Vienna See And Do
Tel: 43 1774 8901
This walking tour retraces the steps of Orson Welles (as Harry Lime) and Joseph Cotten (as Holly Martins) during the making of the 1949 cult film, based on a Graham Greene novel. A third of the film was shot in Vienna, so the tour stops at exact shooting locations. One notable site was briefly used for one of the classic sewer scenes—until Orson Welles got a whiff of underground Vienna and refused to continue filming there. The tour begins at the front of the Underground Station, Stadtpark U4 (exit Johannes).
Tour runs on Mondays and Fridays at 4 pm.
Tel: 43 1533 7570
The Hapsburgs ruled from this palace in the center of the city from the 13th century until the empire's demise in 1918. Governmental offices (including the Austrian President's) still reside here, but the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum (devoted to the life of Empress Elisabeth), and the Imperial Silver Collection (which includes the 100-foot-long gilded Milan Centerpiece) are all open to the public. The chapel hosts the Vienna Boys' Choir each Sunday morning (book ahead), and across the courtyard, the Lipizzaner horses perform at the Spanish Riding School. The horses can be seen at their morning exercises between 10 am and 12 pm. The Collection of Arms and Armour, the Collection of Ancient Instruments, and an extension of the Austrian National Library are all housed in the "new" (1913) addition that encircles Heldenplatz.
Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Tel: 43 152 5240
The Italian Renaissance–style Kunsthistorisches (Art History Museum) was built near the Imperial Palace in 1891 to gather all the Hapsburgs' art under one roof. Today, the collections include Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities as well as medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art. Exhibitions range from Bellini to Branko Suhy.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Thursdays from 10 am to 9 pm.
Tel: 43 1512 1791
What used to be a rather homely house museum has recently been transformed into a state-of-the-art interactive homage to Mozart's Vienna. The curators have left the composer's first-floor apartment, where he lived for two and a half years and wrote The Marriage of Figaro, relatively empty, because they can only guess at each room's original function. But they have stocked the upper floors with portraits of Mozart's patrician sponsors, silhouettes of the original cast of Figaro, and miniature stage sets. Most fun is a digital tableau of 18th-century figures as translucent as ghosts, promenading across the Graben and then vanishing into their town houses when a faux dusk falls.
Open daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
What was once the imperial stable is now a local hangout bustling with museums, galleries, restaurants, and clubs at the head of Mariahilferstrasse (Austria's largest shopping street) and behind the Natural History and Art History museums. The Leopold Museum of modern Austrian art, the Kunsthalle contemporary art museum, and Vienna's Museum of Modern Art (Mumok), encircle a courtyard where students, art fans, and music lovers stretch out on lawn-chair sculptures that are rearranged daily in the warmer months. Mumok reopened in the fall of 2011 after a renovation, helping to revitalize the surrounding MuseumsQuartier. Most of the obvious refurbishment is visible on the ground floor, where an expanded gift shop sits below a terrace balcony café. A mural by Cindy Sherman (Sherman in triplicate: as nude Amazonian, auntie in a shawl, and tie-dyed hipster) anchors the café and hints at director Karola Kraus's taste for contemporary art stars, as do exhibits featuring pop and new realist regulars like Warhol, Hockney, and Lichtenstein.—Update by Raphael Kadushin
Tel: 43 152 1770
The mirror image of the Kunst-Naturhistorisches Museum, on the other side of the statue of Maria Theresa, is the Naturhistorisches (Natural History Museum). It was built for artifacts from 19th-century expeditions, such as a number of stuffed creatures long since extinct. The museum also tracks the geological, geographical, and biological history of Central Europe and displays the 22,000- to 24,000-year-old Venus von Willendorf statue, the earliest depiction of a female form ever discovered. It was found in Willendorf, Austria, in 1908.
Open Tuesdays through Mondays from 9 am to 6:30 pm, and Wednesdays from 9 am to 9 pm.
Formerly the hunting grounds of Emperor Franz Joseph, the Prater's 3,000 acres encompass gardens, meadows, playgrounds, riding stables, tennis courts, swimming pools, and a nine-hole golf course. There's also an amusement park that's pure kitsch, but the Ferris wheel (locals call it Riesenrad) is a perennial favorite. Originally built in 1897 for Franz Joseph's Golden Jubilee, this is not your average Ferris wheel. Its luxury cabins each hold a dozen people for drinks or dinner as they orbit (90 Prater; 43-1729-5430). Guarded on one side by the rear of the Hofburg, the Burggarten is a good place for reading, sunning, or taking a stroll, and there are refreshments at the Palmenhaus, in the wrought iron Imperial-era greenhouse (43-1533-1033). Heldenplatz, the square around the Burggarten's southern corner, was the platform for Hitler's Anschluss in 1938, then a victory garden for starving postwar Vienna. These days, it's often the site of parades. On the other side of Heldenplatz is the Volksgarten, setting for the Theseus Temple, a rotating gallery and theater space; the Volksgarten Club Disco, a throbbing nightspot for the see-and-be-seen set (Burgring; 43-1532-4241); and a daytime café, Volksgarten Pavillion (Burgring; 431-532-0907).
Tel: 431 811 132 39
Emperor Franz Joseph, Empress Elisabeth, and Empress Maria Theresa and her 13 children (including Marie Antoinette) all once resided in this 18th-century Baroque palace in the 13th district. It's now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and visitors can tour up to 40 public salons and private apartments, including the Great Gallery, where JFK met Khrushchev in 1961. In the 1750s, Maria Theresa's consort, Emperor Franz Stephan, founded the palace gardens and a menagerie, which is now the oldest zoo in the world. The grounds also include a collection of imperial carriages, a small opera theater, and an extraordinary wrought-iron-and-glass greenhouse.
Open daily April through June 8:30 am to 5 pm, July through August 8:30 am to 6 pm, September through October 8:30 am to 5 pm, November through March 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Tel: 43 1319 1596
After several expansions, this museum now fills the rabbit warren of rooms in Vienna's ninth district that served as the Freud family apartment from 1891 to 1938. The original furnishings from the waiting room, a few personal effects, antiques from his collection, and photos, recordings, and films of Freud at his country house give a feel for the patterns of his daily life. English versions of the good doctor's many writings are for sale in the shop.
Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and 9 am to 6 pm, July to September.
Tel: 43 15155 23526
Commissioned in 1136 by Leopold IV and Reginmar, the Bishop of Passau, this Gothic cathedral with a colorful glazed-tile mosaic roof lies at the center of Vienna. Kärntnerstrasse, the Graben, and Rotenturmstrasse all radiate outward from it, and the south tower, soaring 446 feet, is visible from almost everywhere in the inner city (you might be defeated by its 343 steps). Climb the narrow staircase of the Pummerin tower, on the north side, for a bird's-eye view of the city's rooftops. Eight masses are held on Sundays; six on most other days.
Open daily from 9 am to 11:30 am, and Sundays from 1 pm to 4 pm.
Few cities can rival Vienna's crammed calendar of operas, concerts, and plays, its network of historic theaters, or the dedication of its fans. Tickets to any of the season's prime operas, concerts, and plays can be hard to come by: Bargains are rare, and you should nab your opera tickets as soon as the Staatsoper's calendar goes online (www.staatsoper.at). But reduced same-day tickets do go on sale at each theater's box office, usually an hour before the performance.
The neo-classical Musikverein is one of the world's acoustical marvels. Ionic columns and a sandstone facade grace the outside, while the interior features a fantasia of golden caryatids. The greatest international orchestras, chamber musicians, and soloists perform here nightly, and the Vienna Philharmonic's Sunday morning concert is a pillar of Viennese social life (6 Karlsplatz; 43-1505-8190; www.musikverein.at). Less formal but just as popular is the Volksoper Wien in the ninth district, which is known for its productions of traditional Viennese operetta, light opera, and musicals (78 Währingerstrasse; 43-1514-4430; www.volksoper.at). The city's truest musical showpiece, though, is the Baroque Staatsoper, and for many the Vienna State Opera is reason enough to visit the city. Some 50 operas are performed here per season—far more than any other opera company in the world. It also hosts the Vienna Opera Ball, a highlight of the Viennese ball season (2 Opernring; 43-15144-42280; www.wiener-staatsoper.at).
Established in 1741, the Burgtheater offers world-class, German-language productions of contemporary plays, Shakespeare, and experimental theater. As a bonus, the entrance-hall ceilings were painted by Gustav Klimt, and you can grab a drink or dinner at Vestibül on the left side of the theater—once the emperor's marble coatroom and now an ambitious restaurant featuring Austrian cuisine (2 Dr. Karl-Lueger-Ring; 43-15144-44140; www.burgtheater.at). For English-language productions, try the International Theatre Vienna, a robust and versatile company of 12 actors. Previous productions have included classics by Eugene O'Neill, George Bernard Shaw, and Tennessee Williams (8 Porzellangasse; 43-1319-6272; www.internationaltheatre.at).
Tel: 43 1505 87470
The Vienna Museum—a 1950s post-Bauhaus block—may not be much to look at from the outside, but a sweeping renovation in 2000 turned the inside into an energetic, multidimensional portrait of the city and its people. It displays the battle armor of the Romans, details the city's struggle during World War II, and also hosts exhibits of the city's recent past, such as the Hungarian "escape to Vienna" in the 1950s.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm.