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.)
- See also: Events by month | How to save money on your trip
- For Beethoven-related events, see the Beethoven 2020 page
Top activities in August 2020
(Note: some event restrictions will still be in force in August 2020. This might affect the suggestions below, so check with official sites.)
The cool interiors of cafés, museums, and palaces are a strong option, but what else might you do in the hottest month of the year?
Incidentally, if you’re worried about keeping cool in August, the Vienna authorities install numerous mobile drinking water fountains around the tourist hotspots, as well as water spray facilities in selected locations.
Stay on the Rathausplatz
As mentioned for July, there’s much fun to 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 and pick out something intriguing to eat and drink from the food court, which features cuisine from around the world (and Austria). Then find a seat and catch a bit of Sheeran or Tchaikovsky.
A fair few open-air cinemas fire up the popcorn machine come August. For example:
- For a bit of baroque flair, try the one in the privy garden of Lower Belvedere Palace: Kino im Kammergarten (2021 dates TBA) usually has several films in English or with English subtitles.
- The dotdotdot film festival for short films has its showings in the garden of the Volkskundemuseum. And you choose how much admission you’d like to pay (July 20 to August 19)
- The Frameout film festival carries on in a courtyard of the city’s main contemporary art quarter, the MQ
A taste of Ottakring and Africa
Another summer event that continues daily through August is the Ottakringer Festival of Beer Culture, with its changing rota of guest breweries and food that goes well with a pint (actually half a litre) on a balmy evening. The next full version of the event hits town in 2021, though.
The Afrika Tage African festival from July normally continues through until early August, with its food, fun, music, and marketplace (cancelled in 2020).
Watch the old timers
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 (next one is in 2021, provisionally on August 21st), 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 coffeehouse culture. But it’s also a modern, diverse city with quite a few areas that weren’t actually built by a Habsburg monarch.
- August’s Calle Libre festival (August 1-8), for example, celebrates street art as a true art form, with the chance to watch those at the top of their profession creating giant street murals around the city
- The Gürtel Nightwalk (postponed to September in 2020) 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
Of course, if it’s quiet elegance or leafy suburbs you seek, then see July’s suggestions for enjoying the street cafés and wine taverns.
Enjoy the artistic flair
The summer normally offers a few framed distractions for visitors to the city. Take these with a grain of salt, just in case museum plans shift in the wake of all the issues caused earlier by the closures and postponements of March-May:
- I’m hoping someone is going to give me a Thonet No.14 chair for my birthday (not happening). You’ll see why I like this chair at the MAK’s Thonet exhibition
- You know possibly the greatest composer ever (Beethoven)? Would you like to see some of his original music scores and letters? Of course you would
- If you like curves and colours, you’ll love Hundertwasser’s work. And you’ll love the Leopold Museum’s marvellous Hundertwasser – Schiele exhibition, too
- August provides the last chance to catch some rather fine exhibitions as they wave goodbye to Vienna. For example:
Take to the water
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 edge of the city centre.
Plenty of tour operators will happily show you the options. There’s a city cruise included in the Vienna Pass, for example, and I can recommend a trip up through the beautiful Wachau wine-growing area or one across the border into Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital.