view on Ringstrasse in Vienna
© WienTourismus/Christian Stemper

Ringstrasse Vienna: Map, Illustrated Guide And My Favourite Tours

Because Ringstrasse Vienna lines up more than 20 landmarks, historic buildings and gardens, it makes a great entry point to the city. Alongside a stunning 2,000 lime, Norwegian maple and hackberry trees, Wien’s 5.2 km (3.2 m) long ring road mixes cultural highlights and green space. In sizzling summers, the trees can reduce the temperatures by up to five degrees!

To find out what best to visit on Vienna’s prestigious boulevard check this essential guide, including a map and suggestions of what to see, and how.

What Is The Best Way To See Ringstrasse?

Ringstrasse Vienna: tramway in front of University

By Tramway

Most local resident travel on Ringstrasse by tramway. You can either take tramway 1 and 2, which together complete the circle. Alternatively, the yellow Vienna Ringtram circumnavigates Ringstrasse in one go. More specifically, the yellow tram includes LED screens and audiophones and takes visitors around Ringstrasse every 30 minutes between 10.00 am and 5.30 pm. To board and leave the Ringtram, use Schwedenplatz station.

By Bicycle

For passionate cyclists, Ringstrasse’s many city bike stations and a bike path throughout make it easy to jump on a bike. Alternatively, join a guided Vienna bike tour along Ringstrasse. Even as a local I did such a bike tour twice, and loved it.

By Car

If you rent a car, you can drive along Ringstrasse in about 20 minutes. For a better sightseeing experience, consider a private car tour through Vienna that provide you with insight along the road while you lean back. Unlike with the Ringtram, the driver and guides will let you hop on and off flexibly. Instead of a quick roundtrip,  you can for example visit Cafe Landtmann, the Museum of Fine Arts, stroll through Stadtpark and join an opera house tour.

By Segway

In the past couple of years, a few segway operators offering a city segway tour have included Ringstrasse in their routes since it’s so easy to get around. 

On Foot

If you have some 1.5 hours you can copy Vienna’s late 19th-century society and simply promenade around the ring road. If you want some thorough insight into your surroundings, get a tour guide and historian to join you.

Why Ringstrasse Was Built

Ringstrasse Vienna: Austrian ParliamentTo begin with, Ringstrasse dates from 1858. At that time, Emperor Franz Joseph I. decided to tear down the former city walls. For centuries, they had separated the Imperial and aristocratic center from the middle classes in the outskirts. However, the 19th century’s liberal spirits called for a unification of the town. The prospering middle class wanted to be integrated into the center of power.

At the end of the building phase, the result was a collection of neo-classicistic, neo- gothic, neo-renaissance and neo-baroque buildings interchanging with parks and public gardens. Most well known are institutional buildings such as the Vienna State Opera and the City Hall.

Apart from that, affluent private individuals bought plots along Ringstrasse. They built magnificent town palaces such as Ephrussi, Epstein, Leitenberger and Schey. Soon, Ringstrasse became the ‘Champs Elysées’ of Vienna, where the bourgeoisie promenaded, watched processions, and frequented Vienna Salons.

What Is There To See On Ringstrasse?

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 1: Stubenring

Ringstrasse Vienna: former Military MinistryFormer Imperial Ministry of War. At its opening in 1913, the Imperial War Ministry was one of the most modern office buildings in Vienna. It was used for military administration during World War II. Today, the government building includes state ministries of business, family and youth; labour, social services and consumer protection; agriculture, environment and water administration; and transport, innovation and technology.

Ringstrasse Vienna: PostsparkasseAustrian Postal Savings Bank (Österreichische Postsparkasse). Unlike other dull banks, this one is a cultural highlight, thanks to Otto Wagner. More than 100 years ago, the famous Art Nouveau architect designed the former Imperial Postal Savings Institute. Now, Postsparkasse includes the Wagner Werk, one of my off-the-beaten-track museum tips for Art Nouveau fans. 

Café Ministerium: Although located so close to Ringstrasse, this plush coffeehouse is still a well kept tourist secret. If you want to rub shoulders with officials from nearby ministries and local business people, visit at lunch time.

Ringstrasse Vienna: Museum for Applied Arts / Contemporary Arts MAKThe University of Applied Arts, (Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien) on the other side is right next to the fabulous Museum of Applied Arts/ Contemporary Art (Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAK).

Whether you like architecture, design or contemporary art, this museum is a must. It is full of beautiful objects. Many of them are typically Viennese, such as the collection of Thonet (coffeehouse) furniture, and the collection of Art Nouveau genius Josef Hoffmann’s textile and furniture designs. Temporary exhibitions have been lacking in design and presentation.

Ringstrasse Vienna: Cafe PrueckelCafé Prückel. Located opposite MAK on Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Platz, the Prückel represents one of our best Vienna coffeehouses. Whether for coffee and cakes or lunch, this is a great place to hop off during your tour.

Inside, choose between 50ies style interior in the front and Art-Nouveau-style interiors with gold plated ceilings and framed white lace patterns in the back (photo). On top, there is regular live piano music. 

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 2: Parkring

From Parkring, access the underground station U3 Stubentor. It cuts through Ringstrasse, connecting you to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the city centre and Volkstheater/Volksgarten on the other side of Ringstrasse.

Vienna's StadtparkCity park. Stadtpark boasts famous Michelin restaurant Steirereck im Stadtpark, the adjacent lovely dairy Meierei im Stadtpark and the famous golden Johann-Strauss monument. Stadtpark is perfect for a stroll, lazy coffee and milk, gourmet dinner, and picnic on the grass. At its edge you will find Huebner’s Kursalon that regularly stages classical concerts of Mozart and Strauss. I find them very touristic honestly. The children’s playground around the corner is the best in the city centre.

OPEC-Fund for International Development (former palace of Archduke Wilhelm)

Marriott Hotel: The 1980’s glass and white-covered steel construction of the Vienna Marriott is opposite Stadtpark.

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 3:  Schubertring

Most of all, Schubertring consists of luxury hotels, such as Ringstrasse Vienna: Russian MonumentHotel Ritz Carlton, Ringstrasse’s youngest luxury temple. Most impressively, it spreads across four historic palaces and has a lovely rooftop bar and café.

Next to Ringstrasse, you will find Schwarzenbergplatz square and two monuments. While the first shows Count Schwarzenberg you will see the Hero’s Monument of the Red Army (photo) at the back of the square. In post World War II Vienna the statue was known as the pea king (things I learned during the Third Man Movie tour).

At that time, the Russians regularly shipped mass supplies of dried peas to Austria. Today it is referred to as the Russian Monument (Russendenkmal).

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 4: Kärntner Ring

Ringstrasse Vienna: Hotel ImperialHotel Imperial: Certainly, this gigantic town palace is one of the first addresses in Vienna. In brief, Austria’s official hotel for state visitors revels in opulence and sparkles with thousands of tiny lights during long winter nights. To get Imperial’s full flavor, sneak into the lobby or have Imperial Torte and turkish coffee at the hotel’s café. Since I spent one fantastic night at the Imperial I’m sharing my story in the Hotel Imperial Vienna review.

Grand Hotel Wien: On the opposite side of the Imperial you will pass the Grand Hotel, another one of Vienna’s legendary Ringstrasse hotels.

Ringstrassen-Galerien: Especially for rainy day shopping the roofed luxury shopping mall is great. Downstairs, you will find great deli supermarket Billa Corso.

The Ring Hotel is a contemporary luxury hotel located in a historic town palace. I love its small outdoor café After Eight which is facing Ringstrasse.

Ringstrasse Vienna: Hotel BristolHotel Bristol: This 19th-century luxury hotel is just opposite the Vienna State Opera. It has been fantastically refurbished in 2013, including its restaurant Bristol Lounge.

Just in front of Hotel Bristol, you can access the underground lines U1, U2 and U4 through the linked-up underground station Karlsplatz.

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 5: Opernring

Ringstrasse Vienna: Wiener StaatsoperClearly, the Vienna State Opera is the most famous of Vienna’s four opera houses. Tellingly, it sits where we consider to be Ringstrasse’s center. From its very beginnings, the Wiener Staatsoper has delivered lots of stories and anecdotes. During World War II, the opera house suffered heavy bombardment. To pay tribute to its grand history I joined a guided opera tour there. (And here is the story of my endeavours booking Vienna opera tickets.)

Le Méridien Vienna is on the opposite side of the opera towards Burggarten. It is one of the best local design hotels and has a reasonably nice café.

Right after the hotel, you will see the monument of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to your left. Just opposite, on your right, is Schillerplatz with the monument of Friedrich Schiller;

Ringstrasse Vienna: Palmenhaus at BurggartenBetween the Vienna State Opera and Hofburg, lovely Burggarten boasts a Mozart monument and the orangery and café/restaurant Palmenhaus. In fact, the orangery is a wonderful piece of Art Nouveau architecture in Vienna, and a fantastic spot for summer lunches, coffees and dinners.

During July the Spanish Riding School uses a part of Burggarten to let young Lipizzaner foals and their mares graze each afternoon – brilliant!

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 6: Burgring

Outer Gate of the Burg and Neue Burg: This is the entrance to the Imperial Palace from Ringstrasse. It is also a perfect way to enter the city centre, and access the Spanish Riding School.

Ringstrasse Vienna: Neue BurgHeldenplatz is right behind the Outer Gate.  The historic square lies between the Imperial Palace (Hofburg) and Volksgarten. It is still used for staging political and contemporary events. Adolf Hitler held his famous speech of the Austrian Anschluss here. On Austrian National Day at 26th October the annual parade of the Austrian military and the swearing-in by the Austrian President of State takes place here.

Ringstrasse Vienna: monument of Empress Maria TheresiaMaria-Theresien-Platz on the right of Ringstrasse holds a gigantic monument of Empress Maria Theresia. She sits right between the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Fine Arts, opposite from Heldenplatz.

Vienna’s two landmark museums are the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Fine Arts. These two neo-Renaissance buildings are both on your left. From the rooftop of the Museum of Natural History, you get spectacular views of Ringstrasse and the city.

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 7: Dr.-Karl-Renner-Ring

Ringstrasse Vienna: Austrian ParliamentIn this section, the Austrian Parliament dominates Ringstrasse. Thanks to Emperor Francis Joseph, who wasn’t keen on democracy, the parliament  is considerably lower than other state buildings. Essentially, the parliament’s two chambers Nationalrat (National Council) and Bundesrat (Federal Council) meet here regularly.

If you need to head off Ringstrasse, you can change here for the underground station Volkstheater and Vienna metro lines U2 and U3.

Ringstrasse Vienna: VolksgartenFurther on, Volksgarten, a lovely park with loads of rose beds in the summer, is opposite the Parliament. My local favourite there is the Volksgarten Pavillon, a multifunctional dance, café, restaurant and recreation spot, and a real institution among locals. It is hidden from Ringstrasse. In the spring and summer, step into the shady garden with its original Fifties-style furniture and lamps, the boules and petanque players and the yummy barbecues.

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 8: University Ring

Ringstrasse Vienna: City Hall / RathausClearly neogothic, the Viennese Rathaus dates from in the second half of the 19th century (1872 to 1883). Here, Vienna’s mayor and federal governor Michael Ludwig, the city and federal council and municipal administration reside. And group tourists may head for the restaurant Wiener Rathauskeller in the historic basement, with vaulted ceilings and painted walls.

In front of City Hall, Rathauspark marks the best known outdoor event space in town, staging the annual Film and Food Festival, the Christmas market and the ice rink, the opening of the Vienna Festival (Wiener Festwochen), and other smaller events throughout the year.

Ringstrasse Vienna: BurgtheaterJust opposite the Vienna City Hall you will find the Burgtheater, a beautiful neo baroque building. The theatre is one of the best in Europe. If your German isn’t up to speed, visit the fabulously romantic restaurant Vestibül at the theatre.

Next on your tour, the University of Vienna (Universität Wien), represents an imposing neo renaissance building. Most importantly, it is the oldest university in the German-speaking world and one of the largest in Central Europe.

Whether you are on a bike or tram or just walking, Café Landtmann is another perfect hop off point. Not only was this elegant coffeehouse Sigmund Freud‘s favourite and offers fabulouse apple strudel and various coffee specialities.

Vienna's UniversityOne of the last bastions and element of the old city wall is Mölkerbastei. Actually, it is so picturesque that it appeared in numerous international movies, for example for The Third Man and A Dangerous Method. Around the corner you’ll find the Beethoven Pasqualati house.

Just after the University you will find neo-gothic Votivkirche. In the mid 19th century, the Habsburgs built it to thank God for saving the young Emperor Francis Joseph from an attempted assassination.

At Schottentor, you can change to the underground station U2 Schottentor/Universität. This is a great connection for Vienna Prater and Museumsquartier.

Ringstrasse Vienna Section 9: Schottenring

After Votivkirche, you will see two more Ringstrasse hotels on your left: the Hotel de France and the Hotel Hilton Plaza.

A few metres ahead on the other side, you pass the former Vienna Stock Exchange (Wiener Börse). The neo-Renaissance style building is now housing several financial services firms, and the business restaurant Hansen.

Palais Hansen is a monumental historic palace built by Ringstrassen star architect Theophil Hansen. Since 2013, it houses the Kempinski Hotel, one of the most elegant hotels in Vienna. I’ve made it for drinks in the lobby, but the hotel’s gourmet restaurant (Edvard) has also been widely appraised for its atmosphere and fantastic food.

Ringstrasse Vienna Map

Ringstrasse Vienna. Ringstrasse consists of nine sections, as you can see in the map below. For sightseeing purposes, I have added the most relevant buildings and hotels, and a few of my Vienna coffeehouse favourites. Zoom in to the map by clicking on the + tab on the left. Click on the marked lines to find out the Ringstrasse segments (Opernring, Burgring, Schubertring, etc.) and markers for further information about points of interest, including reviews and pictures.

to fully personalize and authenticate your trip, check out Vienna Travel Planning – Trip Planning And Travel Consulting By Vienna Unwrapped
continue your journey at the Vienna City Centre – Old Town Vienna Routes And Map
go to Vienna Walking Tours – Places To Visit In Vienna On Foot
learn more about Vienna Attractions – Native Advice on Touritst Attractions

visit my Vienna Sightseeing tips – Top 10, And Four Extra Tips
get a thorough overview of What To Do In Vienna
back to Vienna Unwrapped homepage

Check Also

Vienna trip resources: best apps

Resources You Need To Plan Your Vienna Vacation

To fast track your planning for a Vienna vacation I have packed a ton of …