This walking-and-driving tour lets you spend half of a day exploring Vienna’s historical highlights, including national museums and the Hofburg Imperial Palace in the city’s old town, as well as the gargantuan Schönbrunn Palace with its UNESCO World Heritage-designated gardens. It’s also a good way to see the sights and orient yourself to the location of some of Vienna’s most important places so that you can go back and visit them at your leisure.
Wander through Vienna’s First District, the cultural headquarters of the city, where you’ll get a good understanding of the Renaissance revival architecture of the State Opera House, take in the baroque Burgtheater and glimpse the towering Gothic city hall building.
The guided tour is four hours, including a short drive to and tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the Habsburg family’s former summer home. The palace boasts more than 1,400 rooms and an extensive, manicured garden that features an ornately detailed fountain depicting the god Neptune.
Meet your guide at your hotel and head to Vienna’s First District, the geographical midpoint of the city that encompasses the historical district. Take off walking and see the State Opera House, Museum of Natural History, the Imperial Palace, the current-day parliament building and city hall, the Burgtheater and buildings belonging to the University of Vienna.
The Imperial Palace, or the Hofburg Palace, was the former principal palace of the Habsburg dynasty, and today serves as the official residence and workplace of the Austrian president. The Baroque architecture features columns, three large green copper domes and ornate statues that keep watch from the top of the building. Built in 1274, the palace is almost a city within a city and boasts numerous courtyards and gardens for you to explore.
In stark contrast to the more rounded features of the Imperial Palace, the Vienna City Hall has sharply pointed, Gothic architecture. With one large tower flanked by four smaller ones, the building looks every bit as important and authoritative as you’d expect from the seat of local government.
After the walking portion of the tour, your driver will take you to Schönbrunn Palace. Take in the colossal size of the building itself before heading inside to explore some of the 1,400 stately rooms with your guide. Start with the Herringbone Room, the first stop on the ground floor that features large painted portraits of Habsburg family members. It also boasts parquet flooring and an intricate frieze around the ceiling.
You’ll also get the chance to see the Billiard Room, one of Franz Joseph’s private rooms. It still has its original decor and furnishings from the late 19th century, including massive paintings that cover most of the walls they are hung on.
You’ll then head back into the city where you’ll end the tour at your hotel.