There are many famous things in Austria, but the Austrian landmarks really stand out as some of the most impressive monuments in Europe, making them well-known worldwide. Located in the center of Europe and marked by the Alps and the Danube, Austria is a country with both sticking natural beauty and incredible architecture. In this article, we will explore both natural and historical sites to reveal the 20 most famous landmarks in Austria.
We really fancy Austria and enjoyed exploring it. However, to produce an article as good as it can be we have asked a few fellow bloggers to pitch in with their favorite Austrian landmarks!
20 Famous Landmarks in Austria
#1 Schonbrunn Palace
The Schonbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the Austrian imperial family, the Habsburg. The gardens the building and the interiors are exquisite and really worthy of a visit. In fact, this UNESCO heritage site (since 1996) is the most visited landmark in Austria.
Built in the 17th, century, it was designed by the architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Nicolaus Pacassi in a remarkable Baroque and rococo style. The interiors are full of outstanding examples of decorative art in a rococo, opulent style with huge paintings, silk wallpapers, plush carpets, and gold leaf. There are 1 440 rooms in the palace, but less than 50 are open to the public.
The Schonbrunn complex also includes the gardens, a Palm House, a maze, the gloriette, and Europe’s oldest zoo (founded in 1752). As a whole, the Schonbrunn is one of the most impressive monuments in Europe.
#2 Hofburg Palace, Vienna
The Hofburg Palace is the seat of power in Austria since 1279, so it has a rich history that can’t be experienced anywhere else. If the Schonbrunn was the Summer Palace, the Hofburg was the winter palace of the Habsburg. Today is the home and workplace of the president of Austria. Located in the center of Vienna, it was first built in the 13th century as a castle/fortress and later expanded several times over the centuries.
Also called the imperial palace, it has more than 2600 rooms and occupies 20 hectares. Inside the Palace, you can find the lavishly decorated imperial apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the opulent silver collections. The Spanish riding school is also on the grounds of the palace, but we will talk about it below. Visitors have the opportunity to peek into Austria’s Imperial past, allowing the opportunity to understand one of the most important families of European history.
#3 Spanish Riding School, Vienna
As we said above, technically the Spanish Riding School is part of the Hofburg Palace, but it deserves a heading of its own. The entrance is completely separated and you’ll need a different ticket too. This Austrian institution is dedicated to the preservation of classical dressage and the training of Lipizzaner horses.
Located between Michaelerplatz and Josefsplatz, the Winter Riding School was built between 1729–1735 in Baroque style. Designed by architect Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, the riding hall was meant for aristocratic boys to learn how to ride, but now is a stunning Austrian Landmark that serves as the setting of this classic Austrian tradition.
The best way to visit this beautiful building is by buying a ticket to witness the training and performances by the stallions and enjoy both the building and the show.
#4 Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna
By Noel Morata from Travel Photo Discovery
A visit to Vienna is not complete without seeing the Kunsthistoriches Museum or the Museum of art located in the inner ring of Vienna’s historic district. Housing a collection of the finest art and treasures to include master paintings of Titian, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Veronese along with a slew of Spanish, Dutch, Italian and Flemish painters.
The museum has most of the impressive treasures and collections of the Imperial Hapsburg dynasty that truly dazzles visitors. The luxurious rooms are filled with an armory, paintings, antiquities, jewels, and special exhibits. You can easily spend days just exploring everything from Egyptian and Eastern Art, Greek and Roman treasures to the Medieval time frame and onto Renaissance and Baroque extravagance all throughout the expansive galleries that go on and on into different timeframes. Even the opulent gold, silver, and bejeweled treasures, gifts, and decorations in their treasure galleries boggles the mind, seeing all the impressive Hapsburg collections to show off their wealth and power to the rest of Europe.
For any art, culture, or history lover, a visit to the Kunsthistoriches Museum is a must-do experience in Vienna. It is one of the most incredible assortments of collections and art you’ll see in all of Europe. If you are spending more time in Vienna and exploring, check out this post on 10 things you should be doing in Vienna here for inspiration and what to see and do in the city now.
#5 Prater Amusement Park, Vienna
The historical amusement park Prater in Vienna has a long history of fun. It was originally an Imperial hunting ground then opened to the public in 1766. Prater amusement park is in the Leopoldstadt area of the city and it has many rides for visitors to enjoy, the Wiener Riesenrad and Prater Turm being the most popular.
The Ferris Wheel at Prater amusement park is an iconic ride surrounded by fun things to do. This Ferris Wheel is called The Wiener Riesenrad, and it has an interesting history. They built Wiener Riesenrad in 1897, however, between 1920 and 1985 it was the world’s tallest. To this day, it is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna. Visitors can enjoy a quick ride or enjoy an extended meal onboard and soak up the views. The Wiener Riesenrad also have a visual museum showcasing the history of the area, this is in the form of lifelike models of the park.
Prater Turm is 117 meters tall, the swinging carousel opens up some fantastic panoramic views of the city. This is a relatively young ride in the park, opening in 2010.
Entertainment is the name of the game at Prater. You can visit Madame Tussauds, enjoy the fairground rides or enjoy refreshments. Prater Amusement Park is a splendid night out.
#6 The Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna
By Nina Ahmedow from lemons and luggage
The Hundertwasserhaus in Vienna is an unusual apartment building designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Born Friedrich Stowasser, his pseudonym Friedensreich Hundertwasser Regentag Dunkelbunt (Peace Empire Hundred Waters Rainy Day Dark Colorful) is a hint at the expressionist architectural style you can expect from this house. It was built from 1983 to 1985 by architect Josef Krawina.
Hundertwasser’s plan was for the building to be a house for humans and trees, and in 1985, more than 200 trees and bushes were planted here, creating a park on the rooftop. The colorful building houses dozens of apartments as well as a few cafés, though vegans would be better off trying out one of these vegan spots in Vienna instead.
The Hundertwasserhaus is located in a calm residential neighborhood in Vienna’s third district, Landstraße. Simply get off at metro Landstraße and walk to Kegelgasse 36-38. Although it’s not a UNESCO World Heritage site the Hundertwasserhaus is one of the most curious landmarks in Austria, and one that is well worth a visit. But as you’re walking around the area and taking your photos please keep in mind that people actually live here, so avoid anything you wouldn’t appreciate in front of your own apartment building.
#7 Belvedere Palace, Vienna
By Sam Glauser from My Flying Leap
“The Belvedere” is a property with two splendid Baroque palaces built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene. It was designed to be Austria’s version of the Château of Versailles. The Lower Belvedere, built at the bottom of a slope, was completed in 1716, and the Upper Belvedere was completed in 1724.
There are also a number of other magnificent Baroque structures on this property including the Winter Palace, the Palace Stables, and the Orangery. The Orangery was built as a heated structure for the palace’s orange trees, with a roof that can be removed in the summer. They all now serve as exhibition halls and are home to one of the country’s most important art collections featuring Austrian art from the 19th and 20th centuries, medieval art, and the Austrian Baroque period. The artwork is as spectacular as the palaces.
It’s easy to see this exquisite property by bus, tram, subway, and train, and it’s within walking distance of Vienna’s city center. People go not only to see the beautiful palaces and other structures on the property, but also to visit the stunning gardens, fountains, and sculptures. Visiting Belvedere Palace is one of the most popular things to do in Vienna and a must-see.
#8 St. Stephens Cathedral, Vienna
By Or from My Path in the World
Probably one of the most famous landmarks in Austria’s capital city, Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is a must-see monument located in the heart of the city center.
The cathedral dates back to the 12th-15th centuries (each part was built in a different century) and is the most important religious building in Vienna. It has hosted royal weddings like Louis II of Hungary & Mary of Austria and Ferdinand I & Anne of Bohemia and Hungary. It is also the burial place of royals like Emperor Friedrich III, Prince Eugene of Savoy, and Duke Rudolph IV.
Beyond its undeniably beautiful Gothic and Romanesque architecture, one of its most notable features is its colorful tiled roof. It is covered by 230,000 tiles showcasing the symbols of the Habsburg empire and the coat of arms of Vienna and Austria. If you climb up its southern tower, you can get a closer look at them and enjoy scenic views over the city.
The cathedral also has a few legends and myths connected to it, including one that says Beethoven discovered he was completely deaf when he observed birds flying away from the bell tower yet could not hear the bells’ sound. Occasionally, the cathedral also hosts Beethoven concerts.
#9 Vienna State Opera
By Nicholas from Rambling Feet
While the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) is not a UNESCO Heritage Site, the Ringstrasse it stands on is, and it was the first major building on the boulevard. The building was funded by the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I and built in the neo-Renaissance style by Josef Hlavka. It is not difficult to find too, being on the southern edge of the Innere Stadt The Ring tram is the cheapest way (apart from walking) to get there–alight at the tram stop of the same name.
It is one of the world’s most famous opera houses and, pre-Covid-19, ran a schedule of 350 performances a year. Numerous renowned conductors and composers such as Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler have walked these hallways. Catching an opera performance is often high on the agenda for many visitors to Vienna due to its fame and the quality of its productions.
Tickets sell out quickly to locals and tourists alike. However, if you’re willing to tough it out and sacrifice a few hours of sightseeing, a standing room is available on a first-come, first-served basis from 4 euros. If it’s all new to you, reading up on the opera you’re catching or buying a program in the foyer will help you follow it. Whether seated or standing, the Wiener Staatsoper experience will be memorable!
Austria Landmarks – Salzburg
#10 Salt Mines, Salzburg
By Džangir Kolar from Dr Jam Travels
Salzburg is a city in northwest Austria bordering Germany. It has a rich history, great architecture, and is the birthplace of Mozart. The source of wealth that funded city development is hidden in its name, Salzburg – Salt castle. The area around Salzburg is full of ‘white gold’.
The underground sea from which the water has long since evaporated after the tectonic activity has lifted great salt deposits as mountains. 2500 years ago Celts started digging for salt and the mines were the source of salt until 1989. In medieval times they realized it is easier to pump water into small holes they dug, and 6 weeks later pump out the brine. After boiling it only salt was left.
This enabled mass production and the city flourished in baroque time. You can see how mines operated and other details connected to salt mining in Hallein mine at Bad Dürrnberg. It is 15 kilometers outside the city center, accessible by train or bus in half an hour. A fun tour starts with a ride on a simple train through one of the tunnels. You go to the lower levels via giant wooden slides on your behind. Finally, there is a boat ride across an underground lake. This adventure will cost you 24 €.
#11 Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg
By Carolyn Schonafinger of Holidays to Europe
You can’t visit Salzburg without noticing the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress which sits atop a hill overlooking the Old Town. Built in 1077 to protect the city and its rulers, the archbishop-princes, from hostile attacks, the fortress is the largest fully preserved castle remaining in Central Europe.
Intended as a symbol to prove their authority, the prince bishops mostly lived in their palace in the city as the fortress never actually came under attack. The fortress was built in three stages over five centuries and was completed around 1500. To reach the castle from the Old Town, you can either hop aboard the Fortress Funicular or, if you’re feeling a little more energetic, enjoy a 15-minute walk to the entrance. The funicular station is located in Festungsgasse.
Whilst the 360-degree views from the castle are spectacular there are other reasons to visit Hohensalzburg, too. There are a number of interesting museums within the fortress – including a marionette museum and a historical exhibition – as well as staterooms and bed chambers that are furnished with original pieces from the early 16th century. A look-out tower and torture chamber can also be visited. Hohensalzburg Fortress is open year-round (in non-pandemic times) and a visit here is one of the best things to do in Salzburg.
#12 Mirabell Palace, Salzburg
By Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting
Salzburg is one of Europe’s most historic and beautiful cities and the historic Altstadt is loaded with famous landmarks. Among all of the famous attractions located in the old city, Mirabell Palace is a landmark that’s a part of Austrian history and Hollywood fame. Many visitors recognize the palace from The Sound of Music, the 1965 musical that was filmed in Salzburg. In the movie version of the musical, the children sing the song ‘Do Re Mi’ in the gardens of Mirabell Palace.
The structure was built in 1606 as the home of the Prince-Archbishop’s mistress and the gardens were built out from the palace in 1715. Of all the gorgeous interior rooms, the Marble Hall is the most renowned. It was once the banquet hall of the prince-archbishops but today it’s rented out for lavish events and opulent weddings. The famous angel staircase is adorned with sculptured angels and beloved by brides who are lucky enough to marry in the palace.
The exterior gardens are stunning and full of intricate horticultural designs. They also contain water features and fountains like the Grand Fountain and the famous Pegasus Fountain, a work of sculptor Kaspar Gras.
One of the best views of the grounds is from the Rose Garden, directly south of the palace. From the hill where you’ll find the rose garden, you have an enchanting view of the Pegasus Fountain and the lower gardens around Mirabell Palace. While the views are incredible throughout, it’s a perfect photo spot to capture the beauty of this Austrian landmark. Mirabell Palace is just one reason why the Altstadt or old city is such a popular destination to visit in Austria and why many visitors choose to book a hotel or Salzburg Airbnb nearby.
Landmarks in Austria – Innsbruck
#13 The Golden Roof, Innsbruck
By Renee Hannes from Dream Plan Experience
Innsbruck offers visitors a charming historic Altstadt, or old town, due to the impressive 13th to 14th century Baroque and Gothic buildings. One of the most impressive landmarks is The Golden Roof or Goldenes Dachl. As the oldest building in Innsbruck, it got its name due to its façade. A bay window adorned with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles that glisten in the sun.
The building was built in 1420 as a residence for the sovereigns of the day. The bay window was referred to as the Royal Balcony – a place where nobility would observe the busy city center, as well as events held in the square below. Although the gilded tiles attract your immediate attention, you are soon to notice the painted wall mural of scenes from the life of the Emperor.
The Golden Roof is located in the very lively historic city center, on the square near the pedestrian street called Herzog-Friedrich-Straße, 15. Other impressive historic buildings that can be found here are Stadtturm – a medieval building that was once a prison and the town hall. And, one of the best examples of the city’s blend of Baroque and Gothic architecture that is not to be missed is Helbing Haus.
#14 St. Anne’s Column, Innsbruck
By Eric from Recipes From Europe
If you’re strolling around the heart of Innsbruck, you can’t miss St. Anne’s Column. Located close to the center of Innsbruck’s historic Altstadt – just a short walk from the Central Train Station – St. Anne’s Column towers over the pedestrian mall below. In German, the column is known as Annasäule, and it’s pretty easy to spot the column from afar.
Completed back in 1706, the column was originally built to commemorate a significant battle. In 1703, Bavarian troops were ushered out of the Tyrol region as part of the Spanish Succession war. The day the troops were defeated in the area was St. Anne’s Day – hence the name!
Made from red marble from the area, the landmark is adorned with intricately carved statues with religious significance. The base of the statue features four saints facing the four cardinal directions. At the top of the column, you can spot the statue of Mary with a golden halo around her head.
The column was originally sculpted by Cristoforo Benedetti. Over the years, the original statues have been restored – and ultimately replaced – and displayed indoors to protect them from further deterioration.
For those interested, there is plenty of shopping on this pedestrian street – which is known as Maria-Theresien-Straße.
Austria Landmarks – Other regions
#15 Red Bull Ring
By Andrew Balfour from GPDestinations
The Red Bull Ring is a motor racing circuit near the town of Spielberg in the Styrian region of Austria. The circuit has undergone many changes since being built in the late 1960s, the most significant being when it was taken over and redeveloped by Austrian energy drink giant Red Bull in 2008. Now home to the Austrian Grand Prix for both Formula 1 and MotoGP, the Red Bull Ring attracts large crowds for major motorsport events throughout the year. These events are well organized, ticket prices are reasonable, and the picturesque Styrian hills offer a beautiful backdrop for racing.
Located near several major highways, the Red Bull Ring can be reached from Vienna by car in about 2 hours or Graz in an hour. Trains from all over Austria also serve the nearby town of Knittelfeld. In addition to visiting the circuit for major events, it’s also possible to take a guided tour of the circuit where you can go behind the scenes and visit areas normally off-limits to fans. The Red Bull Ring also offers regular track days and driving experiences, both on track and off-road.
#16 Melk Abbey
By Rachel Rodda from Adventure and Sunshine
The imposing Melk Abbey overlooks the Danube River from a hilltop in the small town of Melk. Located in the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley, the current Abbey was built in the early 18th century and is considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe.
Still home to Benedictine monks and a school, the cavernous yellow monastery is surrounded by pretty gardens and vineyards. But the most famous landmarks and reasons to visit are inside the Abbey.
The library is home to more than 100,000 books and manuscripts. Some of the ancient books are on view in the main library, but most are hidden away in private libraries accessed through a spiral staircase.
Most would agree the top highlight of a visit to Melk Abbey is the church. Opulently decorated, the walls and ceilings are laden with frescoes, marble, sculptures, gold, and artworks. Photography is not permitted inside, but services held in the church throughout the day offer the perfect opportunity to take in the beauty of the space.
Melk Abbey is an easy day trip from Vienna and can be reached independently by train or with one of the numerous tours on offer.
Melk is also a good place to stop if you are cycling the Danube Trail. Combined with a visit to one of the famous local vineyards and a cruise on the Danube, it is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful Wachau Valley.
#17 Schloss Eggenberg in Graz
By Lori Sorrentino from Travlinmad
If you’re keen to add some new gems to your Europe bucket list, one of the most compelling landmarks in Austria is Schloss Eggenberg (Castle Eggenberg) in the city of Graz. It’s easy to get there (just a short tram ride from Hauptplatz, the main square in the historic city center) and worth spending the day.
Built c.1625, the castle is one of the finest preserved examples of the Baroque style of architecture in southern Styria. There are 25 staterooms with preserved furnishings, artifacts, and over 600 ceiling paintings. Take the 50-minute tour offered hourly from 10 am to 4 pm to experience just how large and beautifully elaborate the complex is. It’s truly amazing how everything is so well staged as if it is still occupied. Stroll up the tree-lined lane and check out the well-manicured grounds, including the Planetary Garden.
In 2010, Schloss Eggenberg was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and placed on the Graz Historic Old Town list because of its cultural significance. A visit will take several hours, and you can bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds after you’ve toured inside. The entrance fee is €14 (17 USD). Schloss Eggenberg should be on your list of must-dos when visiting Graz in southern Austria.
#18 Krimml Waterfalls
By Dymphe from Dymabroad
One of the best landmarks of Austria is the Krimml Waterfalls. This is the largest waterfall in Europe and it has a height of 380 meters. Moreover, the waterfall consists of three stages. Seeing this feat of nature is amazing. The waterfall is spectacular and there are many walking paths to have the best views of it. These walking paths were made at the end of the 19th century. What’s also great is that there is beautiful nature that surrounds the waterfall.
This makes for a much better hiking experience when you go here. For these reasons, it is very popular, and more than 400,000 tourists visit every year. The waterfall is located next to a village called Krimml in the Zell am See District. Moreover, it is located in the High Tauern National Park. The easiest way to reach Krimml Waterfalls is by car. There isn’t a lot of public transport, so I wouldn’t recommend doing that. However, there are buses and trains that go to neighboring towns. When you travel through Austria, a visit to the Krimml Waterfalls is great. Moreover, if you visit the capital of Austria, don’t forget to check out some of the most photogenic places in Vienna.
#19 Highline 179
By Diana Lesko from The Globetrotting Detective
Regardless of where you are traveling from, first, you have to get to the village of Reutte in Tirol by train, and then you can take a bus to the closest bus station called Ehrenberger Klause. And from the bus station, you will need to walk about 20 minutes to reach the bridge.
The hanging bridge itself was constructed in 2014. It’s 406 meters long and built in the Tibet style. That gained the bridge a prominent place in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest pedestrian bridge in the world built in Tibet style.
It was built at an altitude of 114 meters and from this height, you can enjoy a 360º panoramic view. The bridge is surrounded by breathtaking scenery and dramatic mountain chains. Moreover, on one side of the bridge, you can find the ruins of the 16th century Ehrenberg Castle and on the other side of it, the ruins of Fort Claudia built also in the 16th century.
The Highline 179 hanging bridge has an entrance fee which is 8 €.
On the way back you will need to walk all the way to the train station in Reutte because there is no bus on the way back.
#20 Giant Ice Caves in Werfen
The Giant Ice Caves in Werfen, or the Eisriesenwelt, is a natural limestone and ice cave located inside the Hochkogel mountain, about 40 km from Salzburg. Extending more than 42 km, this natural landmark of Austria is considered the largest ice cave in the world. It is visited by more than 200 000 people each year.
The entrance to the caves is impressive, with 20 meters wide and 18 meters high. The tour through the caves takes you to several rooms, with stalagmites, stalactites, and ice formations. The lighting makes everything even more beautiful and impressive. The ice palace is the further stop of the tour, about 1 km into the cave and 400 meters underground. Besides the huge dimensions, this cave fascinates with its ice palaces of crystalline beauty.
The tour should take you about 1h to 1h15 to complete. Please note that the temperature inside de caves is normally below zero, so you should bring warm clothes. Unfortunately, pictures inside the cave aren’t allowed.
Looking for more information about Austria? Have a look at these posts:
- What is Austria Famous for?
- Vienna or Budapest?
- Best Day Trips from Vienna;
- How to visit the Schonbrunn Palace?
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