Vienna has offered a home to some of the world’s most famous people, including powerful monarchs, giants of classical music, groundbreaking scientists, and celebrated artists.
Follow in the footsteps of various personalities with the below guides…
(The memorial to Empress Elisabeth)
Many major locations in the city centre are Habsburg-related, but the palace tours at Schönbrunn and the Hofburg offer a close look at the lives of the more notable representatives of this centuries-old dynasty.
Most of the focus tends to be on the periods associated with Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) and Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780).
Franz Joseph’s spouse deserves her own detailed location guide, though, since she attracts the most interest from visitors:
Empress Elisabeth (Sisi)
Several museums and palaces carry a strong Sisi theme: look inside her apartments, enjoy topical exhibitions, view clothes and other items from her life, and much more…even down to the railway carriage she travelled in.
This Sisi location guide highlights the main stops on any self-guided Empress Elisabeth tour. If you only have time for one location, try the Sisi Museum.
And if you’re wondering why Sisi gets all this attention, read a quick introduction to the life and importance of this iconic figure.
Composers & musicians
(Beethoven’s grave in the Zentralfriedhof)
Wander around Vienna and it feels like every second building bears a plaque highlighting some connection or another to a world-famous composer. To get closer to the likes of Beethoven and Mahler, try these guides…
(If you just want to listen to the music of Mozart, Strauss, and others in a classic Viennese setting, consider these concert venues.)
See the Mozart location guide for a map, photos and detailed notes on the Mozartwohnung and other places he lived, venues he played in, the Mozarthaus museum, monuments, memorials, and even his grave.
(Contrary to popular belief, Mozart did not end up in a mass, unknown grave).
Ludwig van Beethoven lived, drank, and performed in an awful lot of places in Vienna and the Beethoven location guide points you at the top ones.
The two most important locations for visitors are the Beethoven Museum and Beethoven’s grave (which lies among a group of other famous composer graves in Vienna’s central cemetery).
Although long-employed by a court outside of the city, Haydn still lived and worked in Vienna for many years.
The Haydn location guide points you to all the relevant places, such as the Haydn House, monuments, and the famous mechanical clock that has Haydn in a starring role.
Johann Strauss (II)
A true son of the city, and this Strauss guide takes you around the locations with close ties to his life and music.
In particular, read all about his famous golden statue in the Stadtpark or how you can discover more about the King of the Waltz in the Johann Strauss Apartment.
Discover all the landmarks associated with the life of Franz Schubert, including his birthplace, the house he died in, various residences, and even a Schubert lime tree.
The guide includes photos and a location map.
The Hamburg-born composer spent the last 25 years of his life in Vienna and developed an intimate association with the famous Musikverein.
This Brahms guide reveals, for examples, the locations of various commemorative plaques, his grave and statue, and places where his works premiered in the city.
Gustav Mahler spent most of his life outside Vienna. But the city educated him and he ran the world-famous opera house here for about ten years. As such, he pretty much counts as an honorary Viennese.
The Mahler guide takes you to the locations most closely associated with his name, including his grave in the city’s 19th district.
Anton Bruckner spent most of the last three decades of his life playing the organ and composing in Vienna.
The Bruckner guide takes you to his former residences in the city and several of the places that hosted his performances and world premieres of his works.
Dear Franz started his musical education in earnest in Vienna before moving on to Paris. But he returned regularly for visits and concerts.
This Liszt guide highlight the commemorative plaques and key locations for retracing his few steps in the city.
Hungarian-born Lehár spent the best part of five decades living and working in Vienna. He arrived as a regimental concert master and “left” as a world-famous and wealthy composer.
The guide to Lehár locations takes in residences, memorials, coffee houses and select venues that hosted notable performances and premieres.
Art and design
(Secessionsgebäude, once home to Klimt and other artists)
The composers tend to overshadow other creative types in Vienna’s history. But the city nurtured some remarkable talents that now enjoy global recognition.
The three art/design locations with the closest focus on homegrown talent are probably the Belvedere, Leopold and MAK museums.
For a closer exploration of the life and works of Viennese artists, use these guides:
Perhaps no other artist is more closely associated with Vienna. Follow his life around the city with this Klimt guide, which also points you to all the places you can see his paintings and other works.
If you’re pressed for time, simply head to Upper Belvedere to see The Kiss.
The artist Egon Schiele studied, worked and died in Vienna. Here’s a guide to relevant addresses (with a map and photos), including all the places with his works on display.
If you only have time for one address, then visit the Leopold Museum, home to the most important Schiele collection.
Many of the iconic buildings in Vienna bear Wagner’s fingerprints, particularly the railway stations along the U6, U4 and S45 subway and train lines.
This Otto Wagner guide highlights landmark Viennese buildings from his life and work, with a map, photos, and numerous annotations.
If one man could turn the banal into architectural artistic wonders, then it was Hundertwasser. Use this guide to find your way to the colourful highlights of his life and career in Vienna.
I can particularly recommend the Hundertwasser Museum in the Kunst Haus Wien – a joyful celebration of his art, life and philosophy.
Other famous Viennese
Sigmund Freud spent much of his active working life in Vienna in an apartment on Berggasse. And the good news is you can walk around it, since it’s home to the Sigmund Freud Museum (reopened back in 2020 after a complete makeover).
More guides to come as I get round to further travels…