Interiors - 21er Haus, Vienna, Austria

21er Haus

The modern glass-and-steel building known as the 21er Haus was in fact constructed in 1958 as the Austrian pavilion for the World Expo in Brussels. After the fair, the venue was painstakingly taken apart, transferred and rebuilt in Vienna on its current site near the Belvedere Palace. Originally called 20er Haus, the institution has been renamed to reflect the current century and today houses an excellent collection of contemporary Austrian art, a sculpture garden on the grounds and a basement-level café and theater.

Facade of Albertina, Vienna, Austria - Courtesy Lois Lammerhuber

Albertina

Housed in a beautiful, meticulously restored palace that dates to the late 1600s, Vienna’s Albertina museum has one of the world’s largest graphic art collections, including drawings by Dürer, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Most impressive are the palace’s Hapsburg staterooms, which were made accessible to the public for the first time in 2003, when the Albertina reopened after being shuttered for nearly a decade. The ultramodern titanium roof that juts out from over the palace’s entrance, in stark juxtaposition to the Baroque sculpture of Erzherzog Albrecht on horseback, was designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Hans Hollein and caused quite a controversy when it was unveiled (some locals likened it to a ski chute).

An interesting detail to note is that most of the drawings on display in the Albertina are actually reprints; the originals are kept in a vault and come out only for special exhibits. I was tipped off to this fact when I found myself standing alone in front of Dürer’s famous A Young Hare watercolor with nary a guard or alarm system in sight. When I asked a museum employee, she explained that the originals are extremely fragile and nearly impossible to insure (the Albertina has 50,000 drawings and approximately a million Old Master prints).

The Albertina hosts fantastic temporary exhibits that are always worth seeing. After a visit, take a short stroll to the Hofgarten and have lunch or coffee at the Palmenhaus. Open daily.

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Aerial View-Augarten ,Vienna, Austria

Augarten

The sprawling Augarten is a park in the residential second district and is home of the Vienna Choir Boys. Comprising some 128 acres, the park also holds Vienna’s oldest Baroque gardens, open to the public, as well as the Augarten Porcelain Manufactory and the Augarten Contemporary, a sculpture park and exhibition space. History buffs should seek out the two crumbling Flaktürme, defense towers left over from World War II (a debate on what to do with these massive concrete structures has been ongoing for years; they are virtually indestructible, and the Architecture Center has called for their preservation as the most accessible anti-war memorials). Augarten porcelain may not be as famous as Meissen or Nymphenburg, but a visit to the factory, which is housed in an 18th-century palace, is interesting. English tours can be arranged. Afterwards, have lunch at Décor restaurant.

Interior View-Augustinerkirche,Vienna, Austria

Augustinerkirche

The Augustinerkirche, part of the Hofburg, has seen its share of famous weddings: Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth (known as Sissi), in 1854; Crown Prince Rudolf and Princess Stéphanie, in 1881; and even French emperor Napoléon (in proxy) and Austrian princess Marie Louise, a daughter of Maria Theresa, in 1810. There is tons of noteworthy art, so it’s best to explore with an Indagare-approved guide who can give a thrilling context to what you’re seeing. (Contact our Bookings Team to make arrangements). Don’t miss the marble tomb of Archduchess Maria Christine, known as Mimi. The favorite daughter of formidable Hapsburg matron Maria Christina, who had sixteen children, Mimi was the only one permitted to marry for love (rather than for reasons of state). Tragically, Mimi died shortly after the wedding, and her husband’s grief is movingly expressed in architect Antonio Canova’s sculpted tomb.

Bäckerstrasse 4 Platform for Young Art

This excellent contemporary art gallery was founded and is run by the elegant intellectual Gabriele Schober. The three-story space shows works by up-and-coming artists like Helrl Häfliger, who works exclusively with toilet paper to create two- and three-dimensional sculptures. The gallery’s location, on one of the oldest streets in Vienna, which is home to stunningly preserved Renaissance era townhouses, contrasts with the very modern works of art presented.

Interior View-Brotfabrik ,Vienna, Austria

Brotfabrik

The former factory for Anker, Austria’s largest bread-making company, Ankerbrotfabrik (Anker Bread Factory) is today one of Vienna’s most exciting contemporary art and social projects venues. Located in the 10th district to the southeast of the city center, the space aims to bring business and education to the less affluent neighborhood, which is home to much of Vienna’s immigrant population. There is an education center in the space that caters to local children as well as a cantina and second-hand shop, which employ refugees. Throughout the large space are multiple art galleries, a vintage furniture shop (an outlet of Lichterloh) and event spaces. Check the website before visiting to see if there is anything scheduled for the day of your visit.

Burgtheater, Vienna Austria

Burgtheater

The performances at the Burgtheater—known to serious theatergoers simply as “Die Burg,” and considered one of the most acclaimed stages in Europe—are in German. But Klimt fans should take the forty-five-minute backstage tour to see the two ceiling murals the twenty-six-year-old artist created with his brother, Ernst, and fellow painter Franz Matsch from 1886-1888. Klimt’s opinion of the finished work was rather harsh (he famously called it “Schweinsdreck,” which translates to pig dirt), surely in part because Emperor Franz Joseph insisted upon a self-portrait of the artist. If you’re standing under the panel that depicts Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre—the murals portray well-known playhouses and scenes from plays—look for an audience member wearing a white ruffled collar. It was the first, and last, time Klimt depicted himself in one of his works. Tours in English are available.

Aerial View - Danube Beaches,Vienna, Austria - Courtesy Heinz Angermayr

Danube Beaches

Vienna’s waterfront is prime real estate for restaurants, but in recent years, the area has developed in a more traditional way, with several beaches cropping up. There are a number of places to rent boats for an afternoon cruise, and multiple beaches on the Alte Donau, including the family-friendly Gänsehäufel (www.gaensehaeufel.at),a wooden island on the Danube with beaches, a wave pool and playground. Tel Aviv Beach is a good stopping point for Israeli tapas. Most of the waterfront restaurants and cafés are packed at night, but during the day it has a less scene-y crowd.

Aerial View-Day Trip: Burgenland ,Vienna, Austria

Day Trip: Burgenland

Home to some of Austria’s best wineries, the Burgenland is Austria’s eastern-most state (it shares a border with Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia). Its main hub, Neusiedl Am See, however, is just a scenic, forty-minute drive from Vienna, making this a feasible day trip for some wine tasting and great food. Plan a route that includes stops at such villages as Purbach, Donnerskirchen, Oggau, Rust and Mörbisch. Combine lunchtime with a visit of 18th-century Schloss Halbturn whose Knappenstöckl restaurant (www.knappenstoeckl.at) is a local favorite. Contact our Bookings Team to arrange for a guide and driver.

In Neusiedl am See, have a cocktails at hip hang-out Mole West (molewest.at) or, for an early dinner before returning to Vienna, head to Podersdorf and dine at Dankbarkeit (www.dankbarkeit.at), which has a gourmet restaurant and a more rustic but fun Heuriger, Austria’s version of a countryside trattoria.

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Day Trip: Klosterneuburg

An easy, half-day trip outside of Vienna is to visit the small town of Klosterneuburg, home of the renowned Sammlung Essl, a collection of modern and contemporary art. On the way back to Vienna, have lunch or dinner at Restaurant Eckl (Sieveringer Strasse 46; 01-320-32-18; www.restauranteckel.at) a fabulous local spot with a romantic garden setting beneath ancient chestnut trees (expect hearty, well-prepared Austrian fare and local wines).

Aerial View-Day Trip: Wachau , Vienna, Austria

Day Trip: Wachau

The Wachau valley, located west of Vienna, is one of Austria’s most scenic, drawing outdoor enthusiasts thanks to its rolling hillsides and stunning vistas. Don’t miss the scenic medieval village of Dürnstein where king Richard Lionheart was reportedly held captive during the Third Crusade. Have lunch on the terrace of Richard Löwenherz restaurant, overlooking the Danube. Other nearby towns not to miss are Melk (home of the Baroque monastery Stiftung Melk) and Krems, with its contemporary art enclave Kunsthalle. The drive from Vienna to Melk and Dürnstein is about an hour.

Interior - Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna, Austria

Galerie Krinzinger

One of Vienna’s oldest and most well-respected contemporary art galleries, Galerie Krinzinger was founded in the 1970s and is located on the third floor of a gorgeous fin de siècle building in the first district. The gallery represents established artists like Marina Abramovic but its most interesting shows are those by up-and-coming creative such as Erik Schmidt and the gallerist’s own talented daughter, the impressive Angelika Krinzinger. Of note are the results of the gallery’s hosted residencies around the world in such places as Sri Lanka and Tokyo.

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Georg Kargl Fine Arts

Georg Kargl was the first blue chip art dealer to move to the removed Shleifmühlgasse neighborhood, and today the area is known as one of Vienna’s preeminent hubs for contemporary art. Adjacent to the traditional gallery sits the Box, a secondary space that shows the work of one artist; the Box’s blue façade itself was created by American artist Richard Artschwager. Kargl shows the works of exceptional artists, both Austrian and international, and his gallery is worth seeing for its space alone.

The Heidi Horten Collection, Vienna Austria

Heidi Horten Collection

In a city with an abundance of world-class art museums, the new Heidi Horton Collection has made an enormous splash even amid controversy. Opened in June 2022 in a beautifully renovated palace, the private collection has been declared one of the best in Europe and contains hundreds of 20th-century masterpieces, all amassed over decades of discerning and discreet buying on behalf of Austrian billionaire Heidi Goëss-Horten. The museum, which opened the same year that its patron died, contains works by Klimt, Schiele, Chagall, Picasso, Baselitz, Richter, Warhol, Basquiat and other modern and contemporary masters. (It is said that Heidi herself had great taste but was also helped in her collecting by a very astute advisor.) After Horten’s death, part of her famous jewelry collection was sold by Christie’s auction house, and the $201 million raised will support the foundation supporting the museum and other philanthropic causes. However, after an outcry by Jewish advocacy groups who pointed out that much of the wealth amassed by Horten’s late husband Helmut could be attributed to businesses bought from Jewish families under duress before and during World War II, Christie’s pledged to donate much of the proceeds to Holocaust education and canceled the last of the jewelry sales. The museum management has also committed to “recognize the moral necessity of aggressively engaging with this aspect of history and express our deep regret that this has not been done sooner.”

Interior VIew-Imperial Court Chapel , Vienna, Austria

Imperial Court Chapel

The Vienna Boys’ Choir, whose members live, study and practice in the city’s Augartenpalais, perform in the Imperial Palace chapel, part of the Hofburg complex, every Sunday at 9:15 A.M. (except when they are on tour). Note that the choir sings as part of regular Masses, which are conducted in German. Be sure to request tickets with full view of the altar.

Imperial Furniture Collection

A lesser-visited museum but a gem nonetheless, the Imperial Furniture Collection is a depot (its German name is in fact Hofmobiliendepot) that stores and displays 165,000 pieces of furniture and decorative and functional objects. The Hapsburg royalty owned multiple palaces, and while many of them are open to the public today, none have been kept intact fully furnished. Instead, the pieces that made up the living and entertaining spaces for the emperors and their families are here, and range from the regal (gilded thrones) to the mundane (coat hangers). Seeing the objects on show in this museum in many ways offers a more realistic look into the lives of the famed Hapsburg royals.

Aerial View-Imperial Palace (Hofburg) ,Vienna, Austria

Imperial Palace (Hofburg)

This huge, sprawling complex—home to the Hapsburg royal family until 1918—includes an embarrassment of riches, like the Treasury and Museum of Ethnology, the Spanish Riding School, Imperial Court Chapel and National Library. There are also the Imperial Apartments and Sissi Museum. Depending on whom you ask, the Hofburg also technically encompasses the Kunsthistorische and Naturhistorische museums, though they are located across the Ring boulevard (near the MuseumsQuartier).

A great insider tip is to visit the Hofburg on Sunday morning: start the day at the Imperial Court Chapel, where the Vienna Boys’ Choir performs at 9:15 a.m. Mass lets out right before the performance of the Spanish Riding School at 11 a.m., so you can watch the horses and costumed riders crossing the road between the stables and the riding school. Then, if you’re in the mood for more classical music, there are free concerts at 11 a.m., mostly of classical liturgical works of Mozart, Schubert, Haydn et al, in the Augustinerkirche, one of the most beautiful churches in Vienna.

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Interior View - Indagare Access: Waltz Lessons, Vienna, Austria

Indagare Access: Waltz Lessons

The Viennese waltz is one of the oldest forms of ballroom dance, and while the slower English version is the most widely known, the Viennese style is considered the original form. Learning to waltz is a rite of passage for Viennese youth, and the dance is an integral part of Vienna’s ball tradition. Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange a private lesson before heading to one of the city’s glamorous balls.

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Indagare Tours: Insider Vienna

For those who want to explore the city in the company of historians, art or architecture experts, musicians or plugged-in locals, we have an incredible network of guides who can bring the city’s history to life. An excellent guide can give Vienna's rich cultural treasures context so you may better appreciate it. Indagare members can contact our Bookings Team to reserve.

Interior View - Indagare Tours: Vienna Balls,Vienna, Austria - Courtesy Maxum

Indagare Tours: Vienna Balls

Having gained popularity in the early 19th century, balls are now an integral part of Viennese culture. While the formal events usually tend to be glamorous and over-the-top, a handful of the roughly 450 balls a year have a more convivial, carnival-like atmosphere. The ball season runs from November through March, with the exception of two elegant summer balls, the Concordia Ball and the Fête Impériale, held at City Hall and the Spanish Riding School, respectively. The most famous is undoubtedly the Opera Ball, held at the Vienna State Opera each February. Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange tickets and a private table.

Exterior View-Indagare Tours: Vienna’s Architecture ,Vienna, Austria

Indagare Tours: Vienna's Architecture

Indagare's favorite way to see Vienna's architecture is with a tour that focus on different districts and styles. For architecture buffs, Vienna has a fascinating cityscape and discoveries around every corner, whether it’s a tram entrance designed by Secession architect Otto Wagner; an Art Nouveau façade, like the gorgeous Jugendstil angel mosaics that adorn the Engel apothecary at No. 9 Bognergasse; or a residential apartment building by Friedensreich Hundertwasser or Zaha Hadid. Contact Indagare's Bookings Team to arrange.

Interior View - Jewish Museum ,  Vienna, Austria

Jewish Museum

This small museum in the first district honors and studies Jewish people and their culture in Austria and particularly in Vienna, placing a specific emphasis on the history surrounding WWII. The institution is set in a beautiful former palace across the street from the Dorotheum and holds a good café and bookstore in addition to its three floors of exhibitions and event spaces. Don’t miss the top floor, where thousands of priceless items in storage are on view through their moveable glass cases.

Exterior View-Kirche am Steinhof ,Vienna, Austria

Kirche am Steinhof

This Art Nouveau marvel designed by Otto Wagner in the first decade of the 20th century is in the Penzig district of Vienna, a 30-minute drive from the city center. The church has been renovated and is open to the public on Saturday afternoons; tours are available upon request. Don't miss the stunning mosaics and stained glass windows (sketches of which are on display at the Leopold Museum).

Exterior view-Leopold Museum ,Vienna, Austria

Leopold Museum

Some museums draw you back time and again: I, for one, could not visit Madrid without returning to the Prado’s haunting Goyas or Paris without seeing Rodin’s sculptures. In Vienna it’s the Leopold that I cannot get enough of—in particular the Egon Schiele rooms, which feature more than forty paintings by the Austrian artist. Part of the MuseumsQuartier complex, the Leopold has the largest holding of Schiele’s works, which are displayed in soaring, airy spaces. As is unfortunately the case with several Vienna museums, there’s some controversy surrounding the legal origins of the collection. Rudolf Leopold, a doctor and patron of the arts, has been involved in several restitution lawsuits. This does not diminish the genius of Schiele, who was only twenty-eight when he died of Spanish flu in 1918, just three days after his pregnant wife succumbed to the same illness. One of the most touching images is a simple charcoal drawing entitled Edith Schiele Sterbend (Edith Schiele Dying), the artist’s last work. The rest of the Leopold is nothing to sniff at: other floors contain works by Klimt, like the powerful large-scale Death and Life; Kokoschka; Koloman Moser; and Richard Gerstl, among others. Closed Tuesday.

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Liechtenstein Collections

Showcasing one of Europe’s most remarkable private collections of mostly Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque works, this museum is housed in the Garden Palace of the Liechtenstein family, which was painstakingly restored and opened to the public in 2004. The highlights include Peter Paul Rubens’s Venus in Front of the Mirror, Frans Hals’s Portrait of A Man and Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Maria de Tassis. The palace interiors provide a marvelous backdrop, with stately rooms, beautifully restored stucco by Italian artist Santino Bussi, ornate ceiling frescoes and a neoclassical library. In the summer, visiting the sprawling Baroque gardens is a special treat. The Liechtenstein museum is located a bit outside the city center in the Rossau district. Closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Interior View-Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) , Vienna, Austria-Photo by Gerald Zugmann

Museum of Applied Arts (MAK)

The MAK is one of those cooler-than-thou showcases that embodies the new Vienna. Located in an imposing Renaissance revival–style building, the museum focuses on decorative arts and design, including a fantastic collection of Wiener Werkstätte, Art Nouveau and Biedermeier pieces. Each exhibition room was conceived by a contemporary artist or designer, making for a vibrant, at times challenging, viewing experience. American artist Jenny Holzer, for instance, created a room for the Empire-style and Biedermeier collection, in which electronic signs along the ceiling provide detailed information about the furniture on display, and her own version of a Biedermeier sofa (in aluminum) encourages visitors to have a seat and take it all in. Designers Eichinger oder Knechtl removed all labels from the Art Nouveau furniture and art on view in one of the first rooms; instead, visitors can pick up a brochure at the entrance of the room and read about the pieces at leisure (one of the most famous works here is Klimt’s gilded Stoclet Frieze). It’s very creative and well done, capturing the imagination of young visitors as well, especially the long Historicism Art Nouveau hall where sculpted chairs are displayed behind backlit screens. The fun, adjacent design shop leads to the restaurant Salonplafond. Closed Monday.

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Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum)

The permanent collection at the Kunsthistorischesmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts) is one of the world’s most illustrious, with important works by Raphael, Canaletto, Bosch, Rubens, Vermeer and Velázquez. Like New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the ground floor here, too, emphasizes Egyptian as well as Greek and Roman antiquities collections. Cupola Hall—an ornate extravaganza composed of black-and-white marble columns, mosaics, stucco, gold leaf and a 196-foot dome—is a work of art in its own right. Don't miss the Klimt portraits of women above the main stairwell—the artist completed them when he was lesser-known and they remain some of his most beautiful works.

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