Vienna theatres: lounge, Volkstheater Vienna

Vienna Theatres 2024: Where to Watch The Best Shows and Plays

Throughout Europe Vienna theatres and shows have a fantastic reputation, and come in various formats: from our national treasure Burgtheater to opera theaters, musical theatres, and small but ambitious English language stages.

Whether you kept some of  your school German or know no Deutsch at all, screen a selection of the best theatres. Some perform in English and some offer English surtitles. With shows and musicals, you will probably hold it like at the opera: read the plot before, then lean back and enjoy the music and costumes.  My list of Vienna theatres below is not only ranked by popularity but by relevance for English speakers.

1. Vienna National Theatre At Burgtheater

Vienna theatres: BurgtheaterOur Burgtheater is Austria’s National Theater. Being the second-oldest theatre after the Comédie Francaise, Burgtheater has shaped European theatre for decades. Famously the theatre has a reputation for classical as well as controversial plays: A scandalous Burgtheater play can create local headlines that dwarf the most bloody wars and catastrophic events.

Unfortunately for many international travellers the vast majority of plays at Burgtheater are in German. Only during the annual Vienna Festival, the Burgtheater sometages stages English and other foreign language plays. Check current calendar of plays.

2. Modern Opera At Theater An Der Wien

As one of the oldest Vienna theatres the Theater an der Wien is also Vienna’s newest opera house.  Built in 1801 to entertain with dramas and comedies, the theatre adapted its repertoire 250 years later in 2006 to become a modern day opera house. Find out more in my Vienna Opera House guide.

3. Classical Musicals At Volksoper

In the past few years, Vienna’s popular opera house has introduced a series of widely praised musicals, among them The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and Kiss Me, Kate. On this special events page you will find the most important current musical listings at Volksoper.

4. Modern Musicals At Private Vienna Theatres

Vienna Theatres: RaimundtheaterThe big private Vienna theatres like the Ronacher, our old variété theatre, and the Raimundtheater have been particularly popular in the past years. They are THE place to go if you are after fun musical entertainment in Vienna. Many of the shows project English surtitles onto screens, so you enjoy the musicals in original language while getting the full story.

If you’d like to discretely test your German, watch a musical at Ronacher, in German language, with English songs. 

5. All English Plays At Vienna English Theatre

Vienna English TheatreWhen Vienna started to attract international tourists in the 1960s, an American Yale University graduate and her Austrian husband founded the Vienna English Theatre. Staging mostly British and American contemporary and classical plays this stage puts on excellent quality shows for non German speakers. Most of all, visitors love the theatre’s atmosphere, vibe and talented casts.

Because the old-world style theatre is well established in the local native English speaking community you will also catch a glimpse into expat life in Vienna.

Address: Josefsgasse 12, 1080 Vienna
Programme and Tickets: see website

6. Contemporary English At Vienna Theatre Project

There is no shortage of classical theatre venues for the German speaking world in my city. But where does the large Viennese expat community stir their feelings on a theatre night out? The Viennatheatreproject is an English language theatre that stages modern plays and fresh invigorating acting. The small theatre’s team mostly performs at Theater Drachengasse in one of Vienna’s oldest parts in the city centre. Go to Theater Drachengasse’s calendar of plays to find English language plays on show.

Address: Drachengasse 2, 1010 Vienna
Programme and Tickets: see website

7. Historic Marionettes At Puppets Theatre Vienna

Marionette Theatre Schonbrunn PalaceAt my age, I have grown out of Punch & Judy puppets but love fine historic crafts brought to life. That is what the marionette theatre at Schonbrunn Palace is about: classical theatre for adults AND children, gracefully and skillfully performed by beautifully crafted rococo-style marionettes.

When we watched Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 2011 and 2018 my little daughter and I were thrown over by the quality of the performance, the marionettes and the acoustics. As for the language, I think non- German speakers will have no problem following the plot with a bit of upfront reading. Since we watched both the children’s 1-hour adaptation and the full 2-hour play our advice is to go with the shortened version for smaller children.

A nice add on was that the small audience room and the backstage tour after the performance made you feel part of a real insider show. Read our full experience in Puppets Theatre Vienna.

Address: Hofratstrakt, on the left of Schonbrunn Palace, Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna
Tickets: Get tickets for Mozart’s Magic Flute.

8. Popular Vienna Theatres

Popular Vienna theatres like the Volkstheater (see photo) or Theater in der Josefstadt were the cinema of my grandparents and their generation, and continue to attract locals and visitors.


Vienna theatres: lounge, Volkstheater ViennaBuilt at the end of the 19th century, the Volkstheater received a brilliant face lift in the spring of 2021. Even 200 years after it opened, we still visit the theatre to watch popular Austrian plays and comedies as well as classic and modern dramas. In the early days, the Volkstheater was the prime choice of the bourgeoisie and lower ranks, while the aristocracy amused itself at the Burgtheater. 

Most importantly for non-German speaking visitors, the Volkstheater also offers English surtitles for some of its German language plays, such as Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan the Wise. In general, the repertoire comprises works by popular Austrian and German playwrights. Especially Ferdinand Raimund and Johann Nestroy will resonate with so many Austrian school children! Apart from local flavours, expect adaptations of contemporary plays.

In addition, the Volkstheater has become hugely popular among Viennese insiders for its sophisticated Saturday clubbings, literature salons and musical performances at the Rote Bar, also called Salon Rouge (see photo).

Address: Neustiftgasse 1, A-1070 Vienna

Visit website for current calendar of plays.

Theater In Der Josefstadt

Vienna Theatres: Theater in der JosefstadtThe Theater in der Josefstadt is one of the oldest Vienna theatres, and originates from the 18th century. It is built in the typical Viennese Biedermeier style. The theatre, where Harry Lime’s girlfriend Anna Schmidt performed in Graham Greene classic The Third Man, offers a broader choice of both international and Austrian plays, such as the Three Sisters by Tschechow, Arthur Schnitzler’s Das Weite Land or a Campiello adaption based on Goldoni’s play. Fingers crossed that theater will once present English surtitles, it’s such an amazing place.

Address: Josefstädter Strasse 26, A-1080 Vienna

Visit website for current calendar of plays.

go to Vienna State Opera Guide – 9+ Hacks And Treats
findout more about booking Vienna Opera Tickets – A Native’s Guide
go to Vienna Concerts – Quality Music Events And How To Secure A Space
explore Vienna Travel Planning – Trip Planning And Travel Consulting by Vienna Unwrapped
need to boost your German? Find out how to learn German in Vienna
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