Historically & culturally important landmarks in Austria recommended by travel writers!
Welcome to Austria: The land of Mozart, Sachertorte, scenic mountains, historic castles and outstanding coffee culture.
Once one of the most important and major empires in the 19th century, it now covers only a tiny spot on the world map. Nevertheless, it’s still a very popular destination and travelers from all around the world come to visit the many different landmarks in Austria.
Especially the capital city Vienna – ranked as the most liveable city on the planet – captures each and everyone’s heart with its unique charm. It’s no wonder that most of the country’s most famous sights can be found here.
While Vienna is the center of attention of most visitors, it’s worth planning some more time to explore the rest of the country’s beauty. From the eastern federal state Burgenland to the most western state of Tyrol – incredible sights and attractions can be found almost everywhere!
As a local, I’ve seen quite a bunch of landmarks in Austria. Thus it’s kinda hard for me to determine the best and most beautiful ones. To help me decide, I asked 15 other travel lovers who’ve explored the country about their opinion.
So here’s the result: A list of 16 great landmarks in Austria featuring castles, palaces, villages and waterfalls!
1. Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
Recommended by Chrysoula from Historic European Castles
The Schönbrunn Palace is situated in Hiezing, Vienna, and is one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe with an amazing 1,441 rooms – 45 of which are open to the public.
The palace was built in the 18th century and is the most visited place in Austria. It was the summer residence of the Hapsburg kings and is extravagantly decorated throughout.
It features an impressive mirrored hall that Mozart played as a six-year-old in 1772. The palace also has breathtakingly beautiful gardens to explore with a maze, an orangery, and a carriage museum.
The Schönbrunn Palace is open Thursday – Sunday from 9.30 am to 5 pm. There is a range of tickets available and to avoid queues it is best to buy them online.
Entrance to the palace is €20.00 for adults, children aged 6 -18 €11.50. The palace gardens have free entrance, but there are charges for the maze and orangery.
2. Schlossberg & Uhrturm, Graz
Recommended by me
More than 100 meters above the Styrian capital Graz sits the most prominent sight of the city. The Uhrturm – also called “Clock Tower” – on the Schlossberg hill is not only THE iconic landmark of Graz but also one of the most famous landmarks in Austria!
The 28-meter-high medieval clock tower was built in the 13th century and is home to the oldest clock in Graz. Something special about the Uhrturm is its confusing clock face. Normally, the long hand is for minutes and the short hand is for hours, however, the clock face of the Uhrturm is exactly the other way round.
Graz’s popular landmark is not only nice to see from below but thanks to its amazing location it also offers some of the most stunning city views. If you don’t want to climb up the many steep stairs, you can buy a ticket for the mountain cable car.
If you’ve spent enough time admiring the Uhrturm, you can choose a more adventurous way down and take a ride on the tallest underground slide in the world!
3. Hallstatt Old Town
Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
Hallstatt is a dreamy lakeside town nestled in the Austrian Alps, perfect for a road trip from Vienna.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, due to its stunning landscape of soaring mountains and rolling valleys, the city is renowned for its fairytale-like nature, from cobblestone streets to gingerbread houses perched on mountainsides.
The town is most famous for its Old Town, a collection of colorful cottages and quaint shops from the 18th century. The city’s footprint is tiny – while you could easily walk it from end-to-end in half an hour, staying one night is recommended so you’re able to explore the town in the quiet morning sun.
Stroll through Market Square, the center of town that boasts a variety of charming cafés, restaurants and shops and, depending upon the time of year, plays host to several events, like the Corpus Christi procession in the spring or a magical Christmas market in the wintertime.
Consider avoiding summer, the peak tourism season, and plan your exploration of the Old Town bright and early, before tour busses arrive. The town is much more charming when you’re not elbow to elbow with other tourists!
4. Hofburg Palace, Vienna
Recommended by Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster
There are many grand palaces in Austria, but perhaps one of the most important sits in the heart of Vienna. The Hofburg Palace, also known as the Imperial Palace, is one of Austria’s most famous landmarks and one of the top things to do in Vienna.
Spread over 59 acres and with 2,600 rooms, it is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world. Moreover, it was home to the ruling family of Habsburg for over seven centuries.
Today the palace holds the office of the Federal President as well as being a well-loved tourist sight, home to the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments and the Imperial Silver Collection as well as the famous Spanish Riding School.
While it is free to explore and admire the splendor of the Baroque architecture and courtyards around the palace, entrance to the museums is paid and can be visited daily seven days a week.
Vienna Card holders will gain a discounted entry with an audio guide, however many people purchase the Sisi Ticket which grants you access to the Hofburg Palace, Schönbrunn Palace and the Imperial Furniture Collection.
If you plan on visiting all 3 during your visit to Vienna, you’ll save money by purchasing the Sisi combined ticket for €34 per adult.
5. Krimml Waterfalls
Recommended by Michelle from The Scrapbook Of Life
At a whopping 380 m high, Krimml Falls are Europe’s highest waterfalls and unsurprisingly one of the famous natural landmarks in Austria. With a tremendous amount of water raging over the edge of the mountainside, Krimml Falls is certainly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Europe.
Located in the stunning Hohe Tauern National Park, with its abundance of mountains, alpine pastures, forests and wildlife, Krimml Falls is accessible by road from major cities such as Innsbruck (100 km) and Salzburg (160 km).
One of the best ways to see Krimml Falls is to hike up the Waterfall Trail; a 4 km walkway that guides you to the top of the waterfall via various vantage points. Be sure to wear some decent hiking shoes, because the Waterfall Trail is quite a trek up the alpine mountainside!
Krimml Falls is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm (last admission 4.30 pm) from mid-April to late-October, and the entrance fee is €5.00 for adults and €2.00 for children.
Depending on your fitness levels you can expect to spend around 3-5 hours here. If you require disabled access, the lowest waterfall is equipped for this and can be reached in around 15 minutes by foot from the parking areas!
6. St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Vienna
Recommended by Ella from Many More Maps
The St Stephen’s Cathedral, or Stephansdom, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Vienna thanks to its colorful mosaic roof. It’s on every Vienna itinerary for good reason – it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in the city!
Entry to the cathedral to look around is free, but to make the most of your visit you’ll want to buy the combined ticket for €14.90.
The ticket includes a tour of the cathedral catacombs, an audio guide of the cathedral and entry to both the north and south towers for fabulous views over the city! It’s up on these towers that you’ll be able to get up close to the famous tiled roof and snap your own photos of it.
To get to St Stephen’s Cathedral, take the U1 or U3 train to Stephansplatz, which is pretty much the center of Vienna. The cathedral is open to visitors from 6 am to 10 pm Monday-Saturday, and from 7 am to 10 pm on Sunday.
7. Melk Benedictine Abbey
Recommended by Rhonda from Travel? Yes Please!
Melk Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the architectural crown jewel of Austria’s Wachau Valley. Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River, this sprawling yellow and white Baroque construction marks the entrance to a scenic stretch of the river valley.
This Benedictine monastery is beautiful inside and out, but is perhaps best known for its elegant library and the abbey church, both of which are decorated with golden ornaments.
The church and Marble Hall are home to some impressive ceiling frescos, whereas the Abbey Museum has some historic relics on display.
To make the most of a visit to Melk Abbey, it’s recommended to take a guided tour of the interior (approximately one hour long), then spend some time in the park. The abbey can be visited year-round and admission is €12.50 without a guided tour or €14.50 with a guided tour.
From Vienna, Melk can easily be reached by train in about an hour, so it’s perfect for a day trip.
8. Salzburg Cathedral
Recommended by Nick from Spiritual Travels
Salzburg Cathedral is the centerpiece of the city after which it is named, one of Austria’s most compelling and rewarding destinations.
Salzburg is mainly known as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for Sound of Music, but architecture such as that displayed by Salzburg Cathedral is what ends up leaving the most lasting impression on many visitors.
The Baroque cathedral features a large dome and two towers. It dates to 774 but was rebuilt in 1181 and again in the 17th century. The mostly gray, simple stone exterior is juxtaposed by the exuberantly detailed interior.
Visitors will find their heads constantly facing upwards as they stroll through the cathedral. Highlights include the enormous organ on the upper level, the colorful ceiling paintings, and the bronze baptismal font in which Mozart was baptized.
The cathedral is free to enter, but donations are appreciated. It is usually open from around 8 am to 5 pm, and 1 to 5 pm on Sundays. Tours are also available in summer.
If you’re visiting Salzburg with kids, they are also permitted to enter but encouraged to keep quiet.
9. Hohensalzburg Fortress
Recommended by Tegan and Alex from Why Not Walk Travel Guides
No visit to the jewel of Salzburg is complete without trekking up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress.
Situated atop the Festungsberg hill, it is easily accessible by a vintage funicular from the centrally-located Residenzplatz, which has been ferrying visitors to and from the fortress since 1892.
Alternatively, the walk up the hill only takes about 20 minutes if you’d rather skip the funicular, with fantastic views the higher up you go.
You can get a good feel for the place in an hour or two, but be sure not to miss the ornate Golden Hall and its splendid decor, as well as the enormous pipe organ called the Salzburg Bull. The organ is over 500 years old, is powered by wheels, and is still played regularly today!
A visit to Hohensalzburg costs €12.80 for a basic ticket for adults and is open from 9 to 7 from May to September and 9:30 to 5 from October to April.
The fortress was first built in the 11th century and is one of the largest castle complexes in Europe dating back to medieval times. Considered one of the symbols of “Mozart’s City,” a visit to Hohensalzburg while you’re in Salzburg is well worth your time.
10. Basilika St. Michael, Mondsee
Recommended by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
Basilica St. Michael, in the heart of the small lakeside town of Mondsee, is not only a historic landmark in Austria but it is also a pop-culture landmark.
The prominent, yellow church was the filming location of the Von Trapp wedding in the classic movie The Sound of Music. Now a popular stop on The Sound of Music tour, thousands of movie fans flock to the small town outside of Salzburg to visit the iconic cathedral.
Also known as the Mondsee Abbey, touring the basilica is one of the top things to do in Mondsee, Austria. The exterior of the cathedral is never actually seen in the movie. However, the inside of Basilica St. Michael is equally as beautiful as the outside of the church.
If visiting the Austrian landmark, be sure to walk all the way to the altar, which is a particular and peculiar point of interest.
The altar in the Mondsee Abbey actually contains the mummified remains and skeletons of martyrs and saints who died defending the abbey in the 1100s. The complete skeletons are adorned with jewels and crowns and are on prominent display within the altar.
11. Golden Roof, Innsbruck
Recommended by Renee 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 buildings is The Golden Roof, or Goldenes Dachl. As the oldest building in Innsbruck, it got its name due to its facade. 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.
12. Belvedere Palace, Vienna
Recommended by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
It may not be quite as well known as Schönbrunn Palace, but Belvedere Palace – also in Vienna – is no less impressive.
This baroque residence was built by Prince Eugene of Savoy in the early 18th century and is now home to some of the most valuable artwork in Austria, as well as meticulously manicured gardens.
The residence consists of two palaces – Upper and Lower – as well as an Orangery and stables, all set in a beautifully landscaped park with many fountains, water features and sculptures.
In the Lower Palace, Austrian baroque paintings and sculptures are displayed, whilst the Orangery is now an exhibition hall.
The Upper Palace is where you will find works by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir & Degas and Austria’s most famous artist, Gustav Klimt. His work The Kiss is one of the most popular paintings on display.
Don’t miss a visit to the Schlosscafe on the ground floor or the Upper Palace – the apple strudel is mouth-wateringly good.
Entry to Belvedere’s Upper Palace costs around €16 per adult, entry to the gardens is free. Belvedere Upper Palace is open from 10 am to 6 pm Tuesday to Sunday. You should allow at least two hours to visit the residence.
13. Mirabell Palace, Salzburg
Recommended by Aditi from Land Of Travels
Mirabell Palace and its gardens are amongst the most famous landmarks in Austria. Schloss Mirabell is located in Neustadt in the historic heart of Salzburg and was built in 1606 at the orders of Archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his beloved Salome.
Many visit this cultural heritage monument to marvel at its splendid architecture, its Marble Hall, Angel Staircase, beautiful gardens, and for enjoying an evening of classical music.
The Palace is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm and admission is free. Arrive early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds and spend at least a couple of hours exploring leisurely.
Enjoy strolling around the manicured gardens dotted with baroque statues, fountains, and bright flowers blooming in symmetrical, spiral patterns. The gardens were also one of the filming locations for the movie Sound of Music.
Head over to the steps north of Pegasus fountain for an impressive view of Mirabellgarten, Salzburg Cathedral, and Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance.
For an unforgettable classical music concert in a baroque setting, consider attending the evening performance at Marble Hall – one of the most beautiful concert halls in Austria. Tickets can be purchased online at the Schlosskonzerte Mirabell website for €42 (Category I) and €36 (Category II).
14. Hundertwasser Village, Vienna
Recommended by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Friedrich Stowasser, better known as Friedensreich Hundertwasser, was an iconic Austrian architect in the 20th century. His stunning architecture can be found across the country, and there is no better place than the Hundertwasser Museum to get the first taste of his work.
The building was designed by the artist himself and was built in 1892. Later, it got renovated and converted into a museum for the public to appreciate his paintings, graphics, art, and designs.
Hundertwasser was deeply inspired by Antoni Gaudí, and visitors will see a great deal of resemblance between the two. One thing that distinguishes Hundertwasser from Gaudí, is that the mosaic on the facade of the museum is symmetrically arranged with stones that are of the same size.
The upper floors of the museum host regular art exhibitions while the garden features some cool fixtures.
It’s open from 10 am to 6 pm daily and a full entrance ticket costs €12, including the museum visit and themed exhibitions. It is recommended to spend about two to three hours in the museum to have a full experience.
Visitors may enjoy free and fast-track access to the museum with the Vienna Pass.
15. Ferris Wheel & Prater, Vienna
Recommended by Alice from Adventures of Alice
Vienna, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, has plenty of historical, imperial and beautiful landmarks.
But one of the absolute must-visit attractions in the city is the Prater Park Ferris Wheel, also known as The Wiener Riesenrad. Rising above the city’s skyline, the 64.75 meters tall wheel is an iconic symbol of the city.
It was erected in 1897 to mark the 50 years of Emperor Franz Joseph’s time on the throne and has been standing tall in Vienna ever since. This makes it the world’s oldest working Ferris Wheel, and a must-see addition to any Vienna itinerary.
You can find the wheel in the historic Wurstelprater amusement park, in Vienna’s 2nd district. The park is open 24 hours and, unlike most theme parks, you don’t pay to enter. Instead, you pay per ride.
The Prater Wheel costs €5 per ride and, although the park is open all day long, the wheel is only operated from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm.
Being featured in several Hollywood films including a James Bond adventure, the Prater Wheel deserves to be among the most wonderful landmarks in Austria. It’s steeped in history and the views from the top across the city and the Danube River are simply breath-taking!
16. Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg
Recommended by Eric from Recipes From Europe
For those looking for a bit of history, a bit of nature, and a little bit of amusement, Schloss Hellbrunn is definitely worth a visit.
Located on the southern outskirts of Salzburg, this grand yellow palace was built by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg – Markus Sittikus von Hohenems – in the early 1600s.
Inside the palace is an interactive museum where you can learn about the history of not only the Archbishop and the city of Salzburg, but other parts of Austrian and European history as well.
Outside the main building and museum, the gardens and grounds are beautifully landscaped and make for a nice wander. For the “Sound of Music” fans, you’ll find the famous Gazebo located on the grounds, too!
Of course, a visit to Schloss Hellbrunn isn’t complete without admission to the famous “Trick Fountains”. The Archbishop was a known prankster and had elaborate water features built that are powered entirely by pressurized water. The result: ceilings, stone benches, and even animal statues who squirt water when you least expect it!
A visit to Schloss Hellbrunn can easily eat up a few hours. Tickets cost €13.50 for adults and €6.00 for children. They can be purchased either online or at the entrance.