To discover Vienna's wealth of history, all you need to do is set foot beyond your hotel. From its baroque palaces and vibrant art nouveau architecture to the scars left by World War II, the city’s rich and complex past is present at every turn. To learn more about Vienna’s unique heritage, here are your options for illuminating history tours.
Vienna’s Palaces and Churches
Distinctive for its baroque palaces, soaring churches, and other highly ornamental structures, elegant Vienna has the looks to match its history. Discover one of its most in-demand attractions when you tour the colossal, UNESCO-listed Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn), which once housed Habsburg emperors. With more than 1,400 rooms—plus companion gardens—the landmark is best explored over a period of several hours, if not more. Other itineraries will introduce you to the Hofburg Palace and the Belvedere complex (which actually comprises two separate palaces). Beyond the royal highlights, set off on a walking or cycling tour to see St. Stephen’s Basilica (Stephansdom) and other centrally located landmarks.
Vienna is a haven for culture vultures and art lovers. One key creative destination is the sumptuous Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien), where works by artists such as Cellini and Bruegel are on display; go on a guided tour to discover the collection highlights. If your sensibilities are more modern, venture to the Museum of Applied Arts (Museum für angewandte Kunst) to learn more about the Vienna Secession art movement, made famous by Gustav Klimt. Couple your museum explorations with a walking tour of the city’s art nouveau architecture.
World War II and Jewish-History Tours
World War II took a heavy toll on Vienna, and its legacy can still be witnessed across the city. History-themed walking tours discuss Adolf Hitler’s early life in the city and visit monuments to wartime victims, while Jewish-history tours explore the city’s Jewish Textile Quarter and the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial. For an especially poignant and sobering experience, pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust during a full-day trip to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.