Most of Vienna lies roughly within an arc of a circle with the straight line of the Danube Canal as its chord. The most prestigious address of the city's 23 Bezirke, or districts, is its heart, the Innere Stadt ("Inner City"), or 1st District, bounded by the Ringstrasse (Ring). It's useful to note that the fabled 1st District holds the vast majority of sightseeing attractions and once comprised the entire city. In 1857 Emperor Franz Josef decided to demolish the ancient wall surrounding the city to create the more cosmopolitan Ringstrasse, the multilane avenue that still encircles the expansive heart of Vienna. At that time several small villages bordering the inner city were given district numbers and incorporated into Vienna. Today the former villages go by their official district numbers, but sometimes they are also referred to by their old village or neighborhood names.

The circular 1st District is bordered on its northeastern section by the Danube Canal and 2nd District, and clockwise from there along the Ringstrasse by the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th districts. The 2nd District—Leopoldstadt—is home to the venerable Prater amusement park with its Riesenrad (Ferris wheel), as well as a huge park used for horseback riding and jogging. Along the southeastern edge of the 1st District is the 3rd District—Landstrasse—containing the Belvedere Palace and the fabulously quirky Hundertwasser Museum (Kunsthauswien). Extending from its southern tip, the 4th District, Wieden, is firmly established as one of Vienna's hip areas, with trendy restaurants, art galleries, and shops, plus Vienna's biggest outdoor market, the Naschmarkt, which is lined with dazzling Jugendstil buildings.

The southwestern 6th District, Mariahilf, includes the largest shopping street, Mariahilferstrasse, which the city has recently designated a pedestrian-friendly zone. Independent stores compete with international chains, smart restaurants, movie theaters, bookstores, and department stores. Directly west of the 1st District is the 7th District, Neubau. Besides the celebrated Kunsthistorisches Museum and headline-making MuseumsQuartier, the 7th District also houses the charming Spittelberg quarter, its cobblestone streets lined with beautifully preserved 18th-century houses. Moving up the western side you come to the 8th District, Josefstadt, which is known for its theaters, upscale restaurants, and antiques shops. Completing the circle surrounding the Innere Stadt on its northwest side is the 9th District, Alsergrund, once Sigmund Freud's neighborhood and today a nice residential area with lots of outdoor restaurants, curio shops, and lovely early-20th-century apartment buildings.

The other districts—the 5th, and the 10th through the 23rd—form a concentric second circle around the 2nd through 9th Districts. These are mainly residential and only a few hold sights of interest for tourists. The 11th District, Simmering, contains one of Vienna's architectural wonders, Gasometer, a former gasworks that has been remodeled into a housing and shopping complex. The 13th District, Hietzing, with the fabulous Schönbrunn Palace as its centerpiece, is also a coveted residential area. The 19th District, Döbling, is Vienna's poshest neighborhood and also bears the nickname the "Noble District" because of all the embassies on its chestnut-tree-lined streets. The 19th District also incorporates several other neighborhoods within its borders, in particular the wine villages of Grinzing, Sievering, Nussdorf, and Neustift am Walde. The 22nd District, Donaustadt, now called Donau City, is a modern business and shopping complex that has grown around the United Nations center. The 22nd District also has several fantastic stretches for sunbathing along Alte Donau (Old Danube), with waterside cafés nearby.

It may be helpful to know the neighborhood names of other residential districts: the 5th/Margareten; 10th/Favoriten; 12th/Meidling; 14th/Penzing; 15th/Fünfhaus; 16th/Ottakring; 17th/Hernals; 18th/Währing; 20th/Brigittenau; 21st/Floridsdorf; and 23rd/Liesing.

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  • 1. Kunsthistorisches Museum

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    Even if you're planning on a short stay in Vienna, you'll want to come here to visit one of the greatest art collections in the world, standing...Read More

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  • 2. MuseumsQuartier

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    The MQ—as many call it—is a sprawling collection of galleries housed in what was once the Imperial Court Stables, the 260-year-old Baroque complex...Read More

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  • 3. Akademie der Bildenen Künste

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    If the teachers here had admitted Adolf Hitler as an art student in 1907 and 1908 instead of rejecting him, history might have proved very different...Read More

  • 4. Architekturzentrum Wien

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    Besides the permanent show of Austrian architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries, an Encyclopaedia of Architects featuring more than 1000...Read More

  • 5. Dritte Mann Museum

    4th District/Wieden | Museum/Gallery

    Close to the Naschmarkt, this shrine for film-noir aficionados offers an extensive private collection of memorabilia dedicated to the classic...Read More

  • 6. Hofmobiliendepot

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    In the days of the Hapsburg Empire, palaces remained practically empty if the ruling family was not in residence. Cavalcades laden with enough...Read More

  • 7. Kunsthalle Wien

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    The gigantic rooms here are used for temporary exhibitions of avant-garde art, including photography, video, film, and new-media projects. The...Read More

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  • 8. Leopold Museum

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    Filled with pieces amassed by Rudolf and Elizabeth Leopold, the Leopold contains one of the world's greatest collections of Austrian painter...Read More

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  • 9. mumok

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    In a sleek edifice constructed of dark stone, the Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok) houses the national collection of 20th...Read More

  • 10. Naschmarkt

    4th District/Wieden | Market/Bazaar

    The area between Linke and Rechte Wienzeile is home to the Naschmarkt, Vienna's largest and most famous outdoor produce market. It's certainly...Read More

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  • 11. Naturhistorisches Museum

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    The palatial 19th-century museum, twin of the celebrated Kunsthistorisches Museum, is the home of the Venus of Willendorf, a tiny statuette...Read More

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  • 12. Otto Wagner Houses

    6th District/Mariahilf | Historic Home

    The apartment houses that line the Wienzeile are an attractive, if rather ordinary, lot, but two stand out: Linke Wienzeile 38 and 40 —the...Read More

  • 13. Secession Building

    1st District | Museum/Gallery

    If the Academy of Fine Arts represents the conservative attitude toward the arts in the late 1800s, then its antithesis can be found in the...Read More

  • 14. Spittelberg Quarter

    7th District/Neubau | Historic District/Site

    The Spittelberg is like a slice of Old Vienna, a perfectly preserved little enclave that allows you to experience the 18th century by strolling...Read More

  • 15. ZOOM Kindermuseum

    7th District/Neubau | Museum/Gallery

    Kids of all ages enjoy this outstanding museum, where they can experience the fine line between the real and virtual worlds, making screenplays...Read More

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