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.
Top activities in July 2023
Most of Vienna’s main attractions stay open through the summer, though the opera houses, for example, normally take a break for all of July and August.
July art exhibitions
(Lower Belvedere goes large format with the Colossal exhibition)
A few exhibitions should keep you out of the sun for a few hours. The summer 2023 highlights include:
- The Albertina Modern presents the post-WWII world of printed graphics featuring the likes of Warhol and Damien Hirst (until July 23rd), as well as a solo exhibition for contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara
- The Albertina showcases the photos of Valie Export, the works of Ofer Lellouche, the drawings of Georg Baselitz, and art that mirrors the topic of Gods, heroes, and traitors
- The MAK introduces us to, for example, 200 years’ worth of glass delights from J. & L. Lobmeyr and also the wonders of the Hagenauer metal workshop with its roots in the Vienna Modernism movement of around 1900
- Lower Belvedere gives us a rare peek at large format works dating back to the Baroque (the kind that are hard to find space for in conventional exhibitions). And it reflects on Belvedere’s 300 years of history as an aristocratic residence and art institution
- Names such as Munch, Picasso, Sisley, and Magritte feature in the Amazing exhibition at the Leopold Museum, drawing on the prestigious Würth art collection
- The Theatermuseum’s Austropop exhibition looks at popular music across Austrian history, but the museum also plans to highlight the costume design drawings of Monika von Zallinger
- The Literature Museum offers a homage to the Austrian writing genius that is Ingeborg Bachmann
- The Weltmuseum casts a different kind of eye over the themes of Extinctions!? and Science Fiction(s), but also offers up modern Japanese calligraphy and a Maximilian Prüfer solo exhibition
- The Wien Museum MUSA shows us Vienna as seen through the medium of postcards
- The Jewish Museum tackles the topic of Guilt and also explores the role of skin colour in perceptions of Jews, covering such aspects as identity and antisemitism. And it throws a (flood)light on Jewish fan culture at top European football clubs
- See here for more exhibition listings as they become public
Visit the Rathausplatz
(The space in front of city hall turns into an open-air movie theatre)
The Rathaus Film Festival starts on July 1st in 2023 and continues daily until early September. Each evening, sit back and enjoy opera, ballet, classical music or a more popular musical genre on the giant screen.
But there’s much more to this open-air event than a bit of audiovisual entertainment. 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
Various other open-air cinematic festivals commonly run in July, as well, should the Rathaus version get too busy for you. For example:
- The Frameout open-air cinema in the MuseumsQuartier (2023 dates TBA)
- The open-air Kaleidoskop festival on Karlsplatz square (2023 dates TBA)
- The Kino am Dach open-air cinema on the roof of Vienna’s main library (normally all month but TBA)
And if you like your films short, then try the dotdotdot film festival: also open-air and a very inclusive experience (often starts at the end of July, but 2023 dates are TBA). For example, you normally choose your own entrance fee.
Get your music groove on
The July music does not stop at the Rathausplatz. For example:
- The Vienna Jazz Festival, Jazzfest Wien, is no local gathering of performers but a significant event on the international jazz calendar (2023 dates TBA)
- Jazz gives way to pop at Popfest Wien (July 27th to 30th) on and around Karlsplatz. This music festival has dozens of live performances on various stages and showcases regional and national talents…from established musicians to relative newcomers
- The open-air classical music Amadeus Festival Vienna took place for the first time in 2021 in the historical grounds of the former Semmelweis Women’s Clinic. The 2023 edition is planned for June 29th to July 2nd
Go for food or drink
(Home to the Ottakringer Bierfest)
All that music might make you thirsty. As it happens, Vienna rolls out extra drinking water stations in summer, as well as misting stations for cooling off.
But if you fancy something with a little more pep…
- The Ottakringer brewery’s Beer Festival is a mainstay of July. “Beer culture” here mainly involves drinking the stuff, whether Ottakringer’s own fine wares or those of any guest breweries that may appear. But they put on music, too. And street food. And offer other bonuses (like beer yoga and brewery tours).
- The MuseumsQuartier also becomes a summer hotspot in July, thanks to the unique courtyard furniture (in bright orange this year), open-air bars, and other entertainments.
- Another alternative might be the 2-day mit alles culinary festival, which first appeared in 2022 (next dates TBA). A showcase for the finer foods and beverages of Austria’s small producers.
Enjoy the water
(The Old Danube lake)
If it gets hot in July (and it usually does), then Vienna has plenty of water to offer relief. Cough…the Danube…cough.
- The city runs 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) recreational lake and the Danube Island (Donauinsel). The Old Danube also hosts a Lichterfest at the end of July (scheduled for the 22nd), where lighted boats spread across the water beneath a professional firework display.
Enjoy the woods
(Out in the Wienerwald)
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
- Once you emerge from its famous entertainments, the Prater park actually offers a 11km hiking route through meadows, pastures and open woodland
- The Lainzer Tiergarten (Lainz Game Reserve) has deer, wild boar and more, but also the Hermesvilla, a 19th-century summerhouse for Empress Elisabeth
- Schönbrunn Palace has a surrounding park and gardens which includes a decent amount of woodland and tree-lined avenues for those seeking shade
Enjoy the streets
(Entrance to a Heuriger)
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 much taken by the courtyard ambience in the café at the Kunst Haus Wien (complete with Hundertwasser colours, shapes, and styling).
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 (2023 dates TBA) is a weekend of medieval reenactments. Sword fights, cannon fire, historical music, fire shows, craft markets, and more. Traditionally, you get in for free if you wear a bit of medieval costume.