A breathtaking country and a beautiful city, there is so much to see and do, “here are a few of my favorite things" (Only Sound of Music Fans will appreciate that one). I starred my absolute MUST DO recommendations, and if Austria isn't on your bucket list yet, it should be.
1. St. Stephen's Cathedral*
This gorgeous cathedral church was founded in the 12th century. The exterior and interior of the church are absolutely beautiful and admission is free. The church has many additional features for a price, but the two things I recommend doing would be the Catacombs tour and taking the elevator up to the North tower for one of the best views of the city.
2. Mozart’s Apartment
Take a stroll down Domgasse 5 to see Mozart's apartment. The apartment now serves as a Museum that you can purchase tickets to tour.
3. Hofsburg Imperial Palace
In the heart of Vienna. Served as The Habsburg dynasties winter palace until 1918. Today the palace is used by the democratic Republic of Austria. The historical Imperial Apartments of past Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Elizabeth (Sissi) are available to tour.
4. Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly House)
The Imperial Butterfly house (part of the Hofsburg Royal Palace) in the center of the city. 400 colorful free-flying butterflies in a beautiful Art Noveau palm house.
5. Spanish Riding School*
Spanish Riding School
Located at the Hofsburg palace. Only institution in the world that has practiced for more than 450 years, continuing to cultivate classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition. Can purchase tickets to see the Lipizzaner Stallion performance or a cheaper alternative is to watch a morning practice session. UNESCO intangible cultural heritage site. A highly sought after opportunity- so book tickets way in advance.
6. Belvedere Palace
A beautiful Baroque palace used by Prince Eugene of Savoy as a summer residence. Until possession was transferred to Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph and it became an official museum.
7. Schönbrunn Palace**
The Hapsburg dynasty’s summer palace. Highly recommend doing the Grand tour. Easily an all day experience. The palace and grounds are breathtaking and there is a ton you can see and do including the Zoo, Children's imperial museum, Privy garden, maze and labyrinth, Gloriette with panoramic views of Vienna, etc.
8. Schönbrunn Zoo*
Home to over 700 species of animals from the tropics to the arctic. A UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The best Zoo in Europe and an activity that excites both young and old visitors.
9. Vienna State Opera House
Gorgeous theater and breathtaking building. Worth walking by and briefly admiring or if you’re interested you can look into seeing an Opera performance one evening.
10. Danube Canal
Take a walk down the Danube canal, you can book boat tours/excursions but they sell out constantly so make sure you book in advance!
11. Grinzing wineries
Want to escape the crowds of tourists and hangout with the locals? Grinzing wine gardens are the perfect place for that. Walk down the village and choose a cute courtyard area. They all serve their specialty wines, can get light cold cuts and food. No coffee, literally just wine!! You could always wine garden hop too, if you're really feeling it. Enjoy :-)
12. Wiener Wurstl Stand
You can't get a complete Austrian experience without eating from one of the countless Weiner Wurstl stands- it's affordable, authentic, and Austrian!
13. Gerstner K. u. K. Hoflieferanten
Oh how Austrians love their coffee and cake. This is THE BEST place to get tortes (cake) and dessert. My other favorite places in Vienna are Cafe Aida, and Cafe Central (best apple strudel).
14. Take a day trip to Salzburg**
You can take a train easily from Vienna to Salzburg (2 hours) and spend the day in this gorgeous authentic city. There is so much to do, I personally LOVED the Sound of Music tour (4 hours) and you can cover a lot more ground this way, especially if you're only going for a day. There's Fortress Hohensalzburg for one of the best views. Can see Mozart's birthplace, visit St. Peter's Abbey, the Salzburg cathedral, Schloss Hellbrunn Palace, etc.