Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria
Vienna Old Town Walking Tour

Vienna Old Town Walking Tour:

Location: Vienna’s Historic City Center
Cost: Free, Self-Guided (Museum and sight costs below)
Style: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided)
Start: State Opera House (Karlsplatz Metro stop)
End: Museum Quarter (Volkstheater Metro stop)
Walking Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 90 minutes for walk (with sights 4-5 hours)
Fun Scale: 9.5 out of 10


The heart and soul of Vienna (Wien) is by far its beautiful Old Town which is filled with historic sights.  Modern buildings mix in with tons of Medieval and Renaissance elements, making the city center quite magical.  From cathedrals to beer gardens, and shopping to museums, there is diversity to entertain all travelers.  Maybe the best thing about our free Vienna walking tour is that most of Old Town is very compact and easily seen on foot.  Because the city center is so easy to walk, we created this free do-it-yourself Vienna walking tour map for you to follow which covers all the best stops with some insider tips.  Enjoy our free Old Town Vienna walking tour!

History Of Old Town Vienna:

Settlement of Old Town Vienna began with Celtic tribes in 500BC with a camp called Castrum and grew thanks to the Romans built a walled military fort in 15BC to ward off Germanic forces.  The Roman fort, called Vindobona, took up about 1/3 the area of today’s Old Town and you’ll see ruins from their original camp on this free Vienna walking tour.  On this walking tour we will also follow the outlines of the original Roman wall and the surrounding civilian settlement to give you a better understanding of early day Vienna.

After Rome fell in the 400s, other groups controlled the camp over the centuries until the Austrians took it over in the Middle Ages as a border town to fight off Magyar (Hungarian) armies.  Under the rule of the Babenbergs and the Habsburg Dynasty, Vienna’s Old Town wall expanded outward and the city even became the seat of the Holy Roman Empire for over 300 years.  Vienna truly blossomed into one of the cultural hubs of Europe during the 18th & 19th centuries through the arts, classical music, and opera.  The Waltz and Viennese Balls were born here and Vienna’s city center became home to musicians such as Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Strauss.  Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife SiSi made the biggest changes in the 1800s replacing Vienna’s Medieval wall with the Ringstrasse Boulevard, fixing up nearby palaces, and tearing down homes in the Old Town to make way for new grand buildings.  During this transformation the Austrian Empire and Kingdom of Hungarian were merged and Vienna’s population quickly grew.  While loosing two World Wars greatly stunted city’s 200 years of booming progress, a modern second coming has made the historic Old Town Vienna a world class place to visit once again.

Free Vienna Walking Tour:

1. Vienna State Opera House:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - State Opera House
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - State Opera House

About Vienna’s Opera House: In a city famous for music and the arts, it is the grand Vienna State Opera House (Staatsoper), that definitely takes the prize.  Opened in 1863, this gorgeous 1200 seat theater has housed some of Austria’s most famous classical musicians and still hosts over 300 performances a year.  The beautiful theater and grand common areas make touring the Opera House amazing.  If you are looking to catch a show, you can expect to choose from famous operas, ballets, and can even take part in large Viennese Balls.  This monument to music is the perfect place to start a Vienna walking tour as the arts have been such an important part of the city’s culture and history.  It was in Vienna where the Waltz was born and where Mozart wrote his famous opera The Marriage of Figaro.  The building of the opera house was part of a larger protect in the mid-1800s where the Emperor replaced Vienna’s Medieval moated wall with grand buildings and a modern boulevard known as the Ringstrasse.  Will will revisit the Ring Road at the end of this walking tour.

Guided Tours: 6.50€ also includes the Opera Museum, 1-4 tours daily (check website).  Tour is great and brings you to a lot of backstage areas.  Live Performances: Tickets range from 8-130€, can be bought online, and go fast.  Ticket Tip: If a show is sold out or if you just want a taste of a show without sitting through a 3 hour opera or ballet, they sell 567 standing room tickets the day of each performance, 160 of these tickets are right below the Emperor’s Box.  Standing Room tickets are cheap, 2€ upstairs and 3.50€ downstairs, and allow you to easily leave when you’ve had your fill.  These tickets go on sale 60 minutes before each show at the front door and 80 minutes before the show inside the side door at the Standing Room (Stehplätze) booth which always has a short line.  Interactive 360 Degree Tour: (360 Degrees During a Viennese Ball).  Opera House Website: (HERE).

2. Castle Park (Burggarten):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Castle Park Burggarten
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Castle Park Burggarten Mozart Statue

About Burggarten:  Covering the entire backside of Hofburg Palace’s Neueburg wing is the large and peaceful Castle Park (Burggarten).  From the 1200s through the 1500s, the Castle Park you see today part of a wide protective moat that circled Vienna’s Medieval city wall.  It was these strong defenses that protected the city and stopped the Ottomans from taking over Europe in Siege of Vienna in 1529.  After some further attacks in the mid-1600s, this Western section of the city wall was bumped out to create a buffer zone for the nearby Hofburg Castle which also allowed the castle to gradually expand into a sprawling multi-wing palace.  By 1710, there was a vast royal park that started here and stretched a 1/2 mile to the Northwest along the inside of the expanded city wall.  With the new found space in the huge Castle Park, the Habsburgs rulers were able to turn their former private park in the center of the palace, called the Paradise Royal Garden, into the Winter Riding School and National Library.  We will visit both the riding school and library later on this free Vienna walking tour.

In 1806, Napoleon’s French forces heavily damaged the city wall and bastions near Castle Park before occupying the city, declaring an end to the Holy Roman Empire, and later marrying into the Habsburg family.  A new curtain wall was added to repair the damage left by the French and Emperor Franz Joseph I got to work transforming this section of the park into a fenced-off private English Garden.  During the park upgrades, around 1819, Emperor Franz Joseph I had a statue of himself on a horse moved from the old Paradise Royal Garden to the pond in Castle Park.  Cast in 1781, the statue is the oldest equestrian statue in Vienna and still a focal part of the park today.  Today the park has a awesome back drop from the enormous Neueburg wing of Hofburg Palace (built from 1881-1913), which was we will visit later on this walking tour.   Just five years of Neueburg was finished, the monarchy fell and the private Castle Park became a public park almost overnight.  More statues were brought into Castle Park from around Vienna after WW2 including one of Hercules originally cast in 1770.  Our favorite one that was brought in is the white-wash Mozart statue which was carved in 1896 and previously sat in nearby Albertina Square.  Make sure to take time to relax in the park just like the royals used to.

3. Palm Tree House (Palmenhaus):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Burggarten Palmen Green House
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Burggarten Palmen Green House

About Palmen House:  While revamping his private Castle Park in 1823, Emperor Franz Joseph I also had a huge two-winged green house built on the Northeastern edge of the royal garden dubbed the Palmen House.  This gigantic green house, was built right over the foundation of a section of Vienna’s Medieval city wall that dated back to the year 1200.  In 1902, the Palmen House was expanded to over 22,000 square feet and remolded in its current Art Nouveau-style.  The Palmen House was a huge luxury for the royal family as it was able to grow tons of tropical plants and palm trees even in the coldest Austrian days.  In modern times, the Palmen House has been turned into a really unique restaurant where you can eat under the palms trees even in the dead of Winter.  Especially if you have kids with your, consider stopping at the tropical Butterfly House (website) which is attached to the North side of the restaurant.  Palmen House Restaurant Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-Midnight; Saturday 9am-Midnight; Sunday 9am-11pm.  Outdoor terrace bar open until 2am in Summer.  Restaurant Website: (here).  Butterfly House Cost: Adults 6.50€; kids 3.50€.

4. Albertina Museum:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Albertina Museum Paintings
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Albertina Museum State Rooms

About The Albertina Museum: Built in 1744 as a mansion for Count Emanuel, this villa was later gifted to Duke Albert by Emperor Franz II in 1794.  After moving in the powerful Duke Albert started to display his private collection of works from old world master painters in the mansion which laid the ground work for today’s museum.  The works include Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dürer, Rembrandt, and Ruben.  Over the generations the Duke’s family owned the villa, the back of it was expanded over parts of the neighboring Augustiner Monastery.  Only part of the block long monastery complex, built in 1327, were spared from the expansion of the villa including the historic Augustiner Church.  The church is famous as the place of many Habsburg imperial weddings including that Marie Louise to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810.

The most famous state rooms added onto the villa are those built for Maria Christina (1858-1929), the only one of Marie Antoinette’s siblings who was allowed to marry for love.  The opulent rooms are typically called the Spanish Apartments because of Maria Christina’s marriage to the Spanish King Alfonso XIII.  Her sister Marie Antoinette even stayed in the apartments before being sent off the France for her arranged marriage with King Louis XVI.  Our favorite of the state rooms is the Hall Of Muses which is ringed with Greek statues and lit with 5 crystal chandeliers holding 258 candles.  The collections at the Albertina are truly impressive, but if you are short on time you can skip it for the World-class collection of museums at nearby Museum Quartier & Hofburg Palace which we will visit later on this free Vienna walking tour.  Make sure to check out the fountain at street level below the Museum which depicts the river God Danuvius and with the embodiment of Vindobona, Vienna’s name in Roman times.

Museum Cost: 12.90€ for Adults; Children and Teens are free; guided tour 4€.  Online Tickets: To skip the line and get a mobile friendly ticket you can book HERE.  Museum Hours: Daily from 10am-6pm; until 9pm on Wednesdays; best after Noon.  Museum Website: (here).

5. Sacher Café:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Sacher Cafe Torte Cake
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Sacher Cafe Torte Cake

About Sacher Café:  Sacher Café is known as having the best slice of chocolate cake you can find anywhere.  Their world-famous cake, known as the Original Sacher-Torte, was the creation of chef Franz Sacher who was asked to make a desert for a royal party in 1832 while only 16 years old.  Word of the Sacher’s amazing cake spread and he quickly became a household name.  Known as the family of rich cake, Sacher’s son Ed opened the Sacher Hotel and Café in 1876 and spared no expensive decorating every elegant detail.  When Ed died 16 years later, his wife Anna took over and pushed the hotel to gain global recognition as one of the best hotels, all while continuing to sell the famous cake of course.

The Gürtler family has been running the Sacher Hotel and Café since 1934 and it remains one of the very few privately owned five-star luxury hotels in the World. The café has been the meeting point for famous figures from Gandhi, and Queen Elizabeth II to John F Kennedy.  A visit to Sacher is truly a must while in Vienna and even if you are on a budget just 8€ can get you a really good coffee and excellent slice of cake.  If you want to avoid the crowds that hoard the fancier dining area consider buying your cake at the neighboring Sacher Stube Café which is run by the same family.  If you are confused and which coffee goes best with the cake, the traditional drink in Vienna is hot black coffee with foamed milk and whipped cream.  Hours: Daily 8am-Midnight.  Photos: (Treat Photos via their Facebook Page).  Restaurant Website: (here).

6. Anti-War & Fascism Monument:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Anti War and Fascism Monument Gate of Violence
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Anti War and Fascism Monument Jewish Memorial

About The Monument: In the late-1800s a huge luxury apartment complex named Philipphof was built right in the middle of this large open courtyard overlooking Albertina Square.  Previously the courtyard had been a Medieval pig market before being turned into the apartments in 1882.  During the construction they found even more history when they dug up an ancient Roman grave and a a 21 foot section of Roman road.  Sadly in the height of WW2, hundreds of residents sought shelter in the basement of the Philipphof Apartments and were buried alive in an air raid on March 12th 1945.  The bombing was so heavy that most of the victims bodies couldn’t even be recovered from the rubble.  With the memory of the war victims in mind, a series of statues was erected in 1988 on the site of the former apartment which now serves as the Anti-War and Fascism Monument.

The Anti-War Monument is primarily made up of a four artistic pieces which highlight the violence and tragedy that Austrians faced in WWII while under Nazi rule.  The most predominate part of the monument are the two large carved marble columns called the Gate of Violence which represent the victims of war and the concentration camps.  The graphic images on the columns are actually carved into stone that came from the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.  Another heartfelt piece is the bronze figure kneeling and covered in barbed wired while scrubbing the street which is meant to be a reminder of the humiliation many Jews went through before being more formerly persecuted.  There is also a memorial for the people who died in an air raid of the Philipphof Apartments and the final section celebrates a free Austria after the end of Nazi rule.  In 2009, the open square was renamed Helmut Zilk-Platz after the Mayor of Vienna who pushed for the monument to be built in the 1980s.  The gravity of a visit is definitely is worth a moment of silence and reflection to take it all in.  Knowing the history behind what you are looking at makes the Anti-War & Fascism Monument one of the most moving stops on our free Vienna walking tour.

7. Imperial Crypt (Kaisergruft):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Capuchin Imperial Crypt Kaisergruft
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Capuchin Imperial Crypt Kaisergruft

About The Imperial Crypt: The unique and slightly creepy Imperial Crypt below the Capuchin Church is a must see on this walking tour.  The church was part of the Capuchin Monastery, founded in 1617 by Anna wife of Holy Roman Emperor Matthias.  The next year Anna died followed by her husband in 1619 which lead the way for his nephew Ferdinand II to take over as Holy Roman Emperor.  Three years after his uncle Matthias’ death, Ferdinand II started work on a royal crypt below the Capuchin Monastery which wasn’t finished until 1633 because of delays from the 30 Years War.   The tombs of Emperor Matthias and Empress Anna were the first to be moved in the crypt and it has since been expanded eight times to hold elaborate tombs of some of Austria’s greatest leaders.  In total there are bodies of 150 members of the Hapsburg royal family buried at Capuchin.  Oddly it’s only the bodies as the Habsburgs’ organs are not buried here.  The royal guts are actually housed below Saint Stephen’s Cathedral and their hearts are in the Augustiner Church.  While the Crypt has huge visual and photogenic appeal, it is also a very informative experience.  The most visited tombs are those of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Franz Joseph.

In front of the Capuchin Church is New Market Square which served as the main civilian market in Roman times when this area of town was a civilian settlement outside the walls of the Vindobona fort.  The square was given a make over as the new city of Vienna was laid out in the 1200s and became a grain market.  The beautiful fountain from the 1700s is called the Fountain of Providence (Providentiabrunnen).  This is a replica as the original fountain was moved from here to Belvedere Palace because the central statue had a bare chested lady on it.  Many of the buildings surrounding the square was leveled by bombing in WW2.  Cost: 4€.  Hours: Daily from 9:30am-4pm.  Crypt Website: (here).

8. Carinthia Road (Kärntner Strasse):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Carinthia Road Kärntner Strasse Shopping Street
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Carinthia Road Kärntner Strasse Shopping Street

About Kärntner Strasse: After the founding of the fortified military camp Vindobona in 15BC, a civilian settlement started to grow outside its walls.  With 6,000 soldiers in the fort, the surrounding settlement grew to 15,000 people largely around the famous Lime Road trade route’s civilian bypass around Vindobona along modern day Herrengasse.  This West-East trade route followed the Northern border of the Roman Empire along the Rhine and Danube Rivers to connect the legion camps from North Sea all the way to the Black Sea which was the Northern border of the Roman Empire.

One of the main crossroads in the civilian settlement intersecting the Lime Road was Strata Carinthianorum (Kärntner Strasse) which started at Vindobona’s Eastern gate and went straight South.  The path was important as it passed right by Vindobona’s civilian market.  It was known as Kärntner Strasse because it led to Austria’s Southern most state of Carinthia (Kärntner) which sits on the modern Alpine border with both Italy and Solvenia.  In early day Vindobona there was a much more famous North-South trade route called the Amber Road (Bernsteinstraße) which went from Saint Petersberg, Russia on the Baltic Sea all the way down to Rome, Italy.  The route transferred precious amber from the North to Italy, Greece and even Egypt in the South while crossing through the large regional Roman capital of Carnuntum just East of Vienna.  At the time Carnuntum had over 50,000 residents and double the size of the Roman camp Vindobona.  After Carnuntum fell to Germanic invaders in 395AD, the Amber Road was re-routed along Kärntner Strasse, helping Vindobona to grow.  The growth along Kärntner Strasse was stunted when the Northern Roman Empire fell to the Huns in 433AD.

Centuries later as Vindobona’s Roman wall was expanded outward in 1257 to make way for a growing Vienna, the main Southern route into town was shifted from Kohlmarket to modern day Kärntner Strasse.  As the new Southern entrance into town, the re-revamped 7 block long lane quickly became one of the busiest shopping streets in Vienna.  Today, the pedestrian only Kärntner Strasse is still a very busy street lined with great shops and places to eat.  If you need to get any souvenirs for yourself or as gifts while in Vienna then Kärntner Strasse is a perfect place to look.  A stroll down the street offers great people watching, window shopping, and even your fix of American fast food, but we suggest sticking to the local cafes to get the true Viennese feel.

9. Staff In Iron Square (Stock-im-Eisen Platz):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Stock In Eisen Platz Hass House
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Stock In Eisen Platz Palais Equitable

About Staff In Iron Square: As you reach the end of Kärntner Strasse, look immediately to your right and check out the Palais Equitable before getting distracted by any neighboring sights.  The huge mansion was built for an American insurance company in 1891 in place of five Medieval buildings on what was once the small square called Staff In Iron Square (Stock-im-Eisen Platz).  The square, which in ancient times was a Roman cemetery, was named after the historic nailing tree which sits encased in glass on the corner of the Palais Equitable.  The nailing tree, or nagelbaum, grew nearby in the early 1400s and was used by travelers who pounded nails into it for good luck.  The gesture was considered a sacrifice at the time as iron nails in the Middle Ages were quite valuable.  While the tree was cut down in 1440, it continued to be used as a nailing tree, and was 1st put on display in 1548 and later iron banded by the former homeowner Hans Buettinger.  As you inspect the mansion you’ll see reliefs on the doors showing the legend of the nailing tree.

In the 1900s, the North side of Staff In Iron Square was opened up to connect to Saint Stephen’s Square.  The vast square, which is dominated by Saint Stephen’s Church, has a great mix of historic and modern architecture.  One of the coolest buildings in Saint Stephen’s Square is the 8-story tall Haas House with flowing, curved glass walls.  The building truly was meant to blend the old with the new as it sits right on the Southern corner of the former Roman Vindobona camp.  During the construction in 1990, it was very controversial that the Haas House was built anchored into some ancient Roman wall ruins.  Make sure to get some photos of the Saint Stephen’s Church reflecting in the windows.  If you are not too rushed and want the best view of Saint Stephen’s Church, head to the coffee house on the top floor of the Haas House for a unique perspective.  The concept behind the design was to trace the Roman wall and provide a mirror image of Vienna’s largest church.

If you have an extra minute, make sure to go down into the subway station to see the underground Saint Virgil’s Chapel (Virgilkapelle) which was unearthed 40 feet below the ground in 1973. The old world chapel was carved out below the former Roman graveyard in 1220 as a private place for the Vienna’s wealthy residents to worship. Greek crosses, which can still be seen today were painted in 1246.  In 1338 the funeral Chapel of Saint Mary Magdalenein was built above the Saint Virgil’s which then became a bone house.  A faint an outline of the former Saint Mary’s Chapel, burned down in 1782, can be seen in the pavement of Saint Stephen’s Square.

10. Saint Stephen’s Church (Stephansdom):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Saint Stephen’s Church Stephansdom Interior
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Saint Stephen’s Church Stephansdom Exterior

About Stephansdom: The massive Gothic-style Saint Stephen’s Cathedral is the focal point and geographic center that modern Vienna orbits around.  Saint Stephen’s started as a small parish in 1137, in what was just an open field outside of the walls of Vindobona at the time.  While the Saint Stephen’s Chapel wasn’t finished until 1160, it was dedicated early in the presence of King Otto II who was heading out to join the 2nd Crusade.  From 1230 to 1245, the chapel was completely redone as a larger Romanesque church with an impressive door and towers.  Unfortunately the church burned down in 1258, but the front door and towers were saved and worked into the facade of the new church which was completed in 1263 over the ruins.  Looking at the front of the church today, you can still see the outline of the original towers working their way about half way up the twin peaks extended upward in the rebuild called the Roman Towers (Heidentürme).   The 213 foot tall towers got their name because they were built using pieces of the former wall of the heathen (heiden) Roman military camp called Vindobona.

Saint Stephen’s finally got official Cathedral status shortly after the construction began on the Gothic-stlye Albertine Choir on the North end of the Church in 1359.  The large choir, with three naves, has amazing Medieval stain glass windows which are the only ones in the church to survive WW2.  Instead of just remodeling the rest of Saint Stephen’s Romanesque interior to match the Gothic choir, they built a new church around it instead.  New side walls were added outside of the Saint Stephen’s, with a vaulted wooden roof hovering 125 over the floor.  After the new walls and roof completely encapsulated Saint Stephen’s Church, the old side walls were simply removed.   By far the most iconic thing to come out of the Gothic-remodel is the mega-sized South Tower called Old Steve (Alter Steffl).  At 466 feet tall, the gigantic tower dominates Old Town Vienna from every angle.  We highly suggest taking the tiring 363 steps up to the top for the best views of Vienna.  If you aren’t up for the hike up the Old Steve, consider taking the elevator up the North Tower (Nordturm) instead.  The stumpy North Tower was supposed to be a complete match to Old Steve, but construction stopped in 1511 freezing it at 231 feet tall.  While excavating for North Tower in 1443, they found a thighbone of a mastodon and placed it above the church’s front door nicknaming it the Giant’s Door (Riesentor).  The North Tower is best known for its large bell, appropriately named Boomer Bell (Pummerin), which is famously rings each year at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  The was cast out of Turkish cannons after the Siege of 1683, is over 20 tons in weight and 10 feet in diameter.  It is considered the 2nd largest free swinging bell in Europe.  From either side tower you will also get a great view of the brightly colored ceramic tiled roof which replaced the wooden one burn in WW2.  The patterns in the roof include a double headed eagle which is the crest of Vienna.

As you wander around Saint Stephen’s there are a lot of interesting details worth noting.  We really love the centrally located sandstone pulpit carved in 1510.  It shows faces of the four fathers of the Latin Church (Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory and Augustine) as well as the artist who carved it peaking through a window near the stairs.  Below the Medieval glass windows of the nave is the baroque New City Altar (Neustädter Altar) carved in 1447.  Near the altar is the tomb of Emperor Frederick III who is one of the only Habsburgs to be buried outside of the Imperial Crypt.  Below Saint Stephens you can tour the catacombs where the guts of the Habsburgs rulers are stored along with the bodies of Vienna’s cardinals and archbishops.  The catacombs also have stacks of bones as bodies were tossed down here during a plague in the 1700s when the cemetery surrounding Saint Stephen’s Church was closed.  Around the Saint Stephen’s exterior you can see the stark color difference where coal pollution darkened the church’s white limestone and where it has been cleaned.  You will also see dozens of headstones from former church cemetery’s worked into the buildings facade.  Speaking of death, Mozart had his funeral at Saint Stephen’s in 1791.  The famous composer, had not only spent time working at the church, but was also married here in 1782.

Cathedral Hours: Daily 6am-10pm.  Cost: Cathedral entrance is free; Guided Tours 5.50€; North Tower 5.50€; South Tower 5.50€; Treasury 5.50€, Catacombs 5.50€.  Discounted Online Tickets: You can skip the lines, save money, and get mobile combo ticket for the South Tower, North Tower, Cathedral tour, Catacombs Tour, Treasury Tour, and audio guide HERE.  Religious Service: Sundays & Holidays at 10:15am, 9:30am in July & August.  Tower Access: South Tower via 363 steps or North Tower with elevator.  Cathedral Website: (here).

11. Mozart’s Vienna Apartments (Mozarthaus):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Mozarthaus Apartment Museum

About Mozart’s Apartments: Most of Mozart’s life was spent in his home town of Salzburg, but he also had close ties to Vienna.  It started when Empress Maria Teresa brought the young prodigy in to play a concert at Schönbrunn Palace as child and continued when Mozart moved here in 1781 to get out from under the thumb of Salzburg’s archbishop.  Mozart was taken in by Vienna’s Archbishop Colloredo and lived his monastery for six weeks in the year 1781 from March 16th until May 2nd.  The monastery was built in 1375 for the Teutonic Knights, and its intimate Sala Terrena concert hall where Mozart performed still hold live chamber music performance you can attend.  Sala Terrena is Vienna’s oldest concert hall and was painted the Venetian late Renaissance style in the mid-1700s making it an amazing place to hear a string quartet.

After leaving the monastery in 1781, Mozart moved in on the Graben near Saint Peter’s Square with the Weber who were in Vienna from Mannheim, Germany.   Mozart had met the family in German in 1777 where he tried to court the daughter Aloisa, but ended up marring their younger musician daughter Constanze in 1782 at Saint Stephan’s Cathedral.  The couple moved around before settling on a lavish apartment behind the cathedral known today at the Mozarthaus Museum where they lived from 1784-1787.  The family’s apartment only had 4 main rooms, but with its city center location and opulent details cost 450 florins a year to rent which was more than Mozarts dad’s annual salary.  Although Mozart was horrible at saving money, he was making a lot of it teaching piano to young aristocrats mixed in with large commission works.  to the sculptured ceiling in the Camesina room.  The Mozarthaus Museum is quite popular with theater goers as the apartment is where Mozart wrote his famous opera The Marriage of Figaro which premiered in Vienna.

Most of the items on display at the Mozarthaus Museum today are from the time of Mozart and not actually his stuff, but it all helps to give a peak into his time here.  Tours start on the 3rd floor of the building covering details of Mozart’s time in Vienna. The displays focus on where Mozart lived and performed, who his friends and supporters were, his relationship to the Freemasons, his passion for games and much more.  The presentation on the 2nd floor deals with Mozart’s operatic famous works he wrote while living here, and the apartment on the 1st floor focuses more on Mozart and his family.  The basement also has a vaulted ceiling event space that often holds piano concerts.  Mozarthaus Cost: 11€ for Adults, 4.5€ for Children, also has a family rate of 24€ (up to 2 Adults, 3 kids).  Discounted Tickets: You can save money and get a free audio guide by pre-booking HERE.  Mozarthaus Hours: Daily from 10am-7pm; last entrance 6:30pm; least crowded 10am-Noon.  Mozarthaus Website: (here).   Sala Terrena Concerts: 90 minute concerts are on Thurs, Fri, & Sun at 7:30pm and Sat at 6pm.  Sala Terrena Website: (here).

12. Graben & Plague Monument (Pestsäule):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Graben Shopping Plague Monument
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Graben Shopping Plague Monument

About The Graben: The Graben (meaning ditch), was once used as a moat by the Romans along the Southern wall of their ancient military camp Vindobona.  After the wall expanded outward in the 1200s to fit a growing Vienna, the Graben was filled in to become a market and busy shopping street.  Now a pedestrian-only area, you can still see the wealth the shopping generated by the elegant facades on a many of the homes that line the road.  If you happen to be in Vienna during Advent (late-November through Christmas), you really need to put a night-time stop at the Graben on the top of your list as its endless strings of holiday lighting are simply magical.

Americans visitors often overlook the impact of the epidemics in Europe during the Middle Ages making the Plague Monument (Pestsäule) an important attraction to make note of.  The 69 foot tall column was built in 1693 to honor the 1/3 of Vienna’s population who died in the Plague of 1679 and pays thanks to God for the ones who survived.  The golden capped Baroque column replaced a previous column dedicated to the Holy Brotherhood.  It was the Brotherhood of the Holy Trinity who were among the first groups in Europe to use science to stem the plague in a time where religion trumped all.  Photos: (Night Time During Advent).

13. Saint Peter’s Church (Peterkirche):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Saint Peter's Church
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Saint Peter's Church Intertior

About Saint Peter’s Church: Local folklore says that the 1st Christian church was built on this lot in a Romanesque-style by Emperor Charlemagne around 800AD over an even older Roman church from the 300s.  While that may be true, the records show that the first church named Saint Peter’s was finished here in 1137 inside the original walls of the Roman camp Vindobona.  The church which was later run by the Scottish Monastery, burned down in the 1600s giving way to the Baroque masterpiece you see today.  Completed in 1733, today’s green domed, white church is tightly tucked into a small square off the Graben down Jungferngässchen Alley.  Most people walk by take a couple pictures of the exterior and leave, don’t be one of those people.  Take a couple of minutes to walk inside and see the beautiful marble interior. When you get inside you quickly forget how small the plot of land is that the church sits on because the builders used an open layout and unique dome to make it feel huge.  Unlike most churches, Saint Peter’s is actually oval shaped instead of round to take maximizing the space to a whole new level.  Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-8pm; Weekends 9am-9pm.  Cost: Free.  Tours: Daily 9-10am & 1-3pm.  Interactive 360 Degree Tour: (Interior).  Church Website: (here).

14. Vindobona & In Court Square (Am Hof):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - In Court Square Am Hof Christmas Market Vidobona
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - In Court Square Am Hof Church Vidobona

About Vindobona & Am Hof: Lightly settled by the Celts in 500BC, the ground work for modern day Vienna was laid out in 15BC by a fortified Roman camp named Vindobona (meaning White Village).  Outlined on our Veinna walking tour map, the walled Vindobona fort marked the edge of the Roman Empire at the time and was used to help fight off Germanic forces North of the Danube River.  While the nearby regional Roman capital of Carnuntum was much larger with over 50,000 residents, at its peak Vindobona was home to 6,000 soldiers inside its walls and another 24,000 residence in the surrounding countryside.  The most famous moment in the history of the camp was when Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius died here in 180AD.  After Roman fell in 433AD, the remaining citizens around Vindobona moved inside the walls of the abandoned camp.  The camp was refortified including a small castle Berghof Restsiedlung built in 800AD over the Roman baths next to Hoyer Market to help defend against Magyar (Hungarian) armies.  Shortly after, in 881, Vindobona took the name Vienna (Wein) after the Vienna River (Weinfluss) which is Celtic for Wood Creek.

In 1156, Heinrich II of Babenberg was forced by the Holy Roman Emperor to give up his title Duke of Bavaria to Henry the Lion and was named the 1st Duke of Austria by the  in return.  With a fresh canvass at his disposal, Heinrich II moved to Vienna and built Castle Babenbergerpfalz inside the Southwest corner of the old Roman wall on the foundations of Vindobona’s former barracks.  The Duke really wanted to impressive his wife Theodora Comnena, who was a Byzantine princess, so he began to lay out his new city following the plan of his former home Regensburg, Germany which had been the capital of Bavaria at the time.  Under Heinrich II’s rule, Vienna quickly became the 2nd largest city in the Holy Roman Empire behind Colonge, Germany.  The large square next to the castle, called Am Hof, became the city’s the 1st established Royal Court.  Five years after the last Duke in the Babenberg family died in 1246, Ottokar Duke of Moravia (King of Bohemia) was elected Duke of Austria and greatly expanded the Kingdom to stretch all the way to the Adriatic Sea.  Ottokar also started to expanded Vienna’s city walls outward and built a new four towered royal castle called Hofburg on the Southern edge of town (see photo).

In 1273, Rudolf I of Hapsburg (King of Germany) was elected the new Duke of Austria, but Ottokar wouldn’t give it up which lead to his death on the battle field.  Rudolf’s success led to 645 years of Hapsburg rule over Austria including over 300 year as Holy Roman Emperors (1483–1806).  While the royal court was officially moved to Hofburg Castle, Am Hof Square at Castle Babenbergerpfalz continued to be used for jousting tournaments and a market.  While most of the old castle was removed, part was rebuilt as the Gothic-style Am Hof Church in 1386.  The church given its current white Baroque facade in 1662 and the Mariensaeule (Marian Column) was added in the square. The column, finished in 1667, was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III to thank the Virgin Mary for repelling the Swedish forces during the 30 Years’ War.  In 1806, having defeated the Austrian army, Napoleon announced the end of the Holy Roman Empire from the balcony of the Am Hof Church.  This split the territories up and established the Austrian Empire.

Am Hof Square got a rise in pop culture thanks to the hit 1949 movie The 3rd Man.  Many scenes from the famous movie take place here from Anna’s door to Orson Welles’ character Harry Lime casting a long shadow in the alleyway North of the Church.  In the cellar of the Am Hof Square’s Fire Brigade Building you can still find the remains of a brick main drain from the ancient Roman sewer system beneath Vienna.  For more Vindobona sites check out the Roman Museum in Hoyer Market (website).  Located on one of Vienna’s oldest market squares, the museum has a great collect of authentic artifacts.  We also like stopping Saint Rupert’s Church which is Vienna’s oldest church dating back to 740 and sits in a maze of Medieval streets.

15. Kohlmarkt & Demel Café:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Kohlmarkt Demel Cafe Bakery
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Kohlmarkt Demel Cafe Cake

About Kohlmarkt: The prestigious Coal Market (Kohlmarkt) shopping lane is home to Vienna’s most luxurious stores.  From Tiffany’s to Gucci and Louis Vuitton you’ll find a little bit of everything for today’s high end buyers.  In Roman times, this two block long lane connected the main Southern gate (Peilertor) of the walled Vindobona camp to civilian bypass of the Lime Road (Limesstrasse) trade route around the fort.  After intersection with the Lime Road, Kohlmarkt served as its own trade route continuing all the way through Linz to Salzburg.  When the Roman wall was extended outward in Medieval times, Vienna’s new Southern entrance was moved and the lane official became known as Coal Market Road (Kohlmarkt) after the coal dealers who set up shop here.  Because the Royal Castle (Hofburg) was built nearby, Kohlmarkt soon became home to the shops of various jewelers appointed by the Royal Family and gained the nickname the Golden U.  During the 1700s, Kohlmarkt really blossomed into a well-rounded, high-end shopping street.  Today the lane is a real treat, especially during Advent when hanging lights give Kohlmarkt a beautifully lit temporary ceiling.

While you window shop along Kohlmart, the one place you have to make sure to stop at is the Demel Café & Bakery.  Dessert artist and baker Ludwig Dehne moved to Vienna from Wuerttemberg in 1786 and quickly impressed the Emperor with his skills.  In the bakery’s early days, all the ladies of importance in Vienna came the cafe to drink a cup of hot chocolate on the first cold day of the year.  Ludwig’s business did so well that it gained the esteemed prefix K. u. K., or König und Kaiser, meaning “good enough for the king”.  With Vienna being an important cafe town, Ludwig’s bakery became a favorite meeting point of the aristocracy as well as of the bourgeoisie.  In 1857, Ludwig son August sold the shop to his first assistant Christoph Demel giving the cafe its current name.  Even though it is a fancy place, Demel offers a 10€ cake and coffee deal, along with their other amazing chocolates and deserts to make your mouth water.  Demel Hours: Daily 9am-7pm.  Demel Website: (here).

16. Michael’s Square (Michaelerplatz):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Michael's Square Michaelerplatz Hofburg Palace
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Michael's Square Michaelerplatz Roman Ruins

About Michaelerplatz: Michael’s Square is dominated by the Baroque facade of Hofburg Palace’s Saint Michael Wing which was completed in 1889 in place of the old Royal Theater (Burgtheater) after a new Royal Theater was built along the Ringstrasse.  It was at the former theater, which opened here in 1741 in an unused Royal banquet hall, where Many famous premieres took place at the theater including Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in 1786 and Beethoven’s 1st Symphony in 1800. Michael’s Square is an important place also because it is next to where the first sections of the Royal Castle (Hofburg) were built in the mid-1200s, but the square has been important to Vienna since long before the city was officially founded.

In Roman times when Vienna was known as the Vindobona fort, it sat on the West-East oriented Lime Road (Limesstrasse) which linked major Roman camps along the Rhine and Danube Rivers from North Sea all the way to the Black Sea.  This Lime Road trade route essentially marked the Northern border of the Roman Empire and also connected Vindobona to the 50,000 person regional Roman capital of Carnuntum just 30 miles to the East.  A civilian bypass of the Lime Road around Vindobona (seen as Herrengasse Street on modern maps), intersected with another trade route to Linz and Salzburg at Micheal’s Square on its way into the Roman fort.  This intersection helped grow the area around Michael’s Square into a major transportation crossroads.   At the Michael’s Square crossroads stood a large guarded Roman Legion outpost (Canabae Legionis) to help protect the fort, its 6000 soldiers, and the 15000 area civilians who lived outside of Vindobona’s walls.  Ruins of the outpost at Michael’s Square were excavated in 1990, unearthing an entire neighborhood of Roman building foundations and ancient sewers.  In addition to the guard houses, the outpost buildings were believed to have included  shops, an inn guesthouse, and a brothel.  Further excavations around Michaelerplatz have shown that the Romans also had created a long aqueduct to get water from the surrounding hills as well as several canals dug all the way to the outpost from the Danube River.  The Roman Legion outpost was essentially like a small suburb, although it wasn’t given a town charter.  The civilian settlement spread out many blocks from Michael’s Square and foundations of half timber homes have been found in the courtyard of the Globe Museum (Herrengasse #9), Porcia Mansion (Herrengasse #9), and the Harrach Mansion (Freyung #3).  You can see the extent of the civilian settlement centered on Michael’s Square to the South of the square Vindobona fort here.

After the large regional capital city of Carnuntum fell to Germanic invaders in 395AD, Vienna gained even more trade when the he Amber Road (Bernsteinstraße) was rerouted through Vindobona.  The Amber Road transferred precious amber from the North to Italy, Greece and even Egypt in the South.  Unfortunately the rest of the Northern Roman Empire was collapsed by the Huns in 433AD and Vienna lost its importance for a couple hundred years.  Most of the civilians moved inside the old fort walls but the road from Vindobona to Michael’s Square became a Coal Market (Kohlmarkt).  As the city expanded in Medieval times the new royal castle, which is the sprawling Hofburg Palace today, was built here the square and the Coal Market turned into a fancy shopping street ensuring Michael’s Square would remain important.

Before leaving the square, make sure to check out Saint Micheal’s Church which it is named for.  First completed as a small Romanesque chapel from 1221-1252, it was rebuilt in 1792 as you see it today.  The church is best known for its cool crypt with the bodies of 4,000 wealthy residents who are buried here with many of them mummified or with open caskets.  The crypt is very interesting, but one of Vienna’s most overlooked ones by tourists.  Investigating the open ruins and sights around Michael’s Square is one of the best windows into Vienna’s Roman past.

17. Spanish Winter Riding School:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Spanish Riding School Shows Tours
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Spanish Riding School Shows Tours

About The Spanish Riding School: The Spanish Riding School has been operating in Vienna since 1565 when it was a wooden stable in nearby Josefsplatz Square making it the oldest riding school in the World.  The beautiful Spanish Winter Riding School building you see today opened attached to Hofburg Palace in 1735 in place of the upper terrace of the former Paradise Garden.  This historic riding school gets is name from the stars of the show, the delightful white Lipizzaner horses from Spain.  Getting accepted into the Spanish Riding School is a very prestigious thing as it was mainly for young aristocrats and royals to practice jousting and horse dancing called dressage.  The horse dance training helped the riders the gain agility and control needed military campaigns.  Viewing of the horses’ ballet shows outside of huge festivals was reserved for the Royal family and guests of the court until the monarchy fell in 1918 which opened the shows up to the public.  While the main attraction are the shows inside the beautiful Winter Riding School here is also a Summer Riding School building located in the inner courtyard.  Tickets for the horse shows can be hard to come by so make sure to book a head if possible.  Even if you can’t make a dressage show, consider one of their architectural tours that brings you through every nook and cranny including the rafters.  In addition to the horse ballet show, the building also hosts a series of elegant Viennese Balls throughout the year.  

Built from 1559 to 1569, the Renaissance-style Royal Horse Stables (Stallburg) across the street from the Riding School was built as a home for crown prince Maximilian II by his dad Emperor Ferdinand I.  Folklore says that the Emperor wanted his son under a different roof as they had differing religious views.  The mansion later housed part of the royal art collection which helped to later launch Vienna’s Art History Museum in 1889.  When the new Winter Riding School opened in 1735, the mansion was turned into the official Royal Horse Stables and is now a active museum.

Ticket Office Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 9am-4pm; on Fridays when there is a performance they are open until 7pm.  Morning Exercise: Most weeks Tuesday-Friday from 10am-Noon you can watch Morning practice to music for 15€ which is lighter on the jumping.  Check the schedule here as some months have practice every day.  You book at the box office each morning.  Main Performances: The full dressage show performances typically happen on Saturday and Sundays at 11am and can sell out far in advance.  Standing tickets room start out at 25€ and go up to 135€ for the lower level seats.  You can book online here or at the box office.  Please note that from late-June through early-August they typically don’t run the full show, but will have practice.  Guided Tours: Most days of the week they have 2-5 slots for 50 minute guided tours of the grounds and stable for 18€ (kids half off) with the most time slots on Mondays.  You book at the box office each morning.  Riding School Website: (Here).

18. Joseph’s Square (Josefsplatz):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Josefsplatz Emperor Joseph Square Statue
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Josefsplatz Palais Pallavicini Mansion

About Josefsplatz: Before checking out the beautiful National Library, it is important to inspect the often overlooked Joseph Square (Josefzplatz).  The square once served as the lower section of the Habsburgs’ private park called the Paradise Garden.  Today the main feature is the large equestrian statue from 1795 of Emperor Joseph II in Roman clothing riding a horse.  The statue is actually a take on an ancient statue of Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius which sites on Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy.  The connection is important as Marcus Aurelius died in his Roman camp Vindonba (early day Vienna) in 180 AD and the Habsburgs always claimed to have a blood line connection to the Roman leaders.  The equestrian statue is also fitting as Joseph Square was once the home to the original Spanish Riding School back when it was just a small wooden structure.

As you circle the square there are a couple mansions with new facades since being damaged in WW2 that are worth taking note of.  The 1st is the beautiful Pálffy Mansion (website) which served as a law office in the 1300s and was re-built as the home of a banker in the 1600s.  Mozart performed at Pálffy Mansion as a child and did screenings of this opera The Marriage of Figaro with small audience before premiering it at the Royal Theater that once sat a block away at Michaelplatz.  Every night at 8pm (except Wednesdays) you can get tickets for the Vienna Walzer Orchestra which performs for small crowds just like Mozart once did here.  Next door to Pálffy Mansion is the impressive Pallavicini Mansion (website) which was once the site of the Queens Monastery (1581-1782).  Unlike Palffy, this mansion was largely untouched by WW1 & WW2 and serves as a time capsule for Viennese life in the late 1840s.

On the South side of the Joseph’s Square is the former Augustiner Monastery Complex built in 1327, which still has its original chapel inner courtyards.  This complex was directly approved by the Pope and the monks had been in Vienna since 1260.  The small Loreto Chapel next to the main alter holds the hearts of various Habsburg rulers.  Earlier in this Vienna walking tour we saw the royal bodies in the Imperial Crypt and their guts in Saint Stephen’s Cathedral.  The church probably the most famous as the place of many Habsburg imperial weddings including that of Marie Louise to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810.

19. Austrian National Library:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austrian National Library Interior
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austrian National Library Ceiling

About The Austrian National Library: Built by Emperor Charles and Empress Maria Theresa from 1720-23, the Austrian National Library remains one of the most beautiful libraries in the world to this day.  A walk through the baroque State Hall is bound to leave any visitor with a sense of wonder.  The marble accents are amazing and the ceiling paintings are among some of the best for any building of its era.  The paintings are so detailed that they weren’t even completed until 7 years after the library was open.

Because the powerful Habsburg Dynasty had already started an private library back in the 1300s, the new library was already filled with 400 years of treasures the day it opened.  Mix in an over 300 year span where the Holy Roman Empire was run out of Vienna and you have the makings of one of the best book collections in the world, not to mention their wonderful Papyrus Museum and Globe Museum.  The Papyrus Museum is best accessed through the reading rooms entrance of Heldenplatz (Stop 21) while the Globe Museum is just down the street (Herrengasse Avenue #9).

Library Hours: Daily 10am-6pm; Open Thursdays until 9pm.  Cost: 7€ for State Hall; Add for 4€ the Papyrus and Globe Museums; Discounts for kid & families. Audio guide 5€ for 2 people.  Library WebsiteHere.

20. Hofburg Castle’s Swiss Court:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Hofburg Castle Medieval Swiss Court Royal Treasury Family Jewels
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Hofburg Castle Medieval Swiss Court

About The Swiss Court: This was the original portion of today’s Hofburg Palace (or Imperial Castle), built from 1220 to 1278 as a square Gothic castle with corner towers.  Only fragments of the original Medieval castle remain, as it was given a Renaissance makeover and including a complete rebuild of the castle chapel in 1496.  In 1745, the original castle got another face lift during an expansion of the Palace and central courtyard was renamed the Swiss Court (Schweizerhof) after the guards who protected the Royal family.  This large makeover also saw the removal of the corner towers and the castle’s draw bridge got replaced the famous red-black Swiss Gate (Schweizertor).  The impressive gate displays the many titles of Emperor Ferdinand I and the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Today the core of the former castle now houses the Royal Treasury in over 21 Medieval rooms.  While touring the Treasury, you will see the jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, including the Imperial Crown and the Holy Lance, the Crown of Emperor Rudolf II, and gems including one of the world’s largest emeralds.  You will also see a ton of Holy relics as the Habsburgs had become obsessed with collecting them as a status symbol.  There are items from the Order of the Golden Fleece, and Counter-reformation among other secular treasures.   Our favorite item it the giant narwhal tooth from the 1500s which was in Medieval times, believed to be a unicorn horn.

One of the hidden gems of Vienna is the Imperial Music Chapel (Hofmusikkapelle) which was built inside the original Hofburg Castle in 1296.  The chapel was expanded in the 1400s and remodeled in the 1700s, but still uses the four original keystones in its vaulted ceiling.  The beautiful wood statue of the Virgin Mary near the alter dates back was carved all the way back in 1410.  Today the Chapel is most famous for being the home to the Vienna Boys Choir (website).  The angelic choir tours the World but there home is right here in Vienna.  You can here them be the star of Sunday Mass most weeks of the year.  If you miss out the nearby Augustiner Church which dates back to 1327 has its own music of its own at their 11am services.

Hofburg Treasury Hours: Wednesday-Monday 9am-530pm; open until 6pm in July and August; Closed Tuesdays.  Admission Cost: 11.50€ for Adults; 10.5€ for Kids; which includes audio guide.  Royal Treasury Website: (HERE).  Imperial Chapel Hours: Chapel is  available for Free Mondays & Tuesdays 10am-2pm & Friday 11am-1pm.  Vienna Boys Choir Shows: From September though June you can see the boys choir most Sundays at 9am.  Vienna Boys Choir Tickets: You can buy tickets online here or on Fridays in person.  Tickets are 5-29€ plus there is free stand room only tickets available for the first 60 people in line.  Imperial Chapel Website: (HERE).

21. Hofburg Imperial Apartments:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Hofburg Palace Imperial Apartments Golden Milan Table
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Hofburg Palace Imperial Apartments State Rooms

About The Imperial Apartments: The Imperial Apartments are our favorite part of the Hofburg Palace as they were the residential and state rooms used by Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elizabeth, known as Sisi.  The apartments are filled with over 165,000 pieces of original furniture from the Hapsburg Dynasty spanning over 300 years.  There is also a section for the over-the-top Imperial furniture and a small museum dedicated to Sisi.  If you think the apartments and decor are fancy wait until you check out the Royal Sliver Collection (website).  It seems like there is an endless amount of wealth on display, but in fact they only display about 7,000 of the Habsburgs over 150,000 silver and gold items at a time.  Our favorite part of the collection is the golden centerpiece spanning the entire length of the of the 90 foot long Milan Table.  The amazing work was commissioned for the coronation of Emperor Ferdinand in 1838.

Hofburg Palace Hours: Daily 9am-530pm; open until 6pm in July and August.  Admission Cost: 11.50€ for Adults; 10.5€ for Kids; which includes audio guide.  Guided Tours: A guided tour is required to see the Imperial Apartments and Sisi Museum. They last for 55 minutes, leave daily at 2pm and adds only 2€ to admission cost.  Combined Sisi Ticket: The Sisi ticket (25.50€ for Adults; 15€ for Kids) is the best deal as it includes Schönbrunn Palace, Imperial Furniture Collection, Hofburg with the Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum, and the Imperial Silver Collection

22. Hero’s Square (Heldenplatz):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Hero's Square Heldenplatz Archduke Charles Hourse Statue
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Hero's Square Heldenplatz Prince Eugene of Savoy Hourse Statue

About Hero’s Square: As enter the large Hero’s Square (Heldenplatz) you’ll quickly get drawn to the back drop of the beautiful Neue Burg Wing (New Castle), but the square itself is worth investigating.  Heldenplatz and 2 other large gardens (Burggarten & Volksgarten) were laid out after parts of a Medieval castle wall that stood here were destroyed Napoleonic Wars.  While the other Gardens have remained green, most of Heldenplatz has been paved over during the decades but a couple of the original equestrian statues remain.  The first great statue is Archduke Charles of Austria riding a horse while triumphantly holding a flag.  The statue of Charles, erected in 1860, was meant to portray the Habsburg Dynasty as great Austrian military leaders.

While the statue of Archduke Charles is cool, our favorite is of Prince Eugene of Savoy which sits right by Neue Burg’s main entrance.  Eugene left France for Austria after being denied entrance to their military for appearance and went on to become the greatest General in Austrian history.  He led military campaigns for 60 years over 3 different Holy Roman Emperors based out of Vienna and was very successful.  The gain fame with battles over the Ottomans later gaining heavy praise fro Napoleon all while getting super rich from his endeavors.  To this day Eugene serves as a point of Austrian pride and will power.  If you want more of a true garden experience visit the People’s Garden (Volksgarten) on the Northern end of Hero’s Square.  This garden, featured in our Ring Tram Tour has a wonderful rose garden, a replica of the Greek Temple Hephaestus (Theseion), and a memorial to Empress Sissi.

Before leaving Heldenplatz make sure to check out the huge gateway going over the road on the South side of the square called Outer Castle Gate (Äußeres Burgtor).  The columned gateway is all that remains from a wall built around the Palace in 1817 after the originally castle wall was damaged during the Napoleonic Wars in 1809.  This new Palace wall didn’t last long as it and the entire Medieval wall that surrounded all of Old Town Vienna were torn down in 1860 by Emperor Franz Joseph I to making way for the Ringstrasse loop.  This move helped the growing city expand and was part of a large series of enhancements the Emperor made to the City.

23. New Royal Palace (Neue Burg):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Neue Hofburg Ephesos Museum
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Neue Hofburg Amour Collection Museum

About New Royal Palace: Emperor Franz Joseph’s had a dream of creating Kaiserforum complex to how off Austria’s might through architecture and arts.  As see in this 1865 mockup sketch, the complex covered the Neue Burg Wing (or New Castle) wing of Hofburg Place, the Museum Quartier, and numerous other buildings. The huge Neue Burg section was started in 1881, but its construction was drug out for over 30 year into the beginning of WW1 which Austria lost, further delaying the project.  Because of the lengthy, delays most of the rest of the Kaiserforum complex was scrapped for the most part, but overall the completed buildings are really impressive.

Once inside Neue Burg it is easy to be in awe of the marble lined corridors, grand staircases, and our favorite are called the Hunting Plateau which is a common place for weddings.  The amazing details of the grand Neue Berg make it the perfect setting for the building many museum collections.  The 1st collection that was housed here came from Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1908 after he got back from an extensive trip around the World.  After Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, which sparked WW1, his entire collection was given to Neue Berg giving a starting to a series of wonderful museums.  Today the building houses Papyros Museum, Ephesos Museum (website), Collection of Ancient Musical Instruments and the Collection of Arms and Armor (website) which takes up the entire South side.  Our favorite of these museums is the Ephesos which has a great collection of classical and even ancient statues.  The highlight of the Ephesos Museum is the Parthian Monument, part of an antique altar erected at Ephesos (modern day Turkey) during the Hellenistic Period.  In Roman times, Ephesus was the capital of the Province of Asia and one of the largest early-Christian communities in the world with around 200,000 inhabitants.

Neue Burg Museum HoursWednesday-Sunday 10am-6pm; Closed Monday & Tuesdays.  If you only have time for one museum stop, consider the world-class collection of museums at nearby Museum Quartier instead of Neue Berg.  Museum Cost: 15€ for Adults; Children are free; and guided tours are 3€ extra.  Your ticket covers all of Neue Burg’s Museum plus the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches) in Museum Quartier.  You can also get a combo ticket to inclue the Natural History museum and Leopold Modern Art Museum for a couple euros more. We’ve bought the combo ticket and they let us see the two museums on different days, but ask to make sure.  Neue Burg Website: Here.

24. Museum Quartier:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Museum Quartier
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Museum Quartier

About Museum Quartier: As Emperor Franz Joseph designed his grand Kaiserforum complex, a series of museums built around a park were an integral part of his plans, but is was never fully completed.  As see in this 1865 mockup sketch, there were to be a ton of buildings, but at least the 2 large museums they did finish turned out be be masterpieces.  To the East side of the square is the highly rated Art History Museum, or Kunsthistorisches (website), which holds Vienna’s greatest collection of paintings covering very fun loving art from over a 200 year span.  The Koonst as its called also holds an amazing Egyptian Museum.  The twin building on the West side of the Maria Theresa Square is the Museum of Natural History, or Naturhistorisches (website), whose vast collection holds Austria’s most famous work of art, the 4-inch-tall Venus of Willendorf Statue.  This statue depicts a chubby, naked female figure carved into limestone and dates back to 24,000-22,000 BC.

Behind these two massive main museums is a third section worth a stop for any modern art lover, the Leopold Modern Art Museum (website) & Mumok Museum.  Of favorite piece at the Modern Art Museum comes right away and is an upside down house home smashed into the side of the Museum called House Attack.

Art History Museum Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm, open on Thursday until 9pm, closed Mondays.  Art History Cost: 15€ for Adults; Children and teens are free, but a guided tour is +3€ and audio guide is +4€. Combo ticket with Neue Berg and Imperial Treasury is 20€ -or- with Neue Berg and Modern Art Museum is 24€.  Natural History Museum Hours: Wednesday-Monday 9am-6:30pm; Wednesdays until 9pm; closed Tuesdays; best before Noon.  Tours in English are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm.  Natural History Museum Cost: 10€ for Adults; Children and teens are free, but a guided tour is +3€ and audio guide is +4€.  Modern Art Museum Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm; Thursdays until 9pm; closed Mondays.  Modern Art Museum Cost: 13€ for Adults, students 8€, buy mobile ticket online HERE. Combo ticket with Kunsthistorisches and Neue Burg is 24€.

Other Sights Near Old Town Vienna:

25. Ringstrasse Tram Tour:

Vienna Ringstrasse Tram Tour

About The Ring Tram: In 1860 the growing city of Vienna needed more room so Emperor Franz Joseph I tore down the Medieval wall that circled old town and replaced it with this grand boulevard.  This was a boom time for Vienna and grand buildings sprung up all around the Ringstrasse.  Thanks to a modern system of tram lines, making the mile loop around the Ringstrasse to check out the sights is super easy.  The entire loop can be done in less than 30 minutes, but we suggest hopping off at various points to explore and fully experience the Ringstrasse attractions.  To help make your trip a smooth one we have put together a great guide on the best sights and tips for using the trams along with a helpful printable map.

Read more: Vienna Ring Tram Tour.

26. Saint Charles Church (Karlskirche):

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Saint Charles Church Karlskirche Karlsplatz
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Saint Charles Church Karlskirche Karlsplatz

About Karlskirche: The giant white St. Charles Church dates back to the early 1700’s and is a favorite of photographers with its large green dome and huge reflecting pool.  The Church was commissioned by the Emperor after Vienna’s last bout of Plague as he felt that his prayers were the reason why the Plague stopped.  It train of thought is a common theme throughout Vienna’s history as after each tragedy the ruling Emperor would use it as a reason to build an even bigger and more extravagant Church.  Cost: 4€.  Hours: Daily 9am-7pm.  WebsiteHERE.

27. Naschmarkt:

Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Naschmarkt Market
Free Vienna Walking Tour Map Old Town Austria - Naschmarkt Market

About Naschmarkt: The 6 block long Naschmarkt is Vienna’s most popular produce market.  An active market has been operating here since 1780 and today has 100 vintage stalls.  Cost: Free.  Hours: Stalls open Monday-Friday 6am-7:30pm; Saturday 6am-6pm; food & drink Monday-Saturday until 11pm.  WebsiteHERE.