27 things to do and eat in Vienna, Austria
Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Vienna, the capital of Austria, is the dreamiest European city, in our opinion. A city rich in history and culture, the historic centre has even been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. With countless imperial palaces, museums, and art galleries, there's just so much to do in Vienna.
Especially for first-timers, here's a useful guide for you to find out what you can do in Vienna. You may also wish to read our All you need to know about travelling to Vienna Travel Guide to find out more about how you can get to Vienna, transport within Vienna, accommodation and wifi information.
1. St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephanskirche)
Also known as the symbol of Vienna, be marvelled by the most important Gothic structure in Austria. The cathedral has four towers and is 107.2 meters long and 34.2 meters wide and has a colourful roof to create the Royal and Imperial double-headed eagle and the coat of arms of the city of Vienna.
Enter the cathedral and experience the beautiful interior architecture too. Entrance is free but should you want to head up the tower for a splendid view of Vienna, you'll have to pay a nominal fee.
St. Stephan's Cathedral
Stephansplatz 3, 1010 Wien, Austria
Nearest underground: Stephanplatz
2. Sample Viennese Schnitzel at Figlmuller
Also known as the home of the Schnitzel, where best to sample local Viennese fare at Figlmuller. It is also located close to St. Stephan's Cathedral so you can just take a short walk there for lunch. Be warned, the schnitzel's huge!!
Head down this little alley and you'll arrive at their original Wollzeile store. It is normally packed and you will be turned away (and directed to their other branch) if you do not have a reservation. Strangely and fortunately, we walked in an immediately got a seat in the glass-covered atrium!
I previously dined at the Baeckerstrasse outlet 6 years back and had to stand in line to even get into the restaurant. I remembered having delicious and crispy schnitzel and the unforgettable potato salad. Since I've tried the veal one previously, and we so fortunately managed to get into the original Wollzeile outlet and had an amazing seat, we ordered the Figmuller-Schnitzel (pork version, 14.90 euros) and the potato salad (4.70 euros)! We ordered a portion of each to share and a glass of grape juice spritzer (2.6 euros). Prices are affordable and kept that way for a restaurant dining experience.
For some reason, the original Wollzeile outlet has slightly cheaper prices than the Baeckerstrasse outlet. Also, if you want to sample the veal version (Wiener Schnitzel, 20.50 euros), it is only available in Baeckerstrasse.
Service was very good too, the waiter served us our Schnitzel alongside two smaller plates as we were sharing the portion. Because it was all fried, a glass of fizzy drink or beer is absolutely necessary. Also, it may be too much for one Asian stomach. But really, most of the patrons there were having one all to themselves!
If you do want to head over, remember to reserve your seats online! For your information, at the time of writing, all lunch and dinner December slots are filled at both branches.
Wollzeile 5, 1010 Wien, Austria
Bäckerstraße 6, 1010 Wien, Austria
Nearest underground: Stephanplatz
3. Watch them dance at the Anchorclock
The Anchorclock is adorned with copper accents that looked almost like gold shining in the sunlight. It is situated in the oldest square in Vienna and represents an Art Noveau design. At each hour, 12 historical figures move across the bridge and the highlight is at noon where all 12 figures will parade across the bridge accompanied by music.
If you're in the area close to noontime, head over to watch this tourist spectacular!
Hoher Markt 10-11, 1010 Wien, Austria
Nearest underground: Schwedenplatz
4. Go shopping in Vienna: Kärntner Strasse and the longest and liveliest Mariahilfer Strasse
Kärntner Strasse is the most famous high street in Vienna and it is also home to the flagship store of Austrian brand Swarovski. You can also find many international fashion brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, as well as luxury shops like Hugo Boss. Souvenir stores also line this street as it is popular pathway from St. Stephan's Cathedral to the Vienna Opera House.
The other must-go is Mariahilfer Strasse! It starts somewhere close to Wien Westbahnhof and you can find almost every departmental store and shop here. Hidden in the smaller lanes you'll be able to find fun and interesting stuff; definitely a must-go!
5. Go cafehopping and experience Vienna's coffeehouse culture
At the end of Kärntner Strasse, head into Cafe Sacher for an afternoon bite. The original Sachertorte, a dense chocolate cake with apricot jam, is a delicious treat after all that walking. Plus, take some time to take in the Coffee House culture in Vienna.
6. Tour Vienna's Operahouse (Wiener Staatsoper)
There's only two ways to view the inside of the Operahouse: one, to purchase a ticket for its almost-daily shows or two, to head for the tour! Since we didn't want to queue up in line for a standing ticket and stand some more for the night, we decided our best bet was to go for the tour. Plus, we weren't that keen fans of ballet (it was screening on the nights we were there), we very much prefer Opera. That being said, I kinda regret heading to Vienna thrice and not even watching any of the performances once. Arghhh... Time to plan another trip back!
Nonetheless, going for the tour requires some planning in advance as tickets for the tour is only available about 30 minutes before the tour and they only open the opera house strictly during the tour times. Check the tour timings online before your visit.
The tour was very enjoyable as we got to learn about lots of fun facts like how some important interviews are held due to the majestic rooms and how you will get to watch a different play, opera, or ballet each time you go to the Operahouse because of their variety of programmes. Also, we were able to see a little of the "behind the scenes" as we sat in the opera house watching the backstage crew move the sets to get ready for the evening's show.
Opernring 2, 1010 Wien, Austria
Tour tickets: 9 euros
Nearest underground: Karlsplatz
7. Grab a Käsekrainer at a Wurstelstand
Wurstelstands are all over Vienna and they usually serve a selection of sausages and leberkase. When in Vienna, you'll have to try the Käsekrainer which is a german sausage filled with cheese. Be careful when you bite into the juicy sausages as, if not careful, the cheese would ooze out!
While waiting for the ticket office to open to purchase our tour tickets into the opera house, we decided to drop by the famous Bitzinger. It has two outlets in Vienna, one behind the opera house and the other one at Prater.
We had their currywurst and a Käsekrainer hotdog. It was delicious! They usually have a long line waiting for their piping hot sausages and beer but we waited only for about 3 minutes! Yipee! Oh, they are also a popular option for hungry opera go-ers after the opera as they open till late.