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A unique mix of old-world grandeur and contemporary charm means that Vienna attracts sightseers in their thousands. With a little bit of forward planning, however, you can swerve the crowds. From advance tickets to off-the-beaten-path sights, here’s how to experience a mellower side of Austria’s capital.
Where possible, buy skip-the-line admission tickets to Vienna’s big hitters in advance. Go to Café Central, Hofburg Imperial Palace (Hofburg Wien), and Schönbrunn Palace (Schloss Schönbrunn) as early or late in the day as you can, and try to avoid weekends. It’s also worth buying concert tickets for Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper), or the Vienna Musikverein (Wiener Musikverein) well ahead of time.
Hemmed in by the Ringstraße, the UNESCO-listed Innere Stadt is home to many of Vienna’s major attractions, which include St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom), the State Opera House, and Hofburg Imperial Palace, making it the busiest part of town. Venture beyond the Ringstraße’s boundary to Wieden, home to the Third Man Museum and Belvedere Palace (Schloss Belvedere), or go even farther afield to the likes of the Vienna Woods or the Danube Valley, where city-center crowds feel a million miles away.
Much of Vienna’s Old Town is pedestrianized, which can make traveling by car a headache. Opt to explore on foot and you’ll find you can get between sights such as the Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule), the Kunsthistorisches Museum, St. Peter’s Church, and more in minutes.
With most travelers hanging up their hats by late afternoon, evening can be a great time to explore. Tours take you to well-known city spots that are extra spectacular—and much less crowded—after dark.