The Capital from Above: Best Views on Vienna

Vienna, Vienna - as seen from the tower of Stephansdom cathedral, a stunning view

Being from Salzburg myself, I always like to see places from above, ideally from a hill or mountain. Unfortunately, Vienna lies just off the Alps and it is rather difficult to get up anywhere in the city centre. Nevertheless, there are a few places from where one can marvel at the Vienna - in this article, I briefly review the best spots above Vienna that I have found so far.

Starting at the very heart of the city, St Stephen′s Cathedral is to my knowledge the highest point you can climb anywhere in the first district. Walking up the tower of the cathedral is quite a pain in the butt, but once you are up there, you are above the centre of the centre and there is no other point in Vienna that offers a comparable view. Certainly worth the effort.

Towers & Roof Terraces in the City Centre

For those who prefer getting to high altitudes through elevators, walking up a few metres on Kärntnerstraße Road will take you to a shopping centre with the so-called "SkyBar" on the roof. Conveniently accessible, the stunning view on the cathedral and other landmarks of Vienna compensate for the slightly over-priced goods on offer.

Getting up the former Flak-tower of the "Haus des Meeres" offers a similar vista, but from a different angle. The same thing applies to the Upper Belvedere, from where you can see a large part of the first district even from ground level in the - openly accessible - formal gardens. The water tower of Wasserturm Favoriten is a great look-out in the south, easier to climb is the Gloriette hill at Schloss Schönbrunn.

Donauturn, Ferris Wheel & Hills around Vienna

The highest building of Vienna is the Donauturm on the Donauinsel Island. It has a rotating platform and an expensive restaurant in it and ranks amongst Vienna′s most popular sightseeing attractions. The Riesenrad Ferris wheel is even more famous than the Donauturm. For more than a century it rotates and featured alongside of Orson Welles and Jerry Cotton in some of the most legendary scenes of "The Third Man". The Riesenrad is among the most recommendable "vista-sights" of Vienna.

The best point that I have found so far, however, are the hills around the city. This applies particularly to the Cobenzl and the Kahlenberg Mountain, as well as Leopoldsberg Mountain. All three of these destinations can be easily accessed with city busses. Situated just north of Vienna, both offer fantastic sights to the hills of the Vienna woods as well as the city itself.

Supplementing the trip with Vienna Wine

There are opportunities to stroll around between the vineyards or simply relax in one of the wine bars around. However, I would recommend to enjoy the view for a while and then go down to nearby Grinzing (using the same bus that took you up there in the first place) and go to one of the many Heurigen there.

An area of similar appeal but less impressive vistas is the Wilhelminenberg in the district of Ottakring. Just like the Kahlenberg, the Wilheminenberg Mountain is well-connected to the city bus network and it is easy to get there.

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Vienna by District

District Overview - 1st (Innere Stadt) - 2nd (Leopoldstadt) - 3rd (Landstraße) - 4th (Wieden) - 5th (Margareten)- 6th (Mariahilf) - 7th (Neubau) - 8th (Josefstadt) - 9th (Alsergrund) - 10th (Favoriten) - 11th (Simmering) - 12th (Meidling) - 13th (Hietzing) - 14th (Penzing) - 15th (Fünfhaus) - 16th (Ottakring) - 17th (Hernals) - 18th (Währing) - 19th (Döbling) - 20th (Brigittenau) - 21st (Floridsdorf) - 22nd (Donaustadt) - 23rd (Liesing) -  Ringstraße - Surroundings

Further Reading

Wikipedia on the Kahlenberg

Donauturm Wien, Vienna: Official Website