112 Best Sights in Vienna, Austria

Dominikanerkirche

1st District

The Postgasse, to the east of Schönlaterngasse, introduces this unexpected visitor from Rome, built in the 1630s, some 50 years before the Viennese Baroque building boom. Its facade is modeled after the Roman churches of the 16th century. The interior illustrates why the Baroque style came to be considered the height of bad taste during the 19th century (and it still has many detractors today). "Sculpt 'til you drop" seems to have been the motto here, and the viewer's eye is given no respite. This sort of Roman architectural orgy never really gained a foothold in Vienna, and when the great Viennese architects did pull out all the decorative stops at the Belvedere Palace, they did it in a very different style and with far greater success.

Dorotheum

1st District

The narrow passageway just to the right of St. Michael's leads into the Stallburggasse, an area dotted with antiques stores attracted by the presence of this famous Viennese auction house, which began as a state-controlled pawnshop in 1707. Merchandise coming up for auction is on display at Dorotheergasse 17. The showrooms—packed with everything from carpets and pianos to cameras, jewelry and postage stamps—are well worth a visit. On the second floor the goods are not for auction but for immediate sale; the same goes for the terrific, mainly late-19th- to early-20th-century glass, wood, and art objects in the glass-roofed court just opposite the reception area on the ground floor.

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Dritte Mann Museum

4th District/Wieden

Close to the Naschmarkt, this shrine for film-noir aficionados offers an extensive private collection of memorabilia dedicated to the classic film, The Third Man, directed by Carol Reed and shot entirely on location in Vienna. Authentic exhibits include cinema programs, autographed cards, movie and sound recordings, and first editions of Graham Greene's novel, which was the basis of the screenplay. Also here is the original zither used by Anton Karas to record the film's music, which started a zither boom in the '50s. In the reading corner, you can browse through historic newspaper articles about the film. Note that the museum is only open on Saturday, from 2 to 6.

Pressgasse 25, Vienna, A-1040, Austria
01-586–4872
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €9.50, Closed Sun.–Fri., Sat. 2–6

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Ephesos Museum

1st District

The tiny Ephesus Museum contains a small but exceptional collection of Roman antiquities unearthed by Austrian archaeologists in Turkey at the turn of the 20th century.

Fälschermuseum

3rd District/Landstrasse

This museum is a must-see for those who like a bit of cunning cloak and dagger—an utterly unique collection that includes a myriad of magnificent forgeries in both arts and letters, and offers captivating backstories on how the faked pieces came to be. On display are fakes of Chagall and Rembrandt, as well as the infamous "Hitler Diaries" that were front-page news in the 1980s.

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Löwengasse 28, Vienna, A-1030, Austria
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Rate Includes: €6, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m, Closed Mon.

Finanzministerium

1st District

The architectural jewel of Himmelpfortgasse, this imposing abode—designed by Fischer von Erlach in 1697 and later expanded by Hildebrandt—was originally the town palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Baroque details here are among the most inventive and beautifully executed in the city. The delightful motifs are softly carved, as if freshly squeezed from a pastry tube. Such Baroque elegance may seem inappropriate for a finance ministry, but the contrast between place and purpose could hardly be more Viennese.

Freyung

1st District

This square, whose name means "freeing"—so called, according to lore, because for many centuries monks at the adjacent Schottenkirche had the privilege of offering sanctuary for three days to anyone on the lam. In the center of the square stands the allegorical Austria Fountain (1845), notable because its Bavarian designer, Ludwig Schwanthaler, had the statues cast in Munich and then supposedly filled them with cigars to be smuggled into Vienna for black-market sale. Around the sides of the square are some of Vienna's greatest patrician residences, including the Ferstel, Harrach, and Kinsky palaces.

The Schottenhof, the shaded courtyard at Freyung 6, typifies the change that came over Viennese architecture during the Biedermeier era (1815–1848). The Viennese, according to the traditional view, were so relieved to be rid of the upheavals of the Napoleonic Wars that they accepted without protest the iron-handed repression of Prince Metternich, chancellor of Austria. Restraint also ruled in architecture; Baroque license was rejected in favor of a new and historically "correct" style that was far more controlled and reserved. Kornhäusel led the way in establishing this trend in Vienna; his Schottenhof facade is all sober organization and frank repetition. But in its marriage of strong and delicate forces it still pulls off the great Viennese-waltz trick of successfully merging seemingly antithetical characteristics.

Am Hof and Herrengasse, Vienna, A-1010, Austria

Globe Museum

1st District

Across the street from the Café Central, the beautifully renovated Palais Mollard has a rare collection of more than 240 terrestrial and celestial globes on display in its second-floor museum—the only one of its kind in the world open to the public. The oldest is a globe of the Earth dating from 1536, produced by Gemma Frisius, a Belgian doctor and cosmographer. On the ground floor is a small but fascinating Esperanto museum, which explores the history of Esperanto and other planned languages. Both museums are run by the Austrian National Library.

Herrengasse 9, Vienna, A-1010, Austria
01-534–10–710
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €5, includes Esperanto museum, Closed Mon. Oct.–Mar., Daily 10-6 (Thursdays open til 9pm)

Gloriette

13th District/Hietzing

At the crest of the hill, topping off the Schönbrunn Gardens, sits a Baroque masterstroke: Johann Ferdinand von Hohenberg's Gloriette, now restored to its original splendor. Perfectly scaled, the Gloriette—a palatial pavilion that once offered royal guests a place to rest and relax on their tours of the palace grounds and that now houses a welcome café—holds the vast garden composition together and at the same time crowns the ensemble with a brilliant architectural tiara. This was a favorite spot of Maria Theresa's, though in later years she grew so obese—not surprising, given that she bore 16 children in 20 years—it took six men to carry her in her palanquin to the summit.

From the rooftop viewing platform you can enjoy an impressive panoramic view of Vienna and the Vienna Woods.

Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse, Vienna, A-1130, Austria
Sights Details
Rate Includes: viewing platform €4.50 or free with Vienna Pass

Griechenbeisl

1st District

If you want to find a nook where time seems to be holding its breath, head to the heart of the old town, where the Fleischmarkt (Meat Market) meets the hilly Griechengasse. Commanding the cobblestone lane is a 14th-century watchtower, Vienna's oldest, and an ivy-covered tavern called the Griechenbiesl, which has been serving customers for 500 years. Half a millennium ago, this quarter was settled by Greek and Levantine traders (there are still many rug dealers here) and many of them made this tavern their "local." The wooden carving on the facade of the current restaurant commemorates Marx Augustin—best known today from the song "Ach du lieber Augustin"—an itinerant musician who sang here during the plague of 1679. A favored Viennese figure, he fell into a pit filled with plague victims but survived, presumably because he was so pickled in alcohol. In fact, this tavern introduced one of the great pilsner brews of the 19th century and everyone—from Schubert to Mark Twain, Wagner to Johann Strauss—came here to partake. Be sure to dine here to savor its low-vaulted rooms adorned with engravings, mounted antlers, and bric-a-brac; the Mark Twain room has a ceiling covered with autographs of the rich and famous dating back two centuries. Adjacent to the tavern is a Greek Orthodox Church co-designed by the most fashionable neoclassical designer in Vienna, Theophil Hansen.

Haas-Haus

1st District

Designed by the late Hans Hollein, one of Austria's best-known contemporary architects, who died in 2014, the Haas-Haus is one of Vienna's more controversial buildings. The modern lines contrast sharply with the venerable walls of St. Stephen's just across the way, which can be seen in the mirrored facade of the Haas-Haus.

Haus der Geschichte Österreich

1st District
One of Vienna's newest museums is also Austria's first museum of contemporary history, which explores what it means to be Austrian today through the lense of culture and events since the founding of the democratic republic in 1918. Exhibits tackle themes from the growth of fascism, Nazi occupation, post-WWII development, inequality, immigration, and the highs and lows of this coutnry's recent history. You'll find everything from original footage of Vienna after the end of the the first world war, displays on the growth of fascism and the complicity of locals, the dress that Conchita Wurst, Austria's most famous drag queen wore when she won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest for Austria, as well as the infamous USB stick with “Ibiza” footage that brought down the Austrian government in 2019.
Heldenplatz, Vienna, 1020, Austria
01-534--10805
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €8 includes the Ephesos Museum, Closed Mon.

Heiligenkreuzerhof

1st District

Off the narrow streets and alleys behind the Stephansdom is this peaceful spot, approximately ½ km (¼ mile) from the cathedral. The beautiful Baroque courtyard has the distinct feeling of a retreat into the 18th century.

Heldenplatz

1st District

The Neue Burg was never completed and so the Heldenplatz was left without a discernible shape, but the space is punctuated by two superb equestrian statues depicting Archduke Karl and Prince Eugene of Savoy. The older section on the north includes the offices of the federal president.

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Himmelpfortgasse

1st District

The maze of tiny streets surrounding Himmelpfortgasse (literally, "Gates of Heaven Street") conjures up the Vienna of the 19th century. The most impressive house on the street is the Ministry of Finance. The rear of the Steffl department store on Rauhensteingasse now marks the site of the house in which Mozart died in 1791. There's a commemorative plaque that once identified the street-side site.

Himmelpfortgasse 6, Vienna, A-1010, Austria

Hofburgkapelle

1st District

Fittingly, this is the main venue for the beloved Vienna Boys' Choir, since the group has its roots in the Hofmusikkapelle choir founded by Emperor Maximilian I five centuries ago (Haydn and Schubert were both participants as young boys). The choir sings mass here at 9:15 on Sunday from mid-September to June. Be aware that you hear the choirboys but don't see them; soprano and alto voices peal forth from a gallery behind the seating area.

Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer

1st District

Home to one of the most extensive arms and armor collections in the world the Imperial Armory houses the armor and ornamental weapons of almost all western European princes from the 15th to the early 20th centuries on display. It's located within the Neue Burg museum complex, and you can enter at the triumphal arch set into the middle of the curved portion of the facade.

Heldenplatz, Vienna, A-1010, Austria
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €16, includes admission to the Weltmuseum Wien and the Collection of Historic Musical Instruments, Closed Mon. and Tues., Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hofmobiliendepot

7th District/Neubau

In the days of the Hapsburg Empire, palaces remained practically empty if the ruling family was not in residence. Cavalcades laden with enough furniture to fill a palace would set out in anticipation of a change of scene, while another caravan accompanied the royal party, carrying everything from traveling thrones to velvet-lined portable toilets. Much of this furniture is on display here, allowing a glimpse into everyday court life. The upper floors contain re-created rooms from the Biedermeier to the Jugendstil periods, and document the tradition of furniture making in Vienna. Explanations are in German and English.

Mariahilferstrasse 88, Vienna, A-1070, Austria
01-524–3357
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €10.50, Closed Mon., Daily 10-6

Hoher Markt

1st District

Crowds gather at noon each day to see the huge mechanical Anker Clock strike the hour. That's when the full panoply of mechanical figures of Austrian historical personages parades by; see if you can spot Marcus Aurelius, Joseph Haydn, and Maria Theresa. The Anker Clock (named for the Anker Insurance Company, which financed it) took six years (1911–1917) to build. It managed to survive the World War II artillery fire that badly damaged much of the square. The graceless buildings erected around the square since 1945 do little to show off the square's lovely Baroque centerpiece, the St. Joseph Fountain (portraying the marriage of Joseph and Mary), designed in 1729 by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, son of the great Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.

Hundertwasserhaus

3rd District/Landstrasse

To see one of Vienna's most architecturally intriguing buildings, travel eastward from Schwedenplatz or Julius-Raab-Platz along Radetzkystrasse. Here you'll find the Hundertwasserhaus, a 52-apartment public-housing complex designed by the late Austrian avant-garde artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, arguably Austria's most significant postmodernist artist. The complex looks like a colorful patchwork of gingerbread houses strung precariously together, and was highly criticized when it opened in 1985. Time heals all wounds, even imaginary assaults to the senses, and now the structure is a beloved thread of the Viennese architectural tapestry. It is across the street from the city's beloved Kunsthaus Wien, which also sprang from Hundertwasser's imagination.

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Löwengasse and Kegelgasse, Vienna, A-1030, Austria

In der Burg

1st District

This prominent courtyard of the Hofburg complex focuses on a statue of Francis II and the noted Schweizertor gateway. Note the clock on the far upper wall at the north end of the courtyard: it tells time by a sundial, also gives the time mechanically, and even, above the clockface, indicates the phase of the moon.

Johann Strauss Wohnung

2nd District/Leopoldstadt

The most popular composer of all, waltz king Johann Strauss the Younger, composed the "Blue Danube Waltz"—Austria's unofficial national anthem—at this house in 1867. Standing in the huge salon of this belle-epoque building, you can well imagine what a sumptuous affair a Strauss soirée would have been. Artifacts include Strauss's Amati violin.

Josefsplatz

1st District

Many consider this Vienna's loveliest courtyard and, indeed, the beautifully restored imperial style adorning the roof of the buildings forming Josefsplatz is one of the few visual demonstrations of Austria's onetime widespread power and influence. The square's namesake is represented in the equestrian statue of Emperor Josef II (1807) in the center.

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Jüdisches Museum Wien

1st District

The former Eskeles Palace, once an elegant private residence, now houses the Jewish Museum of Vienna. Permanent exhibits tell of the momentous role Viennese Jews have played in everything from music and medicine to art and philosophy, both in Austria and in the world at large. A permanent exhibition called "Our City" shows Jewish life in Vienna up to the present day. The museum complex includes a café and bookstore.

Dorotheergasse 11, Vienna, A-1010, Austria
01-535–0431
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €12 includes admission to the Judenplatz Museum, Closed Sat., Sun.–Fri. 10–6

Kaiserappartements

1st District

From the spectacular portal gate of the Michaelertor—you can't miss the four gigantic statues of Hercules and his labors—you climb the marble Kaiserstiege (Emperor's Staircase) to begin a tour of a long, repetitive suite of 18 conventionally luxurious state rooms. The red-and-gold decoration (19th-century imitation of 18th-century Rococo) tries to look regal, but much like the empire itself in its latter days, it's only going through the motions, and ends up looking merely official. Still, these are the rooms where the ruling family of the Hapsburg empire ate, slept, and dealt with family tragedy—in the emperor's study on January 30, 1889, Emperor Franz Josef was told about the tragic death of his only son, Crown Prince Rudolf, who had shot himself and his soulmate, 17-year-old Baroness Vetsera, at the hunting lodge at Mayerling. Among the few signs of life are Emperor Franz Josef's spartan, iron field bed, on which he slept every night, and Empress Elisabeth's wooden gymnastics equipment (obsessed with her looks, Sisi suffered from anorexia and was fanatically devoted to exercise). In the Sisi Museum, part of the regular tour, five rooms display many of her treasured possessions, including her jewels, the gown she wore the night before her marriage, her dressing gown, and the opulent court salon railroad car she used. There is also a death mask made after her assassination by an anarchist in Geneva in 1898, as well as the murder weapon that killed her: a wooden-handled file.

Schweizer Hof, Vienna, A-1010, Austria
01-533–7570
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €15, includes admission to Silberkammer; €18 for a guided tour, Sept.–June, daily 9–5:30; July and Aug., daily 9–6

Kaisergruft

1st District

On the southwest corner of the Neuer Markt, the Kapuzinerkirche, or Capuchin Church, is home to one of the more intriguing sights in Vienna: the Kaisergruft, or Imperial Burial Vault. The crypts contain the partial remains of some 140 Hapsburgs (most of the hearts are in the Augustinerkirche and the entrails in St. Stephen's) plus one non-Hapsburg governess ("She was always with us in life," said Maria Theresa, "why not in death?"). Perhaps starting with their tombs is the wrong way to approach the Hapsburgs in Vienna, but on the upside, at least it gives you a chance to get their names in sequence, as they lie in rows, their pewter coffins ranging from the simplest explosions of funerary conceit—with decorations of skulls, snakes, and other morbid symbols—to the huge and distinguished tomb of Maria Theresa and her husband. Designed while the couple still lived, their monument shows the empress in bed with her husband—awaking to the Last Judgment as if it were just another morning, while the remains of her son (the ascetic Josef II) lie in a simple copper casket at the foot of the bed. In 2011, 98-year-old Otto Hapsburg, the eldest son of the last emperor, was laid to rest here with as much pomp as was permissible in a republic.

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Tegetthofstrasse 2, Vienna, A-1010, Austria
01-512–6853
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Rate Includes: €7.50, Daily 10–6

Karlsplatz

4th District/Wieden

As with the Naschmarkt, Karlsplatz was formed when the River Wien was covered over at the turn of the 20th century. At the time, architect Otto Wagner expressed his frustration with the result—too large a space for a formal square and too small a space for an informal park—and the awkwardness is felt to this day. The buildings surrounding the Karlsplatz, however, are quite sure of themselves; the area is dominated by the classic Karlskirche, made less dramatic by the unfortunate reflecting pool with its Henry Moore sculpture, wholly out of place, in front. On the south side of the Resselpark, that part of Karlsplatz named for the inventor of the screw propeller for ships, stands the Technical University (1816–1818). In a house that occupied the space closest to the church, Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi died in 1741; a plaque marks the spot. On the north side, across the heavily traveled roadway, are the Künstlerhaus (built in 1881 and still in use as an exhibition hall) and the Musikverein. The latter, finished in 1869, is now home to the Vienna Philharmonic. The downstairs lobby and the two halls upstairs have been restored and glow with fresh gilding. The main hall has what may be the world's finest acoustics.

Some of Wagner's finest Secessionist work can be seen two blocks east on the northern edge of Karlsplatz. In 1893 Wagner was appointed architectural supervisor of the new Vienna City Railway, and the matched pair of small pavilions he designed, the Otto Wagner Stadtbahn Pavilions, at No. 1 Karlsplatz, in 1898 are among the city's most ingratiating buildings. Their structural framework is frankly exposed (in keeping with Wagner's belief in architectural honesty), but they are also lovingly decorated (in keeping with the Viennese fondness for architectural finery). The result is Jugendstil at its very best, melding plain and fancy with grace and insouciance.

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Kärntner Strasse

1st District

Vienna's leading central shopping street is much maligned—too commercial, too crowded, too many tasteless signs—but when the daytime tourist crowds dissolve, the Viennese arrive regularly for their evening promenade, and it is easy to see why. The street comes alive with outdoor cafés, wonderfully decorated shop windows, buskers, and well-dressed citizens walking their small, manicured dogs. Despite tourists, it has an energy that the more tasteful Graben and the impeccable Kohlmarkt lack.

Kirche Am Hof

1st District

On the east side of the Am Hof, the Church of the Nine Choirs of Angels is identified by its sprawling Baroque facade designed by Carlo Carlone in 1662. The interior is sombre, but the checkerboard marble floor lightens things up and may remind you of Dutch churches.

Am Hof 1, Vienna, A-1010, Austria

Kirche Am Steinhof

14th District/Penzing

Otto Wagner's most exalted piece of Jugendstil architecture, the first church of the Modernism period in Europe, lies in the suburbs: the church on the grounds of the old Vienna City Psychiatric Hospital. Wagner's design here unites functional details (rounded edges on the pews to prevent injury to the patients, how would the building be cleaned, and how many people have an unobstructed view of the high altar) with a soaring, airy dome and stained glass by Koloman Moser.

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Baumgartner Höhe 1, Vienna, A-1130, Austria
01-91060
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €12, Sat. 4–5, Sun. 12-4; Tours Sat. at 3, Sun. at 4