Vienna is not necessarily the cheapest city to visit. I am aware that accommodation and food can accumulate a pretty steep amount of expenses. Museum visits usually start at around 15 euros per entry, dinners often happen to be around 20 euros per meal, and don’t even get me started on hotel prices.
And here comes the even greater news.
There are plenty of events and places in Vienna you can visit at absolutely no cost! During my time of living there I have had the opportunity to take advantage of many of these free things to do in Vienna, and let me tell you, a few turned into some of my most favourite experiences.
I have compiled a list of 25 things you can do in Vienna for free, and there is something for everyone’s taste!
25 FREE THINGS TO DO IN VIENNA
1. Take a free walking tour
Just like many other European cities, Vienna gives tourists the opportunity to explore the city centre through free walking tours.
Taking a free walking tour is one of, if not, the best way to get to know a place and receive information and overview the quickest way possible. It is something I always recommend travellers to do, hence why I have put it as #1 on this list.
There are quite a few companies offering free tours in Vienna. Here are my top picks:
- Good Tours: www.goodviennatours.eu
- PrimeTours: www.primetours.at
- Red And White Tours: www.redandwhite.tours
- Welcome Tour Vienna: www.welcometourvienna.at
- Free Tour Vienna (Spanish only): www.freetourvienna.eu
- Free Walking Tour (Italian only): www.viennaedintorni.com
2. Enjoy Vienna on two wheels
With its countless bike lanes, Vienna is a very bike-friendly city, which comes in handy not only for locals, but also for tourists. The CityBike initiative has turned renting a bike in Vienna into a child’s play.
You can practically ride a city bike for free. All you have to do is register (either online or at any citybike station in the city) with a credit card. The registration will cost you 1 euro, but afterwards you can rent a bike from any station in the city (and they are MANY), ride it for 1 hour for free, and drop it off at another station of your choice. If you happen to need the bike for longer than 1 hour, then just return it halfway through your journey, and get a new one – the hour will then restart.
Beware that if you keep it for longer, CityBike will charge you for every next hour.
3. Download Ivie – your free digital companion
As of recently, the Vienna Tourist Board released its new digital product – Ivie.
Ivie is an app which is jam packed with useful information about the city and guides you every step of the way during your trip. It can tell you everything about Vienna’s history, sights, important buildings and monuments.
It provides you with the option to create your own itinerary, save it on the map, and get priceless information while exploring.
Ivie also holds important information, such as bathrooms, drinking fountains, city bikes and more.
Download Ivie for Android and iOS now!
4. Admire the St. Stephen’s Cathedral
One of the most iconic buildings of Vienna is the stunning St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Luckily, you can admire the interiors of the cathedral for free, as there is no entry fee to go inside.
The only thing you would have to pay is if you want to go to the top of the towers. You might want to consider spending the small cost of about 5 euros, because the view from the top is beautiful.
5. Experience the Beethoven Walk
The Tourist Info in Vienna offers its visitors the opportunity to go on a Beethoven walk around the city, taking you to places where the infamous musician either lived or had something to do with.
All you have to do is go to the tourist information centre at Albertinaplatz and get a pair of glasses, which will be guiding you through an app. You need to have an iOS device in order to install the needed application.
You will also be asked for a personal ID card as a guarantee you’ll bring the glasses back.
Learn more about the Beethoven Walk here.
6. Visit the beautiful gardens of Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn is one of the top places to see in Vienna, and what’s even more awesome is that its gardens are free to enter! A nice stroll up to the gloriette not only makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale, roaming around the gardens of a castle, but it also gives you a lovely view over the city.
Even though the entry to the castle itself isn’t for free, just walking around the gardens is, and it’s definitely a must.
7. Go on a tour of the City Hall
Not many know about this, but you can actually visit the Vienna City Hall for free, and even have an audio guide at no cost.
The guided tours of this magnificent building happen every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 13 o’clock. Tickets are being given away at the town hall from 7:30 am on the same day, and there is a limit of 80 people per tour. The tour language is German, but you can get an audio guide in English, French, Italian or Spanish – just make sure you have your ID with you as a deposit.
For further information visit their website.
8. Free museums on the first Sunday of the month
Many museums in Vienna offer a free entry on every first Sunday of the month. Here is a list:
- Museum of Military History
- Beethoven Museum, Probusgasse 6
- Beethoven Pasqualati house, Mölker Bastei 8
- Vienna Museum Karlsplatz, Karlsplatz 8
- Haydnhaus (Haydn’s House), Haydngasse 19
- Hermesvilla, Lainzer Tiergarten, closed in the winter
- Johann Strauss Apartment, Praterstraße 54
- Vienna Museum MUSA, Feldergasse 6-8
- Neidhart Frescoes, Tuchlauben 19
- Otto Wagner Hofpavillon Hietzing, Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, closed in the winter
- Otto Wagner Pavillon Karlsplatz, closed in the winter
- Pratermuseum, Oswald-Thomas-Platz 1, Planetarium
- Roman museum, Hoher Markt 3
- Schubert’s Birthplace, Nußdorfer Straße 54
- Clock Museum, Schulhof 2
- Vergilius Chapel, Stephansplatz
9. Free museums all year round
Some museums are also completely free to enter, among which:
- Bezirksmuseen (Neighbourhood museums)
- Museum of Bohemian Forest, Ungargasse 3
- Circus- and Clownmuseum, Ilgplatz 7
- The White House, Hegelgasse 14
- Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance, Wipplingerstraße 6
- Fire Department Museum, Am Hof 7
- Fishing Museum, Einzingergasse 1a
- FLIP – Erste Financial Life Park, Am Belvedere
- Austrian Horticultural Museum Siebeckstraße 14
- Memorial Room for the Victims of the Gestapo Vienna, Salztorgasse 6
- Money Museum of the Austrian National Bank, Otto-Wagner-Platz 3
- Museum of Jewellery Crafts and Technology, Nußdorfer Straße 3/Stiege 2
- Kahlenberg Museum, Kirche St. Josef
- MUSA Art Library, Felderstraße 6-8
- Museum Aspern-Essling 1809, Asperner Heldenplatz 9
- Phono Museum, Mollardgasse 8/2/16
- Chimney Sweep Museum, Klagbaumgasse 4
- Thyssen-Bornemisza Augarten Contemporary, Scherzergasse 1A
- Wien Energie World, Spittelauer Lände 45
- Brick Museum, Penzinger Straße 59
10. Check out the Naschmarkt
Vienna’s biggest and most popular food market is welcoming its customers daily with delicacies from all around the globe. Here you will find something to try from so many different countries, and vendors often offer taste testers to attract buyers.
Roaming around the Naschmarkt is one of the best free things to do in Vienna, and definitely a must, so make sure you check it out and enjoy its colourful and multicultural vibe.
11. Take a guided walking tour around Palais Epstein – the current Parliament building
The Parliamentary Administration offers guided tours of its Palace Epstein completely free of charge. The tours take place every Saturday at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm, and start at the “Infopoint Bau.Stelle” meeting point. Find more information about the Palais Epstein free guided tour and how to book in advance here.
12. Hike to Kahlenberg
Kahlenberg is a hill, located in the Vienna Woods, and is one of the most popular getaway spots for both tourists and locals. The city’s residents love coming up here to enjoy a nice walk in nature and admire the stunning views over Vienna.
The best part about Kahlenberg is that it’s easily accessible and absolutely for free. All you need to do is go Heiligenstadt – the last stop of the U4 metro line, take bus 38A from there and get off at the bus stop called Kahlenberg.
For hiking enthusiasts, the hill can also be reached by foot from the city. It would take you about 3.5-4 hours and the distance is 11km. Just follow the Vienna City Hiking Trail 1, starting from the last stop of tram D, called Nussdorf (Nußdorf).
13. Chill at Stadtpark
Vienna takes great pride in all of its parks. Did you know that almost half of the city is covered in green areas?
Stadtpark is one of the best and prettiest parks you can visit for free in Vienna. Located in the heart of the city, all you need to do is go to the U4 metro station called Stadtpark and enjoy this beautiful oasis. Lakes, trees, benches, and sometimes even swans – this is what is waiting for you here.
14. Take a stroll around the Lainzer Zoo
Another top free thing to do in Vienna for nature lovers is undoubtedly the Lainzer Zoo. With a total surface area of 2,450 hectares, this zoo, or more specifically nature reserve, is an enormous home to many animal species.
The Lainzer Zoo has different opening hours, depending on the season, as well as different open entries. The main gate – the Lainzer Tor, however, is open all year round.
If you’re lucky you might get to see deers, mouflons and wild boars roaming around freely.
Perfect location for families with children!
15. Setagaya Japanese Garden
While being on the topic of nature and parks, here is another little gem in Vienna, which is surprisingly free to enter.
The Japanese Garden is located in the 19th district and it’s literally tiny, but oh so pretty. The best time to visit the Setagaya garden is definitely early spring when the trees are blossoming and you can feel the Japanese charm of this oasis.
The park is quite outside the central parts of the city, but it can easily be reached by tram 37 (take it from Schottentor), then get off at stop Barawitzkagasse.
16. Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof)
The Vienna Central Cemetery is one of the biggest cemeteries in the world, and it holds probably the biggest arrangement of special honorary tombs. This is where you will find the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, Johann Strauss father and son, Hugo Wolf and others.
Walk through the main gate (Gate 2) and take the main path, leading toward the Church of St. Borromeo, which you will recognise by its large dome. To the left and right of this main road you will find Groups 32a and 32c, and 14a, 14c, also known as the Grave of Honour.
17. Concerts in Peterskirche
At the beautiful Peter’s Church in the heart of the city visitors have the opportunity to enjoy church and organ concerts free of charge.
The concerts take place a few times per week, sometimes even a couple per day. See the whole program here.
Donations are welcome!
18. Concerts in the University of Music and Performing Arts
Another place that offers free concerts in Vienna is the University of Music and Performing Arts. You can witness anything from organ and flute concerts, to theatre performances and piano competitions.
Beware that not all concerts there are for free, so always check their website in advance.
19. See the Summer Vienna Philharmonics concert at Schönbrunn
One of the most favourite annual events for Viennese people is the so-called Summer night concert (Sommernachtskonzert) of the Vienna Philharmonics at the Schönbrunn Palace.
Ever since 2004 the concert has been taking place and it has been attracting over 100 000 visitors in the beautiful gardens of Schönbrunn. The event usually happens at the end of May, but in 2020 it has been rescheduled for September.
If I had to put a label on it, this is certainly one of the most magical things you can do in Vienna, and it’s absolutely for free! Listening to classical music while sitting on the grass in the gardens of a castle in the capital of Austria.. I am even left speechless while just thinking about it.
20. Watch an opera outdoors
In the summer months the Vienna Opera House puts up a huge screen on its facade and projects all of its performances for the public free of charge. Even if you don’t get the chance to visit the opera inside, you can still enjoy the spectacular plays and concerts from the outside.
The annual Donauinselfest is one of the most awaited events among young people in Vienna.
Every year towards the end of June the city hosts the biggest open air festival around, with DJs and performers from all over the world, sharing their music on many stages across the Danube island.
The “Danube Island Festival” has always been for free and it always lasts for 3 days, with the last one usually being the most exciting one.
In 2017 we welcomed Sean Paul as a special guest at the festival, and it was absolutely amazing to see him live.
In 2019 Alvaro Soler came to perform his biggest hits in Vienna. You can also hear many famous German singers and performers, like CRO and Felix Jaehn.
I can tell you one thing – this festival is definitely an experience to put on your Vienna bucket list.
22. Music Film festival
Every summer the square in front of the city hall (Rathaus) turns into a paradise for food, music and film lovers. The facade of the buildings turns into a huge screen, where every day for the duration of July and August visitors can watch projections of concerts, movies and shows for free.
The Music Film Festival brings together locals and tourists for unforgettable summer nights, filled with conversations, shared meals with friends from the numerous food stands at the square and enjoying a movie under the stars, while surrounded by the unmatched atmosphere of Vienna.
23. Swim in the Danube
Vienna may not have a seaside, but there is still something for all the swimmers out there, because we have the Danube river!
There are spots around the Danube canal where the river doesn’t flow quickly and people like to use the opportunity to cool up during the summer months.
Go to the stations Donauinsel and Alte Donau for the best chance to find a spot for swimming. Be careful – the river gets quite deep!
You can also do what I enjoy doing the most – just bring a towel and catch some Vitamin D on the grass next to the river. Not quite like a beach, but it’s still quite nice.
24. Open air cinema at Kaleidoscop
From the end of June till the end of July the open air cinema Kaleidoscop opens its doors in the very heart of the city – Karlsplatz. Movies are being projected daily from 9pm, and the seats are taken on a first come, first served basis, and with no entry fee. All films are shown in their original language with English subtitles.
25. Christmas markets
December is probably the most magical month in Vienna, and also the most spectacular for visitors. This is the time when the Christmas spirit comes to life and sparkling decorations and chandeliers fill the streets of the city. Not only that, but this is when the Christmas markets in Vienna are at its peak. They actually start opening mid-end November, and last all the way till Christmas.
The entry to the Christmas markets is free, and it’s a memorable experience just to walk around, take in the smells from all the glühwein, roasted nuts and potatoes, and cheesy sausages.
I would certainly recommend spending a few euros on a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate, as it is an irreplaceable part of the Christmas markets experience.
With this I’d like to conclude the list of free things to do in Vienna, which happened to be quite long. If you’ve made it till the end – thank you!
I hope you have found a few things you’d want to include in your itinerary for Vienna.
And who knows – it might even inspire you to come visit again at a different point in time – may it be for the Summer night concert, the Danube Island Festival or the Christmas markets!
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