We start our recommendations with Vienna’s Best Art Galleries and follow with Vienna’s Best Museums. We covered the Albertina and the Ephesus Museums in the Hofburg section of our Vienna Guide since they are integral parts of the Hofburg. However, we have included their information here again, in case you have not read that section of our Vienna Guide.Although Vienna Tourism proudly touts the city’s numerous museums, it would be impossible to visit anything other than a sampling of these during a vacation of normal length. Our recommendations include the museums that we think are unique and offer treasures that are hard to find anywhere other than Vienna. While some may argue with our choices, we think you will find a visiting any of these attractions quite rewarding.
The Belvedere is a famous attraction in Vienna, known not only for its superb art collection, but also for its luxurious palace. Built from 1721 through 1723, the Belvedere Palace was designed to serve as a luxury summer palace for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), who had played a critical role in defeating the 17th century siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks. The property includes both an ornate Upper Palace (mainly used by the Prince for entertaining) and a spectacular Lower Palace (used as the Prince’s residence). In addition, there is an Orangery (formerly an ornate greenhouse) and stables. The Upper and Lower Palaces are connected by symmetrical, formal gardens that are quite pleasant to view from spring through summer.
The Belvedere houses an excellent collection of art (focused mainly on Austrian artists) dating from the Middle Ages to the present and is known for its Gustav Klimt collection, which is the largest in the world. Among the treasures here are Klimt’s golden pictures the Kiss and Judith. Other masterpieces of note include several paintings by Schiele and Kokschka in addition to works by the French Impressionists. Temporary collections are hosted in the Lower Belvedere and the Orangery. In addition, the Lower Belvedere includes several of Prince Eugene’ staterooms including Hall of the Grotesques, the State Bedroom, the Marble Gallery and the appropriately named “Golden Room”. The former stables now house an interesting collection of medieval, religious art.
The Belvedere is open daily from 10 – 6. The Upper Belvedere Collection can be found at Prinz Eugen Strasse, 27. The Lower Palace and grounds can be accessed from the Upper Palace, although you can also enter through the Lower Palace gates.
Getting into the Belvedere is straightforward, once you known the secret code. The Upper Belvedere can best be reached by riding Tram D to the stop at Schloss Belvedere, where there is a small gate with access to Upper Belvedere. You can also take the train to the Sud Banhoff and then cross to the Belvedere’s entrance at the corner of Prinz Eugen Strasse and Lanstraßer Gürtel. Another alternative is to take the U1 (subway/underground) to the Sudtiroler Platz and walk to the corner mentioned above. The Lower Belvedere can be reached by taking the bus or tram (71) to Unteres Belvedere or the tram to Am Heumarkt and follow Renweg to the entrance.
The Albertina is one of the most popular museums in Vienna. We describe it in our section on the Habsburg, but have reproduced that description here for your convenience.
Formerly the Albertina Palace of the Habsburgs and named for the son-in-law of Empress Maria Theresa, the new Albertina offers a phenomenal collection of graphic arts and hosts some of the finest art shows in Europe. The Albertina was damaged by bombing near the end of 1945, which destroyed the State Rooms and the facades of the Palace. Now completely renovated and restored, the new Albertina has been capped with an unusual, ornate titanium wing over the entrance to the museum.
The Albertina’s permanent collection is on display at the “Masterworks of Modern Art” featuring works by Braque, Chagall, Kirchner, Miró, Munch, Picasso and spans more than 100 years of art from Classical Modernism to the present.
Located in the Hofburg at the Albertinaplatz (near the Opera), the Albertina is open daily from 10 to 6 and later on Wednesdays.
In addition to its art collections, the Albertina is known for its 21 Habsburg Staterooms, a series of royal apartments that were completely restored between 2000 and 2007. If you are a fan of royal apartments and their decorations, this may be a stop of interest for you. If so, we suspect you will enjoy the statues in the Hall of Muses, as well as the colorful Rococo Room. (On the other hand, if you have seen the Imperial Apartments and plan to tour the Schönbrunn Palace, seeing these rooms may overload your interest.)
See this official website for more information on the Albertina’s art collection, exhibitions and the Palace Staterooms.
The MUMOK Museum of Modern Art (Moderner Kunst) is located in the Museum Quarter. The collection is from the 20th and 21st centuries and the MUMOK is the largest of Austrian museums for international modern and contemporary art. Open daily from 10 to 6 and until 9 on Thursdays.
The Leopold Museum
The Leopold Museum , also located in the Museum Quarter, is focused on the modern art of Austrians and boasts the largest Egon Schiele collection in the world. In addition, works by Klimt, Kokoschka and other renowned Austrian artists are featured. Closed Tuesday but open the rest of the week from 10 to 6.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum (the Fine Arts Museum) has several wonderful collections, including a broad range of objects from a variety of cultures including: Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection, Greek and Roman Antiquities, sculptures, decorative arts, major art works from European art history (including works by Raphael, Velázquez, Rubens, Titian and others not to mention the world’s largest collection of art by Brueghel).
In 2013 the Kunstkammer Wien (The Cradle of the Museum) reopened after a multi-year renovation. It features over 2200 items from the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, reflecting a cabinet of curiosities orientation. The meaning of some of the goldsmith work and statuary is as interesting as the works are artistically impressive.
Housed is a gracious palace-like building constructed at the request of Emperor Franz Joseph as part of his grand plan for the Ringstrasse, the building was purpose-built to hold the artistic treasure that had been collected by the Habsburgs during their reign.
The Kunsthistorishces Museum is located on the Ringstrasse at the Marie Theresien-Platz, across from the Hofburg. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 to 6.
The Naturhistorisches Museum is directly opposite the Kunthistoriches Museum and is noted as Vienna’s quintessential natural history museum. Displays feature precious stones, fossils, dinosaur skeletons and world-famous prehistoric works of art. Closed Tuesdays, open other days from 9 to 6:30 and later on Wednesday.
For those of you interested in the History of Vienna, the Wien Museum is located on the Karlsplatz near the intersection of Wiener-Bundesstraße and Maderstrasse or to the left of the Karlskirche, if you are viewing it from the pond in front. The Museum provides an interesting look into the history of Vienna from the Neolithic Age to the mid-twentieth century. Especially interesting are the archaeological finds from the Roman settlement of Vindobona, the original stained glass from St. Stephan’s and the displays surrounding the two sieges of Vienna by the Turks.
The museum also operates a number of satellite facilities throughout the city and many of these are focused on the musical greats that called Vienna “home”. For information on visiting the “apartments” associated with Haydn, Johann Strauß, Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven, see this section of the Wien Museum’s official website.
The main museum at the Karslplatz is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm., as well as on public holidays.
If you are interested in the archaeology of Ephesus, Turkey we recommend visiting the Ephesus Museum In the National Library Building (the Neue Hofburg on the Heldenplatz) as it, perhaps regrettably, has better examples of the ancient city that you can find at the actual site in Turkey. The Ephesus collection is stunning and you can get close enough to the displays to appreciate the amazing quality of the architecture of Ephesus.
As many of you know, Ephesus was an ancient community in what is now Anatolia, Turkey. It was conquered by the Persians and then Alexander the Great. Augustus Caesar made Ephesus the capital of the Roman province of Asia and by the 2nd Century it had a population of 300,000 . Noted as the home of the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), Ephesus is one of the archaeological wonders of Turkey. The Austrian Archeological Institute began excavations of Ephesus with the agreement of the government of Turkey and was allowed to remove numerous artifacts for display in Vienna. Opened in 1978, the museum’s collection of Ephesus artifacts is outstanding and well worth a visit. Open daily, except Tuesday from 10am to 6 pm
If you have taken the time to see the Ephesus Museum, the Neue Hofburg also includes an excellent collection of medieval arms and armor that is extremely well done. The armored helmet collection is extraordinary and will take only a few minutes to tour.
The Mozarthaus, one of Mozart’s numerous residences in Vienna, has been preserved and converted into a museum. You can find it at Domgasse 5. For more details about visiting see the official website Open daily from 10 to 7.
Sigmund Freud Museum
If you are interested in the life and work of Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern psychology, you should visit the museum dedicated to him located in the building that was both his home and office. The museum was developed with the help of Freud’s daughter Anna and includes many of his personal items, publications and informative facts about the life and times of Sigmund Freud.
See the website of the Sigmund Freud House/Museum for more details. The museum is located at Berggasse 19 and is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm and until 6 from July through September.
Finally, if you are like world globes, you might want to spend a few minutes at the Palais Mollard Esperanto & Globe Museum, just down Herrengasse at number 9 (the Palais Mollard) about a block north of the Hofburg. See this site from the Austrian National Library for more information. Open Tuesdays through Saturday from 10 to 6. Shorter hours on Christmas Eve and some other holidays. Limited opening hours possible, so check ahead.