Search #vienna on Instagram and you’ll see 11.7 million photos related to the Austrian capital. Whilst the typical European hotspots of Paris, Santorini & Barcelona draw in millions of tourists (and seekers of the perfect “Instashot”) every year, Vienna is the European city which was voted 2019’s most liveable city in the world (for the 10th year in a row, according to a CNBC study). So if you haven’t considered visiting this gem of a city yet then read on!
All of the great European cities have many things in common no matter which country they are situated in. Like amazing architecture, a distinctive culture, beautiful landscapes, deep history and delicious food & drink. In short, they’ve got all the kinds of vibes which draw you in and have you wanting to return again. I was lucky enough to visit Austria in 2018 and instantly fell in love with this magnificent country. Let’s have a look at some of my favourite spots to see and what I consider to be the most Instagrammable places in Vienna!
I’m starting at the very top because this royal location is one of Vienna’s most loved attractions. I’m forever enchanted by anything regal & elegant and these words are quite apt descriptions for the former Summertime residence of the Habsburg’s, who ruled over the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for around 600 years. Schönbrunn Palace is just as famous for its picturesque gardens as it is for the magnificent interior design & art collections and is a world heritage listed site.
Unfortunately when I visited there late last year, visitors to the Palace were not allowed to take photographs inside the palace. Luckily a friend on Instagram who has just visited here last month informed me that they are now allowing photography inside! So I definitely will need to return for a second visit, not only to explore the gardens properly but to take some photos of the palace’s stunning interior.
There are 1,441 rooms located within this rococo styled residence, which include state rooms and private apartments, as well as the gardens, an orangery and a zoo! Ruling over the Austro-Hungarian Empire for six centuries, there is a plethora of history housed in this Palace and exploring Schönbrunn Palace was definitely the highlight of my visit to Vienna.
Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, Vienna
Opening Hours: opens daily at 8am and closes between 5-6.30pm, depending upon the season
Tickets: various prices, depending upon which parts of the palace & grounds you want to explore. Visit the palace’s website for further details
St Stephens Cathedral
The Gothic & Romanesque Cathedral of St Stephens, also known as “Stephensdom” in German, dates back to 1160. A landmark of the Austrian capital, it is revered as the most important church here and you won’t be able to miss it, because it towers over Stephensplatz at 136 metres tall. With 13 church bells you can still hear the chimes pealing over the Viennese architecture in the square and among these bells is the “Pummerin”, which is the second largest free swinging bell in Europe, located in the Cathedral’s north tower.
St Stephens Cathedral is where Emperor Friedrich III and Prince Eugene of Savoy are buried, as well as numerous Viennese archbishops, cardinals and the Habsburg Duke, Rudolph IV, who have their resting place in the catacombs. The Cathedral has four towers, with the south tower spire reaching 136.44 metres high and the roof is decorated in coloured tiles, depicting Viennas coat of arms. There are tour options to explore not only the interior but also the catacombs, the north & south towers, as well as the Pummerin church bell and guided tours. For more info on these options, visit the official website listed below.
Address: Stephansplatz 3, Vienna
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday – 6am to 10pm; Sundays & public holidays – 7am to 10pm
Tickets: cost to visit the Cathedral starts from 6 euros for adults
Panoramic views from Karlskirche
If you love a view from the top then the option to visit Karlskirche to take the panoramic lift is where I’d suggest you go! I’m scared of heights but was so happy I made the effort to overcome my fear, as the view from the top of this 16th century Baroque church over Vienna was spectacular. The panoramic lift is included in the ticket cost to visit here and you will need to take the elevator up to the interior viewing deck inside the dome – only a limited amount of people is allowed at one time. From up high inside the dome you will be able to look over Karlsplatz – the church towers topped with gold border you to the right & left and you can see Vienna’s rooftops and skyline for miles around.
Karlskirche, which is German for “St Charles’ Church” is beautifully designed inside and out so it’s definitely worth visiting there for the architectural beauty as well as the views it displays of Vienna. Baroque is widely known for incorporating ornamental & extravagant styles and that is exactly what you will be able to experience with a visit to Karlskirche. The frescoes on the interior of the dome are mesmerizing and the High Altar is captivating when highlighted from sunlight streaming in through the windows above.
Address: Kreuzherrengasse 1, 1040 Vienna
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday – 9am to 6pm; Sunday & public holidays – midday to 7pm
Tickets: adults – 8 euros (including panoramic lift)
The 18th century Catholic St Peters Church (Peterskirche) in Vienna is actually pretty easy to miss if you aren’t aware of your surroundings – one glance in the other direction and you could walk right past it! This photo taken one early morning in September 2018 remains one of my all time most loved photographs that I’ve ever captured on my travels. I adore the beautiful white architecture with the green topped church dome and how the church is bordered between two buildings in the front. The interior is no less beautiful either, with its Baroque design displaying a myriad of colours and artistry and an impressive church organ dating back to 1751.
Address: Petersplatz 1, Vienna
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday – 7am to 8pm, weekends – 9am to 9pm
Austrian National Library
Booklovers and architectural enthusiasts will adore visiting the Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek, (aka the Austrian National Library), which used to be known as the Imperial Court Library of the Habsburgs. With over 12 million books and items in various collections, there is so much to see here, so to save you time I’d recommend your visit at a minimum needs to at least include the Prunksaal (State Hall). This grand hall being part of the former court library for the Habsburg royals from the 18th century, is awe-inspiring and it’s opulence needs to be seen to be believed!
The Prunksaal in the very centre of the library was designed to juxtapose the decorative significance of the two areas of the hall which represent war & peace. Apart from housing a lot of books (obviously!), there are two massive Venetian globes representing the earth & sky, as well as beautiful frescoes on the domed roof. Marble statues depicting emperors such as Emperor Charles IV in the centre of the room watch over you as you breath in the history that this hall emanates. I’ve never been in a library as beautiful as this one and it took me back in time to where I felt like Belle in Beauty & the Beast fairtytale, where she sees the beast’s magical library! Tickets can be purchased directly from the library’s website, they also have guided tours you can take as well.
Address: Josefsplatz, Vienna
Opening Hours: 10am-9pm – Thursdays, 10am- 6pm all other days
Tickets: 8 euros for an adult ticket to visit the State Hall
Known for housing the largest print room in Vienna, a visit to the Albertina museum is a must for any art or beauty lover! The art collections include pieces from Picasso & Monet, there are over a million pieces dating back to Gothic times in the drawing collection, sculptures and photography exhibits. You can also visit the State Rooms, which were one the home to the archdukes and archduchesses of the Habsburgs. Tickets are available to purchase on their website, with different options.
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, Vienna
Opening Hours: daily from 10am to 6pm, Wednesdays & Fridays from 10am to 9pm
Tickets: admission for adults costs 16 euros
Vienna is revered worldwide for its renowned café culture and I made sure I explored a myriad of Viennese coffeehouses during my time in the Austrian capital. If you’re interested in learning about the best cafes in Vienna then make sure you check out my article here on the 10 best cafes in Vienna & Salzburg! If you were only able to visit one in Vienna then I would recommend you stop in at the historic Café Central.
With live piano music, marble columns, waiters in suits, amazing coffee, delicious pastries & sweets and an abundance of seating, Café Central is a heart-warming corner of the city to stop by at any time (or meal) of the day! An abundance of famous & legendary people once sipped coffee & tea and frequented this historic coffeehouse, including Freud & Trotsky, and it was also known as a “Chess University”. So whether you’re catching up with friends or family, need a quick hit of caffeine or simply want to lounge in an aesthetically magnificent spot with a book & a latte, this is the place to sip & chill!
Address: Corner Herrengasse & Strauchgasse, Vienna
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday – 7.30am to 10pm; Sunday & public holidays – 10am to 10pm. Live piano entertainment from 5pm to 10pm daily
As I only spent a few days in Vienna last year, there are countless more places which I haven’t listed here or even had the chance to visit as yet… The interiors of the Hofburg Palace & the Belvedere Palace, the Spanish Riding School and the State Opera House are just a few historic & beautiful places which I’ve decided to add on my next visit. As well as exploring more of the bakeries, cafes & restaurants! Apart from landmarks and attractions, just simply taking a walk, bicycle ride or hopping on the tram which circles in a ring around the capital is a wonderful way to explore this culturally significant city. No matter which way you turn, the city sparkles in the sunlight and the relaxing flow of water from the countless fountains is ultra soothing.
Vienna was a place I had dreamed of visiting ever since I was a child and it turned out to be more beautiful and inspiring than I could have ever expected. The architecture is impressive & entrancing, the churches are glorious, the palaces & squares draw you in and you feel like you have been transported back to the time of the Habsburgs. There’s an abundance of cafes & restaurants, shops, more museums than you could dream would exist and an air of the intelligentsia wafts through the city.
After visiting this clean, beautiful, deeply cultural capital of Austria, I understand why it’s so beloved and considered by many to be the world’s most liveable city. I honestly think Vienna is one of the rare places in the world which would be beautiful no matter which season you visit and it is essentially a dream place for photographers, foodies, coffee addicts, music lovers, artistes, travellers…definitely a part of the world which is ultra worthy of being part of your travel memories as well as on your Insta-grid!
I hope this guide has been useful, let me know if you have visited Vienna yet or are planning to! Have you got any other suggestions of places to visit in the Austrian capital?