Austria is simply awesome to explore whether you are riding bikes along the Danube, eating Demel’s chocolate mousse cake, or discovering the magic of Vienna with teens.
Vienna is home to world-class museums, magnificent cathedrals, a hopping cafe culture, the Opera, and architecture that is second to none.
If you DO happen to be traveling in Vienna with teens, you may wish to buy two pieces of chocolate mousse cake!
Start with An Audio Tour to Discover the Top Things To Do in Vienna with Teens
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On our first afternoon in Vienna, Austria, our oldest daughter was sick and our middle daughter just needed some downtime. Sometimes travel is like that—travel with teenagers especially—and you just have to roll with the punches.
Chris and I set out to explore Vienna with our youngest daughter, Kristen, for the afternoon. We ventured out with the voice of Rick Steves in our ears.
Rick offers three FREE separate audio tours for Vienna:
- Vienna City Walk
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral Tour
- Ringstrasse Tram Tour
We took the Ringstrasse Tram Tour and started our audio tour by hopping onto Tram #2 as it circled the city center.
The Ringstrasse, or the Ring, was designed in the Habsburg era with the intent to connect the outlying town with the imperial center.
You’ll need to switch to Tram #1 halfway through the tour, but it is a nice relaxing way to discover unique things to do in Vienna with teens. Especially if your travels and adventure are often go, go, go to see as much as possible. Some of the important sites that you will learn about are:
- The Opera
- Café Sacher and their famous dessert
- Neuer Markt
- Plague Column
- Kohlmarkt & Demel Bakery
- The Hofburg Palace and the Imperial Apartments, Spanish Riding School, Treasury
Out of all the things we saw and experienced while exploring Vienna that day (and on subsequent days with all three of our girls), these are the top 10 places to visit in Vienna that we would recommend to you (especially if you only have a few days to spend touring the city).
10 Things to Do in Vienna with Teens
1. St. Stephen’s Cathedral
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, often considered the symbol of Vienna, is a magnificent structure. The interior is lavishly decorated with columns, altars, and an impressive organ.
Entrance to the cathedral is free, though you can purchase tickets for a guided audio tour. Book your tickets online in advance for additional activities which include a visit to the catacombs, taking the elevator to the top of the north tower, climbing the 343 steps to the Steffl Tower (south tower)—the panoramic view from the south tower is worth the climb.
2. St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s sits in the heart of Vienna; if you are a fan of Baroque architecture and art, this beautiful church is a must-see while touring Vienna. St. Peter’s is a working church, however, it is free to visit and open daily. Be mindful of appropriate dress and behavior.
The church hosts a variety of concerts. Some are free (with donation) and others require a ticket. With the popularity of the concerts, you’ll certainly want to get your ticket in advance.
Enter the Michaelerplatz, the history city-center of Vienna, and you’ll feel as though you have stepped back in time. On one end of the square you’ll find a wing of the Hofburg Palace Complex and to your right the Palais Herberstein. Continue circling around to see the Loos House, St. Michael’s Church, and Roman excavations.
As suggested by our Rick Steves Audio Tour, we saw St. Stephen’s church, ate ice cream, and then later enjoyed a chocolate mousse cake from Demel’s. Like us, you may wish to sit in the Michaelerplatz to enjoy the view and the cake.
4. Hofburg Palace
As you enter the Michaelerplatz and see the Hofburg Palace, you may think that this “wing” makes up the entirety of the palace. Au contraire. The palace is a series of lavish, interconnect buildings. It was the former residence of the Habsburg monarchy.
Explore the public areas of the complex for insights into the opulent Imperial life:
- The Sisi Museum – learn more of Empress Elisabeth
- The Imperial Apartments – a display of rooms used by Elisabeth and her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph
- The Silver Collection – shows off the Imperial table decor, porcelain, cutlery and utensils, and crockery
You’ll no doubt see a fiaker or two—Viennese horse-drawn carriages—circling the drive.
Perhaps you have heard of the famous Lipizzaner stallions and the Spanish Riding School. Don’t miss the chance to see the horses in action. The entrance to the visitor center and arena is opposite the ticket counter for the Sisi Museum.
You could spend a day or two when visiting vienna with teens discovering all that the Palace and surrounding area has to offer.
5. Kunsthistorisches Museum
If looking for royal treasure is more inline with your tastes, the Imperial Treasury is a short walk from the palace in a building separate from the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Natural History Museum. Marvel at the crown jewels, religious relics, and priceless collections of the Habsburgs:
- Habsburg imperial crown
- Holy Roman Emperor’s coronation robes and crown
- A solid gold rosebush
- Emperor Maximilian I’s 15th-century ceremonial sword
The main Kunsthistorisches Museum building on Maria-Theresien Platz houses treasures with an eclectic mix of art from the likes of Raffael, Bruegel, Holbein, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt. You’ll also find Egyptian antiquities, Roman and Greek treasures, and an extensive coin collection.
6. Ausseres Burgtor – Triumphal Arch
If you happen to reach the Ausseres Burgtor when a musical group sets out to perform, you will be in for a treat. Take a seat on the steps and listen to an impromptu concert with outstanding acoustics. The arched passageway connects the Michaelerplatz and the Hofburg Palace with the Kunsthistorisches Museum group of buildings.
Won’t lie, it was kind of nice to sit and listen for awhile.
7. Schonbrunn Palace
While you are exploring Vienna with teens, I suggest you add a tour of the Schonbrunn Palace, the former home of Maria Theresia of the Habsburg nobility, to your itinerary.
Take the Grand Tour to see the lavish luxury of the rooms and private apartments of imperial royalty.
8. Schonbrunn Gardens and Zoo
The grounds surrounding the palace are extensive and precise.
You’ll see rose bushes and rose arches, ponds, Roman ruins, and shady rows of trees in the extensive palace gardens. Venture into the maze section of the gardens and have fun trying to find your way out.
There are activities for both the old and young in the gardens, including the Schonbrunn Zoo. It just happens to be the world’s oldest zoo.
You can take tours of the zoo in the early morning hours where you will have the park virtually to yourself, themed tours, or behind-the-scene tours.
If you happen to appreciate a picnic lunch, the gardens are the perfect place to enjoy your repast. Bring along some fresh bread, cheeses, meats, fruit, cookies and drinks. Lunch will be simple in nature but will bring lasting memories.
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Continue on to the columned Gloriette in the gardens and sit to enjoy the view of the palace and rest for a bit. Built in 1775, apparently the Gloriette was built as eye candy to be viewed by the royalty from the Schonbrunn Palace. Today it houses a cafe, but was previously used by Franz Joseph I as a breakfast hall as well as a dining hall and festival hall.
Turns out it is just a nice place for you to relax, take some pictures, cool off in the shade, enjoy the afternoon, and do a little people-watching.
10. Albertina Museum
Another magnificent museum in Vienna. The outside entrance stairs to the Albertina Museum are often decorated to draw in crowds.
“The Albertina is a museum in the Innere Stadt (First District) of Vienna, Austria. It houses one of the largest and most important print rooms in the world with approximately 65,000 drawings and approximately 1 million old master prints, as well as more modern graphic works, photographs and architectural drawings.
“Apart from the graphics collection the museum has recently acquired on permanent loan two significant collections of Impressionist and early 20th-century art, some of which will be on permanent display.” Wikipedia
Day Trips from Vienna with Teens
If you are interested in a little bit of traveling outside of Vienna, Melk, the Melk Abbey, the Danube River, and the Wachau Valley might be just what you are looking for.
It took a little bit of planning finesse on my husband’s part to get us to Melk, Austria.
You’ll want to take a bus, then a train, and then transfer to another train before getting THE train tickets for the day to the Wachau Valley of Austria.
At our last stop, a helpful station agent helped us coordinate tickets to Melk, and we didn’t even have to make a mad dash for the train.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. So many people around the world are willing to help. Many of them speak English as well if that is your native language.
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We arrived in Melk, Austria around the same time as an English-speaking tour was starting at Melk Abbey. I would not recommend this if you aren’t in the best of shape, but we took off on an uphill hike that might have taken 30 minutes at a leisurely speed. At Kline-speed (and wanting to arrive in time for the tour), we reached the abbey in about 10 minutes.
Our girls were NOT pleased. Whew.
But we made it. Joining the English-speaking tour with Florian was our goal, and though it had already begun, AND we were a little breathless, we were still able to join.
The tour of Melk Abbey includes the royal wing, the great hall where lavish dinners were held, the library which housed over 100,000 books, the chapel, and then the gardens. It was all lovely.
Riding Bikes Along the Danube
When planning for this trip, Chris had discovered a bike ride from Melk to Krems, Austria.
So, after we finished the tour of the Abbey in Melk, Chris downloaded an app and then tried to get a code from a bike rental company. It took awhile for him to get things set up, but he finally got things squared away for an afternoon of bike riding along the south side of the Danube.
The Danube is not blue.
Get the NextBike App:
Let’s just say I fell off my bike within ten minutes of starting the ride! Don’t do that.
I was bringing up the rear with my family and got held up when my youngest slowed down to go through a small entryway onto the bike path that was flanked on either side by columns. I didn’t have anywhere to go at the last second as she slowed but into a column and down I went.
Got my elbow and knee pretty good; I kept going to work out the kinks.
Now, let me just say that the blurb we read about this ride suggested that it was a nice, leisurely downhill coast. DOWNHILL. It was not, IN ANY WAY, leisurely or a downhill coast.
After a couple of hours and about 25 km, we finally stopped in a small town called Spitz, Austria. Our bike-riding muscles were worn out.
Though Chris was ready to ride a couple more hours until we reached Krems, his girls were not willing to go further by bike.
Again, my friends, be flexible. Especially when you are traveling with teenagers.
You can catch a bus to Krems.
By the time we arrived in Krems the town was pretty much shut down for the day. Boo.
After walking around for a short time, Chris found a train leaving from the Krems station back to Vienna. We only had a few minutes before it left and were all willing to run a little back to the train station to catch it. Sadly, we picked the slower train and it was two hours later when we finally rolled into the Vienna station.
Chris and I ate Built Bars protein bars on the train as our pseudo dinner. Not the best meal. Sometimes you have to make do in a pinch. Our girls weren’t having any of it. Luckily we finally reached the station in Vienna and found a small food court.
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Essential Travel Gear for Your Days in Vienna with Teens
Chris and I both do extensive advance research when we travel and find many amazing places to visit and activities to enjoy.
I often take pictures of him while on vacation where he is looking at his phone. People sometimes comment, “Chris is always on his phone. Is he bored?”
Not so. He is checking train schedules, making sure apps are downloaded, and keeping up-to-date on excursions. The cell phone makes it so much simpler. If you aren’t traveling with a cell phone, I highly recommend it.
Recommended Travel Gear
- Portable Charger – I promise, you will use it!
- Headphones, Airpods, or corded earbuds
- Cell Phone
- Tablet and Keyboard
- Cable Organizer
- DSLR Camera, Point and Shoot Camera, or Underwater Camera
- Camera battery, Charger, Memory Card
- Power Strip
- International Adapters
- Apple Watch
- The North Face Recon Backpack for Women
- The North Face Recon Backpack
- Travelon Crossbody Messenger Bag
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Final Thoughts on 3 Memorable Days in Vienna With Teens
Visiting Austria is the perfect destination when you are traveling with family. If you are exploring Vienna with teens, there are plenty of sites, excursions, day trips, and tours to keep everyone happy. There’s just a little something for everyone.
Travel with teenagers does require some advance planning and research, especially if you are traveling on a budget. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South. It was a bit outside of Vienna, but allowed us to use Hilton Honors points with the two rooms that we needed. Plus, it included breakfast which can add up to a big savings when you travel with family.
- Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South
- Hertha-Firnberg-Strasse 5, 1100, Vienna, Austria
- TEL: +43-1-60530555