Keizerlijk paleis Hofburg in Wenen

Explore the Imperial Hofburg Palace in Vienna: A Guide for Visitors

Vienna’s Imperial Palace, the Hofburg, was for centuries the seat of the Habsburgs, rulers of Austria until the end of the First World War. A lot of European history was written here, most notably by Empress Maria and for a while the German Emperor (today it is the official seat of the Austrian head of state, the Federal President). The complex is particularly interesting because its main buildings reflect more than 700 years of architectural history; almost every Austrian ruler since 1275 ordered additions or changes. As a result, the Hofburg exhibits many different architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, Baroque to Rococo, and a bit of Classicism. Together with its many squares and gardens, the Hofburg covers an area of ​​approximately 59 hectares and is in many ways a “city-within-a-city”, consisting of 18 groups of buildings, 19 courtyards and 2,600 rooms. Visitors are given three choices when visiting this spectacular site – the Imperial Apartments, the Sisi Museum and the Silver Collection – each of which can be visited individually or as part of an extended visit. The area around the Hofburg, along with some of the surrounding buildings, is home to a number of other attractions, including the Imperial Chapel (Burgkapelle), the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum), the Austrian National Library and the Spanish Riding School.

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The Imperial Apartments


Of the rooms in the Hofburg open to the public, some of the most interesting are found in the Franz Joseph Apartments, most of which remain unchanged. Highlights include the Dining Room, famous for its rich decor and Flemish artwork representing the heroic deeds of Hercules, and the Circle Room with its beautiful tapestries. A fascinating model of the Hofburg and its many buildings is located in the Waiting Room, while in the Great Audience Room – the waiting room for the Emperor’s weekly audience – the Bohemian crystal crown arm is worth seeing. Also of interest here is a list of those present on January 10, 1910, while in the Study is a bust of Field Marshal Radetzky, one of a select group allowed to appear before the Emperor unannounced (his sword is also on display).

Empress Elisabeth’s Apartments features her opulent living room, which is widely considered the most beautiful of the Hofburg’s many rooms and serves as both a living room and a bedroom. Another highlight is the grand salon with a fine collection of Louis XIV furniture and a number of Sèvres vases, a collection of romantic landscape paintings and a marble statue of Napoleon’s sister. Also worth a visit are Alexander’s Apartments, named after Russia’s Tsar Alexander I who stayed here during the Congress of Vienna (highlights include the busts of Emperor Charles I and his consort, Empress Zita).

The Sisi Museum

The Sisi Museum julie corsi / photo modified
The Sisi Museum julie corsi / photo modified

Dedicated to Empress Elisabeth (also known as Sisi), the Sisi Museum offers a fascinating insight into the aristocracy of the 19th century. In the Stephan Apartments, highlights of the Hofburg, more than 300 personal items such as gloves, parasols, notes on her strict beauty regimen and the death mask made after her murder (also of interest are the official records made at the time of this tragic event ). Other fascinating artefacts include a copy of the dress she wore when she moved to Austria from her native Munich as a 16-year-old in 1854, a copy of her coronation coat and a replica of part of her imperial railway carriage. Also of note are a traveling medical chest and a game box, along with her baptismal robes.

The Imperial Silver Collection

The Imperial Silver Collection Harikrishnan Tulsidas / photo modified
The Imperial Silver Collection Harikrishnan Tulsidas / photo modified

More than 7,000 items, including ceremonial and everyday tableware from the Imperial Court, are on display in the Silver Chamber, a must see when visiting the Hofburg. Among the many treasures in this spectacular collection are the fine 18th-century East Asian porcelain, the formal tableware of Franz Joseph, a silver traveling service of Empress Elisabeth Christine (wife of Charles VI) and the ten-metre-long gilded Milanese centerpiece bronze. Other highlights include the 1775 Meissen Service, the 19th-century Vienna State Service and, perhaps the most important part of the collection, the Ruby Service used for grand imperial occasions with its settings for 140 guests. Be sure to come to the Court Kitchen for a behind-the-scenes look at the imperial banquets. On display are original copper cauldrons, pans and molds, along with old cauldrons and the warming dishes needed to feed the court’s 5,000 members.

A tour of the Hofburg Palace

A number of excellent English-language tours of the Hofburg Palace are available, including the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments (English audio guides are included in the normal admission price). Private tours of the Imperial Apartments can also be booked for individuals and groups, while those looking for a truly unique experience should consider one of the special evening or themed tours, including topics such as daily Imperial life, state banquets and the life of the Empress Sisi.

Where to stay near the Imperial Palace

We recommend these great hotels within walking distance of the Imperial Palace:

  • Hotel Sans Souci Wien: luxury boutique hotel, stylish design, well-equipped bathrooms, indoor pool, spa with steam bath.
  • Best Western Premier Kaiserhof Wien: mid-range price, old-world charm, quiet location, delicious breakfast buffet.
  • Small Luxury Hotel Das Tyrol: affordable prices, boutique hotel, comfortable beds, spa with sauna, multilingual staff.
  • Schweizer Pension: budget bed-and-breakfast, great location, helpful host, sparkling clean rooms.

Tips and tactics: making the most of your Hofburg visit

The following tips and tactics will help you get the most out of your visit to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna:

  • to dine: Café Hofburg serves coffee and light meals in the heart of the palace and in the warmer months it also offers a patio service.
  • Off Season Specials: For those visiting during the quieter months of the year, special admission packages are available that include Viennese coffee and pastries at Café Hofburg, as well as entry to the Silver Collection, Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments.
  • Access: The Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments are wheelchair accessible. Discount vouchers are available for people with disabilities, along with those who provide assistance.

Go to the Hofburg

  • On foot: The Hofburg is within walking distance of the center of Vienna and its many tourist attractions.
  • With the bus: The Hofburg is easily accessible by city bus services (Routes 2A and 3A, get off at Hofburg).
  • By tram: Vienna’s tram services travel regularly to the Hofburg (routes 1, 2, D and J, get off at Burgring).
  • By U-Bahn (underground): The nearest metro station is Herrengasse (Route U3).
  • By train: Vienna is easily accessible via the main railway lines from Europe and Austria. The nearest stations are Westbahnhof and Meidling (connections via U-Bahn are required).
  • On the road: As with most major European cities, much of Vienna’s city center is designated as pedestrian only. If driving is a must, park on the outskirts of the city and use public transport.
  • parking: No public parking is available on site.


  • Hofburg Palace, Michaelerkuppel, 1010 Vienna

What’s nearby?

What's nearby? Charlie Dave / photo modified
What’s nearby? Charlie Dave / photo modified

The Hofburg complex is home to numerous other excellent attractions worth visiting; most of them are independently run and require separate admission. A must see is the Imperial Chapel (Burgkapelle), built in 1449 with later additions in Baroque and Gothic. Highlights of a visit include the rich interior, along with an opportunity to see the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir and the State Opera Choir sing during Sunday Mass and religious holidays (advance booking essential). The Collection of weapons and armor is another Hofburg must-see and includes medieval helmets, royal armor and ceremonial swords, richly decorated shields and beautiful 16th-century Ottoman weaponry, while the Collection of old musical instruments in the New Palace (Neue Burg) contains unique Renaissance pieces such as antique clavichords, a table piano that belonged to Joseph Haydn, a grand piano presented to Beethoven, and a Viennese table piano in which Schubert composed.

The Hofburg complex also houses the Museum of Ethnology with its collection of more than 150,000 objects, including Benin bronzes from the 15th century and the Mexican collection with the headdress and feather shield of an Aztec priest. The Hofburg Treasury is also worth a visit and contains 21 rooms of imperial regalia and relics, including coronation and knightly badges, badges, secular and sacred treasures and ornaments and mementos formerly owned by the Habsburgs.

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