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City Orientation Tour, Vienna
City Orientation Tour
Guide Location: Austria » Vienna
Guide Type: Self-guided city tour
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.3 km
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and AndreasPraefcke
Author: leticia
This self-guided walking tour is included in the iOS app "City Maps and Walks (470+ Cities)" in iTunes and the Android app "Vienna Map and Walks" in Google Play.
Vienna is one of the most beautiful and important cities in Europe. It contains some of the richest examples of Austrian history. Vienna attracts a large amount of tourists because of its wonderful parks, beautiful architecture and historic sites. This Vienna City Orientation Tour will show you the most interesting places the city has to offer.
Tour Stops and Attractions
Belvedere Palace
1) Belvedere Palace
The Lower Belvedere Palace is one of two such buildings that were added to this complex. It was the dream of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was responsible for the design and the construction of this impressive place. There is a second part of the complex, called the Upper palace, which sits across from the Lower location. The Orangery and Royal Stables also makes up part of the whole complex of buildings that was Eugene’s home. The whole complex is located in the Third District of Vienna, and is now completely used as a museum complex.

The lower and upper palaces would constitute the summer home for Prince Eugene. Johan von Hildebrandt was the architect of the project. He also went on to do several other projects for the prince over time.

Work on the Lower Belvedere began around 1716, and was extensively in use by 1720. Just like the Upper location, the Lower palace was damaged very heavily during the Second World War, and had to be completely renovated. In the reconstruction, this building was redesigned with an area inside that could be used to special exhibitions. The overall Baroque design was left intact throughout. The building was able to be reopened to the public in 2007.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Gryffindor
Sight description based on wikipedia
Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien
2) Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien
The locals call this place the Wien Museum. The name can be a bit deceptive though. The whole complex is actually a series of 19 different locations, all under the umbrella of the Vienna Museum. The driving focus and mission of the institution is to present the history of the city throughout the ages.

The main campus is the Karlsplatz. There is also a major secondary location at Hermesvilla. So, if you decide to visit, you will want to make sure and at least visit these two. Apart from that, the other places include a list of highly specialized exhibits and protected excavation sites. The time frame for the historical collection can take you all the way back to the Neolithic.

The locations are, for the most part, open from 10 am until 6 pm Tuesday to Saturday. They are also open on most major holidays with reduced hours. You will want to confirm the hours of each location, though, to make sure you are able to visit. This is especially true of the more specialized museums that make up part of the 19 location museum complex.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Anonymus
Sight description based on wikipedia
3) Karlskirche
This famous house of worship is located in Karlsplatz, Vienna, and is located just at the beginning of the First District. It sits about 200 meters from the Ringstrabe. The building represents one of Vienna’s finest examples of baroque style churches also. One of the really unique features of the place is its unusually shaped dome that sits atop the building. It is elongated in form.

The location has really become a very popular tourist attraction in recent times. This is due to the unusual styling of the building, and the contrast that it paints to other buildings in the area. The church is managed by a local Catholic order, but is still the local parish church for the area. It is also the home of the student ministry to the Vienna University of Technology. So, besides being an architectural marvel, it is also still quite functional.

History tells us that Emperor Charles VI ordered the building of the church in order to fulfill a vow he made to God. The black plague was striking Vienna hard in the early 1700s, so the Emperor made a promise that he would build a church and name it after St. Charles Borromeo, who was well known for caring for people who suffered from the plague. In exchange, he asked God to relieve the city of the disease.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Gryffindor
Sight description based on wikipedia
The State Opera
4) The State Opera
The State Opera is an impressive structure, with an equally impressive company of singers that perform there. The history of this location dates all the way back to around the 1860s. It is centrally located in the heart of Austria. The place was originally called the Vienna Court Opera. That name was changed by the Habsburgs during the early formation of the first Austrian Republic. This occurred in 1920. Many of the members of the Opera end up performing with the Vienna Philharmonic. The group has a large repertoire of very famous pieces as well, such as La Traviata, La clemenza di Tito, and Verdi’s Don Carlo. You will also see a lot of very famous singers coming to this venue to sing also. Some of the world’s most famous directors have also come from here. Gustav Mahler conducted here in the early 20th Century. Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado have also had a turn at being the leader of this famous opera. Apart from the singers and orchestra, the building is also worth the visit. The State Opera offers guided tours of the location. They are available every day of the week, and last for around 40 minutes. The tours are also available in 12 different languages.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Böhringer
Sight description based on wikipedia
5) Burggarten
The Burggarten is located in Vienna’s 1st district. It was originally a garden on the grounds of the Hofburg Palace. The space was originally partially occupied by a wall that surrounded the palace and the city to protect against invaders. However, it did little to stop Napoleon’s advance upon the city and as he left portions of the wall were destroyed.

In the space where the wall had been, a beautiful formal garden was created on the palace grounds. The garden was created in the tradition of English gardens. After the fall of the Habsburg dynasty, the garden was opened for public enjoyment.

Several statues are on the garden grounds, but the most famous one is the Mozart Denkmal. The statue was not originally here, but was moved here in the early 1950s. Also be sure to see the fountain statue of Hercules that was placed in the pond in the 1940s.

Another popular feature is the butterfly garden (Schmettlerlinghaus) which was added in 1901. Tropical butterflies and bats live in a tropical paradise here. It is educational as well as beautiful; one can see the butterfly eggs, caterpillars, cocoons and butterflies all in one building. The free flying butterflies are spectacular and sure to please everyone.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Extrawurst
Sight description based on wikipedia
Kunsthistorisches Museum
6) Kunsthistorisches Museum
The very name of the place means “Museum of Art History.” Many locals just call it the KHM. The place was founded in 1891, and was designed at the same time as the Maria-Theresien Platz. Construction of the building lasted for 19 years. It is one of the most impressive art collections in all of Europe. Emperor Franz Joseph the First of Austria was responsible for the construction. It was designed mainly to hold the impressive art collection of the Hapsburgs.

The central structure on Rinstrasse Street is the home of the picture gallery, and is very impressive indeed. You will also find the European coin collection here. The display of Egyptian Antiquities is stored in this main location, as well as one of Europe’s best collections of Roman and Greek historical art.

Recently, the Museum of Ethnology has become part of the KHM, as well as the Theater Museum on Lobkowitz. This occurred in January of 2001. So, you will have to visit a couple of locations to get through all the holdings.

Operation hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10 am - 6 pm.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Gryffindor
Sight description based on wikipedia
Leopold Museum
7) Leopold Museum
This famous museum can be found in the so-called “Museumsquartier” of Vienna. If you only get a chance to see one museum while you are visiting, this may be your choice. It houses one of the largest Austrian centered collections of art in the world. You can visit and see the works of Kokoschka, Gerstl, Schiele, and even Klimt. All in all, there are more than five thousand exhibits.

The location is named for the famous couple - Rudolf and Elisabeth - who put the collection together over a span of 50 years. The collection was organized and placed on display at its current location with the assistance of the State of Austria, as well as the National Bank of Austria. A private foundation and holding corporation was established to care for the pieces in 2001.

In addition to being able to visit this grand exhibit of 19th and 20th Century Austrian art, you may also want to stop and visit their gift shop. There, you can purchase replications of some of the great pieces exhibited at Leopold Museum. The building is also home to the Café Leopold, which is a well known night spot for people to come, have some coffee, and discuss history, art, and politics.

Operation hours: Wednesday - Monday: 10 am – 6 pm.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Manfreeed
Sight description based on wikipedia
Naturhistorisches Museum
8) Naturhistorisches Museum
The Naturhistorisches Museum is part of the larger Wien complex of exhibits that is located all over the city of Vienna. The current facility has grown to over 90,000 square feet in size. In recent years, software has been developed to allow you to tour part of the place via a virtual tour.

The location is known worldwide, as it is one of the most important collections of items of natural history to be found anywhere. The project started over 250 years ago, and now features over 20,000,000 pieces of interest.

The central building is an old palace structure that constitutes the original museum. It opened in 1869 under the name of the Imperial Natural Museum. Today, many of the original displays have been relocated into other parts of the overall Wien Museum of Vienna.

You will find some very rare items here as well. For instance, the Venus of Willendorf is on display here, and is an object that is over twenty five thousand years old. There is also a dinosaur skeleton displayed on the floors that is over two hundred and fifty million years old. In all, you will be able to casually walk through 39 different sections of the museum.

Operation hours: Wednesday - Monday 9 am - 6 pm. On Wednesday until 9 pm.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Gryffindor
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hohes Haus
9) Hohes Haus
Hohes Haus in Vienna is located on the Ringstraße boulevard in the first district Innere Stadt, near the Hofburg Palace and the Palace of Justice. The foundation stone was laid in 1874; the building was completed in 1883. The architect responsible for its Greek revival style wasTheophil Edvard Hansen. He designed the building holistically, each element harmonizing with the others and was therefore also responsible for the interior decoration, such as statues, paintings, furniture, chandeliers, and numerous other elements. Hansen was honored by Emperor Franz Joseph with the title of Freiherr (Baron) after its completion. One of the building's most famous features is the Pallas Athena fountain in front of the main entrance, built by Hansen from 1898 to 1902 and a notable Viennese tourist attraction. Following heavy damage and destruction during the Second World War, most of the interior has been restored to its original splendor.

The parliament building covers over 13,500 square meters, making it one of the largest structures on the Ringstraße. It contains over one hundred rooms, the most important of which are the Chambers of the National Council, the Federal Council, and the former Imperial House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). The building also includes committee rooms, libraries, lobbies, dining rooms, bars and gymnasiums. It is the site of important state ceremonies, most notably the swearing-in ceremony of the President of Austria and the state speech on National Day each October 26. The building is closely associated with the two parliamentary bodies, as is shown by the use of the term "Hohes Haus" as a metonym for "Parliament".
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Achp ru
Sight description based on wikipedia
10) Rathaus
The Rathaus is the building in Vienna that holds the local city government. The mayor of the city as well as the city council, all have offices there. This same location also serves as the state headquarters for the government of the State of Austria. It is called the Landtag.

This building got its start in 1872 and was designed by the noted architect Friedrich van Schmidt. Lovers of architectural style will note the classic Gothic design of the building. There is also a large tower that is part of the overall structure. A large city park is located just across the way. The famous Rathskeller restaurant is still also located in the building.

It will take a visitor 331 steps to reach the top of the tower. However, the watchtower portion is only 256 steps up, which is more easily managed by people wanting to get a view of the city from here. The location is open to the public most days of the year from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Since this is the center for government, it is closed on some major Viennese holidays.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Gryffindor
Sight description based on wikipedia
11) Burgtheater
The Burgtheater is the national theater of Austria. It also serves as one of the most important German theaters in all the world. It was founded in the year 1741. The place received its name from the audiences that have come to see plays there for centuries now. It is located on Ring Boulevard.

It started out as the home for the theatrical troupe. In 1888, though, the group moved to a new location that was procured by Gottfried Semper and C. von Hasenauer. Since that time, the current location has been just the theater itself.

This location also sports one of the largest performing stages in the world. The depth of the platform is a full 13 meters deep. This large venue lends itself well to the type of plays performed there.

The local company of actors has received worldwide fame and renowned for its interpretation of German writers and playwrights. There is also a rather unique speech and style to the plays that any local would recognize. Many tickets can be purchased for as little as 25 Euro. If you call the day of any play, any leftover tickets will also be on sale for 50 percent off.

In addition to being able to see the plays here, you can take a guided tour of the facility Monday through Thursday at 3:00 p.m. The tour will be in German. On Friday through Sunday, at the same time, there are tours in German and English. The guided tours are performed from September to June of each year.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Tsui
Sight description based on wikipedia
12) Volksgarten
The Volksgarten “or roughly people’s park” is one of the most beautiful public outdoor places in all of Vienna. It is located in the Innere Stadt, which of part of the First District. The place was built over the top of the part of the city which was destroyed during the reign of Napoleon. The facility was finished and first opened to the general public in 1820.

This place is very famous for the gardens that are located within, especially the rose section. There is also a very famous temple here, called the Theseus. It is a replica of the famous Greek version by that same name. Peter von Nobile built the monument in 1823 as a tribute to Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Much of the park as it is known today was built at a second addition to the place in 1857 when more of the city was turned over to this use. A famous coffeehouse was also located here for a while, which ultimately became a venue for concerts from the likes of Straub and Lanner, two very famous Austrian composers. There are still many concerts that are performed in the park today.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Danielsp
Sight description based on wikipedia
13) Hofburg
The Hofburg, for many centuries, was the official home of the Habsburg Empire. Each successive Emperor has added to the opulence of the place. The famous family used to make this their winter home. In more modern times, this is now the official home of the President of Austria. This place can trace its history all the way back to 1279, as the official seat of one government or another. The overall complex now includes official state rooms for the President, museums of various sorts that are all easily reached from here, and various living areas (called apartments by the locals). However, they are unlike most apartments anyone could ever imagine. There is also a chapel built into the complex, which is open to the public. If you come for Sunday Mass, you will also be able to listen to the famous Vienna Boys Choir, which performs here regularly. The apartments used by the royalty, the Sisi Museum and other sites located on campus are open to the general public each day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. September to June of each year. The complex stays open until 6:00 p.m. each day from July to August.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and DanielZanetti
Sight description based on wikipedia
14) Demel
Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel, or simply Der Demel, is a famous pastry shop and chocolatier in Vienna. It was founded in 1786 on the Michaelerplatz. In 1857, August Dehne (the son of the founder Ludwig Dehne) gave the company to Christof Demel, who moved the bakery to the Kohlmarkt, where the it is still located today in its original building. The white-aproned waitresses — the Demelinerinnen — address the customers using traditional, polite language, "Haben schon gewählt?" or "Wollen etwas zu sich nehmen, wenn belieben?".The building is located near the Hofburg Palace, and the interior was designed by Portois and Fix in a baroque style. Demel has one additional location in Salzburg. The Vienna site includes a museum with artifacts featuring the history of the Imperial chocolate-making bakery.
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Gryffindor
Julius Meinl am Graben
15) Julius Meinl am Graben
Discover the wonderful world of coffee at Julius Meinl. It has been a leading Austrian coffee shop for 145 years. The shop was established in 1862 as a professional seller of green, then later, roasted coffee. Its extensive selection of high quality coffees, teas and fine foods is sure to please any coffee lover.

What to buy here: Viennese coffee. To recreate the Viennese traditions of intellectual discussion over a long afternoon of coffee drinking you must visit Viennese institution, Julius Meinl. For 150 years Julius Meinl has been Central Europe's leading Coffee Company. The Meinl story begins in 1862 when Julius Meinl opened his first grocery store, selling spices and green coffee in the center of Vienna. He created coffee blends and was the first to offer them freshly roasted for sale. This innovation was accepted by the Viennese with enthusiasm and brought the young man great success. A packet of Vienna roast with beans from Costa Rica or Brazil will range from 10.00€ - 14.00€. The coffee is offered in a range of light roast which suits filter coffee, medium roast which has a more caramelized taste good for Viennese coffee recipes or else dark roast which is harsher, stronger and more intense, perfect for espresso. Other design objects offered by the Meinl brand include espresso cups, tea cups and milk jugs in an affordable price range of €7.50 - €26.00. Or if you know someone who likes to read with their morning brew then perhaps a Julius Meinl newspaper order is the best choice, €30.00.

Business hours: Monday Friday 8.00 - 19.30, Saturdays 9.00 - 18.00.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Renzo Giusti
Graben Street
16) Graben Street
Der Graben is one of the most famous streets in all of Vienna. It dates back to Roman times, and has been an integral part of the city that whole time. Even Richard the Lion Hearted used this road to enter the city.

The name comes from an old trench that used to roughly follow the shape of the road. Eventually, it was filled in, which caused the Graben to be one of the first modern roads in the city.

It is located in the First District. You can start at Stock-im-Eisen-Platz and travel through some wonderful old buildings to the other end at Tuchlauben.

On the way you see some wonderful sites like the Ankerhaus, which used to be the home of Otto Wagner. The Palais Bartolotti-Partenfeld is also located here. It was the favorite summer home of the famous Barons by those names.

You will also want to visit the Generalihof, which was built in the 1700s, and was at one point the famous music shop for Leopold Kozeluch. Moving down the road, you can see the Grabenhof, which was built on the historic site of the old Arkadenhof. This was the traditional residence of Sonnleithner, who founded the famous music society of Vienna.

No trip down der Graben would be complete without a stop to see the Erste Osterreichische Spar Casse. The current headquarters for this banking and financial group have been located here since 1835.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Túrelio
Sight description based on wikipedia
17) Stephansdom
Stephansdom or St. Stephen’s Cathedral is an amazing work of art and a testament to one city’s love for their church. It is the home church of the Archbishop of Vienna. The large building can be seen from most of Vienna with its distinctive south tower that rises an impressive 445 feet in height. In fact this tower was manned by a night watchman until 1955, and his duty was to ring the “fire bell” if any fires broke out in the city at night. There was to be a twin north tower, but due to several factors, it is considerably shorter and different in design than the impressive south tower.

The inside the massive church contains several smaller chapels in addition to the main sanctuary. This huge portion of the edifice has 18 alters, but the most amazing alter is the high alter. It is carved in marble and is a representation of the stoning of St. Stephen, the church’s namesake. The Wiener Neustädter alter is also a breathtaking work of art.

The bells of the Cathedral are an important part of life in Vienna. While the oldest of the 23 bells are not rung anymore, several are and they all have a special meaning. One of the most special is the St. Mary bell. The original bell was made from the captured Muslim invaders cannons. The bell was badly damaged when it crashed to the floor during a fire; however, part of the damaged bell was used when casting the new bell.

The outside of the cathedral is also as distinctive. The incredible tile roof is covered by almost 250,000 tiles. The steep pitch of the roof keeps it fairly free of debris. The walls also have interesting features including the rods used as standard dry goods measure for drapes and linen cloth. Be sure to allow enough time to see this entire amazing Cathedral.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Matthias Ripp
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Prater
18) The Prater
The Prater is a public park located in the Leopoldstast district of Vienna (2nd district). This beautiful park has around 250 attractions, but the one that really stands out is the Giant Ferris Wheel (Wiener Riesenrad) which will allow you to take in the sights from 60 meters in the air. Built in 1897, this has been thrilling natives and visitors alike for over a century.

For those that need a bit more excitement than a leisurely ride, try the Prater Tower. This ride still offers great views of the city at the height of 117 meters; however, they will be seen while spinning in a circle at 61 kilometers per hour. There is also a planetarium for those who would like to keep their feet on the ground but turn their eyes to the stars. There are also lots of rides for any kids in the group.

The Prater also has over 60 food venues to quench a thirst or fill a tummy. From just a cup of coffee with a pastry and a great view of the people passing by to a serious cuisine it can be found here. You may want to walk off those delicious calories by taking a stroll on the Green Prater. The 4.5 kilometer Hauptallee is a long, beautifully shaded street for walking, biking, skating and even taking a carriage ride. This boulevard is lined with over 2,000 trees. Bicycles are available for rent as are horses. Off the path a bit there are also boats for rent in the lake there. Golf is also available.

Plan on spending at least half the day here, although one could easily spend an entire day and not see everything there is to see. The park is free but the attractions are not.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Deblu68
Sight description based on wikipedia
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