Seeing Vienna for free, or cheaply is difficult to grasp for first timers to Austria’s capital. The grandiose city of Vienna is not exactly known for being cheap. It’s the city of palaces, opera, a melting pot of cultures and expensive cakes in traditional coffee houses. This is what shapes the history of the city and the rest of Europe.
Voted recently as ‘the most liveable city in the world’ according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, it certainly provides its residents with a lot of reasons to stay. Being expats just one hour away we can tell you this is a city with so much going on. You’ll never get bored even if you are on a budget!
Visit On The First Sunday Of The Month
Sundays are traditionally a sleepy day for the city. You won’t find as many shops open. However, what you will find on the first Sunday of every month is free access to numerous museums!
This isn’t available at every museum but some major ones, including the Wien Museum, Mozart’s former abode and the city’s clock museum which is more impressive than it sounds.
Here’s a list of some participants!
- Wienmuseum Hermesvilla
- Wien Museum am Karlsplatz
- Heeresgeschichtliches Museum
- Otto Wagner Pavillion
Marvel The Street Art
There are international and local street artists with works around the city. Worth seeking out is “Street Art Passage” behind the MuseumsQuartier which is the home of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Here you’ll find space invaders and ‘quackers’ street art by Wizard Skull.
Comic book style series tell stories, detailed illustrations envelop walls and murals merge in a celebration of the city’s creativity in the Donaukanal area too. The canal stretches around the city and gives a space away from the grand, protected buildings for artists to get creative.
Chill On A Man-Made Island
Danube Island is a man-made island that sits on the Danube canal. It provides the perfect spot for locals and visitors alike to chill, have a barbeque and play sports.
In June you can visit the largest open-air music festival in Europe on the island which attracts over 2 million people over 3 days! Last year there were 11 stages, and acts are normally announced around April/May.
Outside of that you can hike, swim, cycle, trampoline, climb or just get sloshed on the riverfront.
Tick Off The Bucket List For Free
Watching the Vienna State Opera is a bucket list, worthy thing to do. The best hack we learned is that if you turn up 80 minutes before a show, any seats they can’t sell they’ll sell for a few euros.
Alternatively, if you come in spring and summer, they organise open-air opera with a huge screen outside and that’s completely free! Bring the fizz and sandwiches and sit under the stars.
Free Food Samples And Cheap Eats
Hungry hippos like us discovered that in the Naschmarkt (a food market in the city centre) you can score a few food samples for free. Alternatively, make yourself a picnic with some falafel etc with food from various stalls.
Any time of day head to a Würstelstand (sausage stand), such as the Bitzinger Würstelstand am Albertinaplatz, open until 4am. Buy a cheap Bosna hot dog with fried onions or a cheesy Käsekrainer sausage.
We also recommend Das Augustin, a hipster hangout with gorgeous breakfast choices. Zweitbester do a brunch for €17 that includes tea/coffee, orange juice, cereals, muesli, eggs, pastries, cakes, waffles, cheeses, ham, yoghurt which is an awesome deal!
Do Your Own Wine Tour
Vienna produces award-winning wine. It’s the only capital city in Europe to have vineyards in its city limits. If visiting in spring, summer or autumn then you must make your way to the legendary wine gardens in the Vienna Woods. You’ll find wine restaurants, buffets and musicians. Find a heuriger (wine-maker) and sample some delightful wines and rustic food.
The most popular wine suburb from a local’s perspective is Nussdorf, here you’ll find less tour groups between you and tasting some of that delicious wine! Grinzing is the most well-known if you don’t mind somewhere a bit busier – it is extremely lively!
Try The Famous Sacher Torte
The Sacher Hotel is home to their famous cake the Sacher Torte. The photo below is inside the adjoining café. If you just want to stop by for the cake and not splash out on a fancy lunch this is where you should go to sample the goods!
A coffee will cost more than your average coffee house but perhaps worth it for the Sacher experience. If you’re not bothered about the setting then we actually recommend Kaffee Alt Wien near St Stephen’s Cathedral for their take on the Sacher Torte, which is just as good in our opinion. Its walls are filled with posters old and new, so it’s got an ‘ye olde world’ vibe, and it serves a hearty goulash and scrumptious strudel.
See The Sights By Foot
Our last tip is to walk the old city for free. Stop by St Stephen’s Cathedral, the beautiful Volksgarten (roses galore), and St Marx cemetery (Mozart’s grave). Next, marvel the architecture, churches and parks that make this city worthy of its most liveable city in the world title!
Other free places to explore are the wacky Hundertwasserhaus apartments which were the brainchild of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser with architect Joseph Krawina executing the outcome. The artist village next door is free to enter but people do live in the flats so you can’t visit inside.
The park at Schönbrunn Palace is also technically free to enter and they open as early as 6:30 am for keen photographers. For anything more, like entry to the maze, the zoo and orangery you do have to pay. Alternatively, feel free to frolic in the grounds as you please!
Experiencing Vienna for free is just as brilliant, in this writer’s opinion! If you want to see it in all its festive glory we have a guide to Vienna at Christmas and an itinerary for nearby Bratislava, our old stomping ground!