My Vienna: 7 city views for free from modest heights
At the eastern limit of the Alps, the city of Vienna is built at the “low end” where the hills meet the Danube river, at a minimum altitude of about 150 metres (500 feet) above sea-level. Visitors to the Austrian capital city who don’t have much time but want a broad overview of the city will make their way to one or all of the Donauturm (Danube Tower), Riesenrad (Ferris Wheel), and Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). Each of these landmarks requires the price of admission to get up high in the sky.
For other views at more modest heights, you’ll see there are options, especially because I’ve set foot in all 23 of the city’s districts. Below I highlight seven locations; all are free (zero charge) to access. All but one are well outside the inner city for the opportunity to explore other city districts and to gain a better sense of the physical size of the city.
7 city views
- Brigittenauer Sporn (20.)
- IKEA Westbahnhof (15.)
- Jedleseer Brücke (21.)
- Leopoldsberg (19.)
- MQ Libelle (7.)
- Schleusenbrücke Wehr 1 (22.)
- Schönbrunn Gloriette (13.)
Brigittenauer Sporn (20.)
I discovered this part of Brigittenau in 2018 during the Austrian capital city’s 100-year anniversary of Vienna Modernism. I returned for another look in 2022. Among the handful of people on this patch of “watery green space,” I’m the only out-of-towner at this northern tip of the city’s 20th district. Dusk reveals a hint of the “Belt of Venus” (pink-purple) and the Earth’s shadow (deep-blue) above the horizon. The sounds of lapping waters against the shoreline and humming motors from passing boats accompany the last glow of fading daylight. Danube Tower and DC Tower 1 are at distances of 3.7 km (2.3 mi) and 4.5 km (2.8 mi), respectively.
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U4 to station Heiligenstadt; then, tram D to stop Nussdorf S (S-Bahn).
IKEA Westbahnhof (15.)
At the south end of Vienna’s Westbahnhof is a new building that opened August 2021 and houses the IKEA Einrichtungshaus Wien Westbahnhof, as well as the Jo & Joe Vienna hostel-hotel. On the rooftop is an open terrace with a bar. Public-access elevators at the plaza next to Mariahilfer Strasse whisk visitors up to the 7th floor for the view. You can order a drink (definitely not free) from the bar, have a seat for a sip and chat, and enjoy the view, even if it’s partly obstructed.
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U6 to station Westbahnhof; also, trams 5, 6, 9, 18, 52, 60.
Jedleseer Brücke (21.)
I’m in the northeast corner of the city to explore Beethoven’s traces in what is now Floridsdorf. I’m tempted by the convergence of clear skies, a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Danube, and access from the “mainland” onto the very long thin stretch that is the Donauinsel (Danube Island). The location is near the city limits, next to the federal state of Lower Austria.
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U6 to station Floridsdorf; then, bus 34A to stop “Jedlesee, Überfuhrstraße”.
Naturally, a month in late-spring means a “mandatory” visit to the hills in the city’s north, including Am Cobenzl, Am Himmel, Bellevuewiese, Kahlenberg, and Leopoldsberg. They’re all easy to reach with public transport. One advantage for Leopoldsberg is its unique geographical position that provides views both north and south over the Danube. I’ll describe in the near future more about the city’s northern heights,
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U4 to station Heiligenstadt; then, bus 38A to stop Leopoldsberg.
MQ Libelle (7.)
Opened to the world in September 2020, the MQ Libelle is on the roof of the Leopold Museum in the city’s museum quarter (MQ); “Libelle” is the German word for dragonfly. Interested visitors should swing around to the south side of the building for a separate set of elevators to access the terrace at a height of some 25 metres (80 feet). There’s no charge for the ride up and down; the rooftop kiosk provides snack and drink for sale. The city scenes by day or night are decent, even with the plexiglas enclosure. MQ Libelle is open Wednesday to Monday from 10am to 10pm, from the beginning of April to the end of October.
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U3 to Volkstheater; alternatively, bus 57A or trams 1, 2, 71, D, U2Z to stop Burgring.
Schleusenbrücke Wehr 1 (22.)
Apart from the morning rush on the adjacent Autobahn and in the U-Bahn trains, it’s very quiet on this part of the Danube in the morning hour. On my way to Seestadt, I alight the U2 train at Donaustadtbrücke station to have a look around the river weir as part of the city works. The “crane” in the river (and a 2nd crane on the other bank of the river) is for Wakeboard Lift Wien. Also, a pedestrian bridge nearby takes you over Autobahn A22 to the southern end of the Alte Donau (Old Danube) water feature.
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U2 to station Donaustadtbrücke.
Schönbrunn Gloriette (13.)
Almost everyone new to Vienna will wander to the grounds of Schönbrunn palace. Entry into the grounds is free, and fortunately, there are multiple points of access into the park. After visiting Hietzing Cemetery, I reach Meiereitor gate at the southwest corner of Schönbrunn, and I make the short “flat” walk to the Gloriette. In the original building plans, the actual location of the palace was supposed to be where Gloriette is today, especially as the latter sits on the top of a short rise. It’s no surprise visitors make the rise from the palace proper up to the Gloriette for a decent view of the city’s northern heights.
Wiener Linien public transport: U-Bahn U4 to station Schönbrunn.
I was more than likely to come across various view locations with a 30-day stay in Vienna. There are additional spots throughout the city, including the “Wiener Blick” in Lainzer Tiergarten, as well as rooftop cafés at the Steffl department store in the 1. and Gerngross department store on Mariahilfer Strasse in the 6. I made all images above with a Fujifilm X70 fixed-lens prime on 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 11 June 2022. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-n4q.
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[…] the south side of the Leopold Museum is a separate set of elevators whisking visitors to the “MQ Libelle” rooftop terrace free of charge for an overview of the MQ and the city at […]