1. Visit the Leopold Museum in the Museumsquartier
Vienna has some incredible architecture, museums, and importantly art. To make it much easier for tourists, three major museums are grouped together in the Museumsquartier, at the southern side of the town.
The Museumsquartier also houses a cupcake shop and a handful of cafes for if you fancy spending time there, and there are arty looking benches that are great for chilling out in.
If you only have time (or the attention span) to look around one of the museums in this area- choose the Leopold.
The Leopold houses the works of artists Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Richard Gerstl, among others.
I particularly enjoyed this oil painting by the astoundingly intuitive artist Franz Lerch from 1928. Do you think he predicted the design of the iPhone 6? Genius.
2. Go on a Segway tour
To see Vienna you have a few options, including a sightseeing bus, bike rental, and horse and carriage tours. But travelling by Segway is a far more modern option that is also a lot of fun.
After a quick introductory lesson on how to control the Segway (it’s really easy), you are led around to the best sights in Vienna. Travelling by Segway using the cycle paths keeps you away from the other wandering tourists, and you get to go to the small squares and down the narrow lanes that you simply wouldn’t be able to visit using a bus or horse and carriage.
The tour guide tells you everything you need to know about each landmark, and it’s a good way to get the feel of the city and to pick out places that you want to go back to.
3. Indulge in Viennese Coffee House culture
Vienna is known for it’s coffee house culture, but the coffee shops there aren’t your typical Costa or Starbucks. Coffee houses there have a special atmosphere and elegance, and you see many locals there by themselves for lunch or a drink.
Classic coffee houses have marble table tops, live piano music, and your drink is always accompanied by a glass of water.
I visited Café Sperl, which dated back to 1880 – I would recommend it for a typical coffee house experience!
4. Go to Naschmarkt
For a unique shopping and eating experience, Naschmarkt is a 1.5km long market located just outside the city’s ring road. It has existed since the 16th century when mainly milk bottles were sold, and today sells everything from food, drink, household items, and clothing.
If you are there on a Saturday – stop for some lunch. Amidst the food stalls and shops, small restaurants and bars serve food, or you can grab some hot street food.
There’s lots to look at and sample, and when you’ve bought or tasted enough food, keep walking until you get to the household stuff! They sell antique and vintage looking ornaments, furniture and clothes.
The market is closed on Sundays.
5. Try Wiener Schnitzel
You can’t go to a country and not try the local food! In Vienna, this is basically lots of meat and sausage, and sweet things like apple strudel and different cakes.
It’s not difficult to find somewhere to try these things, and most of the coffee houses also serve proper meals.
6. Play statues
The architecture and ornate buildings will probably be one of the first things you notice about Vienna. In the centre of town you have St Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom), the Hofburg Palace, and the two monster buildings of the Museum of Natural History. A walk slightly to the west of the central area will take you to the Rathaus (Town building) and the parliament building.
The Rathaus is just slightly different to the town halls we have in England, and the space to the front of it is occupied year-round with a different event, such as the Christmas market in December, or a circus when I went.
These buildings make great photos.
7. See some horses
The Hofburg houses the Imperial Horse Stables, where you can visit the Spanish Riding School, a school for Lipizzan stallions (Lipizzans are the big, white and strong looking horses that you often see in Disney films).
You can go to watch the horses train, or go to one of their performances in the Winter Riding School arena. I went to see the performance called ‘A Tribute to Vienna’ where the horses and riders demonstrated their dressage skills and tricks. They do this to the soundtrack of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
The performance lasts one hour and gives you a good idea of everything the Spanish horses can do, starting with the young horses in training, and ending with a synchronised routine from the experienced riders and older horses to show off the different steps they can do.
Vienna is also a fantastic place for shopping! The longest shopping street in Vienna is called Mariahilfer Straße, and is home to shops that we recognise such as H&M and Zara, and then Austrian/European shops too.
The street is a useful place to unwind when you feel like you’ve seen enough culture and learnt enough history!