Vienna had been on my list for years, but it never happened—until this year when I decided to book the Nightjet. The Nightjet is a night train from Utrecht (NL) to Vienna, with a journey of about 13 to 14 hours. Booking a bed on this train turned out to be quite expensive, so I decided to go for a seat in a 6-person compartment. Looking back, this wasn’t such a great idea. Trying to sleep while sitting knee-to-knee with another passenger wasn’t very comfortable. Fortunately, the Austrian capital made up for the sleepless night. In this blog, I’ll tell you about 7 fun things to do in Vienna.

1. Start the trip with Belvedere Palace

When we arrived in Vienna, I felt stressed because I had booked tickets online to visit the Belvedere Palace on our first day. Like many places in Europe, we had to choose a specific timeslot for our visit. Unfortunately, our train was late and we missed our timeslot. Luckily, the staff at the Belvedere kindly offered us a new timeslot for our visit at no extra cost.

The Belvedere complex has three palaces: Upper Belvedere, Lower Belvedere, and Belvedere 21 (located elsewhere in the city). Upper and Lower Belvedere face each other with a large green garden in between. The garden is open to everyone, but you need a separate or combination ticket to visit the museums. We chose a ticket for the Upper Belvedere because it’s said to be more beautiful than the Lower Belvedere and it’s home to the famous painting ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt. In the end, I found the building itself more impressive than the painting, especially the stunning Marble Hall, the main hall in Upper Belvedere.

Ticket price Upper Belvedere: €16.70. Combination Upper & Lower Belvedere: €24. Buy your tickets online in order to get a good timeslot.

2. Get up early to visit Schloss Schönbrunn

The number one on many lists of things to do in Vienna: Schloss Schönbrunn. It’s located a bit outside the city center but you can easily get there by taking metro line U4 to the Schönbrunn stop. The museum uses timed ticket slots, which is good because it can get quite busy. The most beautiful room in the museum is the Great Gallery, the main hall. Tickets include an audio tour, which I found helpful for learning more about the history. Note that the museum entrance is at the front on the left side (we had trouble finding it). After the visit, I recommend walking through the gardens towards the higher Gloriette for a view of the city. Going up the Gloriette costs €5.50, but you already have a great view from the hill.

The Schönbrunn ticket options are the State Apartments Tour (€22), the Imperial Tour (€27), the Grand Tour (€32), and guided group tours (€37). We chose the Imperial Tour and bought our ticket online at

3. Learn about Empress Elisabeth at the Sisi Museum

Another museum on this list of Vienna things to do: the Sisi Museum located in the Hofburg Palace in the city center. The museum is dedicated to telling the tragic story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Sisi, who lived in the 19th century. Sisi disliked court etiquette and preferred to escape the palace when she could. She was also known for her focus on dieting, exercising, and her long hair. One downside about the museum: the first exhibition area is quite narrow and felt too crowded, making it difficult to concentrate on the audio guide.

Ticket price for the Sisi Museum including audio tour: €19.50. Combination ticket for the Sisi Museum, Schönbrunn, and the Furniture Museum: €49. Buy your tickets online in order to get a good timeslot. At the door we noticed that all timeslots were fully booked for the day.

4. Admire the State Hall in the National Library

One of my favorite things to do in Vienna was the State Hall in the Austrian National Library. The library was built in the 18th century by order of Emperor Charles VI to store his books. The State Hall is the highlight of the library, with over 200,000 books, globes, statues, and frescoes on the ceiling. It’s an impressive space! Good to know: the entrance to the Austrian National Library is on Neue Burg, but for the State Hall, you need to go to Josefplatz. This was a bit confusing for us!

Ticket price for the State Hall in the Austrian National Library: €10. We bough the tickets at the door, no timeslots.

5. Explore St. Peter’s Church

Moving on to Vienna’s churches. In the city center, you’ll find the 18th-century St. Peter’s Church, which is somewhat tucked away. Its interior is stunning with gold leaf, marble statues, and frescoes (free entry).

Another church to visit is St. Stephen’s Cathedral known for its interesting mosaic roof. A small part of the church is free to visit. However, most areas require separate tickets. The basic ticket costs €7, the north tower ticket, which includes an elevator for a better view of the roof, is €7 as well. The south tower ticket, which involves climbing 343 steps and provides a higher view of the city, is €6.50. Lastly, there is also an all-inclusive ticket (€25). You can buy tickets online or at the door.

6. Stroll through Vienna’s Old Town

Vienna’s old town is already a photogenic place itself. The Hofburg Palace, which used to be the imperial residence of the Habsburg nobility, is a must-see, now home to several museums. Make sure to explore Graben and Kärntner Strasse for some luxury shopping, hang out in Burggarten Park against the backdrop of the Palmenhaus, and consider visiting one of Vienna’s UNESCO coffee houses, such as Demel or Cafe Central, for a coffee and pastry, although there might be a queue. Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to wander through Vienna’s most charming streets, such as Griechengasse and Fleischmarkt.

7. Explore hipster Vienna: MQ, Spittelberg, and street art

Vienna is known for its impressive architecture, but it also has a modern side. The MuseumsQuartier, or MQ, is a good example. You can relax on the colorful enzos, which are lounge seats, in the MQ courtyard. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy a sunny day in Vienna. If the weather isn’t great, you can visit the museums on the square. The Leopold Museum is on one side in the white cube, and the Museum of Modern Art, Mumok, is on the other side in the black cube.

Beyond MQ, you’ll find the trendy neighborhoods Neubau and Mariahilf. In Neubau, there’s the charming Spittelberg, which is now very charming and quite expensive to live in, but it used to be the city’s red-light district. Compared to the city center, there are many great vegan-friendly restaurants in Neubau and Mariahilf, such as Tian Bistro am Spittelberg, Erich, and Veganista Ice Cream. You can also find street art in areas like Kirchengasse, Siebensterngasse, and Zieglergasse (Calle Libre area). Check out Vienna Murals for a street art map of the city. 

Where to stay in Vienna?

We stayed at Motel One Hauptbahnhof, which is near the train station. It may not be the most charming area in Vienna, but it’s ideal for arriving and departing by train. If you’d rather stay closer to the city center, you can check out Boutique Hotel Das Tigra. It’s super centrally located in the old town and has a 9.0 rating on Click here for a list of hotels in Vienna.

Where to eat in Vienna?

Great restaurants in Vienna include: Vollpension, which is run by grannies and is intended to bridge generations with good food; Tolstoy; Vevi, a Vietnamese restaurant with very tasty food; and Fat Monk. For a vegan Sachertorte, you can check out Ausnahmsweise.

Prices mentioned in this article are from April 2024. Please note that they can change.

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