable sunset behind the Wienerwald. The tower is open daily in summer from 10am to midnight and in winter from 10am to 10pm.
Hofburg Imperial Palace
More than 7 centuries the empire of the Habsburgs was wield from this Imperial Palace. Today, the relic of the Palace from the Middle Ages is a Gothic Chapel, where Boys’ Choir performs during High Mass on Sunday. The massive Hofburg Palace combines the elegance, charm and tradition of artistic and cultural heritage. The current fusion of styles and colossal dimensions was created by the Habsburgs, who lived here for over six centuries, occasionally adding new sections. Built in the 13th century, the Schweizerhof (Swiss Courtyard) is the oldest part of the palace. It was named after the Swiss guardians who used to protect the Imperial Palace. The Palace that was inhabited by the imperial family until 1918, was originally a castle built in the 13th century. Later it was extended to a sumptuous residence in accordance to the increasing power of the Habsburgs. One can ravish the grand and superb daily life of the nobles when visiting the private apartments and state rooms. The Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments) are 22 rooms, wonderfully decorated with fine furniture, tapestries and spherical crystal chandeliers. The Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury) exhibits such treasures of great value like a 2860-carat Colombian emerald, a 492-carat aquamarine, a 416-carat balas ruby, and religious relics such as fragments of the Cross, a thorn from Christ’s crown and a nail from the Crucifixion. This huge complex contains many museums, including the Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente (Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments), where tourists can see numerous historical instruments of different size and shape; the Museum fur Volkerkunde (Ethnological Museum), where you can learn about many non-European cultures; and the Albertina, a popular and vast graphic arts collection. Today, in Hofburg Imperial Palace is the office of Austria’s President and an important congress center.
St Stephen Cathedral
The cathedral was established in the twelfth century in the town’s center since the Middle Ages. St. Stephen’s Cathedral is one of most outstanding Gothic edifices in Austria and one of the greatest structures in Europe. The building houses a plenty of art treasures (various woodcarvings, sculptures, altars, paintings, etc.), some of which one can only behold during a guided tour. Maybe the grand treasure here is the carved wooden Wiener Neustadt altarpiece, dating from 1447. The more than hundred-meters-long cathedral is incredibly rich in Viennese and Austrian history and the 135 meters tall steeple is one of the most impressive parts. The Cathedral is open daily 6am - 10pm with few exceptions for service. The catacombs may be visited Monday - Saturday 10am - 4:30pm and Sunday 12-4:30pm. Guided tours are available Monday - Saturday 10:30am and 3pm and Sunday at 3pm. The special evening tour is on Saturday from 7pm (from June to September). The North Tower can be visited from October to March daily 8:30am - 5pm; April - September daily 9am - 6pm. And the South Tower daily 9am - 5:30pm.
Austrian Gallery Belvedere
The garden palace Belvedere was designed and built by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt by the errand of Prince Eugene as a summer residence outside the city. The palace, which is one of the most refined Baroque edifices worldwide, consists of two main parts - Upper and Lower Belvedere. Many of the rooms were adapted later for the needs of the Austrian Gallery.
In the Upper Belvedere, the Austrian Gallery exhibits wonderful collection of Austrian and international art from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of the top sights include the largest collection of Klimt paintings and numerous works by Egon Schiele.
There are also famous works of the French impressionists, the greatest paintings from the Viennese Biedermeier era, works by Amerling, Waldmüller and Fendi. Also renowned paintings by Hausner, Lehmden, Hundertwasser, Boeckl, Wotruba, Romako, Makart, etc.
The Lower Belvedere - Museum of Medieval Art and Baroque Museum
houses the world’s greatest collection of works by Messerschmidt, Donner and Maulbertsch. Also the Museum of Medieval Art contains Romanesque and Gothic wood sculptures and altar panels, including works by Frueauf, Pacher, etc.
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum was built in 1891 close to the Imperial Palace to keep the major collections of the royal family. With its great number of notable works and the largest Bruegel collection worldwide, it is regarded as one of the most prominent museums in the world.
Numerous great art works of European history are housed here. Among the housed masterpieces here are the Infanta paintings by Velazquez, Vermeer’s "The Allegory of Painting", Raphael’s "Madonna in the Meadow", and masterworks by Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Durer and Tintoretto. The Collection of Sculpture and Decorative Arts, feature rarities from the art collections of the Habsburgs and in the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection there are many treasures of important ancient cultures.
The architectural mirror of the Museum of Fine Arts is the Museum of Natural History, located on the opposite side.
Regarded as one of the most important museums in the world, Albertina houses an exclusive and famous graphic collection. Founded in 1776 by Duke Herzog Albert and located on the south end of the Imperial Palace, in the museum you can find “The Field Hare” and “Hands folded for Prayer” by Durer and Klimt’s studies of women. The collection consists of more than one million prints and about sixty thousand drawings. There are also renowned works such as Rubens’s studies of children; masterpieces of Kokoschka, Picasso, Schiele, Cézanne, Rauschenberg and Klimt, are shown in rotating exhibitions. There is also an architecture collection and a newly created collection of various photographs.
The Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper)
In the Vienna State Opera one can enjoy operettas about three hundred days in the year.
The State Opera is one of the first operas in the world and provides its visitors with huge variety at the highest level. The programme of the famous opera house changes daily and performs fifty opera and fifteen ballets. Top-level international artists proudly present their art to the Viennese audiences. The repertory of the State Opera presents an impressive variety: Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” and “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”, Gioacchino Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia”, Verdi’s “Aida” and “Falstaff”, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” and “Così fan tutte”, Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” and “La Bohème”, Richard Strauss’s “Daphne”, etc. The edifice itself was founded between 1863 and 1869 as one of the first monuments of the new Ring Boulevard, designed by the architects August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll. Once a year, the stage of the Opera turns into a huge dance floor for the Vienna Opera Ball. In addition to all that, there are guided tours available, during which one can get an impression of the workings of this splendid opera house.
Vienna’s Prater has to offer more than two hundred and fifty attractions of great variety - from the Giant Ferris Wheel to ghost trains, arcades, go-cart rinks and stands for games of skill to excessively modern rides that take your adrenaline and yourself to top heights. In addition, one will find many and various restaurants, snack bars, cafés and beer gardens. For sure the most famous attraction of the huge park is at the end near the entrance from the Ring – there one will find the Riesenrad, the enormous Ferris wheel. Constructed in 1897, the wheel reaches sixty-seven meters at its highest point. Just behind the wheel is the terminus of the Lilliputian railroad. This four kilometers narrow-gauge line operates in summer using steam locomotives. The amusement park, right behind the Riesenrad, offers all kinds of attractions - roller coasters, tunnels of love and game arcades; riding schools, swimming pools and racecourses are located between woodland and meadows; also international soccer matches are held in the Prater.
An interesting fact is that the Prater is the birthplace of the waltz, introduced here in 1820 by Johann Strauss I and Josef Lanner.
Located to the East of Vienna, Lobau is part of the original, un-spoiled landscape of the Danube water meadows national park. Picturesque pools, river’s side arms, wide meadows and dense woodlands, rare flowers, trees, various kinds of fish, insects and birds abound in this national park. In addition one can enjoy free guided tours - on foot or by bicycle. And from May till October the national park boat will ship one directly to the heart of this fascinating countryside from the "Little Danube" (the Danube Canal) at the edge of the old city.
Surrounded by gardens, sunbathing areas, restaurants with waterside terraces providing you with impressive views, promenades and bike routes attracts swimmers, sailors, and windsurfers and ice skaters in winter to this beautiful area of the Old Danube. There are three sailing and windsurfing schools, nine boat hire facilities and four lidos. Also one can enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Gansehaufel, which offers 2 kilometers beach, a wave pool, playgrounds and numerous cafés.
About two and a half million visitors are here during the Danube Island Festival, which is carried out in June each year and is maybe Europe’s largest youth party. The island has to offer about forty-two kilometers of sand, gravel and grassy beaches on the New Danube, bathing bays, many playgrounds, skating routes, boat, cycle and surfboard hire; also various bars, cafés and restaurants on Copa Cagrana.
Spanische Reitschule (Spanish Riding School)
This riding school reminds how important part were once horses of the Vienna daily life for long times, especially during the imperial heyday. The school is situated in a white, crystal-chandeliered ballroom in an beautiful edifice from the eighteenth century. If you are a horse-lover, you should definitely visit the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, where you will experience its popular Lipizzaner ballet in the opulent surroundings of the Imperial Palace. In 1562, Maximilian II first imported the breed from Spain (therefore it is called the Spanish Riding School) and in 1580 a court stud was established at Lipizza (therefore stallions are called ‘Lipizzaner’), now in Slovenia. Although born dark, the mature horses are all snow-white and the riders wear traditional costumes, leather boots and bicorn hats. Tickets to watch their training sessions are sold at gate No 2, Josefsplatz in the Hofburg. The stallions have their own summer holidays during July and August, when they go Lainzer Tiergarten, west of Vienna, and sometimes they are away on tour. One'll marvel at the impressive skill and elegance of the sleek Lipizzaner stallions as their adept professional trainers put them through their paces in a show, which did not change since four centuries. These are the world's first class and most renowned classically styled equine performers. To witness the Lipizzaners prance to the music of Johann Strauss or a Chopin polonaise in their home setting is a pleasure and great fun that we recommend you not to miss!
Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury)
Reached by a staircase from the Swiss Court, the Schatzkammer is the greatest and maybe the most impressive treasury world-wide. It is divided into two main sections: the Imperial Profane and the Sacerdotal Treasuries. The first exhibits the crown jewels and an beautiful selection of imperial riches, while the second contains ecclesiastical treasures.
The most outstanding display in the Imperial Treasury is the imperial crown, which dates back to 962. It is amazingly big and maybe even although padded, it probably slipped down over the ears of many a Habsburg at his coronation. Studded with striking diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies, the one thousand year old symbol of sovereignty is the most priceless treasure here, a fact recognized by A. Hitler, who had it taken to Nürnberg in 1938. Later after the war, the American army returned it to Wien. Also don't miss to have a look at the coronation robes of the imperial family, some of which also date back to the distant twentieth century.
If visiting Schatzkammer you will be able also to view the nineth century sabre of Charlemagne and the eighth century holy lance - a sacred emblem of imperial authority, thought in medieval times to be the weapon that pierced the side of Christ on the cross. Another highlight amid the impressive Schatzkammer prizes is the Burgundian Treasure. Seized in the fifteenth century, it is opulent in vestments, oil paintings, and gems.
This remarkable museum is one of the richest and most famous in Europe, containing extensive collections, assembled by the Habsburgs, who were collectors for centuries. The whole Kunsthistorisches Museum cannot be seen in one day only, so if you want to see all the collections you need to plan more than one visit. The museum offers one of the best collections of Ruben’s works and Pieter Bruegel the Elder paintings. There are also works of Canova, Vermeer, Durer, Rembrandt, Raphael, Van Dyck, Cranach, Caravaggio, Canaletto, Titian and vast collections, ranging from Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiques to splendid Austrian Baroque and Renaissance medieval sculptures and decorative arts, including the popular over-the-top salt cellar of Cellini. A masterpiece on its own, the Kunsthistorisches Museum is housed in an extraordinary building with great renaissance architecture, featuring murals between the arches above the stairs.
One of the most famous sights of Vienna is Stephansdom, a Gothic masterpiece, featuring the impressive 136m (446ft) tall tower Sudturm, nicknamed ‘Steffl’, with a cramped viewing platform, from where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views over Vienna. In 1359, Habsburg Duke Rudolf IV ordered the complete restructuring of the church in Gothic style, laid the foundation stone himself and earned the epithet of ‘The Founder’. The building process of Sudturm took 75 years, while the north tower remains uncompleted till today, topped up with a Renaissance cupola in 1579 and giving the whole cathedral a unique asymmetric appearance. In 1952, the biggest bell of the country- the Pummerin was set up here. Another distinctive feature of the cathedral is the huge roof, covered by colourful tiles, in geometric patterns, showing amazing chevrons on one side and the Austrian eagle on the other (perfectly seen from the northeast of Stephansplatz). During the Second World War, the cathedral suffered severe fire damage, but donations flowed in from all over the country and the cathedral was entirely rebuilt and reopened in only three years.
Other Places of Interest and Attractions
The list of attractions and places of interest in Vienna is really almost endless so it is hard to look at each one in details. However, some other places we recommend you consider a vist include: Volksgarten (People's Park),
Votivkirche, Uhrenmuseum der Stadt Wien (Municipal Clock Museum), Stadtpark, Sigmund Freud Haus, Secession Building, Schubert Museum, Schönbrunner Tiergarten, Ruprechtskirche (St. Rupert's Church), Piaristenkirche (Church of the Piarist Order), Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church), Pasqualati House, Neue Burg, Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum), Mozart Wohnung/Figarohaus (Mozart Memorial), MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation), Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts).
Also Kunsthaus Wien, Kunsthalle Wien, Kaiserlich Hofmobilien Depot (Imperial Furniture Collection), Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments), Johann-Strauss-Memorial Rooms, Hundertwasserhaus, Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien (Historical Museum of Vienna), Haydns Wohnhaus (Haydn's House), Haus der Musik, Domkirche St. Stephan (St. Stephan's Cathedral), Die Burgkapelle (Home of the Vienna Boys' Choir), Burggarten, Botanischer Garten (Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna), Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Art) and Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library).
Also you may want to visit Vienna Tourist Information and Vienna Transportation