The major Vienna Attractions are located in and around the “Heart of Vienna”, in what is known as Vienna’s Central or, First District. This is also the city’s major tourist draw. One can spend several days walking and exploring this area.
The District is delineated by what today is known as the Ringstrasse, which actually are a several streets forming a semi-circle around this old part of Vienna. The west bank of the Danube River completes the circle. Ringstrasse replaced the wall, remnants of which can still be seen today, that encircled the original city and protected it from invaders such as the Ottomans. Within this district you’ll find the architecture and spirit that attracted the greats of the past and today – visitors from around the world.
Within The Ringstrasse…
you’ll find the well known Vienna Attractions such as the Hofburg Palace, with its 700 year history, the Vienna State Opera House, St. Stephens Cathedral, magnificent court yards, city park, memorials, etc. Here you’ll even find a touch of Americana - just a touch though.
Take a Carriage Ride
The best way to see the attractions is either by foot or horse drawn carriages (Fieker), which are plentiful in this part of the Vienna. Taking a tour by carriage may be a good way to get an overview of the historic Central District before you explore specific places – by foot. Ah, yes don’t worry about the horse droppings, the Viennese have a clever way of taking care of that.
On the other side of Ringstrasse, is the imposing Rathaus with its Gothic style and cathedral like tower. It was built between 1872 and 1883, and today is Vienna’s City Hall and serves as the seat for the Mayor, the city council and approximately 2,000 workers.
The Wonderful Museums
Nearby and also across the street from the Hofburg Palace are the Museums of Natural History (Naturhistorisches Museum) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorishes Museum). Built between 1872 and 1891, the Museum of Fine Arts was originally built to house the vast collection of the Imperial Family. Today it holds the former art collections of the Habsburgs’ Medieval Art, along with important ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. It is unequivocally, one of the preeminent museums in the world. The picture gallery holds works from Michelangelo, Velazquez, Durer, Raphael, Titian and probably the most comprehensive collection of Peter Brueghel to be found anywhere.
With its earliest collections of artifacts begun over 250 year ago the Museum of Natural History is said to be one of the most important museums in the world. The collection includes the 25,000 year-old figure of “Venus von Willendorf”, one of Austria’s most significant archeological finds, discovered in 1908 during the excavation of palaeolithic remains of a settlement at Willendorf in the Wachau region. On display is also the skeleton of a Diplodocus, the longest terrestrial vertebrate that has ever lived, a giant topaz weighing 117 kg (4,127.1 oz.) and the valuable bouquet of jewels which Maria Theresia had made as a present for her husband. Over 20 million objects are said to be scientifically maintained and cataloged at the museum.
Even a Starbucks!
When you get tired of touring the palaces and museums, or perhaps may be getting a bit home sick, here you’ll even find Starbucks and McDonald’s. No, they don’t ruin the setting, and in fact blend in quite nicely. A better choice may be to explore the local fare and cafes for which Vienna is well known.
Now, This Is Ice Cream!
If ice cream is on your mind, a shop at Sweden Platz, has some of the smoothest and best ice cream you’ve ever tasted.
Best Way to Tour? Walk or Carriage
Walking around old Vienna, which by the way is very safe, and enjoying some of the architectural marvels and other Vienna Attractions, can certainly give you a feeling that you’re stepping back a few centuries in time. It may also have you realize where so many of the greats of the past go their inspiration from. I think that you’ll find that walking around centuries old buildings and taking in the history is half the fun of being there.
Learn more about Vienna at Things to do in Vienna.