Austria’s beautiful and historic capital has no shortage of sights to see and things to do, but some of the city’s most popular attractions come with hefty admission fees. Luckily, the City of Music also offers top-notch entertainment for the budget traveler willing to stray from the beaten path.
Visit the Perfect Parks
Vienna has dozens of beautiful urban parks of all sizes. On the east side of the Ringstrasse, right in the city center, visit Stadtpark for a quiet walk around a peaceful lake and to see the many monuments to great Vienna artists, composers, and philosophers. Just across the Danube Canal, the massive Praterpark is home to Vienna’s famous old-time amusement park, with a century-old ferris wheel still going strong. While the interior of the Schonbrunn Palace requires a long wait and a pricey ticket, its extensive gardens have always been free and open to the public.
Peruse the Naschmarkt
On the southeast corner of the Ringstrasse, Naschmarkt is a bustling outdoor food market with exotic restaurants and a variety of local and foreign food stands. Locals and tourists bump elbows looking for the best deals on produce, spices, or a quick doner kebab on a busy lunch break. On Saturday mornings, look for the weekly flea market and its antique dealers negotiating with collectors and souvenir shoppers.
Take a Walk in the Woods
To get out of the busy city and into the idyllic vineyards and forests of the Vienna Woods, or Wienerwald, take the D tram to its terminus in Nussdorf and follow the well-marked trail into the hills north of the city. You will walk in the same forests Beethoven explored for inspiration, get an up-close look at working hillside wineries, and visit a hilltop church with stunning views overlooking the whole city.
Catch a Free Organ Concert
Just off the busy pedestrian Graben, visit Peterskirche for a jaw-dropping look at unparalleled Baroque church design. Check the schedule, ignoring the pushy ticket agents that stand in the entrance, for the church’s series of free organ recitals at 3 p.m. on weekdays and evenings on weekends. Consider making a small donation to help support this free music program for future visitors.
Bump into Beethoven
Many of Vienna’s most famous celebrities are buried in its large, well-kept central cemetery, Zentralfriedhof. Visitors can pay their respects to Beethoven, Strauss, Brahms, Schoenberg, Mozart, and many others. This free cemetery is served from the Ringstrasse by the 71 tram to stop Zentralfriedhof Tor 2.
While many of Vienna’s city center museums and other paid attractions are worth a visit, smart travelers can enjoy some of the more obscure sights and sounds of this once-great imperial capital without spending more than the cost of a tram ticket.