Old Town Museums Tour, Vienna (Self Guided)

Thanks to its glorious past, Vienna is home to almost one hundred museums. This wonderful city offers a wide range of local history and culture museums exhibiting Vienna’s unique history and culture. This tour will guide you to most famous museums located in the Old Town of Vienna.
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Old Town Museums Tour Map

Guide Name: Old Town Museums Tour
Guide Location: Austria » Vienna (See other walking tours in Vienna)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Author: leticia
Naturhistorisches Museum

1) Naturhistorisches Museum (must see)

The Naturhistorisches Museum is part of the larger Wien complex of exhibits 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 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.

Why You Should Visit:
Incredible because of the upgrading of many exhibits, which brilliantly combine the old (showcases of artifacts from the late 1880s in their original cases) with the new (an amazing exhibit room of meteorites with interactive cases or an exhibit on our planet which is incredibly interesting and educational).
Almost everything is in English as well as in German. The museum has also gone out of its way to cater to kids, so a great place for the family.

It is strongly recommended to take an audio guide and learn more about the most important collection items.
If you are a student, make sure to bring your student card to capitalize on the discount they offer.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Mon: 9am-6:30pm; Wed: 9am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Ephesos Museum

2) Ephesos Museum (must see)

The Ephesos Museum is part of the larger Imperial Palace complex at Hofburg. Up until 1918, this whole location was still part of the palace and buildings that were the central home of the Habsburg Empire. Today there are many small exhibits that fill most of the spaces here. The notable exception is the large palace itself which is now the official home of the President.

The Ephesos display focuses on the Turkish city by that name and attempts to tell the history of that place from early times, through its importance in the Bible, through all the way to modern history.

Most of the items on display have been unearthed, through the years, during archeological expeditions conducted in the old city. The displays attempt to stay true to the actual locations where these artifacts were found. You can get a chance to see a Parthian Frieze here. The many displays will take you through the military history of the city. In addition, the many paintings on display here can better help one understand the nature of life under Roman rule.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 10am-6pm; Thu: 10am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury)

3) Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury) (must see)

The Schatzkammer holds what is considered the greatest treasury collection in the world. It is located in the Hofburg complex, so it can be visited at the same time you visit other locations there. Most days, you can get in a good visit in about an hour and a half. The entrance is located at the Swiss Courtyard.

In that hour of time, you can tour the treasures of the Habsburg Empire, which reaches back over one thousand years. The items on display have a long history of movement over time: Napoleon's conquests, the decline of the Roman Empire, the Nazis, and the wars fought against Prussia. As such, over the years, the items on display have moved back and forth from Vienna to Nuremberg. The current structure of the complex has been in place since 1983.

Among the beautiful items here is a sword that was believed to belong to Charlemagne, the crown of the old Holy Roman Empire and even the legendary Agate Bowl, which for centuries was tied to the story of Arthur’s court and the legend of the Holy Grail.

Why You Should Visit:
Fantastic embroidery, religious relics, and pieces of royal jewelry, all in one place – and an incredible blend of Austrian history with just enough "wow" factor to keep you interested.

Get the audio guides – otherwise, you won't get much from the printed text underneath the objects or on the walls.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 9am-5:30p
Closed on Tuesdays
Sight description based on wikipedia
Spanish Riding School

4) Spanish Riding School (must see)

The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is famous the world over. Many of their troops actually perform in other countries. In fact, one of their largest fan populations lives in the U.S. The place is famous for the Lipizzaner horses which have been raised there. The facility provides instruction in the famous military tactics that the horses were famous for since the time of Napoleon. They are also a formal dressage school. The group offers public performances, which include the famous Winter Riding School, and also give classes to locals on occasion.

The location of the riding school is in a building that was erected in 1729 and has not changed terribly since that time. In fact, one can even still see the royal box that has been used by the likes of Charles VI.

The famous horses are moved for the months of July and August to a resting place in southern Austria – you may want to be aware of this if you are traveling to Vienna in the summer.

Why You Should Visit:
Even you aren't fond of horse shows, a guided tour (EG/DE) through the stabling and the riding arena with background information & details about their history and the complex breeding system is worth a visit anytime.

If you want to see the jumps, go for the actual show. If you like horses, it's great to see them train in the morning.
If you drop into the (not too expensive) on-site café for a coffee, drink or snack, you can go out to the terrace, adjacent to which there is a wooden enclosure in which you can see the horses and their riders practice before the show - and that actually won't cost anything.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-4pm (Jan-Feb); Mon-Sun: 9am-4pm (Mar-Dec)
Fridays, in case of an evening show: 9am-7pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hofsilber und Tafelkammer

5) Hofsilber und Tafelkammer (must see)

The Hofsilber and Tafelkammer museums are part of the larger Wien complex in Vienna. The two locations are designed around displaying the fine silver collections of what was the Habsburg fine dining experience. The whole imperial silver collection is on display here.

To make a better display of things, the pieces are grouped around displays that would have looked like something you would see at a royal dinner. For instance, you can find 13 different utensils displayed in proper fashion, in the order they would have been placed for a fine dinner. The fine porcelain side pieces are also part of the collection. To limit access but not take away from the view, the location makes great use of mirrors. It really helps to let the visitor see the pieces up close.

The Court Tableware Collection is on display from Tuesday through Sunday each week. The hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. each day.
Bank Austria Kunstforum

6) Bank Austria Kunstforum

Bank Austria regularly has some of the best art exhibits on display to be found anywhere in the city of Vienna. Over 300,000 visitors come each year to see them, even though it is not a public institution per say. They bring in exhibits from across the world.

Their private collection has over 10,000 pieces now. You can find the works of such great artists as van Gogh or Lichtenstein. They very frequently add new items to the count that are from more modern artists also. The biggest single portion of their collection, however, comes from the Viennese art nouveau movement. They also house one of the bigger avant-garde contemporary art collections in the whole city. It is definitely worth the visit.

The museum is the brain child of Heinz Conrad, who helped to organize the first display for the company. This was in the year 1980.

The museum is open to the general public daily from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. On Friday of every week, the museum stays open an extra two hours, and closes at 9:00 p.m. You can get a guided tour of the building every Friday at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at 3:30 p.m., or Sunday at 11:00 a.m. All the tours are conducted in German. There is no pre booking of the tour.
Palais Schönborn-Batthyány

7) Palais Schönborn-Batthyány

Palais Schönborn was built at the beginning of 18th century. It includes the Museum für Volkskunde and is located in Josefstadt, the 8th district of Vienna. This beautiful Baroque palace houses excellent works of art from several of Europe's most significant artists.
MOYA - Museum of Young Art

8) MOYA - Museum of Young Art

The Museum of Young Art is as young as the type of art that they like to exhibit. It was founded in the year 2005. The location also houses many conferences and seminars on the topic as well. It is located in the central part of Vienna, in the Belle Etage.

The works of the young artists for sale here also makes this a very unique place to visit. The proceeds of the institution go to foster the work of the people there, and to give new artists a chance to be seen in a very large venue.

Everything you see in the place has been created since the year 2000, so this really keeps the place very new indeed. The location also has conference rooms available for rent, which also helps to raise money for the students of the institution. You will need to call ahead and book the room of choice well in advance of the event, though, as this is a very popular location for meetings.

Operation hours: daily 10 am - 6 pm.

9) Uhrenmuseum

The Uhrenmuseum is the famous Viennese home of clocks, and they have every kind of imaginable display of them. It is a very unique place, in that there are not a lot of other places like it in all of Europe. The location is inside an old Viennese home that has part of its foundation still intact from the Middle Ages. It is also located in a very historical section of town.

The variety is time pieces on display here is amazing. There are even pieces that chime the hour all over the facility. Examples of time keeping devices are represented here from as far back as the Fifteenth Century. The museum goes beyond just variety though, as they try to actually share the history of how our clocks have evolved over the course of time.

Two famous private collections are also on display here. You can see the display from Rudolph Kaftan, who was the first curator of the institution, to the unmatched exhibit owned by the famous author Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. The location is open every day of the week but Monday, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. During the Christmas vacation week, the hours of closing are reduced to 2:00 p.m.
Austrian Resistance Museum

10) Austrian Resistance Museum

This is a very interesting and eclectic place to visit. It was formed in 1963 by a group of individuals that were actually part of the resistance movement in Austria during the time of the Third Reich. The colleagues of these folks were part of the two thousand seven hundred individuals that were executed by the German Gestapo during the war. In a secondary way, the location also covers the efforts of the resistance movement during the Fascist rule of Austria.

There is also a part of the building which houses a research and archive wing for the place. This research facility still keeps an eye on zealous right wing political organizations in Germany. At the entrance to the museum is also a famous fountain built by Georg Donner. It is a classic example of Baroque art. Donner designed several others pieces in the area as well.

The museum can be quite graphic at times, and was designed that way by intention. The establishment recommends that children under the age of 11 not view the exhibits located within. You can call ahead for a time to get a guided tour. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. It takes about an hour to tour it, and the price is free.
Dom- und Diözesanmuseum

11) Dom- und Diözesanmuseum

The location is a cathedral and official museum for the Diocese of Vienna. It was created in 1933 and has developed quite the reputation for being one of the best exhibit formats in all the city. The location has antiques and displays that represent over a thousand years of Roman Catholic history in the country. The largest display here is the St. Stephen’s Cathedral Collection, which is a display of sacred works. The portrait of Duke Rudolf IV also has a home in this place. It is regarded to be the oldest work of its kind anywhere in Western Europe.

The can also find a great collection of Baroque pieces here as well. Much of the art is very controversial, and would have been considered quite outrageous in the day. Some of the finest sculptures to be found in Vienna also have a home here. So there is something here to fascinate just about any fan of fine religious artwork.

For the bizarre, you can visit the display which reportedly holds a piece of the Virgin Mary’s belt. In like fashion, a piece of St. Stephen’s skull is also on display, as one of the church’s relics.

The museum and cathedral are open on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. They are also open Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The institution is closed on major holidays.
Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien

12) Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien

The Jewish Museum is part of the Wien complex located in places all across Vienna. It is a fairly new location, having been opened in 1988. Don’t let that fool you, though, as there is plenty to see here.

The location depicts the life of the Jewish people of Austria, with special attention to the culture and sociological aspects of this group. You can find history here that dates back to the middle ages. The biggest collections housed here are the Jewish Community of Vienna exhibit, the private holdings in the Sussmann display, and the world famous Stern collection of Jewish artifacts and pieces. Recently, the Antisemitica display owned by Martin Schlaff has also been given to the facility, so it also now has a prominent showing here.

From a historical perspective, there is a part of the old street from the Jewish sector of town, which dates to 1421, which has been unearthed and placed on display here. You can actually see part of the foundations of the old synagogue on display in this section of the grounds, which measures approximately 5 square meters. It adds an unusual element to the otherwise typical displays of curia.

Operation hours: Sunday - Friday: 10 am - 6 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Galerie Kovacek & Zetter

13) Galerie Kovacek & Zetter

Established in 1999 by Claudia Kovacek-Longin and Sophie Schwaiger, Galerie Kovacek & Zetter is an art gallery specialized in 19th and 20th century Austrian paintings. Located at Stallburggasse, near Michaelerplatz, Vienna's inner city, the art gallery is spread over three floors, its 300 square-feet space filled with paintings from Impressionism to Modernism. Galerie Kovacek & Zetter also presents contemporary art, organizing 4 to 6 art specialized exhibitions per year.

Operation Hours Monday - Friday: 10 am - 6 pm; Saturday: 11 am - 2 pm
Albertina Museum

14) Albertina Museum (must see)

Albertina Museum's claim to fame centers on its very large collection of old master prints and drawings. In fact, there are over 65,000 drawings in storage here. Apart from the graphics collection, the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th-century art, some of which will be on permanent display. The museum also houses temporary exhibitions.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful building with a fantastic selection of artworks and art styles. Easy to get in with an online ticket (no waiting time).
The open balcony area on the top floor is an excellent place for picture taking, as it faces many of the city's historical buildings.

Make sure you have at least 2.5 hours on your hands to check everything.
The audio guide is for all the exhibitions, so it is worth spending some extra for it.

Opening Hours:
Thu-Tue: 9am-6pm; Wed, Fri: 9am-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Haus der Musik

15) Haus der Musik (must see)

The Haus der Musik is a real hands on museum that is designed to get the visitor to interact at all levels with the displays. It is located in the First District of the city, not very far away from St. Stephen’s Church. The place has won numerous awards for the innovative way that they present their exhibitions.

The 5,000 sq. meter facility used to be the home of the famous Archduke Charles. There are many musical inventions displays among its halls, as well as exhibits that display just how diverse our world’s understanding is as to what exactly constitutes music. The variety may astound you.

Another interesting tid bit about this place is that it used to be the home of Otto Nicolai, who wrote the now famous musical piece “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” This classic comedic opera is also the subject of a display here. In modern times, the museum has also become the official repository of the history of the Vienna Philharmonic. Plan on visiting this most unusual place.

Operation hours: Daily 10 am - 10 pm.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Vienna, Austria

Create Your Own Walk in Vienna

Create Your Own Walk in Vienna

Creating your own self-guided walk in Vienna is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Old Town Center Walking Tour

Old Town Center Walking Tour

The Innere Stadt, first district of Vienna, is part of the World Heritage Site Historic Centre of the city. Originally the inner city was divided into four quarters, which were designated after important town gates. Take this tour to explore the beautiful landmarks, famous museums and specialty shops in the Central area of the Innere Stadt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 km
Famous Homes of Vienna

Famous Homes of Vienna

Vienna was once the home or temporary residence for a number of celebrated people and noble families. Talented musicians, composers, architects and even famous psychologist Sigmund Freud once resided in this beautiful city. Most of their former homes are now museums which acquaint us with the lives and works of these famous persons.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Music Venues Walking Tour

Music Venues Walking Tour

To call Vienna the "Music Capital of the World" would not be an exaggeration. It is home to a vast range of magnificent music venues where you can enjoy the sounds of Mozart’s arias, fabulous compositions by the "King of Waltz" Johann Strauss, famous Viennese Waltzes and other superb works of world-known musicians. Come enjoy the majestic sounds you will hear in some of the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 km
Alsergrund & Josefstadt Tour

Alsergrund & Josefstadt Tour

Alsergrund, the ninth district of Vienna, is associated with many notable names of Viennese art and science. It is the birthplace of Romantic composer Franz Schubert. Ludwig van Beethoven died here in his apartment at Schwarzspanierstraße 15. Berggasse 19 is the former residence and office of Sigmund Freud.

Josefstadt is the smallest district in Vienna. Most mayors of Vienna have lived here,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Old Town South Walking Tour

Old Town South Walking Tour

The Innere Stadt, first district of Vienna, is part of the World Heritage Site Historic Centre of the city. Originally the inner city was divided into four quarters, which were designated after important town gates. Take this tour to explore the beautiful landmarks, art galleries and specialty shops in the Southern part of the Innere Stadt.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
Old Town Chocolate Stores

Old Town Chocolate Stores

Vienna is famous for its mouth-watering confections. In its specialty shops and boutiques, usually located on the ground floors of historic buildings, you will find the best roasted coffee, high quality chocolates, sweets, wafers, cocoa and, of course, Mozartkugels. Don’t hesitate to visit the wonderful specialty shops in the Old Town featured in this guide.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Vienna for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Vienna has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Vienna's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the Vienna PASS, Vienna City Card, or Vienna Card. A city pass combines all or multiple Vienna's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Vienna hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth, Hotel Royal, DO&CO Hotel Vienna.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Vienna, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Vienna typically costs somewhere between US$20 and US$100 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to admire Vienna's best-known landmarks in comfort from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able to get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Pedal your way around Vienna on a 3-hour bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some of them for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions along the way from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Follow an expert guide on a 2.5-hour walking tour of classic Vienna to see the city's greatest landmarks such as the Imperial Palace, Sacher cafe, and St Stephen's Cathedral, plus a number of hidden gems only the locals know about!

- Travel back in time for a glimpse of what the life of the Austrian monarchs was like on a 2-hour tour of their fabulous summer residence and the matching beauty baroque gardens. Feel yourself like a royal, if only for a few hours!

- Follow the trail of Graham Greene's “The Third Man” novel made into a movie in 1949 by Orson Welles, depicting post-WWII spy-ridden Vienna. Explore this fascinating city as it was more than 60 years ago.

- Give yourself away to the sounds of music on a memorable Mozart-filled evening in Vienna attending a combo of the world-renowned Vienna Mozart Orchestra concert and a lavish 3-course dinner at the elegant Bristol restaurant visited, back in the day, by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and other historic figures.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Vienna, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Salzburg, Melk Abbey and Danube Valley, Wachau Valley, Mauthausen, or Vienna Woods and Mayerling. For as little as circa US$60+ to US$160+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites - harmonious blend of natural and cultural beauty manifested in Austria's medieval towns and countryside, visit Mozart's birthplace and original filming locations of "The Sound of Music" movie, admire picturesque Danube valley with ancient castles, grand monasteries and cute little villages, explore historic locations bearing sometimes grim memories of the past (e.g. the horrors perpetuated by the Nazis) and pay tribute to the Holocaust victims at one of the largest Nazi labor camps during World War II, take a boat trip along the Danube or down to the largest subterranean lake in Europe, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Vienna and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or private vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.