The major tourist sights in Vienna are in the city centre called “Innere Stadt” or “First District”. I have done this walk myself over and over again when I had visitors to show them the highlights very quickly. It will take you about half a day or maybe a bit longer, depending on how many coffee breaks you need 🙂 All the details and directions are in my map below. My video is a sneak peak to the places you will see on this walk. You just need to start walking!
Start at the subway station Karlsplatz, walking towards the Opera. Look towards your right behind you, you will see the Karlskirche (a huge baroque cathedral). In front of it, you will see the tram station designed by Otto Wagner in art nouveau style.
If you look left behind you, you will see the “Secession” (a white building with golden ball on top), which was the place where Klimt and other artists had their exhibitions.
From the Opera, walk down Kärntnerstraße, a shopping street, until you reach St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
I highly recommend going inside, as it is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe and is very impressive from an architectural perspective. Also, you can walk up the tower and have a great view of the city.
Walk down Wollzeile and Dominikanerbastei. The area is one of the oldest parts of the city.
When you reach the Postsparcasse, the Austrian Postal Savings Bank, walk inside. The building was designed by Otto Wagner and was built between 1904 and 1906.
Walk towards Schwedenplatz and stop by the Greek Orthodox Church. Then, make your way to Ruprechtskirche (St. Rupert’s Church).
This church is one of the oldest in Vienna. For one of the best views of the city, go to the rooftop bar at Hotel Lamée. On your way, you will pass by the Ankeruhr – this art nouveau clock by Franz von Matsch is actually a bridge connecting two buildings and at every full hour, another figure is walking over the bridge with some background music.
At 12pm, there is a parade of all the figures.
On your way to the Holocaust Memorial in the former Jewish quarter, stop by the Tuchlauben ice cream shop and try their Nougat-Spezialeis (nougat gelato).
Walk down the Kohlmarkt – on your left, you will see the Graben and its beautiful buildings.
In front of you there is the famous Hofburg, the former city palace of the Habsburgs. It spans across a large part of the inner district. If you are already in need for a coffee and cake break, you will just pass by Café Demel (check out my post about the best coffee places in Vienna) 🙂
The Michaelerplatz is really interesting when you look at the juxtaposition of architecture: just opposite of the grandiose neoclassical Hofburg, there is the Loos Haus which caused a lot of controversy when it was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The architect Adolf Loos refused to use a lot of decor and went for a very simple style. The decor of the buildings was also supposed to show off the owners’ wealth. You can imagine that a simple house in the middle of Vienna in the immediate vicinity to the Palace caused a major uproar.
I usually recommend to visit Schönbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Habsburgs, which is a bit outside of the city (see my Ultimate Vienna Guide). However, I heard that the Sissi Museum inside the Hofburg Palace is supposed to be good too. I have to admit, I have not been yet.
From Michaelerplatz, walk down Schauflergasse. Before you reach Löwelstraße, turn right at Bruno Kreisky Gasse and visit Minoritenkirche. This church is a really interesting Romanesque-style church. Walk back towards Löwelstraße – you will pass the office of the Austrian Chancellor on your right and the office of the President on your left.
Walk into Volksgarten – it is a beautiful park and leave on the side of the Burgtheater. From there, you will also see our city hall. If you need a break, Café Landtmann is a traditional coffee place and serves a great variety of coffees, delicious cakes and local food.
Walk down towards the parliament (it also looks like a Greek temple) and then follow along the Ring towards the opera. On your right, you will see the Natural History and Art History Museum (the latter is one of my favourite museums in Vienna; see my Ultimate Vienna Guide).
Walk further until Burggarten (another park) will come up on your left. Walk in, on your left, you will see the National Library. In front of you, you will see the Butterfly House and the Palm House. The Café at Palmenhaus is a really nice place for a drink or, again, coffee and cake.
The Albertina Museum is right next to the entrance of the Burggarten and has an amazing permanent collection and special exhibitions (also, in my Ultimate Vienna Guide). If you want to end the walk like a true Viennese, have a sausage at the Würstelstand (sausage stand) in front of Albertina.
Happy walking and enjoy the beautiful city!