If you drift through Vienna’s centre in August, you may wonder why you rarely hear a Viennese accent.
It’s because we’re all on holiday. The city is yours, now.
(P.S. Be sure to water the plants and feed the parrot.)
Top activities in August 2023
Incidentally, if you’re worried about keeping cool, the Vienna authorities install numerous mobile drinking water fountains around the tourist hotspots, as well as water spray facilities in selected locations.
(The Weltmuseum always has intriguing exhibitions)
The museum summer normally offers a few distractions for visitors to the city. Come back nearer the time for fresh updates or check the main exhibition listings. Highlights already planned include:
- The Albertina showcases the photos of Valie Export, has solo exhibitions for Ofer Lellouche and Georg Baselitz, and presents great moments of history, myth and religion portrayed in art (until August 27th)
- The Albertina Modern looks set to have a solo exhibition for Yoshitomo Nara
- Lower Belvedere looks back at the 300-year history of the Belvedere palaces and art institution and reaches the final days (until August 27th) of its Colossal exhibition showcasing large-format works
- Top names from the world of modern art, including Picasso, Munch, Magritte and others, appear in the Amazing exhibition at the Leopold Museum
- The MAK’s display space around Viennese Modernism includes an exhibition on the Hagenauer workshop, and the museum also honours 200 years of glass manufacture at J. & L. Lobmeyr in the Glitz and Glamor exhibition
- The Weltmuseum presents Extinctions!? and Science Fiction(s) from different perspectives, but also invites us to discover modern Japanese calligraphy. And expect a solo exhibition featuring the works of Maximilian Prüfer
- The Literature Museum dedicates a special exhibition to the writer Ingeborg Bachmann
- Discover Vienna as seen through the medium of postcards at the Wien Museum MUSA
- The marvelous BioInspiration exhibition on how modern technology draws on concepts and designs from nature continues at the Technisches Museum
- The Theatermuseum’s Austropop exhibition takes a look at popular music, Austrian-style
- The Jewish Museum explores aspects of guilt in the Schuld exhibition but also the role of skin colour around perceptions of Jews in the COLORS exhibition. And it takes a peek at football fan culture in Superjews
Stay on the Rathausplatz
(Come for the film, stay for the gastronomy)
As mentioned for July, much fun may be had on the main Rathausplatz square.
The open-air film festival continues through August, with evening showings of music and dance performances on a huge screen.
I like to get there in the early evening for something interesting to eat and drink from the food court, which features cuisine from around the world (and Austria). Then find a seat to catch a bit of Sheeran or Tchaikovsky.
A fair few open-air cinemas normally also fire up the popcorn machine come August. For example (2023 dates yet to be confirmed, though, at the time of writing):
- Frameout open-air cinema carries on in the courtyards of the city’s main contemporary art quarter, the MQ
- The Stumm&Laut silent movie festival with live accompanying music
Watch the old timers
(Get a glimpse of the motorised past)
Classic car enthusiasts gather in the city in August for the Vienna Classic Days old timer festival.
The highlights for visitors is the Old Timer Parade (planned for sometime on the weekend of August 26th and 27th in 2023), when vehicles of all shapes, sizes and eras do a turn of the Ring, waving cheerily as we all remember the days of flapping scarfs and picnic hampers tied to the boot.
Enjoy the urban flair
Vienna may have a reputation for imperial elegance and genteel coffee house culture. But it’s also a modern, diverse city with quite a few areas that weren’t actually built by a Habsburg monarch.
- The Calle Libre festival (2023 dates TBA), for example, celebrates street art as a true art form, with the chance to watch those at the top of their profession creating giant murals and similar at the festival site
- The Gürtel Nightwalk (date TBA but usually the last Saturday in August) highlights the urban regeneration success story that is the Gürtel road. A stretch of the Gürtel has become a popular nightspot for clubs, bars and venues, who throw open their doors for an evening of free live performances both inside and on open-air stages
A taste of Vienna (and the world)
(Dumplings and Sauerkraut for the discerning palate)
A few diverse food, drink, and music (or all three) events appear in August:
- Music forms the centrepiece of the Afrika Tage African festival (August 11th to 28th), with national and international performers. Enjoy plenty of African cuisine, too, as well as a bazaar and various info stands from NGOs working in and with the continent
- A pop-up farmer’s market entered the historical palm house in the central Burggarten park in 2022 and may repeat
- The Neustifter Kirtag (2023 dates TBA) brings traditional Austrian garb, copious quantities of wine, live music and a street market to Vienna
- The three-day Liquid Market Cocktail Festival (August 24th to 26th) 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
- And the Veganmania vegan summer festival rolls into town with street food, music and more (August 25th to 27th).
Several summer events that typically continue daily (or almost daily) through August are:
- The Ottakringer beer festival, with Ottakringer’s own traditional and craft beers, and food that goes well with a pint (actually half a liter) on a balmy evening
- Summer in the MQ is not a formal event as such, but the expression of seasonal flair in Vienna at the MuseumsQuartier, where open-air bars and the famous summer furniture invite you to imbibe something cold, relax, and watch the occasional cloud meandering through blue skies above (hopefully)
- Talking open-air bars, Summerstage on the Donaukanal has a fair few, with accompanying live music, outdoor art and other waterfront delights
Take to the beach
The A1 CEV EuroBeachVolley international beach volley tournament returns to Vienna on the Donauinsel island that runs down the middle of the Danube (August 2nd to 6th).
Take to the water
(The Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain on Schwarzenbergplatz)
And, finally, all of July’s advice on waterways obviously applies to August, too.
If you want to make more of a trip of it, there’s always the option of a short cruise along the Danube. Ships leave from moorings on the Donaukanal, for example, at the edge of the city centre.
Plenty of tour operators will happily show you other options. I can recommend a trip up the Danube through the beautiful Wachau wine-growing area or one across the border into Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital.