Wondering what is Vienna known for the most? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this guide covers all the things that Austria’s capital is famous for around the globe!
Vienna is known for fascinating palaces, the world’s best museums, the U-Bahn, and spectacular Baroque architecture. It’s also home to one of Europe’s largest Ferris wheels, it’s considered the birthplace of classical music, and it’s home to countless wine taverns that are famous for their comfortable atmosphere.
Keep reading to see all the different things the former imperial city is known for around the world!
The Vienna State Opera House is one of the most famous buildings in the Austrian capital and one of the most impressive opera houses that were ever built. The famous opera house is home to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, which remains widely accepted as one of the finest orchestras in the world.
The state opera was one of the first major buildings on Vienna’s Ringstraße, the circular road around the inner city of Vienna. This is Vienna’s historic center, and it’s full of historic buildings that are all within walking distance of one another. The opera building was constructed in the 19th century, and it’s known for the Renaissance Revival architecture.
However, the state opera was set on fire near the end of World War II, and its concert hall and stage were entirely destroyed. There were lengthy discussions about whether to rebuild it or to demolish the site entirely, but eventually, it was agreed that the building should be recreated as it was before the American bombings.
The building is fascinating both on the inside and the outside and considering it only takes about an hour to tour the interior of the opera house, it’s highly recommended you do so. Lovers of classical music will particularly enjoy a tour of this fascinating building, and who knows – you might even get to meet some famous performers!
Peterskirche is a Baroque church in Vienna that was constructed in the 18th century. It’s situated on Petersplatz, but unlike Karlskirche and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, it doesn’t exactly dominate the surrounding area. In fact, the church is obstructed by the neighboring buildings, and you can only get a good look at it when you’re standing directly in front of it.
It was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which is evident from the architectural elements of the building’s facade. Peterskirche was the first domed structure in Vienna at the time it was built, and it remains one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in the Austrian capital.
Compared to other churches and cathedrals in Vienna, Peterskirche is rather small – that’s because there was limited space when construction began, so it had to be built in a compact form.
The interior of the church is much more spacious than it looks from the outside, and it’s decorated with golden stucco and colorful frescoes. The contrast between the ornate interior and relatively simple exterior is quite striking, and reason enough to tour the interior of this fascinating city landmark.
MuseumsQuartier or Museum Quarter is a museum complex in Vienna where the best museums in the city are located. This district is home to the Leopold Museum, the Architekturzentrum Wien, the mumok Museum, and many others.
Those are just the three most famous museums in the district – there are several modern art museums in this part of the city, as well as a bunch of galleries that are perfect for all visitors who want to bring home some of the spectacular art they see in Vienna.
The Leopold Museum is by far the most popular one among contemporary art lovers. It houses a huge collection of Austrian modern art, which includes works by iconic artists such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Richard Gerstl, and others.
MuseumsQuartier is also swarming with cafes and eateries, so you never have to leave the neighborhood! You can spend your days exploring the different museums, learning about art, culture, history, and architecture, stopping at one of the locales nearby just to grab a bite to eat!
The Hofburg Imperial Palace is one of the largest palace complexes on the planet. The oldest parts of the palace date back to the 3rd century, but the construction of the palace lasted until the mid-20th century. Today, the palace is home to several museums, and it’s the official residence of the Austrian president.
The Sisi Museum is perhaps the most famous one in the Hofburg, boasting an extensive collection of imperial silver, gold, and china tableware, as well the Imperial Apartments of the Hofburg.
This fascinating museum is dedicated to Empress Elisabeth, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph. The museum explores her life and character, with an astounding collection of the empress’ personal items.
The Capuchin Church is both a church and a monastery on the Neuer Markt square in Vienna. It’s near the Hofburg Palace, and it’s best known for being the home of the Imperial Crypt. The burial chamber is located underneath the Capuchin Church, and it’s one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in the city.
The crypt is the resting place of members of the House of Habsburg, the German dynasty that was one of the most prominent dynasties in entire Europe in the second millennium. Capuchin Crypt contains the bones of 145 Habsburg royalty, as well as urns with cremated remains of several emperors.
Rathaus is the Neo-Gothic city hall situated in the first district of Vienna, in the historic city center. The 19th-century building is home to the Mayor of Vienna’s office, and also the city council chambers. At one point in time, the Rathaus was even the tallest building in the world! But that lasted for just two years and the Milwaukee City Hall stole the title.
This is a fascinating building for multiple reasons, but its interior is not one of them. Touring the interior of the building isn’t really worth it, especially if you have limited time in Vienna. Instead, walk around the Rathausplatz and admire the fascinating architecture of the building – did you know that some 30 million bricks were used in the construction of the Rathaus?
You’re better off trying to count the bricks than seeing the chambers inside the building! Since the interior of the Rathaus is so boring, you can spend your time exploring the Rathauspark.
The 19th-century park sits in front of the famous Neo-Gothic building, and it’s best known for hosting Vienna’s Christmas market every year. The Rathauspark stretches all the way to the Austrian Federal Parliament Building – another landmark that’s beautiful on the outside, but slightly less impressive on the inside.
Karlskirche is a Roman Catholic church in Vienna dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo. It’s situated on the Karlsplatz just outside Vienna’s inner city, and it’s considered a true Baroque masterpiece. The church is one of the most impressive buildings in the entire city, and its exterior isn’t the only breathtaking thing about it.
The elongated ellipsoid dome is the most prominent feature of this church. The dome is eye-catching on the outside, but even more spectacular on the inside! Go inside Karlskirche to see the fresco painted on the interior of the dome, which depicts the intercession of Saint Charles Borromeo.
The Maria-Theresien-Platz in Vienna is home to two of the city’s best museums – the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistoriches Museum. They’re dedicated to the fine arts and natural history, respectively, and they’re two of the best museums to visit in Vienna.
Maria-Theresien-Platz lies between the two museums, and it’s one of the most famous squares in the city. It’s dedicated to empress Maria Theresia, and it features fountains, monuments, and beautiful green spaces.
The Vienna Museum of Natural History is considered one of the most important museums of its kind in the world. It’s also one of the largest museums in Austria, with 39 exhibition rooms that occupy an area of more than 8,460 square meters.
The museum is home to more than 30 million objects, which are available to scientists and researchers for the purposes of carrying out research relating to human, earth, and life sciences. Vienna’s Naturhistorisches Museum also has the world’s largest collection of meteorites, with some 1,100 meteorites on display!
Kunsthistoriches Museum is the largest of its kind in Austria. It boasts an extensive collection of Habsburg antiquities and art, making it perfect for exploring the culture and art history of Vienna. The museum also has changing exhibitions that are different every season, but they’re slightly less popular than its permanent exhibition.
What is Vienna known for if not the famous Viennese dishes and beverages? The Wiener Schnitzel, the Mozart Torte, the Apfelstrudel, the apricot jam, and the Käsekrainer sausages are just a few of the many famous dishes that are known all over the world as iconically Viennese.
Out of all the famous Viennese cakes, Sachertorte remains the best-known one. The famous chocolate cake was invented by Franz Sacher, and it’s one of the best-known culinary specialties that originated in Austria’s capital.
Visit the Naschmarkt for the best selection of authentic Viennese dishes. The massive food market is situated just outside the inner city limits, and it’s the best place in Vienna to shop anything food-related. Naschmarkt is easily accessible by public transport, and it’s just a short walk away from the city’s historic center.
The numerous wine taverns of Vienna are also an excellent option for a culinary tour of the former imperial city. They’re famous for the relaxed atmosphere, excellent entertainment, and fine dining.
Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment complex and an expressionist landmark in Vienna. It’s located in the Landstrassedistrict, right on the corner of Löwengasse and Kegelgasse.
The famous building was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist, and architect whose name it bears. Joseph Krawina was his co-creator on the project, and together they managed to come with a stunning building that would become one of the most famous landmarks in Vienna.
The apartment complex features a total of 53 apartments, 16 private terraces, four offices, and three communal terraces. The roof of the building is covered with earth and grass, and that’s not even the most famous thing about it! There are around 250 trees and bushes inside the building, and their limbs extend through the windows.
Wiener Prater is an amusement park in Vienna close to the Danube canal. The amusement park is so huge that there are three public transport stations within it! The park is best known for its giant Ferris wheel, Wiener Riesenrad. The wheel was built back in 1897, and it remains one of the most popular attractions in this city.
It’s worth noting that the entire Ferris wheel was renovated in 1945, so the cabins are much younger (and safer) than they look. The vintage appearance was kept on purpose, so even though the cabins might look a bit outdated, they’re still perfectly safe.
The Ferris wheel offers spectacular scenic views of Vienna from its wooden cabins, and it’s a must if you want to experience gorgeous panoramic vistas of the city’s skyline and the Danube canal. You might want to skip the ride if you’re afraid of heights though, considering that the Ferris wheel is almost 65 meters tall.
This is one of the oldest Ferris wheels that are still operating in the world, and it was even the world’s largest Ferris wheel for a few decades. It was dethroned by the Technocosmos in Japan, but it remained Europe’s largest Ferris wheel until the construction of the London Eye was completed.
Schönbrunn Palace is one of the three major palace complexes in Vienna. The other two are Belvedere Palace and Hofburg Palace, and they’re all equally fascinating. But, Schönbrunn Palace remains the most iconic of them all, with its stunning Baroque exterior and expansive gardens.
This palace features lavish interiors, museums, Roman ruins, and a maze in the palace gardens. It takes several hours to tour the entire palace grounds, and it can take up to an entire day for those who also want to check out the greenhouse and the giant pandas at the Schönbrunn zoo!
The palace and its gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also one of the most important historic monuments in entire Austria. The history of this fascinating palace spans three centuries, and the history of both Austria and Vienna is reflected in it.
This palace was even the birthplace of Franz Joseph, the longest-reigning emperor in Austrian history. It was also used as a venue for important events, the most notable of which was the meeting of US President JFK and the Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev back in the 1960s.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, and the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna. It’s also one of the most famous landmarks in Austria’s capital, best known for its fascinating blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Vienna’s most important religious building is situated in Stephansplatz, and it was built atop the ruins of two former churches. The cathedral was constructed in the early 12th century, and since then it has been at the center of several key events in Austria’s history.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is also an iconic symbol of Vienna. The multi-colored roof tiles can be observed from the city’s many rooftops, while the massive south tower dominates the Vienna skyscape.
The Belvedere is a Baroque palace complex that’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. It was commissioned by Prince Eugene of Savoy in the 18th century, and it was initially constructed as his summer residence in Vienna. The complex is divided into two distinct areas – the upper palace and the lower palace.
The two parts of the complex have separate entrances, but it is possible to purchase a combined entrance ticket and explore the entire grounds. It’s worth noting that the Belvedere complex is vast, and touring all the attractions on the grounds can take up an entire day.
The most popular attraction in the complex is the Austrian Gallery Belvedere, which houses the largest collection of Klimt paintings in the world. This gallery also boasts an extensive collection of Austrian art with pieces that date back to the Middle Ages.
Other notable artworks in the gallery include masterpieces by Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele, which are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The Belvedere complex is also popular for its vast garden that is known for stunning symmetrical landscaping and countless fountains. The Belvedere Gardens are even home to the Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna, which houses numerous species of plants.
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