Free Things to Do in Vienna, Austria
Vienna is known to be one of the best cities to live in, and in fact, Mercer rated the city as most livable city for the tenth time in 2022. If you are planning a trip to Vienna, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
In this post, I share 30 free (and awesome!) things you can do in Vienna.
1. Take a free walking tour
Vienna has rich history behind the city and many famous people lived in Vienna including Mozart, Goethe, Hitler and Stalin. Taking a free walking tour presented by locals is one of the best way to get to know the city. In fact, there are multiple companies offering free walking tour around the city.
In addition to free tours, the companies offer paid tours several specific routes to explore specific topics “Vienna- A Music Journey “and “Hitler in Vienna”. Although these are free, it is highly recommended that you show appreciation by tipping the guides.
2. Free museums on the first Sunday of the month
With it’s rich history, Vienna naturally has many museums worth visiting, including the famous Mozartwohnung! My favorite is the Natural History Museum where you can see stones and even animals that are recreated. These are some of the other ones you can check out.
3. Visit the Street Art Passage
This small passage will definitely surprise you with beautiful bold street art. The Street Art Passage is located near the Museumsquartier, where many of Vienna’s premier art museums are housed.
The night views here are amazing and with many trendy restaurants nearby, it’s a perfect spot to talk a walk or go out for a nice dinner.
4. Rent the free city bike
Like many other bigger cities, Vienna has adopted the CityBike initiative to reduce the congestion and air pollution. The city offers free bikes for short trips.
As long as you follow the rules, you can ride the city bikes for free regardless whether you are a resident of Vienna or not. Yes, that means even the tourists can use this!!
The process is pretty simple as well. You have to register, pay the registration fee of 1 Euro, and you can start biking. If you need to ride longer than an hour, you have to park it first and then rent it again.
Be responsible while you use this service as the CityBike will charge you for extended use (every next hour) and you have to park it at a designate spot.
5. Visit Belvedere Palace
Belvedere palace is a magnificent Baroque, housing one of the most valuable art collection, one of them being “The Kiss” by Klimt.
The palace is located near many embassies in beautiful buildings, so you can enjoy walking along Prinz Eugen-Strasse and take pictures at the garden even if you are not planning to go inside the palace.
6. Visit the St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s cathedral is one of the most iconic buildings of Vienna. Take a moment to admire the inside (for free) and the exterior of this beautiful building. If you want to see the city views of Vienna, you can pay 5 euros and visit the top of the towers.
7. Experience the Beethoven Walk
The Tourist Info in Vienna offers its visitors the opportunity to go on a Beethoven walk around the city, taking you to places where the infamous musician either lived or had something to do with.
All you have to do is go to the tourist information centre at Albertinaplatz and get a pair of glasses, which will be guiding you through an app. You need to have an iOS device in order to install the needed application. You will also be asked for a personal ID card as a guarantee you’ll bring the glasses back.
8. Visit the beautiful gardens of Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn is one of the top places to see in Vienna, and you can visit the palace, zoo, maze, and many more for a small fee.
Even if you are not looking to spend so much time or money here, the garden itself is worth visiting, leaving you feeling like you are in a fairy tale. You have a gorgeous view of the entire city when you walk up to the palace.
9. See the Summer Vienna Philharmonics concert at Schönbrunn
One of the Viennese’s favourite annual events for is the Sommernachtskonzert (Summer Night Concert) of the Vienna Philharmonics at the Schönbrunn Palace.
The concert has been taking place since 2004, attracting more than 100,000 visitors every year. Listening to the classical music while by the castle with the view of the entire city is about the best thing you can do in Vienna, or free!
Volkgarten translates to “People’s Garden” and is a public park created in 1821. The beautiful garden is the perfect for a romantic walk, with huge beds of tiered roses. It is located next to Hofburg and you can find people, especially the students, gathered here day and night.
Burggarten is also located next to Horfburg palace, so you can easily visit here while you are visiting the spots mentioned before.
The garden was designed with the help of emperor Franz who chose plant types from all over the world. The famous Mozart monument is located in this garden since 1953, along with other monuments.
Although not filled with flowers like it’s neighbor garden, Volkgarten, Burgggarten gives somewhat luxurious feelings when you enter thanks to its golden fence.
12. Go on a tour of the City Hall
You can go on a city hall tour with an audio guide for free! The guided tours through the city hall take visitors to multiple halls, chamber, and even to the tower when you can have a gorgeous view of the city. The tour is offered in German only but you can rent audio guides in multiple languages including English.
It takes place only three times per week so make sure to check their website to advantage of this amazing offer!
13. Check out the Naschmarkt
If you are love multicultural cosmopolitan cities, you are at the right place. However, the Viennese diverse and rich culture doesn’t end here. Naschmarkt is the place to visit for an unforgettable culinary experience, with the access food from all over the world. This includes Viennese, Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, Lebanese and many more. You can find something to try from so many different countries, and vendors often offer taste testers to attract buyers.
If you are visiting on Saturday, make sure to visit the flea market. The food stands open every day (excluding Sunday) from 6am to 11pm. They even offer free wifi!
14. Check out the Brunnenmarkt
If you are looking for some street food, head to Brunnenmarkt. A little further from the city centre, the vibrant market offers over 150 street food stalls, offering everything from South European food, exotic spices, fresh vegetables and many more.
The area, situated around Yppenplatz square also offers one of the most hip and trendy restaurants and cafes in Vienna. Smell the spices drifting through the air, crack a smile at a local vendor and try to learn a bit more about their lives, or visit Staud’s delicatessen, where Johanna Staud has been selling jams and pickled vegetables since 1947.
15. Check out the Hundertwasser House
Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment house in Vienna, built after the idea of the Austrian artist Hundertwasser. The building forms a mosaic of shapes instead of straight lines is well known for the connection with nature, known as the “green oasis”. Germans learn about Hundertwasser in elementary school so he is a really significant figure in German-speaking societies.
You can’t inside where people live, but you can visit the museum which is housed in one of the buildings for a small fee.
17. Hike to Kahlenberg
Kahlenberg is a hill, located in the Vienna Woods, 30 minutes away from the city centre by subway and bus. You can take the U4 metro line to the last stop and transfer to bus 38A, get off at bus stop Kahlenberg. Take a break from the city and hike up the hill to enjoy the beautiful views of Vienna.
18. Relax at the Stadtpark
The park opened in 1862 and was Vienna’s first communal park. Half of Vienna is covered in green areas, but this park is one of the best and the biggest with promenade, lake, flower clock and many more to see.
19. Visit the Lainzer Zoo
This is not your regular zoo. Visiting this place will make you feel like you are in a big forest. If you want to get away from the city for a few hours, this is the perfect spot for you. You can hike, watch the animals and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants. It’s home to nearly 1000 wild boars, 250 fallow deers, 700 mouflons and 100 elks.
Different gates (seven of them) have different operating hours, so make sure to check them before your visit.
20. Setagaya Japanese Garden
Setagayapark was designed shows Vienna’s doebling district’s partnership with a Japanese town Setagaya, a suburb of Tokyo. The garden describes a Japanese landscape with several ponds, streams and Japanese tea house. The park is closed during the winter months, and you can read more information here.
21. Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof)
The Vienna Central Cemetery is Europe’s second largest cemetery and one of the biggest cemeteries in the world. As a result of industrialization, Vienna’s populations grew to the extent they had to build the cemetery in 1863.
You can find the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss and others here. Although I found visiting a cemetery quite strange at first, it was such a rich experience, being reminded of how rich the city was and continue to be. You can rent the audio guide for a small fee (5 Euros) and carriage rides are also available (50 Euros for 4 people) which includes a short tour of memorial graves of prominent Viennese people.
22. Concerts in Peterskirche
The beautiful Peter’s Church with the eye catching dome is in the heart of the city, and it’s free to visit. The concerts take place a few times per week, sometimes even a couple per day. See the whole program here.
23. Concerts in the University of Music and Performing Arts
The University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna is one of the world’s leading universities of music. Students here have already spent 10,000 intensive hours with their instrument and possess an unbeatable musical talent.
The university has nearly 1300 events each year. Although not all concerts there are for free, you can check their website and visit the free ones.
24. Visit the open air opera
Every summer, Vienna Opera House broadcast the performance on a big screen outside the opera house. This together with the night views are so beautiful, that many tourists visit Vienna for this.
Speaking of the yearly events, Donauinselfest is one of the biggest annual events for young people in Vienna.
Since 1984, the city hosts the biggest open air festival every year, with DJs and performers from all over the world, sharing their music on many stages across the Danube island. There are a lot of attraction besides music as well, from Ferris wheel, street food, and many more.
The “Danube Island Festival” has always been for free and it always lasts for 3 days.
26. Swim in the Danube
Danube river is one of the biggest rivers in Europe. It flows through much of Central and Southeastern Europe, from the black forest to the black sea. You can swim, sail, row and surf here, and there are sailing and surfing schools nearby.
27. Music Film festival
This is one of the most popular summer events happening in Vienna city hall square. The festival runs every summer. The admission is free, and visitors can expect first class operas, classical, jazz, dance, world music and musicals.
28. Open air cinema at Kaleidoscop
Over the span of 20+ summer nights, you can visit the open air film festival at Karlsplatz called Kaleidoskop. The films are old and new, from many different countries. It’s first come first served so make sure to grab a seat early!
29. Christmas markets
Vienna’s Christmas markets is the most beautiful Christmas market in the world. The main Christmas market is between the Burgtheater and rathaus. You will be surrounded by the beautiful warm lights between the two places, which is just magical.
Another main Christmas market is between the museum for natural science and the historical art museum in Maria Theresien Platz. Since the lights are decorated linking the museums, the market is beautiful.
The Christmas season actually starts in the mid-end November, and last all the way till Christmas.
30. Viennese Prater
The amusement park is next to a well-known business school, WU Wien, and offers a wide range of attractions. It’s usually filled with students so you can feel the amazing energy here. Entrance is free but you have to pay for the rides.
Use Ivie (tour guide app from the Vienna Tourist Board) to learn about the city and get some free guidance navigating the city. It tells you everything from Vienna’s history, sightseeing spots, and monuments.
I find their guides for walking around the city (free but so resourceful with estimated walk time, map, and audio guide) so helpful since Vienna is a city where you can explore on foot.
Getting around Vienna by subway is cheap and easy, it’s probably the best subway system in Europe. What tourists don’t know is that buying a subway ticket for one week is 17 euros and the one for 3 days ticket is also 17 euros. I’ve seen some people giving away their used tickets to other tourists or selling it for a few euros!
Which museums are free in Vienna?
There are some museum that are free and some are not. As I listed above, you can enter so many museums for free on the first Sunday of each month. Additionally, you can get student discounts if you show your student card at most museums and galleries.
What is there to do in Vienna unusual?
The 27 places I wrote about above are the main sightseeing spots in Vienna. If you want to visit unique and unusual places, you can check out less known places like the clock museum, Schmetterlinghaus (The Imperial Butterfly Park), Kriminalmuseum, etc.
How can I spend a day in Vienna?
Vienna has so much to see, but if you just have one day, I’d recommend using Big Bus to visit the main attractions. Hop On and Hop off bus is one of my favorite way to travel, and you can read more about my travel planning recommendations here.
Do I need to tip in Vienna?
In general, you should tip about 10%.
Is it safe to walk at night in Vienna?
Vienna is a very safe city but some areas should be avoided at night. For example, the Prater, Praterstern and Ottakring can get unsafe sometimes.
Do they speak English in Vienna?
Most people I met in Vienna can speak excellent English! That being said, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few words in Austrian German.
How do you say hello, thank you and please in Vienna?
It’s servus, danke, bitte respectively.
How many days do you need in Vienna?
I think 3-4 days in Vienna is the sweet spot. If you like visiting museums/operas and spending hours there, you probably need more days since Vienna has so many interesting museums to visit.
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