From majestic castles and futuristic art centers to movie archives and famous childhood homes, we share Austria’s top museums and attractions.
Austria is full of rich history and culture and this is reflected in the wealth of museums throughout the country. Whether you are passionate about history or art, movies or technology, you will find a museum to satisfy your appetite. Just take a look at these top attractions to add to your bucket list.
1. MuseumsQuartier, Vienna
Covering an area of more than 90,000 square meters, MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is one of the world’s largest cultural quarters. A combination of cultural institutions, Baroque buildings, and modern architecture make this one of the most popular attractions in Vienna. Indeed, each year, a whopping 4.5 million people come to explore the district’s many cultural attractions and socialize in the nearby cafés and restaurants.
MuseumsQuartier is home to several renowned museums in Austria. Contemporary art lovers can admire the works of Warhol, Picasso, and Lichtenstein at the mumok Museum of Modern Art. Furthermore, they can explore the ever-changing displays of contemporary and modern art at the famous Kunsthalle. Fans of Gustav Klimt, meanwhile, can get up close to his decorative paintings at the Leopold Museum; home to one of the finest collections in Austria. Needless to say, you can easily fill an entire day visiting this exciting art complex.
MuseumsQuartier, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
2. Kunsthaus, Graz
Floating like a giant blue balloon between the red rooftops of Graz’s historic center, the futuristic Kunsthaus Graz is an iconic landmark in the city. Furthermore, it is a perfect example of how old meets new in the UNESCO listed town. Often dubbed the ‘friendly alien’, the unique museum of contemporary art is a must-visit for those interested in art and architecture. The museum showcases a range of international exhibitions which change every few months; so there is always something new to explore.
Within the museum, visitors can navigate a world of art, objects, stories, and installations. Furthermore, these aim to question society and the future of art in the 21st century. Often centering on thought-provoking themes, the art on display is often considered to be as provocative as the building itself. In fact, Kunsthaus Graz is worth visiting for its striking architecture alone.
Kunsthaus Graz, Lendkai 1, 8020 Graz
3. Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, Innsbruck
Housed within the wing of a former monastery, the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum is one of the finest regional heritage museums in Europe. It is also one of the most reputable museums in Austria; owing to its impressive collection of cultural artifacts from the Tyrol region. Indeed, the museum is filled with objects that offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of the people who lived there; including commoners, workers, and talented craftsmen. Among the collection of treasures on display are traditional clothing, handcrafted household goods, furniture, tools, and religious folk art.
There is also an entire section devoted to masks of all shapes, colors, and expressions; from the comical to the grotesque. Meanwhile, a collection of pieces of old buildings from the area tell an interesting story. For instance, these include restored wood-paneled parlors from farms and estates dating back to the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo eras. A detailed audio guide allows guests to explore the impressive museum at their own pace; all the while learning about the mysterious artifacts along the way.
Tyrolean Folk Art Museum, Universitätsstraße 2, 6020 Innsbruck
4. Beethoven Museum, Vienna
The life and works of Ludwig van Beethoven are inextricably linked with Austria’s capital. Fans of the great composer can explore the small apartment where he lived and wrote many of his famous scores. Located at Probusgasse 6 in Heiligenstadt, the Beethoven Museum sheds light on the life and work of the musical genius. It also offers an intimate insight into his growing despair over his loss of hearing and deteriorating health. After all, this is where he wrote the ‘Heiligenstadt Testament’ in 1802; the letter addressed to his brothers in which he expressed this.
Within the small museum, visitors can wander through six rooms which document Beethoven’s life. Furthermore, these offer insight into his personality, working style, and accomplishments. Among the precious items on display are his writing desk, death mask, and a lock of his hair. Interestingly, in 2007 the latter helped reveal the likely cause of his death. Although it may be small, this is one museum in Austria that should be on every classical music lover’s list.
Beethoven Museum, Probusgasse 6, 1190 Vienna
5. Ars Electronica Center, Linz
Located by the Danube, opposite the city hall of Linz, the Ars Electronica Center is a hub of art, technology, and society. Visitors can browse a huge variety of impressive exhibitions and learn how new technologies are affecting our everyday lives. For instance, they can discover how artificial intelligence is assisting with medical diagnostics and crime prevention. They can also find out how Facebook algorithms decide what kind of content we see every day on our newsfeeds. Interactive elements also allow guests to program robots, print items in 3D, and train self-driving cars.
A must-see highlight is Deep Space 8K; a mesmerizing installation that invites visitors to immerse themselves in three-dimensional universes projected onto the walls and floor. The Kids’ Research Laboratory, meanwhile, offers children aged 4 to 8 the opportunity to make music, draw, program, and experiment. If you plan on exploring more of Linz, the handy Linz-Card is worth looking into. This grants you free admission to the center along with many other museums and attractions in the city.
Ars Electronica Center, Ars-Electronica-Strasse 1, 4040 Linz
6. Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, Graz
Fans of the 1980s sci-fi blockbuster Terminator will have the time of their lives exploring the treasure trove of movie memorabilia on display at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Graz. Housed inside the real childhood home of the iconic bodybuilder-turned-movie-star-turned-politician, the exhibition invites guests to follow the footsteps of Austria’s most famous celebrity. The collection of memorabilia documents his early years, movie career, and time as Governor of California.
Among them are his childhood bed, a motorbike from one of the Terminator films, and some of his first dumb-bells. Visitors will also discover a copy of the desk he used as Governor of California. As the only official museum in the world dedicated to Arnie’s life and career, this is well worth a visit; especially if you grew up watching the action hero on the big screen.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, Linakstraße 9, 8051 Thal bei Graz
7. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Housed inside a stunning palatial building crowned by a 60-meter-high octagonal dome, the Kunsthistorisches Museum is the largest museum in Austria. It is also one of the most important museums worldwide; owing to its vast array of collections dating back to the Habsburg dynasty. Inside the lavishly decorated museum, visitors can explore everything from antiquities and Egyptian artifacts to historic musical instruments and medieval armory.
Within the stunning Picture Gallery, they can also discover world-famous masterpieces by Gustav Klimt, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Velázquez. Needless to say, the priceless collection of art housed inside the Kunsthistorisches Museum makes it one of the most impressive fine art museums in the world.
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna
8. Ambras Castle, Innsbruck
Perched high in the hills above Innsbruck, Ambras Castle is one of the main attractions of the state capital of Tyrol. Furthermore, the medieval castle has a rich and interesting history. In 1363, the Habsburg Dynasty took ownership of it. Archduke Ferdinand II then converted it into the present Renaissance-style building. Interestingly, he did so to create a place to display his world-famous collection of art, books, and 15th-century armory. The beautifully preserved castle is now a museum building and home to the Habsburg Portrait Gallery. More than 200 paintings of historical and artistic value hang on the walls here.
Among the impressive collection are paintings by Lukas Cranach, Titian, Anton van Dyck, and Diego Velázquez. The Chamber of Art and Wonders is another particular highlight; owing to the display of rare and precious items from the Renaissance period. Among them are crystal objects, silver and gold filigree, bronze sculptures, precious glass, coins, and weapons. The Spanish Hall is among the most beautiful halls from the Renaissance period and well worth exploring, too.
Ambras Castle, Schloßstraße 206020 Innsbruck
9. Mozart’s Birthplace, Salzburg
Located in the heart of Salzburg, Mozart’s Birthplace is one of the most visited museums in Austria. It is also an absolute must for fans of the great composer. It was here, at Getreidegasse 9, that he came into the world on 27 January 1756. Mozart spent his childhood and much of his youth within the apartment on the third floor; before his family moved to what is now known as the Mozart Residence on Makartplatz.
Visitors to Mozart’s Birthplace can take an hour-long tour through the original rooms of the apartment. Along the way, they will discover items from his everyday life including furniture from the 18th century. Among the pieces on display are certificates and letters, a collection of portraits, and historical instruments; including Mozart’s own violin and clavichord. During the tour, guests can learn about his childhood in Salzburg, his long years of traveling, and his mysterious death. Needless to say, this is a must-visit for admirers of the legendary composer.
Mozart’s Birthplace, Getreidegasse 9, 5020 Salzburg
10. 007 ELEMENTS, Sölden
Fans of the epic James Bond movie franchise are in for a real treat at 007 ELEMENTS in Sölden; one of the shooting locations of the 2015 movie, Spectre. Built to resemble a villain’s secret lair, inside the summit of the Gaislachkogl Mountain, the facility is a treasure trove for die-hard Bond fans. Furthermore, they can ride a cable car to get to the 1,300-square-meter complex in true 007 style. Once inside, they can journey into the world of the famous spy.
The facility is brimming with video installations, three-dimensional storyboards, and original Bond gadgets from the iconic movies. As a result, there is plenty to occupy fans of the franchise. A particular highlight, for instance, is an installation of Bond’s wrecked plane from Spectre, which hangs suspended from the ceiling. Of course, a visit to Austria’s dedicated Bond museum wouldn’t be complete without sipping on a Martini. Visitors can round off their visit by doing just that at the ice Q bar; all the while lapping up the stunning panoramic mountain view.
007 ELEMENTS, Dorfstraße 115, 6450 Sölden