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Which are the most worthwhile museums in Vienna?


I am planning a trip to Vienna in early June and have Friday to Sunday night there. I have put together a list of sights I'd like to see, but am realizing all the museum entrance fees are starting to add up. Can anyone suggest maybe 2 or 3 that are the best choices? Places like the Hofburg, the Imperial Apartments, Belvedere, and Schonbrunn all seem to have a beautiful exterior building/grounds, but is it worth it to pay to get into all the museums and collections at each one? I personally am not too interested in museums, but I feel like a short time in 1 or 2 is good. I am considering the Kunsthistoriches Museum as well.

Thank you for any advice!

Posted by
4698 posts

You are mixing up the palaces and the art museums. The Hofburg and the Schonbrunn are the two palaces in Vienna. The Hofburg was the "city" palace and the Schonbrunn is the "country" palace. Each of these palaces has numerous collections (Hofburg: Silver Collection, Imperial Apartments, Sisi Museum, etc; Schonbrunn: Apartments, Carriage Museum, etc). I would highly recommend that you chose to tour the collections of either the Hofburg or Schonbrunn as they are repetitive, but not both. Personally, I would look at the Hofburg from the outside and take the interior tour of the Schonbrunn. In addition to the interior, Schonbrunn has amazing gardens and the palace is lovely (the Hofburg's exterior doesn't even compare).

Now for art museums, Vienna has many - Kunsthistoriches, Belvedere, Albertina, Leopold, MUMOK, etc. Each has a distinct personality and collections of different genres. The Kunsthistoriches (KHM) is in a purpose-built, but beautiful musuem. This is one of the world's great art musuems and the collection ranges from the antiquities through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and beyond. It is well known for its Bruegel collection. The Belvedere is known for its collection of Klimt paintings (particularly the Kiss) and is a beautiful palace in its own right. The Albertina has a mixed collection which includes Impressionists. The Leopold is a fascinating museum with a wonderful collection of Schiele and other Austrian modern art. The MUMOK is the modern and comtemporary art museum in Vienna. The Leopold and MUMOK are located in the MuseumsQuartier, a large complex of several museums, large and small. It is worth visiting the MuseumsQuartier even if not entering the museums as there are several nice restaurants and other attractions housed inside this formal royal stable.

You do note that you are not really into museums anyway. Also worth pointing out that you will be in Vienna at a lovely time of year, so maximize your outside time! Personally, I would visit Schonbrunn, the Belvedere and have lunch at the MuseumsQuartier. Here is a list of restaurants inside (my personal favorites are the Glacis Beisl and Corbaci):

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you so much for that information, it will be very helpful in my planning! You had great things to say, is there anything else you would recommend? I think we have most of the "must see" sights planned, but is there something that a guidebook might not suggest or a local favorite that typically people don't visit/experience? I'd love to make the most of this weekend in Vienna as I'm not sure when I'll be back again!

Posted by
15058 posts

I will just elaborate on why you should choose the Schonbrunn over the Hofburg. I went to both on a 3-day visit, because I didn't do my homework. You are obviously smarter!

The Schonbrunn has several ticket combinations, get the one that goes to all the rooms. There are lovely views of the gardens from the palace, and they are extensive and beautiful to walk through, with several surprising items. The last couple in residence obviously didn't like change very much, so their private apartments are almost identical in both. There are many more rooms open at the Schonbrunn, both private and public rooms, than the Hofburg, so after the Schonbrunn, there's little that you haven't already seen. Besides that, you must first traverse to other museums, the Silver Collection and the Sisi Museum. Both seem to go on and on. The silver is definitely royal and exquisite, but there is room after room after room of it. Then you go through the Sisi, which has few exhibits, but tells her story in excrutiating detail and length, before you finally arrive at the Imperial Apartments.

Aside from the Schonbrunn, what I enjoyed in Vienna were: self-guided walking tours (I used the DK EyeWitness Vienna guidebook), the Stephansdom, and walking after dark, when the beautiful architecture of the city is illuminated.

Posted by
224 posts

In my opinion, the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer) at the Hofburg deserves a visit. It contains secular and ecclesiatic treasures covering a thousand years of the House of Habsburg including the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire.

Posted by
10 posts

Gruss Gott:
Hope you enjoy your stay in Wien! Very schon city and Mercer's most livable city for 2014.
No one mentioned MAK, my favorite. Applied arts and some very interesting Klimt items. You can go on Tuesday pm and it is free entry!
Also, no one mentioned the Wien Muesum and its affiliates, free on the first Sunday of the month. Has a great selection of Klimts, i.e., Emile painting and Schlee's. Also the affialites are free on the same day as above.i.e, Hermes Villa, Strauss residence.
Enjoy your stay in lovely Wien!
Susan von

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you all for your input! I appreciate your help!

Posted by
15058 posts

Allen's probably right about the Imperial Treasury. It's a separate part of the Hofburg, and I missed it, since I went to the other stuff instead. One more thing to go back for :-)

Posted by
5669 posts

I'm going to add my endorsement to Schönbrunn. The gardens were lovely and the rooms were very interesting. We were there on a very crowded day, but still enjoyed it immensely. The other two that I went to were the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Treasury. They were wonderful. Although after reading Emily's post I'm feeling a real urge to go back to Vienna!


Posted by
13011 posts


Like the Wien Museum, the Military/Army Museum, the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, is free on the first Sunday of the month if you're interested in Austrian military history.