Vienna in July sees the locals waving bye bye as you enter the city. The school holidays have started and the weather is warm and sunny (usually), so many Viennese disappear on holiday or out to weekend homes in the country.
- See also: Events by month | How to save money on your trip
- For Beethoven-related events, see the Beethoven 2020 page
Top activities in July 2020
Vienna’s main attractions take no summer break, though the State Opera House, for example, has no performances in July or August.
So what seasonal festivals and activities might you pursue in 2020 in July (in addition to the usual palaces, museums, and other sights)?
Visit the Rathausplatz
The open-air Rathaus Film Festival continues throughout the month. Each evening, sit back and enjoy opera, ballet, classical musical or a more popular musical genre on a giant screen.
But there’s much more to this event than a bit of cinematic entertainment. Over two-dozen gastro-booths line the Rathausplatz square, selling food, drinks, and snacks from all over the world.
So you might watch Sheryl Crow’s performance at New York’s Capitol Theatre and then go for an American sirloin steak afterwards.
Other film festivals
There’s another open-air cinema festival on at the same time, should the Rathaus version get too busy for you: the Frameout festival (2020 dates TBA, but it usually starts mid-July).
And if you like your films short, then try the dotdotdot film festival: also open-air and a very inclusive experience (begins July 20 and continues through to August 19). For example, you decide your own entrance fee.
Get your music groove on
The July music does not stop at the Rathausplatz. For example:
- Jazzfest Wien (the Vienna Jazz Festival – June 25 to July 11) is no local gathering of performers but a significant event on the international jazz calendar. Concerts by Paolo Conte and Beth Hart have already been announced.
- Jazz gives way to pop later in the month at Popfest Wien (July 23-26) on Karlsplatz, a four-day music festival with dozens of live performances on various stages. The event showcases regional and national talents…from established musicians to relative newcomers
- The Afrika Tage African festival starts July 17 (ending August 3). Music is the centrepiece of the occasion, with national and international performers (for example, Alpha Blondy and Youssou N’Dour in 2020). There’s plenty of African cuisine to enjoy, too, as well as a bazaar and various info stands from NGOs working in and with the continent
Go for beer & cocktails
All that music might make you thirsty. As it happens, Vienna rolls out extra drinking water stations in summer. But if you fancy something with a little more pep, try…
- The three-day Liquid Market Cocktail Festival (July 9-11) is the place for drinking green tea and organic coffee. OK, perhaps it’s more a place for drinking cocktails. Whatever the word is for a collection of cocktail bars (an umbrella?), this is one of them
- The Ottakringer brewery’s Festival of Beer Culture normally opens every day of July. Beer culture is 90% drinking the stuff, whether Ottakringer’s own wares or those of the guest breweries. But there’s music, too. And food. And other surprises, such as free tours of the brewery in English.
Enjoy the water
If it gets hot in July (and it usually does), then there’s plenty of water in Vienna (cough…the Danube…cough).
- The city has numerous public swimming facilities, including well over a dozen which are outdoor pools or recreational water areas
- The Danube and associated waterways have riverside walks, cafés and restaurants dotted along their banks. Even beaches, watersports and swimming areas in some places.
Look particularly for the Old Danube (Alte Donau) recreation area and the Danube Island (Donauinsel). The Old Danube also hosts a Lichterfest at the end of July (slated for the 25th in 2020), where lighted boats spread across the water beneath a professional firework display.
Enjoy the woods
If it all gets a little too hot, there’s always the option of enjoying the leafy shade in Vienna’s wooded areas. For example:
- The Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) rolls across the northwest of the city, crisscrossed by hiking paths and forest roads. Consider routes 1 to 4A on the city’s walking route suggestions
- The Lainzer Tiergarten (Lainz Game Reserve) has deer, wild boar and more. But also the Hermesvilla, a 19th-century summer house for Empress Elisabeth.
Enjoy the streets
Don’t assume it’s only the obvious street cafés with their pavement seating. Many places have little gardens tucked around the back or in courtyards. For example, I was recently much taken by the courtyard ambience in the café at the Kunst Haus Wien (complete with Hundertwasser styling – see photo above).
July is also high season for Vienna’s many wine taverns (Heuriger). The D and 38 trams take you out to the main Heuriger territories in the low hills of Nussdorf and Grinzing, where spritzers made with homegrown wine are the order of the day.
Enjoy a sword fight
Finally, for something a little different…the Montur und Pulverdampf festival (2020 dates: TBA) is a weekend of medieval reenactments. Sword fights, cannon fire, historical music, fire shows, craft markets, and more. Get in for free if you wear a bit of medieval costume.