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Vienna is a city that never ceases to amaze with its rich history, stunning architecture, and cultural diversity. With so much to see and explore in this vibrant city, it’s easy for some of its lesser-known gems to go unnoticed. However, if you’re planning a trip to Austria’s capital city in 2023, there are several hidden gems in Vienna that you simply shouldn’t miss.
These hidden gems range from historic landmarks to quirky museums and unique attractions that offer a glimpse into the city’s fascinating past and present. The best part? These places and attractions have been carefully handpicked by locals and travelers with Giving Getaway’s Hidden Gems Collector, helping me to write this and many other posts with unique hidden gems around the world.
Before I dive into Vienna’s hidden gems, just a heads up: as you read this post (and explore the website), you will see some ads, affiliate links, and search widgets. Feel free to click on them if they can help you plan your next trip. It won’t cost you a thing extra, but I will earn a commission of which I’ll be giving away 50% of that commission to charity. Thank you!
But now, let’s take a closer look at some of the best-kept secrets of Vienna that are waiting for you to be discovered!
1) Hundertwasser House
The Hundertwasser House, located in the 3rd Viennese district, is a colorful and uniquely designed architectural highlight of Austria. Designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the building features hardly any straight lines and is decorated with a vibrant exterior façade. The collaboration between architect Josef Krawina and implementing architect Peter Pelikan helped realize this extraordinary building.
Residents of the Hundertwasser House have the right to decorate the façade around their windows to their own taste. More than 200 trees and shrubs on balconies and roof terraces make the Hundertwasserhaus a green oasis in the heart of Vienna. You can also explore Kunst Haus Wien, also designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, which is just a few minutes walk from the Hundertwasser House.
Hundertwasser was considered one of Europe’s first green pioneers. His work reflects his passion for nature and ecology. He created his own shopping center at Kegelgasse 37-39 called “Hundertwasser Village,” which has numerous stores in typical Hundertwasser style. With its unique design elements inside and out, including an abundance of plants throughout its space, this village is definitely worth visiting when exploring Vienna’s hidden gems.
While you cannot enter the Hundertwasser House itself due to its residential use only policy, you can still appreciate its unique beauty from the outside. Whether you are an art lover or simply someone who appreciates originality in architecture and design, Hundertwasser’s hidden gems in Vienna should not be missed during your travels!
2) Time Travel Vienna
If you plan to visit Vienna in 2023 you should make sure to explore the city’s history through a unique and immersive experience at Time Travel Vienna. This attraction offers a guided tour of the city’s past with impressive audio-visual effects, making it an exciting way to learn about Vienna’s rich cultural heritage. Located in an old wine cellar of the Salvatorkloster, Time Travel Vienna offers you a chance to witness Austria’s history from medieval times to modern-day events.
The tour includes a 5D cinema experience, a visit to an air raid shelter, and even a horse carriage ride. You can learn about the Habsburg family, famous composers Mozart and Strauss, as well as Austria’s political and social changes throughout history. The use of AI VR goggles makes this experience unique and engaging for everyone who wants to immerse themselves in Austrian culture!
3) Imperial Crypt
Located beneath the church and monastery of the Order of the Capuchin Friars, the Imperial Crypt is a historical landmark that reflects 400 years of Austrian and European history. The crypt serves as the family burial vault of the Habsburgs, containing the remains of 12 emperors and 22 empresses and queens. It is a site that bears testimony to the dynasty’s imperial claim through symbols of power on sarcophagi.
The rooms in the crypt were designed by some of the greatest artists of their time, reflecting personal trust in God and humility before their Creator. You can witness signs of transience and faith, which reflect both triumphs and defeats behind offices held by Habsburg personalities. The mortal remains of over 150 Habsburg personalities rest in this crypt, each with its own unique story to tell.
Guided tours are available in German, English, Italian, and French and the entrance fees vary depending on age group. Adults pay €8.50 while children or pupils up until 18 years old pay only €5.00. Vienna City Card holders receive discounts when visiting this attraction.
The Imperial Crypt has undergone multiple extensions over four centuries, extending to a total of ten vaults today. It provides an opportunity to discover different aspects of Austria’s history from a unique point of view!
4) Sigmund Freud Museum
Situated in the former home and practice of Sigmund Freud, the newly renovated and enlarged museum offers a unique glimpse into the life and work of one of history’s most renowned psychoanalysts. The museum allows you to explore all rooms where the Freud family lived and worked, now accessible to the public. It provides an opportunity to learn about psychoanalysis, the Freud family’s life, and the famous house Berggasse 19, with new objects, artifacts, and furniture on display.
The Sigmund Freud Museum offers different ways to experience the place through walking tours, bus tours, and sightseeing passes. You can watch home movies in the museum that feature Freud himself as well as various family members, friends, and guests. His belongings and letters are on display at the museum along with cabinets in both German and English. There is also an exhibition of present-day psychoanalysts who provide valuable insights into how his theories have been applied over time.
Whether you’re a fan or simply curious about one of history’s most important figures in psychology, this newly renovated museum will give you an insight into his fascinating life and groundbreaking work that is sure to be educational for all who visit it.
5) Wotruba Church
The Wotruba Church in Vienna, designed by Fritz Wotruba and constructed using 152 concrete blocks bolted together, is a unique example of cubist architecture that offers an abstract and unconventional experience. The modernist chapel’s walls are made of untreated concrete surfaces, creating a chaotic and irregular appearance that is quite distinct from traditional churches. Windows are built into the irregular spaces between the blocks, providing natural light to the interior.
Despite its unusual design, the church has remained in astonishingly good condition since its completion in 1976. Sitting atop a grassy hill in Vienna, it offers a wondrous sight for fans of odd architecture. You can appreciate how each block fits together perfectly to create an impressive structure that is both cold and abstract compared to traditional churches.
Although not as well-known as other Viennese landmarks, the Wotruba Church is still worth visiting for those who appreciate the modernist architecture or want to experience something different during their trip to Vienna. Once there you can also explore some of the nearby attractions, like the Wien Museum Hermesvilla and Hofpavillon Hietzing.
6) Friedhof der Namenlosen
The Friedhof der Namenlosen, also known as the Cemetery of the Nameless, is situated in the 11th district of Simmering. It is concealed behind massive grain warehouses and towering silos, adding to its secluded nature. The cemetery’s history dates back to before 1940 and comprises 104 bodies that were buried there. Most of these individuals were unidentified victims of drowning who had been carried ashore by the river’s currents. These people were interred in wooden coffins donated by a local carpenter’s workshop.
Family members identified 42 out of the 104 corpses over time, with most being remembered solely through a bundle of mournful flowers and a plain black steel cross. River improvements have led to an absence of eddies near the cemetery where dead bodies can be found today.
On November 1st every year, All Saint’s Day, the nameless are commemorated at Friedhof der Namenlosen. Local fishermen from the Albern area maintain an old tradition by constructing a raft laden with flowers that carry a commemorative inscription for Danube victims. A band plays while they release it onto the river and let it drift along with its slow currents downstream.
Although not as well-known as Vienna’s biggest and most famous Zentralfriedhof Cemetery, which houses notable figures such as Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Franz Schubert, Johan Strauss, and pop star Falco, the Friedhof der Namenlosen has gained popularity among fans due to its inclusion in Richard Linklater’s movie Before Sunrise (1995).
Augarten is a popular park in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt neighborhood known for its Flak Towers, porcelain manufactory, and concert hall for the Vienna Boys Choir. The park offers a mix of historical significance and popular modern amenities, especially among locals. One of the most notable features of Augarten is its two decommissioned anti-aircraft towers from World War II, which remain standing as reminders of the city’s past.
Aside from its WWII history, Augarten boasts other attractions such as a swimming pool complex, groves of grand trees and manicured hedges, benches for relaxing, walking paths, playgrounds, and grassy areas for picnics or soccer/football games. The park also has several potential points of interest scattered in and around it like the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory where you can learn about porcelain production processes or buy products made on-site.
In Augarten you can also find the MuTh Concert Hall which hosts performances by the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir while Sperling restaurant located in a historic building where Mozart, Beethoven, and Shubert once performed offers delicious food with an elegant atmosphere.
8) The Narrenturm
The Narrenturm, translated as the Fool’s Tower, is a monument and hidden gem in Vienna that honors the history of healthcare and medicine during the late 18th century. The building was founded in 1784 to provide care for mentally ill individuals, and it has since become a listed monument owned by the University of Vienna. In 1971, the Federal Pathological-Anatomical Museum was relocated to the Narrenturm, which now houses one of the world’s largest collections of pathological anatomy.
After undergoing a complete renovation, the Narrenturm reopened in 2020 with an exhibition that provides insights into pathology and the history of diseases. The exhibition features 19 modern showrooms on the ground floor of the renovated tower and aims to convey its content not only to medical professionals but also to schoolchildren and an interested lay public. Visitors can learn about multi-organ afflictions such as inflammations, infections (including tuberculosis), tumors, exogenous and endogenous causes of diseases, as well as modern-day illnesses.
The content design for this exhibition was developed in cooperation with medical specialists and implemented by staff from NHM Vienna. The presentation follows contemporary international guidelines for treating human remains while deliberately refraining from shocking sensationalism. It includes interactive stations that focus on pathological histology and provide a modern setting for sensitive issues such as disease and death.
But the exhibition is designed not only to inform visitors about diseases but also their symptoms, causes, forms, treatment methods, and historical uses of Fools’ Tower. And after this unique experience, you can head over to the museum shop where you can find unique mementos from their visit to a hidden gem.
9) Clock Museum
Located in Inner City, the Clock Museum houses a fascinating collection of clocks and timepieces from various eras and countries, showcasing the technical work and evolution of clocks throughout history. The museum has a vast collection of clocks ranging from the 17th century to modern times. Here you can learn about the history of timekeeping and the technical advances through time.
The exhibits at the Clock Museum are not just from Austria but also from all over Europe and the world, making it an international destination for clock lovers. Here you can see surprisingly small clocks, as well as a few enormous ones. Most of these clocks are very old and not operational, but some can be viewed when operational by logging onto QR codes near each exhibit. The museum also teaches you about the workings of these intricate machines and how they have evolved.
The museum is on three levels, the entry costs approximately 8 Euros and you can book tours ahead of time or purchase tickets directly at the museum entrance. The Clock Museum is recommended for clock lovers, historians, or anyone interested in quirky museums offering unique experiences away from tourist crowds!
10) Third Man Museum
The Third Man Museum in Vienna is a must-see destination for fans of the classic black and white film “The Third Man” from 1949. The museum offers comprehensive information about the film, including its production, plot, and characters. You are taken one by one to each room to avoid getting lost or missing information. The exhibition includes movie posters from all over the world, which adds to the overall experience of being transported back in time.
The structure of the museum consists of seven small rooms that are located on a ground-floor apartment. The first section of the exhibition offers information about actors, producers, and authors while highlighting their contributions to making this iconic film come alive on screen. The second section focuses on film music and Anton Karas whose famous Harry Lime Theme played on zither became synonymous with this suspenseful thriller.
In addition to presenting information about the making of the film, you can also learn about Vienna’s division into occupation zones after World War II through exhibits that focus on the city’s post-war period in its third section. Visiting the Third Man Museum provides an excellent opportunity for fans of this classic black-and-white film to immerse themselves in its history while gaining insights into how it was made.
11) Mayer am Pfarrplatz
Located in the Nussdorf district of Vienna, Mayer am Pfarrplatz is a traditional Viennese restaurant housed in Beethoven’s former home that serves classic Austrian dishes. The restaurant offers an authentic Austrian dining experience with waiters dressed in traditional outfits, an accordion player providing live music, and an atmosphere reminiscent of old-world charm.
The menu at Mayer am Pfarrplatz features a range of traditional Austrian dishes such as Schnitzel, Tafelspitz, and Kaiserschmarrn. Vegetarian options are available but limited. The wine selection is also noteworthy with a range of local wines from Austria’s top producers.
Mayer am Pfarrplatz provides an excellent opportunity to experience traditional Austrian cuisine in a historic setting that was once home to one of Vienna’s most famous residents – Ludwig van Beethoven. With its charming atmosphere, live music performances, and quality food and wine selection, it is no surprise that it has been recommended by many locals as a must-visit destination when in Vienna!
Bruno-Kreisky-Park offers a peaceful respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, providing you with a chance to enjoy a green oasis in the heart of Vienna. Named after Austria’s former Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, the park is located in Vienna’s 3rd district and covers an area of about 60,000 square meters. The park was opened in 1994 and features well-manicured lawns, flower beds, walking paths, playgrounds for children, and benches for relaxation.
The park has many attractions that make it worth visiting. One such attraction is the large pond that serves as a home to ducks and geese. Here you can sit by the pond and watch these birds swim or feed them breadcrumbs. The park also has a small hill from where you can enjoy panoramic views of Vienna’s skyline. There are several picnic areas throughout the park where visitors can have lunch or snacks while enjoying nature.
Another notable feature of Bruno-Kreisky-Park is its cultural events program which includes concerts, theater performances, dance shows, art exhibitions, and film screenings. These events take place at different times throughout the year and attract both locals and tourists alike.
All this and the several food vendors selling refreshments like ice cream during summer make Bruno-Kreisky-Park an excellent place to unwind after exploring Vienna’s busy streets!
13) Church of St. Leopold
The Church of St. Leopold, also known as the Otto Wagner Kirche am Steinhof, is a key work of 20th-century architecture, the first modern church in Europe, and a true hidden gem in Vienna. Designed by Otto Wagner in 1902, this iconic building is situated at the highest point of the former Lower Austrian Provincial Sanatorium and Nursing Home for the Nervous and Mentally Ill, making it visible from various points across Vienna.
The design inspiration for this masterpiece draws on European architectural history ranging from Byzantium to Viennese Baroque to Classicism. The formal language employed is free of historical borrowings with ornamentation that consistently remains modern.
The interior design of the Church of St. Leopold is adapted to meet the needs of psychiatric sanatorium residents and nursing home patients. It features glass mosaic windows created by Koloman Moser among other artistic highlights. The entire interior was designed by Wagner and his studio as a unique Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) that exemplifies Viennese modernism.
The significance and popularity of this architectural marvel cannot be overstated; it is a must-see attraction for architecture enthusiasts worldwide and serves as a significant landmark in Vienna’s cultural heritage. This iconic structure stands as a testament to Wagner’s innovative and forward-thinking approach to architecture while being an example of design adapted to meet different communities’ needs. It also symbolizes Vienna’s commitment to modernism and innovation while serving as a source of pride for its people.
14) Karl Marx-Hof
Karl Marx-Hof, a mid-rise block of flats designed by Karl Ehn, embodies the political and social ideals of Red Vienna, providing insight into the city’s response to its housing crisis after World War I. The building is a symbol of solidarity that has stood the test of time, surviving both Fascism and the brief Austrian civil war in 1934. It remains one of Vienna’s finest examples of architecture as a political instrument and ideological symbol.
Built between 1927-30, Karl Marx-Hof was part of Vienna’s extensive social housing program that aimed to address overcrowding, high rents, and mass unemployment. The program was funded by heavy taxation on landlords who were dispossessed by the building program. Architects were given pride in giving the inner city an appropriate face – proud, monumental, and melodramatic. Karl Marx-Hof became a rare example of how architecture can reflect political beliefs.
The decorative details including sculptures, murals, and majolica tiles added to Karl Marx-Hof employed craftsmen during widespread unemployment at that time. Despite being heavily shelled during Austria’s brief constitutional crisis in 1934 resulting from right-wing paramilitaries sent to suppress Red Vienna; it still stands tall today. After WWII when Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany and then occupied by Allied forces after Germany’s defeat; Vienna rebuilt itself with its extensive social housing program which arguably remains one of Europe’s best to date.
Karl Marx-Hof is not just another mid-rise block but rather an embodiment of history that tells us about Vienna’s past struggles against Fascism and its efforts towards progressivism through collective action taken in response to dire situations like post-World War I housing crises. Today it stands tall with pride as a testament to what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.
15) Museum of Military History
The Museum of Military History in Vienna is a must-see attraction for history enthusiasts, featuring an extensive collection of military artifacts and exhibits that span 500 years of Austrian and European history. The museum is not just a traditional military history museum, as it offers unique exhibits such as the World War I exhibit with Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s car and pistols used by conspirators. It also has a Sarajevo room with artifacts from the event that changed the world.
In this museum, you can expect to spend at least two to three hours exploring all five major sections covering the Habsburg Empire from the 16th century to 1945. The WW1 section has almost zero mention of the USA entering the war, making it a rare perspective for American visitors. Additionally, there are large collections of military history from 1789 to the end of WWII which include full-scale models and old equipment from before WWI.
The Museum of Military History in Vienna provides an immersive experience that offers insight into Austria’s rich military history over several centuries. It is recommended for anyone interested in this topic or those looking for something unique while visiting this beautiful city. Admission costs €7 per adult but entry is free on the first Sunday of every month. Free audio guides are available with a €10 deposit or visitors can use their Hearonymus app for guided tours.
Vienna is a city that never fails to surprise with its hidden gems. From the stunning architecture of Hundertwasser House and Wotruba Church to the historic significance of the Imperial Crypt and Karl Marx-Hof, there is no shortage of unique places to explore in Vienna.
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