I swear, every time I finish one of these I remember more amazing things to do in Vienna. This city just has so much to offer! Some gems are a bit more hidden or less popular, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of a visit. As always, I will provide you with insider tips to have the best time ever in Vienna.
1. The Vienna National Library
I love visiting old libraries. The rows and rows of antique books make me feel like I’m in Beauty and the Beast or Harry Potter. You’re probably not surprised to hear that I was a total nerd as a child. The State Hall in the National Library in Vienna is the biggest Baroque library in Europe, and she’s a beauty. It used to be the Emperor private library (lucky bastard), but now it’s open to the public. Every inch of the library is covered in art, with frescoes on the ceiling, the ornamental bookcases, old globes and beautifully decorated antique books and miniatures. Most tourists don’t know about this place or skip it in favour of more famous landmarks, but it’s one of my favourite places in Vienna.
2. Spanish Riding School
Even if you’re not a fan of horses, the Spanish Riding School is worth a visit. It’s been part of the Hofburg Palace and Viennese culture since 1565. In the riding school, the beautiful white Lipizzaner horses are trained in the specific dressage movements only they can perform. Shows are put on, but a popular (and cheaper) activity is to visit the morning excercise. With the elegant Baroque riding school as a backdrop, you can attend the morning training from Tuesday to Friday. from 09:00-12:00 Entrance is 15 euro and tickets are sold at the entrance at Josephplatz.
Vienna is filled with stunning Baroque palaces and Belvedere is no exeption. This former summer palace lies a bit further outside of the city centre. It is now a museum with famous works by Klimt and Schiele as well as a large palace garden.
4. Freud Museum
Next to all of the large art museums in Vienna, it is easy to overlook this small historic one. But the Sigmund Freud Museum should be on everyone’s list. It is the first place I visited when I lived in Vienna in 2015. The world-famous founder of psychoanalysis lived in Vienna until he fled the nazi’s in 1938. His house and office at the Berggasse has been turned into a museum, complete with the original furniture, including his famous couch where he held sessions with patients. The museum has a lot of information about the life and work of this fascinating and controversial man.
There is so much sightseeing to do in Vienna that is easy to forget that people actually live here. In fact, it’s been consistently named as one of the most livable cities in Europe. Due to the large student population, it is also one of the most fun cities in Europe. Behind all that old architecture lies a hip, crazy and vibrant nightlife. Let’s just say that I showed up to my internship hungover more than once. On the more casual side there are plenty of pubs and bars, as well as the typical Austrian heurige. The traditional wine taverns sell only local wines with a few snacks. You can recognize them by a bunch of pine branches and the word “Ausg’steckt”. On the wilder side, there are tons of nightclubs and party bars throughout the city concentrated in different areas. Visit the clubs underneath the s bahn tracks in the Gürtelring, get lost in the “Bermuda Triangle” near Schwedenplatz, drink and dance along the Danube. No taste of the Vienese nightlife is complete without a trip to the notorious backpacker bar Travelshack.
With so many options, your best bet is to do a bit of research online, ask locals or check which parties are held where. One thing is sure: you won’t be bored!
The best party of the year is the Donau Insel Fest, an enormous 2-day open-air music festival. It is held every year at end of June and entree is free of charge!